Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beautiful Ashes...

I have to be honest with you, I have not written because I have been guilt ridden that God gave me what I longed for and somehow that would make me less in your eyes.  This blog has weighed heavy on my heart lately and I finally decided that my original mission is still my mission.  I am called to comfort those who struggle with infertility and I need to start obeying.  The only way I know to do this is to relate it to my story.  So here it goes...I am going to fill in the two and a half year gap for you!

A sweet friend once told me to listen to "Beauty will Rise" by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I did listen and took it to heart. It has only been recently that I fully understood what she meant...

That friend of mine...She's a smart one!  She was able to help me stop and listen to God when I was recklessly driving my own boat and sinking terribly.  

If angels are among us, this sweet girl would be mine.  She has my heart in a way I didn't think was possible.  She was the beginning of my healing process despite my doubt of even being able to see her.  God gave me the strength to be the aunt I should be without all the jealous emotions and constant reminders of my own struggles.  He gave me Grace and Forgiveness when I needed it most.  He allowed me to love this little one with all my heart instead of just half.  Jaxson would not be possible without her being here first.  This week we celebrate her birthday and I could not be more thankful she is here with us!

Our "normal" pregnancy ended in this sweet, adorable bundle of pure joy!  Jaxson was born April 15, 2013 and it has been a whirlwind ever since.


I use the term "normal" very loosely because it was everything but that.  There will never be words to say how deeply grateful we are to my sister and her husband for allowing God to use them in such a mighty way.  The bond that Jaxson and Carlea share is indescribable and warms my heart every time I see them together.  Jaxson loves Doug too.  As an infant, he would turn to find him everytime he heard his voice.  Now, he just constantly asks about him..."Doug at home", "Doug at work"?  It is the sweetest thing ever! 

Back to my story...Each doctor appointment was filled with joy and anxiety.  You see, I never really thought we would get to the end with a baby.  I NEVER doubted God's ability to provide.  However, I convinced myself that my story was stronger without a child and that was God's plan for my life.  While that may have been true, I was mentally prepared to deal with it.  An actual baby on the other hand, well, that was way more emotional and draining that I ever imagined!  

When he was born, it seemed like forever before he took a breath.  Carlea in her exhausted state must have thought the same thing because she leaned up and said, "come on breathe bubba".  It was all the comfort he needed.  The simple sound of her voice broke his silence.  What I remember most about the birth is Carlea's face.  The physical pain she was in was almost too much for me to bear.  It was all for me and I couldn't help or take it away.  She is such a strong person in every way I can think of.  Jaxson was in the NICU which was something I never expected or much less thought of.  Having to go home without him was my biggest fear.  Somehow but not surprisingly, God brought me through that too. The past year and a half have gone by so fast!   


To those of you who are going through things...whatever they may be, cling to these verses.  Psalms 34:18 "The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit".  Psalms 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds".  These could not be more true for me.  I pray I will be open to God's will and how he is going to use me to help you.


Monday, October 8, 2012

God's Grace and Sisterly Love...

Lots has happened over the summer and into fall...We made some BIG, HUGE decisions and truly feel that we are following in the direction God is leading us.  We have so much to be thankful for and I can't wait to share it all with you. 

2 Corinthians 9:15   Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift

Okay, it is what you think but it isn't if that makes any sense!  It has been 6 or 7 (I've lost count lol) long years and never how we thought we would become parents but consider it such a blessing.

I know so many of you are like me and "need to know the story" so here it goes...

When my precious niece was about 4 months old, my sister and her husband randomly show up at our house one evening.  They proudly announce that they are willing to carry our baby and are ready to start whenever we are.  Imagine our surprise!  Neither of us knew what to of course I just started crying.  

Last February we began the long process of finances, lawyers, doctors, etc.  Although quite comical at times, I won't bore you with the details but, I will be glad to privately share specifics for anyone who is going through this or needs guidance/advice.  All of this comes on the coat tails of me finally surrendering everything I knew, wanted to control, and worried about to our Lord.  When we made the decision to take them up on their offer, it was with only one condition between the two of us...this was it.  It would be the end of a beginning either way.  We would move on to a wonderful, fulfilling life without children or a crazy, chaotic life with a kid.  We were both totally at peace with whatever path God had in store for us.  I never thought I would be at that point in my life but I came to the realization that what we have or don't have on earth is not what matters at all.  I have Jesus in my heart and am assured of my eternal place in Heaven and folks, that's what matters.  Such good stuff when you finally get what God's been telling you for years!!!!!!! 

