November 14, 2018

I was waiting to post this in order of our story, chronologically, but that has just gone out the window – I suppose I’ll try to catch up one day, but more important things have come along 😊

Today it became real to me. There is a new life growing inside of me. One, Lord willing, I will get to care for, nurture, teach, and love. I’m going to be a mom.

Up until now I don’t think I let myself truly believe it. I feared miscarriage (though that’s still possible). I feared getting attached to something someone that I might never meet this side of heaven. I’ve spent the past year and a half trying not to get my hopes up and I think that mentality stuck around, even after I found out I was pregnant.

Today was out last appointment with the fertility specialist. He’s been keeping a close watch on things and I had my fourth ultrasound today. And today that little tiny life looked much less like a tiny blob and much more like a baby. My baby. Our baby. They put one of the ultrasound photos in a cute frame for us and happily sent us on our way into the hands of a regular OB. Their work was done. I tried to hold it together as I went back into the waiting room where other women sat, where I had so many times before. I would not be coming back.

We got into the parking lot and I lost it. I sobbed into Steve’s shoulder for a good minute or so. I remember him asking if they were happy tears and I nodded. They were really more of amazement and gratitude. “This is really real, isn’t it?” It had finally sunk in.

I’m not at all sure what we’re in for, besides a kid that’s got to be at least a little crazy. I still can’t think much more past today, and that is ok by me.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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When Worship is Difficult

It all started with a song. One inspired by Psalm 118. One Sunday morning in church, probably in late August when I had all but given up. Somewhere in the middle of singing praises to the Lord, this song started. I know it was in the middle because I was already standing and then the weight of it all hit me, and I just couldn’t any more.

🎶Oh, give thanks to the Lord

Oh give thanks to the Lord

For He is good

He is good

For He is good

He is good, oh

His steadfast love endures

Forever, forever He endures 🎶

You can listen to the song here : Psalm 118 (Your Steadfast Love)

The truth of this washed over me as tears fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it in my heart, because I had felt that He was everything but good at that moment. But my head knew it was true. His Spirit inside nudged me along. And I sang, though I was angry and hurt and broken. And when I couldn’t manage that for the tears, I mouthed the words. No one could hear them, but I was declaring the truth to the One who is Truth itself. It was my sacrifice of praise. While I didn’t want to acknowledge Him at all, it was really the only thing I could do.

If we praise God only when we’re getting what we want, how is He different from a genie in a magic lamp? His love for us is unconditional, and what’s more, He is God. That fact alone deems Him worthy of worship. Always.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth;

    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

~1 Chronicles 16:29-31

This is not easy. It’s not easy to worship God when you feel unseen by Him. Or when you can’t help but think He’s holding out on you. We all have ups and downs. Times when we feel super close with our Lord and times when we distance ourselves. But He stays the same. He doesn’t change. He sees our struggles and heartache. He sees our success and joy. None of our circumstances can change who God is and so our worship of Him should remain steady through it all.

A few months later, probably some time in November (after we knew I was pregnant), we sang the same song again. As the words began I couldn’t help but cry. Not out of brokenness this time, but because I knew, with all my being, the truth and grace in the words. He was good to me and His love endured. Through all my craziness. Through all my doubts. And sorrow. And questioning. How could I have ever thought differently? I praised Him for His providence in it all; not knowing the reasoning behind it, but grateful that He did.

I don’t know where you are, dear friend. You may be high on a mountain or low in a valley. Know this truth, wherever you find yourself; God is God and He is good. Always.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

September 15-18

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

You can read Psalm 42 in its entirety here.

I knew at the beginning of the month that I would find out if I was pregnant while away on a girls’ weekend with my mom and sisters. I dreaded the thought of getting my period and my reaction to the let down. The emotions, the sorrow and the disappointment, had started to grip me with such intensity that I worried about it happening around them. Not that they would see it, but that they would see it and question, “Where is your God?”

And the morning came. I woke up and there was blood. I had since stopped being hopeful that it could be implantation bleeding. I couldn’t raise my hopes like that just to have them dashed. Self preservation mode was what I was running on. I went back to bed trying to control the flood of tears. Sobbed into my pillow in hopes that no one would notice. Tried to gather myself as everyone else started waking up much earlier than I had hoped. I just wanted to stay in bed, but we had a full day ahead of us and adventures planned. I hadn’t flown to Minneapolis to stay cooped up in a hotel room. I prayed for strength. For grace for one more day. For contentment in Christ and not to obsess with what was or wasn’t happening within my body. He brought me through to the other side of the day. I dealt with it as well as I could. I don’t remember any other melt downs that day. It wasn’t the best day ever, but I remember being able to enjoy the time with my mom and sisters and I was grateful for that.

