Category Archives: Miscarraige

God at Work Wednesday: Cindy’s Story

Every Wednesday I’m going to be highlighting a story of God moving in the life of someone I know. I think testimonies are the most powerful way to share our faith and change the world. So without further adieu, meet Cindy. Cindy babysat for me when I was a little girl and through Facebook we have recently reconnected.

“I needed someone to rescue me.

It started in my early teenage years … feeling the need to be perfect to fit in…the intense desire to be loved and accepted. I was trying to please everybody else, which made me feel so out of control of my own life. The one thing I could control was my food intake and my exercise.

What started out as a simple attempt to become “healthy” quickly became much more than that and spiraled out of control. I shut out my family and friends. I turned away from everyone that I needed … including God. I felt hopeless. I felt alone. But that did not matter to me at the time because the numbers on the scale were going down…. and down …and down.

I kept aiming for a smaller number each time I reached my “goal”. It was funny … not ha ha funny, but weird funny. I thought when I got to a smaller number, I would be happy and perfect; however, it never happened. The lower the number got, the more unhappy I became.

When I was 16, I was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for weeks at a time. My eating disorder got worse after each treatment attempt. I was not ready to let go. My family and friends felt helpless. They saw me slowing killing myself, but they could not stop it.

When I was 18, my doctor gave me two weeks to live. I had starved myself down to 79 pounds. My parents had contacted every treatment center they could find, but I was 18 … I was able to refuse treatment. Remuda Ranch, a treatment center in Arizona, had called to do a phone interview with me. They only take patients who are willing to try to get better. I refused their phone call; therefore, they would not accept me. My parents were devastated.

My parents were taking turns staying home with me because I was so sick. I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. It was a day that my dad was home with me. It was a few days after I had refused Remudaʼs phone call. My dad was crying out to God, praying for a miracle. Within minutes after he finished his prayer, the phone rang. It was Remuda Ranch conducting a follow up call. My father walked down the hall to my bedroom with the phone in his hand, knocked on my door, and told me who was on the phone. By the grace of God, I said I would take the call.

Why they called again? I have no idea. I believe that was the divine intervention of a God who longed to rescue me from myself.

Less than a week later, frail–broken-and-on-the-brink-of-death-little-me flew to Arizona. I had so many emotions…fear, sadness, anger, confusion, and in a strange way, relief.

My rescuer was already working behind the scenes, softening my hard and anxious heart. It was there at Remuda Ranch at the broken age of 18 that I (with a lot of hesitation) decided to let go and let God. He intervened and rescued me from the eating disorder (ED) that was draining me of joy, freedom, and life itself. There the Lord met me in my brokenness, took my hand and started walking with me on a journey to healing.

 

This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program).  The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube.  I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition.  My body could not handle solid food at that point.  Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.
This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program). The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube. I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition. My body could not handle solid food at that point. Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.

I never knew what a long (so very long), hard (so very hard) journey it would be. There were so many ups and downs (and I am not just talking about the scale going up and down). I am talking about mental and physical obstacles I had to overcome. I had to rebuild trust with God, my family and my friends. I had to rebuild trust with my very own body.

Remuda Ranch
This was also taken at Remuda Ranch, about 4 weeks into the treatment program. I was there for 60 days.

Fast forward nine years. God provided an amazing man who asked me to be his wife, and he has been such a gift to me. A couple years after that we decided we wanted to start a family.

When I was in the midst of the eating disorder behaviors, I didn’t know (or maybe I knew but didn’t care) what kind of damage I was doing to my body.  When I went to my doctor (the doctor that took care of me all through my eating disorder) to happily tell her we were ready to start trying to get pregnant, it hit. me. so. hard.

Because of the trauma you put your body through for years and years, you might not be able to conceive or carry children” she said.

I was devastated.

The consequences of my decisions as a young girl had such a massive ripple effect. I was terrified and angry, but again, in my despair God had a plan. I had yet another opportunity to relinquish my plan and control.

*In retrospect I can say with confidence that it’s in the hardest things that we grow the most.*

After a long time of trying, we became pregnant — with the help of fertility treatments and procedures. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! I was overjoyed, and our sweet daughter has been such a gift. She is one of many amazing gifts that came as a result of God’s miraculous rescue.

If you have struggled with an ED, you know that they can be so gosh darn persistent. Throughout the years, I have battled off and on with control vs. surrender. When I let God get a hold of my heart, I was able to walk in healing and freedom. When I tried to do it my way, I would get stuck in old patterns. This was the cycle, and it was hard.

When our daughter was 3, we decided we wanted to have another child. Shockingly, we naturally became pregnant. Not only did we get pregnant on our own, but there were FOUR sacs in my womb. What?!?!? Everyone was amazed and perplexed. However, the pregnancy did not progress. At week nine, we had to say goodbye to all four babies in my womb. I was devastated and blamed myself because I had slipped backed into my eating disorder behavior before that pregnancy began. My body could not carry one child, let alone four.