Finally, in August we sealed the deal!  Implantation was on July 30th and our due date is April 17th.  We are almost 13 weeks pregnant :) 

I can't even begin to describe the gratitude in my heart for such a selfless, giving sister I have.  There is nothing greater that someone can do for someone else besides bring their child into the world.  Well maybe this is right below leading someone to salvation but in the flesh, this is a pretty big deal.  Above my heart felt thanks to her is my honor and praise to God for orchestrating the whole shebang!  

People might say this is a miracle.  I don't think that, I think that God perfects his plan in his own timing.  What I will be eternally grateful for is this adorable bundle of joy you see below.  Because, without her none of this would have been possible.  The #1 requirement for a gestational carrier is that she has had at least one child of her own.         

We got to hear the heartbeat today...the sweetest sound I've ever heard!  We have been released from the fertility doctor and are "a normal pregnancy" now...whatever that means.  None of this is normal!  Please continue to pray for all of us as we journey through these showers of blessings together. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Resting in His strength...

I know it has been a while...I am so sorry.  Lots of fun things have been happening!  Byron and I are doing better than ever, loving life to the fullest :) 

Gal. 6:9 "For we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up".

Let me go back to after our failed "natural" cycle.  We decided to get a 2nd opinion to our "you will never have children of your own" news.  I made an appointment in Houston.  It was a disaster from the beginning.  Our first visit came after a long 5 hour adventure in the waiting room.  For those of you who know us, you realize that neither one of us have tolerance for stuff like this.  I realize the doctor was busy and am grateful that he was helping others but REALLY????  When we finally got back there it was another hour or so before we saw him. 
They did blood work and laid out a plan for running all sorts of tests but first I had to take a pregnancy test.  This was so comical for us but we did what we were told.  The next day, the nurse called back and said, "you are pregnant".  After several minutes of me confirming that she knew who she was talking to, I was still in total disbelief.  All I could do was laugh because after years of procedures and trying things that are unheard of, we manage to do this all on our own.  I realize this happens to lots of couples and is not that rare but there was no way it could happen to us.
This news meant another trip to Houston to confirm my levels were increasing.  I remember the drive over there, I was so excited yet trying to tell myself not to be too hopeful.  Secretly I was still convinced that this nurse called the wrong person.  When I got to Houston, there were lots of blood tests and ultrasounds.  Unfortunately, there was no signs of pregnancy on the ultrasound.  We went through months(from Aug to Jan) of trips to Houston, lab work, ultrasounds, etc.  The conclusion was a tubal pregnancy that dissolved itself.  I know...whew what else right? 
While we were disappointed, we were also very blessed to have God controlling the situation.  A tubal pregnancy can be life threatening.  I am grateful that although it took months, lots of trips, and emotions out the wazoo, it ended safe and soundly.  On a side note, the funniest thing to me was trying to argue not being pregnant with my local doctor when I got a sinus infection.  Have you ever tried to tell a doctor, nurse practitioner, lab technician, and a gazillion nurses that you aren't pregnant when clearly your urine and blood tell them different?  Hilarious :)

What we learned through this was to rest in God's strength.  This may sound cold or harsh but this life lesson was a means to an end for me to truly rely on God's will for us.  Totally surrendering to that is the hardest thing I've ever done.  I struggle daily to take my worries, fears, controlling nature, and selfish behaviors captive so I can do what I am put on the earth to do...honor and obey our awesome Lord.  Through this, Byron realized that there was unfinished business in his life. He is like so many others of us...walked the isle as a small child but didn't fully understand or commit.  After losing a dear friend that had invested so much love, time, and guidance into his life, Byron realized that he needed to be saved.  He is so private and did this without anyone knowing.  It wasn't too long after this experience that he realized God was convicting him to get his Baptism on the right side of his salvation. 

It is so mind boggling when I stop and look at how much our lives have changed.  Our priorities are  on track to where they should be and it has made such a difference.  I know some people don't understand and may not agree with all we do but we strive daily to focus on God and his desires and direction.  My prayer is this shows and helps others to see where they should be going with their lives.  Please email me if there is anything I can pray with you about.  I would be honored.

We are human and do mess up so please note...we are not on a pedestal!  But I do I know God wants to use our stories to impact the world.  We are ready and open for the challenge! 

I pray that this blog is blessing you as much as it is me.  

Please keep us in your prayers...we are trying to discover God's will for the next steps in our lives.  I will share as soon as it is made clear to us :)


Monday, January 2, 2012

The thing about Joy...

