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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Idols Unveiled

We have just about a month (hopefully) before the arrival of our little girl and I’ve been horrible at keeping up with this – I haven’t even gotten to the part when we actually found out we were pregnant 🙂 That will be the next one; I promise (most likely).

One of the most difficult times in all of our fertility treatment was when we went in for a second consult with the doctor to talk about what to do next. It was the week after our third IUI and I was at the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to bother with it anymore. We were veering away from IVF, but still wanted to know what other options we had.

Our doctor was very well spoken and had a great way of explaining things with clarity. He told us more about IVF and the more he said, the more it made sense to me. If they limited the embryos and we used them all, surely there could be no wrong in that. As my mind was being changed I looked at Steve and couldn’t really read him. We had talked about it before and how we weren’t that comfortable with it. Amidst all the emotions I couldn’t help but cry, then and there, my heart and mind at odds with each other. The doctor was compassionate and apologized for going anywhere we didn’t want to, but said he was just giving us the facts (which he was; he was not at all pushy or manipulative). He moved on to talk to us about injectable medication and how all of that would work. It seemed way involved; lots of monitoring to make sure there weren’t too many eggs maturing (quadruplets were not the goal) and how if multiples occurred they could do selective reduction. That part was a hard pass and we told him so. Still, it seemed that injectables might be worth a shot (haha), though the thought of giving myself one was not my favorite. The only thing was we would have to order them soon because all of that starts earlier in the cycle than Clomid had and we would need them on hand. And then there was the thought or what would we do with the meds if we got them and then didn’t need them. We did not make any decisions right then; there was too much to talk about.

As we left, my fear was confirmed. Steve told me how he was still against IVF as I told him that I might be ok with it.

Before I go further, please hear this: I do not and will not judge anyone for going the IVF route. God uses what means He will; and that is totally a decision made between you, your spouse, and the Good Lord. If IVF worked for you, I praise God for the precious life He brought into your family through it!

We had sought insight from our pastor before we had this meeting. Probably even before we started down much of this road. We just wanted to make sure our perspective wasn’t skewed or we weren’t blinded by what we longed for. His suggestion (that stuck with me) was that because IVF could be really expensive, we should consider putting the money we would use for that toward adoption instead. At that time, this made sense to me. But as we came out of the consult, totally not on the same page, all I could think of was the fact that our insurance would pay for IVF while funds for adoption would have to be raised on our own.

To be completely honest, I was bitter on that drive home. Steve and I talked it over, he expressing why he didn’t want to do it, and me trying to convince him it would be ok. In the end (or maybe even at the beginning of it all) I knew it wasn’t going to be an option. I knew I would submit to my husband’s decision, because that is what I promised to do, but it torn me up inside. We all know it takes two people to make a baby; we both needed to be on board. I couldn’t do it without him and I knew arguing about it wasn’t going to do any good. Plus I knew, above all, the covenant I made, to love and respect him as the head of our home, was not made lightly. It is something I believe wholeheartedly in.

Does that mean I had no trouble putting IVF out of my mind? Absolutely not. The answer just seemed so easy, so right there in front of us…

Of course, nothing is ever really that easy.

Over the next few days I talked it over with a friend. My broken-heartedness over not being able to try something that could result in us having a child was raw and real. But as I spoke about the process, as I heard myself saying the words the doctor had spoken to us, I began to understand why it wasn’t right for us. I had done some research myself, months earlier, but just didn’t want to think about the possible disappointment in it all. Sure chances of getting pregnant with IVF are higher, but they are not guaranteed. I was already a basket case at least twice every 28 days, could I really handle going through with that IVF entailed; mentally & spiritually? And I knew my husband was right.

I wanted a child so badly, and IVF seemed like such an easy answer; we wouldn’t have to pay for it and it had a higher success rate than what we had been trying.  I wanted it so bad I was blind to reason. I was blind to the effect it would have on my well-being. I was blind to my husband’s conviction that it wasn’t right for us. I was blind to the Holy Spirit’s conviction within myself. This desire had become an idol (and not for the first time) and I was willing to look past the means as long as they met the end I wanted.