Despite not wanting to get my hopes up, they were slightly. That or I was in denial. I spotted through the next couple days and still went in for the blood test because this period just didn’t seem normal for me. I went to watch the kiddos and tried to forget about the phone call that would be coming in a few hours. We went to the grocery store and as I was just getting them back in their car seats when my phone rang. I knew what was coming, but had to hear it to be sure. “I’m so sorry, but it’s negative.” I tried to coherently speak with her about details and cycle days and setting up the next appointment. I’m sure she heard my voice crack and the extra moment of silence it took me to gather myself. As soon as I hit the red icon, the tears came freely. Another disappointment. Each got harder and harder as I wondered why. And I wondered how much more of this I could take.

I honestly don’t remember much more of that day with the kids. I went to help a friend with wedding plans that night and quietly skipped over a telling of highs and lows for the day. I just couldn’t muster bearing all to them, though a little later that evening it did come up as one of them asked me how it was all going.

What I remember most is lying on our bed with Steve. Not being able to look him in the eyes as I voiced my fears. Fears that I knew to be untrue but had such a tight grip on my heart.

“Am I doing something wrong?”

“Am I not good enough?”

“Is God holding out on me?”

He answered a firm and confident “No.” The answer applied to all the questions swirling in my head and he continued to remind me of the Lord’s great truths and promises, something I needed so very much.

Dear friends, have you had such moments? Ones when circumstances seem dire and there’s nothing but sorrow and fear and oh so many tears? I believe those times fall upon us all. And while we may not see how we could possibly praise God in that moment, take hope in knowing, like the psalmist, that you shall yet praise Him again. He is our only salvation and God.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Encouragement for today

I was knitting as we waited for our appointment with the fertility doctor this morning. Soft music played in the background. The door to the office was closed as was the window into the reception desk. This did not hinder me from receiving encouragement in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

One of the receptionists was making phone calls. From behind the glass I didn’t hear any real details, but I did hear “congratulations!”. My heart swelled for the ones getting the news. Only for a moment did my heart ache for the day I might be on the other end of that call.

At least twice more I heard similar conversations, and thanked God for the new life He had allowed to be conceived in a way that was probably not expected. Like having heard so many times about friends who had met their spouses through online dating, this gave me hope that He may allow these means to work for us as well, to bring children into our family.

If I have learned anything in my past 5 years, it’s that God uses whatever means He sees fit. Starting down roads, we don’t know if what we desire will be at the end of it, or if there will be a turn we have to take. But as long as we’re following Him, it’s all good. Singleness, infertility, and a million other things I would never wish upon anyone; the Lord uses them in our lives for our good and to bring Himself glory. And so I will praise Him, whether I get what I want, or not.

I pray you will be able to do the same; to still praise the One who gives us grace upon grace, new mercies every morning, and life everlasting. No matter what this world brings. No matter if our prayers are answered in the way we hoped for or not. Even if it’s through tears and sorrow (which it often has been for me, as of late), may we be able to say, “Above all else, Thy will be done,” knowing that the Father of all knows what is best for His children.

Love & Blessings

KJ

Ever Present, Newly Discovered

Yesterday morning was one I was excited to wake up to; which is probably why I was awake at 4:30. I made myself stay in bed and try to get more sleep until 5, when I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was day 29, and for almost a year my period had faithfully come on day 27. There had been an egg in the right spot this time around and I was so hopeful. I found that magical stick that could reveal in just a few minutes if you are growing a baby or not. It sometimes lies, though, so when it told me I wasn’t I thought, “Maybe I just didn’t wait long enough,” and went back to bed.

It didn’t lie, though, as I found out when I woke up again. I didn’t want to believe it. I tried to convince myself that this was different somehow. I even called the doctor’s office to talk to someone about it, to see what I could do. Of course, by the time they called back the truth of reality had already hit me like a brick. It was not to be.

For a little bit I was angry. All I could think was that this was all some sick joke. Then I was just sad, somewhat defeated, and in a whole lot of pain, because with me, menstrual cramps are no joke. I did not want to do anything. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear.

My typical mode of avoidance is to fiddle about on my phone – I did that a lot yesterday. As I was going through my email I spotted one of the few devotionals that I usually just end up deleting. This time though, it had a reference to Psalm 139 in the title. I opened it up and read it. I couldn’t tell you now what it said, but it made me think that reading through that psalm would be good for my soul. So that’s what I did.