The fourth failed cycle taught me true JOY...Jesus, Others, Yourself

A month or so after the 3rd attempt, we lost a family member near and dear to our husband's Dad passed.  I remember my brother in law saying..."you will for sure have a baby soon, Dad is up there right now talking with God".  While I didn't cling to this hope, it was always in the back of my mind that maybe this was our time since, "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21  My mind ran wild with imagination and hopes that this was his perfect plan, to send a baby to our family during the most devastating situation, filling a void that could no other way be filled.  Sadly enough, this wasn't his plan at all.  Several weeks later, our fourth attempt, our "natural cycle" was unsuccessful.  I was numb.  This left us once again at a decision point...move on with our lives or try again.  I just didn't have it in me.  We decided to take a break and really focus on God's plan for our lives.  Now this was in no way easy because I still ached to be a mother.     

I kept thinking something wasn't right.  I had this yukky feeling in the pit of my stomach that had nothing to do with fertility.  This "prompting" had been there for a long time.  I just chose to ignore it rather than explore it.  As I began to focus less on myself and more on God, I figured out the problem...I wasn't saved.  As a small child, I remember walking the isle at GA camp and then being "dunked" when we got back to church.  I just couldn't nail down when that was and the thing that bothered me most was that I couldn't remember ever truly asking Jesus into my heart and meaning it.  On January 13, 2011 I sat with my pastor and asked Jesus into my heart.  The yukky feeling that I was referring to earlier was gone immediately.  I was baptised on January 23, 2011.


How To Be Saved

If you want to know how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it's so simple ...! 

1 -- Acknowledge in your heart that you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 
**Sin is all the things that we have done against God ... ie. lying, adultery, theft, idolatry. The Bible is clear that every last one of us have sinned or will sin. And so we need God's forgiveness. 

2 -- Realize that Jesus Christ died for your sins. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 
**Jesus is the only person who walked this earth COMPLETELY sinless. HE was the sacrifice for our sins and He took our sins on himself and died for us. Then 3 days later He rose from the grave!!! He buried our sins in death and rose again with new life! 

3 -- Know that we are all on a path of eternal death BUT Jesus' offers salvation and eternal life as a FREE gift. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
**What we deserve for our sins is death, but accepting His gift of forgiveness that gives eternal life in Heaven is absolutely free. There is nothing we can do to earn God's grace, forgiveness and salvation - it is absolutely free! 

4 -- Pray. Romans 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." 
**Confess your sins to God, ask for forgiveness, tell Him your heart (He knows it already ;) and tell Him that you want Him to be Lord of your life. 

If you have never asked Jesus to be Lord of your life, now is the time! It's so simple. Why? Because the God of the universe loves us and wants you and I to live an abundant life with Christ. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." 

I know what you're thinking...hallelujah this girl has finally learned her lesson and we can move on!  I totally get that but, God has other plans in store for us.  Funny thing is that, I am fine with that.  We are still on our "break" and lovingly listening to every direction God gives us.  He will tell us when it is time to make a move.  Right now, I focus on the JOY I receive in simply waking every morning and anxiously waiting on what or who will be put in my path.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The thing about trust...

I just recently came across these verses and Oh My! did the Lord use it to speak to me in mighty ways!  Ephesians 4:31-32 "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." 

Some of you might understand my exact situation and others have their own idol that controls every ounce of our being.  Either way, "feelings" such as bitterness, anger, wrath, evil speaking, etc can consume a person if we let it.  God commands us to put these feelings away from you.  Easier said than done!   For so long I lived with jealous, bitter emotions that ate at me from the inside out.  I couldn't even look at pregnant women much less be happy for them.  I was so judgemental and condemning because after all...I deserve way more than others right?  Completely wrong!!!  As these thoughts took hold, having a baby became my idol that I worshipped like no other.  It breaks my heart to look back and see that I put such things before God.  It is only by God's grace that I overcame this vicious cycle I was wrapped up in. 

