house for sale.

d1fd0bf0adb3ebbace98262734b0aac5*

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

trusting, praying + puzzling.

Update: All of the pieces have been claimed! How amazing is God!? We are so incredibly grateful and humbled by all those who have joined us in this puzzle and will certainly share pictures as it is finished being assembled and marked on. We are watching Him put together a puzzle far bigger than we could ever ask for or imagine! Thank you all for your sacrifices, thoughts, prayers and love. We are overwhelmingly grateful.

Ah, the long awaited update. Friends, it goes without saying that our road to starting a family hasn’t been easy, yet it’s one we have been called to fight for. Fight for the promises God has written, fight for the desires He has put on our hearts, fight to stay obedient to Him throughout it all. The fight has led us through 7+ years of infertility, lots of medication and treatments, surgeries and tears. And through it all, the miscarriages, the tears, the fears, and the questions, still He whispered Hang onto Me. Don’t let go of Hope. I have not left you. Keep your eyes towards heaven and wait for Me.

The last year called us to do simply that, wait on Him. Wait for His timing, His direction, His guidance. Truthfully, we kept crying out that if starting an earthly family would not come to pass, that He would graciously change the desires of our hearts and lead us towards another road.

And yet, still He whispers, Wait on Me. I have something in store.

I shared with you all that He began stirring in our hearts at the beginning of this year, pointing us towards a new clinic, Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis. (You can read more about that here.) Oh friends, it’s hard to put into words how much He showed up that day. Your prayers circled us in the days preceding, melting away anxious thoughts and ushered us into the appointment with complete peace, articulation and a God-given sense of calm.

That appointment went so well! We felt completely listened to and validated, the seasoning of cycles past able to lace the conversation with wisdom that I can only say was God-led. And so, after much continued prayer, Josh and I are excited to share that we are stepping into the waters of in vitro fertilization (IVF) one final time with this clinic and doctor!!

The timing and excitement stirring in our hearts isn’t a coincidence! The changes we are making to our cycle protocol are significant and we feel a lot of peace and confidence regarding the path that lies ahead for us. Our prayer is simply that He would use us and our story for His kingdom, regardless of the results. (If there is anything we have learned along the way, it’s that He is writing our story here and we are simply along for the ride!)

As we have been praying, we have felt a strong call to invite others in to help us bring our baby home in a tangible way. How so? We have designed this beautiful 1,000 piece puzzle and are humbly asking you to claim a piece. What does this mean!?

Our goal is to put together this puzzle, piece by piece, with the names of those who are committing to pray and support us as we jump into this again. After the puzzle is completed, we will frame it between two pieces of glass and hang it in our child’s room as a wonderful keepsake, visually representing the team of cheerleaders behind us. (Yes, we are claiming there will be a child as a result!)

We will be offering 2 types of puzzle pieces – prayer pieces and sponsored prayer pieces. Many of you have asked in the past if you can donate financially to our cycles, knowing that the cost of uncovered IVF is expensive. We continue to feel, as we always have, that the power of prayer is much stronger than the power of the dollar, however, this cycle, unlike cycles past, we feel led to open up the door to vulnerably allow people to support our journey in this way should they so choose. We don’t want this to be a big commitment, so the cost of the sponsored puzzle piece is simply $5. We do NOT want a dollar amount to stand in the way of you being part of our puzzle. If you cannot or simply don’t want to chip in $5, please, do not feel any obligation. Josh and I always try to be intentional stewards* of the money God has given us to manage and all puzzle donations will be specifically used to fund this cycle. We want to stress though that this is not about the money but about the prayer involved.    

Simply put, this puzzle is our way (and God’s way!) of organizing a team of prayer partners behind us and giving your name a tangible piece to our puzzle. We hope to be able to visually see the names of the army behind us!  If you have sent over any prayers, thoughts, positive vibes and support, in the past or currently, we sincerely thank you and hope you join us for this next adventure.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you want a piece of the puzzle, it’s all yours! We simply ask in return that you offer up a small prayer** for us over the next few months. If you have stumbled across this blog and find yourself still reading, YES! Please, we covet your prayers too! No prayer is too big or small! We mean it! (The thought of complete strangers being part of this story gives me goosebumps!)

To have your name put on the back of one of these puzzle pieces, simply click here and submit your first name (last name not required but welcomed!) or your family name. **LINK IS CLOSED AS THE PUZZLE IS FULL**That’s it! Josh and I will rejoice as we write your name into our story! Go do it right now before you forget!

