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

Honoring the struggles.

Yesterday while listening to music, I was jamming out to Rend Collective’s “Count Every Blessing.” Man, if you haven’t checked this song out…it’s a must. Let me link it—>here! But it just pumps me up every time I listen to it. It’s such a beautiful reminder of God’s goodness.

But as I was listening, I thought to myself “what is a blessing?”  I know I have been ‘blessed’ a million times over again, but what is considered a blessing? Which led me to a recent conversation in my small group at church where I made a comment about trying to always honor my struggles. Then it led me to this….are all of our struggles blessings?

If you would have asked me this even just a few years ago, I would have 100% said “umm absolutely not, no way!” I would likely said that was preposterous and you are insane.  But today, I’m going to say “100% yes!”. Let me tell you why…

God is good…ALL OF THE TIME [I think I’ve said this before].
I know it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. You feel abandoned and lonely; God is no where to be found. But just because God is saying ‘no’ or you feel like he’s not with you, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a plan for you. I wish I would have had crystal ball at the start of our infertility journey. If I would have been able to see the path God was taking us, it would have saved a lot of heartache. But that’s not how it works….this is where trust has to come in.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

It may not all make sense now, but we have to trust that God’s goodness will come full circle and in the end, He’s been setting us up for something way more amazing than we could have ever imagined.

I have often said that I am thankful for being infertile. I am thankful IVF never worked. I am thankful for being at rock bottom, but still having the strength to look up and say “Lord, I need you right now.”  All of those things led to a journey that I am beyond grateful to have experienced. All of this led to being Samuel’s mother. And if you know him, he’s kind of amazing [no bias here at all, ha].

But even way before infertility…

19 years ago, my life changed in a way that I held so much regret onto for so many years [too many years]. It affected every single part of my being. I was left shattered into a million pieces for way too long…

But today, I am thankful for that experience.

Would I want to erase it and make it never happen? Sure, maybe. But it made me who I am today. That struggle set me up for beautiful blessings. Even despite self-loathing for years with regret and shame….I am going to honor that. Without the struggle, I wouldn’t be where I am today…and to dig even further. If I wouldn’t have struggled with infertility, I don’t think I would have ever dealt with some of the things that I had been greatly struggling with for all those years…and those things needed to be dealt with.

So back to my original question….are our struggles blessings?

I have to believe that answer is 100% yes.

The struggle is real…

Listen, I know the struggle is real. I know it’s hard when you feel like if one more bad thing happens in life, right off the edge you’re going to go. It’s overwhelming and frustrating when it’s hit after hit. Life can feel just plan hard sometimes. But let me remind you of few things…

A) God is good, all the time.

and

B) “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NIV

The enemy wants us to live in the struggle. He doesn’t want us to just step over the edge. He wants us running and jumping over the edge. And he will do everything in his power to take us there. So let me give you a different perspective when you feel those repeated hits.

If the enemy is repeatedly hitting, God is setting you up for something good.

Why would the enemy want you to stay in line with God? He doesn’t. He wants to tear us down, break us into pieces, and have us going over the edge. So we have to stay steadfast and stay in line with Lord.

So if you feel like you’re close to the edge and just don’t know how much more you can take…take a step back, go to your knees, and take a moment with God. He’ll guide you, he’ll hold you if need be, and he will most certain help you stay away from the edge. And remember…this just may a season that God is preparing you for goodness; and not the attack that it feels.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 NIV

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 NIV

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

The struggle is real...

Redeemed: Part 2

The past 2 week has felt a little crazy. I started this blog post 5 days ago! So can we just pretend like I was on it and got this posted 5 days ago?!! Okay, thanks. Ha.

Anywho, due to the craziness, things at My Song. His Story. have felt quiet, so I was super excited when God gave me some thoughts this morning (remember we’re pretending I actually posted this on Sunday as planned! Ha) while at church for a new blog post. (And I’ll also be thankful for the unexpected quiet time this evening to finish!)

