Thursday, April 30, 2015

{iPhone Rewind} :: April

I bought this fun machine with a Christmas bonus, and I have slowly started using it. It's the most AWESOME thing ever, and I am so excited about all the fun projects I can do with it! #silhouettecameo

Lindsay surprised Ben with tickets to the Stars Game for his birthday, and we got to tag along to celebrate! We had such a fun time at the game...though if I'm honest, it had nothing to do with what was happening on the ice and everything to do with the tiny fan sitting next to me...even if she did pee in my lap :)  #nojoke #goodthingsheiscute  I mean, come you know a cuter little fan?? She loves her daddy and hockey :) #lovemyniece

I was excited to get this book in the mail! I read her book on marriage last year, and I am loving her new book on friendship :)  #nobodyscuterthanyoulaura

We headed out to the ballpark for the Rough Riders opening day. We had a fun time with sweet friends, and we were excited to be a part of Moses' first baseball game! :)

Sasha re-discovered her tennis ball {we found it under the couch}, and she has wanted to play non-stop! I heard the tennis ball dropping over and over again and thought Mike was playing with her. But when I turned the corner, I realized she was just waiting for someone to come play! Silly pup!

We headed out to a Tulip Farm for a fun day date. It was free and only a 40 minute drive from our house. Not going to was a slight disappointment. We definitely went too late in the season because there wasn't much left and the flowers were already dying. But it was a fun date with my love, and is something we want to go back to earlier in the season next year!

We had a 4-legged house guest for a few days, and he was absolutely adorable! Crosby came to stay with us while his parents went out of town, and we enjoyed having him. He sure missed his mama, but was the sweetest puppy and the best cuddler. Sasha wasn't too sure about him, but they got along well enough.

I chopped my hair off this month. I had been contemplating going shorter for awhile, and I finally took the plunge. It was time for a change, and I have always liked my hair short.

Mike and I went on our first date 5 years ago. We decided to go back to where it all started, so we headed to Cafe Brazil for dinner. It was fun to think back to that first date, and we are so thankful for the past 5 years together.

The GORGEOUS flowers that I received from the executives for Administrative Professionals Day- so sweet! They were absolutely beautiful and smelled even more amazing :)

For the third year in a row, I was part of the IB Team for the MEF Spelling Bee, but this year I had 2 new teammates! We decided to get crafty to create our team outfit, so we took over a conference room over lunch and pulled out all our craft supplies :)

Sasha sure loves Mike...he is quite possibly her favorite person in the whole world. Which is funny, considering that she HATED him when we were dating. I will be the one petting her, and she will be looking to him. #traitor

#TeamIB at the MEF Spelling Bee! We didn't win, but we had a lot of fun, and had a fantastic cheering table! :)

Ya'll. The second to last day of APRIL, I woke up to this. Feels like 43. What in the world??  We definitely hit some records with the low temps so late in the year. Come on for-real warm weather!!

The last couple of weeks have been hard...with all the unknowns and all the waiting, I have just felt so overwhelmed and in a funk. On one of my particularly low days, I received this sweet card and gift from Laura. I'm so thankful for this sweet girl; she patiently listens to my crazy and knows just how to encourage and challenge me. 

Our sweet neighbor works at Nothing Bundt Cakes and is always bringing us stuff from the bakery. This month, he brought over extra baking ingredients! When they feature a certain flavor for a month, they don't continue making it, and a lot of times have unused ingredients. So now we have 5 pounds of peanut butter chips and more peanut awesome! :)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Infertility :: Wait

I came across this poem when reading Hannah's Hope. It brought so much encouragement and peace to my heart, and I wanted to share it with you here.

By Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied.
I pleaded, and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait."

"Wait? You say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why.
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future, and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me 'wait'?
I'm needing a 'yes,' a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"And Lord, you have promised that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking; I need a reply!"

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."
So I slumped in my chair; defeated and taut
And grumbled to God; "So I'm waiting, for what?"

He seemed then to kneel and His eyes met with mine
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, darken the sun,
Raise the dead, cause the mountains to run.

"All you see I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust, just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me,
When darkness and silence was all you could see.

"You would never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of My comfort late in the night;
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"And you never would know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that 'My grace is sufficient for thee.'
Yes, your dreams for that loved one o'ernight could come true,
But the loss! if you lost what I'm doing in you.

"So be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of still...wait."


There were too many days in this struggle that I didn't want Jesus, I wanted a baby. Or I wanted Jesus just enough because I knew He was the only One who could give me a baby. Oh to grace...He gently led and comforted and drew me to Him.