The third failed IVF cycle taught me trust.  Emotions & stress were high going into round 3.  I wasn't sure if I even wanted to try again.  We mustered up the courage to once again put our hearts on the line and began doctor visits, shots, pills, and crazy sleepless nights of emotional roller coasters.  Third times a charm right?  I went in for my last visit before transfer only to be met with nothing I would, could, or should have ever had to imagine.  I remember going into the consultation room...nothing new to me...I just thought we were going to schedule the procedure and sign some papers.  The doctor came in holding a blue folder looking just as distraught as I felt and said the words that will forever be etched in my memory..."well I think it's time we are honest, you will never be able to carry your own child".  She matter of factly moved onto the next options while my head was still swimming with thoughts of, "did I hear her right", "oh my word did she just say that", "honest, really now? we have been doing this for years...what you weren't honest before" etc.  I tried to keep my composure and listen as she was rambling something about a gestational carrier or surrogate or adoption while I really wanted to run screaming out of the office like a wild banchie.  (Please know that I am not at all unhappy with my doctor, it was just extreme traumatic shock.)  We are not opposed to either option above it was just complete unbelief that we were at that point in our life. To make matters worse, I had gone for this visit alone thinking everything was fine.  I left the consultation room in sheer survival mode.  I remember coming out to the nurses looking at me as I was carrying the "blue" folder which I know now means total devastation to a woman's dream of feeling that sweet baby inside her.  I just thought that I was crazy with emotions before, but this was a meltdown of epic proportion.  My husband couldn't even understand what I was saying when I called him hysterically crying and screaming.  When he finally did, he offered to come home, which for those of you who know him is big because he doesn't miss work for just anything.   I have said many times that honestly I don't now how I made it home. This statement is no longer a wonder to me...God carried me all the way! 

The doctor mentioned wanting to try a "natural cycle"  which meant no meds just let my body work and then they would implant.  I was like...really?  we have been going at this for years now with high powered drugs and blood work out the kazoo and you just want to stick them in the oven cold turkey???  I left without much hope of this procedure even ever happening.  Several days later, the office called as I was having lunch with a sweet friend, to report that all my labs looked great and we could go forward.  I was completely amazed.  After much heart to heart between the two of us and with God, we decided to carry on and try again.

I came to trust the Lord with all my heart because I had exhausted all measures of attacking this on my own.  Sounds a little backwards huh?  Oh but it is so true of how we live our lives...only calling on God as a last resort.  I poured myself into my Bible, searching for some clue to make sense of a senseless situation.  Was this all a joke on me so that I would completely turn to God?  Although I do think God has a sense of humor, I know that it was no joke, only a perfect plan to make me the Christian I am today.  

As if all this wasn't enough, I found out I was going to be an aunt :)  My sister was pregnant...
I know most of you are thinking oh my word I bet she lost it and I did for awhile.  It's not that I wasn't happy for my sister, I was just wrapped up in sadness for myself.  7-8 months passed before I was emotionally stable enough to even be around my family without crying or major meltdowns afterwards.  I say this not to make you feel sorry for me but for the ones going through's okay to be sad and deal with it however you need to but by all means DON'T leave God out.  That being said,  I wouldn't trade this bittersweet blessing for anything in the world...not even a child of my own!  Shelby is my heart...

Being an aunt is nothing new to me...we have a precious nephew, Aiden that is about to turn 4 in December.  The timing of our second gift from God was what made it so hard.  Looking back now, all of this is just water under the bridge.  We have also had two new additions to our family, Madelyn and & pics to come later.   

The thing about it even when you don't want to!  Proverbs 3:5 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding".  I may never know why we face such difficult times but I do know that everything will be fine.  If God's will for me is to never have earthly children then I am secure in knowing that I will remain in him no matter what...complete trust!

On a side note I heard the cutest saying from Beth Moore..."Behold the moment instead of unweaving the rainbow"  I am currently focusing on applying this principle to my life by embracing God's truth in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  So many times I unweave the rainbow God has given me and focus on what I don't have instead of the blessings right before me.  All prayers are welcome and much appreciated!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The thing about hope...

Romans 12:15 commands us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."  These powerful words that are so selflessly written but so hard to follow.  (Our pastor preached an awesome sermon on this today...check it out at NEBC) I know for me I get wrapped up in my own life and either pretend to rejoice with others or totally avoid the whole situation.  Sometimes I think pretending and/or avoidance is a survival technique or at best my defense mechanism.  This doesn't make it right or at all the "Christian thing to do".  Deep down I am truly happy for others who have children, are currently pregnant, or who become pregnant.  All the while it is still extremely hard to watch, so selfishly I want others to weep with me and put aside there own rejoicing.  This is so tacky and wrong!  As I studied this verse, I am sad to say but happy that conviction washed over me.  Sad because it hurts me deeply to disappoint God but glad that it can be pointed out and I can change!  We get so wrapped up into doing what we are "supposed" to do for others, I think we lose sight of  doing things for the real reasons...genuine love, compassion, and concern for others.  I hear God saying..."so Jennifer if you are a Christian why are you acting like this"  Hmmmm good question!  I am a Christian who needs to focus on fixing this.  It really all boils down to acting in the flesh which is what our natural reaction to things are.  We need to be supernatural and let God work on us and through us. 