Psalm 139 has always been my favorite – probably because it was the first scripture the Lord used to break into my heart some 16 years ago. It speaks of a love that is unfathomable. A God who is unshakable. Whose promises are unchangeable and not retractable. Who sees me even when I want to just hide from Him and be miserable. Oh, He’ll still let me, but really, who is able to hide from our all-knowing, ever-present, and totally sovereign Maker?

 

If you are unfamiliar with this psalm, or would like to read it anew, please take a moment to here.

I always seem to go back to this psalm in great times of sorrow, need, and desperation, but this time around something new was brought to light. I stand in awe each time the Holy Spirit reveals something new in a passage I’ve read more than any other. This is the section that stood out to me:

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when yet there was none of them.

~Psalm 139: 13-16

As I read that section, I saw it in light of all creation. All people. Not just David who wrote it. Not just myself as I read it. But as all people who have ever populated this earth, those who are here now, and those who will be in the future; all who are made in the image of God. For the first time I realized that not only does my glorious God know all there is to know about me, but He also knows all there is to know about any children who will join our family, regardless if I give birth to them or someone else does.

This might sound silly to you. I mean, really, knowing that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent is a pretty basic thing to learn. I have known this for almost all of the past 16 or so years…but to really understand it? I don’t think I will ever reach the height and breadth and depth of comprehending it this side of heaven.

All of this brought me great comfort, even though there were still tears shed and a feeling of brokenness inside. The Lord used His Word to restore my soul. To bring deeper understanding of Himself and His sovereignty. To bring peace beyond understanding.

There will be many more tears along this road, of that I have no doubt. But I need not fear being alone in it all, and neither do you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Just Like a Roller Coaster

Up, down, around, and back again…

Sometime last week I realized Mother’s Day was coming up soon. I was worried about what it might bring with it this year: heartache, sorrow, bitterness, a few tears (or many), maybe, just possibly, a little joy? We’re in the middle of a lot. Ok, that’s not so very true, but with the extra hormones I’m on, this week has seemed about 20 days longs with all of the ups and downs and very far downs. I typically have some pretty awful mood swings a couple days a month and wasn’t too thrilled when I found out that the effects of the drug could be worse than that. But first, let me back up a little.

We first saw a fertility specialist a couple months ago. It had been almost a year since we’ve been trying and with my only having one intact fallopian tube (the result of surgery a few years ago), we decided it was time to see if there was anything else preventing this all from happening. After a month of collecting info from blood work and other tests the doc found nothing out of the ordinary and ruled it as “unexplained infertility.” Not something really encouraging, but it also means it’s not impossible for us to get pregnant.

When we met with him again, one of his first suggestions was that I take Clomid. It stimulates ovulation so that there’s a better chance that I’ll actually ovulate from the ovary that has a tube intact to carry it down. And before you think I’m crazy and could end up with septuplets, let me tell you that I’m taking a low dose and it has only 10% chance of twins and less than 1% change of triplets. I will admit I’m at the point where I think I’d be ok with twins and wouldn’t have to think about all this any more 🙂

Along the way & through all of this we have been praying and have been prayed for. For a child to be conceived. For strength from and trust in a God who knows what He’s doing. For His will to be done. There have been ups and downs and I’ll probably write about those later, but back to where I started.

Mother’s Day has been hard in the past when I was single and not knowing if I’d ever be married so that I could have a chance to be a mom. Last year it was hopeful and I don’t remember being at all sad. This year I was uncertain.

Yesterday marked day 3 of 5 that I have be taking Clomid and I felt it. I’ve been watching two sweet kiddos since we moved into our house and I left the library. Yesterday we went out for a stroll at Walmart. I needed just one thing but we wandered around and after a little bit I felt like I was slogging through mud. My brain was foggy and unfocused and I just couldn’t get my thoughts together. That, itself, made me start to freak out a little. Anxiety rose as thoughts wracked my brain, reasonable and irrational alike. I made it to the check out and as we left (me pushing the kiddos in the cart) the greeter called out, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I took my sunglasses from atop my head so I could cover my eyes before the tears started to fall.

