Our Story in a Nutshell

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to describe myself and my little family to a dear group of new friends in about 5 minutes. I tried and it just didn’t seem deep enough (and I was sick at the time and I was losing my voice so I didn’t really feel like talking too much.)

So, now, a few months later, I’m trying to describe me and my little family in a nutshell, so to speak. How to squeeze 12+ years of marriage into a few minutes? How to squeeze our heartbreaking trials and glorious triumphs (all to God’s glory) in a few minutes?

Girl sees boy. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl become Mr. and Mrs. They move to a new state to start a new life without jobs. Mr. & Mrs. find good jobs and live life as they planned. Mr. and Mrs. are moved around due to Mr.’s job. Two years into “their plan”, Mr. and Mrs. try for a baby. Countless tears followed, invasive fertility tests, dreams slowly started to die and hope was crushed month after month. Time after time. Years of trying to conceive without success brought the Mrs. to her knees many times with many tears. Six years later, on the very last try before pursuing adoption, the Mrs. became PREGNANT.

The pregnancy was rocky in the beginning due to a sub chorionic hemorrhage at 11 weeks. The hemorrhage and the belief that they were miscarrying because of cramping and bleeding brought the Mr. and Mrs. again to their knees, with a sound coming from the Mrs. that she had never heard before. The sound of agony and mourning. Yet, God healed the hemorrhage and protected baby. The hemorrhage eventually healed. The Mr. and Mrs. praised God for the healing.

God used that time of healing to bring the Mrs. closer to Him through the sweetness of His Psalms. The Mrs. learned a deep trust in God. The Mrs. learned that many were her steps and plans, but that without God it meant nothing.

The Mr. and Mrs. learned that their precious miracle baby had life threatening food allergies to cow’s milk (anything dairy) and eggs. The Mrs. sobbed and mourned the life she had planned for baby. The Mrs. learned an entirely new way to cook. The Mr. and Mrs. eliminated baby’s allergens from their house. They learned to accept this diagnosis and learned how to provide a safe and normal childhood for baby. The family of three learned to thrive, leaning on The Lord daily. The Mr. and Mrs. learned that love and care for their daughter’s special needs would come from the body of Christ.

The Mr. and Mrs. 12+ years of marriage cannot be fit into just 5 minutes. The Mr. & Mrs. have many stories of God’s provision, protection, His faithfulness, His goodness and His sovereignty in their lives. This is just a fraction of their story.

The Mrs. learned that through the many trials she faced, she could either trust God in all of His sovereignty or rail against Him. The Mrs. learned to trust God in all things and so did her Mr.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of The Lord that will stand.”
Proverbs 19:21

“The heart of man plans his way,
but The Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Getting it Together

imageBefore SG, I was quite the homemaker. Then came my long awaited pregnancy and it all came to a crashing halt. Then adjusting to life with a baby…well, that adjustment period lasted almost two years!

I feel like only in the past few months have I really gotten my groove back. I’m finding a new groove- a new me. And I like her!

I’m finally figuring out how to keep the house tidy, have a happy child (somewhat, she’s 2!!!), and get dinner on the table (dairy and egg free) almost every night! Let me tell you my biggest discovery, which I’ve already written about once before (click here to read it.) My FREEZER! Y’all, it has changed my life!!!

I’m serious. I have realized I do things in spurts. Some days I’m the amazing super wife and super mommy and sometimes I’m a giant blob who barely moves. (Or only shops and avoids cooking and cleaning. Did I really just admit that???)

When I’m hot, I’m hot! If chicken is on sale, I won’t buy just one package. Instead, I get excited about saving money and I’ll buy 5-10 packages and have a chicken mini-freezer marathon. The same thing with beef.

I spend my evenings (after SG goes to bed) perusing the internet for new recipes to make and freeze. I just love freezer cooking.

As for tidying the house, I try to vacuum at least every other day, fold the laundry mmmm… a few days after it’s clean… then put it up a few days later… Okay, so that part is not yet perfected. But I’m getting there! I actually ironed some clothes for the Huzz this week- the first time in a year!

Even the Huzz said he feels like he has his old wife back. Yay!

While I’m not perfect and please hear this- I’m not saying I’ll ever be- I am getting it together.

What about you? How do you manage things? Do you love your freezer? Do you have any tried and true freezer recipes to share with me?

The Challenge Update

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I’m a former public school teacher turned homemaker, so I’m good at evaluating and assigning grades. For this challenge, however, I’ve had a hard time evaluating myself. So, I pulled out the calculator: 78%. I earned a C. Not terrible, not great. I was hoping for an A.

