Where I Belong

I’m a wife and mother. My precious SG is 4 years old. She is our joy.

It took us years of trying before we became pregnant with SG.

We tried again for baby number 2 but it hasn’t happened.

We have an only child.

Not by choice.

But for now, it’s part of God’s plan.

I have to trust God and know that whatever happens- He’s got this.

I’ve found peace with our little family.

It’s not what we planned or hoped for. But God’s plan is always better than mine. Always.

So, lately, I’ve been thinking about where I fit in this world of fertility and infertility.

I AM a mother, so I don’t really fit in the world of hurt that I lived through for so many years- the childless couples. If you’re there now, my heart aches for you. Keep praying and trusting God for His perfect plan for you and your husband.

I have not been able to become pregnant again, so I don’t really fit into the “we’re having baby number 2, 3, 4 or 5” group. Neither are we are in the our family is complete and I’m completely content group.

I’m not jealous, truly I’m not. But there is a sense of being “left behind.”

If you have one child and long for another, I know you get the left behind statement. If you don’t understand it, then that’s okay, too.

I’ve learned with infertility and food allergies, there are depths of pain, worry and stress.

I have learned to lay my worries, stress, and pain down at the foot of the cross. There is where I find peace, contentment and bask in the gloriousness of trusting it’s going to be okay even when I feel like it’s not. Ya know?

So, where do I belong?

I belong in my precious little family of three. I find joy in covering my little 4 year old with kisses and holding her precious little hands. I find joy and lots of giggles in painting her perfect little toenails bright pink. I find love and acceptance in the strong, hardworking arms of my Huzz. I find wisdom and peace in reading the Holy Bible. I find friendships and support through my sweet girlfriends. I find love and acceptance through our supportive church.

Isn’t it all too easy to dwell on the ugly and hard stuff of life? I can all too easily fall into that trap. Life with food allergies, after all, well…it’s HARD.

I have to choose joy and contentment. I have to choose to thank God for the blessings I have- and I have many. So many.

I choose to cry out to God and know that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

I choose to “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7

I choose to say “You are my God, and I will give you thanks.” Psalm 118:28

I choose to remember “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

I choose to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I choose to believe “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I choose to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

(All NIV)

I belong right where I am, nestled under the loving and protective wing of my Almighty God, my precious Savior Jesus, with my Huzz & my SG. That’s where I belong.

From "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews

From “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews

A Glimpse into Living with Food Allergies

Faith, Family & Food Allergies

I talk a lot about food allergies.

Food allergies have determined certain paths we take.

Nothing is simple.

Want to take a bible study class with childcare? Just sign up and show up.

Not me.

There are emails and phone calls involved. There are questions about snacks. There are questions about having other kids hands cleaned in the room. There are quick EpiPen training sessions for her teachers. There are procedures figured out for me to be contacted immediately in case of an allergic reaction.

The same thing with any recreational event.

SG wants to take a dance class. She is currently crazy for Barbie in the Pink Shoes and wants to learn ballet.

Just sign up for dance class and show up, right?

Not us.

I emailed one place where I had previously spoken to the manager. To my face, she was agreeable and accommodating. I emailed her with the specifics needed to keep SG safe (either wipe hands or wash and no food in the room) and CRICKETS. No reply.

I crossed that place off of the list.

I emailed another place. The owner said she would have her own child wash her hands but it was up to ME to ASK the other parents to wash their kids hands. Ummm…no. What if they say no? I know most wouldn’t, but I have had issues with this in the past.

Thankfully I found a dance studio that is willing to wipe all the girls hands before they walk in the studio. (Thanks Jill for the help!) I’m overjoyed and can’t wait for my little ballerina to take real dance classes!!!

Let’s move onto grocery shopping. Put your kiddo in the cart (or buggie as we say in the south), fill your cart with any food you want, put your groceries on the belt, pay and go.

Not me.

First, I wipe the entire cart with wipes. Okay, not the wheels. But I SCRUB the part where SG might sit. I’m teaching her to walk beside me, but sometimes I have to put her in the seat part. The part where I’ve watched countless other kids eat the free, deadly dairy and egg filled cookies from the deli. And goldfish. That seat. And then I wipe down the rest of the cart- including the inside of the cart.

Then I find my ridiculously expensive groceries, reading EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME. Because ingredients change without warning. I have to be sure that what I buy is safe for SG. I also have to keep SG right beside me while reading labels, repeating my mantra to SG “Don’t touch anything!” or “Please keep your hands to yourself!” or “Don’t touch your face!”