  • If you want to purchase a puzzle piece and support us in this way, first of all, truly, thank you. We know $5 is a cup of fancy coffee, a car wash or lunch out. We don’t take your sacrifice lightly.

You can sponsor as many pieces as you would like! ($5 = 1 piece, $10 = 2 pieces, $20 = 4 pieces, etc…) With each additional piece you add, feel free to add a message to your portion of the puzzle scaled to size! We would love words from you etched into the puzzle!!! (This is optional.)

If you choose to donate, you can do so in one of these three ways:

  • 1 – Click on the Donate button below and pay securely through PayPal. Simply add the amount of pieces you are purchasing (Feel no need to purchase more than 1! Honestly, your $5 gift is so meaningful! The thought really does count.) You will see a spot available to “add special instructions to the recipient” during “checkout” where you can add your puzzle message. If you include anything else in that message, please make sure to note what is a personal message and what you’d like written on the puzzle.

**DONATIONS CLOSED AS THE PUZZLE IS FULL**

  • 2 – Write a check or donate cash and hand deliver to Josh and/or Chelsea.
  • 3 – Mail a check to us (email us at trialsbringjoy @ gmail.com for a mailing address).

Please don’t let the hesitation of not having talked to us in a while, not knowing us at all, or having been a quiet observer stop you from being a part of this road with us. We are so hopeful that God has great things ahead for our family!

We humbly thank you so much for caring about us so deeply. It’s only in Him and through Him!

Love,

Josh, Chelsea and of course, Cali

I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For were two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT)

*I feel it important to note that prior to knowing that we would be pursuing these costly medical treatments, Josh and I planned a small, half-week vacation for early May. Had we known we would be undertaking this IVF cycle and extensive testing, we would not have financially committed to that. However, His view is always bigger than ours and we are grateful now to have this short get-away to look forward to in between our egg retrieval and embryo transfer. We do not in any way want to make you uncomfortable if you choose to purchase a piece and leave you feeling that we were not clear about this pre-paid trip.

**Not a pray-er? We invite you to offer up simple words such as “Dear God, thank you for the chance to pray for Josh and Chelsea. We know that You and only You are the one who makes and sustains life. I pray right now for Josh and Chelsea and the medical journey they are about to step into. I simply ask that they would be blessed with a baby for their family! Amen”

PS – I know that many of you are interested in all of the fun details of IVF cycles! The blood tests! The medication protocol! The timeline and nitty gritty details about how this cycle will differ from others. We wouldn’t let you down! All of these details will be shared in the coming month as we proceed. I will share now that as I write this, I am already on medication to begin this final cycle! Our intentions are to enter into the egg stimulation phase at the end of March with a tentative and God-willing egg retrieval surgery early April. YAY!

photography: Gina Ziedler

Photo by: Gina Zeidler Photography

squawking.

Don’t you wish we had a Magic 8 ball that we could shake? One that would tell us our future, you know, for planning sake. Or perhaps God could rent a skywriter for the day and with smoke, transcribe the answers we are looking for in the sky.

I’m with you. I struggle when I feel a little restless, uncertain of what lies ahead, feeling naked with my plan stripped away from me. What’s next? I ask this question to God on repeat so much that I have started to sound like a talking, squawking parrot.

Have you been there too? Do you ever feel like a little kid sitting in the back of the parent’s car.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

How about now?

Where are we going again?

How do we get there?

Are we there yet?

When are we turning? 

I am thankful that God’s attributes include compassion and patience, but I am sure at times He gets exasperated with me.

Child! Trust Me! I know where we are going. We aren’t there yet. Just stop talking for a minute and listen for Me to lead the way.

I was having this conversation with Him this morning when I flipped to my Jesus Calling devotional. I had to chuckle when I read the first line: “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.” Ahhhh, so this is where active trust comes in.

I’m in a season right now where I don’t know what’s ahead. My heart is torn between a lot of options for our future and I feel restless not knowing which path to choose. Even more frustrating is that God isn’t making any particular path very clear to me. Instead, He is answering back that I am supposed to wait in this season of unknown, intentionally NOT choosing one of the paths in front of me. That is hard for me! I don’t mind waiting with direction, but waiting without direction makes me itchy, clammy, and a little discouraged.

Yet, God has continued to reaffirm that this place is exactly where He wants me. He wants me to stop and learn to wait for Him, to trust Him enough to be okay without knowing the future or being able to control it.

I love Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” It seems SO simple when we read it, but it’s not easy! But I know He honors this act of faith. The thought continues further down in verse 7a – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him….”

