Thursday, June 9, 2011

Being Vulnerable

I'm grateful to have a good support system of friends and family.  I've had a group of people who have really walked alongside me through my infertility and IVF journey - people who have been faithful to pray and encourage me.  I have no trouble asking people for prayer.  But when I received news that the doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat yesterday, I lost it emotionally.  I didn't want to talk to anyone, not because I didn't want them to know, but because I didn't want to be out of control emotionally.  I think I've cried more yesterday and today than I have in years.  I know that's good for me, but I'm not used to letting people see that vulnerability in me.  Why is that so hard?  I don't know.  I've wanted to isolate myself, not talk about things with anyone, because it's easier to be "okay" emotionally if I'm not thinking about or talking about the baby.  But avoidance isn't good.  Why can't I just "lose it" in front of people who love me? 

Follow-up sonogram

Yesterday was our second sonogram.  The doctor said the blood buildup was gone, and the baby and sac had grown since last week.  However, he couldn't find a heartbeat.  He told us he is 99% sure it isn't a viable pregnancy.  I have to go back on Monday for another sonogram so they can double check.  At that time, they will discuss options with me if my body doesn't miscarry on it's own. 

I tried holding it together at the center, but I just broke down crying.  How could we so easily hear the heartbeat last week and this week there be no heartbeat?  I asked the doctor if the blood clot could have affected the baby, but he said he didn't think so because there was obvious growth of the baby. 

I've cried many times since yesterday, which isn't like me.  I like to have my emotions under control, but I don't feel like I have anything under control right now.  Last night, I thought about the baby all night long and why he/she couldn't have lived?  God brought life to this little one only to not survive?  I don't understand. 

It's hard to comfort my husband, who I know needs comforting, when I'm so emotional.  I feel sorry for him.  He is trying to be present for me and comforting while dealing with his own grief and sadness.

My loved ones tell me there could still be a heartbeat on Monday found, and I know they are right.  I know God can do a miracle and breathe life into my baby.   I want to believe for that and pray for that.  I also want to trust God ultimately.  I know His ways are greater than ours, and I know He doesn't make mistakes.  I guess I'll keep telling myself that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another lesson in trust

I went to the doctor yesterday for my first sonogram - I am 6 weeks pregnant.  The fertility specialist monitors the pregnancy more closely through the first trimester, which is good.  Because we had three embryos implanted, this was the day to find out if we were having multiple babies.  Fortunately, we are having one baby!  We were able to hear the baby's heartbeat, and everything seemed to be good.  The doctor did see some blood buildup, which he said he thought it might be from implantation.  The hope is that the blood will just be reabsorbed into the body without growing.  But, when he shared this news with us, I was instantly concerned about whether this blood buildup would/could affect the baby.  I wanted assurances from the doctor that I didn't really get 100%, probably because he can't give those type of assurances.  Anyway, I came away from that appt with the reminder that I have so little control of so many things in life.  Ultimately I must choose to trust God with this precious life he has given me.  I must choose to trust God with my concerns and my hopes. 

Sometimes I wonder,does it make a difference at all if I pray and ask God for protection of this little life, since God has the days already numbered for all of us.  But then I'm reminded of stories in the Bible where God was moved because of prayers of His people.  So, I will continue to pray for this healthy growing life in me.  I will pray for increased faith and trust in Him.  I know that I don't want to be anywhere other than in God's care and provision.  And my baby is in  God's care and provision too.  I find comfort and hope in that. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

And the pregnancy test result is....

POSITIVE!  I went to the doctor this morning for a blood pregnancy test.  They called me with the news that I was pregnant!  I started crying on the phone...I was so happy - for about 30 seconds - until I started to worry.  The nurse told me any level above 60 is considered pregnant.  My level was 90.  I go back on Wednesday for another blood test.  The nurse says that my levels should increase by 60% if all is progressing normally.  After my initial happiness, I started to worry that my level wasn't that high.  What if the second blood test shows a decrease in my levels?  What if the baby initially implanted but I miscarry?  My mind just started going with worry.  Why can't I just be happy and excited?  That's what my husband wanted to know when I got home from work tonight.  Why can't I just be optimistic?  I don't know.  I don't want to worry.  I don't want to have these sinking feelings.  I guess I just feel so fragile and vulnerable. 

So, once again I'm reminded that I must trust God with everything - everything that I don't have control over and all the unknowns I face.  I must find my peace in Him and direct my thoughts to Him.  He will give me the courage and bravery I need. 

A lesson learned on a wife's role

Wow!  I just got challenged and convicted this morning during my quiet time.  Let me give you a little background first.  A couple of days ago, Adam told me he had trouble sleeping because he was worried about us having triplets.  He was saying how he didn't think he could handle it, etc.  He was just sharing his concerns, but I got defensive and upset. Then, yesterday, I asked him a dumb question (talk about setting him up).  I asked him if he would rather have triplets or no child.  His response was "I'd rather have twins than no child".  I knew Adam's anxiety about triplets, so it really was an unfair question.  We ended up having a slight conflict because he felt I punish him/get mad at him for being honest.  He's right - I tend to do that because I get mad at him for not having more faith or worrying about things I don't think he should worry about.  We worked through it, and it was fine. 

This morning, I was working on my devotional called Wisdom for Mothers.  The chapter I am on is about a wife's role with her husband.  Here are the things I learned this morning about a wife's role:
1.  a wife protects and defends s heart.  When a husband's heart is vulnerable or insecure or weak, a wife should protect and defend her husband's heart.
2.  a wife is called to submit to her husband completely - with a gentle and quiet spirit.
3.  1 Corinthians 11:7-11 talks about how we are to be the glory of our husbands.  We were created from man, and we were created for man's sake.    Man wasn't created for woman's sake!  This really challenged me that my role is to support and encourage and be my husband's help-mate. 

Sometimes I am selfish and get tired of feeling like I always have to encourage my husband or always have to say the right thing - I want him to encourage me.  But, God reminded me this morning that I was created to be my husband's help-mate. My role is to help him and support him. 

What changes do you need to make in your thinking and actions to reflect your role in God's plan?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You are God

This morning during church, I was really moved during our worship time.  One of the songs we sang was You are God by Charlie Hall.  Part of the lyrics state "you fill our hearts with love and faith, you fight for us you make us brave".  These words, for some reason, deeply touched me.  I understood, at a deeper level, that God provides me with love and hope.  I can have courage and bravery because He is fighting for me.  How cool is that?  What is there to fear when you are under God's care? 

No matter what the outcome of tomorrow's pregnancy test, I know that it has been filtered through God's loving hands.  I choose to trust and believe in His grand purpose and will.  I choose to trust and believe God knows what's best for me and ultimately only His purposes matter. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The waiting is almost over

It's Friday!  TGIF!  Mostly, I'm just ready to get through the weekend and get to Monday - that's when I get to take a pregnancy test and find out whether I'm having a baby.  My daughter Emerson asked me today if I had a baby in my belly.  I said, "I don't know".  I still try not to let myself think about it too much - afraid that if my mind wanders, it will just go places that aren't helpful.  So, I continue to challenge myself to stay present, in the moment, enjoy life and what today brings. 

I've had many people tell me or my husband how they are praying for us, praying that God would grant us another healthy baby.  I told Adam this morning that at least if God says "no" about having another baby, we know we had prayer support and God definitely has a reason for saying no.  I know he wouldn't just not let me be pregnant out of being mean.  That's not who God is.  If I'm not pregnant, I trust God and His grand purposes. 

I thought it would be helpful to make a list of the things I'm grateful for - that no matter what the result of Monday is - I can reflect and be aware of the many blessings.  So here's my list, not exhaustive by any means....

1. a wonderful husband and daughter
2.  great extended family - parents and in-laws
3.  a healthy mind and body
4.  the ability to be active
5.  my salvation - I serve a God who is gracious, and merciful, and forgiving, and perfect in every way
6.  I get to stay home and raise my daughter - my husband works hard to provide for our needs
7.  we have a great church community with great friends

Life is good - that won't change on Monday! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A word on peseverence

Love it when I feel like I have heard from God during my quiet time.  I know He's always speaking through His word, but sometimes I just feel like the word just is louder or more specific than at other times.  This morning I was challenged on perseverance, not only spiritually but personally. 