When I originally wrote Redeemed: Part 1, I really didn’t know why I added the “part 1”. I didn’t have anything in mind at the time, but had a feeling there would be more to come. The circumstances of why I wrote the original post has such significant meaning in my life; a turning point if you will. So when I think of the word “redeemed”, I feel a sense of peace and excitement.

The pastor at the church I’ve recently been attending as been doing an amazing series called “In a Word.”  Each week focuses on a word that is important to the Christian faith. Sunday’s word: redeemed.

While pastor was talking, I wrote down: redemption = confidence. It wasn’t until I was driving home (this is honestly where I do most of my thinking) after having to work for a few hours Sunday as to why redemption would equal confidence. Here’s what I came up with:

When you live your life with a sense of being redeemed, you remove worry, doubt, shame, and low-self worth. When you live your life as the redeemed individual you are, you live with security, assurance, and confidence.

How you view life. How you handle hard times. How you manage adversities that would have normally left you crumbled.

When you realize your worth of being redeemed, the value of what that means…your whole perspective changes.

When you come to the understanding that there is a God that so graciously placed His only Son on this Earth, free of sin, to die on the cross for YOU, for all of us…how is this not life changing?

You gain confidence. Confidence in all aspects of your life. You know, that despite the sinful world we have to go up against everyday, God has you every step of the way.

So raise that chin high, move forward with confidence, because as a redeemed child of God…you can handle anything!

Best Advice?

On my way into work this morning, in standstill traffic due to an accident, I was listening to KLove as I always do…today’s question was asking about the best advice you have ever given or gotten. A mom called in and shared her beautiful response that she always reminds her children to put God first in everything they do. Sounds like pretty solid advice to me!

But then it got me thinking…what was the best advice I’ve ever received.

My college/young adulthood years were not pleasant ones. And while I try not to have regrets, I often get the “could of, would of, should of”‘s when I think back on how I lived my life from ages 18 to 25. I can only say that while I would do things differently, I am who I am today due to my past. I am not that same person, and I’ve most definitely learned from my past.

When I was a 5th year senior at Penn State University, I decided with only 16 credits left, I needed to take a break. To say my parents were upset is an understatement. I’m sure many thought I’d never go back and I’d be stuck in a dead end job for the rest of my life. But I realized a few years after dropping out that I not only needed my degree, but I wanted my degree. So at 25 I went back and finished strong!

I had a completely different view on education…and this is where I received the best advice I had ever gotten.

Since I was completing a bachelors in science, many of my last courses were focused on several areas of science, one being in genetics.  I had no clue I’d ever have a love for genetics, but I found myself completely infatuated with genetics. I mean the human body is truly a miracle. DNA…mind blowing.

But it was my genetics professor that gave me advice that has stuck with me after all these years.  I went to her during office hours to get some help for an upcoming exam and I expressed my new found love for genetics, which she was obviously very excited to hear she touched someone’s life with her genetics class.  Little does she know, her next words would be life changing for me.

She told me that whenever I see someone doing what I want to do, ask that individual how they got there. What steps did they take to be where they are.

I have used this advice in many aspects in my life.

But this morning I had a much deeper thought about this advice…what if I want to be like Jesus. That is what we are called to do, right? Be Christ-like?

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps
1 Peter 2:21

As much as I’d love to sit down with Jesus and say, “so tell me more about your journey to being the Messiah, the chosen one”, unless it’s ‘my time’ or the rapture happens today, a face-to-face sit down won’t be occurring.

But do you know what I do have….The Word! Everything we’d need know to be Christ-like is right there, written out for us.

So here’s what I found:

Christ’s mission on Earth was to fulfill the promises of God. He kept his focus on God at all times. Even in the wilderness with temptation in his face, He chose God.

-Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV) 

Everything about Christ is/was perfect. While we are sinful humans and it is impossible to meet perfection, we can try. And part of this process…recognizing that other’s are also imperfect sinful humans, trying to be perfect. So show other’s grace.

-“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous……Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 43, 44, 48 (NIV) 

-“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

Part of Christ focusing on God led him to trusting all aspects of God’s plan. He didn’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. He just trusted.

