yay!

Who’s ready for some good news???

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Yeah, I couldn’t pick just one. That’s how ready for good news I am.

I digress.

So, my appointment today. As you may remember, our news on Monday was a little disappointing. I went into today’s appointment completely prepared for our cycle to be cancelled and for more time to pass before getting a chance to try again.

I was pleasantly surprised.

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My lining made an impressive leap over the past few days and for that I was grateful. I have never struggled with thin lining before yet going from a 4 to an 8 in only a few days made me thrilled (triple-lined nonetheless!). We then checked one ovary, the one that had measuring follicles last time – nada. She tried to find a follicle, she really did and came up completely empty handed. Ouch. I wasn’t surprised. Let’s just get this news over with.

Then the other ovary …. What are those!!? Follicles! Nice big juicy (ew) follicles. I think both the ultrasound tech and I were shocked to see them. She was so excited, clicking away and measuring them, announcing that we have 4 follicles between a 15-18 today. YAY! Clearly their growth and development was a result of answered prayers. YAY GOD! Yay prayers! Yay follicles!

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I got some blood work done and began the wait for the call … and hopefully a plan!

Driving away from my appointment, I was in total shock. I walked in expecting the cycle to get cancelled and quickly realized that I don’t know how to process good news very well. My heart was still guarded, anticipating the lab results to change everything. I told a friend the other day if I didn’t set my expectations so high then I didn’t have as far to fall. (Isn’t that sad? I know, ye of little faith.) The words from a Jesus Calling post earlier this month echoed in my mind: “I am taking care of you. Every detail of your life in under My control. If you could only see how close I am to you and how constantly I work on your behalf, you would never again doubt that I am wonderfully caring for you. This is why you must life by faith and not by sight; trusting in My mysterious, majestic Presence.”

If we could only see how close He is to us.

I have been reminded this week that is He is so close to us. I continue to struggle with allowing myself to get my hopes up and I think that there is an aspect of hopeful expectation combined with a guarded heart. But today we get to simply celebrate so many answered prayers. We have a chance and God loves to work for His children.

The nurse called back and they hoped my estrogen would be above 150 and it was 75.6, so tomorrow I start estrogen pills three times a day which will HOPEFULLY last through a first trimester. (Lord, please!) (Sidenote: estrogen pills three times a day … yes, Josh deserves some prayers. Buy stock in Kleenex now if you know what’s good for you.) They would like to give the follicles one more day before triggering so TOMORROW NIGHT at 6:30 pm, I have a date with an HCG trigger shot and then Monday morning at 10:30 am we will have our IUI (inter-uterine insemination) done. Oh my word, this is happening.

I get a little emotional when I think about the timing of it all. Christmas 2012 is when we were able to celebrate with our families my first pregnancy, later miscarrying that day, and to think that this Christmas, 2 years later, I will have the hope that God will be creating new life in me again. The sentimental side knows that even though our babies are celebrating Christmas with Jesus, that perhaps He will be lovingly creating their sibling to join us next year. Cautious excitement and gentle reminders that He is constantly working on our behalf.

Send all the baby dust, prayers, positive vibes and fertile juices my way. I wholeheartedly believe He is in this …. YAY!

(Oh my, this post is painfully scattered but I just don’t have the brain capacity to edit it. Thanks for bearing with me when some days the sentences just don’t flow and my love for GIFs are on overdrive.)

XOXO!

less of me.

When life gets busy, hormones get weird and my brain feels fuzzy, all my emotions seem a bit short circuited. I am a little more weepy, a little more reactive, a little less patient. Can anyone else relate? If I am being honest, an ugly version of me comes out. One that offers less grace, less mercy, and a whole lot less benefit of the doubt. I somehow feel privileged to feel that way (whatever it is) because I am tired/hormonal/hungry/busy/”working on it”.

Reasons I have cried in the last week:

Church was starting. My favorite coffee mug was clean. This video. Ellen gave away a hundred million things to her audience for 12-Days of Giveaways. Child actors did a great job at a play I saw. The 19-pound jar of pickles from Costco didn’t break when it fell from the fridge onto the floor. Getting tons of mail this week from friends, just because.

Okay, so having an extra dose of sappy tears added to my face isn’t the worst thing. But it’s the other side of the coin that I don’t like.

It’s the way I muttered “COME ON!” to the lady slowly merging into my lane on the highway. (Really though, at a snail’s pace.) It’s the way I gave an exasperated sigh to the child who kept cutting me off in the busy aisles of Target. It’s the way I nearly trampled a man to get to this coffee table I am sitting at now. Rushed. Busy. A lack of patience.