Here's what Charles Swindoll writes:

I fear our generation has come dangerously near the "I'm-getting-tired-so-let's just-quit" mentality. And not just in the spiritual realm.  Dieting is a discipline, so we stay fat.  Finishing school is a hassle, so we bail out.  Cultivating a close relationship is painful, so we back off.  Getting book written is demanding, so we stop short.  Working through conflicts in a marriage is a tiring struggle, so we walk away.  Sticking with an occupation is tough, so we start looking elsewhere....And about the time we are ready to give it up, along comes the Master, who leans over and whispers:  "Now we keep going:  don't quit.  Keep on"

I was challenged on so many levels..sometimes I think I'm much weaker than I even think I am.  I think I do give up too easily, whether it's with watching what I eat or having walls up in my relationships.  I get tired of the constant effort it takes to do what's right.  BUT, that's the life we are called to live - that's the way to growth and maturity and blessings.  We must be willing to persevere, even when it's hard and we are ready to stop trying.  We must keep going, don't quit, keep on! 

In what areas do you need to persevere in? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Are you fast-forwarding life?

I've been wanting to blog about something profound or transformational, but honestly I've just been steadily plodding along.  But, I guess, most of life is steady plodding, isn't it? 

I get to take a pregnancy test next Monday.  I've been trying hard not to rush the week away, thinking about what the news might be next week, and what will happen after i find out the news, and....Instead of being caught up in trying to fast forward life, I've been trying to stay present and engaged to what is going on each day in my life- to stay present and engaged with the people in my life, to enjoy the present as much as I can.  Tomorrow will come soon enough, but I don't want to be a person who wishes I could turn back time and enjoy moments longer and better.  We live in such a fast paced society, rushing through the days and weeks and months.  I want to be a person not rushing.  I want to be a person who can stop and smell the roses.  I want to live each day with meaning and purpose, even if it's just a mundane day. 

I will deal with next Monday when it comes, and I hope to deal with the day with grace and strength no matter what the test results might be.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Legacy

Today at church, we had baptisms.  There were several children being baptized, and one of the fathers gave a brief statement about the legacy his parents had been a part of leading up to his daughter's salvation and now public statement of faith through water baptism.  I don't know if I'm extra hormonal or what, but I couldn't keep the tears from falling.  I thought of the legacy I want to leave behind...most importantly, loving Jesus with all my heart, mind, and soul and pointing others to Jesus.  I thought about my daughter Emerson and the importance of leaving her a legacy of a life serving Jesus.  I want her to know Him fully and in a way that transforms how she lives. I want her to see in me someone who lives what she says.  I want her to see someone who is full of joy and hope because of a life with Jesus.  I want her to live with purpose and intention. 

When I think of this legacy, it reminds me the importance of daily living.  We often find the daily living "mundane" or boring.  What importance is there in cleaning the house, doing laundry, dealing with tantrums, going grocery shopping, making dinner, etc.  But when you think of the legacy you want to leave behind, it reminds me that how I live daily is the legacy I will leave behind.  It's not a dramatic one time action that leaves a legacy (or not often, anyway).  It's the daily choices and behaviors and attitudes that make up our legacy. 

My daughter has gotten into the habit of asking me "what are we going to do tomorrow, mom?".  My response has been, "let's worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Let's focus on today, today".  Because that's been my answer consistently, Emerson likes to ask me that question so she gets to hear that answer.  She frequently answers her own question now with my answer.  What we say, how we respond, the daily choices DO MATTER. 

What legacy do you want to leave?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Battle of the Mind

It's only been one day since our embryo transfer.  We had three embryos transferred yesterday.  I've been feeling tired and having cramps today.  Since the IVF nurse advised me against running or high impact activity until after our pregnancy test, I've been doing other lower impact exercises.  Today, I did the elliptical for 35 minutes and then did a weights class.  As the day progressed and my cramping/dull pain continued, I began to let my mind wander...did I do too much today, exercise-wise?  Is my body rejecting the embryos?  I got on the Internet and started reading different sites about whether cramping after embryo transfer is normal.  I'm continually amazed at how much our mind can stray so quickly and easily.  I had to constantly challenge my thoughts today - not to think negatively, not to dwell on what ifs, stay focused on the present. 

I continue to believe and pray for the best, that these little embryos inside of me will continue to grow and develop.  I will continue to fight the battle of the mind - not letting my thoughts become negative or full of anxiety.  I will turn my concerns to Jesus and focus on living in the present - focusing on things that are true, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise-worthy.

How do you fight negative thinking?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Now the waiting begins

The embryo transfer went well this morning.  Three embryos were implanted, all of which "looked good", according to our doctor.  So, I have three little embryos in my uterus right now, just needing to grow and develop.  Could we have triplets?  Of course, there's a chance.  But, somehow I doubt it.  We are praying for God's will - we want one baby but would take whatever God gives us.  We will still do daily progesterone injections until we know whether or not I'm pregnant.  I will take a pregnancy test on May 16th, so just over a week of waiting. 

No matter what the outcome, I feel like God has stretched me and refined me in many ways.  I feel like my heart has opened up in ways that have been shut off for a long time.  I tend to put walls up around me to protect myself from hurt, but this process has taken my walls down.  I feel free to hope and be optimistic, knowing God could still decide not to allow us to get pregnant.  That's okay.  I would rather be open and hopeful than closed and pessimistic. 

Hope Endures

This morning, I go in for the embryo transfer.  It's a "day 3" transfer this time instead of a "day 5" transfer.  I'm not really sure why, but the nurse says all the embryos are growing as they should.  When we go in for the transfer, we'll get more information on their quality.  Then, it's a matter of waiting - to see if the embryos implant on my uterus. 

Emotionally, waiting is hard! There's nothing you can do to make a difference in the outcome - it's completely in God's hands.  I have been hopeful in this process, asking God to grant us another healthy baby.  I remind myself I will be okay no matter what the outcome, and I know that will be true.  But I will continue to present my petitions to the Lord, trusting Him with my requests. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another step in the right direction - IVF update

Today, I found out that out of the 7 follicles retrieved yesterday, 6 were mature and 5 have fertilized.  It sounds good to me.  Now, that doesn't mean all 5 fertilized eggs will continue to develop.  I'm supposed to call back tomorrow to see how they are developing and when the embryo transfer will occur.  It's weird to be finding myself praying for the development of those little embryos. I've drifted off praying for them several times today - that they would grow and develop normally and implant in my uterus.  When the science of baby-making is broken down, you see how much of a miracle "life" really is - how many complex things must come together to create life, and how one breakdown can cause life not to occur.  It's such a fragile thing! 

I was reading some online articles last night about the effect exercise has on the IVF process and outcome.  Of course there are probably many different views, I read one recent article that said the IVF process is actually one of the few occasions when exercise is not helpful.  Because I am an exercise addict, not really, but I do work out 6 days a week rather strenuously, I started to worry about my current exercise routine.  Will running cause me not to become pregnant?  Will doing regular strenuous workouts negatively affect implantation?  I don't know, but it has me concerned.  I started praying that God would give me wisdom if there was anything I needed to do differently during the next few weeks awaiting pregnancy results.  I emailed the IVF nurse yesterday asking about whether my current exercise routine was safe to continue at this point.  She advised against any high impact activity, such as running, and said to stay with low-impact activities that do not raise the heart rate very high.  Mixed Emotions!  I'm sad that I have to scale back for so many reasons.  One reason I'm sad is that I'm not naturally athletic.  I work hard to achieve results and running is something that never has come easily.  I'm afraid of losing my endurance and abilities when I stop running.  I also worry about weight gain.  I have to work extremely hard just to maintain my weight.  IF I"m not working out as hard, will I gain weight?  On the other hand, I did pray to God for wisdom and i do feel like the nurse's response was confirmation of what I needed to hear - SLOW DOWN, let your body rest.  I needed permission for that, and God knew that. 

So, I will heed medical advice.  I will slow down, do yoga and other low impact activities.  I will rest and take it easy.  I have the rest of my life to work out hard and train but maybe only this one opportunity to have another child.  Which is more important?  There's no contest - I'll take another baby any day over my exercise routine. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Egg Retrieval

The egg retrieval procedure went well this morning.  We thought we had 6 mature follicles, but the doctor actually retrieved 7 follicles.  This is good news because the more follicles retrieved, the more chances of fertilization and embryos for implantation.  I can call tomorrow at 11am to find out how many eggs were fertilized and when the embryos will be implanted. 