-“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27 (NIV)

-“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

And Jesus loves. There is nothing fake or condescending about his love. He just loves wholeheartedly and unconditionally.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35 (NIV). 

I’m sure I could list many more attributes of being Christ-like and quoting scripture, but the above spoke most loudly to me. And to me, an important reminder of what it means to be like Christ.

Taking things for granted…

While mediating and praying during communion at church on Sunday, I had a random thought: Did the Apostles truly comprehend how special they were to be in the presence of Jesus during the Last Supper and through the crucification to the resurrection?

I mean we could probably assume Judas didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of Jesus and the significance behind the Last Supper. Let’s be honest, the dude totally turned his back on Jesus and betrayed him to the fullest extent….Or maybe he did know and this is just an example of  how easy it is to slip away from what we know to be true and take things for granted in our lives.

I would hope that we aren’t all betraying our loved ones in ways that will end up having them arrested and put to death….but the reality is, we are all guilty of losing sight of what’s important and taking things for granted. That includes our loved ones.

Judas was a sinful human (just like us) looking to benefit from his position. John 12:4-6 (NIV), illustrates Judas’ sinful behaviors prior to even betraying Jesus. In verse 5, Judas is angry that Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet stating “it was worth a year’s wage” and “this perfume should be sold and the money given to the poor” But Judas did not care about the poor, he was just angry that the perfume was now unable to be sold, which he likely planned on stealing the profits, as he was a thief (verse 6).

Jesus chose his Apostles to follow Him while he was in the flesh and walking this Earth….He chooses us to do the same during our time on Earth.

As a counselor I’m often working with individuals on being in the present moment and practicing mindfulness. Truly being aware of your surroundings and appreciating the little things. The feel of the warm breeze on your skin, the smell of fresh cut grass, children laughing in the distance…whatever you can focus on to keep you grounded in the moment.

But I am also a realist and know that it’s also easy to get caught up in the thoughts of the 5,000 things that need accomplished today, 10,000 things you feel like you didn’t get accomplished yesterday, and you don’t even want to think about what lies ahead for tomorrow. Am I right?

But we also know that those are the moments the enemy likes to sneak into our days and complicate things. Those are the moments when it’s easy to slip away from the truth and take things from granted.

Those are the moments that instead of thanking your spouse for doing all of the dishes, you complain that they didn’t get the coffee ready. Those are the moments that we complain about the sun being too hot, but other’s are experiencing devastating floods. Those are the moments when we complain about having to get up and go to work, but others are struggling to get by due to unemployment. Those are the moments we are mad at our love ones, but others are grieving for just one more day with the ones they’ve lost.

Judas was probably motivated by greed and saw benefit in following Jesus, but nothing positive came from his behaviors. Actually we learn in Matthew 27, that he had such remorse for his behaviors that ended his own life. Judas lost sight of the truth.

So how do we not lose sight of the truth and take things for granted? I have to believe that having a grateful heart always keeps us in line with the truth and not take what God has provided to us for granted. And how to do that: put God first (Matthew 6:3), love one another (1 John 3:11), and build each other up (Ephesians 4:29).

There is always something to be grateful for, even in the darkest of seasons. So I challenge you today to think of all the wonderful things God has provided to you and thank Him for those things. I’d imagine this would probably be a good start to gaining a grateful heart.

Turning 38

For whatever reason, turning 38 tomorrow feels old. Yes, I know “that’s not old”, “you don’t look 38 at all”, “you’re just baby”, “its just a number”. While all of those things may be true, I have found myself in this spot today of…humph. I don’t want to be 38.

When we decided that we would try to expand our family last year, I remember thinking, “okay, getting pregnant before 38, doesn’t seem so bad”. So tomorrow I turn 38 and pregnancy never happened. So I find myself, well a bit sad. (It’s part of this needing to grieve and let go thing I’m trying to do!)

But who wants to be sad on their birthday!? So I’m gonna turn that frown upside and find joy in turning 38 tomorrow.

For me, I often find joy doing for others. And I’m going to ask all of you to join me in finding joy along with me in celebration of my 38th birthday.

So my plan tomorrow is to do good deeds for others, pay it forward, and be extra kind when I see the opportunity! Will you join me as well??

