Hope for the Future

So, lets be honest here for a minute. Life isn’t always easy. In fact, most days…life is hard.

I don’t say this to be depressing, but just to be real!

However, something that God has been teaching me over the past couple of years is that even in the midst of the REALLY HARD, God is still ALWAYS GOOD.

As believers, we can have hope for the future even in the midst of hard days because we serve a God who is still Faithful and Sovereign. We can have hope for the future because this is NOT our home. We can have joy in the here and now because we are redeemed and loved by Christ. We can rejoice with every new day because the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and God gave us another day to serve and love Him here on this earth!

And as believers, we will someday get to be with our Lord Jesus FOREVER!

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

As believers, that knowledge in and of itself should be enough for us to live joy-filled lives here on earth. And, it is such a comfort in the hard times.

If you have been following our infertility journey at all, you know that we have had some hard times over the past 3 years. October 2016 brought another “trial” when our last two embryos that we had adopted went to be with the Lord. I can’t even begin to describe the sadness that Joshua and I felt over this loss… we had really hoped to be able to hold our little ones here on this earth.

However, even in the midst of this sadness we were so thankful for the reminder of what I mentioned above… This is NOT our home. This earth is not where we find our hope, contentment, or peace. And even on the very hard, and very sad days we can trust our God who is still the same loving, trust-worthy, sovereign God that we served yesterday and will serve tomorrow.

I have honestly been over-whelmed by the peace and contentment that God has given to me in this new year. Obviously, there are still moments of sadness mixed in, but the Lord has been so very kind to give me joy and contentment with where He has us now.

We still desire to have children. We still plan to pursue another adoption process of some sort in the future. But, as we live where God has us now (and save money ;)), we can trust Him, and we can be comforted by the thought of spending eternity with our Lord someday in our forever HOME.

Stay tuned for more info on our adoption journey! We are just in the beginning stages right now of researching/planning our next steps… knowing that “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

As always, I am an open book so if you ever have questions or want to talk about embryo adoption, Jesus, or just life in general feel free to let me know 🙂

Joyful in Him,

~Erin

Faithful in the Hard Times

I have been contemplating this post for a while now.

It has been quite some time since I have given a update on our embryo adoption journey, and so I wanted to give a update and share what has been going on in our lives for the past couple months.

Short Answer:

We implanted 2 embryos back in December and I miscarried a couple weeks later. It was hard. God is Faithful.

Long Answer:

We adopted 6 precious embryos back in November of 2015 (see prior posts or talk to me for more info on this process). Around that time I started taking hormones to prepare my body for the embryos. Essentially, the goal was to get my body to think it was pregnant before I actually was.

To start the process…I was on a variety of hormones for about 6 weeks: everything from pills, to big shots, to little shots, to transdermal patches. I had a variety of symptoms from the hormones: nausea, rashes, fatigue. During this time, my doctor was watching me very closely. I went in several times for lab work and ultrasounds.

At the end of these 6 weeks, the fertility clinic where our embryos are kept thawed 4 out of our 6 embryos. We chose to thaw 4 because of the way that the embryos were frozen together. Our doctor really wanted us to thaw all 6 at once, and then just re-freeze some of them if we needed to. We felt as though it would not be wise to thaw more embryos than we needed to at a time because some research says that re-freezing the embryos decreases their viability (this is what our adoption agency believes). We really had to think and pray a lot about this decision though!

After they thaw the embryos, they watched them for 24 hours to make sure that they “woke up” (the cells are alive). If there is any sign of life at all, the embryos are considered to have “woken up”. At this point, we were informed that 2 of the 4 embryos had “woken up,” and two had died during the freezing process. This was obviously hard, but we were thankful that 2 of them were still doing well!

My husband was kind to remind me of Psalm 139:16 during this time…

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

How comforting it is to realize that God knew/knows our embryos!

The next day we went into the fertility clinic for the implant. I changed into a gown/hat and everything, just like a real procedure! However, it was nice because I could eat and drink the morning of the implant. In fact, they WANTED me to drink a whole bottle of water when I got to the clinic because it is helpful to have a full bladder for the procedure. Joshua got to go in with me for the procedure, which was such a blessing! I was very thankful to have him by my side holding my hand. The procedure itself was relatively painless (besides having a full bladder, haha). Everyone was all garbed up in surgical attire & I just had to stay REALLY still. The procedure itself took a whole 6 minutes.