Stillness is never easy. Being in a season of unknown can be exhausting, but I am learning that it’s only tiring when we allow it to be. I am wasting a lot of energy squawking like a bird and screaming like a child in the car when God is just telling me to be still. Stillness, in fact, should be the least exhausting action at all! Stillness involves rest, restoration, and listening. Even my vocal cords should be getting a break! (Imagine that!)

Psalm 38:9 seems to perfectly describe my prayer at the moment: “O Lord, all my longing is before You; my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes – it also has gone from me.” Ever been there? Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you have vulnerably set your longing before Him. You know what? He hears our sighing. Perhaps your heart is throbbing and you feel so tired and weak. He is with us.

Read these words from Psalm 40 with me today (I found strength in reading them outloud) and claim the victory that He has promised!

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (v.1-3)

Seasons change. Trusting in Him is not purposeless or pointless. He lifts us up. He steadies us. He fills our mouths with a new song. And in the end, as a result of our patience, our steadfastness, our trust, He is glorified! Doesn’t that make it all seem worth it?

Lord, help me to commit my ways to You. Help me to trust in your promise to act. Allow me to be still and wait patiently for you. Amen.

IMG_3207

 

fur mama giveaway.

Oh I am SO excited for this one friends! If you know me at alllllll, you know that my fur baby, Cali, is insanely precious to me (bordering obsessive) and that I love being her fur mama. Another thing I love is mail and encouragement. So imagine my DELIGHT when I saw that Fertile Box’s October TTC Care Package was made SPECIFICALLY with Fur Mama’s in mind! ALL THE FEELS. (And it can be made for a cat or dog mom too!)

Crystal sent me and Cali this AMAZING Fur Mama Care Package and we couldn’t love it more! So, I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing this awesome box with you AND of course, inviting you to win one for FREE! (More details on that later!)

(Side note: If you aren’t trying to conceive and still want this box, you can! When you order it, simply add a note that you aren’t trying to conceive and she will omit the TTC-related items, as well as allow you to add an extra quote print of your choosing. HURRAY!)

Let me walk you through this awesome box. Gah, you’re going to love it!

My box arrived and was packaged so cute and carefully. Take a peek!
IMG_2888

Cali was immediately interested and of course came over to help open it! First we opened the Fur Mama Survival Kit.

IMG_2892

Inside was: 2 flower and bow collar attachments, a package of homemade dog treats (which has been Cali-approved!), an adorable Snoopy halloween toy (with a squeaker, which we have been hearing all weekend in the most adorable way), and some fall doggy bags.This bag was a home run!!!!!

IMG_2897

IMG_2931

Next we opened this box:

IMG_2899

Inside was this PRECIOUS paw print necklace in silver. I’m swooning!

Next we opened this Trick or Treat bag.

IMG_2907

Inside was some special treats for me – a face mask, a KIND bar (my favorite kind too!), some Kettle Pop gourmet gum, and of course, you can’t do fall without some pumpkin spice! I can’t wait to try this Tazo Chai tea!

 

Next up, unwrapping this:

IMG_2914

It held this ADORABLE Fur Mama tee shirt! The shirt is so soft! They offer sizes S – 2XL. I can’t wait to iron mine and rock it! You can count on seeing a selfie on Instagram this week for sure. (Just realized this image is a little blurry but you get the picture!)

Next up – this 5 x 7 quote print out. I love how she adhered it to the box so that it shipped safely. Just love it!

IMG_2919 IMG_2920

Last up was the TTC part of the package, which again, can be omitted if you aren’t TTC and replaced with an extra quote print out:

The front of the package looks like this:

And it’s filled with 5 ovulation tests, 2 pregnancy tests, and of course, baby dust!

Seriously – you guys. This will put a smile on ANY Fur Mama’s face! The card in the box says it all: “For many of us … the only thing keeping us sane on this difficult journey to parenthood is the unconditional love of our fur babies….We may not be human mommies yet, but we’re wonderful loving Fur Mama’s!”

If you are supporting someone who is struggling to start a family and know that they would love this Fur Mama package, order them one. Seriously. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about someone going out of their way to acknowledge how much of a mom you can be to a pet.

Every month has a different theme for the Monthly TTC Care Packages and this is the only month to order the Fur Mama collection and they will sell out, so don’t delay! Head over to http://www.myfertilebox.com to place an order! There are two versions of the box, this FULL version ($36) which includes everything pictured, and the MINI version ($26) which has everything except the t-shirt. Seriously, for everything inside, it’s a DEAL!

