guest post: not just a beauty blogger.

Happy Tuesday friends! I am excited to share with you a guest post I wrote over at Not Just A Beauty Blogger today! I connected with Nikol several months back (you will love her!) and am honored at her invitation to share with her readers. The post is about how I have been learning to wait with God and not just waiting for God, including some practical tips on what that means for me. I hope you will pop on over and check it out!

Click Here to Read

Until next time ….

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watering.

Cali and I just came in from our small garden, a basket full of tomatoes and lettuce and onions and herbs. When Josh and I planted, eerrrrrrr, when Josh planted everything at the beginning of the summer, it was hard to see how the tiny plants would ever produce anything.The sprinkler waters them, Josh trims them back and pulls off fruitless branches, in fact, he even installed a special gutter ledge to prevent the rain from pounding their tender leaves. (We can see who has the green thumb here, don’t we?) We wait. And we wait. And nothing seems to happen. But now, here I stand today gathering ripe tomatoes and lush lettuce and bundles of herbs. We can barely keep up with it!

“What do we have here today Mom?”

Then we have my actual flowers – the potted kind. I am the one that’s more responsible for these than Josh. And, shrug, they are nearly all dead. Watering with the hose seems like so much work. The water can takes forever to fill up. (Ridiculous I know.) Every time it rains, I pray that there are large gusts of wind that will blow the rain water to every plant, covered by the porch or not. I get lazy and then, well, the plant dies.

When we water ....

When i water ….

when we don't.

… when i don’t.

Josh will point out that my flowers are dead and remind me that I should water them. I begrudgingly get the hose and watering can out the next day and drown them, praying that this watering brings them back to life. Luckily, it usually works until about 2 weeks later when Josh reminds me again that my plants all look dead. I have great intentions at the start of the summer to water regularly and rip off their heads when they die, (I believe the technical term is deadheading), but then I get so lazy, certain they can sustain on their own.

As I harvested the tomatoes today, the thought flashed through my mind of how often life feels like a plant. One day we are looking at a circumstance and it feels so small and empty, impossible. We see no progress being made and our efforts to make it grow seem meaningless. But we stay persistent and then, suddenly, it happens. That first tiny flower, a sign of what’s to come. Then another. And another. And before you know it, that circumstance feel like a lush garden, fruit coming off the plant every day. But that fruit doesn’t just appear. It comes as a result of patience, watering, intentional grooming, and the routine of putting into it when you don’t yet see an outcome. Are you waiting for fruit today? That promotion to come or perhaps your walk with God to grow closer? Maybe it’s a new diet or fitness routine or trying to break a bad habit. Keep putting in. Keep working hard, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s paying off. Stay focused to the end goal – the harvest. Water your skills, your body, your mind, your spirit each day and wait. It will come!

Likewise, don’t be like me, never watering the plant or taking care of it and expecting flowers to bloom. Don’t expect an outcome when you don’t put in the work. Yes, it may be hard. Yes, you may feel lazy. I am right there with you!

I go through days where I expect the watering of my soul from last week’s devotions to carry me over to today. But then when a sharp word comes out of my mouth or my spirit would rather turn on secular music than worship music, I realize how dry my “soil” has become. My patience for people starts to wilt and only God can refresh my decaying mess. The reward of being rewatered and cared for feel so good, but wouldn’t it just be easier to keep the plant alive in the first place? For me, YES!

Think about it today friends. In what area of your life do you need to be reminded to keep your watering up? Your work isn’t in vain, your patience hasn’t been dismissed. You will reap a harvest. And also, in what area of your life do you need to start taking better care of your plant? Start watering it. Begin investing in it and then keep it alive with daily care.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

Now, I’m off to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes! If only mozzarella grew on a bush …..

jaws.

animals-BlacktipReefShark-header-web For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a healthy fear of sharks. And by healthy, I mean I am worried about sharks attacking me in swimming pools, around water vents, in lakes or rivers, most definitely in the ocean regardless of the water height, and yes, understanding that even fake sharks could become dangerous and deadly.