I pray that in my waiting I might know the depth of the beat of my God's heart...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Infertility :: Some Resources

People don't really talk about infertility, so most people don't know what to say or how to help a couple struggling with it. For some, there can even be a lot of shame associated with infertility, making it that much more difficult for couples to talk about it. I had an "aha moment" when a friend {also walking the road of infertility} reminded me that sinful and evil things are kept hidden and in secret. Infertility is neither of those things, so why would we hide it and not talk about it?

I didn't want to talk about it for a long time either, and I still walk a very careful line with conversations. I don't feel shame, but I just don't know what to say. I mean, how do you really dive into such a personal struggle? What's an appropriate answer for the innocent questions? The very subject seems to make people uncomfortable, and can cause them to say things I know they wouldn't if they really knew how much it hurt.

Most churches {especially in the Bible belt} are highly family-centered, which can make it incredibly difficult for couples struggling with infertility to process and find comfort within their own church family. But it's so important that Christian couples seek Biblical counsel in walking this road. There are so many tough choices to navigate, and we cannot rely on the world for answers. So I urge pastors to find ways to be a loving resource to your members. This goes for friends of infertile couples too! You don't have to be an expert on all the ins and outs of infertility. But having some knowledge and resources in your arsenal will go a long way in ministering to couples who are walking this difficult road. Be willing to ask the tough questions and wrestle with finding the answers together. 

As someone who is walking the road of infertility, I have the unique opportunity to speak into the ministry of the church on this matter. And I am thankful for that opportunity to minister to those who have to walk this difficult road. That's not always easy; I often find it difficult to be vulnerable on such personal matters. And yet the Lord is teaching me that, in His timing and with His wisdom, I can be a voice on this matter, simply because I have personally walked it. That is such an incredible gift that I hope not to waste.

There are resources out there for Christian couples struggling with infertility. Resources that can help you process the emotions of infertility in a healthy and godly way, as well as prayerfully consider fertility options that preserve a high view of life and honor the Lord.

There are a few books I have found helpful that I thought I would share here. There are probably others, these are just the ones I have found helpful in my journey with infertility. I don't necessarily endorse everything that is written in these books, but I am thankful for the authors' faithfulness to walking readers through the process of seeking the Lord in every part of the infertility process.

He Remembers the Barren
by Katie Schuermann
This book. Fellow sister in Christ, if you read no other book, read this one. This book is saturated with the gospel, containing the exact words that those walking the hard road of infertility need to hear. Many of the infertility books I read were written by authors who eventually became biological mothers through varying infertility treatment or a surprise miracle. Their stories/advice/words were no less valuable, but this sweet sister never achieved pregnancy, and yet she writes with such faith and love for our God. She consistently points the reader to the cross, helping you to focus on the beauty and grace of our Savior, instead of your circumstances. It gave me courage and hope that I can {and will} survive this road, even if God chooses to say "no."

Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss
by Jennifer Saake
I LOVED this book. I'm pretty sure I cried from cover to cover. She expressed in words what I have felt throughout this journey, and she offered hope and gospel-centered grace. While I wouldn't encourage all of her advice (i.e. taking a break from church), I appreciated her humility in offering fertility options that she and her husband walked through and committed to Jesus. She wrote in such a tender way that didn't tout right vs. wrong, but instead pushed her readers to seek out the Scripture for answers, always erring on the side of caution. I would very much like to meet her in person someday to give her a hug, and tell her "thank you" for writing this book. Because of her journey, she created Hannah's Prayer Ministries, which is also a great resource for those facing infertility.

The Infertility Companion: Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility
by Sandra L. Glahn (presented by the Christian Medical Association)
This book was more of a textbook. It contained good medical information on infertility, treatment options, and the emotional realities of this struggle. It was very straighforward and technical, which I actually enjoyed. It was helpful for me to understand the differences in treatment, and to understand at least one Christian organization's bioethical stance on those options. I think it is a great resource that presents good questions for couples to ask/answer as they consider and move forward in varying treatment options. It was a great springboard for me to do further research on the types of treatment we were considering.

Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says about Your Baby Hunger
by Beth Forbus
This was a Bible study specifically walking through Scripture addressing infertility. I typically don't love these types of topical studies, but was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the study. It took me awhile to get through, because there were many days that I just couldn't bring myself to do it {because it hurt too much}. But I am glad I stuck with it, and I think it is a great tool to keep you focused on scripture and God's truth as you walk the road of infertility.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Infertility :: Heartache...But Always Hope

I have heard it said that infertility is a loss in and of itself; it is the loss of a dream or the desire that your heart aches for. Whether it's the actual loss or the delay of that dream, the grief is revisited month after month, and for some, year after year.