This season especially, if you are anything like me, you are finding yourself rushed and busy, hopping from place to place, commitment to commitment, trying to cram in time to stop at the mall to buy that one gift, wrap all the presents (cutely of course, because they may show up in a picture and they have to be Pinterest perfect), and cram packages in the mail for distant family. My brain is chalk full of DON’T FORGET!!!!!!’s, and as a result I am seeing people a lot less. Really seeing people. You know, the kind of seeing people that looks behind their physical presence and takes a minute to stop and make eye contact, smile. I was paused particularly long at a stop sign on the way over (Where are all these people coming from!?!) when I noticed a man caught in the mass of moving crosswalk people. He reminded me of my dad, an ordinary man in his 50’s, in his khaki pants with his button up shirt, work lanyard around his neck. He walked with purpose (likely to cross the street because he could feel my inpatient stop sign rage) and his eyes looked a million miles away.

What was his story?

I stopped at the stop sign a bit longer than needed, temporarily caught up in the realization that each of these pedestrians had delicately woven lives. They have financial burdens, maybe going through a death of a family member or the stress of dealing with a wild child. They may be facing a diagnosis or are worrying about what will happen if their furnace stops working before month’s end.  The thing is, every person we encounter is going through something. And yet, me with my self-absorbed head, just keeps running around completely oblivious that a little extra grace and patience might just be what this person needs.

Our worship leader at church prayed these words recently and they have stuck with me – “Let us show others unnecessary kindness.”

Maybe that sales lady at Gap didn’t mean to give me a look and even if she did, the returned look back isn’t going to help matters. A smile in return may be just what she needs. (And sometimes even if kind gestures backfire, I can’t say I didn’t try.) Perhaps the slow-merging driver is just a nervous driver or distracted by the racing thoughts of her mind. Slowing down long enough to let her over and then not trying to prove a point with a dramatic slowdown isn’t really going to impact my day significantly. In fact, it’s showing a lot less of His love and only steals my joy as I let circumstances dictate my emotions.

I want my eyes to be open to others this Christmas season. I don’t want to find excuses for my attitude or the busyness. I want to move more in slow motion and less in fast forward, even if it means embracing the random tears and exuding more patience that I feel.

Right before I began typing this post, I scribbled these words in my prayer journal (not with the intention to share so ignore my messy handwriting, hehe):

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Less of me. More of Him. Less busy, more intentionality. We can do this. 15 days till Christmas, let’s enjoy them.

PS – Day 3 of letrozole today! Oh come on Lord … do your thing! Next appointment to check in on things is Monday the 15th. Keep us in your prayers. 

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PPS – Have you had the time to check out my post on Fertility Authority yet? If not, help me out by clicking and reading today! Every click helps me reach my monthly goals :) Thanks!

 

tears and stillness.

Anyone else in shock that it’s Thanksgiving this week? Whoa! My plate has been a little fuller than normal, trying to balance in working full-time with my already busy calendar. I added in a high dose birth control pill a few weeks ago to prepare for our IUI cycle and wowza, there is definitely a learning curve getting back into the steady stream of hormones and reintroducing metformin to my system. EEEEEEK!

I wish I could tell you I was handling the to-do list’s and hormones like a champ, but the truth is that it’s gotten the best of me more often than not. I seasoned my salad on Sunday night with tears as I faced the possibility that I might not be able to do it all. The amount of pressure I put on myself to “KEEP UP!” and the acknowledgement that I might not be able to makes me feel like I am failing. I take pride in being able to get it all done, throw the party, drop off the meal, send that card, reply to that text, sneak in a coffee date, comment back to each loving comment left. And then this last week hit and it was like ….

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And a little of this:

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However, I have to note, today, I am more like this.

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So why am I telling you all this? Well, one, so you know I have the same rollercoasters as you do. Two, because I needed to vent that birth control pills and metformin sucks. Three, well, because I am learning a lot during all this.

My soul needs rest. In the midst of chaos and SO MANY LISTS, I have made the mistake of prioritizing everything else above my time with Him and then when the evening comes and my Bible stares at me, well, my eyes just can’t stay open. I need to learn the disciple of being still, of making HIM the priority instead of ensuring I have the green bean casserole made and the turkey purchased (okay, well those actually are two important things).

Psalm 46:10a reminds me “Be still, and know that I am God!”. The act of being still is one of the hardest things for me in this season, as I know it is for many of you too. Psalm 131 continues, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul…” Solitude, quiet time and rest in God is worth fighting for. It’s worth carving out, worth prioritizing, worth bumping all the way up to the most alert part of your day.