And as always I’m going to allow scripture to guide me…

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV

“Command then to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” 1 Timothy 6:18 NIV

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Own your tears

The running joke among my family and friends is I cry at everything. I cry at commercials, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when others cry, I cry…well a lot.

If I share a story that incorporates acknowledging that I’ve cried, I often follow up with “I know, shocking, I cried”. Like I have to defend who I am. This is something I’ve been embarrassed about over the years. I always feel like I have to give a reason to why I am crying or hide my tears (like last Sunday at church). It’s like I have this notation that feeling emotions is not okay?! I can’t be alone in this, can I??

But recently, I had an incident where I cried in front of a friend who showed me a video of her brother who passed a couple of years ago. I apologized for my tears and explained that I just felt that 1) the video was so sweet and such a touching memory and 2) heartbreaking that he’s no longer here on Earth. I’ve never met her brother, but felt so touched by this video.

Do you know what she said to me?

“You must have the biggest heart?”

I walked away from the conversation thinking a lot about this. Yeah, I would describe myself as someone with a big heart. But I’ve always looked at my easily teary-eyed self as weak or as though this was something negative.  So I decided to make a decision…I’m going to own my tears.

However, fast forward to yesterday…I haven’t been owning my tears and found myself in yet another situation that I felt like I had to defend myself for tearing up so easily.

But thankfully the same individual that pointed out that I must have a big heart was part of this situation and said she something that resonated even more with me…

“You are just so empathetic to others, you feel what they are feeling…”

Then it clicked. Nothing about my easily teary-eyed self is negative, but a sign that I can relate to others, I have a big heart, and I get people (well most of the times ha!).

So this time, I really am going to start owning my tears.

And as with all things that I’m contemplating…I went to scripture.  This one stuck out the most:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15 (NIV)

And just several verses ahead of the above:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)

So it’s your turn!

Are you easily tearful? Do you cry when others are crying? Do you feel embarrassed when you cry at church, or at a commercial, or while watching a video on Facebook?

If so, start owning those tears! Because if I had to guess, it makes you an empathetic person with a huge heart, too!

And lastly, my take away from all of this…

Be who God wants YOU to be. Do not let others bring you down or make you feel guilty for who you are….and most definitely, do not let your own insecurities dictate who God wants you to be. You be YOU! The fearfully, wonderfully made YOU!

Letting Go…

Letting go can be a difficult process. Whether it be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship, moving on to a different job, grieving a loss, or throwing away those 2 sizes too small pants that you have been holding on to ‘just in case you lose weight’, it’s not always easy.

But the thing is, most often what we are struggling to let go of, is also the very thing that is weighing us down. And letting go is exactly what we need to do.

My dear friend and spiritual mentor, Diane, has been a guiding light through some of my darkest days. Through many conversations, she always seems to give the guidance I need it and when I need it, especially about letting go.

One particular conversation, she had me imagine that I was standing outside on the porch of a beautiful home. A home that God has built specifically for me. Everything I’d ever need was in this home. But I was stuck on the porch not able to get past the front doorway. I was holding onto too many baggages. And filled in these baggages: my past mistakes, my wrong doings, my guilt and shame; the things I just wasn’t willing to let go of or forgive myself for.

As soon as she spoke those words to me, I could account for the things that filled those baggages. I knew exactly what I needed to let go. I just didn’t know how.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

But slowly over time, I started to put those baggages down. Through prayer, meditatation, the Word, and God’s grace, I began realizing that God didn’t see me the way I saw myself. The pages of my past were wiped clean. I was renewed…I was redeemed from my past.

However, over time I have realized that I am often picking baggages back up. Some old and some new. Some times I realize my past creeps back into my life and I find myself obsessing over things that happened 5, 7, even 18 years ago. So here I am sorting through my baggages again and trying to put them back down.

And every time I pick up a baggage, I’m standing there, stuck on the front porch of the home God built for me. I can’t get to where He wants me to be!