So today has been rest day.  I don't get many days where I just get to lay in bed and relax.  It's been nice.  It's nice to get permission to rest!  You don't have to tell me twice.  Tomorrow will come soon enough, so today I will enjoy. 

Filled with Hope

This morning was the egg retrieval process, and it went really well.  We originally thought we had 5 follicles growing, then we found out on Saturday we had 6 potentially mature follicles.  Today, after the procedure, the doctor told us he had retrieved 7 follicles.  yay!  I know 1 or 2 extra follicles don't seem like a big deal, but for me it is a really big deal.  It gives us 2 more chances of developing healthy embryos.  I will call the doctor tomorrow to see how many of my eggs were fertilized.  It's still a process that feels so much out of my control, but we are trusting in God.  We are looking to Him to keep proper perspective, to remember His perfect character. 

I'm thankful for friends who have been supportive and have covered me in prayer.  I have felt peace in the midst of much uncertainty.  This process can be very overwhelming and stressful - we have had our fair share of stress.  But, Adam and I have really come together and supported each other well through it all.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

IVF - phase two

Yay!  We have just ended 9 days of fertility injections.  We have 6 follicles that are within the "mature" range.  So tonight I get an ovidrel injection to produce ovulation.  On Monday morning at 9:30am, I will have the egg retrieval procedure.  This procedure is the most painful and intensive.  They actually put me under sedation, which I'm grateful for, because it's pretty painful afterwards.  I will know afterwards how many eggs they retrieved.  I'm praying they retrieve all 6 so we have a higher chance of getting embryos to implant.

I'm excited and hopeful about the possibility of being pregnant.  Am I still scared about the possibility of not being pregnant?  Yes, but I figure disappointment never killed anyone.  It's important for me to have hope and believe the best, because I know I can deal with anything God gives me (with His help).  No matter what, Adam and I wouldn't change anything we've done.  It's been worth the financial sacrifice to try IVF again, and at least we won't ever have to have any regrets.   

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trust - what I'm learning

Oh what a day today has been.  It was a bit stressful because of some fertility medication that was supposed to be delivered by 8am today that I needed to take by 9am.  It was supposed to be delivered by FedEx, and with fertility medications, you HAVE to take them at a designated time.  So, when I found out that FedEx was delayed in delivering my medications (because of the storms in the south), I panicked.  I knew in my mind to try to stay calm, to pray, to trust things would work out, but that all went out the window in the moment.  I'll spare you the details, but it worked out and I eventually got the meds I needed. 

I'm learning a lot about what it means to trust God.  Webster's dictionary defines trust as "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something" and "one in which confidence is placed".  So trusting God is having assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God.  Trusting God has more to do with trusting WHO GOD IS rather than trusting in what God can do or a specific outcome.  I trust who God is, in His character, in His goodness, in His sovereignty, in His power.  I trust in Him no matter what, in spite of circumstances or outcomes. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Word for Me

When I sat down to have my quiet time today, this is what I read:

"NO matter where you are in your spiritual journey, the decision before you is whether or not you will trust God.  You probably have many circumstances in your life that challenge your trust in Him.  In this week's lessons, we'll focus on our first priority:  our relationship with God.  Trust is the key word in that relationship.  As you begin this week's study, let me ask you a question:  will you let go of whatever is holding you back from trusting God completely?"

I say I trust God and that I don't want anything other for my life than what He has blessed and ordained, but sometimes I feel like what I'm really doing is trusting in His "no" answer.  Let me explain, I think my struggle in trusting comes in believing He will answer my prayers.  I guard my heart almost by preparing for the "no" rather than really seeking Him and believing in a "yes".  I don't know if that completely makes sense, but I've never wanted to be a "name it, claim it" type of believer.  I know there are lots of reasons why God doesn't always answer prayers the way we are asking.  I guess I just tend to think He's not going to answer the way I'm asking. 

More than anything, I want to trust God completely.  I feel like I do trust Him with the "nos" but can I trust Him for the answered prayers as well?  It's hard to find how to live that tension - wanting and trusting for the "yes" but also being okay with the "no".  That's the tension of where I want to live.  My goal today is to be present today - not think or worry about what tomorrow will bring but to be a faithful seeker of Him today.  With my eyes fixed on Him, I will have proper perspective and peace. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What do you do when you are struggling?

In my last post, I shared about my IVF sonogram.  Since yesterday, I've been struggling with discouragement, even though I know I need to be hopeful and filled with trust and peace.  This morning, I just started crying.  Why?  I'm not really sure other than I'm trying to fight off negative thinking - all the what ifs that I have no control over.  So, what did I do?  After having a quiet time, I emailed my three most trusted friends and asked them to pray for me.  It's such a blessing to have friends in your life who you know will lift you up in prayer when you need it and will be faithful to walk alongside you no matter where you are.  Sometimes our friends have to remind us of Truth and stand in the gap for us when we are at our weakest.  I asked them to pray that I would trust God and be filled with hope, in spite of how I FEEL. 

One of my friends emailed me back right away and said she had already been praying for me this morning and that I "was on God's mind".  What a good reminder that God cares for us and He knows exactly where we are and how we are struggling.  She gave me a song to listen to for encouragement and reminded me that God can make big things out of something little.  That is the God we serve. 

After emailing my friends, I got on the computer and watched some YouTube videos of some of my favorite worship songs.  God's peace filled me.  As I was listening to songs, I was also looking at some blogs.  One blog I read said to be "a seeker of blessings".  I love that.  Be looking for the good, be looking for blessings around us. 

What do you do when you are struggling?

Monday, April 25, 2011

IVF take three

In our long fertility struggle, we've tried MANY different fertility treatment options MANY different times.  Our first attempt at invetro fertilization occurred in 2006 and resulted in our beautiful daughter Emerson.  All other fertility treatments before and since 2006 have been unsuccessful.  So we here are again trying invetro fertilization because our hearts just really want to expand our family.  I started the injections on Thursday night and went today to the specialist for a sonogram.  The specialist has to check every few days to see how my body is responding to the medication (ie how many follicles/eggs I have growing).  The last two times we did IVF, I had about 14 follicles that grew and were retrieved.  When I went for my sonogram today, I had 5 follicles growing.  The first time we did IVF, I had 14 eggs retrieved and only 3 embryos that developed that were then transferred to my uterus for implantation.  Of the three embryos transferred, we only had one implant (Emerson).  The second time we did IVF, we had 14 eggs retrieved and only 2 embryos that developed and were transferred to my uterus for implantation.  That time, neither embryo implanted thus no pregnancy. 

So, looking at 5 follicles seems disappointing.  The nurse told me that as we age we just don't tend to create as many eggs.  Yes, those 5 follicles can still create embryos (Lord willing), but it seems like odds are against us.  I am reminded, though, that God is in control of this whole process.  I feel like I am naturally a very optimistic person, ask anyone who knows me, except about pregnancy.  I've been very "realistic" (although friends would say pessimistic) about being able to get pregnant again, only because of our multiple failures at doing so.  This morning, after leaving the specialist, I felt like I was challenged to be optimistic and hopeful about becoming pregnant.  I was reminded in my spirit to ask God for my heart's desire and trust Him with my request.  I feel like my pessimism is self-protection - I don't want to be hurt again if I don't get pregnant.  But, so what if I get hurt again?  Is that going to be the end of the world?  No!  What's wrong with hoping and believing in the best?  This is my challenge.  I will hope and trust and believe throughout this process.  I will walk by faith and not be sight. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

This is a special day - a day to remember that through the sacrifice of Jesus, His death and resurrection, we can all have eternal life.  At church this morning, we sang a song that really touched me and reminded me that no matter what I am going through I don't have to be afraid.  No matter what, the love of Jesus is enough!  Here are the lyrics to the song:

Nothing can separate, even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes
You have new mercies for me every day
Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that you love me
Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water's deep
But I'm not alone in these open seas
Your love never fails
The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I'd reach the other side
But your love never fails


Friday, April 22, 2011

Sacrificial Living

Sometimes you have to say "no" to things for a greater cause.  I feel like Adam and I have been saying "no" to a lot of things lately because of our financial situation and our focus on IVF.  I've been amazed to see how God comes through and provides for us in each of sacrifices.  For example, when we had to decline running the Easter Sun Run because we didn't have the $50 for registration.  Then, my cousin's wife called and said someone donated $100 to the Sun Run and she wanted to use that money to cover our cost so we could run. 