I know I need to work on slowing down and simply enjoying His presence, without asking for anything and without worrying about everything else to do. Simply being with Him. Pastor Craig Groeschel says “Stilling our heart doesn’t happen by accident” and this whole last week or two has been a gigantic validation of that statement. So with that, I ask that you offer me some grace as I perhaps write only once a week instead of twice over the next couple weeks, or take an extra day or two to reply to your comments (which I LOVE reading!!!!!), or skip a Friday Favorites (like I will this Friday to spend some Black Friday fun with the family.) I want to take the little extra time I have and savor it, stilling my heart so I can contemplate the goodness of our Great God.

A few last things to note and to be concise, bullet points it is!

  • Thanks to over 85 of you who purchased products through our fundraiser link, we were generously donated over $900 in commissions from our dear friends Annie and Jana. We are completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing generosity and sacrifice of so many of you who wanted to be a part of our journey in this way. Humbled doesn’t even begin to describe how grateful we feel. Thank you. So much. 
  • Our IUI cycle is set to start the first week of December if all goes as planned! We are still waiting for test results on the autoimmune testing I had done and I have a call scheduled for tomorrow afternoon to discuss all the fine tuned IUI details and hopefully will get those results then. I will be absolutely sure to keep you all in the detail loop as we move forward! YAHOO!
  • Starting next month, I will be writing for the website Fertility Authority and will be posting blogs with new content over there in addition to my posts here. (Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!) Can I ask you all a favor in advance? I get paid by views so when I share a link, would you mind just taking a moment to click over and read? If you weren’t able to participate in the fundraiser, this is a great free way to support us! Another amazing thing is that I get to write about my faith on there too, which as you know is a huge part of who I am as a writer and person. I am pumped about this opportunity and honored that they would approach me with this opportunity. Stay tuned the first of week December and then click away!

That’s it! Hope all my USA readers have an amazing Thanksgiving and I will eat extra turkey and mashed potatoes keeping my international readers in mind XO!

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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.

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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day of hope.

Today is a special day. Yes, it is my birthday and I am so blessed and grateful for all of the love you have sent my way via posts, texts, emails ,cards, etc. I am feeling loved and celebrated and am so appreciative of your kindness. But the second reason today is special is that it is the Day of Hope. This day, originally started by Carly Marie Project Heal, is about coming together as a whole community to openly speak about the children who left the world too early – perhaps due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early death, and celebrating their short lives. I want to take just a short minute to remember our special and loved 7 embryos we transferred through IVF and the 18 embryos that never made it long enough to be transferred. We honor and celebrate the short lives of these sweet babies of our and know that a reunion in heaven waits for us one day.

December 2012

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May 2013

May 2013

July 2013

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Because its hatching, it almost looks like a little snowman head on top! We loved Gods sense of humor.

October 2013

A Day of Hope – as a Christian, these words weigh even more heavy on my heart as each and every day is a day where we have hope. Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation and to expect with confidence. You may remember my post from November 2013 where I talked about the hope we have in God – the CONFIDENCE we have in Him because of Him. It seems only fitting today to repost the verses I shared then as a reminder of the true hope we have.

“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” Psalm 31:24

We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.”  Psalm 33:20-22

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

“You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed.” Psalm 119:114, 116

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” Romans 8:24

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Lord, thank you, for always proving faithful in providing our hearts the hope we need to keep moving forward. I am ever so grateful.

Alright, well, just so you know Friday Favorites is taking a vacation this week, so check back next week for a new post. If you are celebrating the Day of Hope today as someone on the “inside”, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you remember your lost little one(s). They knew nothing but love and will always be remembered. Hugs!

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friday favorites – august 8th.

Whooo hoooo! Another Friday! My dad sent this to me this morning and I feel like it’s fitting:

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Here we go!

Favorite Moment: After all our family had left after such a fun trip, Josh and I got to enjoy a date night and boy, did we have a blast! We first headed down to St. Paul where our friend Jason’s food truck (Jake’s Street Grill – check them out if you are in the Twin Cities area!) was stationed at an outdoor festival. We saved our weekly “cheat meal” for this occasion and Josh enjoyed some wings and I had lobster and shrimp tacos. OMG – SO GOOD! Anytime you put fresh seafood on a corn tortilla and add fresh pico, guac and cheese, well, you can bet I am swooning. From there we took a pit stop at Cabella’s, which is a favorite store of my hubby’s, a breeze through Starbucks for a cup of tea, and then we drove to the drive-in theater where we parked, played cards for an hour, then leaned back into the thousands of pillows and blankets we brought. We watched Planes 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy – both great! The weather was perfect and the company was my favorite. :)

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Favorite Drink: I love Yogi teas and have found 3 that I have particularly been crushing on the last few weeks. I love the Green Team Blueberry Slim Tea iced, the Berry Detox hot and the Bedtime tea at night. Holy cow, the Bedtime tea knocks me out like a drug! There is something magical that is laced in there that puts my mind into an instant sleep-mode. Give them a try! (Plus the tags always have such a great little sayings on there too.)

