I think maybe the whole reason I asked Megan to share on the blog this week was for me. Dang. I met Megan IRL at Created for Care adoption retreat 2 years ago, in the very room and session that God used to open my eyes and bring me freedom to declare that I was indeed struggling with infertility. Megan was there, and she’s been there since, cheering me on, praying for me, and encouraging me. Her story encouraged me greatly + I pray it does you too! Thanks so much to my friend Wynne for allowing me to share here on her awesome blog and for encouraging me to be brave and share some of my infertility story with you.
Like many other little girls, I grew up playing with dolls and dreaming of rocking my own tiny, sweet babe to sleep one day. While I also aspired be a nurse, being a wife and mother were my ultimate goals. I vividly remember the feeling of my heart sinking a little when a doctor told me, “it may be difficult for you to get pregnant one day”. I have always been an optimist though, so I told myself, “okay it may just take a few months or maybe a pill or something – no problem”.
Fast forward several years, I was married to my sweet husband Brandon and had my dream job as a pediatric oncology nurse. We had just moved from our home in the Carolinas to Ohio for his job, and I was ready for babies. I remember our friends helping us move into our home in 3 feet of snow, and our pastor praying for children to fill our home. I was excited, being a mother had to be the next step right?
A few months after trying we went to see a doctor and began our journey with infertility. It proved to be difficult for the doctor to find the right mix and dosages of drugs, and after 2 years and countless medications/self-administered injections, procedures and a major surgery, we switched doctors. Over the next 14 months we went through more treatment including 2 unsuccessful IVF cycles with some pretty scary and major complications. I was tired and frustrated.
I had always felt like my relationship with God was good. I came to know Christ at age 7, I read my bible, prayed, went to church, did all the “right” things my whole life. I had never experienced such loss, such heart-wrenching pain and anger, especially directed at Him. I was downright mad at God. I remember crying out in one of my darkest moments, and telling God I was done. I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t give me the desires of my heart. If He was such a good God, why didn’t He love me enough to give me what I wanted. I was doing everything right … right? I stopped talking to Him, and I let myself wallow in my anger and pain. I hate to admit that, but it’s the honest truth.
About this time we took a break from fertility treatments and began going down the adoption road. We both had always seen adoption in our family’s future, but we had always planned to have biological kids first. See a theme emerging here? My plan. (Side note – we are still adopting, yay!)
About this same time I was going through an intensive discipleship school. My goodness, the Lord used that, along with a personal year-long Bible plan I was doing, to completely wreck me and radically change my relationship with the Him. It was hard and painful, and what He showed me about my heart was often not pretty. I realized that I had so often been seeking the Lord for what He could give me. For how it would benefit me. I wanted something from Him (specifically a baby) more than I wanted Him. It hurts me now to say that out loud, but again, it’s the truth.
Once I realized that, I began to see how God had been right there with me, loving me gently and ever-so-patiently throughout every moment in our infertility journey. He is and always has been a loving, good God. He pursued me even though I didn’t pursue Him. I came to a point where I could honestly say with conviction, “God, I want you more than I want a baby. I will still love you and I know you are still good, even if I never get pregnant.” It was a little scary to say that outloud (and mean it!), but I knew that God knew and cared greatly about the desire of my heart to become a mother, and no matter how that happened, I would trust Him and believe in His goodness and faithfulness to bring about those desires in His time and His way. I began shifting my focus to pursuing God and getting to know His heart.
About a year into our adoption journey, I had to have another major surgery. About 2 months later we found out we were pregnant for the first time in our lives. I will never forget that phone call from the nurse and the overwhelming joy and shock I felt. The Lord continually showed His glory and faithfulness over the next 9 months, including keeping both me and our tiny baby safe during another risky emergency surgery I had while 11 weeks pregnant. This little girl was His plan the whole time. He knew she was coming from the start, and she was going to be worth every bit of heartache, pain and time spent waiting.
|Arielle Elise Photography
November 3, 2013 at 7:13 pm Liv Carolina entered the world – 9 lbs 12.6 oz. and 22.5 in.
|Cream and Cocoa Photography
Her name means “my God is a vow/promise” and “life” – both so very fitting. This girl has been such a beautiful, unbelievable gift. She fills our days with such light and joy, and sometimes it still doesn’t seem real that I have a sweet baby to rock to sleep at night. Being a mother is everything I dreamed it would be and more. I look at her and see I God’s sovereignty, and I’m so thankful for that. She is an absolute and total miracle. Going through what we did has allowed me to see that with such clarity. I cherish every small moment with this girl.