BUT WAIT! Because I love you guys so much, and Crystal over at Fertile Box is so amazing, we are offering my readers a special promotional code for a FREE “Refuse to Sink” silver cuff! All you have to do is enter the Promo Code FALLBONUS when checking out.

Every month there is a different theme to the packages so if you aren’t a fur mama, or if you want to spread some love next month or over the holidays, keep checking out http://www.myfertilebox.com for updates. There is always something new and it makes this journey so much more bearable.

Now, the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

This giveaway is being conducted entirely through Instagram, so head on over to my account @chels819 to enter. Rules to enter:

  1. Follow @FertileBox and @Chels819
  2. Like the Giveaway Picture
  3. Tag 3 friends that you think might be interested!

That’s it! But for an extra 3 entries, repost the Instagram picture (pictured below for an easy save and repost) and use the hashtags #fertilebox #FurMamaGiveaway. (if you are set to private, direct message me a screenshot of the post.)

So easy! We are drawing the winner at the end of the day FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9TH so don’t let time get away from you! This honestly is the funnest giveaway EVER and I can’t wait to spoil a special fur mama with this package. (By the way, we are giving away the FULL version! Whoop whoop!).

Okay, what are you waiting for? Go enter and/order! Before they are all gone!

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

(Also, congratulations to Amy L. who won the In Due Time book giveaway! It’s not too late to buy a copy for yourself – head on over HERE to purchase one for yourself in paperback or for your Kindle! Thanks again Jen for sponsoring that giveaway!

the hallway.

IMG_0447

A few years back, my mom gave me this wooden sign that now sits by my kitchen sink: “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway”. It’s become a favorite sign for me to read on a daily basis while I’m washing dishes and I routinely ponder what it looks like in my life.

I envision a long hallway with a locked door at the end. Have you ever stood in that hall with me? Trying to open a door that doesn’t seem to be budging? Perhaps you can relate in the desire to have a baby. Or maybe on the other side of the door is the spouse you’ve been praying for or the job promotion you deserve. Whatever it is, you can see it – some days you feel like the doorknob is wiggling, and yet, you can’t get in the door. So in the hallway we sit.

I turned 30 last week. T H I R T Y. At first I was nervous about entering this new decade, the one that now requires me to check off a new age bracket, start seriously thinking about eye cream and even renew my driver’s license. Thirty.

I didn’t anticipate it, but guess what? I love being 30. Like, L-O-V-E it. It seems crazy that an age can bring with it such a wave of contentment but I am so fully embracing this new decade that it scares me a little. I am doing this. I am being and enjoying life, with all its unknowns, even here in the hallway. Perhaps I am still running off of birthday celebration fumes, the aftertaste of parties and cards and hugs. But it feels deeper than that – it feels like a fresh start.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Our speaking pastor, Jason Strand, mentioned it yesterday in his sermon and I absolutely loved what he said after: You don’t need to be thankful FOR all circumstances; you need to be thankful IN all circumstances.”

You know what that means? We don’t need to be thankful for the hallways – infertility, singleness, job loss, health issues … but we do need to be thankful IN the hallways. There’s a big difference there! Being thankful in the hallway starts with our attitudes, how we view our circumstances, and what we choose to focus on. Our pastor continued by saying “Happiness isn’t getting what you want; happiness is enjoying what God has given you.”

So good.

What is your hallway today? And how are you learning to embrace it and find joy in it? I promise, no matter how lost we feel, God sees us there in the hallway. We haven’t gotten stuck in a maze and disappeared from His sight. Maybe that locked door isn’t opening anytime in the near future. Or perhaps it never opens but another one in the hall does. Or maybe, it opens tomorrow. Either way, we can’t waste today forgetting that it’s possible to praise Him in the hallways.

Now a note to myself:

Dear Future Chelsea, remember this moment. Remember the contentment you have in the hallway. Don’t lose sight on His goodness as you wait. Keep your perspective upward and when you slip, which will inevitably happen because you’re human (and hormonal), come back to Him and keep praising Him. He hasn’t let you down and He won’t start now.

Love, 30 years + 5 days old Chelsea

Have you gotten a copy of the In The Wait devotional book yet? Don’t miss your chance! Preorders close THIS Wednesday and then the book won’t be available for purchase again until September 14th. Plus, you get freebies if you order now! Check out this post for all the details + your chance to order.

Interested in hearing Pastor Strand’s entire message? Click here to listen. 

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

it’s okay to feel.