When my shopping is finally done it’s time to check out and pay. I try to find our favorite cashiers who know us by name. They know to spray and wipe the belt down for us. I have seen spilled milk on the belts. And there is always some random stickiness. Who knows what that is? With a contact dairy allergy and egg allergy, I take no chances. If I can’t find any familiar faces, I go to a new cashier. I explain quietly that we have food allergies and say “Can you please wipe the belt to keep us safe?” Only one time has a cashier refused to do it. And then I lost my cool. And then she wiped the belt. Anyway, all that to get and buy groceries. And I try to ignore the stares I sometimes get as people behind me look at me like I’m a little crazy for not putting my groceries on the dirty belt.  Sometimes I feel my cheeks turn red.  Sigh.  Not that I really care what other people think. Keeping SG safe is my job as her mother. And I take it very seriously.

Let’s talk about haircuts. I love Great Clips for SG. Mostly for one reason… there is a giant bowl of Dum Dum suckers for kids to have after their hair cut. Doesn’t that sound like a silly reason to choose a place for a kid’s hair to be cut? When we are there, SG gets to have the same treat any other kid gets. It almost makes me cry. Seriously, that doesn’t happen much. We usually have to say, “No thank you. We have food allergies.” At our Great Clips, the stylists wash their hands before cutting SG’s hair and she gets a sucker afterwards.

Thank you, Great Clips. You’re awesome!

Let’s talk about eating out. Well, there’s not much to say, really. We only go out to eat on our date nights.

This whole post is not supposed to be a bummer. It’s a little glimpse into our complicated little world.

Still, I am so very blessed to be SG’s mommy. It’s something I dreamed about, prayed about and cried about for 6 years.

I am blessed to have become pregnant after battling infertility for 6 years.

I’m blessed to be a mother.

I’m blessed to be a stay at home mom.

I’m blessed to be a wife.

I’m blessed my Huzz provides abundantly for our family.

I’m blessed to have regular date nights with the love of my life.

I’m blessed to not have to worry about weight. (Eating dairy, egg and beef free and not eating out much has kept us trim!)

I’m blessed that we followed Dave Ramsey’s plan early in our marriage.

I’m blessed with friends and family who want to keep SG safe.

I’m blessed by a church that goes to great lengths to keep SG safe.

I’m blessed with a Savior who loves me and died for my sins.

I could go on and on. Sometimes I need to sit down and remind myself of my blessings.

Because sometimes, this food allergy life can weigh me down.

Today, I choose to lay it all down at Jesus’ feet and know that no matter what, He’s got this.

I might have to take extra steps and precautions, but it’s all for a very good reason. There’s nothing I won’t do for my SG.

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

Infertility, Food Allergies, & Faith

Today, I’ve felt a nudging. A tug to sit and let my fingers flow across the keyboard. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to write. But I’ll tell you it will be about God’s faithfulness.

For my bible study, we’ve been reading God As He Longs For You To See Him by Chip Ingram. I’m on the last chapter, “The Faithfulness of God” and I’ve been underlining a lot of sentences.

I keep coming back to two major trials in my life. And they are in the past and ongoing. Infertility and food allergies. Both are not easy and have tested my faith. I have asked:

“Why me?”

“Why this Lord?”

I can tell you we beat infertility the first time. We have a beautiful little toddler. She’ll be three on Thanksgiving this year. We have much to be thankful for. She is our little joy, a precious gift from God. And a living, breathing, walking reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for the gift of my daughter. She is an everyday reminder of Your faithfulness. When I was lost in the grief of infertility, You knew that my heart would one day be filled to overflowing with the precious child You would give us in Your very perfect timing.

There’s a story I tell SG. I hold her in my arms and snuggle her close. And it usually goes something like this:

“Mommy wants to tell you a story. Mommy wanted a baby so badly and couldn’t have one. Lots of mommies had babies but Mommy didn’t. She was so sad and cried because she didn’t have a baby. Mommy prayed for a little baby. And then, one day, The Lord put a little tiny baby in my belly. Guess who that was? “Me!”, SG answers. Yes, you, SG. You lived in my tummy and grew and grew. You kicked Mommy’s tummy. Mommy was so happy. And on November 28th, 2010, The Lord said, “Sarah Grace! It’s time to be born.” And mommy went to the hospital. And you popped out!!! We saw your beautiful little face for the first time. And we were so happy. We love you so much Sarah Grace.”