But God wasn’t about to give up on me. He was my patient rescuer, and he fought so hard for my heart. Within the few months following the loss, I gained about 19 pounds and we decided to try again. We were naturally blessed with an identical twin conception. God enabled me to carry those two babies to full term and I gave birth to two healthy baby boys! Another miracle given by my rescuer.

This girl who was once told she had two weeks to live…a woman who was told she may NEVER be able to have children…is now the mommy of three little miracles, ages 6 and 2. And miracles are exactly what they are!!!

Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.
Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.

WOW … what a journey it has been!!!

When I turned 35 this year, I had a massive epiphany as I looked at my life through a new lens.

I could be dead. I could be childless. I could have missed out on ALL OF THIS! But God—OH GOD—in His amazing grace REACHED DOWN INTO MY MESS AND RESCUED ME. He knew me and loved me every single day. He waited patiently, He is my healer, and He has an amazing purpose for my life.

This pic (illustrating exactly how my life is ...awesome!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.
This pic (illustrating exactly how awesome my life is!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.

In those moments of breathtaking gratefulness just a few short months ago, God spoke to me. He wanted to break my chains off COMPLETELY. Not partly. Not for a few months. WHOLLY.

After more than 20 years of trying to fight an eating disorder on my own, I let go of my past. I forgave myself and devoted my life to Him. It’s through this continuous surrender that God’s greater plan and purpose for me can take root, and I cannot wait to fully experience all that He has for me!

For anyone who is struggling, I want you to know that there is hope and there is healing. I know there are times when you feel like there’s no way out. It may seem easier to let the ED take over and not fight back. But your true strength will come from handing it over to God and accepting his freedom. He will speak to you and open your eyes to all that He has for you. It’s a life of great purpose we’re promised in the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Satan still tries to use stress and loneliness to tempt me to fall back into old behaviors, but I KNOW that those behaviors will only leave me feeling more stressed and empty. The way I fight back is by reminding myself that it’s Satan trying to pull me down. Instead of turning to those familiar behaviors, I take a “time out” to notice what is causing me to have those ED thoughts and then I do something healthy and productive to get rid of those thoughts … pray, write, read, call a friend … etc.

photo

Please know that I would love to pray for you, chat with you, encourage you, or help you in any way that I can. I’ve been there. I know how alone, scared, and hopeless you feel. But I promise you … there is hope. Do not give up. You are worth SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

God is good … ALL THE TIME!!!!!

If you would like to contact me, please leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook.

Be free!

This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to ______ with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is so full, and I feel so free!
This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to Alto Pass, IL with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is full, and I am finally free!

releasing anxiety

 

Cast your anxiety
It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment.

Sometimes, I feel anxiety creep up around me from out of nowhere. It’s not everyday, but it happens. At least weekly. Tightness in my chest. Restlessness. Uneasiness. To be honest, I don’t know why. I’m not in a desert season like I have been in the past, yet I find myself facing restlessness. Oh, humanity.

Anyone else?

A month ago I was exchanging emails with a friend who recently lost her baby. She had to hold her little one’s lifeless body in her trembling arms and say goodbye. Anxiety taunts her and threatens to suffocate. She is terrified of the future and the pain it might hold. She was asking how I kept on when I felt like I couldn’t face another day.

I remembered back to the days when I felt like God’s plan made no sense. When our children went to heaven…one after another…and I struggled so deeply. I was angry and frustrated. Trusting in the Lord didn’t come easily; I was more like hanging on for dear life.

Looking back, I see that God was holding me secure. I wasn’t overtaken because HE didn’t allow me to be done in by the trials that felt so much bigger than I could handle. I was His daughter and He cared way too much to let me be defeated.

I honestly don’t know how I made it through and I assure you, it wasn’t pretty.  But God brings us through stuff. And we’re changed.

As I was typing a response to my sweet friend, 1 Peter 5:7 flooded my heart with a truth that I, too, needed to hear that day.

Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Cast your anxiety on Him if you want to have less stress.” It says “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Loving, yet authoritative.

 First, the command: “Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.”

It’s not optional. God says to do it. Cast it. Let go of it. Get down on your knees and ask him to help you release the gripping anxiety. If you don’t know what to say, tell him that.

“God, I don’t know what to say, but I know I need to let go of this. Help me. I don’t want it anymore. I know you care because the Bible says you do.”

Breathe in deeply. When you release your breath, release your anxiety to God. Breath has been given to us as a gift. Deep breathing calms. Short breathing stresses. As you continue this deep breathing, imagine yourself inhaling the peace of the Lord that surpasses understanding. Let His love wash over you.

When you feel that anxiety creeping back up (even if it’s 10 minutes later), get down on your knees and cast it off again.

Second, the why: “because he cares for you.”

I am so thankful God isn’t an old bearded dude in the sky! He is a tenderhearted Father who draws near to His children. He knows you by name and cares for you. He doesn’t want your life to be invaded by anxiety or worry even more than you don’t want that. He hates to see things steal your joy and hope.

steady your gaze

Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

God cares. Fill your heart with the truth of His word today. Blast that worship music. Pray. Surrender. Be still. Cast your stuff on Him because He cares way more than you know.