We are having Easter lunch at our house on Sunday.  Adam and I have been trying to decide on a menu that wouldn't be really expensive, again just another thing you have to think about when you don't have any extra money.  Then, yesterday, my parents gave us $50 for Easter. 

Yesterday, our oven quit working and we had to call a repair man out to look at it.  Adam and I were worried we might have to get a whole new oven because ours is really old.  The total cost of the repair man's visit was $80.  All he had to do was replace the screws that had come out of the stove knob.  Then yesterday in the mail, we received a $100 check from Adam's parents for Easter. 

God is good and faithful!  I know all of these blessings come from God, and I am thankful for His provision!  He always takes care of our needs, and I'm reminded that it's in the moment we need it. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Answered Prayers - Part 1

I've already started recognizing the ways God is answering prayers and providing for our needs, specifically with the money we've invested in invetro fertilization.  I wanted to write these down so I don't forget to remember and thank God for His faithfulness and provision.  Unfortunately, we as a people are like the Israelites, forgetting how God meets our needs time and time again.  I don't want to forget...I want to remember. 
1.  Shortly after we had to take all of our cash out of our envelopes for the month (we live completely on a cash envelope system - no credit cards.  Each month we withdraw money from checking and place it in specific spending categories, like gas, food, home repair, etc)  because of the $8700 check we had to write to the Fertility Specialist, we had to get two windows repaired on our house.  We didn't know how we were going to pay for this because we had absolutely ZERO money.  In the meantime, Adam had sold his old laptop on ebay for $300.  Guess how much it cost to replace our two windows?  $300.  God provided the exact amount we needed through the sale of that computer.  It was awesome to see how the money from the computer came into our checking account the day we had to pay for the windows. 

2.  When I originally ordered my first round of injections, the pharmacy quoted me $3100.  When I received my order via Fed Ex, the cost was only $2500.  I called the pharmacy to ask about the difference in cost, and the worker told me I had been signed up to receive a reduction in cost on the meds because of the amount we were spending.  Praise God for a $500 cost savings.

3.  This week, we ran out of gas money for the month.  As you know, it's only April 20th.  I was telling Adam this morning that my car was on empty and needed gas, but we were out of money.  He told me he had received a mileage reimbursement check yesterday from work for $150.  God provided our need for gas at the specific time we needed it. 

4.  Adam received a bonus from work two weeks ago, which was able to cover the money we had to take out of our envelopes to cover the check to the Specialist.  We are now able to put that money back to cover basic expenses. 

Isn't God good?  He is so faithful!  I often wonder how many answered prayers and provisions I don't even recognize.  I pray my eyes are open to see God's faithfulness in my life and that I remember those things and give Him glory! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Do Not Know It All

Ever have one of those days where God uses people in your life to gently nudge you about the areas in your own life that you need to work on?  Today, I had one of those days.  I was talking to a father and a son, who both complain about the other one being "stubborn", "hard headed", "thinks he knows everything".  While I wouldn't necessarily use these words to describe me, I had a quick flashback to a conversation I had with my mom earlier in the day.  She and my dad are going out of town for Easter, so my husband and I are having the rest of our family over to our house for Easter brunch.  My mom called to talk to me about the menu, etc, and we ended up arguing about what the best menu was for the day.   Are you serious?  Yes, I'm serious.  All of a sudden the words "stubborn", "hard headed", "thinks she knows everything" kind of seem like they apply to me.  My OPINION on the Easter menu trumped my relationship with my mom in that moment.  Why do I get so caught up in things that really don't matter all that much? 

So, I'm reminded of the words I used tonight when talking to the father and son.  We all must talk less and listen more.  We all must be willing fess up when we mess up!  We have to remember that there is a big difference between OPINIONS and FACTS.   We can have different opinions, and that's okay.  So, my new focus is on talking less and listening more; not being so stubborn on having things my way.   I guess this would be a good time to start, as my husband is lying next to me asking me to put up the computer - I'm keeping him up with my typing:)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What are you scared of?

We, meaning I, start fertility injections on Thursday.  Well, it's sort of "we" since Adam actually gives me the injections every day.  I've been getting excited about getting the ball rolling and seeing how God is going to work this thing out for us.  Will I get pregnant?  Will I get pregnant with twins?  If I do get pregnant, will we have a boy or girl? Lots of unending questions to play out in my head.  I'm a pretty practical person most of the time and don't really let the "what ifs" play out.  I don't think it's really helpful or productive in any way.

But, with as much excitement as I've had recently, I've had as much fear.  What if I don't get pregnant?  What if we never have any more children?  Would it be the end of the world?  No. But, it would be sad. It would be a disappointment.  Would life carry on?  Yes.  It's just hard to get too excited in this process because of the flip side of the coin - not getting pregnant.  I've toyed in my mind what I could do to try to "help" the process of getting pregnant - quit running, just do yoga every day, just eat healthy,cut out all the sweets,etc.  Not that it isn't good to try to be as healthy as possible, but I have much less control of this outcome than I really think I do.  I can do everything right and still not end up pregnant.  Ultimately, God is in control of this process and this outcome. 

My prayer as we start this IVF journey for the THIRD time is that God will be in control and allow His will to happen.  I really don't want to have another baby if it isn't what God wants and wills for our lives.  So, I do want him to protect us from anything outside His will.  I trust God.  I trust Him with my life and future.  He know our heart's desires and He knows what is best.  I want His best.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's not about me!

Do you ever have to be reminded that life isn't really about you -what's best for you,what you want to do, what your goals and plans include, etc.  We think about ourselves WAY more than we should.  Sometimes we just have to kill that old ugly flesh.  I feel like the Holy Spirit helped me die to myself the day I agreed to work on Saturdays.  Kind of a long story, but I'll try to make it brief.   Months ago, Adam and I had agreed to do IVF in April.  Then, in March sometime, Adam changed his mind and thought we should wait longer because of our financial situation.  As we were trying to come up with a solution, Adam asked me about working on Saturdays to help bring in more income.  Since Emerson was born, I've been blessed to work one day a week  outside of the home (Mondays) and spend the rest of the time at home raising Emerson.  I'm a marriage and family therapist, so I work part-time at a counseling center.  Even though I really do enjoy counseling, I didn't want to give up every Saturday to work.  There are many reasons why, but in all honesty, they were all selfish reasons. 

On our way to church a few weeks ago, I just decided I was going to stop being selfish.  I told Adam I could work on Saturdays to help bring in more income for the family - it was the right thing to do on many levels.  I just had to remember that "it's not always about me".  Since that time, I've been working Saturdays and we are moving forward with IVF next week.  You know our situation with finances if you've read previous blog posts, and I've seen how God has met all of our needs.  I've also seen how by letting go of selfishness, it's brought Adam and me closer together as a couple.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded "it's not all about me".    I'm sure I'll need reminding of this tomorrow again (or probably later on today). 

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to build a strong marriage

I'm a therapist, so I know the importance of regular date nights for married couples.  My husband and I have done a fairly good job of weekly date nights throughout our marriage, especially focusing on those dates after our daughter Emerson was born 4 years ago.  Thankfully, I have great parents who live nearby and volunteer to watch Emerson for us most Friday nights so Adam and I can have some time together.  It's amazing what a couple of hours each week will do to refresh and reconnect a couple. 