After the procedure, they wheeled me back into my hospital room, and I had to lay flat for 30 minutes. There were so many emotions going on in my head at this point! It was crazy to lay there and realize that I now had 2 little lives growing inside me. Before the implant, when they had looked at the little embryos under the microscope, the embryologist told us that the embryos were growing at a “normal, or slightly below normal” rate. Our doctor was hopeful that at least one of the embryos would go on to produce a viable pregnancy. We were praying that both would!

After laying flat for those 30 minutes, they sent me home on bedrest for the next 24 hours. Joshua stopped to get me Chick-Fil-A on the way home, which made everything better.

The next 2 weeks I was restricted to “limited activity” (I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than 15lbs, and I couldn’t work out at all). During this time I continued the hefty hormone regimen that I had been on.

I began to feel more and more pregnant. I woke up many mornings feeling sick/nauesous. We considered this to be a good sign, but it was hard to know if I was sick from the hormones, or because I was pregnant.

At the end of the 2 weeks, we went in for a pregnancy test. They drew my blood, and then sent me home! The nurse wished me luck, and said they would call me later with the results.

That was a tough day… It was hard to wait! But I kept telling myself that whatever the result of the pregnancy test, we served a faithful, trustworthy, and sovereign God.

The nurse called around 4pm to let me know that the test was negative. I was not pregnant.

Honest moment here: the news hit me a lot harder than I thought it would… I was very sad. I just cried for a long time. I still knew the reality that I served a God who is always Faithful, but it was still sad.

I knew that there was a very real possibility of this process NOT ending in a viable pregnancy. But knowing that fact in my head did not really prepare me for all of the emotions and heartache. It was just a very sad time. I had FELT pregnant, and I knew that the embryos were there. So, even though they were so very small…it was still very much a loss. A loss of a dream, a loss of life!

So much comfort was found during this time from Gods Word.

As I mentioned above, Psalm 139 was SO helpful. Realizing that God knew our embryos and that they were now with Him in heaven was such a comforting truth.

I also love Psalm 62:1-2

“My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

I would lay in bed at night sometimes after the miscarriage and just mediate on the truth of this verse…God is my Rock. My Stronghold. I find rest & comfort & peace in Him. Even when my world is “shaken” with sad news and does not go the way I plan I can find my rest and hope in my Faithful God.

I STILL think about these truths often and they give me hope on days when its a little darker.

God has been so kind to really provide a lot of healing for my grieving heart through His Word and through sweet, godly friends and family that has been there to grieve with us, remind us of God’s truth, and love on us.

Over these past couple mounts, I have really had to come to grips with the fact that I may never have children of my own in this life. Obviously, this is something that I would desire – strive towards – hope for. I am not by any means giving up! However, this is not a promise that God has given to me. And if God never blesses me with children, He is STILL Good. STILL Faithful. STILL Sovereign. And I will be okay.

The Lord has been very kind to heal my heart much quicker than I could have imagined. I do still have hard days…it is not always easy (I still have teary days sometimes!) But I am confident of the fact that God is good.

I share all this information with you, not to make you feel sorry for me, but rather in hopes that this story will point to my Faithful God and bring Him glory!

If infertility is something that you struggle with/have struggled with at any point I hope this proves to be an encouragement to you!

Please feel free to ask me anything!

 

What does the future look like for us, you may ask?

Well… 🙂 We do plan to have me start on hormones again in the next couple of months. Joshua and I are both kinda just ready to know if the next implant will work or not (obviously we are praying to that extent!) & to be able to move forward with our lives in one way or the other.

We would love your prayers for our hearts and for our 2 embryos that are left!

Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart & my journey…

~Erin

Learning to Trust and Wait

Just wanted to take a few minutes to update everyone on our Snowflake Adoption process!

I think most of you know (or you know now :)) that we were matched with a genetic family with 6 embryos in September. It is a closed adoption, so that is about all I can tell you all…but Joshua and I are super excited! The past couple of months have been full with lots of paperwork and lots of waiting.

The Lord has been teaching me so much about learning to WAIT on the Lord and TRUST the Lord over this past year. I am so thankful that I serve a God who is sovereign over everything…every detail. The timing does not surprise Him, but rather He is the one in control of the timing and HE has the perfect plan that is best. He gets all of the glory for every good thing that happens because, well… He deserves it!

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” 

(James 1:17)

Okay, back to my update! 😉

We received news this week that the embryos are going to be shipped
(they literally just overnight ship them…still amazed at this whole process and modern technology! haha) this week, and will arrive tomorrow. TOMORROW, y’all! 🙂

Now, granted…we still have a long process to go, but Joshua and I are so thankful to the Lord that our little snowflakes will soon be *home* in DFW.