(I’m preaching to myself too.)

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

Do you struggle with anxiety or worry? What is God asking you to lay at his feet today?

**Originally written for Mommies with Hope

Tears In my coffee

It strikes at the most unexpected moments. That pang in your gut when you want so badly to bring the children you have lost back to life…bring them to your breakfast table…yet you know it can’t happen. At least not yet.

Image

The lump in my throat. The tightness in my breath.

Selfishly I just want to hold them. I want to whisper in their tiny ears, “Mommy and Daddy love you so much.” To comfort them when they cry. To inhale the scent of their soft skin. To study their perfect and unique little faces.

This morning I had one of these moments.

It has been two years since our last miscarriage. Two sweet years of healing and resting. But not absent of longing.

As I sipped my black coffee, this was my thought progression. “Wow, Coleton and Annabelle are really sleeping in today! Thank you, Lord for the rain! But strangely I want to go get them up; they’re so sweet in the morning.”

That’s when the bag of bricks hit me from out of the blue.

I will never get to lift the babies we lost out of their cribs in the morning. I will never get to see their sleepy morning eyes. Never get to see their excited, dry smile as they jump up and down with a huge poofy diaper, so excited to start a new day.

I mean, maybe in heaven. But will they be babies? How old are babies who died in heaven? Surely they aren’t still preemies. Surely they are full and complete, whole and well. Happy and healthy. Jumping for joy in the most wonderful of ways.

It will someday be perfect, I know. My heavenly home is bursting at the seams with laughter and curls and children everywhere!

My six littles aren’t missing out on a thing, but I am.

I’m so grateful that they were spared pain and tears and every ounce of suffering, but I wasn’t.

So this morning, there are tears in my coffee.

Does this happen to anyone else? When did it hit you?

wanna snoop in my life?

Two weeks from today is opening night! I’m going to be in Quad City Music Guild’s production of Les Miserables, which is totally a bucket list show for theater people. 🙂

I’m a factory girl, a “lovely lady,” a beggar, a grieving sister, and a person excited about the revolution. And the leads in this show are ridic so you should prob get your tickets now. Details here.

Anyway, there’s a line in the show sung by the beautiful Cosette:

“In my life…there are so many things unclear, so many things unknown”
So many things

That’s sorta how I feel right now. The future seems like it could go in so many wild, amazing directions and I’m just along for the ride. Some of the uncertainty, though, totally freaks me out. Here are the 4 areas of life about which I’m feeling nervous and excited for the future:

1) Our house. This one is at the forefront of my mind because we have been cleaning like mad people up in this crib. Crazily enough– the house that me and Kev moved into 1.5 years ago, thinking we would live here forever and raise tons of babies in, has been feeling TOO BIG. Like, we have two kids..(both still practically babies) and 1,300 square feet per person is just a LOT! We had a totally groundbreaking, God-moving conversation a few weeks ago where we both shared that we were feeling led to downsize!!

It was a scary conversation…I might have cried about having to let go of some of the hopes and dreams I initially had for this house, but mostly I was crying thankful tears. I’m so grateful that God moved in BOTH of our hearts. Now future-wise…just feeling a little uncertain! What will showing our house be like while we still live here? Will God bring a buyer? What will actual moving with two toddlers look like? What will our new house be like? Where will it be? Will our new neighbors be as awesome as our current ones? If no one comes to buy it, we’re cool with that too. But we feel like we’re stepping out in faith by putting this house on the market. We’ve done a ton of updates, and feel like selling it would put us in a great financial position to become debt-free, save aggressively, and give generously. These are a few pics of the house if you want to come through it and maybe buy it 😉

House collage

2) #1 leads me to #2. Babies. We always thought we wanted babies…boom boom boom…one right after another. As many as God wanted to give us!! (or 5…probably the lesser of the two). (Hence, moving into a 5 bedroom house.) Now, I keep going back and forth on this one. Part of me thinks there’s something Biblical about the Duggar philosophy…and part of me says (holy mama. I can’t believe I’m typing this) “I think I could be completely content with our two miracle babes.”

I’m not saying I don’t want more babies. BUT, as much as I thought I would be ready to try again by this point (Annabelle being over 1 and pretty darn amiable), I’m just not. And I don’t know when I will feel ready…waiting for God to prepare my heart for that. Obviously, I wouldn’t be upset if I got pregnant…but for right now, I don’t want to hop back on roller-coaster-let’s-try-for-another-baby. #ohmiscarraiagehowifearthee 😦 I love that our family in heaven is big, but I so fear pregnancy. It’s the most intense Love/Hate relationship I have evaaaaa felt. SO, no babies for team Ryan as of right now. As far as we can control it.

3) My writing career. My query letters are at the Ready…Set…when-I-click-send-it’s-GO point. My proposal is being tightened up and edited on a few levels. The first book in my series, “Bearing Hope: Your Inspirational Companion Through the Darkness of Infertility” is in the starting blocks as far as getting an agent/editor goes. On June 7th I will be attending the Write-To-Publish Conference in Wheaton, Illinois and I’m hoping to make some professional contacts and generate some interest in my series. This is a terrifying AND exciting place to be. I know the rejection letters are inevitable, and I’ve actually already gotten one! (Hooray! AND oh crap!) The fears are setting in big time.