I knew this reaction was not my typical one. I’ve been watching the kiddos for over 6 months now and have gone on many a shopping trip where I get complemented on how cute they are or asked if I think one will have curly hair like me (ummm, no, I don’t think so :)). It has never bothered me; sometimes I correct them and let them know I’m the “aunt” and sometimes I thank them, smile, and go on my merry way. This time, though, it tipped me over the edge. I knew the hormones were mostly to blame, but I still didn’t know what to do about it. We grabbed a snack and went to the park as I tried to regain myself.

The rest of the day I felt like I went from one extreme to the next, mostly between getting annoyed and angry to being desperately sad. We had dinner with friends and that was nice, but I felt pretty quiet and reserved most of the night. Once we got home and were doing family worship I told Steve all about my day. He, of course, let me cry on his shoulder, waited patiently while my thoughts collected themselves into communicable phrases, held me tight, and prayed to our great Creator.

I felt better, getting all of those pent up thoughts out of my head where they swirled relentlessly around. I felt better, being reminded of a God and Savior who will never leave me, forsake me, or stop loving me.

Today I woke up and felt like a new person. I got lunches and breakfast made and even prepped some for dinner while I thought about what I’d do with the kiddos today. When I got to their house, there were some lovely flowers waiting for me, along with a sweet note of support & encouragement. As we headed to Walmart again…we needed things for a secret project, G (who’s 2 1/2) started asking me about the songs on the radio. As I explained to this little boy that people were singing songs about God and how great He is and how they are glad that He’s always with them, in good times and in bad, my heart swelled.

This is one of the reasons I so very badly desire a child of my own; so I can share with them the greatness of God, the awe and wonder and majesty of Him and the amazing things He’s done for us all. And yet, I can do that while I still do not have children of my own. Is it the same? Absolutely not. But seeing knowledge and wonder of God grow within these little kiddos is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade that, either. There’s still an ache in my heart for a child of my own. A dark-eyed, curly-haired misfit who will drive her parents crazy (because there are only ever girls in my family 😉 ). But as I walked out of Walmart today and was, once again, wished, “Happy Mother’s Day” I simply smiled, said “thanks,” and strolled out the door.

I cannot say that tomorrow or Sunday will not bring different emotions. We will cross that bridge when we get there.

If you anticipate Mother’s Day to be difficult this year, because of the ache you have to be one or the sorrow of having lost yours, know that you are not alone. I’ll be praying for you. If you think of it, please send one up for me.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Giving Thanks

It seems to happen around this time every year. I start to think on all of the things I’m thankful for. There are always the “basics”: a loving God, a great family, amazing friends, a job that is just right for me. But there is so much more.

The night of our Thanksgiving Eve service at church always helps me see the great ways God has been working in my life in the past year; tonight was no different. As people stood to give thanks to the Lord for His provisions, love, guidance, mercies, and blessings I was reminded of how this year started out for me. I was trying to put my thoughts together and wondering if I should say anything. Of course at that moment there was silence as everyone waited for the next person to stand. I suppose someone noticed me and the face I make when I have something to say but am unsure of saying it (yes, I’ve been told I have such a look), because I heard someone say, “C’mon, Kell.” It’s now or never, I suppose so I stood.

The box of tissues was placed next to me within the span of my first few words. A dear friend took my hand before I finished the first sentence. My smile was ear to ear as the tears fell; as I spoke of a God so good, great, marvelous, amazing, and how He got me through the rough patches in the beginning of the year and led me into the wondrous season of today.

Amazing things happen when your feelings are spoken out loud; especially when they are things you might not want to say out loud, for everyone to hear. Saying them out loud seems to make them more real, while, at the same time, gives them less power over you, for you are no longer the single bearer of these thoughts.

So I remembered and spoke of the fear that came with going into surgery with the outcome unknown. A surgery & recovery that God brought me through with my hope still in tact that I could, one day, have children. For He is so good. And as I spoke, the fear, though it was from something in the past, was finally freed, and the gratefulness enveloped my heart.

I went on to speak of the joy I found in that outcome, as there is now someone in my life who I could see spending my future with. And those words, spoken out loud, (not just to one person here or there, but to over 30 all at once) hit me with the amazing reality of it all.

I spoke of my gratitude for my security in Christ. Whether the future turns out how I imagine it, or not, His will will be done. I know His plan is the best. He’s got me covered, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. A few years ago I would not have recognized the woman speaking these words. They were spoken with such conviction and confidence, as one who not only believes them, but knows them to be true.

1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

We all have much to be thankful for this year. I pray you’re able to take time to share your thankfulness with not only your family & friends, but also with the God to Whom all our thanks should be given.

Love & Blessings,

KJ