I hope my story encourages someone, wherever you are. For me, there is great beauty that came from my infertility. Taking the steps to begin our adoption journey we may not have taken otherwise. Friendships I wouldn’t have had otherwise. A deeper relationship with my husband I wouldn’t have had otherwise. A more real picture of who my God is and how well He loves me that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think God causes bad things to happen to us. We live in a fallen world, and sometimes we go through things like infertility and it just plain sucks. I do however think know that waiting time is never wasted time to God. My infertility journey was so hard, but going through it brought me to a place with the Lord that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I read this quote and verse recently in the She Reads Truth Bible plan
, and it is really applicable to my story (and I’m sure many of yours too).
“Who we become and what we appreciate often come from some of the darkest days of life.”
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
Isaiah 45:3 NLT
We can’t see our whole story, but He does, and He won’t leave it unfinished. God is there in your darkest moments, loving you more than you could ever know or imagine. He is good and sovereign, and although I wish no one ever had to experience the pain that comes with infertility, if you’re there, I hope you can find comfort in knowing that your Heavenly Father knows and cares about the desires of your heart, and no matter your circumstances, they don’t change our loving and faithful God.
I have always been a floater.
When I was in high school, I was known to go to three high school football games on one Friday night. I enjoyed doing those things alone, and getting the chance to hop from school to school and friend group to friend group. In junior high and into the first year of high school I did all the sports, because I wanted to be with all the different friends. You better believe I “played” softball, basketball, ran track + cross country, played tennis and cheered. Y’all, I sucked at about all of those things but 1, but I still did it. for the variety of friends. **too bad facebook wasn’t around back then, because I can’t readily find any high school digital pics
in college, same song second verse. I would go to several parties in one night, mostly alone, so I could see all my different friends. maybe I just hated to miss out? I know I have FOMO [fear of missing out] but I think it goes deeper than that. I have always had a small “group” of friends, but still sometimes feel like a nomad. a gypsy traveler who has her foot in many different tents. I love so deeply, and I love to connect with people, that I have a big tribe.
above: my baylor besties [missing ML and Whit], we call ourselves “supper club”
below: at our engagement party, life long friends + college friends
every time I think my tribe is too big, and my heart can’t handle another soul sister, God brings one more into my life. in so many seasons of life. adoption, noonday, infertility, bloggers, conference goers, moms, church, school…the list goes on. I’m so grateful for friends that love me to no end, fight for me, want to break stuff with me when life gets hard, and then will pick me back up when I fall.
my little cross country road trip was like food for my gypsy floater soul. I loved being able to connect with friends from so many seasons of life. More than once I marveled that the Lord had blessed me with such amazing people in my life that are scattered all over the country. On my trip, my soul was fed. I was encouraged, built up, prayed for, listened to, cheered on. I spilt my guts out, discovered more about my personality than ever before, and got to know myself in a new way.
I have come to appreciate this floater gypsy soul of mine, as it’s led me to some pretty amazing relationships. Sure, sometimes it stings. it stings to be the one that everyone thinks has something to do, when I really don’t. it stings to be told, “I know you are really busy” at the beginning of a phone conversation. or to have friends think they aren’t as important to me as they really are. none of things things are true and I hope that I can be the kind of friend who’s friends know how important they are to me. and I hope that they will keep pursing me, even when it seems like there are many others doing the same. and I hope I can keep pursing them in they way they all deserve. because really, what is life without good friends?
what about you? are you a one-best-friend kind of girl or more of a floater like me?
pretty crazy to think I just got back from a trip I’d been dreaming about and planning for for months.
now it’s over.
I love to write. I love to travel. I love to be in Africa. I love to support missionaries + their ministries. I love to be with people.
so this kind of trip was perfect for me. a culmination of so many of my gifts + passions.
I sorta sound like a broken record.
I started writing this post right after my trip with Sole Hope back in March. but as I look back, I can foresee me saying the same things when I get back from my #StyleForJustice trip too. The culmination of a dream fulfilled. Getting to travel to a country (and continent) I love, with two organizations I love, and with friends and other amazing women I’ve looked up to for years. writing, taking photographs, learning more about the work of IJM and re-connecting with Noonday’s group of artisans I met 3 years ago.
what happens when these things are over?
re-entry after trips like these to Africa is hard.
but what happens when after this trip, there is nothing on the calendar?
nothing to look forward to. to pray for, plan for and pack for.
no group of women to connect with, pray for and travel with.
what happens when, like me, one of my biggest dreams will be fulfilled and OVER???
these are the thoughts that go through my head, yet I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has cleared my fall schedule for a reason. I have no idea what that reason could be, but I have peace about it. I do stay up late and think about what the reason could be – a move? a new job? a baby? africa? but regardless of the WHY I know the WHO. I know WHO is in control and although my human-ness wants to freak out, the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding gives me all I need to be calm.
it’s almost here, ya know? My husband gives me the daily count down, and most of the time I put my hands over my ears. Not because I’m not ready for it to be here, but because I’m not ready for it to be over.
Today, I am going to make a couscous effort to not just think about the future, but to live in the present. to enjoy every moment, soak them all in one at a time, and be present.
