November is a Very Important Month

October is officially over. Today, we say good-bye to the Halloween and Fall season as stores will likely be decked out in Christmas decor! And in a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, which is always a time to reflect on the things we are thankful for in our lives. Personally for me, November is an extremely important month for multiple reasons. Aside from LOVING Thanksgiving, it is also Samuel and my Mom’s birthdays (one day a part too)! But it is also awareness months for two very important causes in my life: National Adoption Awareness Month and Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

There are 2 significant days in my life that changed the course for my family and I. First being the day I became a mother through adoption as my son’s birth mother placed him into my arms. The other being the day my mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIb lung cancer.

While you can imagine, both events had very different reactions. Celebration, joy, and happiness as Samuel entered our family. But sadness, confusion, and fear as cancer entered our family. Life will never be the same after either events. But here’s the thing…God has been good in both of them.

Samuel has been one the very best things that has happened to our family. He has brought so much joy and excitement to our lives over the years. And well cancer, it didn’t bring joy and excitement, but it has been an important reminder to appreciate your loved ones and value every moment of life. While I wish I could sit here and say that my mom is cancer-free, I can’t. But what I can say – treatment has been amazing and with each appointment we continue to get positive reports. God has been good. A year and 4 months after her diagnosis, you’d never even know she was sick. God has given her the will to fight. And I know she will continue to fight.

So the fact that November is the month that we get to celebrate the birthdays of Samuel and my mom, but that we also get to celebrate the months dedicated to raising awareness for two important causes that affected them both; I find simply amazing.

In honor of both of these causes, I’ll be raising awareness over the course of the month about lung cancer as well as continuing to raise funds for a family in the adoption process (check out this for more about that).

So here’s to November, a very important month…

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Memories.

I LOVE Facebook memories and TimeHope, but sometimes when memories pop-up, they can feel like a gut punch. They can bring me right back to that moment and sometimes, I just do not want to go back to that moment. This morning was a perfect example….

My Facebook status from 5 years ago. First, I can’t even believe that it’s been 5 years. But 5 years ago on this day we started our journey with pursing a solution to our infertility struggles; our first appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). My status wasn’t over-indulging of information about the day, just that it was long and draining.  And that couldn’t be more true.

Prior to this appointment, I really had it in my head that I knew what the outcome would be. They’d hand me some ‘magic’ pill and I’d be pregnant the next month. I had now been fully involved in a forum full of highly infertility-educated woman and I thought I knew my stuff. Sure, I knew about treatment options: IUI, IVF, etc, but there was no way I’d be in that category. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The doctor sat across from us with 2 large computer screens behind him. On those screens were images from tests that I had weeks prior. He starts talking about endometriosis, low motility, surgery, IVF being the only way. My head started spinning. My soul started to crush. This wasn’t going how I anticipated AT ALL. Where’s the magic pill? Where’s the easy fix?

I think he could see the look of confusion on my face, because he stopped and said “Let me explain it to you this way…”

You…you look good on the outside, but not so good on the inside.

I left that appointment feeling so broken. His words resonated with me for a very long time. Infertility already makes you feel broken, but his words only confirmed my brokenness. I don’t look good on the inside, my body is broken, I am broken. 

So when I saw this memory pop up this morning it was hard to not wander to those doctor’s words. And while at first I felt that gut punch emotion attached to that conversation, I quickly reminded myself that things are different today and his words no longer affect me.  I can now sit here in confidence today and say I am no longer broken, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the brokenness I experienced…

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I had a realization about this particular conversation with this doctor. I had always heard rave reviews about this doctor. He had an amazing reputation and was honored when he retired. I always felt so confused by this (who tells their patient they don’t look good on the inside?!). We never went back to him after that first appointment. There was no way I could let him treat me when I felt like he viewed me as just this broken person he needed to fix (which was the goal, but it felt…wrong).

But here’s my thoughts I recently had…

What if I would have continued treatment with this man out of desperation of wanting to get pregnant? And what if I would have gotten pregnant? He was a highly talented RE, so him providing us with success could have been very likely. And do you know what I realized with answering those questions in my head…if all those questions would have been true, I wouldn’t be Samuel’s mom. And honestly, that’s way more heartbreaking than those feelings of brokenness from his words.  And then I thought: What if God planted those words in his mouth knowing the way I’d respond and would never interact with this doctor again? Because guess what, God had greater plans for us as parents.  With every hair on my body, every fiber of my being, I fully believe I am meant to be Samuel’s momma. That was God’s plan for us.