Infertility comes with such a complex mixture of emotions. If you are anything like me, it’s almost shocking to know that such a wide range of feelings can be compacted down into one heart, one mouth, one brain. My emotions sometimes remind me of a compound butter. It seems so neat when cold and molded into a little ball but then once it hits anything hot, it melts, explodes, leaks all over. Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like your emotions are just leaking all over, so many feelings adding layers of complexity? No one else feels like THIS, do they? Why am I not handling this better? Why am I melting all over the place?

I am here to tell you today that everything you are feeling is normal. Every emotion, as complex as it is, seems to be part of the complex recipe that is infertility. Let me reassure you today that if you have felt any of these emotions, you are in good company:

(Click Here to Continue Reading)

(Would you mind clicking so I can reach my goal number of view for my writing gig at Fertility Authority? THANKS FRIENDS!)

Oh, and a few quick notes:

  • There will be no Friday Favorites this week … stay tuned for a double dose next week!
  • All emails for the TTC Lucky Socks exchange are out! If you have not heard from me and have gotten a confirmation email from me when you signed up, email me at ttcexchange@gmail (dot) com.
  • Keep us in your prayers!

XO!

Lucky Sock Exchange.

IMG_0863

Guess what time it is!? Time for our next TTC Exchange! This time …. Lucky Socks! If you are interested in finding out more, click (here to continue reading} and get all of the FAQ’s on the exchange, plus learn how to sign up! You aren’t going to want to miss it! The deadline to sign up is Wednesday, March 11th, don’t delay! The link will bring you to a page that will answer all these questions you have, like:

You’re intrigued right!? Click on over!  There is also a spot for you to link up your blog to the exchange so make sure you do that too! (You can also find the info page on my Menu tab of the blog or by using this address: https://trialsbringjoy.com/lucky-sock-exchange-2015/)

Ok, another fun thing – guess what happened last night!? That’s right, my trigger shot! My appointment yesterday showed a few perfectly-sized follicles and great 9+ triple striped lined, which means our IUI is a go for Thursday (tomorrrrrrow!). Keep us in your prayers as we try this again … fingers crossed it’s our last one ever.

trigger shot

trigger shot time!

doesn't everyone have a lucky baby troll?

doesn’t everyone have a lucky baby troll?

See you back here for Friday Favorites! XO!

Q & A part 3.

Happy Monday! Hard to believe we have reached the end of our Q & A post series! I am wrapping up the questions today and hosting one last giveaway. These questions have longer answers so let’s dive right in!

Q: Why are you on a Gluten-Free diet? Do you think it helps with infertility?

I had been extremely reluctant to even think about trying a gluten free diet, as I didn’t have any reason to. My sister found gluten caused her extreme headaches and my mom found herself feeling less foggy without it. But I didn’t have a problem with headaches or fogginess. I ignored all articles sent to me and did some mild investigation without many changes. However, as we were going into our 4th embryo transfer in 2013, I decided to look into the research one last time. And what I found was simple yet compelling. One of the symptoms of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is infertility. But surely I would have other symptoms right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to test positive for celiac to have gluten sensitivity which makes it a little hard to tell if you are really sensitive or not. But that night, I decided to go cold turkey, gluten-free. The reason was simple, if research was showing that gluten sensitivity and infertility are related, and if I was willing to put my body through countless amounts of medicated cycles, then I could give up gluten as well. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t easy at first, but it has become significantly second nature now, plus knowing that this is something that could be making a difference makes it worth it.

Since going gluten free, I have had full and complete healing of all IBS symptoms. I no longer have digestive issues (and when I do, it’s because of my friend Mr. Metformin) and feel significantly less bloated. Also, having PCOS, I need to stay away from carbohydrates and found eliminating the potential of temptation from my diet to be extremely helpful as well. Is a gluten free diet for everyone struggling with infertility? Maybe, maybe not. If this is something that intrigues you to learn more about, do some research. See what you think and how you feel about it. At the end of the day, the only way to be successful with something is to be fully onboard so you have to make a decision that you feel confident in.

Q: What types of exercise do you recommend while dealing with infertility?

I have to be honest, exercise isn’t my favorite thing. I enjoy how I feel after I work out, more knowing that I am done for the day versus those magical endorphins you are supposed to feel. That being said, diet and exercise are the two top ways to combat PCOS symptoms, beh.