All that said, it takes me back to hope...certainty that God is in control!  Romans 5:1-4 says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance; and perseverance , character, and character, hope.

The second failed IVF cycle taught me hope.  The listening that I learned with the first cycle was sure to help me with the second or so I thought.  We were blessed to be part of a "study" for the first cycle so most of the expense was not our responsibility.  The second one, not so much.  This added to the stress of an already stressful situation.  Fortunately we were prepared and God allowed us to have the financial ability to proceed.  I called myself "listening" through this one and things did go much smoother.  I was able to have medications after implantation which was not allowed through the study.  We were sure this would be that magic fix!  To our surprise and devastation our precious embryos didn't stick despite the glue.  We used to joke that this was just super glue (priced at $300 extra dollars might I add) but Byron always said Gorilla glue would work better...who knows maybe he was right.  Once again we found ourselves picking up the pieces of our broken hearts dangerously teetering on the verge of anger.  Ugly feelings consumed me and it was so hard to see anything positive.  Life was just simply unfair!

God puts just the right people in places at just the right moments if you haven't noticed.  This whole time I had a friend struggling with fertility issues and decisions as well.  She had been doing a procedure called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).  She was told that IVF would be her best option.  Wow...the doors God opens.  While she had helped me for so long by listening and gentle guidance, it was my turn to help her.  She had no idea the process of IVF and I knew it all too well.  I was able to support her and truly know what she was experiencing all the while telling her what to expect.  It gave me a chance to focus on somebody besides myself which always puts a different light on things.  As I hoped and prayed for our next cycle to be successful, I was reminded that God is in control even when we think things are uncontrollable.  He does have our best interest at heart all the time and continues to take care of us even when we don't realize he is doing it.

I continue to have hope...certainty that God is in control.  I feel his presence in everything I do.  While we all have our "moments", the only thing that justifies our true being is how we choose to respond to those times of weakness.  I know his plan for our family is being perfectly perfected and will be meticulously executed in his timing :)


Friday, September 9, 2011

The thing about Faith...

So tonight I had myself one big pity party!  After trying on my own to take my thoughts captive and pack my truth train with encouraging Bible versus (this is something I learned from an amazing Godly woman...check out her blog by clicking the red words), I did what any other woman would do...phoned a friend for reinforcement.  She quickly recognized I was having a melt down and immediately began confirming that my feelings were normal according to how God made us in the flesh.  She acknowledged my feelings but at the same time tried to redirect me to where my focus should be...asking God to take it away or walk with me through it.  She is such a sweet friend whose prayers I felt wrap around me the minute I phoned.  Her words, "Do NOT let Satan have victory..."  replayed in my head and finally began to sink in. The evil emotions of wondering when it will be "my time", jealousy, pride that I deserve something more than others, etc  began to fade.  Just like other times when all else fails I cling to Jeremiah 29:11...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

It was such a roller coaster experience that it took me back in time.  I thought I would share a little bit about the Bittersweet Blessings in my life.  Please know that I am where I am because of what God has carried me through.  However, it's not always a pretty picture!

My husband and I have had 4 failed IVF attempts.  While this was devastating, we grew spiritually with each one.  I am so eternally grateful for the chance to not only look back and see how I've grown but to be able to share it in hopes that it will help someone else. 

The first failed IVF cycle taught me to really listen.  I can look back now and tell you that I know for sure, without a shadow of a doubt,  that the first time we went through with the procedure, it was not God's plan or timing.  I knew that it didn't feel right but was not far enough along in my spiritual walk to really get all God's clues.  Looking back, I learned what is was like to hear the holy spirit guiding my decisions and direction.  I learned that the "yukky" feeling in my stomach was God's way of physically showing me that something was wrong.  I remember commenting to my mother in law that, "I don't think it is going to work because it just doesn't feel like what I am supposed to be doing".  So often we know things in our minds but our hearts forget to listen and follow.

All that said, the picture at the top sums it up...everything in God's time is perfect!  While I am not completely healed from the emotional after effects of last night, I am looking through different eyes this morning.  I am diligently going back to what I learned...listening to God's wisdom and direction all the while praying for peace in my heart.