All of the brokenness, all of the pain, all of the hurt guided me on a journey of healing, and a closer relationship with God….and in the end, provided me with an outcome more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

So if you are feeling broken, shattered, and hurt, know that your outcome is coming. It may not be tomorrow, it may not been in a year, but it’s coming. Stay steadfast, patient, and close to God, He’ll guide you to being whole again. And know, the outcome is ALWAYS better than you can ever imagine.

Choosing Empathy is Choosing Jesus.

My husband would probably say that I’m a little hung up on the word ’empathy’. But as he has also pointed out to me, my career is centered around needing to be empathetic to others, so this probably comes easy to me. But let me explain why I am so hung up on empathy and why I think it’s important for all of us to have a better understanding.

Brené Brown states it perfectly: “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.”

Webster’s dictionary defines empathy as the following:

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

As I read this definition, I think it’s hard to deny, as a Christian, that these are the things that Jesus believed in. And so should we.

Understanding, aware of, sensitive, vicarious, objectively explicit manner….

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

In Matthew 9, Jesus didn’t say ‘oh well’ when he saw the harvest was plenty but the workers were few (verse 37). Instead, he sent out workers (verse 38). He saw that they were struggling, like sheep without a shepherd, and they needed some guidance

How often in our lives do we see others struggling, but we don’t know how to help, so we just say “well it’s none of my business.”  But how often can we all also relate to being that sheep without a shepherd and needing some guidance?

And what if Jesus had looked at these struggling townspeople and said “ahh yeah, they are struggling, but what can I do?” He would have not benefited from helping them, but he chose compassion and empathy. Sure, Jesus was performing miracles and healing the sick and all kind of cool stuff, which I know we are not capable of doing. But let me remind you of this: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11. 

The Holy Spirit lives in each of us, so while we can’t perform miracles, like turning water in wine or raise people from the dead, we are fully capable of using our words and actions to help others. Just as simple as a “this must be really difficult, can I help with anything?” could mean the world to someone. And quite honestly, could bring back life to someone struggling.

During infertility, I often felt like others just didn’t get it. The comments were things like “oh it will happen”, “at least you have a loving husband”, “have you tried x, y, z? My cousin’s sister’s brother’s wife got pregnant by….and then insert the most absurd recommendation ever on how to make a baby.” These comments left me feeling deflated and helpless. These comments drove disconnect in my world.

However, my dearest friend, Julie, would often say to me, “I’m so proud of you.” And when I finally asked her the reasoning for her constant reminder of being proud of me, her response was that she knew how hard daily life was for me at that point and just getting out of bed was hard some days, so she truly was proud of the strength I showed on a daily basis. Do you know what hearing that made me do? It made me want to fight harder. And that’s what I did. Her words fueled me.

We are fully capable of fueling others by our words and actions, and show love and compassion. While I know it’s not always easy, but it’s what we are called to do. And just like how easily Jesus could have walked away from all those that persecuted him, he didn’t, nor should we walk away from those that are struggling. We need to show them love and compassion, just as Jesus did. And just as simple as “I’m so proud of you” fueling me to fight harder, we can truly make a difference in someone else’s life.

So the next time you see someone struggling, will you choose to be empathetic like Jesus and fuel connections or will you choose to drive a disconnect?

Broken to restored

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

Everything about infertility makes you feel broken. Your dreams. Your body. Your relationships. Your hope. Your spirit. Everything feels broken.

But if I am completely honest, I felt broken way before infertility.  Infertility only perpetuated the feelings of my brokenness. So, it was very easy for me to place the blame onto myself for infertility. It was as though I thought I deserved to not be able to become a mother. Nor did I feel like I deserved to have an outcome that I could feel restored. I lived a life feeling like my previous actions required me to remain broken.

But here’s what I learned with infertility:

When you seek God, He’ll seek you. The more I felt lost, the more I decided I needed to search God for guidance. The more I searched, the more I saw His presence. Songs on the radio exactly when I needed them. Bible verses that started to restore my faith. On the same day we got the call of being matched with a potential expectant mother, my daily devotional was titled ‘Samuel is Born’. The devotion was all about Hannah and her sincere faith in the Lord to provide her with a child. I took this as a sign to hang on, have sincere faith, and He will provide. The list could go on and on of these occurrences, but point being, the more I gave myself to God, the more He gave back.

God works all things for your good isn’t a cliché. The thought that everything in your life, even the bad, is for your good is sometimes difficult to get on board with, even when we know these are God’s words. But when you have felt your whole life like you weren’t worthy for good things to happen, it’s hard to believe God is always good. At the time, I couldn’t see infertility as ‘good’, but I am forever thankful for infertility. Let me break it down: if I wouldn’t have experienced infertility, I wouldn’t have done some serious soul searching, that led a closer relationship to God, that led to healing, that led to adoption, that led to my son, Samuel. Once I saw past the pain, the goodness was right around the corner. God was truly good.