Tonight, since we have spent all of our money on our recent IVF costs, Adam and I made dinner together - hamburgers and homeade french fries.  They were yummy!  Then we went to Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt.  Afterwards, we came back home and started a fire in the fireplace (it's really windy and cold here tonight).  Simple times of connecting and enjoying life together - that's how you build a strong marriage. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011 of God's greatest gifts

I'm thankful to have some amazing friends. Life certainly would be lonely without them.  Tammy is one of my longest friends.  We've known each other since we were 4 - going to church and school together most of our lives.  Even after high school, we both attended the same college. We were both in each other's weddings.  We were both pregnant at the same time:  Tammy with her second child, and me with my first.  Tammy is truly a "heart" friend - faithful and committed to me, spurring me on in my walk with Jesus.  We've been with each other through life's ups and downs - and there have been many.  We've seen each other at our worst, yet still love each other without conditions.  Tammy has the strength and courage to ask me the hard questions, call me out when I'm being selfish or critical.  She's also my biggest supporter, encouraging me to never give up hope and faith in my heart's desires.  She's believed in a baby for me when I struggled to hold on to hope.  She's continued to believe in another baby for me, even through my periods of apathy (FEAR).   Thank you God for friendship and community.  Thank you God for Tammy - may I be a blessing in her life as she is in mine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A life that matters

I'm thankful my fog of depression and fatigue is lifting.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure how long that will last.  In about a week, I get to start the fertility injections.  Who knows how they will affect me.  When we did IVF the first time over four years ago, I don't really remember suffering from a lot of side effects from the meds.  The second time we did IVF, I remember having more side effects.  Partly, I think as we got older, our bodies just respond differently.  So, I'm prepared for anything this time around (I think). 

More than anything, I want to live a life that matters - for Jesus!  I want my lips and attitude and deeds to glorify Him.  I want to "do well" under hardship - showing the world I trust Him no matter what my current struggle or circumstance looks like.  So, I've been thinking...what does it look like to bear fruit and live well when you are struggling with depression or some other hardship?  Partly what I've learned this past week that it's so easy to get our eyes on ourselves when we are struggling - to think about how hard things are or how bad we feel, etc.  When my eyes are on me/my circumstances, they aren't on Jesus.  Unless my eyes are fixed on Him, I can't live life well.  Living beyond our hardships and circumstances requires our eyes and hearts to be fixed on Him!  Then we can persevere and endure because we know what really matters and who controls life.  I know, I know, easier said than done.  I'm always reminded that we need the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness, to do for us what we can't do in our flesh.  It only requires us to submit and surrender to Him and to let Him take control of our lives. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thankful for Family

I'm not usually a Debbie Downer, but for the past week or so I've been struggling with fatigue and depression.  I'm a pretty even-keeled person emotionally and have never really struggled with depression, so this past week has been really hard.  It took energy just to get through the day.  I'm so thankful to Adam, who graciously gave me time to take naps and rest while he took care of Emerson.  He was patient and loving with me, which I know my emotional state changed up his world too.  I should tell you that I'm on an initial medication for our upcoming IVF procedure, so I'm sure how I"m feeling is related to the medication I am taking.  Not much I can do about that. 

I feel like today I am coming out of the cloudiness a little bit.  It's starting to clear up.  It's made me more empathetic to those who have ongoing struggles with depression.  You can't just snap out of it, like a lot of people think.

Thank you God for my health and well being.  Thank you for giving me renewed strength today.  Thank you for Adam's love and concern.  Thank you for your faithfulness!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Run

There is an annual running event that always occurs the Saturday before Easter. There is a 10k run, 2 mile run, and 2 mile walk. It's a fundraising event for a local ministry.  My cousin worked for this ministry for many years before he died of a brain tumor 4 years ago, leaving behind a wife and three young children.  Right before he died, he was able to participate in the 2 mile walk with his family.  He was in a wheelchair at the time, so his wife and children wheeled him through the park for the 2 mile walk.  After his death, the ministry renamed the 2 mile walk in honor of my cousin.    

Every year since my cousin's death, his wife has spear-headed a team to walk together in honor of my cousin.  My husband and I were planning to participate this year, but then we had to take all our money, savings and basic living expenses, to pay the IVF deposit.  I emailed my cousin's wife to tell her we couldn't be a part of the team this year because of our financial situation, but we would still come to the event to support it. 

Today, my cousin's wife called to tell us that a friend of Jeff's from Arizona called her and donated $75 for the event, but obviously he wouldn't be here to participate.  She offered to pay the registration fee for my husband, myself, and our daughter so we could participate.  Thank you, God, for blessing us with the ability to participate in this event even though we didn't have the money.  I know this is a direct blessing from you, and I am continually in awe of how you care for us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Grin and Bear It

Have you heard that phrase before - just grin and bear it?  I feel like the past few days I've just been going through the motions - with everything.  I'm doing all the regular tasks and activities, like my quiet times, my workouts, caring for my daughter and husband, all with a painted on "grin". But, inside, I'm sad.  Why?  I don't really know.  Our current financial stress might be part of it, but I know deep down God will provide for our needs and it will all work out.  Other than that, I don't have anything to really explain my inner sadness.  Maybe it's partly thinking about our upcoming IVF procedures and the emotional roller coaster that goes along with that.  What if I don't get pregnant and we've spent all this money for nothing?  Obviously, in my head I know it's worth it.  We know there are no guarantees, and we still want to try.  It's still very emotional though. 

I feel like I'm trying to just "get through" the days right now.  Adam invited my parents to come over to play cards tonight, and generally I always like to spend time with my parents, but I didn't even want to play cards with them. I pushed through the feelings and didn't say anything to Adam.  I knew just laying in bed wouldn't really help my feelings.  So, my parents came over, and we had a great time playing Pitch.  I laughed harder than I have in quite awhile.  It was a real laugh too, not one I had to put effort in. 

Tonight was a good reminder how sometimes we just have to "push through" the feelings and do what we know is right and good despite how we feel.  Would it have been wrong for me to just lay in bed tonight?  No, not necessarily.  Sometimes we need to just let ourselves rest.  But, by pushing through my negative emotions tonight, I was able to find real joy in spite of sadness.  I was able to laugh, have fun, and be reminded of God's blessings all around me. It was good for my soul.   Thank you God for family and fun and laughter.  It was a good way to end the night.

The beauty of life

When I've gotten overwhelmed with the financial aspect of doing IVF again, I just look at my daughter Emerson (who was conceived by IVF).  She's four now, but here are some pictures when she was born.  She truly is a miracle.  I was implanted with three embryos, which practically speaking, means I could have easily had triplets.  None of the embryos attached to my uterus except little Emerson.  She was determined to survive, and you can see that determination every day of her life.  I'm blessed to have her, and every thing we did to have her was worth it.  I know some day I will look back at what we are going through and know that it was all worth it.

Emerson was 8 pounds, 8 ounces when she was born.  These pictures are all taken while we were still at the hospital.  She was a beautiful baby.  My heart is filled with joy and gratitude!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Practice opportunity in keeping renewed perspective

After my quiet time and blog post this morning, my husband tells me we don't have enough money in our account to cover the $8700 check I mailed yesterday.  For some reason, he doesn't understand why, we are approximately $1000 short.  What to do, what to do?  We operate on a cash system only and don't have credit cards, so we proceeded to take all of our cash allotment for the month, which totalled $1000, so I could deposit the money to cover the check.  Now,we have no cash for the rest of April, and we still have bills to pay for the month.  Adam is talking about getting a loan to cover expenses we will have, but this goes against what we believe, so I don't want to have to do that.  We've never been in this position before where we literally have no money to our name and don't know how ongoing expenses are going to be covered.

I'm feeling overwhelmed, scared, doubting our decision to do IVF.  I remind myself of the peace we had to proceed with IVF.  My husband reminds me we knew we would be cutting things close financially, but I didn't know it would be this tight.  I remind myself this is a great opportunity for God to show His faithfulness and for us to rely on Him to meet every need.  I know how special this will be when we look back, hopefully after we have a baby, and know the sacrifices we made to expand our family.  I remind myself of what God laid on my heart this morning - get in fellowship with Him.  Let Him fill me with truth and love.  Let me release my burden to Him.  This is what I will attempt to do today - spending every opportunity I can in His presence to be changed. 

Renewed Perspective

Good Morning!  I love how each day brings God's grace and mercies...and renewed perspective.  I've been given renewed perspective this morning.  All it takes for me to get renewed perspective is getting myself before God, in a posture of listening and learning.  He is always faithful to speak.  And we know His word is living and active!  Isn't it funny how even good intentions to serve can lead us off course?  We can put service or acts before fellowship with God.  The one thing God wants of us and created us for is fellowship and intimacy with Him.  This must come before anything else.  We must make sure we are entering in relationship and growing in our fellowship with Him, and through that fellowship God will lead and direct us in every aspect of life.  If we aren't in fellowship with Him, then all good intentions can go awry. 