While not in the midst of a cycle, I have found a mixture of cardio and strength training to be successful for me. (Josh and I work out at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping here in the Twin Cities and we love it.) However, when I am cycling and have started any type of stimulation medication, I have to switch to something with low impact, like a gentle yoga, walking, or swimming. When you are cycling, your ovaries swell up – like big time. Anything that could cause an ovary to accidentally twist is dangerous and would cut off circulation, thus losing an ovary. (When my doctor told me this, I gulped!) That being said, activity is still important while cycling because you want to increase blood flow and stay healthy. So be mindful of the activities you are doing and if you have any questions, ask your doctor. My abdomen has been particularly tender this week from the letrozole stimulation and doing a few sit-ups were painful. Be kind to your body and know what feels okay, but also, make sure you are doing something.

Q: What are some of the cutest things your pup has ever done?

I love this question! :) Cali is such a joy in our family and has definitely brought a lot of healing to our hearts. Her intuition is incredibly good and I actually am a little concerned that she does think the world revolves around her, ha! I want to share a million pictures and stories, but for the sake of brevity, I will just share one. This video below is a favorite – I ran into the grocery store and left her in the car with Josh for a couple minutes. She was very ready for me to return and very insistent on watching the store door to make sure she didn’t miss me exiting. :)

Q: How do you keep the faith and maintain hope in all of this?

Many people sent me in a version of this question and I struggle with how to answer it, as it seems so complex and yet so simple. I have written about this before a bit in this post back in 2013. But as I sat down to answer this, I thought back to an email I replied to this weekend from another reader, R. As R struggles to cope with another failed cycle, she asked the same type of question – how do you keep going? The more I thought about how to answer this in my blog, I realized that perhaps my 1:1 answer to her would be helpful to someone else, so here you go:

How do I keep going? Oh, only through strength that is greater than my own. This quote has reminded me that He is still in control, even when the outcomes are different than I expected or hoped:

“We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to (who expected the Messiah to be born in a manager?) or arrive when we want it to arrive (who knew Abraham and Sarah could have kids in their old age?), but God is always faithful to His word. Romans 8:31-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  Because this one promise is true, even if you don’t see anything else in your life working the way you think it should, it’s enough! God is still in control. And He is for you. You just have to be patient.” (Craig Groeschel)

R, I keep going when I remember that HIS grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. When we come to a point where our prayers haven’t been answered exactly how we wish they would have been, cling to the FACT that HE is all we need. His grace is all we need. I don’t know how I always keep going. There are days when I cry out and ask if I am supposed to keep going. But you know what, He has not yet removed the persistent and desperate calling to be a Mom from my heart yet. And I know Him to be a good God, even when it feels like situations are just ugly, because He reminds me that WE can handle this. Even thought our timing is different than we wish, it doesn’t mean He has left you. And it doesn’t mean you are being punished for something, or aren’t good enough, or are broken. It just means that sometimes the process will be so worth it when we get to the end. The Bible is filled with stories of people waiting and hoping and expecting different – Sarah and Abraham waiting for a child, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus, Job waiting for his sufferings to end, the Israelites waiting and roaming for 40 years to get to the Promised Land, now all of us waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting seems to be a crucial part of faith – I don’t know why we can’t be spared some of the pain in the meantime but I do want to reassure you that you are not alone. 

It’s okay to curl up and cry all day. It’s okay to pour out your disappointments to Him and keep praying, even when it feels really quiet. I believe that even in the quiet, that He is right there with you. I just want to come give you a big big hug. 

I have been in your shoes many times, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until just this year that I found out that I have a pretty severe blood clotting disorder known to cause third trimester miscarriages, plus many other life-threatening risks associated with traveling, surgeries, etc. The fact that I have been spared so many times without my knowing about this disorder gives me goosebumps. I never wanted to experience early miscarriages like I have, but then I think, what if – what if I was spared from a third trimester miscarriage, which I think would have been an absolutely horrific thing to go through. What if all of the failed cycles were protecting me from an even more tragic outcome that I would have never imagined. What if all these failed cycles were for me and not against me. I choose to believe that the pain you are feeling is not in vain. Even if we never find out the why’s, hang tight to the promises that He cares for you so much. I am praying for you extra today and am so sorry that you have to experience this sorrow. It’s real and valid and I will continue to lift you up in my thoughts.

To all my readers wondering how you keep going, continue to pray about it. Continue to offer your desire up to Him and ask Him to open and close doors to help direct your path. When the calling is still there, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Just get through today, don’t worry yet about what tomorrow looks like. Cling to a favorite verse when your heart seems to overwhelm you (some of my favorites are here). Keep opening the Bible and reading His stories. Do you know that there is not one story in the Bible where someone is mentioned as barren or desiring a child that ends with them not having a child? I believe God answers the desires of our hearts, even though the timing is not always our own. Take needed breaks when you are too overwhelmed and never, ever stop crying out to Him.

