full circle moment.

The other weekend in church, I had one of those “full circle” moments. Those moments that are bigger than you, that zoom out wide, that sort of make things click.

Let me start by taking you back about 9 or 10 years ago.

9 or 10 years ago, I entered into a long season of silence in my life, a time where God was silent, painfully so. It wasn’t just for a month, or two, it was for almost 2 years. YEARS. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In that season of my life, the words of Psalm 6:6 were read daily, inscribed in my heart: “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” I prayed for magical signs. You know the ones. “Lord, make my left hand tingle if You are here.” or “Send me a sign, allow the lamp to flicker.” I never got a response, nor did I feel any different. 2 Chronicles 15:4 kept me going – “But when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.” 

I wasn’t sure why I felt so abandoned, so alone, so empty. It was confusing, as I had this relationship with God for years, one where I would truly feel the intimacy of a relationship with Him, an emotion, a guide. But the days, weeks, and months lingered on and I felt nothing.

In the months of silence, while I wasn’t feeling like I was getting anywhere, I kept reading my Bible, journaling, praying, and seeking Him because I felt like my experience in that past proved that He could be found. (And truthfully, I also thought “I’ve got nothing to lose.”) I was weary and felt a lost. I remember sharing this season with our couples small group at the time and feeling so numb and disconnected from Him. All of these prayers, these motions, these attempts, and still, nothing.

Finally, one March, I was sitting on my bed on vacation in Mexico, alone with my Bible and my journal and my iPod, when the song “How He Loves Us” came on by Jesus Culture and Kim Walker, and I felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks. You see, for these long months, feeling loved by Jesus was the opposite of how I felt. I felt alone. But as the words began to pour over my heart, it was like my soul instantly thawed. I cried and cried and realized, ironically enough, that He had been there the whole time. That He simply wanted to see me pursue Him with vigor.

So let’s fast forward to a few weekends ago.

Here I was, sitting in church, my first weekend attending in person after some weeks of bedrest, when a song started to play. Yes, you guessed it, “How He Loves Us”. And then my full circle moment came.

Here I was, sitting in church, pregnant, with twins. As I looked back at the time this song changed my life, I realized the second year of silence mixed right into our first year of trying to start our family, back when we didn’t know we would have a problem, back when we didn’t know what was ahead. I truly believe friends, that if it wasn’t for that long, treacherous season of silence, that I never would have gained the strength and endurance I would need to face the battle I was about to face. I think that without taking the time to pursue Him and seek Him, I never would have understand how much He loved me despite the pain, losses and sorrow. I think without that season, I would never be the person standing before you today.

And as that song played, I realized the love God had for me during that storm in a whole new way. You see, He knew what was ahead for me. He knew that I would need to go into the years of infertility fighting. He knew that I would need to be completely confident that He was ALWAYS by my side, and He knew EXACTLY what I needed to be prepared.

He knew I needed silence.

It broke my heart in the best possible way as I heard that song play out once more, completing this long anticipated circle of my season.

So, why do I share this with you today? Well, first of all, if you are in a season of silence right now, I understand. I understand how frustrated you are. I understand when people talk about hearing Him, or being answered by Him or being filled with peace because of Him, it makes you feel angry because you are doing everything you can and you don’t have that. I tell you this because I know the tears you are crying, the weariness you feel, the questions you are asking are draining. I tell you this because I want you to keep going. Even when it feels pointless. Even when you feel like He isn’t real. Even when you open up your Bible and you can’t seem to understand where this loving, kind, merciful God you are reading about is in your life. Keep going. Day after day. Keep praying. Because friends, I am certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, that in the moments I felt the most alone, looking back, He was holding me the whole time. He is worth fighting for! And He sees the BIG picture, the one, four, seven, or in my case, nine year picture in a way that you simply just can’t. He’s worth trusting.

Having faith in an invisible God isn’t easy. But if He was visible, if He proved Himself to you through physical acts all of the time, we wouldn’t need faith. (Hebrews 11:1) The growing I did in that season was invaluable. Don’t lose the chance to have your big picture moment, He has never left your side and never will.