The voices in my head chitter chatter back and forth:

“Am I cut out for this?”

“I AM GOING TO BE PUBLISHED”

“I need a more professional website.”

“I CAN DO THIS!”

“My resume is too short.” Etc. etc.

I want to believe in myself with my whole being, but it’s a VERY competitive industry and it’s easy to cop-out and simply give up before I even put myself out there. Why? Because rejection is terrifying. The thing is, I feel called to this. I feel equipped. I feel like I have something amazing to offer, and I am willing to fight an uphill battle to make this happen!!

My book is written in a similar, creatively handwritten style like SARK, and she is a National Best Seller who has been published by RANDOM HOUSE!! If she can do it, I can do it. Plus, I have a gorgeous amazing illustrator named Hannah Slay who has drawn some amazing pics and fonts for me. I KNOW KNOW KNOW my books will change the world for God’s glory! They will change the lives of people walking through infertility, miscarraiges, eating distorders, etc…so it’s WILL happen. It’s just a matter of when…and finding a visionary editor. Will you pray with me for that?!

I am fighting to believe what SARK says: “Have the mentality of ‘they will be lucky to find me.'”

4. My financial representative career. Yesterday I passed my Life Insurance and Disability Insurance exams to become a licensed part of my husband’s financial planning practice! woot woot! My sexy husband, Kevin, has had the honor of growing a thriving practice with Northwestern Mutual since day one of his college intern career 7 years ago. Our dinner conversations have  pretty much been about financial planning for forever, so this is a pretty natural move. It’s also natural because I have already been a part of his team in the marketing aspect for a few months. However, my role is changing for the better. I know I have what it takes to help people in the same way Kevin does, and working in this regard will help expand the reach of his practice and make it more efficient. I am excited tohelp people I care about make wiser and more secure financial decisions!

Kevin’s passion for helping people is contagious, and after a couple years of struggling to find the right person for his team, we made the decision that I will work as an Associate Financial Rep with him for a year or two and see how things progress from there (personally and professionally). The best part is, I’ll still be working part-time hours so I don’t miss a full day with the kids (I’ll miss a few morning hours and then be home when they wake up from their afternoon naps). And bonus: Kev is super fun and easy to work with.

 

SOOOO yeah, Big changes ahead around here.

You guys, life is crazy. We just never know what twists and turns this journey called life is holding. I’m so glad I am surrounded by people who love me, love our kids, and love Jesus. Even with “so many things unclear, so many things unknown” I can hold fast to this passage from Isaiah 46:9-10:

“Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.”

God is in control. It’s all going to be okay. (But I’m definitely wearing a seatbelt because whoa…)

Does anyone else ever experience twists and turns, or is it just me?

It’s a good thing I love change.

Are you still living in winter? Spring is coming…

“As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” -Genesis 8:22


Red, yellow, purple, white, orange…flowers of every color! Walks around the block. Neon clothes. Hilighted hair. Shorts. Playing outside. Green grass. SWEAT!


SPRING (well, more like summer now) FINALLY CAME!! And a glorious, long awaited one it is after one of the longest, coldest winters on record.


{Insert, deep cleansing breath of fresh air!}


We all (at least here in Iowa) whined and moaned to one another, “It’s never going to end. Wah Wah Wah.”


The winter truly felt like it would never end, did it not?! And then one day day, I realized that the wind had blown in a little warmer air, and rain was falling instead of snow. Before I knew it, the grass I thought forever dead burst forth into the truest, most vibrant green I’ve seen in months. Wait…is that snow on the tree? No, it’s buds! Oh, look, there’s a tulip!

Hooray!


Through all of our moaning and groaning, we knew deep down that Spring was eventually coming. Because it always comes. But in the midst of winter, we forget what Spring feels like and it’s so easy to believe the lie that maybe it isn’t coming after all.


I remember one of my winter seasons well. It lasted much longer than four months…it was more like four years. My first three recurrent miscarriages…interspersed with months of struggling to get pregnant. I felt like I was broken. Like I wasn’t a true woman. Would this season of death ever end?


Characteristic of winter, I struggled with depression. God in His mercy gave me enough strength to put one foot in front of the other; He gave me the strength to trust that Spring would eventually come.


We pursued adoption and were chosen by a birth mommy! But then, it fell through. Imagine a blizzard in the dead of winter. We questioned whether there would ever be joy or sunshine again.


The dark and lonely days crept by…but we waited and trusted.


Then came the email..the one God knew was coming…the one he knew about from the very beginning. It was from a beautiful young lady who would become one of the most special people God has ever brought into our lives. She would ask us to adopt the baby boy in her belly; she had been wanting to ask but knew we were set to adopt the other baby.


Through our miscarriages and our failed adoption, God’s plan was being brought to fruition. The season was about to change.


That conversation with our birth momma was the first ray of sunshine peeking through the massive cloud cover. Through those last four months of “winter,” we were sustained.