"The pain [of infertility] is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn’t coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal."

It's hard when others make the announcements you long to make...

It's hard when those announcements turn into deliveries nine months later, and you are still left waiting...

It's hard when you finish the bottle{s} of prenatal vitamins without ever being pregnant...

It's hard to be disappointed month after month...and it's really hard when the months turn into years...

It's hard to wake up in the middle of the night in tears because you had another nightmare that pregnancy will never be your experience...

It's hard when you hear a mom {obviously frustrated} tell her little boy, "I'm going to see if someone else wants to take you home today. I'll see if anyone wants a three year old," and you have to restrain every fiber of your being from punching her in the face and taking her son with you...

It's hard to stand behind a girl in the check-out line as she purchases Plan B...

It's really hard to wrap your mind around the idea that you might never enjoy the excitement of a positive pregnancy test, telling your husband that you're pregnant, feeling a baby move inside of you, or experiencing childbirth or nursing...

For a long time, I didn't want to think about the idea that we might not have biological children, because it scared me not knowing if my heart could take it. I still hold out hope that our prayers will be answered and that we will finally have our miracle baby, that we will be making our long-awaited announcement soon. But we also know that He could choose to say "no" to our request {and in many ways already has}. So then I have to cling to the hope that, if that turns out to be His plan {now and in the future}, He will heal my heart and give me the grace needed to face a life without what I want so much right now. Despite the heartache of infertility, I know that He is good and faithful.

I bought a necklace that is inscribed with the word "HOPE" on it. I wear it as a silent prayer that I am still holding out hope that the Lord will grant us our miracle baby, despite what the doctors and tests have said. But more importantly, I wear it to remind myself that my ultimate hope is not in that prayer. That my ultimate hope cannot be taken, even if the Lord chooses not to grant our request.

We may not know in this life why the Lord has allowed this to be our story. But Mike and I encourage each other with this thought: in eternity, we will not only know and understand the why and say "wow Lord, You really did know what was best for us!" but we will actually worship Him for allowing it. Think about that. All the struggle. All the frustration. All the heartache. We will worship our beautiful Savior for all of it. Because He is that good. That is such a comforting thought to me.

And so I continue to cling to my ultimate Hope, Jesus...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Infertility :: Really, Lord?

And the roller coaster of emotions continues...last day of my crazy emotions, I promise :)

Frustration and Hurt
There's another level of frustration in trying to conceive. And that is the "other people" factor. People mean well, I know they do. But there are all kinds of hurtful and frustrating comments...


"So...when are we going to see little McCulloughs running around? What are you waiting for?" {This is not our choice. And it may not be part of God's plan for us, as heartbreaking as that is}.

"When you guys decide to have kids, you're going to be a cute pregnant person/be great parents." {If only it was as simple as "deciding." We appreciate your compliments and votes of confidence, but it's incredibly painful to hear those things, knowing that we may not experience them in the way in which you are referring}.

"Just relax, and it will happen. You shouldn't try so hard." {Just not helpful. A lack of relaxation is not the problem...there's a real medical issue involved}.

"But trying is the fun part!" {Then you obviously have never really had to "try" before}.

"Are you sure you're doing it right?" {I'm probably just going to stare at you blankly for this one, because, really?}.

"You should just enjoy the time you have just the two of you. You will be begging for all the free time!" {We are trying to be thankful for the time the Lord has given us, but that doesn't take away the hurt of what our hearts desire in building a family with little ones}.

"Babies are SO expensive!" {I understand that there are a lot of costs associated with bringing home a baby. If you know that someone is walking through infertility, please do not say this to/around them. Because we are facing the reality of actually having to purchase our baby, not just our baby's stuff- through treatment or adoption. And neither are inexpensive options}.

"You could just adopt." or "You know, once you decide to adopt, that's when you will get pregnant." {We would like to adopt, but we also would like to experience the joys of pregnancy. Adoption is not always the simple, easy answer either; it comes with its own set of struggles and heartaches. And adopting does not increase my chances of getting pregnant. It just simply doesn't work that way}.

"Oh please, take my children!" or "{some other complaint about motherhood}" {I recognize that motherhood is challenging; I am not naive in thinking that everything will be bliss. There's not much to say other than it's just hard to hear you complain about the role I desperately pray for and desire, but know may never be mine}.