It would be over 3 years after we began our infertility journey before we would become parents. It wasn’t until our son’s adoption was finalized that I was able to reflect on our journey. My story from beginning to end starts with feeling broken and crushed, and fear of the idea of never becoming a mother, to having my faith and soul restored that when you have sincere faithfulness and trust in the goodness of God, your hopes, dreams, and life truly can be restored.

I no longer live a life of brokenness, but live with the faith knowing that through Christ, I am restored.

Joy among the darkness

I remember once saying during our infertility journey that I felt like the darkness had a hold of me and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Always sad, lonely, and angry. But it felt like I couldn’t control the darkness…it followed me everywhere I went. So many things were out my control and nothing ever seem to go right.

But there have been many of times, even before infertility, that I felt the darkness had a stronger hold than any sort of joy in my life.

Being able reflect back, I wish I would have taken the time to recognize the joy. Or even just believed that God’s plan is always good. This may mean you will have to be in the depths of the valley for longer than you want, but to push through and believe, you always end up on top of the mountain.

If you are hurting tonight and the darkness has a hold of you, whether it be you are hurting from your past, struggling to forgive, or your current season just feels like too much to handle…know that at some point you will be on the mountain top. And on that mountain top, you will see all the joy of God’s goodness.

Prayer for those who are hurting.

Dear Heavenly Father, let me see your goodness, even in the darkest of times. Help me to stay focused on your glory, even if I feel stuck in the depths of the valley. Stay close to me, even if I can’t feel your presence. Remind me that you are always good, even if it may not feel like it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How do we pray?

Alright folks, I have to call myself out on something. This is something I’m doing all too often, and I really need to stop. It’s time. I need to get my act together. And the first step in fixing a problem is speaking it out loud and admitting your fault, right?! So here it is:

I tell people I’ll say a prayer when requested….but I don’t always do it.

I mean sure I’m on it most of the time. There’re those moments that as soon as it comes out of my mouth…prayers are being said. But if I had to guess, it’s a 80/20 chance I’m really praying. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m little embarrassed to say it’s not 100% of the time….but is this really a big deal??

I feel like most recently there has been a lot of flak when someone says, “thoughts & prayers”, as though prayer isn’t enough, but as Christians….prayer should always be near us about everything! (hint, hint: Philippians 4:6) But I think this brings us to a deeper question: Is the flake coming from the fact that we aren’t always really saying a prayer when we say we are?

1 Timothy 2:1(NIV):
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-

And a little further down…
1 Timothy 2:3 (NIV):
This is good, and pleases God our Savior

This doesn’t say we should only be praying for our own needs and wants but says ALL PEOPLE. And that this pleases the Lord.

James 5:16 (NIV):
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I don’t know about you, but for me the two words that speak most loudly to me in this verse: powerful & effective. 

I remember a dear friend once asking for prayer from me. I did say a prayer then, but I remember thinking “what’s my prayer going to do, it’s not like I’m anything special.” But I specifically remember her telling me that she was struggling to find the right words to pray, so she just needed some extra help. So I prayed.  This experience has stuck with me. While I felt inadequate to say the right words, James 5:16 tells us just how powerful and effective prayer can be!

So I’m going to challenge myself (and I challenge you too!) to try harder to put prayer first. If prayer can be that powerful and effective as James tells us it is, we never know how that one small prayer can impact another’s life.

We have a love problem.

I had a sad realization yesterday about the current state of our world and some of the most important verses in the Bible. Matthew 22:37-39.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Here’s the sad realization I had: What if you don’t love yourself?

Does this explain the abundance of hate-filled, degrading, arrogant behaviors among our cultural? If people aren’t truly content with their own lives, and they don’t have love for themselves, how are they to extend love to others?

I’m not speaking of selfish, self-centered ways of loving yourself. I’m talking about confidence, respect, and contentment within yourself.  The love that God has for us. Why has it become so difficult for us to extend that same love to others…

Or do we love ourselves too much? Have we lost sight of Verse 37? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

So I ask my fellow Christians, how do we, followers of Christ, fix this love problem?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

This little light of mine.

When I first created this image and had started this blog post on May 6th, I really thought it was suppose to head to the direction of some sort of parenting post. Something about fostering Samuel’s bold personality. But after several times of sitting down and trying to write, not a whole lot came to mind, so I quietly stepped away.

