Monday, August 14, 2017

Carry the Hope of Jesus into the Chaos

Over the past couple of days, my heart has been heavy & burdened over the riots in Charlottesville. As I processed the horrific details, I've struggled to find words. But just because I can't speak as eloquently about this topic as I'd like, doesn't mean I will stand silent. It's crucial for us all to speak up against, call out & condemn racism, hate & evil. We must boldly stand with our brothers & sisters of color, spread the love of Jesus through the way we live our lives & teach our children the beauty of diversity. 
Today in church our pastor did a great job of reminding us that in times of hell on earth, we as Christians are called to carry the hope of Jesus into the chaos. My little family & I choose to continue to spread hope & love in this broken world. We pledge to listen, learn + do our part to end injustice, treat those different than us with love, respect + dignity & shine the light of Christ in dark places.

With love,

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sarah's Laughter Support Groups, Podcast & Hope Narrative Conference

Last week I attended a Sarah's Laughter Infertility Support group meeting for the first time. It was such an encouragement to me & I only wish I'd started going sooner! If you're in the Baton Rouge area & dealing with infertility, please don't continue to struggle alone. Sarah's Laughter offers support groups for infertility, secondary infertility, adoption, pregnancy after infertility, support for men & they even have an online support group for infertility. All info on support groups can be found on the Sarah's Laughter website:
I was so excited to finally meet some of my "online friends" in person for the first time at the support group, especially sweet Melissa! 

Back in January Cary & I had opportunity to sit down & record a podcast with Beth & Jason Forbus (the founders of Sarah's Laughter.) On the podcast, we share our story of infertility, adoption & faith. We get really honest about the devastation of infertility, the struggles we walked through as we adopted & what God has done in our hearts over the past 5 years. I shared the link to our podcast months ago on Instagram & Facebook but I wanted to share it here as well. We pray our podcast will be an encouragement to everyone who hears it: 
There are currently 37 podcasts up on the Sarah's Laughter website, all featuring people who have testimonies about infertility, adoption, loss, brokenness, restoration, hope & faith. What an incredibly valuable resource for our community, right?! 
Y'all be sure to check them out:

Sarah's Laughter sponsors a faith-based Infertility, Adoption & Child Loss conference called the Hope Narrative which will be held here in Baton Rouge, LA on September 16th. This conference is for both men & women. Husbands are welcomed & encouraged to attend, but many women will be there without their husbands as well. 
Cary & I are so excited to be a part of this event! We will speaking about adoption together in a breakout session & Cary will also be leading a men's breakout session on infertility & adoption. If you live in Baton Rouge or surrounding areas (Or anywhere really! We are just a plane flight away) & are struggling through infertility, adoption or child loss, I highly encourage you to attend this conference! My faith-filled friend Caroline, blogger, author of In Due Time devotional & founder of Mom's In The Making ministry, is the keynote speaker & I am pumped to finally get to meet her in person! Caroline's blog:

Conference tickets are on sale now for only $49. You can purchase yours here: Hope Narrative Tickets

 I'll also be giving away a conference ticket on my Instagram account: in a few weeks so stay tuned! I know this event is going to be a powerful encouragement to many! 

If you know someone struggling with infertility or walking the rocky road of adoption, please please please pass along these resources to them. This journey is so hard, but having support makes such a difference! 

With love,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Safest Place

Waiting. Hoping. Healing. 
These themes have seemed to repeat themselves over the past few years as we've walked this journey of infertility, adoption & faith.

 "I can feel Him nudging me to loosen my grasp on acceptance & to fix my eyes on hope. I can feel Him opening my heart again to the idea of healing." 
I wrote those words in June of 2015, two years ago. It's taken me a long time to be ready for where we are now... This place of trying for a biological baby after 4.5+ years of infertility & 2 adoptions. God has been so faithful & patient all this time. I know we are right where we are supposed to be.

Hurry up & wait... 3.5 weeks ago, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis. Now that I'm recovered, our doctor has given us the go-ahead to start trying to conceive again. Since then, I've just been waiting & waiting to ovulate. Next will come the 2 week wait. And if we don't conceive, more waiting. After years of infertility, I know the drill. But this time...everything is different.