The most long awaited Spring finally burst forth February 14th, 2012 as I held the hand of our birth-mommy and she delivered Coleton Samuel Ryan into the world. He was a tiny little guy at 6lbs, but you’d never know it by the weight of joy birthed in that hospital room.


Spring. But winter rallied. Three more miscarriages, and with them more deep pain that only God could meet us in. We had always wanted a big family, but this was not what we had in mind.


As we sought hard after the Lord and His plan, we felt just enough courage to try again…not to give up yet in our quest to have a biological child.


The seventh time, God sustained miss Annabelle Hope until her due date. On April 4th, 2013 Spring made another brilliant appearance in our lives.


Image

Spring always comes, but it doesn’t make the winter feel shorter or easier.


Hear me though: The longest, hardest winters make for the most beautiful Springs.

(Are we not all freaking out about how amazing this weather is after the most snowblower worthy winter ever?!)


Maybe Spring is bursting out like crazy in your life right now. Maybe it’s riiiiight around the corner…just a few more days or weeks. Maybe it’s still a long way away. But it will come.


As long as the Earth endures, the seasons will continue to turn. So hang in there.

(For now, join me in giddyness for heaven, when winter will be only a thing of the past)


“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” -Revelation 21:4


When your spring comes, it will be so worth the wait.



*This post was originally written for Mommies with Hope

The hardest thing while waiting for a babe…

If I had to isolate one thing that was hardest for me when we were experiencing infertility (in the form of recurrent miscarriages,) it would have to have been the bellies.

I had some major jealousy issues over the adorable, cute, and even the I’m-super-uncomfortable baby bumps. The photo shoots with the glowing pregnant woman in the middle of a field smiling down at her baby to be. The pics with daddy’s arms wrapped around pregnant mommy and their hands making a heart right over that cute little munchkin in utero. The colored ribbons announcing the baby’s gender. Everywhere I looked. Everywhere I went, there was another belly. My “babe-dar” (is that a thing?) was crazy sensitive.

I wanted a belly so bad. (funny how things change 😉 As the months and years and losses built upon one another (even after our adoption), I became increasingly certain that I would never know what a baby belly felt like and it broke my heart. I only knew the sickness of the first trimester, time after time after time. The belly bands and the maternity clothes I had gotten when we first got pregnant were crying in the corner of the closet, alone and unworn. (oh wait, it was me who was crying.)

I said that if I ever got the chance to carry a child full term, I would never post a picture of my baby bump. Reason being, throughout our journey of miscarriages, I realized that SO SO SO SO SO many women were going through infertility or child loss at the same time I was, and we pretty much all agreed that it sucked to open facebook and see nothing but reminders that our arms were still empty and our tummies were still flat.

https://i1.wp.com/www.rottenecards.com/ecards/Rottenecards_80439682_vnjkjnhk5x.png

But then it happened. God allowed me to grow a baby bump, and I was so proud (and terrified). I was so excited that MY WOMB, the one that I thought was barren forever, was all stretched out with a tiny human inside. About 24 weeks went by and I still hadn’t posted one belly pic. (you all know what i mean by a belly pic. The profile bump..right?)

There were a few friends who lived far away who kept asking for belly pics (prob just wanted to see me all large and in charge), and I strugged a lot over whether or not I would post one. While I was struggling through that, afraid of piling extra hurt on my friends who were waiting for a baby, I realized that a part of me not posting pics was plain selfish. It was out of fear! I was terrified (for most of AB’s pregnancy) that any day I would wake up and everything would come crashing to a tragic end.

I count it a blessing that those friends asked for the belly pics, because it encouraged me to accept and embrace what God had done in my life and share that joy with the world. I checked my instagram and I only posted 4 belly pics the whole pregnancy, but I decided that it was okay to post those few. I think that even my friends still waiting for a baby were rejoicing with us because they knew God had done a miracle in our lives.

Our family was watching a slideshow of pictures the other night, and a video popped up of Annabelle kicking around in my belly. It seriously looked like there was a small animal doing somersaults  and dancing under my shirt (lol but also creepy). I had forgotten that I took videos of her kicking in my belly. I was so desperate to capture her life.

It makes me really sad that I didn’t fully embrace the joy of the belly when I finally got it. So, yeah. I’m not saying go posting a pic each week of your growing bel-bel..although for some that’s totally your way of sharing your journey and joy.

But I do want to say to those of you who are pregnant after a long wait or loss, don’t be afraid to share your story or embrace your bump. You don’t have to rub it in people’s faces, but it’s totally legitimate and healthy to be thankful for that season of life that goes by faster than it feels when you’re in it. I wish I would have done a better job embracing the time I spent carrying Annabelle rather than fearing losing her.

If you’re in a place of waiting or hurting and those belly and baby pics dishearten you, it’s really healthy for you to click “unfollow” or “hide from newsfeed” for awhile. Better yet take a media fast. Don’t keep consuming the things that feed your hurt. Of course you can’t help it when you see bellies out and about, but social media tends to be the main culprit and you can limit your dosage.