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Favorite Act of Obedience: You know those times when you are prompted to do something and you ignore it? And then the times that you are prompted to do something and you follow through? Well, I had one of those this week and am so glad that I listened to His gentle whisper.

It happened yesterday at the end of a long work day. My bladder was pleading for me to drive faster and my brain was reminding me of the meal I signed up to bring to a church friend and the groceries I had yet to buy for it. Stop now, make your bladder your motivator to get through Aldi fast. I swung through the store, racing around and pulled up to the front to check-out, noticing 2 cashiers working, one with a long line behind her and the other empty, just finishing checking someone out. I dashed to the near empty line and that’s when I noticed him. (He looked like a Bill, so that’s what I will call him.) He was about 40, standing far away from the register, almost in the first aisle, but facing the register.

Me (C): Are you in line?

B: Well, yes kinda of, you see …

And that’s when I noticed all that was going on. He had several copper rings wrapped around his neck, large ones, almost touching his belly button. His head was covered in a fishing hat that looked like it was lined with aluminum foil. On his right shoulder he held more large metal rings, those ones silver and he was resting on a cane while leaning into his cart. Around his neck he wore a huge cardboard sign that said “SEVERE EPILEPSY – PLEASE, NO CELL PHONE NEAR ME.”

He continued.

B: You can go ahead, you see I have to wait for her to come to me …

C: Oh gosh, you’re fine, no worries, I will just go in this other line.

My brain was still trying to process everything and I turned to wait in the long line while I observed several other people coming up to him to see if they could scoot in front. Thankfully everyone decided to either pass him and come to my line or wait behind him. People were starting to stare and I started feeling this deep nudge in my gut of empathy for this man. I watched as the cashier walked over to him and he handed her his credit card for the purchase. She was relatively pleasant and he explained that he couldn’t go near the register so would wait by the boxes for her. He then slowly held out his hand and I observed as he struggled for nearly a minute to open up his fist and drop some change into her hands for a few bags. By then it was my turn in line and I was pulled away from watching his struggle. As I breezed through, swiped my card, packed up my bags and turned, I noticed him standing by the door waiting and watching as the cashier rang everything up. My heart and my head just kept screaming to do something, say something, acknowledge him. (My bladder was screaming RUN FOR THE CAR!) I moved quickly to walk towards him as he turned to walk towards the door. There was an old lady, probably in her mid 80’s between us. He set the pace for the exit line, which seemed like it was in slow motion. You could tell every step was painful. He moved so slow that the old lady behind him gave an exasperated sigh and muttered “oh man, come on” more than once. His metal rings were banging and each move he made seemed to be in difficult. I waited patiently behind him as the old lady blew past him. I looked to my right where my car stood and to my left, where he was slowly turning and I knew I had to act.

C: Can I help you load those up in your car?

B: Really? You would?

C: Absolutely, let me bring these bags to my car and drop my cell phone off and I will be right back.

By the time I did that, he managed to move a few feet and I slowly walked with him back to his vehicle, where we unhinged the back of his blue beaten down truck. My mind was racing, what do I say? Just talk to him, the voice whispered back loudly.

C: How’s was your day today?

B: chuckled Hard.

C: I have to say, I really admire your drive to come out here today and get these groceries. It looked really hard. The line, the looks, I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. You have severe epilepsy?

B: I actually have muscular dystrophy and the epilepsy is a side effect from that. It’s really hard. He managed a small smile.

C: How hard, you still seem to manage to have a good attitude despite it.

B: No, you should see me when I get home. It’s really really hard to keep living. The cell phones are so hard, when people have them near me, it can set me into a severe seizure. I ask people to put them away in stores and they say no. I had a seizure in a store the other day and a man just stepped over me while on his phone. No one sees me. Less and less stores are willing to help me. The cell phone towers made it hard. I don’t have a good attitude, I just try to make it through each day.

By then I had everything loaded into the back of his truck.

C: Let me return your cart, I will be right back with your quarter.