It seems I've finally come to a place where the trying, the waiting, the hoping & the surrendering are working together. There's an undeniable peace covering me that wasn't with me before. I am surprised by how calm & steadfast my heart has been. It's like the weight of the wait has been lifted from my shoulders. Without a doubt, He is covering me.
Of course, some days, the hard flares up. There are still occasional days when I look in the mirror to see sadness just one blink away from spilling out of my eyes. When these type of days or moments come, I now allow myself the space to feel my emotions freely, then I turn my heart over to the Lord & ask Him to draw me close. Even in the midst of the hard, His peace remains.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7

In addition to peace, I'm also experiencing real hope that we could soon be pregnant.
That may not seem like a big deal, but for me, getting to this place emotionally & spiritually wasn't easy... It still seems too bold to even say it. To proclaim I have hope leaves me exposed, vulnerable. Vulnerable is a state I once fought hard not to be in. But vulnerable is where He is calling me to be... To be vulnerable before Him ushers me into intimacy with Him. So here I am, hoping. 

Before, the months & months of negative pregnancy tests & years of crushed spirits became too much. Pain & disappointment taught me to snuff out the hope before it had a chance to take root in my heart. If I didn't have any hope, it wouldn't hurt as much when it didn't happen, right? So I distanced myself from hope, first by holding it at arms length, then by burying it. I even renamed my lost hope & called it acceptance...anything to find relief from the crushing disappointment of hope deferred. For a time, it was simply easier to live & survive...& eventually, to move forward that way. 

This seemed to work for a while, seemed to shield me from the hurt & offer the relief I was so desperate for, but burying my hope came with a price... Bottled up emotions, detachment from the Father, dismissed desires...these things manifested themselves into thoughts & habits which have affected many parts of my life. Infertility consumed me & changed me, even when I distanced myself from it, in ways I am still uncovering. 

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." ~Proverbs 13:12

Adoption brought incredible joy, healing & love back into my life. 
When the Father first spoke the word "adoption" to my heart, the door of my hope was reopened & intimacy with Him restored. With one powerful word, He breathed life back into my broken soul. 
When my Isabel Grace was born, I felt as if I was literally holding the faithfulness of God in my arms. Then Noah Griffin was born, another layer of my grief was peeled back & replaced with joy. It became impossible to deny the Lord's love & perfect plan with my children before me, but still there were wounded parts of my heart only He could heal.
Last Fall I started to feel the Lord bringing a season of change to my heart & to our situation. Winter came, seasonally & spiritually. This is the time I would typically like to bury everything, but instead He used the cold to cut through my defenses & strip me bare. It was there, in the dead of the winter season, where I could see the reach of the decay of infertility. It was there, with my undeniable brokenness exposed, that God met me & whispered, "I am doing a new thing." 
...A word that had been given to us an entire year before. I finally heard & believed it...

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19

Since then, the Lord has continued to prune me & press into me. So many dead parts have fallen away & hidden wounds bound, but I know still have a road of emotional healing before me. Instead of burying, I am daily learning I must face the ups & downs that come with this journey of trying to conceive. I knew trying again would mean I have to become vulnerable & stay vulnerable. It hasn't been easy to be back in this place of requires constant surrender for me to live with my hopes outstretched. 
I often find myself wanting to turn back & hide in the space of disconnect, because it seems safer, less risky. But when my hands tremble, my strength waivers & my hope yearns to flee, thankfully, He is near. He whispers to my heart, "feel, hope, dream, believe." And so, I do. I keep pushing forward, keep grasping for the light, knowing that even in the dark, He is with me. I now know deep down in the unshakeable parts of my faith is that here, vulnerable before Him, is the safest place I could ever be.

Friends, infertility does change us, but the one thing that never changes is God's love for us. If you're hurting today, let that truth lead you back to Him. 

Thank you for loving us & praying for us as we walk this road. We are believing for "more than we could ever ask for or imagine" - Ephesians 3:20. Will you believe with us?
With love,

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." ~Psalm 143:8