Let me focus on the positives.

My Victories:

  • I only went out to eat once for lunch.
  • I spent more intentional time with SG.
  • I kept the house tidy.
  • I spent more time in prayer and reading the bible, although not every single day.
  • I greeted the Huzz with a kiss every afternoon.
  • I was motivated to tidy up (fold clothes, do dishes, etc, during naptime) so I could blog and have time on Facebook.
  • I cooked dinner every night except date night.

My Struggles:

  • I went to the grocery store 3 or 4 times last week…that’s AFTER I made what I thought was a thorough list for my “first and only trip.” Ha!
  • Connect with the Huzz after SG’s bedtime.

I’m glad I challenged myself. I’ve learned a few things. Everyone’s life is different. Just because I read something on someone’s blog doesn’t mean it’s right for me. (As much as I loved that post!!!) I felt like a withering flower, trying to stay home all week. And by the way, something popped up every day. Seriously… we left home Monday-Friday.

I did have some wonderful and precious moments because of this challenge. Little things I caught myself agreeing to do because of those two index cards challenging me on my fridge.

A simple little moment: SG spread out two couch pillows on the floor and asked me to sit on one while she sat on the other. “Let’s sit on the pillows together and drink our smoothies!” Before the challenge, I would probably have said no (too much housework to do at that moment or I need to do ___ first.) Instead, I said yes, sat, and savored the moment, complete with my two year old beaming because I focused all of my attention on her.

The Huzz came home from work and I forgot to give him a kiss: “Where’s my kiss?” he asked.

The Huzz and I zoned out after bedtime several nights in a row before I said, “Hey, we’re supposed to be connecting!” We decided to sit down and have coffee together after SG goes to bed and just chat. We haven’t done it every night, but it has been wonderful! I enjoy having his undivided attention.

Good things. Positive things.

The Huzz and I discussed my week in review. In general, I keep the house clean, I’ve been cooking more, SG is happy, loved, and well rounded, I keep to my weekly eating out budget, and I love my husband. We both agreed that our life is very blessed. Yes, I can make small changes. Can’t we all? There’s always room for improvement. But, I need to be who God created me to be. After all, I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). And I will rest in that truth.

I will end by saying I’m glad I did this. I learned some things about myself and was encouraged by the Huzz encouraging me to be who I am. I LOVE that man!!!

Until next time, my friend.

The Challenge

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I stumbled upon a blog through Kingdom Housewives facebook page. I clicked on the shared link, read it twice, and sat down to write out a challenge to myself. The post is “Physically Being Home” by Graced Simplicity. It really hit home. It’s like she wrote this for me.

I sometimes say to the Huzz, “I’m a stay-at-home-always-on-the-go-mom.” Very true. I probably leave the house with SG four days out of our typical Monday-Friday week. Why? I LOVE being social. I love hanging out with our besties. Our girls love the mall and riding the “Choo-choo!!!” together and love going to our regular spots for lunch. I LOVE shopping. I love visiting the places where we are regulars and are treated like family. We love you Grandma Shari, Ed, Javier, Gwen, Tausha, Lisa, and Audrey! And I know I spend TOO much time on facebook. Way too much. It’s time to put on the big girl panties and get myself under control.

That being said, I wrote out a challenge for myself. I’m starting next week because I’ve already blown it this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m all about finding balance and have always struggled with questioning if I’m gone too much, making sure my child is socialized (and she is!), and looking well to the ways of my household.

So, here goes…

Our Journey through Infertility

image I first wrote about our journey through infertility almost two years ago for my friend’s blog. For the past year we have journeyed again down the same road trying for baby number two- without success. This time around has been different. I know I can become pregnant. I’m busy chasing after a 28 month old. And I amazingly have cried only once over not being able to become pregnant with number two.

As I post this again, I’m in a better place. We’re praying that The Lord would reveal His will for our family. As the Psalms say, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

I’m hoping and praying that we will eventually go from one child to children (plural)! I’m reposting our journey because I need to. I need to remind myself of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. And to not lose hope and trust in the One who creates life.

Here’s our story (again) of infertility:

Infertility. Even now, my heartbeat is speeding up as I remember the crazy highs and lows of our journey. Tears come to my eyes as I vividly remember how my heart ached for a baby. First, let me introduce myself. I have been married for over nine years and two years into our marriage we decided we were ready to have a baby. Little did we know that years later we would be diagnosed as having “unexplained infertility.”