As I pushed the cart back, my heart ached for him. I turned back, returning with his quarter as he slowly loaded his metal rings into his car.

B: Why did you stop? His voice started to shake. No one ever stops. No one ever notices me. I am just a big inconvenience to people.

My emotions were starting to take over and my words weren’t articulate anymore.

C: I stopped because I noticed you and I saw how hard this must be for you. I admire your persistence to come out here and buy your groceries and face the difficulty that it must be.

We soon after wrapped up our conversation and I headed back to my car and drove home. The whole way I drove home I was so mad at myself for not asking his name, for not telling him that I would pray for him, for not even thinking to tell him that I stopped because God put it on my heart to do so. I wish I would have grabbed his hands and prayed out loud for him. I was so mad at myself for not letting him know who I represented. But even in those moments of self-frustration, I heard But you saw him. And that’s what he needed today. Let Me handle the rest.

Friends, I am so glad I saw Bill. I am so glad that I followed through on those promptings and was richly and deeply blessed by my encounter with him. If you could, stop right now and say a prayer for him. God knows his first name, He knows his pains, his struggles, his worries, his hardships. Pray that God will renew his spirit, that others would see Bill too and that he wouldn’t feel so alone. When we obey, God acts. We may never know how, but we can leave that part up to Him. (And just so you know, I actually didn’t even think twice about my bladder from the time I said something to Bill until the time I walked in the door.)

Favorite Quote: “Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day … Remember joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good to celebrate it, even in small ways.” –Lisa Terkeurst-

Favorite Meal: I got to enjoy a patio night with some girlfriends earlier this week and loved it. My salad was amazing, but even more so, I am so thankful for friends who can laugh together and do life with.

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Favorite Funnies: Alright, this has gotten long so I will wrap this up with some giggles for the day. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

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But wait, there’s more!!! Here’s an added bonus Favorite –

Favorite TV Clip: Bobbie Thomas opened up about her journey with IVF on the Today Show this week and I found it incredibly touching. One of the best videos I have seen about what’s it’s like. If you want to peer into our world for a few minutes today, I encourage you to check out this link. — click here for the video. (The image below is just an image and will not direct you to the video. You will likely get a 15-second commercial prior to the video starting.) I promise, it’s worth it.

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google.

Fear is a nasty thing.

My baby dog Cali has been acting a little abnormal lately. It hasn’t been long, a week or two at best. An accident while she was sleeping, brushed off as she was sleeping too soundly and didn’t wake up in time. An increase in water intake, clearly from it being so hot outside. But then she got these sick, sad eyes and would look at me and I just knew in my mom gut something wasn’t right.

After another accident this weekend, I assumed the worst. (Naturally). So when you are worried, what’s the best thing to do?

Pray, call, make a doctor appointment, think positively and wait until your appointment.

Well, yes, that is the right thing. Unfortunately that’s not what I did. I turned to Google. (Never a good idea).

What I learned was that Cali likely has diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. So I continued to “research”, staying up on my phone till 3:00 am, reading article after article about what this means for her life span and quality of life, while letting my brain race.

The next day, the day the vet was of course closed, I couldn’t shake the anxiety in my stomach that I was going to lose Cali. Of course her dying was the natural thing to assume. Could I hold her while she was put to sleep? Would I survive it? What was wrong with her?

All of my worries ran through my mind like a fire in Colorado, one that couldn’t be put out. I felt physically sick to my stomach. It started in my tummy, like a burning rock that made me want to throw up. Then it spread up to my diaphragm, like hot lava spreading up to my heart, which ached, then up my throat, sitting there like a form of acid. The anxiety of losing my furbaby, the one who has been by my side for 8 years and licked my tears and cuddling against my barren stomach was too much for me to process.

I KNEW better than to let myself go. I recited all the verses I knew about worry and anxiety and trusting God. In fact, I actually begin to think that God was going to take Cali from me as some sort of test of my faith (because I haven’t been through enough) and all day I plead with God, trying to convince Him that I was strong enough without this test of faith.

I was stumped. How could I be praying, reading scripture, and yet so physically ill from the anxiety? Wasn’t the peace of God supposed to take away this pit in my stomach? What was I doing wrong? I had faith that God could heal Cali, but was assuming He wasn’t. I was being honest to Him with my emotions, scribbling down in my journal I’m so scared today Lord. I know you know how much I love Cali and I am terrified that I am going to lose her. I know I would survive but the thought of having to go through that pain paralyzes me and makes me anxious. God, you are a healer and I pray for healing for Cali and Lord, you also are a comforter and I pray that you comfort my heart and calm my anxious thoughts, surrounding them with your peace.