And then like God likes to do…today I had an ‘ah ha’ moment.

Today’s sermon at church was one of those sermons that left me speechless and in tears. And a reminder of God’s way of giving you exactly what you need, when you need it.

Since starting this whole blogging thing, I have questioned so many times why am I doing this? Is this really what God wants me to do? Or questioning how many views I had after posting a blog. Or what will people say about me? So many questions that have led to saying ‘ahhh maybe this isn’t for me’.

But today was a reminder of why I am doing this.

During church this morning, the elder providing the sermon gave us 11 ways to foster God’s will in our lives. One of the ways: let your light shine.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowel. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16 NIV

I instantly thought about this post: insert my ah ha moment. While Samuel is absolutely my light…My journey to being Samuel’s mother is what needs to be put on a stand. Everything about that journey only glorifies God’s capabilities.

The brightest light that shines in my life came from the darkest points of my life.

I am a nobody. I’ve done nothing special in my life. I don’t deserve to have a beautiful story to share. But God has given me this story and I’m going to share it…

So let me encourage you tonight. God is capable of the unimaginable. He can perform things in your life that you thought would never happen. He can work miracles in YOU!

He will give you a light to shine bright to put on a stand…

If you draw near Him, He’ll draw near you. James 4:8.

So if you find yourself in the dark this evening, lost without a light to guide you…Hold God close to your heart, and He WILL provide you the light to find your way.

Giving Back: Helping a Family Adopt

Okay friends! I need your help. For a long time Tommy and I have been discussing wanting to give back to a family adopting. The support and love we received throughout our adoption journey was unbelievable, and we want a family to feel the same.

I have started a t shirt campaign. My goal is to raise at least a $1,000 to provide to a family in the adoption process.

Please follow the link below to order your t-shirt today! We only have until August 9th to order!

Here’s how bonfire works: In order for your t-shirt to be printed and shipped there has to be at least 5 shirts purchased. So once you order, it may take a bit to get your shirt. So the more you share, the quicker you might get your shirt!

Here’s the other fun part:

We don’t have a family in mind to provide the funds. So we are also on the hunt to find a family! If you know someone that is adoption, send them to My Song. His Story. for more updates on this!

And lastly, God has blessed us beyond belief and truly couldn’t haven’t done it without having our faith. So when trying to decide on theme for the shirt, I couldn’t think of a better design then using My Song. His Story’s catch phrase: Good, bad, big, small…pray about it all.

Campaign link ➡️ Here

One more note: Bonfire is currently working to get the white in between the letters, so when your shirt arrives it will only be black lettering 😁

Timing.

I think it’s human nature to have timelines set-up in our heads. Or maybe it’s society that pushes agendas on us. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that most have these ideas in our heads of how things will play out. For us, we truly thought we had our lives planned out from marriage on.

The plan: pregnant with baby #1 shortly after we were married, build our home, baby #2 shortly after that, then we would decide about baby #3. And when my fertility tracker app showed that I’d be ovulating on our wedding night (this is almost laughable now of how naive I was!), I truly thought: “what great timing! This is going to work out perfectly.” The plan was going to be perfect..

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that is not how things worked out for us.

There have been so times that I thought: “oh, I see, I bet it was suppose to go this way.” But I was wrong…a lot actually.

The whole IVF process was so overwhelming, but I thought there were so many signs that things were going to work out. We cycled around Lent and the leading up to Easter.

We did a day 3 transfer…meaning that 3 days after our one sweet little embryo was created, it was transferred.

I remember thinking: how perfect. The most amazing thing also occurred in just 3 days…the death and resurrection of Christ. I’m suppose to find out if I’m pregnant on Good Friday. Perfect! (Sounds perfect, right?!)

But things did not go the way we had planned.

Holidays were hard. Birthdays were hard. Every big event (well the small ways too) that passed us by of not being parents was hard. The waiting and the repeated let down of wondering about God’s timing was hard.

But let me tell you about God’s timing.

One year after our failed IVF. Our adoption profile went live on Good Friday.

May 12th, 2015, 2 days after Mother’s Day. We got the call we were matched with an expectant birth mother.

Thanksgiving 2015. None of our family knew that we were in a hospital in another state holding our child. We got to FaceTime them and surprise them with the newest family member.

You see, all the times I became angry or sad about things not happening when I thought they should…God just had a better plan for me.

So whatever you have going on in life with those situations that don’t seem to make sense, the Lord could just be planning something way better! Something that you can’t even fathom. He will provide!

And remember…

Hold on tight to Him throughout the process and He promises to carry you along the way.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:6 NIV