I’d love to close this today by sharing this song and lyrics with you. I pray it blesses you today as it has for me.

“How He Loves”
He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, and I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

And oh
How He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us
how He loves us oh

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, and I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

And oh
How He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us
how He loves us oh

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking (ha ha)
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves
Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves yeah yeah

hey yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves yeah yeah
Yeah He loves us
He loves us
He loves us (ha)

[Kim Walker speaks]
Yeah
His presence. His love.
Is so thick and tangible in this room tonight.
And there are some of you here that have not encountered the love of God.
And tonight God wants to encounter you.
And wants you to feel His love.
His amazing love.
Without it these are just songs.
These are just words.
These are just instruments.
Without the love of God, it’s just like we’re just up here just making noise.
But the love of God changes us,
And we’re never the same,
We’re never the same
After we encounter the love of God
We’re never the same after we encounter the love of God
And right now if you haven’t encountered the love of God,
And you would know,
Because you wouldn’t be the same.
You would never be the same again.
And if you, if you, want to encounter the love of God right now,
You better just brace yourself because He’s about to just blow in this place
And we’re gonna encounter the love of God right now.
So God I speak to all the hearts
And I ask God that every heart be open right now
Every heart be open.
Every spirit be opened up
To you God. To You.
And a love encounter
A love encounter from you tonight
A love encounter from you tonight God.

Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves
Let it go deep go deep go deep

He loves us
Oh how he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves
His love is going deep
His love is going deep tonight
His love is going deep tonight
See the Father
Behold the Father
Behold the Father (ha)


PS – For those asking, things are going great over here. The babies are growing perfectly and I am already 13.5 weeks pregnant. We are immensely grateful. I will try to provide a first trimester summary in the next week. Thank you all for your continued prayers, they are life changing.

TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

image-1

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

THE weekend.

Happy weekend friends! I feel like I should acknowledge that Mother’s Day weekend is here, however this year, am just not feeling the need to write a long post. I have read so many phenomenal posts this year that I feel like great words have already been spoken. I am in a good place this Mother’s Day. I heard a message in the car by Chip Ingrim that really changed my attitude.

Chip said: “And He wants you and me to remember when you have unjust suffering, when you’re a child of God, you may be going through a rough time, but you are not a victim. You’re not a victim. You’re His son, you’re His daughter….. Let’s say “I’m going to get up today and I’m going to refuse to be a victim.” Sometimes these difficult times are this window where God could mold your heart, and allow you to hear His voice, and to build character and endurance, and create a capacity that could never happen otherwise.”

It’s so easy to allow ourselves to get sucked into the victim mentality, but for me, not this year. This year I am resting on the reminder that while this day has the potential to make me sad and wish reality was otherwise, it also has the potential to remind me that this day in my life hasn’t escaped God’s eyes. This Mother’s Day, instead of allowing myself to feel bad, I am going to fight the pity party, acknowledging still that the feelings of sadness are real, but that my faith and trust in His plan are greater, and claim victory in the story He is writing. (I also plan on protecting my heart and not participating in things that will trigger my emotions. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to skip church on Mother’s Day, avoid social media and still claim BOGO at local coffee shops for Mom’s. We gotta do what it takes!)

If you want to read some other posts about dealing with infertility on Mother’s Day, I’d love to suggest some other blogs and articles! All of these ladies wrote posts that just made me say “Amen!” (If you have a post you would like to share leave it behind in the comments!):

1. Waiting for Baby Bird – I Know You Hurt This Mother’s Day: A Message to the One Desiring to Be Called Mommy

2. In Due Time – A Victorious Mother’s Day

3. For the Love of Mom Genes – An Open Letter To All Those with Mom Genes

Also, my post last year ‘happy mother’s day‘ is similar to what I would write this year if I did a full post, so feel free to click back, read and relate.