Laying down an idol is not easy. Nor is accepting truth you don’t want to believe. Admitting you were wrong, not only to the Lord but also to your spouse, is painful. Repentance and asking for forgiveness is difficult. Going through this whole process was the hardest thing I have ever done. The Lord reminded me through it all that He is in control, not I. He can see the whole picture, not I. He knows what is best, definitely not I.

I am ever so thankful to my husband for not caving in and standing firm in his convictions. Even more so for the gentleness and love with which he expressed them to me when I may or may not have been completely rational. In the end we decided to stick with Clomid and try one more IUI before moving on to injectables. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we would be dealing with any of that. The easy part was done and our lives would never be the same.

If you have ever been in a spot when an idol has taken over the Lord rightful place in your heart, you know how difficult it can be to dethrone it. If you haven’t, you might want to examine your heart… Oh so often the things we place as idols in our lives are not bad things; a child, a relationship, a career. It is when these become ruling things that there is a problem. Seek the Lord; all of the children, spouses, and money in the world cannot fulfill you like He can.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Love & Blessings, dear friends,

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

Thankfulness: Day 3

Today I’m thankful for this man; my husband of two years. A great friend who listens to my crazy ramblings, helps me remember things that get lost in my ever-scattered brain, and never fails to make me smile (even when I’m really grumpy and just don’t want to). I’m thankful for how he humors me and follows me all around Target as I wander aimlessly without tapping his foot or seeming like he’d rather be elsewhere. How he washes all the dishes as I take a nap because the day just wore me out. How he loves me and lets me cry on his shoulder (even when I soak his shirt). How he patiently listens when we’ve just gone to bed and I’ve gotten my second wind and want to talk his ear off. How he has been by my side through this season of infertility, reminding me that we’re in this together. How he points me to a Savior; One who truly loves me and is working for my good no matter what, when I’ve felt overlooked and unworthy.

I pray, friends, that you are blessed with such a person in your life, whether it be a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. One who encourages you and helps to hold you up when you are weak. One who speaks truth to you, even if it’s hard. One who loves you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

It’s Not Really About the How

It happened after we had been dating for a couple of months. It was the first time he introduced me as his girlfriend. And then the inevitable question came. “So how did you meet?”

I don’t think I was nervous about this (ok, maybe a little bit), but we both looked at each other for a very long second and then he answered. “We met on eHarmony.” Apparently I rolled my eyes at this. I was totally unaware, but his friend called me out on it. I couldn’t help but wonder where that reaction came from, but I really probably knew all along.

I’m a romantic at heart. Totally. Completely. Hopelessly. Romantic.

That’s a huge reason why I struggled with the idea of online dating for so long. “It’s great for other people,” I thought, “But how could that possibly be the way I’m going to find my husband? How romantic could that possibly be?” (And here I just imagine God chuckling, “Just wait, dear one, until you see what I have in store for you.”) Meanwhile, I had a few good friends who met their spouses through online dating. It only took me a year or two or three to decide to actually try it for myself.

More than that, though, I came to terms with the idea that God can use any means to bring about His will. I didn’t think a lot of people would understand that, though. For whatever reason, I had the thought stuck in my head that people would think I was desperate to find someone if I had to resort to online dating.

*I do not quite understand the double standard I set in my head about this. I have never thought of anyone who chooses to go the online dating route in that light, not my friends or the guys I met, much less the one I’m about the marry. For whatever reason, this thought only applied to myself.*

And that was the reason for my hesitation in answering how we met, the first time it was asked. And the reason for the eyeroll. But I have more to add to that now, a year later (to the day, in fact). And it doesn’t involve any heavy sighs, or eyerolls, or shrugging of shoulders.

Yes, the first time I saw my now soon-to-be husband was on the screen of my laptop. The profile he wrote up was thoughtful, well written (with no grammatical errors), and I wanted to know more about him. Because I felt awkward initiating communication, I sent him a “smile” (think poking via Facebook circa 2004). He then sent me questions that I answered and then sent a few of my own. We finally got to writing our own messages and within a short time decided we wanted to talk/meet. That was put on hold for a week or so as I had just left for a family vacation of California, and then just one more week as I had plans with friends for the weekend I got home.