Sometimes we are so fixated on trying to obtain things we think we want, versus allowing ourselves to follow God’s plan, but then we miss out on what He wants for us…This is exactly where I have found myself recently. And I realized, I needed to let go of something I’ve been holding onto for way too long.

The moment Samuel came into our lives, I was fulfilled as parent, but there was one piece that I continued to long for and struggled to let go of…experiencing pregnancy. So for the past year, I’ve been desperately trying to achieve that. And where did I find myself…holding onto to way to many baggages. Stuck back on the porch. Not getting where I needed to be.

Month after month of feeling like a failure. Being angry with my body. Being filled with sadness and confusion…back in the pits of infertility.

But here’s the amazing thing about God…

He works all things for our good! There’s a reason and purpose for our struggles.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 NIV

Over the last year, I have been working with a doctor that focused on making my body healthier, not just trying to achieve pregnancy. I learned things about my body and health that I was unaware of previously.

But I also felt the pain of infertility again.

Recently, while mediating and praying about our next steps after another failed cycle of trying to build our family, a thought popped into my head.

God. Others. Yourself.

I sat with that thought for a minute, wondering where this was going until the next thought came …

This past year had nothing to do with my own baby. Now I need to help others during the struggle to build their perfect family, because I already have mine.

God. Others. Myself.

You see, over the past couple of weeks I have found myself in positions of helping others. A listening ear to a woman confused about the course of what treatment could be next or if adoption was meant for her family and just the struggle in general, an email requesting my name be given to someone looking for support, and a cheerleader to another who closed in on their first round of IVF.

God. Others. Myself.

And then it hit me. God has been preparing me over the past year. Had I not followed the lead that I needed to go see this particular doctor, I would have not focused on my body, which led to a potentially life saving surgery and healing of my body.  And several key factors to my health.

But I have also had such raw wounds reopened from being in the trenches of infertility again, that it has been a fresh reminder of how deeply painful infertility can be. Once Samuel came into my life, it was easy to put aside some of that pain. Re-experiencing the pain has helped me be more empathetic to those struggling. And it’s exactly where I needed to be.

God. Others. Myself.

This past year has been nothing more than preparation for the next steps…

So here I am back on the front porch. I have no clue what God has in store for me, but I’m ready to put down the baggage and step forward in confidence that God will take me exactly where I need to be.

most often the very thing that we are holding on to the tightest, is the thing that is weighing us down the most. (1)

 

 

 

When Mother’s Day hurts.

Mother’s day is quickly approaching. I’m starting to see Facebook profiles being changed with added ‘frames’, specials being ran for ‘Moms’, Mother’s Day flower stands being set up, you know all those things that occur the week leading up to Mother’s Day.

All holidays were difficult when my arms ached to be filled with a child, but Mother’s Day was one of the hardest. Logically, I knew it was about my own mother, and I wanted to celebrate her, but the hurt of my aching, empty arms were too much to bear to celebrate. In some senses, writing that out seems incredibly selfish, but the reality was: Mother’s Day was hard.

And while I’m honored to know I can now be celebrated and celebrate Mother’s Day with true joy in my heart…I’m also empathetic to what pain this holiday can bring to others.

But I also know that Mother’s Day doesn’t just affect those struggling with infertility…it’s a day that’s hard for many.

  • The son or daughter that has lost their mother
  • Those that are celebrating the first Mother’s Day without their mother
  • The parents grieving the lost of a child from stillborn
  • The mother that has experienced a miscarriage(s)
  • The husband that so desperately wants to celebrate his wife, but they are struggling to conceive
  • The birth mother that is missing her child she’s placed
  • The mother who has watched her child slip away from addiction
  • Those that don’t have a relationship with their mother
  • Those watching their mother battle cancer
  • Those that have watched their mother slip away from Alzheimer’s and they no longer recognize you
  • The mother that has lost their child

The list could go on and on I’m sure…

If you fit into any of these categories…be kind to yourself this Mother’s Day. Know you are not alone in your grieving. Know that you have my prayers.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit

-Psalms 35:18

And dear friends, if you know a loved one who is grieving during this Mother’s Day, please show them the love they deserve.

Blessings,

Danielle