I think yesterday, when I was struggling with discouragement and anxiety, what I really needed to do was get alone with Jesus.  I needed to spend time praying, being quiet before Him, reading His word.  Instead, my focus was on "acts of service" and battling through what I should or shouldn't do. 

In reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, this is part of what I read this morning in my quiet time.  This is taken word for word from the book:

The one thing that Jesus said was needed in Martha's life was fellowship with him - and that's true for us, too.  But the principle of "one thing" can also have smaller, practical implications that can  help when life feels overloaded.  Here are some ways to practice one-thing thinking when your wagon feels overloaded.
1.  Invite Jesus to rule and reign.  Each morning before you get out of bed, invite the Lord to come take the throne of your life, to be your "one thing".  Present your day to him and ask him for wisdom and guidance.
2.  Ask God to reveal the next step.  As you go through your day, keep asking the Lord, "what is the one thing I need to do next?"  Don't let the big picture overwhelm you.  Just take the next step as he reveals it - wash one dish, make one phone call, put on your jogging clothes.  Then take the next step - and the next.
3.  Have faith that what needs to get done will get done.  Since you have dedicated your day to the Lord, trust that he'll show you the one thing or many things that must be done.  Do what you can do in the time allotted.  Then trust that what wasn't accomplished was either unnecessary or is being taken care of by God.
4.  Be open to the Spirit's leading.  You may find your day interupted by divine appointments.  Instead of resisting the iterruptions, flow with the one thing as God brings it across your path.  You'll be amazed at the joy and freedom that comes from surrendering your agenda to cooperating with his. 

Proverbs 16:3 states Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confessions of a Sinner

This week I shared some of my goals, specifically around loving others better.  I've been intentional about verbally praising Adam, and that's gone well.  But, I've struggled with giving up my time and agenda to serve others.  I know it's what I need to do, and I've gotten around to saying "yes" to the service opportunities but not without some fight.  Even in serving, I want it to be convenient.  And is it really serving if it's always convenient for us?  I'm ashamed to say I've even tried to think of excuses as to why I couldn't do an act of service that I knew I should do.  Thankfully, God didn't let me off the hook and I relinquished my grip on my time and agenda.  But, why does it have to be so hard?  Why do I have to FIGHT to do what I know is the right thing to do?  Why doesn't it just come naturally?  Sometimes it does come easier than others, but other times it's a fight to the death of my flesh.  Today, the Spirit won, thankfully.  I'm just struggling with the ugliness of my flesh and the selfishness still in me.   

I've fought discouragement all day today.  No reason, really.  I did mail our $8700 check to the fertility specialist today.  After looking at our finances and doing some transfers, we had all the money to send in.  Praise God.  But why am I so down?  I wonder if I'm still holding on to worry and anxiety that I need to release?

Even in the midst of fighting selfishness and Wednesday blues, I am thankful to serve a God who loves me and never forsakes me.  I believe this no matter what I feel.  The only thing in life that really matters is being in right relationship with Him.  God, thank you for the beauty of today.  Thank you for being victorious in my life and loving me enough to refine me and discipline me.   Thank you for giving me your strength in my weakness to do what's right. 

Worry Not

Despite my post yesterday, I've never been a worrier.  I would consider myself someone with strong faith and when something is bothering me, I am able to pray about it and trust God.  Yesterday, something in me just snapped and I began to worry.  I don't know where it came from, really.  Part of it, I think, is because I was worried how my husband would handle the bill I received.  My husband, as wonderful as he is, is a worrier.  He knows it and tries to work on it, but it's a pattern for him.  Moving forward with IVF was a HUGE decision because of the cost it entailed.  I only work part-time so I can stay home and raise our 4 year-old daughter, which means the primary burden is on my husband to support our family.  He is a therapist and doesn't make a great deal of money, but he's very good with budgeting and saving.  We've always had a budget since we first married and really try to live below our means.  So, taking all of the money out of our savings account to pursue IVF is a big deal.  Savings is security for my husband, and not having that leaves us feeling vulnerable. 

I think that's why I started worrying when I received that statement in the mail.  I thought we had another month to save up some money so we might not have to exhaust all of our savings.  I worried that my husband would start to worry about finances, etc.  Guess what my devotion time was about this morning?  Worrying!  In addition to reading Crazy Love, I'm also reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.  The chapter I was on this morning was on Worry.  God reminded me through reading this chapter to fix my eyes on Him, not on my circumstances, to do what I can do and to trust God with the rest.  A life filled with worry has little room left for faith.  And without faith, we can't pleae Gor or drauw close to him for the guidance we need to face the cares of everyday life. 

Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us to "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksigving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Chance to Trust

Adam and I decided awhile ago that we would pursue invetro fertilization one last time in an effort to have another child.  We are starting the process of injections this month.  When we made the decision to do IVF again, we knew we would be draining our savings account to pay for the cost of everything.  We both agreed we wanted to move forward with an understanding that I would work some extra hours at work to help rebuild our savings as quickly as possible.  The total cost is around $16,000.  Adam had told me we might be a couple of thousand dollars short, but with my extra hours at work I thought we would be okay.  In my mind, I thought we were going to get billed for each procedure along the way and we would have some time before payment was due.

When I opened the mail today, there was a bill from the fertility center stating we needed to pay $8800 by the end of the week for a deposit for upcoming procedures.  Immediately, I panicked.  I wasn't expecting to have to pay that deposit so soon and wasn't sure if we even had all of that money to pay this week.  We had just paid $3000 for our medicines in addition to paying $1000 a month ago for another procedure and blood work.  I called my husband at work and told him about the deposit due.  He thought we might be a couple of thousand dollars short in savings.  I'm still panicking, wondering if we shouldn't move forward but in my mind knowing we are too far into it to stop now.  But, what are we going to do? 

Then, I just prayed to God, giving Him my anxiety and worry and concerns.  How are we going to come up with the money this week?  Are we going to have enough money to cover everything?  My husband's worse fears are not having money for what we need, and here we are in a position of losing all our savings and still being short.  What are we doing?  We both felt peace about moving forward, knowing we would be using all of our money for this.  We both knew it would be an act of faith and trust in God providing for our needs.  Now it's in God's hands to provide for our needs - for Him to fill the gap.  It's easy to say we trust God and have faith in Him when everything is going fine.  But, when you are really in need, do you really believe what you say you do?  I DO trust God, and I do know He is faithful.  I'm giving this to God to work out, and I'm trusting Him.

God, I trust you.  I know you've given Adam and me a spirit of unity and agreement about doing IVF.  We trust you to meet every need along the way in this process.  We know our dependence on you in this process brings you glory. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The beauty of music

I don't know about you, but I don't know what life would be like without music.  I love music, listening to it and singing.  It allows me to feel and think more deeply.  It touches my heart and soul like nothing else.  One of my all-time favorite artists is Rich Mullins because of his lyrics.  If you don't know his music, find some and listen to his lyrics.  His music takes me to a deeper place with God.  The song I posted tonight is one of my new favorite worship songs.  Listen and meditate on God's glory.  It can change you!  Blessings!

Living with Intention

Happy Monday!  How do you feel when you get out of bed on a Monday morning?  Do you dread the day, the week ahead of you?  Or do you look forward to what lies ahead? Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle...One thing that is really important to me, and I believe is critical in my spiritual growth, is having proper perspective and living with intention.  Our pastor once said that when you live life just letting it happen, without intention, you will end up in a place you never meant to be.  I believe that's true. We can't just let life happen; we can live a life of fruitfulness and obedience.  So, how will you live with intention this week?  Here are my goals for the week:  compliment my husband every day this week (this is his love language and an area I don't do so well in sometimes); say "yes" to opportunities to serve others when it's possible (I already have one request to babysit this week); make an effort to bless those I come into contact with this week (with a smile, with a kind word, with an act of kindness).  I want to be open to how God wants to use me this week and see opportunities to be faithful. 