We tried to conceive on our own for about three and a half years before fearfully undergoing tons of invasive fertility tests. Everything checked out okay, we went on Clomid and didn’t have any success. When we first started Clomid, which is a medicine that helps women produce more eggs, I felt like a crazy person. It gave me tremendous highs and lows and I felt out of control emotionally. We lived on a calendar, counting days and waiting until the results of my blood test to let me know if my progesterone level was high enough. Most times it wasn’t, and the minute I found out, I would throw myself across the bed and cry. Sometimes, I would pour my heart out to God and other times I’d just lie there, cry, and feel sorry for myself. I often wondered why our love was not enough to make a baby. I was especially emotional when I would find out a friend or family member was pregnant. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them, it was just a stark reminder that I wasn’t pregnant. The slap in the face was when people complained about the aches and pains of pregnancy.

We went to a fertility specialist and underwent IUI’s (intrauterine insemination) throughout the course of a year. Talk about invasive! More Clomid, painful shots, uncomfortable ultrasounds, insemination, and then holding my breath for two weeks waiting to find out the results…negative. Always a negative pregnancy test. By the time we were halfway through our IUI’s, I was numb. I felt sad when I found out I wasn’t pregnant, but then, just like that, I started my meds again and we were trying again. I found it hard to talk about our infertility at times and at other times I was an open book. It just depended on my mood and where we were in our trying.

I found an e-mail I sent to my mother just before we started our last try. I had just found out I wasn’t pregnant and couldn’t bring myself to call her and tell her because I knew I would fall apart.

Here’s my e-mail:

Fertility update: I got my period this morning. I have bad cramps and can’t seem to get motivated to get out of the house. Emotionally, I’m ok. Not great but not bad. I was pretty sad last night and felt like I was mourning the absence of life in my womb. I normally get a teeny bit sad and then move on. I’ve become so numb to the negative pregnancy tests. I think it just hit me that I might not get pregnant. When I finally prayed and laid it down at Jesus’ feet, I felt so much better and lighter. We want God’s will for our lives, but I guess I always assumed I would eventually get pregnant. Anyway, R told me last night that he thinks we should try one last time, but that he is excited about starting the adoption process and that is on his heart. That was good for me to hear. God’s plan isn’t always easy, but I know He will sustain me. Thanks for praying for us! I start my meds on Sunday, so just like that we begin the fertility process again. I hope I didn’t sadden you with these details. It helped me to just get it out and talk (type!) about it. I wanted you to know, but I don’t feel like talking about it on the phone. It’s just easier this way for me. I don’t want to hear my mom’s voice and start crying. Love, E

We started to research adoption because we thought maybe the Lord was calling us to that. We were on our very last try and we were waiting for the dreaded monthly, when my husband insisted I take a pregnancy test so we could know and move on. I was so scared to take that test because it meant giving up. We weren’t going to try anymore. This was it. We were tired of the emotional roller coaster. I was tired of trying, tired of the doctor’s visits, tired of getting my hopes up only to have them crushed.

I took the test and could not believe it when I saw the faintest second line. I screamed for my husband and he said he thought he saw a second line. Tears started streaming down our faces and I called the nurse. A few hours later a blood test confirmed that WE WERE PREGNANT!

We prayed and thanked God for this miracle baby. We longed for this for six years! I clung to this bible verse during the last year of trying to conceive and throughout my pregnancy:

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”
1st Samuel 1:27

Now that was true for me! We rejoiced that our prayers were answered.

On November 28, 2010, I gave birth to a beautiful, tiny, 5 lbs 6.8 oz baby girl named Sarah Grace and she is our joy, our precious gift from God. We named her Sarah, for like Sarah in the Bible, we waited a long time for our child. And Grace, because by the grace of God, we made it through our battle with infertility.

Do you have a friend or family member who is struggling with infertility? Ask her if she wants to talk about it. Respect her silence if that’s how she is dealing with it. Tell her you’ll pray for her. Love her. Hug her. Be there for her. Be a shoulder for her to cry on, because she needs one. But please don’t ignore it. I think loved ones don’t know how to deal with this and don’t know what to say. There’s really nothing you can say to ease the aching heart of a woman who’s trying to get pregnant and hasn’t. But I can tell you this, God is faithful and He will see you through it. He blessed me with a beautiful child and carried both my husband and me through this long and emotional trial called infertility.

Where You Go I Will Go

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I’m a Southern Belle. Living in Iowa. I’m not sure I ever imagined living so far from “home”, aka South Carolina. Here’s our story.