"Do you have children?" {No, we don't}. Awkward silence. Sometimes a polite smile and a quick getaway. {Can we really not talk about anything else besides children? Is there not one single other topic of conversation in which you can engage with me?}

Again, I know people mean well and their comments are {usually} innocent. I don't harbor resentment over it. But I have come to understand the harshness of a flippant {and somewhat ignorant} comment in a way that will forever change the way I relate with others. I have been humbled by the Lord showing me how my words carry so much power to either hurt or encourage matter how simple or innocent a comment may be.

Because of our struggle, I think twice about the comments I make and the questions I ask. Instead of asking what someone does or if they have kids, I simply say "How do you spend your time?" or "Tell me about yourself." And then I can press further once I know a little more of where they are based on their answer. Because I have been asked {normal} questions, both in times of unemployment and infertility. So I know the hurt that such a completely innocent question can actually cause. Because of our struggle with infertility, I will never ask a friend if she is pregnant; because I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise she has waited for, or deepen the hurt she carries.

I'm not talking about walking on eggshells; but most people are unaware of how hurtful their words {and really their assumptions} can be. And because of the experiences the Lord has allowed in my life, I want to always be on the lookout for the one in the crowd who just needs relief from the "usual" questions. Even when I encounter this person, I have to try not to assume I know the right thing to say, especially in a situation I have never been in. I haven't always been good at this, but I want to be better. I need to be better. Infertility is our personal struggle/heartbreak right now; but the Lord has reminded me that we are surrounded by struggle/heartbreak. And I pray that my personal experiences will help me love the people around me better.

Confusion, Pride, and Humility
I fight back tears every time I cry out to God, because I can't understand why He keeps saying “no." I didn't realize how much I just assumed that we would have kids. You find a godly husband, get married, and you have kids. That is what's supposed to happen. Happily ever after. A godly, and even Biblically-encouraged model. So when I started to realize that wasn't happening for us, I just couldn't understand.

We were obedient in saving ourselves for marriage. We are trying to follow and serve Him in our family and ministry. Why wouldn't we be granted the blessing of children? We won't be perfect, but we would strive to be loving parents who seek the Lord in our parenting. So why haven't we been given the opportunity? And why on earth would He place this longing in my heart, only to deny it?

I have come to realize how entitled I have felt, how works-based my obedience can really be at times. As if God somehow owed me a baby because of how obedient I have been. Please don't misunderstand me; there are blessings to obedience. But when we obey God with the expectation that He will give us what we want in return, there is something seriously askew about our theology. I know better than this, but sin still finds a way to creep in. And it is part of what I have battled throughout this journey.

It would be so easy to become bitter. I'm not immune to it, and it's something I constantly battle. I daily sit before Him, asking for forgiveness and crying for strength to walk this journey with faith and grace. It's humbling to know I don't have control, and that I may never be privy to the why. Who am I that the Lord would be mindful of me? But I know He is working and that He will accomplish His purposes for His glory...with or without us having biological children.

And He constantly reminds me of the gospel. That where He puts something to death, He always resurrects new life. That He would call me His own and choose to consider using me in any way for His good works...that despite my constant failures, He still says "Mine," hears every prayer, and sees every tear. It's an incredibly humbling thought.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Infertility :: The Green Eyed Monster

Today I am continuing the {long} list of emotions I have experienced in our struggle with infertility. While it certainly has not been easy, I am thankful for all the Lord is teaching me. It's still a daily battle, but He is good and His grace is unending. I definitely understand, now more than ever, what it means to cling to grace moment by moment.

It’s funny {or not so funny?} how much more aware you are of things when you want something you can’t have. I can rationalize in my brain that there is not a conspiracy against me or an increase in people getting pregnant around me. I know I am just more sensitive to it because I desperately want what they have. But it doesn't seem to make it any easier each time someone else makes the announcement I long to make.

I have never really considered myself a jealous person, but then we started trying to have a baby. I am keenly aware of pregnant women and mothers around me, and it makes my heart sad, and too often envious. I want that so much more than I ever thought I would. And I'm so tired of waiting for it. I took fertility for granted, and it drives me crazy how ridiculously fertile everyone else seems to be. I have realized the idol in my heart of having children/building our family, and it has been a tough one to lay down.

As the months {and now years} pass and more announcements are made, it becomes increasingly difficult to bear. It's hard when we started trying long before others, and yet we are still waiting. It is even more difficult when those announcements turn into deliveries...and we are still waiting. It's frustrating when people “accidentally” get pregnant. I don't understand that. I mean, of course I do, biologically speaking. But it's just so hard knowing how much we try, only to still be left waiting. How is it that they can get pregnant "on accident" and we can't seem to get pregnant on purpose?