It helps me to remember God’s faithfulness every time I tell SG her/our story. God is so faithful. He is so good. I may sometimes get caught up in emotions, but this remains true. God was faithful to our prayers.

For number two, we tried again with the doctor’s help. We did not get pregnant. I know that God is faithful. I have to trust Him and His plan for our family, whatever that may be. Whether or not we ever have another biological child or not. Whether we feel The Lord leading us to adopt or not.

Recently, SG was at a salon getting her hair cut. The hairdresser innocently asked SG if she had a brother. SG looked at me through the mirror with huge eyes because she didn’t know what to say. I shook my head no, and she said “No.” The lady then asked if she had a sister. Again, the huge eyes, a shake of my head no, and she replied “No.” I don’t know why this turned my heart and squeezed it so tightly. As I felt my stomach drop, my daughter exclaimed, “But I have Hunter and Logan!!!!” with a triumphant smile on her precious face (my nephew and niece.) SG lifted me out of my little state of sorrow with her sweet heartfelt response.

Just like with our food allergies, sometimes I want to shout, “I didn’t choose this! I want more children! I don’t want to deal with infertility, painful emotions linked to innocent comments, strange looks when doing stuff for our food allergies, a different lifestyle to keep our child safe, etc.” Yet, The Lord has allowed it. And through it all, He’s faithful.

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
1st Corinthians 12:10

Lately, when the mention of food allergies and living a dairy and egg free lifestyle comes up, people have lots of questions.

“What DO you eat???”

“I could never do that!”

“How do you do it?”

To which my response usually is, “It was hard in the beginning, but it becomes a new normal.” After reading this:

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I’ve felt convicted. I need to give God the glory. To proclaim His faithfulness in these trials. For His provision of supportive friends and family and knowledge to keep my child safe. In his financial provision because our diet is not cheap. Quite expensive, actually. Faithful to provide friends to stand in the gap. To love on us. To take extra steps to make us feel loved. Faithful to provide a local food allergy support group. People who live in my town who understand what it’s like to live with life threatening food allergies. Friends who have gone through infertility. Friends who understand the ache of empty arms. Friends who have overcome infertility. Family and friends who love me when they’ve seen the worst of me. In His provision to give me a husband who has stood by my side for eleven beautiful and messy years. Faithful to give me a beautiful, “fearfully and wonderfully made” precious little child, my SG. God is so very faithful. All the time.

“But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 31:14

“Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you.”
Psalm 55:22

“We will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.”
Psalm 78:4

Remembering God’s faithfulness has helped me so many times. Until next time, my friend.

Moving On

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My little blog has been oddly quiet this past month or so. There is a reason. In Letting Go Of Our Maybe Baby, I mentioned we decided to let go of something major that I wasn’t ready to share. It might not seem so dramatic, but here it is. We sold our house.

As a family who moves often with job transfers, moving is a part of our life. Only this time we stayed local. Why move then? After much prayer and discussion, we decided to let go of our beautiful house. Although I know I don’t have to share our reasons, I will.

To become debt free: We are HUGE Dave Ramsey fans. We have been debt free except for the house for many years, but kept making the mistake of relocating and buying expensive houses. Expensive house = Big mortgage. We were doing fine financially, but knew we could do better. The Huzz has this wonderful idea of paying our house off and OWNING it completely. The goal seemed too far away with our old house. With this house, our goal is within reach. We prayed about it, felt peace, listed it, and sold it!

We are ready to, as Dave says to, “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”

We are ready to truly be debt free. Proverbs 22:7 says, “…the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

To help me let go of our maybe baby: We had a three bedroom house. The third bedroom held a sleeper sofa and SG’s extra toys. But in my heart, it was a reminder of the second baby’s nursery room that is yet to be. Not unless the Lords blesses my womb again. And if you don’t know our story of infertility, click here to read it. We decided a two bedroom was a bonus of downsizing. We have just enough space and the perfect number of rooms for our little family. We don’t need a three bedroom house at this point in our life. We are truly surrendering this to The Lord. House, family, finances and all.

We now have a small but adorable two bedroom ranch condo. It has a finished basement with a rec room for all of SG’s toys (with a non-conforming third bedroom in the basement for guests. Yes, it’s kind of a third bedroom but I have no attachment to it as a future child’s room and it’s in the basement and opens to the storage area… Not something I see every day or envisioned as a nursery.)