In many ways, this is the end of a process:

  • our adoption is essentially finalized
  • 6 little precious embryos will soon be home in DFW

And in many ways, this is the beginning of a process… One where I will learn a lot more about trusting and waiting on the Lord for sure!

So, what does happen now?

Well…let me get you up to speed 😉 Over the next several months, I will have lots of Dr appointments, lots of labs drawn, and lots of medications (hormones) to take. Essentially, the Dr will be trying to make my body think that it is pregnant before I actually am. All of this is done so that my body will be as prepared as possible for implanting the embryos (YES, embryos…we will have the doctor implant two! This is what they recommend, and we would welcome twins if this is in the Lord’s plan :)).

Now, just to be blunt here…just as with anytime someone is trying to get pregnant, there are a LOT of unknowns here. (Sidenote: unknowns are hard for me! I have always done better with things being planned… So, again… I am thankful to serve a God who is sovereign over the unknowns too!) We hope and pray that every single one of the embryos will survive the thawing process, will implant exactly on schedule, and will grow  to become heathy little babies!

However, there is a chance, maybe even a good chance, that it may not work.

This really is a “Rescue Mission” of sorts…

Joshua and I would ask for your continued prayers for us and for our little snowflakes over the next several months as we enter into the next phase of our Rescue Mission!

We would also ask for privacy as we wait on the Lord’s perfect timing for building our family. This is an exciting time, but also has the potential to be very hard. We want the LORD to be honored no matter the outcome, and we promise that we will update you as soon as there is any big news!

I also just want to say thank you to all of you who have been so supportive through this process!! We have felt so loved and surrounded by the body of Christ.

Okay, well… that’s all for now!

I think I will dream of snowflakes tonight… they should arrive tomorrow 🙂
~Erin

Cease Striving

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Whew! These past couple of months have been quite the whirlwind for Joshua and I in the adoption process!
Below is my attempt at bringing you all up to date. 🙂
We had our home study for embryo adoption at the end of May. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I was a little nervous going into it… but, it went really well! The process was actually very helpful for Joshua and I to go through. It made us talk through things that normally would have probably just remained unsaid. We even went out and bought cabinet locks & outlet covers!
After we completed our home study, we “thought” that we were mostly done with the paperwork, a.k.a. the “hard” part of process.
Boy, were we wrong.
It seemed like every day we received a new piece of paperwork from our agency to sign… or we learned of a new “hoop” that needed to be jumped through.
Honestly, it all was beginning to feel a little overwhelming.
During this time, the Lord had been kind to bring a verse to my mind through a ladies bible study that I was doing this summer:
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold…”
Psalm 46: 10-11
It was the first part of that verse that especially stood out to me… “Cease STRIVING.”
I had to come to grips with the fact that nothing I did or could do was going to make my life any better/easier.
The fact of the matter is that my life was (and is) in the hands of my loving Heavenly Father.
And He is the Lord of ALL creation. My Stronghold. My Savior.
So, honestly… I had no business feeling overwhelmed, because my life was still safely in His hands.
I am so thankful for the promises of God that He has given to us in His word. Everything that we need to serve Him well is truly right at our fingertips…
SO, back to my update.
I do believe that all of the paperwork is now done! 
(at least for now :)).
We are just waiting for the final e-mail saying that we are “OPEN” to adopt!!!!!!
(When that happens, I will be sure to let you all know! It should be any day…)
And then… we get to wait 🙂
Lord willing, Joshua and I are so excited to be parents!! I am thankful that God already knows exactly what our family looks like & the timing in which that will take place.
The Lord is teaching me so much through this process, and 
I am excited to see what other lessons are ahead as we continue down this road…
As usual, feel free to message me if you have any questions!
Thanks for listening 🙂
~Erin

The Worst Sound I’ve Ever Heard

This is Joshua, by the way.  Sorry to disappoint you all.  You are free to stop reading now if you like, I won’t be offended.

I just thought it might be a good idea to share a little bit of my mind and heart over the past few months.

To help illustrate this, I’d like to tell you about something that happened yesterday at work.

Work.  Let’s start there.  I work as a critical care nurse in a hospital here in town.  Critical care means that the people I care for are either very sick or potentially very sick.  Not always, but often, a good portion of my job involves watching someone hurt, watching someone cry, watching someone die.  To be very honest, some days it is a remarkably depressing place to be.

But every now and then…

When a baby is born upstairs at the hospital, a little jingle plays over the intercom.  Just a few seconds of nursery rhyme type music.  There is no big parade or grand announcement.  Just a few moments of soft, sweet music.  It’s a subtle reminder.  A reminder that the hospital doesn’t always have to be about sickness and pain, about darkness and death.  A reminder that there is joy in this life.