If you decide to keep following those belly-pic-posting friends, be joyful for them. Even the newlyweds or teen preggos or the fill-in-the-blank-people-that-make-you-extra-jealous-or-sad, rejoice with them. You don’t know what they’ve been through or what is best for them. God does. The Bible says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” -Romans 12:15

I think we’re generally better at the crying with those hurting than the rejoicing with the happy people part. Even when you see those bellies popping out all around you, choose joy. I pray that your time will come. And if it doesn’t, and you’re not a mom yet, I believe that God can still fill your cup to overflow if you let Him.

Be blessed, and Happy Halloween 🙂 (this post will rock your socks off if you’re looking for a good read on Christians & Halloween participation.)

~Liv

There’s OH so much to sing about.

I haven’t had much time to read in general since Coleton came along, or maybe I just haven’t made the time to read, if you know what I mean. BUT, when I realized that a woman from our very church had published a book, I was really excited so I went to Barnes and Noble to buy the book 🙂

It’s called Wildflowers from Winterby Katie Ganshert (cutest author momma ever) and I just finished it this afternoon! I thought I’d give a little review because this book brought me to tears.

It’s Christian fiction, which I haven’t read much of, but I REALLY liked it!! It had a romance plot line, which is always wonderful and makes you feel happy inside. =) It wasn’t contrived either. It had some really realistic broken relationship issues between a girl and her mother (mmm momma drama) and some heavy baggage that this girl carries because of her past with church and family life. It included a ton of real life issues: heaven and hell, friendship, suicide, miscarriage, job loss, death of a spouse, intense loss and grief, new life (birth) and like I mentioned, unexpected romance.

On a side note for local (QC) readers, it’s SUPER fun to read because it mentions the Mississippi River, Alcoa, and John Deere! um…I know it’s my personality to get excited over little things, but I got excited because I have been to those places! Helps you paint the picture of this town in your mind.

My favorite character in the book is a guy who used to be angry with God, but God has softened his heart and renewed his faith. Besides the fact that he’s a super handsome, hunk of a farm boy, he’s the guy who drops lines that are just TRUE and hit you where you need to hear them. My favorite line, and the one that resonated with me (so much that I went searching for it after I was done reading the book) comes in the context of this section:

“She’s trying,” she said.

“She doesn’t sing in church anymore.”

“Maybe she realizes there’s nothing to sing about.”

Evan cocked his head, his stare reminding her of Storm’s. He didn’t just look at her, he looked through her-inside her-and whatever he found seemed to make him sad.

She stiffened. “What?”

He stepped closer and stared so intently that for a second, she thought he might reach out and touch her cheek. “Someday, Bethany, I hope you find out that you’re wrong. There’s so much to sing about.

I just want to encourage you today, that there is so much to sing about. Even when you don’t feel like it in the midst of your pain, because I’ve so been there, there is still so much to sing about. Let your guard down. Go find a new worship song that expresses how you’re feeling…go read a book (or better yet, read the story of Jesus in one of the gospels)…go on a thankful walk…take 5 minutes to journal or freewrite. Go do something that engages and ignites your heart to

SING and LIVE FULLY and BE FREE today.

Much love,

Liv

My Love but mostly Hate relationship

Have you ever been on bed rest before?

If so, then you know how utterly hard it is, especially if you love to exercise and be on the go. I’ve not been on a 100% legit bedrest, because I’m taking care of a 24 pound baby and definitely still doing some daily functional shopping and household stuff, but exercise of ANY sort has been off limits.

This is why I hate you bedrest:

1. You are stealing from me the whole notion of being a “fit” pregnant person. Regardless of if my belly is big yet or not, (it’s not quite yet…although the pants are getting tighter), I am not in shape, nor are you allowing me the chance to try to be a fit preggo. This is sad to me, because fitness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I have had to literally give it all up. Yoga, walking, running, etc. I just always imagined myself being really fit throughout my pregnancies. *sigh*

2. You give the OPPOSITE effect that coffee or an energy drink would give. Not only am I exhausted because HCG is overtaking my body, but also I don’t do any “extra” activity than is required of me, therefore I am completely and 100% lethargic…All. The. Time. The pregnancy perpetuates the bedrest (because we’re trying EVERYTHING!!) and the bedrest perpetuates exhaustion. This is awesome for being a wife of noble character (not). This leads to:

3. GUILT. You make me feel so darn guilty for so many reasons. I feel most guilty when I drive past a runner who looks like they have their second wind and I have flashbacks to my running days and have to look away or I might be tempted to go home and run (which is completely off limits.) I also feel like guilt is eating me alive at the end of each day when I try to recount to my super hard working husband what I’ve done throughout the day. “Uhh, well fed Coleton x amount of times and…put in a load of laundry?” haha. This is usally how that conversation goes. Followed by me breaking down into tears (ok the tears are only once or twice/weekly) because I want to be a “better wife and take good care of the house.” Then Kev usually reminds me that he doesn’t expect anything of me right now and he is so glad that I’m still sick and tired, and then we pray over my guilt for God to replace it with peace and it’s okay. Geesh.