I believe an early viewing of the movie Jaws may have had something to do with it, although like all good parents, mine fast forwarded through so much of the tv-version movie that I had just enough to worry about in an excitingly obsessive way. (And also had a total meltdown the first time I saw the non-fast forwarded through version). Sharks have always intrigued me and I have written many papers for school, collected shark teeth and can give you detailed run-downs of all 4 Jaws movies. (skip Jaws 2 and never waste your time on Jaws: The Revenge.)

Riding the Jaws ride at Universal Studio in Florida when I was in elementary school was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, but one I was determined to overcome. (I did say my goodbyes beforehand though. One kid at school told me someone got thrown off the boat by mistake and the fake Jaws munched her up before they could retrieve her. I was certain my death was near.) But thankfully, despite some hysterical sobs and an offer to stop the ride, I did make it through.

All of this being said, last week Josh and I ventured down to sunny Florida and spent the day at Universal for our anniversary. I knew the Jaws ride had closed much to my dismay. However, I wasn’t anticipating him to be hanging by the Universal “lake”. As a nearly 30-year old adult, walking close to him was terrifying. I likely sounded like a shrieking dying varmint. Thankfully our walk by him was early and the park area was nearly empty.

Take a picture with him!

Josh and the park photo attendant cheered.

No thanks!

My football field length viewing of him was more than close enough and I was sweating more than I should have been for 9:00 am.

Honey, just get a little closer, you can do it!

Josh kept cheering, standing on the other side of the big killer while I would take one step forward and run 3 steps backwards. I was painfully aware that this made no sense at all. I could see the confusion on the park attendants face as she watched me do an awkward side dance between the plastic Jaws and the freedom that the street 100 yards away was bringing.

You got this, just get a little closer. He’s not gonna get you. Come on babe!

Josh was giddy at the thought of me overcoming this fear. I wanted to throw up in my mouth. (Disgusting I know. Fear will do that to you, right?) Finally, after 100 mini mental pep talks and Josh chanting in the background, I made it to the beast. I stood about 5 feet away and smiled prettily for the camera. Except neither Josh nor the attendant would take the picture.

Um, move in closer.

I can’t.

You can. Just don’t look at its really sharp teeth. (Park attendant – not helpful.)

(me wheezing)

Finally I got close. I mean, really close. I don’t think I was breathing and I was certain at any time 1) another shark would jump out of the water behind me and pull me in; 2) that this plastic Jaws was mysteriously animated somehow and would lurch at me, accidentally catching my hair in its teeth and kill me; 3) it would fall off the hinges and crush me. An unexpected way to die by shark but very possible in my world.

Now touch it!! Go on honey! Just put your hand up and touch it!

Josh was shrieking out encouragement and hysterical watching this entire thing take place. Again, can I just mention how thankful I was that no one else was around? Except that park attendant who had nothing helpful to say.

Whooooa, be careful! He’s looking at you!

I couldn’t touch him until said unhelpful park attendant shouted out three insanely helpful words.

Close your eyes!

My hands flew up to my face. I was wearing sunglasses! No one would ever be able to tell if my eyes weren’t open! And with that, my eyes quickly closed and I was mentally moved away from the situation that I was about to touch Jaws. My hand came up and rested on his cold, clammy, killery cheek and the camera’s clicked.

Boom.

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I walked away with a pride. I did it! I overcame my fear! I was still alive! And I had proof! Of course Josh walked up to him and made a visit to Jaws seem like he was saying hi to a minion, but I was on a high. In fact, they even talked me into another picture, this time with Josh, and I fell naturally into a runners stance. HA!

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All of this being said, I learned an important lesson about fear. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and do it. That thing that you are certain you can’t overcome – the move, the doctor’s appointment, the battle towards weight loss, the reconciliation phone call – just close your eyes and do it. When we stare the problem in the face for too long, it grows and with it, the fears grow. The “what if’s” become so long, engulfing us in worries and anxieties and almost always, the thoughts of failure. So let’s eliminate those from our peripheral vision. Let’s only lay our eyes on the prize – what do we need to do to overcome it? Is it making a phone call? Is it saying “yes” to something that scares you, yet you know you need to do? Is it finally scheduling an appointment to get that mole checked out or looking up the lab results the doctor’s office posted?