And still the anxiety grew. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t disengage from the fear. I read Steven Furtick’s words about fear – “…if left alone, it (fear) tends to compound, spread and destroy. Little fears can cohabitate and combine to form levels of anxiety and terror that will annihilate our awareness of the presence of God….therefore, our approach to dealing with fear cannot be passive. Because fear doesn’t evaporate. It must be evicted.”

I was letting the fear destroy me, trusting God but trusting Google more. I was engaging the fear by just looking up “one more thing”. It was awful. I was expecting the fear to evaporate instead of being proactive to just STOP playing the “what-if’s” in my head and setting the phone down. Josh eventually was able to pry the phone from my hands (which resulted in me missing lots of texts, sorry for my abrupt absence to those texting). And then I just had to wait.

Josh prayed for Cali and I and that made me feel better. I took a sleeping pill (the only logical thing to do to stop the voices) and made an appointment for the first thing this morning.

I teared up as I brought Cali to the car, for some reason terrified that they wouldn’t give her back to me if something was wrong. Lord please, any other sacrifice …

(Side note – isn’t it funny how dramatic our brains can be when in FEAR MODE? Logic makes no sense, even typing this now I am wondering how I let myself get so out of control. But that voice just fed on itself and unfortunately, I let it.)

I talked to the vet, spilling out my concerns … a few accidents, maybe drinking more or maybe just hot, sad eyes that have nothing to do with the fireworks, I think … I just know … diabetes? Dying? The look of empathy he gave me was calming, Is she eating normally? (yes) Is she showing a lack of interest in everything? (no, I had to tear her away from her toys to get her into the car this morning) Is her belly bloated? (No) The questions continued and I realized my Google research lead me astray a bit. They brought her back and took a urine sample (poor little pup and the catheter) and some blood work. While we waited Cali demonstrated her tricks for the techs (balancing and high fives and rolling and spinning in a circle and such) – all clearly evidence that she was on her last leg, right? Sigh.

Well, the results are in. She doesn’t have diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. She has a slight UTI and low estrogen (like her mom, go figure), which is causing slight incontinence. Are you sure she isn’t dying??? (“She has some of the best blood work and urine results we have seen, she is extremely healthy and has a long life ahead of her.”) And no diabetes? (“Not a trace.”). And so we were off, with antibiotics in hand and a low-dose estrogen that she will take twice a day for the rest of her long life.

That was a lot of worry for nothing. And how I wish I could have told my yesterday-self that it would all work out like this. SHE WILL BE FINE. Stop the voice. But I just couldn’t build up enough strength to trust God and stop my racing mind. I wish there was a “Peace of God” pill, but there isn’t. I know next time to stay off of Google  – to EVICT the fear by stopping my thoughts. By running the other way and to NOT play out all of the what-if’s before they come true. I wish I could say next time an anxiety attack like this hits, that I can say I will have it under control, but it’s so hard.

“Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, “Be quiet!” and he said to the waves, “Be still!” The wind died down, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 GNT)

When I read these verses today, I couldn’t help but feel God was speaking directly to me – Chelsea, why are you so frightened? Do you still not believe that I have things under control? That you can trust me? That you have nothing to fear because you always will have my protection over you? Trust me, regardless of the outcomes.

What a struggle this is! One I will continue to work on. I wish I was better at trusting. It’s a muscle that I need to continue to work on and I know that in order to work on it, I need to face situations in my life that require trust. It’s scary, but not as scary as the what-if’s. He’s got my back.

In the meantime, send us good luck wishes as we attempt to get a very stubborn little dog to take her antibiotics twice a day. And send Josh well wishes as he now has to live with two hormonally-imbalanced ladies. HA! :)

My sweet little puppy-cannoli.

My sweet little hormone imbalanced puppy-cannoli.

normal.

Well, we have made it through all of the calendar landmines for 2014. We just cleared Frostie’s due date (our last frozen embryo we transferred last fall) and I feel relieved to be past all 4 of the “I should be in labor right now …” days. I know that I will always carry those due dates on my heart. There will always be days in January, April, June, and September that are carved into my soul with love for my babies that should have been. As I reflect back on so many emotions of the last 5+ years, I realize that infertility is incredibly complex, making me have days and moments where I feel like there are 18 different Chelsea’s crammed into one body.

I am here to let you know that if there are moments you feel like your world is caving in and you just don’t know if you can keep going, you are normal.

If you have moments where you feel like the sun is shining extraordinary bright and your heart has nothing but hope in it, you are normal.