The Huzz and I met in college in South Carolina, fell in love, got married and moved to Georgia. We were just a few hours from my hometown and life was good… until the Huzz was transferred to Ohio. Ohio?!?! However, I supported my Huzz and was willing to make the move “up north”. We ended up in the Huzz’s hometown and lived happily in Ohio for a few years… until the Huzz took a new job in Iowa. Iowa?!?! Where was that? All I knew is that Iowa was somewhere west of South Carolina and seemingly VERY FAR AWAY from “home”.

So, once again, we packed up and moved to another state. There’s always sadness when leaving friends and family and saying what seems like such final goodbyes. But then there’s always a sense of adventure and fun when moving to a new state. I liked telling people, “I just moved here from Ohio/Georgia/South Carolina”.

We’re very happy here in Iowa. We have a great group of friends. That’s important in anyone’s life, but it’s especially important when you don’t have family close by. I grew up in a huge Puerto Rican family (picture in your mind the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Family is everything and we were always together. So, with that in mind, you can see how these moves can be so hard on me. However, as much as I love my family, my number one priority is the Huzz and SG. Where the Huzz goes I will go. Happily.

“For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16

So, based on my own experiences, here are my tips for settling into a new area:

  • Find a good church and get connected. We met most of our friends through small group and bible studies at Harvest Bible Chapel. 
  • Put yourself out there, even if it’s uncomfortable. (It is for me!) Look for events that involve other mommies. Most libraries have story times. That’s a great way to connect with other moms. 
  • Talk to your neighbors. Get to know them and you might find someone you have a lot in common with. (We miss you Gary and Cindy!!!) And, isn’t nice to be able to borrow some sugar when you run out? 
  • Find a trustworthy babysitter. ASAP. We found an awesome sitter through sittercity.com. We did have to pay for the service but it was totally worth it. Since we don’t have family to watch SG, our sitter has been a lifeline to us! 
  • Once you meet someone you think might turn into a friend, invite them to meet you at a restaurant for lunch. I usually feel kind of nervous the first time I ask someone if they want to meet me for lunch (What if they say no? I don’t like rejection!). But it’s all a part of finding and making friends.
  • Join something! A gym, Stroller Strides – anything! Whatever you choose, you’ll most likely find someone with something in common with you.

What  about you, my friend? Have you experienced any moves? Or are you living in your hometown? While I dearly miss my sweet South, it’s no longer “home”. I can now honestly call Iowa my home. No quotation marks needed.

My Cup Runneth Over

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I tend to be a pessimist.  I’ll admit it.  I’m not proud.  In fact, I’m working on changing it.  There’s only so much change I can do “all by myself” (as my 2 year old would say).  In fact, I decided today to commit this matter to prayer.  I even posted about changing my mindset on Facebook.  Maybe my cyber friends will help hold me accountable.

There are many reasons why I’ve decided to put a great effort to change.  I saw something on Facebook a few weeks ago that has stuck in my head.  It went something like this:  “A pessimist says the glass is half empty.  An optimist says the glass is half full.  A child of God says my cup runneth over.” This was followed by Psalm 23 typed out (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”) Whoa.  I’m a child of God.  Jesus Christ is my Savior.  So why am I always thinking the worst, worrying, trying to figure out if that message from whomever (including the Huzz!) has a hidden meaning, etc, etc.  Crazy, I know!  But I tend to confess things on the internet and lay it all out so here it is!  From now on, I’m going to challenge myself to think of many little positive things to remind myself that my cup runneth over.

Another reason why I need to change is to bring joy to others around me.  Mainly, the Huzz and my toddler SG.  When the Huzz walks in after a long day at work, I slam him with what was wrong in my day.  :::I’m hanging my head and looking shamefully down at the floor:::  The Huzz nicely told me that he doesn’t want to hear all negative things right when he walks in the door- and you know what?  I wouldn’t want to hear that either.  Sometimes, words spoken in love pierce the heart and bring about earnest change.

“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16: 5-6

I searched for bible verses to confirm this decision and found the above verse.  I need to dwell on the pleasant places and the fact that I DO have a beautiful inheritance, in Christ Jesus.  And when the negative thoughts try to invade my mind (and they surely do!), I can recite my chosen verses to combat the negativity and bring peace to my mind and heart.

Another verse I’ve found helpful and have actually memorized is 2nd Corinthians  10:5 “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  I found this verse in the Unglued Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst and quickly memorized it, as at the exact moment I was battling fear and worry over something.  Isn’t it awesome how the Lord shows us just what we need when we need it?

My cup runneth over!  Until next time, my friend.