4. You took away my Yoga!!! I am still teaching Holy Yoga occasionally, but without doing the poses myself. Oh, flexible and toned self, how I already miss you!

5. I am missing out my very favorite time of year! The leaves are changing, kids are playing outside, fit people are going on daily LONG RUNS and I’m indoors grasping onto what little bit of sanity I can find.

6. I’m embarrassingly out of breath after climbing steps or even during a quick shopping trip. I’m seriously being taught a lesson in humility.

And this is why I love you:

1. First and foremost, you have probably helped me make it through the trecherous first weeks of pregnancy…something lots of other things have failed to do.

{For this, I thank God for sending a few people into our lives. One being a woman at a wedding who told us she had 7 miscarriages and then was able to carry 3 babies to term doing bedrest, and also one of Kevin’s doctor clients who recommended that I “lay on the couch and eat ice cream” until I’m through the first trimester. We thank you both for your advice.}

2. In a selfish way I sorta like watching episodes of shows on Netflix and doing nothing. I’ve never experienced it in my life, and it’s strangely nice, feeling like this is what I’m supposed to be doing (ON OCCASION.) At least it is medically recommended laziness, I remind myself 🙂

3. “Dinner isn’t made again and you aren’t mad at me babe?” Of course not, you’re sick and pregnant and on bedrest. 🙂

4. I really feel like even though it’s extremely hard, I’m doing everything I can to ensure the health of this baby. With our first miscarriage, there were some strange correlations with a really intense workout I did around the time of our loss. I know people say it’s not from that, but giving up working out has been really freeing in some ways. I think I was always afraid that if I were to stop working out regularly I would balloon into a whale or something, but it hasn’t happened after 12 weeks of no exercise!! woot woot!

Now that we’re into the 13th week, Coleton and I (and Scotch-our labradoodle who desperately needs a bath) have started taking short walks around the block to get some fresh air, some sanity, and hopefully some much needed oxygen into this well rested body! GLORY HALLELUJAH!!

Coleton and I are obsessed with these walks. Hopefully little by little I’ll get stronger and they’ll get longer and it won’t be much of a risk. And oh my goodness I never thought I’d look so DESPERATELY forward to training for my first marathon after having this baby!~

So hopefully you have never had to be on bedrest, but if you have, I feel for you sista. But it’s only temporary, and maybe you can encourage me that it will be worth it!!

Much love,
liv

PS. I found a really funny bedrest pic on google, but I’m posting from our ipad while my computer is getting a new hard drive (tear) so I can’t figure out how to add it. You’ll just have to envision a funny pic on your own. :/ haha.

Wow.

I am at a loss for words really, for what I am about to say. At a loss for words on one hand, and on the other hand I am exploding with excitement and joy and so many thoughts I hardly know where to start!

SO, here it goes….I…AM…PREGNANT!!! Not just pregnant like the pee stick had 2 lines pregnant, but I have actually made it over the hump and am moving into the second trimester of pregnancy.

It is still extremely surreal! And although tomorrow is never promised, for babies and adults alike, we are choosing to rejoice and give God all the glory for what seems like it will be our first biological baby who will make it to full term! (we are in the 13th week.)

7 pregnancies. 6 miscarriages. Over 40 technical weeks of pregnancy and morning sickness to get to this point where we feel like we can be joyful in sharing this news with the world, rather than just somberly telling a small circle of people for the purpose of asking prayers as we enter into another murky first trimester.

The reason I am so excited to share this post is not to JUST celebrate this new life…it’s so much more than that. It’s to share another point in this trecherous journey we call life, a point that we feel is completely due to God’s incredible mercy and grace.

Throughout our battle with infertility/miscarriages people have said to us, “You deserve to have a baby so much…” and I’m sure I’ve said this before, but we feel like we’ve come to this place of true humility…which has led us to realize that we don’t deserve anything from God. We can’t “earn” good things by living a good life. Scripture is so clear…”the wages of sin is death” and we all sin! “But the gift of God is eternal life…” Our reward is heaven, and nothing here on earth is promised. The word of God says is so much better than I could: Job 37:23 “We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though he his just and righteous, he does not destroy us.” Justice would mean for us to be destroyed!! Even the “good” people among us. But he DOES NOT DESTROY US. No, better yet…he saves us. He “makes the rain fall on barren land…He sends rain to satisfy the PARCHED ground and make the tender grass spring up.” (Job 38:26)

There have been days in the last couple years where my sight was cloudy and where it was incredibly difficult to accept or believe that God could provide all the comfort I needed and that heaven would be enough someday. I wanted babies “now.” But glimpse by glimpse, I started to see more clearly that my purpose in life is to glorify God. My selfishness has to die for that to happen. OH how we long to be “happy!” We think we know what will make us happy too…but isn’t it so true that when you get what you want you soon become unsatisfied again?? It’s not about me. This truth is FREEING.

In my PARCHED desert of a life (or so it felt)…the rain was starting to come down.