When I got my official diagnosis of infertitlity from my doctor a few months ago, there were things I was prepared for, and things I wasn’t.  I was prepared to cry in front of my family, to have hard conversations with friends and coworkers.  I was even prepared to listen patiently and compassionately when someone would unintentionally say something hurtful.

What I wasn’t prepared for happened about a week after my diagnosis.  That nursery rhyme.  I was in the middle of a work day, scurrying around the hospital doing who knows what with my mind finally on something different.  Then the jingle played over the intercom, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  It was the worst sound I’ve ever heard.  All of the emotions and questions came flooding back, and I tried to hide the tears while I thought, “That music will never play for us.”

Over the next few weeks and months, the music became less and less offensive, and I became relatively indifferent to it.

That was all introduction.  Now to the real story, yesterday.  To make a long story short, the nursery rhyme played again.

Actually, that’s the whole story.  I was at work, and I heard the music play because someone had a baby.

What was different yesterday was not what happened around me, but what happened inside of me.  The jingle wasn’t just a work sound this time, and it wasn’t the worst sound I’d ever heard.  It was a sound of hope.

Most of you know that Erin and I have decided to pursue embryo adoption.  We hope to adopt a child (a very tiny child) pre-birth and allow Erin to carry and deliver our child.  We may not be successful, but we have an opportunity that we had not planned on.

When I heard the nursery rhyme play yesterday, it was not subtle.  It was the most obvious showing of God’s power.  I was reminded that God is always in control, and He always has a plan.  Months ago when I heard it play, there was not a single thought in my mind that God could fix my problem.  But He did.  He did not change my body, but He changed my understanding.  He changed how I thought of Him, how I thought of life, and how I thought of His plan for mine.

I hope this in encouraging to you all.  I hope that if you are in the midst of an irreversible problem, that you will be reminded that even if that problem never goes away, God will not either, and He can give joy and comfort in any circumstance.

Sometimes, a hospital is a terrible place.  Sometimes it is a place of darkness and death.  But sometimes God’s truth shines bright in dark places.

Sometimes the incredible power and amazing love of our God sounds like…well, it sounds like a nursery rhyme.

An idea as small as a Snowflake…

The past couple of months have gone by so fast! God has been teaching Joshua and I a lot about trusting Him & His plan for our life. Even though there have been some hard days, a lot of healing has been taking place in our hearts as well. It still makes me sad to think that we are not able to have biological children, but it is not something that I think about every day anymore, or even every week… I am able to look down the road at my “plan for the future” (knowing that “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9) and imagine my future family looking different than I thought…and be really excited about that. 🙂 I am thankful that God has blessed me with such a wonderful husband to encourage me and help me to think biblically during this time. I am thankful for family & friends that have been there to listen to me when I have had hard days (you know who you are!), and I am so thankful for all of the support and encouragement we have received over the past couple of months. We have felt so loved by the body of Christ!

Joshua and I have been thinking and praying a lot about how the Lord would have us to grow our family. We both have wanted to be parents for as long as we can remember, and so it has always been a matter of “how” and “when”, not “if”…

Around the time that Joshua and I received the infertility diagnosis, some friends of ours mentioned to us… “Have you ever heard of embryo adoption?”. If you are anything like me, you have either never heard of this term at all, or are only vaguely familiar with it. With this in mind, I will take a brief break from our story to give a short explanation of this term:

So, basically…embryo adoption is a product of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Often couples produce embryos intending to use them for IVF, and then for a variety of reasons, are unable to use all of the embryos that they have produced. These “leftover” embryos end up being stored/frozen in cryo-banks for an indefinite period of time. Some of these embryos are used for research or even aborted. Some of them are just left to be “frozen in time” for potentially forever (I know, this sounds like this should be something from a science fiction movie, right?). So, as a result of this problem, a solution has been established. The genetic parents (the mom and dad whose sperm and egg make up the embryo) are able to put their embryos up for adoption. There are several agencies that do embryo adoption throughout the U.S., the prominent one being Nightlight Christian Adoptions with the snowflake adoption program. (If you have more questions about embryo adoption, I would be more than happy to talk with you, or there are also several websites that have been very helpful to me including http://www.embryoadoption.org)

So, back to my story… This new-found information began a process of several months of research, long talks, and prayer between Joshua and I.