If you have moments where you burst into tears for no reason at all, you are normal.

If you have moments where your heart aches with a physical pain and you are concerned that you actually may be having a heart attack because it hurts that bad, you are normal.

If you have moments where you are so grateful for your spouse and what you have that you can’t wipe the smile off your face, you are normal.

If you have moments where you pat your hormone induced belly bloat and talk to a fake baby bump, you are normal. (Also normal, pushing out your stomach and taking selfies to see what you will look like when you actually are pregnant.)

If you have moments where you contemplate knocking over a smoking pregnant woman and screaming at her about how stupid she is, you are normal.

If you have moments where you find yourself wandering the baby aisles at Target, softly petting the ‘I love Mommy’ onsies, wondering if you will ever be able to buy it for yourself, you are normal.

If you have moments where you enjoy your freedom to go out to a movie on a whim with your husband and are secretly grateful for that flexibility, you are normal.

If you have moments where you go on a ‘you are pregnant, therefore hidden’ binge on Facebook and erase the physical reminders that all 319 friends of yours are pregnant, you are normal.

If you have moments where you cry with happiness because a friend shares with you that she is expecting, you are normal. (Also normal, crying in the bathroom later because you guys were supposed to be pregnant together.)

If you have moments where you feel completely content with your trial and embrace each day with strength and joy, you are normal.

If you have moments where you hear phantom crying in the middle of the night for the infant you wish was beside the bed, you are normal.

If you cringe when a pregnant woman complains about how fat she is getting, you are normal.

If you roll your eyes every time you have to buy ANOTHER bottle of prenatal vitamins, you are normal.

If you get excited about ovulation tests, raised body temps and cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you hate everything about ovulation tests, body temping and analyzing your cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you get anxiety when your angel baby’s “birthday” comes around, you are normal.

If you want to quit this journey and start traveling and living life, you are normal.

If you can’t stop thinking about the “what if’s” all day, you are normal.

If you don’t think about infertility for a clump of time, you are normal.

If you hate that your sex occasionally has to be timed and that you need to lay with your legs in the air for 15 minutes after, you are normal.

If you find yourself getting excited about a new vitamin, supplement, cream, herb, or technique, you are normal.

If you feel like you just can’t turn off your brain, you are normal.

If you are suddenly and overwhelmingly comforted by God’s peace in your darkest moments, you are normal.

If there are days where God seems so far away and you have no idea if He hears your prayers, you are normal.

If you wonder WHY WHY WHY WHY on a regular basis, you are normal.

If you get excited when you think about the opportunity to make this misery into a ministry, you are normal.

If you cling to the reminder that God won’t waste a hurt, you are normal.

If you feel like no one understands you, you are normal.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are struggling with infertility. Every day is a new day, new emotions surging through you and new triggers that stand in your way. I am doing my best each day to keep things in perspective, reminding myself that it could be worse and be thankful for the opportunity to strength my faith, grow as a woman and with Josh as a couple, and feed on the faithfulness of God. But I also have my moments where I want to pick up the towel and throw it in, declaring myself officially barren and binging on spa trips and new clothes.

So, where does that leave us? Well, our western medicine interventions are still on hold. I have been going back to acupuncture weekly and getting sessions, along with cupping for my back pain. My back pain is thankfully more mild than severe and the sessions seem to be helping, and for that I am grateful. I haven’t been back to the naturopathic doctor in a while and feel peace about that decision. I learned a lot from him though and still regularly take my daily vitamins and supplements. (For those who are interested, I take a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D3 and C, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitex Fruit, Maca Root, Vessel Care, COQ10 and a baby aspirin daily). My cycles since my April surgery haven’t been awesome. I had a 49 day cycle the month of my laparoscopy, which I know can be normal. This last cycle I didn’t ovulate and I induced a period using natural progesterone cream, resulting in a 45 day cycle. We are adding in herbs this cycle, mixing in 5 teaspoons of this unique mixture into hot water and chugging it twice a day and I am hoping that this brings positive change.

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I have been doing castor oil packs on my back and will now start doing abdominal ones leading up to ovulation. I have heard good things about that and have tried it in the past and found it relaxing. I would really like to be more consistent with it though. I aim to improve my health this summer, hoping losing some weight and getting back on track with my low carb/sugar diet. I have no clue what the future holds and just continue to pray that God would make a new path incredibility obvious for us. All in all, I know that this rests in hands much larger than mine. I will be hopping back into the working world soon, covering a maternity leave at the hospital I used to work at and am excited for that change in routine (and am grateful its only 12 weeks). One day at a time right? I will do my best to continue to keep you updated. I have a blog on infertility; I should share my own story more often, right?