It's a weird dynamic with friends. I find myself fighting back the tears, forcing a smile, and mechanically offering congratulatory words at each new announcement. And I hate thatI love my friends and am genuinely excited for them. And I in no way want to take away from their joy. But to be honest, it's just really hard sometimes. Not because I'm not happy for them, but because I am sad for us, knowing that we might never have "our turn" to announce a pregnancy.

But Why Does SHE Get a Baby, Lord??
I will admit, this one's an ugly one. This is when my jealousy runs away from me and I allow the sin to take root. I have {too often} found myself asking the Lord why so-and-so gets to have a baby and I don't. I have allowed myself to play the comparison game, deeming myself more worthy of parenthood than another. Typing it out, I realize how awful that really is, but I'm just trying to be honest with my range of emotions.

Because I understand that all life is created by God, I often struggle with some women who get to be mothers instead of me. Unwed mothers. Teenage mothers. Irresponsible mothers. Inattentive mothers. Abortive mothers. Abusive mothers. Drug-addicted mothers. Why, Lord? Why would these women, who don't want to be or are not ready to be mothers, be granted the blessing of motherhood? How easily pride and arrogance slips in...

In one of the Christian infertility books I read, the author pointed out that the Lord sometimes allows these women to become mothers because it is the very thing that will draw them to Him. Just like the struggle of infertility is {prayerfully/hopefully} drawing me closer to my Savior, pregnancy may very well be what the Lord uses in these women's lives to further His kingdom. That's a hard truth to swallow sometimes. And yet it is so profound.

I don't deserve anything more than the woman sitting next to me; and how arrogant of me to think otherwise. God doesn't owe us a baby; having children is absolutely a blessing, but it is most certainly not a right. It is hard to understand God's plan sometimes, especially when it doesn't fit into our understanding. And so I remind myself to trust Him, even when I don't understand, and it just doesn't make sense {Proverbs 3:5-6}.

And then sometimes, there is just no good reason for why she gets a baby and I don't. It is just how it is in this fallen, sinful world. Our bodies break down and don't do what they should. It's a reality I don't like, but one I have to accept nonetheless. And I know it grieves the heart of God. He sees every tear, and He knows the depth of our heartache. So we still find a way to praise our heavenly Father for His goodness to us even in the midst of infertility...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Infertility :: The Emotional Roller Coaster

We started praying for a baby in the fall of 2012, but actually trying to have a baby in the spring of 2013 {you can read our story here and here}. The excitement of growing our family quickly turned to frustration and anxiety. I had no idea how long and difficult the months of trying to conceive would be; how crazy I would feel sometimes, how heartbroken I would feel so often.

Like with any struggle, the roller coaster of emotions seemed almost too much to bear at times. I certainly have experienced a full range of emotions, and I am constantly on my knees before the Lord about it. There are still lingering questions, and so many continued prayers...


Before we had our official diagnosis, every month was an emotional roller coaster. We had another chance to try and see if it was our month. We did everything we possibly could to plan and time, and then we entered the "two week wait," when all we could do was pray and hope that that month would be the month.

I promise to spare you details, but I know way more about my body's processes than I ever thought I would {or ever really wanted to}. Because it didn't "just happen" for us, there was a diligence in trying to conceive that was downright exhausting. Every day, I tracked my temperature and cycle signs, and we used ovulation tests. But that seemed to only reinforce the frustration, because we were doing everything "right." {I use the "quotes" because we recognize that God is the One who knits a baby together and creates life. No amount of our efforts, no matter how "right" they are, will result in a pregnancy if it is outside of God's will...which is ultimately why we are still waiting}.

So because of our diligence, the disappointment came like a swift kick to the gut when we realized it wasn't our turn {again}. It's hard enough for a woman when a new cycle starts {especially a woman with endometriosis, though I didn't know it at the time}, but it's especially difficult for a woman trying to conceive. It's like your body is purposefully being cruel to you, reminding you every. single. day. for. several. days that you are in fact not pregnant {again} this month.

So I would cry and grieve the loss of yet another month, pull myself together, and start the process all over again. Rinse and repeat. And then rinse and repeat again. And again...

I have come to realize that I too often live in fear. Fear of the struggle, fear of the future, and fear of the unknown. It can be debilitating, and it certainly is not honoring to the Lord. It drives a wedge between me and my Savior, because ultimately it causes me to doubt Him and His goodness.