Isaiah 41:10 (GWT) beautifully reminds us: “Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.” We don’t have to be afraid because He is next to us, supporting us, strengthen us and walking with us. Close your eyes today and feel Him. He is there! Slow down your mind long enough to realize His hand has never left you and never will. The thing you fear may not be easy. All things considering, my visit to Jaws is minor in comparison to real fears – fears of diagnosis’s, miscarriages, lost jobs, divorce battles, dying parents, difficult bosses. If you are at one of those draining crossroads today, be encouraged that you can go forward. It may be by closing your eyes but don’t stand still and soak in the terror. Grab His hand, listen to His encouraging words and move closer to that Thing. He will protect you in all your ways!

Okay, now back to Shark Week …

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eva’s world interview.

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I am excited to share an interview that I recently did for Eva’s World, a fertility community striving to help those who are trying to conceive. Eva’s World features some wonderful resources and stories and I am honored to be able to share a bit about our journey, some resources I suggest, as well as how I incorporate my faith in it all. I would love for you to head on over and check it out!

Direct link to my post: Infertility Will Never Win Over Her Faith

Also, if you want to check out some of the other TTC stories shared, click here for a great list!

I hope all have a great week! I am so thankful for all the encouragement that came my way last week – you all are a gigantic blessing to my heart! This will be a great week, I can feel it already!

XO,

Chelsea

wish lists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think that deserves a big gigantic “amen”!

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

friday favorites – april 24.

So today is Friday, which means TOMORROW I board a plane and head off to Hawaii with 2 of my close girlfriends and one of their hubby’s. AHHHH! This trip snuck up so fast, granted I know we only booked it 2 weeks ago. All of that being said, I have a suitcase that still needs packing, toes that need painting, and a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in 24 hours, so this Friday Favorites will be a little different! Today I want to ask YOU to share with ME your Friday Favorites! I have had a list going for too long of things that I would love to hear that other’s love, so please, take this week to go through this list and pick an item or two (or all!!) and comment below with what your favorite is! (Or as always, you are welcome to email me at trialsbringjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.) I can’t wait to hear what you have to share!

  • Favorite Mascara – I feeling like I can never find something that doesn’t flake too quickly but still adds volume. Whatcha got!?
  • Favorite Book (fiction) – What’s a great book that you have read recently? I need some new authors!
  • Favorite Book (non-fiction) – What are you reading that is teaching you a lot? I love Christian growth books and am starting to wind down on my to-read list. Build it back up!
  • Favorite TV Show to Netflix – I am planning on starting on season 1 of Scandal on the plane tomorrow, as I have heard so many things about how good this show is. That being said, I know there have to be other network tv shows that I have completely missed out on. Share what’s good! (And nothing too racy or profane please!)
  • Favorite Grilling Recipe – We just pulled our grill out for the season and I can’t WAIT to cook on it every night! What’s a favorite recipe you have where you just need the grill? A side? A main dish? Send anything over!
  • Favorite Essential Oil Combo – I know there are a lot of you out there who use Young Living Oils (or another brand). I adore diffusing mine and am always looking for a great, refreshing mix. I have been mixing orange + peppermint all week and am crushing on that big time. What do you like to mix!?
  • Favorite Meme – I am always looking for new funnies to include! Be sure to email me hilarious ones you come across!
  • Favorite Game – Josh and I like to play games at night and we are a little Yam-Slammed, Phase 10, and Golf-ed out. What’s another easy and fun card game we could learn?

SOOOO excited to hear what you guys come up with and share!

On a celebratory note …. guess who turned NINE on Monday!? Our sweet little Cali girl! NINE! I know. *faints*. I was feeling nervous as that number continues to creep up and took her in to the vet this week for an annual check-up, just to make sure things are looking good. GREAT NEWS! She’s a rock star and beyond healthy, so this Mama (and Dad!) are feeling super relieved to know she’s “in her prime” and has a long long life ahead of her still.

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Okay and I can’t leave you without some funnies!!

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Other than a Guest Blog post next week, I won’t be around too much on here which on vacation, however, I can’t wait to check back with you when I return! Until then, this girl is about to get her beach on in the gorgeous island of Kauai.