Thanks for continuing to coat our journey in your prayers and cares. It means so much to us. As time goes on, I know this trial can start to feel so routine, yet it’s a real hurt on our hearts every day. It never gets easier on our hearts. We learn to cope better, adjusting our perspective or embracing how we are being stretched, but the pain is still raw and real. At the end of the day, we KNOW that God will continue to use this for good and that because of Jesus, there is no worst case scenario for us.

See you Friday for Friday Favorites! :)

joseph.

Ever hear the story of Joseph from the Bible? The story that Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat in loosely based on? It’s a great story and one I tend to breeze over in the Bible since I have heard it over and over again. For those of you who don’t know it or want to read a refresher, in summary, Joseph grew up in a family with his 11 brothers and dad Jacob, who favored him. His brothers got jealous of that and grew to hate him, even more so when Joseph started sharing revelations from his dreams that his brothers would one day bow down to him. They planned to kill him, but instead sold him to a caravan going to Egypt and told their dad Jacob that Joseph was dead. Still with me? So Joseph ended up being sold as a slave to an officer in the army, got accused of something false and was thrown in prison where he remarkably continued to have a positive influence on God’s kingdom. Finally, 13 years after he was sold as a slave, he became recognized by the King due to his God-given gift to interpret dreams and was made a ruler in Egypt.

Okay, so keep all of that in mind because it’s important. Joseph’s life kind of sucked! I mean, imagine growing up with tons of brothers who hate you. I am sure that the ridiculing was worse than just a few wet willy’s or noogies. I mean, they were so mad they plotted to kill him, so we know that house must have been a little (or a lot) hostile. So then Joseph gets sold as a slave, which, hello, would be awful. Imagine having freedom and then suddenly being ripped from your home and forced to be a slave for someone who’s wife keeps putting you in a very difficult position. Then you get accused of something false and thrown in prision. Again, suckfest.

So I am sitting here reading all this today and cringing at the thought of this tough life Joseph was living. I mean, I am CERTAIN that he was wondering “Why God???” Why have you put me in this place? Why have you forced me into this situation that is lonely and painful and confusing? Why why why? But I am so amazed at how Joseph continued to trust God in these desolate moments. I am sure he had to fight off hopelessness daily. Life was not how he planned it to be.

Fast forward a bit. Joseph is around 39 or 40 when he is moved into this new place of power. So, I continue reading when I come to these verses*:

During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath … Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

Two things stand out. One, the fact that God can bless us in such an unexpected way that He can make us forget all of our troubles, all of the years that we have felt trapped to a struggle or hardship, all of the tears that we have cried. God is capable and able to help us let go of the hurts that held onto our hearts for so long. Two, God can make us fruitful in the places that hurt us the most. This verse doesn’t say “God can keep us alive by a thin strand in the land of sorrow.” or “God has made me survive in the land of my grief.” … it says FRUITFUL.

Definition of fruitful: producing an abundance of growth, yielding fruit and results

We have the ability to have an abundance of growth right here, right here in the places we struggle most, the places that cause us the most grief, that make us wonder “why?”.

What is it for you? Is it struggling with your job, feeling like you just will never get a foot ahead or succeed? Is it struggling in your marriage, feeling like you are just on autopilot and missing the intimacy you once had? Is it struggling with your weight or food choices, always wondering when you will beat the addictive cycle and become a healthier you? Is it struggling being single, feeling lonely when all of your friends marry and have their other half? Is it carrying the burden of infertility, feeling so left out in a world full of families and aching for one of your own? Or perhaps you’re a mom who is feeling lost in the monotony of a toddler life – cleaning cheerios off the floor and saying “no” or “not now” all day. What is causing you to feel a little lost right now, your land of your affliction?

There is good news to all of this. God is with us and God will come in and save the day. He always does. It doesn’t always look the way we think it would or should look, but He is so faithful in blessing us and providing for us when we continue to stay faithful to Him. And it IS possible to produce fruit right where you are – midst divorce, midst family turmoil, midst another failed IVF cycle and midst seasons of lost purpose.

We can find purpose in our “chains” when we look for ways for God to use us, right where we are. Let’s continue to have confidence that He will work our tough times out for His good. I know the stretching is hard, I’m certain 13 years as a slave and in prison wasn’t exactly how Joseph pictured his life, but in the end, there was so much good that came from his story. Ours too – there is good to come. Keep the faith friends.

*Genesis 41:50-52 (NLT)