Q: Have you ever considered adoption? How do you determine that timing?

The loaded question! Many people ask infertile couples about adoption, often with good hearts, wanting that couple to be relieved of the pain of wanting a family and feeling like adoption is a simple answer. The tough thing that many people don’t fully take into consideration is that adoption is a calling. Adoption is not a band-aid for a couple struggling to have their own biological child. The process of adoption is beautiful and needed but God didn’t create every couple with the personalities, wirings or desires to go through the process. You open yourself up to background checks, lengthy waiting lists, and strenuous psychological testing. Then you have to answer questions like domestic or international, open or closed, known illness or special needs or the known, newborn or older, through an agency or finding someone on your own, ethnic difference or similar to you and your spouse …. and what happens if the biological mother or father chooses to change their mind about the adoption, having up to 60 days post-birth in most states to do so?  You’ve already fallen in love with that child. Then the questions when they get older. Why was I given up for adoption? Can I have a relationship with my birth mom? What about my birth dad? Who am I? These are all special questions to be answered and dealt with by the people that God has called to be a part of the gift of adoption.

Neither Josh or I feel called to adopt and I know that many people may not understand that, and you know, that is okay, because we feel strongly at this point that it’s the God-given decision for us. Might that change someday? Yes, of course! I believe God puts and changes the desires of our hearts in His timing. There are people who are made with giftings, desires and strengths to handle all of the unknowns and details that come with adoption – many of them already with children, or many of them feeling called to adopt long before they knew their struggles. There are couples going through infertility that feel passionate about creating their family this way and that is beautiful, special, and perfect for the story God has written for them. But there are others who aren’t called to adopt and that is beautiful and perfect as well.

I have had people share that they just don’t think they could ever handle going through IVF. That they don’t feel called to do that, that they aren’t sure they could handle all of the questions that go with it, or the physical brutality of the process. It re-enforces to me that not everyone is called to the same journey of starting their family. If God has put adoption on your heart, I think that is a wonderful thing. I could fill this page with verses that support adoption, fostering and all the other wonderful things. I also know that God doesn’t put everything in everyone’s heart and that not everyone is equipped in the same way.

I so greatly admire people with the heart and calling of adoption. It is one of the most beautiful processes and I have so many friends who have made this look effortless and have handled it all with such joy and grace. My heart prays for you all often as I know the path that you are on is emotional and full of its own unique stresses and struggles. And likewise, I ask that you continue to respect our journey and calling as well, whatever that turns out to be. Adoption is a big deal and we all are called to start our families in different ways. Isn’t it beautiful how God uses so many unique opportunities and processes?! Everyone has the chance to adopt if it’s something they choose. There shouldn’t be guilt associated with that choice either. So there’s my thoughts on that. :)

If you have made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I feel like I should hand you a lollipop or something. Or how about I offer you the chance to win 2 sets of Jamberry nail wraps and a manicure set? My amazing cousin Lindsey offered up these goodies for a giveaway, simply because she has a heart for my readers and wanted to help spoil someone. How amazing is she!? (Giveaway open now until Friday morning, where the winner will be announced during Friday Favorites. Free entries are a great way to win!)

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time! XO!

friday favorites – february 20.

Repeat after me – 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. We can do this.

tumblr_m086vri96t1qh2o7zo1_500

Favorite Dinner Date: Josh and I had the BEST dinner date to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The food was absolutely amazing (Acqua never fails to disappoint!) and it felt so good to sit for a few hours and talk and laugh and catch up. I am so grateful for this man. (Plus the basil mojito’s there are on point. Like, #winning.)

IMG_0435 - Copy

heading out for my 12th valentine’s day date with this hunk!

quick restaurant selfie.

quick restaurant selfie.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness.  All of it, delicious.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness. All of it, delicious.

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular -- the best treat everrrrrr)

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular — the best treat everrrrrr)

Favorite Flowers: Trader Joe’s had these gorgeous purple wax flowers on sale at $2.99 a bunch this week. Nothing says SPRING COME SOON like a little bit of flowery life in the house. I have a feeling they will last a while too.