Me ka aloha pumehana! (Yeah, no I have no clue what this means, Google just told me it’s appropriate for a goodbye statement.)

you are not alone.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week – a week focused on creating awareness that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. You guys, that’s a lot. And I have to say, I am proud at how far we have come in the last few years. “Infertility” seems a little more talked about, people are responding with a lot more grace than discomfort, and more often than not, it invites others to say “me too”.

This year, RESOLVE is urging the infertility community to help spread the message “You are not alone.” Dealing with infertility can be isolating. So many people who struggle wonder why. We feel broken as we see our Newsfeed filling up with pregnancy announcements, gender reveal pictures, photo after photo of child-filled outings. The thing is though, there are others who understand how you are feeling. No one should have to walk through this alone.

If you are reading this today and are struggling, let me assure you of the fact that you are not alone.

You are not alone if you have never seen 2 pinks lines.

You are not alone if you have seen two pink lines but your arms are still empty.

You are not alone if you have to give yourself shots.

You are not alone if going to see the doctor (again) drains you of all your energy.

You are not alone if you are hopeful during a 2 week wait.

You are not alone if the thought of another 2 week wait makes your heart anxious.

You are not alone if you have ever laid in bed crying and wondering When? and Why?

You are not alone if you have felt like the only one who really feels like this.

You are not alone if you feel like you just can’t act like you have it all together one more day.

You are not alone if you are scared and confused.

You are not alone if you are questioning everything from trying to have your own child to learning about surrogates and gestational carriers.

You are not alone if you have heard that you are dealing with bad eggs.

You are not alone if you have heard that your partner has male infertility factors.

You are not alone if you are just giving it one more month.

You are not alone if you are afraid to say something to anyone because you anticipate a hurtful comment.

You are not alone if you need to seek a support group, find a counselor, take a break.

You are not alone if you engage in social media for support. (Instagram is the BEST group of ladies out there!)

You are not alone if you can’t remember the “pre-trying to conceive” you.

You are not alone if you aren’t sure when to seek help or talk to a specialist.

You are not alone if you are dealing with secondary infertility.

You are not alone if you are lead down a path to adoption.

You are not alone if you need to use donor eggs or donor sperm.

You are not alone if you feel like you can’t plan your life because you don’t know what the next 4 weeks will look like.

You are not alone if you have cut out gluten, dairy, sugar, red meat, vegetables that rhyme with “bale”, caffeine, anything with red dye …. all in hopes that this could be the thing that helps you get pregnant.

I could go on and on and on.

The point is, you are not alone. There are others out there with a similar story as you, feeling similar emotions, running down similar paths and wondering the same questions. Can I encourage you today to share your story? No, maybe it’s not going to be “coming out” on Facebook, but perhaps it’s telling a friend or a family member. Perhaps it’s starting the conversation with something like “What I am about to tell you is really hard for me because this is such a vulnerable and sensitive subject and I am just asking you to listen and be supportive …” I have a feeling that there will be many domino effects created as a result of your bravery to break the silence surrounding infertility.

Can I share one more thing?

I think that the greatest thing in the message You Are Not Alone is that you really aren’t ever alone because there is a God who loves you so much who is on the road with you, day in and day out. There are times and seasons where He seems so quiet. The silence of God is only temporary and I find it’s in the seasons of silence where I learn the most about Him and about myself. But apart from the seasons of silence, there are seasons of rich fellowship and community that is built by bringing our requests to His feet and trusting Him to walk with us down a path that is so hard, a path where we feel so weary.

God doesn’t always do exactly what we want Him to do, when we want Him to do it. I do believe though that even in the waiting and in the struggle of infertility, He is with us and because of that, we are never ever alone. We are never alone in the wee small hours of the morning when you’re hunched on the bathroom floor staring at another blank test. We are never alone when the ultrasound tech whispers “I am so sorry … let me get the doctor.” We are never alone when the emotions are bubbling.

I pray that during this week of Infertility Awareness, that others find deep, meaningful, rich relationships with other who are struggling so that they are reminded that they are not the outcasts, and even more so, I pray that others find the precious, peace-giving life that God has to offer in the midst of this battle.

Keep your chins up ladies, infertility does NOT get to beat us. We are not alone.

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Here are some resources for those wanting to learn a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, for those who want to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, or that wants to read more facts from my NIAW blog last year or the year before.

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