So friends, those with kiddos on earth, in heaven, or still simply in their hearts, I wish you a happy weekend. To those still waiting, let’s wait with faith and expectancy. Our arms won’t always be empty. Let’s celebrate the journey we are on and the moms we know we are. Here’s to a weekend filled with joy, love, laughter and the promise of what’s to come

Happy Mother’s Day!

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impact.

Every time we cycle I think “God, you have the platform to show everyone Your power!”. I wait expectantly for Him to show up, for Him to show that prayer does pay off, that He does hear us, that my faith isn’t resting in someone incapable. I often get discouraged afterwards, thinking “God!! You aren’t looking too good here! This was Your moment!” It isn’t a pride thing, I just genuinely want each and every person reading this to see the power of God at play, as well as the tender heart that He has.

That being said, with each failed cycle and with every miscarriage I wonder how it’s going to impact the people surrounding us. Is this going to cause someone to lose faith? Is this going to cause someone to doubt Him? I struggle with this battle of feeling pain from our own sadness but then also feeling like God is letting you down, those investing and trusting with us. I continue to pray that despite the failures and the pain that we are feeling, that you would still be comforted in whatever you are going through, that you stay hopeful that God can intercede in whatever your struggle is.

A week after we found out our March pregnancy wasn’t viable, I was doing some hardcore searching for how He was going to use this to impact others positively. That’s when I ran across a quote in a book that said “Looking back, my disappointment may have been the best gift I could have given (you). (You) need a God who is not just equated with blessings. (You) need a God who can walk with you in your pain.”

Reading that was like a healthy slap in the face. It was God’s way of saying Chelsea, the people around you don’t just need to see a God that always gives blessings, even though I can and do. These people around you right now need to see that I am also a God that walks with His children when they are hurting.

Friends, I ache for the day our prayers are answered and we can stand here and celebrate His incredible goodness, blessings and answered prayers. But I also am gripped to convey to you that until that day comes, and even if it never does, that our God is so much bigger than our unanswered prayer request. God is so faithful to meet us in our pain, our sorrow and our tears. I know how your heart is strangled with anxiety, with wondering if your time with ever come, if this painful season you are dealing with will ever go away. I understand that the thoughts that keep you up at night, whether they are about illness, finances, relationship struggles or job concerns, make you wonder why God is not stepping in. Why doesn’t He just make this all better? We are praying, aren’t we? We are doing everything we can to move in a positive direction and yet nothing is happening.

This doesn’t mean He isn’t in it. As hard as that is to believe, as hard as it is to understand, it doesn’t mean that He has abandoned you, me, us. Even when God isn’t doing exactly what we want Him to do, He is still God! It seems unfair, He seems silent, it feels hopeless. As I was driving away from the doctor’s office yesterday, I felt like an old truck with rusty, flat, crooked tires.

Kacha, kacha, thud, kacha. Rust falling off, age showing, no air to be found, thudding over and over and over again.

But it was then I realized that in order to see God sometimes, instead of just looking in the same place, we have to zoom out. We may feel worn, but then we have to pull back, widen our gaze, look for Him in the unexpected places, which is exactly where He was hidden to remind me that He is in this, if not simply for you. Maybe today He wants to remind YOU that He is in the hard moments and that while He can be a God of miracles, He also meets you in your pain, questions and sorrows.

In Finding Faith in the Dark, author Laurie Short writes “God not only shouts to us in our pain; He often shouts to others through it. In some mysterious way, pain moves through our lives to touch others.” 

This last week I have changed my prayer from that of “Let them see Your miraculous hand!” to one that prays “Let them find You in their pain.” I don’t want to be so focused on where I want God to be and how I want Him to act that I miss where He actually is. Today, this month, this week, He is waiting for me with arms of comfort, with a lap of peace and crawling next to me and reminding me to breathe.

He is faithful, even when He seems so unfaithful. I pray that our story, even in its hardships, refills your heart with the recognition that He is good, present, faithful and comforts us when we turn to Him. We can truly keep going, knowing that He has our backs.

IMG_2949

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.