Adam (my husband) asked me yesterday on our date what I wanted my tombstone to say.  Funny question, huh?  You'd have to know my husband to know this is right up his alley. As he was rattling off quite a lengthy answer about his tombstone, my answer just came to me.  Here is what I said:  "A life lived well - loving God and loving others".  I know it's simple, but is there anything else that really matters?  I want my life to make a difference by pointing others to Jesus.  You'd be amazed at how little acts of kindness make a world of difference in the lives others.  What are your goals for the week?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

God is Good

It's been a great day! I've seen God work and move today.  This might be a long story, so bear with me.  We found out on Thursday night that my sister was coming into town this weekend,which would mean we would be spending time with my extended family so we could all be together.  My husband and I haven't had much time together recently due to work schedules, and he wanted us to make plans for some "couple time" together Sunday afternoon.  Well, I knew my mom was planning to have everyone over to her house on Sunday, but she wouldn't commit to a time.  She wasn't sure whether she'd have people over for lunch or dinner.  My husband is a planner, and he wanted to plan our Sunday in advance so he would know what to expect for the day. Well, I felt torn between my husband and my extended family.  My husband didn't want to "play it by ear" like my mom wanted to do, and I wanted to spend time with both my husband and my family.  The more I asked my husband if we could just be flexible and play it by ear on Sunday, the more adamant he became about nailing down when we would spend our time together. 

While my husband was gone on an errand on Saturday, God just nudged me about submitting to Adam.  I don't always have to have things my way.  Sometimes I just have to stop and let Adam lead, even when I have a different opinion.  I needed to show Adam that he is valued and important - over any other earthly relationships.  In that moment on Saturday, I knew God had opened my eyes about valuing my husband and submitting to him.  When he came home from his errand, I just told him that spending time with him is my priority and we'd make our arrangements for our date.  I knew my family would be upset if we missed out on time with them and they wouldn't understand why we couldn't just all be together, but I left that in God's hands.  I was doing what I knew was right and that was putting my husband first. 

Sunday came around, and of course my mom wanted everyone to come over at the time Adam and I had planned our date.  I told my mom we already had plans to have a date, and she volunteered to watch our daughter for us later in the day if we could come over for lunch.  I asked Adam about it, and he was fine with that plan.  So, it turns out that we were able to spend time with my family and have a great date together.  I believe God really worked it out and blessed my day by allowing all relationships to be nurtured. 

The time with my family went really well.  When we pulled up to my parents' house, I asked Adam to pray before we went in.  His prayer was simple and straightforward - asking God for us to bless and encourage family members and to guard our mouths from saying anything we shouldn't.  Perfect Prayer!  We had fun with everyone, laughed a lot, and just enjoyed being together.  I wasn't focused on my insecurities or feeling left out or anything - I was just focused on enjoying those around me and showing love. 

My lesson today:  being willing to "let go" of what I want and letting go of trying to please everyone; being willing to put my husband and his needs ahead of others.  In doing so today, God blessed me and blessed all of my relationships.  Now, if I can just remember to "let go" more often...


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Family Part 2

Well, just finished this evening with my entire family. I am so thankful to have a wonderful husband with whom I can process my inner feelings and then let them go. I wish I could get to the point where I didn't feel negative emotions, but I don't know if that's even realistic. My time with my sister was pretty superficial - no depth of conversation at all. It makes me so sad...I see how she is hiding behind materialism and buying more and more "stuff" to try to ease her pain and make her feel better about life. I get sad as I see her focusing her time and attention on her material goods. But then God gently nudged me tonight and asked me, "how is that any different than turning to food for comfort or watching too much television so that you don't have to deal with anything for awhile?" We all have our struggles, our vices we turn to in efforts to self-medicate, to feel better about ourselves, to avoid having to feel, to avoid having to deal with something difficult. I'm reminded that every person is on a journey, and most every person is struggling in some way. Some people are in our lives to walk alongside them throughout life's ups and downs. However, we can't walk alongside everyone. Unfortunately, my sister isn't one who I am getting to walk alongside of for whatever reason. So, what do I do? I pray for her and I love her. I demonstrate kindness. I don't shy away from asking how she is really doing if given an opportunity - to remind her God cares. If I get my eyes off of myself and on to Jesus, I can see clearly and am available to be used by Him to share a word or an act of kindness. I want to be used by Him. I don't really know if I was used by Him in any special way tonight, but I know my heart was in the right place. That's a start, right? Tomorrow is another opportunity to be used by God.


So, I'm still reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. The challenge that has been resonating in my heart is that of learning to love well - love God and love others. Isn't that really the most important part of being a Christ-follower? Love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. Doesn't God's word say that love covers a multitude of sins? So, then, what does it really look like to love God and love others well? I've tried to let love be my main focus - after all, if I'm loving well, it's probably working on all the other areas too - like growing in patience, growing in humility, lessening pride, etc. Here are the verses that I read this morning in Crazy Love: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid to full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be mercififul, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36 I've read those verses many times and am challenged in so many ways. It's so easy to love those who are easy to love, who love back or give back to you in some way. But what about those who truly aren't nice, aren't kind, don't give back to you in any way? We are called to love them, to do good to them, and to lend to them. I love the verse that says Jesus is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Thus, I need to be kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. How many times I find myself hurt or offended because someone wasn't grateful for what I did. That's just pride and contrary to how Jesus calls us to live. Can I live this way in my flesh? No. This is contrary to how we function in our flesh. That's why we need the Holy Spirit - to help us function in a supernatural way. Don't you think people would take notice if they saw someone love well a person who was ungrateful and wicked? That's LOVE! That's extraordinary! So,when I think about my own life and being around those who I feel hurt me or don't treat me well, instead of focusing on the hurt and the resentment, I need to focus on LOVE, letting Christ's love flow through me. Every time I forgive an offense, I'm showing love. Every time I overlook a slight, I'm showing love. Every time I am kind to someone who isn't being kind to me, I am demonstrating love. Tough to do? Absolutely! Possible to do? Absolutely, with Christ's help. So, this weekend, I'm focusing on intentionally showing love to those around me, especially my sister and other family members. Overlook hurt feelings and slights I feel and just be kind and caring. I want to look at hurts and unkindness as opportunities to reflect the love of Jesus. God, help me to do this well.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Happy Friday! I found out yesterday my older sister is coming into town this weekend from out of state. I haven't seen her in quite some time. One thing you should know about me is that I'm the youngest of four. My brothers and sisters are all very different from me,which creates a dynamic of me being the "odd man out". Most of the time when we are all together, I feel left out and alone. That leads me to separate myself from them even more, which leaves them disconnected from me even more. Sometimes, things go better than other times. But, I struggle to not let those feelings overwhelm me so as to overshadow just enjoying time together. I really feel disconnected from my sister, the one coming into town. I think the reason I'm struggling so much right now with our relationship is because we USED to be closer than we are now. I used to feel like out of all the siblings, she and I were most alike. She could most understand and relate to me. In recent years, my sister has changed and has become someone I don't know. I used to be able to have deep, heart talks with her, but those are a thing of the past. So,when we talk, there's nothing really to talk about. It makes me sad. I'm praying that this weekend I can just LOVE my siblings and show love to my sister in a way that leaves them changed. I don't want my fleshly feelings to keep me from showing God's love to them. That's the only thing that really matters and the thing that changes us the most - LOVE. So this weekend, I will be prayerful and deliberate to be loving, kind, generous, and full of light. God,bhelp rid me of sin. I know you can't use me with sin in my life, and I want more than anything to be used by you. Your forgiveness and mercy and grace are forever there for us, and I thank you for being faithful to forgive me time and time again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Morning World

Where are you emotionally this morning? Discouraged, distracted, tired, worried, sad, overwhelmed? We all have so many things going on in our world - we try to do the best we can but often just feel "less than" in a lot of different ways. Today, I am challenged to be joyful! We are called to be filled with joy as believers, but I'm not sure that people I pass in the streets would see joy in me. How is joy possible when we have so many other distracting emotions. It's possible when we turn our focus on Jesus - sitting at his feet and recognizing the many blessings we have. When we focus our hearts on him, the other distracting emotions change....we start to feel lighter,calmer,more hopeful,more grateful,more joyful. See, when we enter the presence of Jesus, we are changed! So, this morning I have started my day focusing on Jesus - remembering my life is for His glory and allowing my heart to focus on the important things of life. This makes me joyful, and I want to share my joy with others today. How will I do this? Today, I want to become more intentional in my interactions with others - smile and engage those around me, care about those in need. It's the simple things that can make profound differences.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Who You Are