To say we are happy is an understatement. We have finally made a smart decision in home buying. (It only took us 5 home purchases to get it right.)

So now you know why the blog has been quiet. I was busy cleaning all the time for showings, going through our own house hunt, moving, and in general, I was exhausted from it all. In fact, we haven’t even been in our new place a week yet. It already feels like home. Through every move, I have learned a house is just a house. Home is where we are all together. And this place is home. A beautiful little condo, with my gorgeous Huzz and precious SG.

Letting Go of our Maybe Baby

If you are a follower of this blog, Blessed Little Family, you know that my faith shapes my views.

If you have followed my posts, you know that we have battled infertility– twice, yet we only beat it once. We have moved multiple times for the Huzz’s career. We live with life threatening food allergies. I pretty much, for some reason, have decided to just lay it all out here for the entire world to see.

After writing “Be At Rest Once More”, I have felt so much peace. (Oh, I still have my moments, but mostly I have been in a really good place.) Since then, The Lord has been moving in my heart and in our lives. We’ve decided to let go of some major things. Some I’m not ready to share yet.

One thing we decided to let go of was stuff for our “maybe baby.” By stuff, I mean a ton of baby items we used with SG: changing table, all of her beautiful baby clothes, baby toys, bumbo, swing, etc. That doesn’t sound very meaningful, but it is. It was not easy. But it has been freeing.

I feel like if I’m truly trusting in The Lord and trying to be CONTENT WITH WHAT I HAVE, then I don’t need to hang on to baby stuff I just don’t need. It’s only a REMINDER of the second child I DON’T HAVE.

We have decided if The Lord chooses to bless us with another child, we will JOYFULLY start again with everything we need. It will be pure bliss to shop for another miracle baby, IF that is what The Lord wills for our family.

For now, I will:

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for The Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

I continue to hold onto this verse and seek contentment in all of the wonderful blessings The Lord has given me.

I am blessed, indeed.

Yes, very much so.

Blessed to Celebrate Mother’s Day

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Do you ever lovingly gaze into the face of your precious child, getting lost in the beauty and intricacies of her perfect little features? I know I do. SG is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139) crafted and put together by God.

I get lost sometimes, staring into her little face, still sometimes not believing she’s really mine. The Lord really gave her to us to train up. I was blessed to become pregnant after six years of infertility.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded that not every woman out there is celebrating Mother’s Day. Maybe your mom has passed away. Maybe relationships are strained. Maybe your heart is aching because there is nothing more in this world you want than to be a mother. And you aren’t.

Mother’s Day was hard for me for many years, as I ached and longed for my own child. We always celebrated Mother’s Day. Just not for me. I’m blessed to have my mother, maternal grandmother, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law still with us.

This weekend, I’m lifting up all of you out there. Hang on if you’re not a mom yet but long to be. Your day will come. There is hope!!! I am living proof.

To my mommy: I treasure you. You have been a wonderful mother. I could not have asked for a sweeter or kinder mother. You have loved me thoroughly and completely, and especially when I didn’t deserve it. You have always shown me grace. You’re an amazing Mimi. I love you, mommy.

To my grandma: Te amo! You have been an outstanding example of a Godly woman. You raised nine children, selflessly. I miss you very much and thank you for loving me. I’m so blessed to call you my grandma.

To my mother-in-law: Thank you. Thank you for lovingly raising an AMAZING man. The man I love, cherish, and honor. You have been a great example to me and I love you as if you were my own mom. You are a wonderful Nana!

To my grandma through marriage: I don’t even like to call you that. You are my grandma. From the moment I met you, I loved you. You welcomed me with open arms. You are a beautiful example, inside and out, of a woman who loves The Lord. Thank you for being a shining light!

To my SG: Thank you for making me a mother. I love you beyond words. You have no idea how long I prayed for you, how many tears I cried for you, how my heart ached for you. You are the perfect child for us in God’s very perfect timing. I’m so blessed and grateful you are my child. To you, my child, my wish is this: That you will choose to love The Lord Jesus with all of your heart, soul, and might. Trust in Him and you cannot go wrong.

To my readers: Happy Mother’s Day! I hope your weekend is filled with love, family, and friends.

I leave you with this:
“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears The Lord is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:28-30

Happy Mother’s Day!!!