When we adopted sweet Coleton, God really opened our eyes to the utter truth that His plan is best. We were incredibly humbled through the adoption journey…as we clearly felt like God had ordained from the foundations of the world for Coleton to be a part of our family and that he could knit us together beautifully, in a different way than knitting him together in my womb.

The day we adopted Coleton, I miscarried for the fifth time. Although the loss is always painful, it was a healing day. God showed us that He doesn’t just take away. He also GIVES…and gives generously. We knew the moment we held Coleton in our arms that we could adopt a whole houseful of kids and be so fulfilled. Back in February when we brought Coleton home, a verse that I had prayed for myself resonated in my heart:

“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

That was a scripture God graciously gave me in the months following our first and probably most devastating miscarriage, in a time that I DESPERATELY needed it.

“My heart pounds as I think of this. It trembles within me.” Job 37:1. I read Isaiah 51 and literally shake as it recalls the story of Sarah who was SO barren in her old age and God brings forth MANY nations through her son…and it goes on to say, “Sorrow and morning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness. ‘I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.'” (v11b-12a.)

I just want to encourage you all as you rejoice with us and read this post and these scriptures that God is the one who has comforted me in my deepest valleys and who will comfort you in yours.

“Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27)

I feel like I have so much more to say…and if you’re still reading…I’ll say some of it now and some in more posts later. =)

1) I have been pretty sick…and taking care of Coleton has been my #1 focus…so basically that is why my blog has been MIA in the last couple months. I am hoping now that you know what is going on that I can just share what’s on my heart!! (oh yeah…I’ve been doing modified bedrest..that’ll be fun to tell you about. Also 2x acupuncture a week and drinking some really um…yummy…(insert GAG) herbs from a fertility specialist)

2) Don’t worry, I am not going to be posting belly pictures…or probably even ultrasound pictures. I have been in the “infertility” camp and have SO many close friends going through different aspects of that right now. And oh how I know that these can be such painful reminders of where you maybe aren’t. So PLEASE don’t run away if you’re going through that! I will do my best to be sensitive.

3) I know this might sound silly…but I seriously do not want to hear that “oh, you know what…it’s totally because you adopted a baby that you’re having one now” or anything along those lines. We don’t believe that adopting Coleton has ANYTHING to do with God’s timing for giving us another baby…and our ultimate goal was definitely not just to have biological babies. We definitely still feel called to adopt again and see that as just as much of a joy and gift as this baby is.

4) We know that the babes are going to be 14 months apart!! (insert Gasp!) Some people think this is crazy. Some people like babies a LOT and are okay with chaos 🙂 We would be a part of the second group, and are nothing but thrilled. I know it will be lots of diapers, etc… So please don’t ask about if we’re like…up for the challenge. We totally are, k?

Love you all and THANK YOU SO much for your prayers and support on this CRAZY journey.
Xoxo,
Liv

Don’t Waste Your Precious Life

Image

This is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a Christian during WWII who was hanged at a concentration camp at the age of 39 (in 1945, Flossenburg, Germany) for participating in the Protestant movement against the Nazi’s. His book The Cost of Discipleship along with John Piper’s Don’t waste your life  were two books I tried to read in college, both of which were richly lost on my overfilled and distracted young mind.

I’m working my way through Piper’s Don’t waste your life and it’s challenging me in radical ways. Just want to share 3 ideas from the book this morning. the first is where the title of the book came from:

For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of a man converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came down and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face-and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears-“I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” 

Just as Piper’s response was one of fear and horror to think of coming to the end of his life having wasted it, Kevin and I have talked a lot about having a life that is worth something (so that we don’t come to the end of it feeling as though we wasted our precious days and weeks and years.) What does that mean? What does that look like? How can we NOT be stagnant in our faith?? I SO DO NOT WANT TO BE WASTED!! Our lives are but a mist. (James 4:14,”Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” So I’m reading this book, and this time around, it’s speaking to and feeding my hungry soul. 

Part 2 that has deeply affected me this morning-Section entitled The Christ-Exalting Paradoxes of Life

A life devoted to making much of Christ is costly. And the cost is both a consequence and a means of making much of him. If we do not embrace the path of joy-laden, painful love, we will waste our lives. If we do not learn with Paul the Christ-exalting paradoxes of life, we will squander our days pursuing bubbles that burst. He lived “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor 6:10) The Calvary road is costly and painful, but it is not joyless.”

Love that. Are you pursuing bubbles that burst? I can’t tell you how much my perspective has been starting to shift. It’s wonderful. 

3rd quote from this book that you need to hear, “Can work and leisure and relationships and eating and lovemaking and ministry all really flow from a single passion? Is there something deep enough and big enough and strong enough to hold all that together? Can sex and cars and work and war and changing diapers and doing taxes really have a God-exalting, soul-satisfying unity? Now (referring to after this chapter) we see that every experience in life is designed to magnify the cross of Christ. Or to say it another way, every good thing in life (or bad thing graciously turned for good) is meant to magnify Christ and him crucified.” 

“You want to be inspired? Please read this book. We only get one life. You may not get your “someday”. What will you do with your today?