10 more days, will you be joining in our journey? sign up here to get updates [and enter for a chance to win some great prizes!]
all but 1 photo by Wandering with Mary
It’s sunday evening, and I’m lying in bed at home alone on my heating pad. I’ve been here pretty much all day, and I just looked up long enough to see a text from my mom that let me know this time 2 years ago we were on the way to meet Camp + Asher for the first time in Ethiopia. Two years ago.
The day I became a mom. As I re-read that post I wrote on the day that we received our double portion, I couldn’t help but be reminded of God’s faithfulness. I needed that today. A part of my endometriosis (and infertility) is that every month there is at least 1 day that I am forced to stay home, mostly in bed. The bleeding is so heavy that I’ve felt lightheaded and dizzy when I get up out of bed, and somedays I just am so over it. I want to have “that moment” again. I want to be in a place ready to receive the good gifts God wants to bestow on me. Most of the time I feel unworthy. Today, I rebuke that I want to start praying and claiming Gods promises for me.
Over the past 5 years of our infertility/endometriosis journey, I have been prayed over many many times. I can recall every single instance someone prayed for healing over me, and those powerful moments in prayer with my brothers and sisters around the world will forever be etched in my memory. Last Sunday as I was visiting my good friends, the Gibsons, church with them, I felt led to go to the front during prayer time to ask for praying for healing. again. I told the two precious women who were praying for me, that I’ve been asking God to heal me for a few years, and even though he hasn’t physically healed me yet, I still have faith that He is able to! One of the women, after I finished, said “so you want us to pray for you to have a baby?” and I said, no, I mean that would be a great bonus to the healing work God could do in my body but that wasn’t what I was requesting prayer for. After the prayer time ended, she looked at me and said “I know what I heard”.
As I walked back up to our seats, I thought about what she said and as we continued in worship, I felt the Lord giving me new faith. fresh faith. and fresh eyes to see that I CAN indeed ask for a baby in prayer. I am not saying I deserve a baby, or that I feel like God has promised me a baby, but I felt like that day in that church He gently spoke new faith to me. He spoke his fatherly love to me. He reminded me that I don’t have to feel this guilt I feel when I think of asking for such a thing in prayer. I’ve been so focused on my physical healing the past few years, that maybe I’ve lost sight of the true desire of my heart.
Tonight, as I sit in a quiet house eating my pesto pasta in bed alone, I am reminded that no matter what happens – if God heals me by way of a baby, or just by his miraculous works, I am a mom. I do desire to keep being a mom, and whether thats a mom biologically, or if we adopt again, I will keep mothering. As I said in that first mom post, it IS the best job. It’s not always butterflies and roses as I suspected (did I tell you we’ve been potty training this weekend?) but it’s the best job. I am beyond honored to be Camp + Ashers mommy. Today, I want to celebrate that gift.
photos by the lovely + talented Alison Holcomb [and they are the biggest gift ever]
so fun to get to guest post over at The Root Collective’s blog today about our purchasing power.
go check it out here. and get you some #Ottomademyshoes flats handmade in Guatemala here.
Purchasing with purpose. This was a term that I had no idea what it meant 2+ years ago, but now it has become a frequent term on my blog, pinterest and just overall lingo. See, I used to buy things just because they were cheap. Especially jewelry, accessories and shoes. I didn’t really know any better. Then I was introduced to Noonday Collection, and The Root Collective among other amazing companies that create beautiful pieces hand made by artisans.
hand made! this just astounds me, that instead of using my purchasing power to buy something that was made in a factory across the world, I can use my purchasing power for good! I can say no to purchasing “cheap” things, and instead use my money and voice to purchase items that I know are ethicically produced.
I know now when I wear my Root Collective flats, that somewhere in Guatemala, Otto’s hands touched them and created these beautiful works of art on my feet. When I wear my Noonday paper beads from Uganda, I picture Daniel, Bukenya and Caleb and all the work and heart and love that went into making that necklace special and unique.
You see, as consumers we have purchasing power! We have the opportunity to spend our money on something that reaps rewards all over the world, not just in my closet. Think about this….how many times have you given money to someone in need? You know the parable – you can give a man a fish, or teach him how to fish…this purchasing from these artisans….it’s teaching them how to fish! When you use your purchasing power for good, you are sending them a message too: YOU MATTER!
Your purchases are powerful because they give them purpose! The power of having purpose is POWERFUL! I’ve sat in enough homes of artisans all over East Africa to know that their job is the one thing that gives them purpose, it’s the thing that gets them up in the morning, it’s the thing that provides for their family. It gives them HOPE, and a FUTURE, and there is nothing better than using our purchasing power to give purpose to the women + men all over the world who handmade these beautiful adornments we wear.
so what do you say? How about next time you are tempted to head to your local mall and pick up a $3 pair of earrings, how about instead think of how your purchase could be used for good? Let’s do it!
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