Sidenote: I already loved my husband dearly, but honestly these past couple months have been some of the sweetest (and hardest! haha) in our marriage. God has been strengthening our marriage and drawing us closer together, and I am so thankful for that!

Joshua and I believe that life begins at conception. This is something that the Bible is very clear about.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16

With this in mind, we really feel that embryo adoption is a BIG mission field.  It allows us to provide a home for children who maybe would not have even had a chance to live.

One of the other things that is very appealing about embryo adoption is that I would be able to carry the baby, experience pregnancy, birth, and all that comes with that. I had an appointment with my doctor a couple of months ago to evaluate if I would be a good candidate for this process, and the doctor said that he thought embryo adoption was a great option for us and that there was no reason why I should not be able to carry a baby. Obviously, there are no guarantees, and this is ultimately up to God, but this was very exciting news for us!!! Honestly, Joshua and I left that appointment a little bit in shock. I think that we were so used to getting “bad” news, we were not really sure how to react! 😉

Joshua and I have decided that we are going to pursue embryo adoption through the Snowflake Adoption program at the Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency (https://www.nightlight.org) . We are in the process of filling out our application now (there is a LOT of paperwork), and should be having our home study in the next couple of months.

We debated a lot about when to start this process, but we kept coming back to the thought that there was never going to be a *perfect* time. If we waited until we had the perfect house, cars, and vacations… then something else would come up that we needed to get done or have before we started our family. And honestly, we just don’t want to wait that long. We are ready to have kids & hope to have lots of them someday. We are confident that God will provide!

We are really excited to see what God has planned for our family, and we would covet your continued prayers for wisdom and patience during this time!

Thanks for letting me share our story.

~Erin

Beautiful Tears

Life is different that I thought it would be when I was 8 or 9. I think most of you would agree with this statement. Back then, I remember imagining what I would be when I grew up – who I would be – what I would become. Would I be a rockstar? a nurse? an actress in a movie? A wife and a mom? Most often I remember landing on that last dream. I always told people that I wanted to be a mom and have 8 kids. I often got funny looks from people, but I didn’t care… I was determined. It honestly never even crossed my mind that God may have other plans for me…

Well, time has passed, and I am no longer a little girl of 9. I am 23, and have a much better idea of what my life will look life…although there are still many unknowns.

  • I am first and foremost a CHILD OF GOD. A child of the majestic, powerful, Creator of the universe. I have done nothing to deserve being His child, but He chose to adopt me, call me his own, and love me! Just because He wanted to. I know that He has an amazing plan for my life, even if I can’t always see exactly what that is. I am thankful that He holds me in HIs hands. He is my Savior. My King. My Lord.
  • I am a WIFE to a wonderful, sweet, servant hearted man. He loves me so much better than I deserve, and I am so thankful I get to spend the rest of my life learning how to love and serve him better 🙂
  • I am a DAUGHTER, a SISTER, a FRIEND. I am surrounded by so many people that love me! For this I am truly grateful… I only pray that I would be able to continue to learn how to love them better.
  • I am a nurse – at least for now, its a pretty good career. Flexible hours, good coworkers. I enjoy taking care of people and felling like I make a difference in their lives!

I have a good life.

But, I’m not gonna lie… There are a lot of hard things about it too.

Joshua and I have been trying to start a family for some time now…with no success. So, last summer we started to go in for some testing to figure out why. Let me tell you – that was quite the journey!

Long story short…we recently found out that Joshua has a genetic condition that will prevent us from ever being able to have biological children.

This is hard.

Like REALLY hard…

My heart breaks when I think about never being able to know what it is like to carry a baby inside me, or to breastfeed my son or daughter.

It hurts to think that I won’t be able to look at school pictures of my son and think – “you look just like your dad.”

I know it probably sounds silly, but I’m even sad that I won’t know what labor feels like: a horribly painful experience with joyful results.

But, even though this is horribly difficult news… I do NOT grieve as one without hope (1 Thess 4:13)… thanks to what Jesus did on the cross for me.

He has given us such a BEAUTIFUL picture of adoption through salvation. He is every bit as much my Father, my Daddy (if not more so) than my earthly, biological dad (whom I love very much btw :)) HE chose me. And He loves me.

I am thankful that God has really softened my heart to the idea of adoption. To be honest, it’s not totally soft yet.. a part of me is still very much grieving what I thought life would look like. But I think that with time I will get there…

I know God has a plan… He has always been faithful to me.

I’m actually kinda excited to see His plan unfold 🙂

*Because* – “Life is not a tea party, my dear…but a grand adventure.”

This blog is the story of my life. Of my journey. Of my adventures.

~Erin