So something you should know about me is that I've struggled with weight issues since I was a teenager. In my 20s, I was probably 40 pounds overweight. In my late 20s, I lost 40 pounds by diet and exercise. To try and maintain my weight loss, I became pretty rigid and restrictive with my eating patterns and exercise. I felt like my life became about what I ate and how much I exercised so that I would not gain weight. I met my husband when I was 28. After we got married, he learned quickly that I had "food" and "weight" issues. He didn't want me to make separate meals for him and me, so I became less restrive with my eating over time. Then we spent several years dealing with infertility issues and trying to get pregnant - this meant lots of fertility medicatios/injections. My weight issues took a back seat to having a baby. I finally got pregnant and had a beautiful baby girl in 2007. I gained a healthy amount of weight during my pregnancy and really focused on eating healthy. Since having my baby, I still exercise daily and focus on healthy eating, but I have an extra 7-10 pounds on my frame. That might not sound like a lot of weight, but to me, someone who has struggled with weight for years, it's hard to accept. I don't want to be restrictive and rigid with how I eat anymore. I want to be healthy person, inside and out, and a good example for my daughter. My weight battle and my relationship with food continue to be a daily struggle for me. I don't believe overly focusing on weight or food is where God wants my heart or time. I try to remember that my body is God's temple, and I strive to be balanced and healthy in how I eat and exercise. If I'm so rigid with eating and exercise, I'm out of balance. If I don't have any boundaries in place with how I eat, that isn't God-honoring either. So, it's living in that tension - to have self-control and balance. It's a daily walk and more related to my spiritual journey than I've previously known. I don't want to be that person who is never satisfied with how I look, always wanting to lose 5 more pounds. I want to be happy with who I am, inside and out, and take care of myself so that God is pleased with my stewardship.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Infertility and faith

My husband and I have been married for 8 years. I knew when we got married that it might be difficult for me to have a baby since I had been diagnosed with PCOS when I was 16 and never really had regular periods. We decided to wait a couple years before we started active efforts to get pregnant. We started working with my obgyn, and she prescribed Clomid. I took that for several months, but it never worked. She then referred me to a fertility specialist. When I saw the fertility specialist, he told me I didn't have PCOS but rather a problem with my pituitary gland. Because of my condition, we started a regimen of fertility medications and injections and attempted intrauterine inseminations multiple times with no success. After three, I think, failed IUIs, we proceeded to invetro fertilization. Because of my desire to have a child, I was ready to try invetro right away. My husband, on the other hand, was more skeptical and uncertain about the process and the many ethical dilemmas we might face moving forward. Because you had to know how you would handle possible situations, we had to slow down and think through everything very thoroughly. Letting go and stepping back was really hard for me, but I knew my husband and I had to be on the same page, and I knew my husband had to have peace before we could move forward. So, I stepped back, slowed down, let him lead the process. I had to get to the point of surrendering my desire of having a baby because I didn't know that ADam would be okay with moving forward with invetro. After prayer and a period of waiting, Adam felt comfortable moving forward with IVF. We started this intense process over 4 years ago. The result of our first IVF attempt was our beautiful daughter Emerson. She is a miracle in so many ways, and I truly believe I appreciate and love her more fully because of the gift I know she is to us from God. We love Emerson fully and have wanted to expand our family with more children. We've had many failed attempts at IUIs and IVF since Emerson's birth. We are approaching our last attempt at IVF next month. I'm scared and excited at the same time. But no matter what the outcome, I know God's will is always better than mine. And, I don't want anything other than His will.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Just got home from dinner with friends. There were three families total - the kids playing downstairs while the adults sat around the dinner table talking and laughing and talking and laughing. Our conversations covered so many topics from family finances, "crazy love", the recent Revelation study at our church, heaven, tattoos, movies - all in the course of three hours.
I love community! I love fellowship! I love having people around who are like-minded. God created us for community and fellowship, and it fills my soul when we get it right.

While we were talking about finances, God just impressed upon my heart the need to uplift my husband, using my words wisely to encourage and praise him rather than make jokes about his growth areas. I found myself wondering what the other couples thought of how my husband and I talk about each other. Do they think we are critical of each other? Do they see love in our hearts and words for each other? I want my husband to feel loved and valued by me, even when we are having conflict or disagreements. I want others to see the love and respect I have for my husband. Thankfully,we have good friends who love us and give us grace. And thankfully, we serve a gracious and loving God always there to grow us even closer to Him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

1 Peter 3

During my quiet time this morning, I read 1 Peter 3 which reads: "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight".

As I meditated on that scripture, I was convicted by my stubborn heart. I've never really seen myself as a prideful person, but God has revealed sin in my life and heart. He's shown me how I often times want MY way rather than submitting to my husband with purity and reverence. Wow, purity and reverence. How do I do that? Obviously, with the Holy Spirit's help. It says earlier in 1 Peter 2 that slaves are to submit themselves to their masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. I take from that scripture that I am to submit to my husband with respect and purity EVEN WHEN he is harsh. That really kicks me in the butt! This is when my prideful spirit rears it's ugly head. I think I DESERVE to defend myself or I DESERVE to assert my rights, etc. I'm not saying we don't express our feelings or work on improving relationship issues, but I do feel challenged by God's Word to submit to my husband, die to myself and my way of seeing things.

The more I learn about God and His call for our lives, the better I understand the need for Jesus' death and resurrection and the need for the Holy Spirit. Holy living can't be done by our efforts. We need God's grace!

Lord, forgive me of my sins. I want to live a holy and pleasing life, but how often I find myself letting you down. I'm thankful for your Holy Spirit to guide and convict me. I'm thankful for your grace and mercy that you give new each day. I'm thankful for your love and faithfulness. Help me to serve and love Adam well. Let me submit to him with a pure and reverent heart as I depend on you. I realize my utter dependence on you to live the right ways. I desire your ways above all else, help me to die to myself so that you can reign in my life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crazy Love

I'm reading the book, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. It's challenged and convicted me in so many ways. The thing I'm most challenged by today is whether I'm serving leftovers to a Holy God? Am I living life in a way where I put my desires and wants above God? Sadly, most of the time, I feel like I am driven by my agenda or my to-do list rather than living a surrendered life and agenda for Jesus to work and move in and around me. If I am filling up my time with "my things", how do I even know when Jesus is moving around me or when He wants me to do something? I say I love Jesus more than anything, but am I living in a way that reflects my love for Him? It takes the Holy Spirit's help to die to our flesh daily and to live surrendered, obedient lives. Without His help, we will constantly fail in our flesh. To love Jesus fully, I have to be focused on Him completely and intently. I have to hear His whispers. I have to know when He's calling me to give, or to love, or to serve. I have to be pursuing Him. How does this affect my daily life? All I know is that I must hold on to my "agenda" loosely, be prayerful and aware of God at all times. Jesus, help me to love you well! Help me to show that love to others, no matter what the cost. I pray I will die to myself more each day so that you can be alive and at work in me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My experiment

So, when I decided to start a blog, I had a little experiment I wanted to try. I told my husband about my idea to use a blog as a journal of my spiritual journey-as a way to document how I am growing spiritually and what my challenges are that I am facing. BUT, I don't want to tell anyone I know about my blog. I just want to start it and see if anyone happens upon it. Maybe this will just be a journal for my learning and growing, or maybe God will direct people to this blog. I guess we will see.

Day 1 in the blog world

Well, I've recently become fascinated with reading blogs - mostly about health and fitness. As I've been searching for and following certain blogs, I had the idea of starting my own blog, not about health and not about fitness, although these are both very important things in my life. But, the most important thing in my life is my faith. More than anything, I want a real and transforming relationship with Jesus. I want to love Him well and love others well. Lately, I've been struggling with life, like everyone does, but I wanted an avenue to journal about life struggles while trying to hold on to what's really important - a life surrendered to Jesus. Hopefully, in my earnest attempt to be authentic and genuine with my faith and struggles, I can encourage others and point them to Jesus. I know He is the author and perfector of my faith.