For our first date we met at Starbucks and walked around a mall for an hour or so. He said he’d like to see me again and I don’t think I could say yes fast enough. The rest, as they say, is history. For as much as I was worried about what people would think when they found out how we met, I don’t really think of that anymore. That is not really important in the defining of our relationship. I freely give the answer when asked; hoping perhaps I’ll encourage someone else to step out of their comfort zone, into online dating or whathaveyou, and trust that if it’s in God’s plan, He’ll make it come about whichever way He chooses.

No, I may not have a movie worthy love story (those aren’t real anyway), but romance, yes, it’s there. It’s in finding & reading a book to find out how it ends (because the librarian you’re dating wouldn’t want to spoil it). It’s in long walks and park benches by the water. It’s in hearing, “I love you” for the first time, under a starry sky. It’s in having a hand to hold that helps steady your clumsiness. It’s in a welcomed hug after a half marathon eventhough you’re sweaty & smelly. It’s in the quiet prayers, seeking God’s direction for your future. It’s in hearing the words, “I have never second-guessed myself; you are the only one I ever want to marry.”

I pray you find encouragement in my story, and not necessarliy in knowing that online dating can work. Most importantly, I hope you come to realize, as I did, God uses whatever means He chooses. Sometimes we hesitate to try something new because we think He can’t possibly bring anything good about in that way. We are talking about the Creator of the universe, remember! He spoke the world into being. He is not constrained to that which we can wrap our minds around (praise Him for that!).

Love & Blessings,

KJ

 

That Girl

I never wanted to be that girl. The one who thought she wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, for any guy, much less one with admirable qualities. I didn’t want to be that girl who thought she didn’t deserve to be in a relationship. I read all of the Twilight books (a mistake, I know), and wanted to smack Bella every time she mentioned or thought about how undeserving of Edward she was. I vowed never to be that girl…until I realized, I am.

In this season of preparing for a wedding & marriage there have been many well wishes and congratulations. When I talk with people, many have expressed their happiness for my fiance and I, and many have said, “You deserve this.” It has always rubbed me a little funny, that phrase. And I have finally figured out why. I don’t. I don’t deserve any of this.

Hear me out, now, and let me explain. In this life, I deserve nothing. Wait, that’s not quite right. In this life, I deserve death. For the wages of sin is death ~Romans 6:23a. I have sinned against a righteous and holy God. More times than I could ever count. Death is all I deserve. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23b

I deserve death, but have been granted life. and not just any life, but eternal life! You know that means forever, right? Because Jesus paid the price for my sin (and for yours), I can accept the free gift of life eternal (and so can you). That is an amazing thing all on it’s own. And now here is the rest of my point – it is all I’ll ever need. 3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~2 Peter 1:3 & 4

Because of my salvation in Jesus Christ, I should want for nothing. In not getting what I deserve (death) and getting what I don’t deserve (eternal life) I should be forever grateful. I am forever grateful. Any other blessing that God chooses to bestow upon me is icing on the cake. My job that I love, my comfortable home, a car that still runs, and, yes, even a wedding at the end of the month and a future with a man I adore. All of those are bonuses on top of the most precious gift I could ever be given. Especially considering I had all but given up that that last one would ever happen.

God never promised we would find a soul mate, but He promised rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30)

God never promised us a spouse, but He promised to work things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

God never promised us each a wedding on earth, but He has prepared a marriage supper for those who belong to Him (Revelation 6-9).

If you are single and struggling, I pray this gives you hope, knowing that all you will ever need will never be found in a relationship here on earth. I have been in your shoes and it is a hard pill to swallow, but as long as you are in Christ, He will sustain you.

If you are married and struggling, I also pray this gives you hope, knowing that your spouse can never be your savior, but Jesus Christ can. With Him in the center of your marriage, you and your spouse can focus on how your relationship is working to glorify Him.

And if you find yourself with a that girl mentality, know that it’s ok, but also remember my most favorite two words; but God. You may feel undeserving, but God knows you are worth the greatest sacrifice, and He gave it all so He could be in relationship with you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