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 preset

Favorite Quote: “I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even when I am longing for something more. The longing and gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that He sees what I can’t, that He’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning.” –shauna niequist-

Remember how my last cycle got cancelled due to overstimulating? Well, I should have started a new cycle weeks ago. And I didn’t. No, I can assure you, I am not pregnant. My body just decided to revolt, shake things up a bit, make me wait a little longer and storm the castle of confusion.

tumblr_llgy4iaYXb1qhhll4o1_500

We waited and waited. Did some checking, took a monstrous PIO injection used to induce a cycle and then waited some more. Well, even the inducing didn’t work. (And let me tell you, it makes you feel awesome. Um, not.) So on Monday I zipped over to my clinic for some bloodwork and another ultrasound, all showing that my body is truly just trying to be rebellious without a real cause. Yes, a few smaller cysts here and there, but nothing too exciting or unusual for me. So with that news, the doctors plan is just to start another Letrozole (Femara)/IUI cycle and see what happens. They cut my meds down by half, started the letrozole on Monday and finishing tonight, and I will go in next Tuesday to see what’s going on.

Okay, all of this ties back in to the quote, I promise.

So after my early morning, 7-something appointment, I stopped over by Starbucks to make my grocery list and menu for the week. Well, my ‘quick list-making stop’ evolved into a quiet and relaxing morning, watching the snow fall down around me, making me feel like I was in a snow globe, while ingesting the beautiful words above.

Coming out of the appointment I felt pretty apathetic but Shauna’s quote reminded me a few things – one, that I am to be fully and completely grounded in Him, grateful for life even when I am longing for more. It reminded me that God IS weaving a future, even when I can’t see the other side. It reminded me that it’s okay if we can’t see the other side from where we sit right now. (In fact, if we could see the other side, it would omit the need for faith.) It reminded me that above all, regardless of what is going on in my life, that I want to develop into a person of deep gratitude and surrender to the One who holds my future in His hands. And in order to develop into that type of person, I have to focus more on trusting Him then I do on what I am longing for.

I am so thankful this quote lined up with the messy unknowns of another cycle, helping to re-root myself in Him. Let’s do this.

IMG_0487 - Copy

Favorite Date: I got to have an auntie/niece date with my oldest niece this week, and goodness, did we have fun! First of all, how do kids grow up so fast? Scarlett was chatting away and playing jokes on me and using her big, bright, beautiful imagination in ways that awed me. We stopped for lunch, visited a treasure store (aka a thrift store where she, unfortunately, chose a porcelain bell as the most prized treasure she ever did see. I have a feeling I will pay for this one day when I have children who are out with their aunt, hee hee!), and then spent time chatting over coffee at, where else, Starbucks. I love this peanut. Please, stop growing up.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

oh you know, just passing notes at the table.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

“this is the best thing I have ever had.”

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

“i love ringing this bell.”

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

oh this little girl just melts my heart into a million pieces.

Favorite Reminder: Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and I have to admit, I can fall into the routine practices that seasons like Advent and Lent can offer. In trying to be more intentional, I ordered the She Reads Truth Lent devotion book in hopes to focus more on what Lent means. I loved the introduction and how it defines lent: “Lent sets aside time for believers to focus intently on that action which is at the crux of our faith – drawing near to the cross of Christ and resting in the shadow of His sacrifice, glory, and forgiveness.”

I shared online that my prayer for myself is that I use this time of Lent to be intentional about returning to the cross, repenting and mourning the reality of my sinfulness, and remembering the precious gift Christ has given me. I pray that this season becomes more than just giving up something, I pray that we can all press pause and remember just how much we need the cross. If you are looking for a great devotional to use, follow along on shereadstruth.com or download the app. The website offers free devotionals/scripture readings daily while the app charges $2.99 for the plan for its app-functionality. It’s not too late to start.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Favorite Cali Picture: She certainly was not barking at anything right before this. In fact, she too looks confused as to who was yapping at a blowing leaf. (*eyeroll*)

IMG_0509 - Copy

Favorite Funnies:

10987666_10200147333682032_8829099564974239918_n

10926222_1033324283399328_6907384345629736439_n

1546094_823271921079322_5010669312331201698_n

10522086_1029566023775154_7921344527140803204_o

IMG_0555

 

IMG_0527

IMG_0526

IMG_0525

IMG_0524

IMG_0523

IMG_0522

IMG_0520IMG_0519

IMG_0518

IMG_0316

And finally, congratulations to Kristin H. for winning the giveaway for the gorgeous Wishbone + Gem necklace! We are necklace twins, so fun! Thanks again to Crystal for sharing your talents with my readers!

Until next week – xo!