My struggle with infertility has not been immune from fear. Fear that there was something very wrong. Fear that my Crohn's was causing the problem; or worse- the medicine for my Crohn's was causing the problem. Fear that it was something else...yet another health issue to face {which it ended up being, which only reinforced the fear}. Fear that we wouldn't be able to fix it {for financial or ethical reasons...and then we learned for medical reasons}. Fear that I wouldn't be able to give my husband the family he wanted. Fear that I wouldn't get to experience the "rights" of passage into motherhood through pregnancy/birth/nursing. And ultimately, fear that our prayers would go unanswered and that my heart would not be able to heal from it...

I am constantly bringing my fears before the Lord. And I am thankful that He reminds me that He knows what's best for us, even if it's not what we want. He knows the desires of my heart and offers comfort through the dark days. 

The Crazy
There is a part of me that just felt outside-my-mind crazy at times with the whole process. With all the planning, the hoping, the emotions, the crying, the praying, the trying, the heartbreak that goes into trying to made me feel like I was going nuts. It wasn't like that in the beginning, but over time, I seemed to unlock a crazy person I never wanted to admit knew was there.

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Welcome to the world of trying to conceive :) It's a constant cycle {remember "rinse and repeat" from above?}, and every month you hope for a different result.

I discovered there is an entire infertility community with websites, blogs, and message boards filled with women who so desperately want to have a child {and have reached the point of unlocking the crazy} that they are willing to share every. single. intimate. detail of their bodily functions with the world. Every month. Over and over. I don't know if I can put it into words, but trying to conceive {and for so long} does something to your brain and emotions. And that's before any fertility treatments that delve into hormonal changes.

Did you know there is an entire "trying to conceive" code?
TTC for more than a year without BC, by definition, makes you IF. You unfortunately know what an RE is, and you dread ENDO and PCOS. Every month you try to TCOYF; you track your BBT and CM, use OPKs to pinpoint your LH and OV, and you and DH BD as much as you can. You know the date of your LMP and the exact CD and DPO it is. You constantly have BOTB while you endure HSG, SA, and BW. You wade through your ART options, trying to figure out if IUI and IVF are right for you. You watch for anything and everything that could be a sign of PG: you check BBs, IB, and MS. You defy logic and POAS way too early, hoping for your BFP. When the HPT shows BFN, you do it again the next day. And the next, until AF shows her ugly face.
If you understood the above references, you may have an idea of what I'm talking about. And it thus proves my point about "the crazy." I personally did not actively interact with this online community {though my knowledge of the code may suggest otherwise haha}, but I absolutely, without judgment, understand why it exists. 

While I have chosen not to deal with my struggle in this way, I have had my own fair share of crazy coping strategies. I have consumed more cookies, ice cream, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups than should probably be allowed. I bought an espresso machine the first Christmas we didn't get pregnant, and a Silhouette Machine the second Christmas we were still not pregnant. I gave in to my flesh and said "screw it...if I don't get a baby for Christmas, then I'm going to get some fun toys. These things will make me feel better." Of course, they didn't, and the Lord had to convict me of that "coping strategy." But it was hard not to feel crazy sometimes. Especially since trying to conceive seems to fit the very definition of insanity...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Infertility :: You Are Not Alone

Today marks the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week. There's a part of me that wishes I was not intimately aware of infertility, but I am. I have walked {am walking} the hard and heartbreaking road, and I can now say, "sweet sister, I know, and I understand, and I'm sorry this has been your journey too. You are not alone." I know what it's like to try month after month with no baby. I know what it's like to feel like you're going crazy because you're doing everything "right." I know what it's like to sit in the doctor's office and hear the words, "you will not be able to have children of your own." 

I feel like my participation in raising awareness is different for infertility than it is for Crohn's Disease. When I write about my Crohn's Disease in December for that awareness week, it really is more of a scientific/research awareness in hopes of finding a cure. It also helps other people understand my disease, and some of what I experience in living with it.

But for infertility, I'm not necessarily trying to raise awareness for a cure. It's not that I don't want a cure for infertility {because I definitely do!}, but it's such a larger issue than that. Instead, I'm trying to raise awareness for the grief and the heartache that 1 in 8 couples are experiencing. Because most likely someone you know is experiencing {or has/will experience} this difficult journey. It can be such a lonely journey, and they need understanding and love and grace during this incredibly hard season of life.

Today I will be sharing just some quick facts and basic awareness statistics. The rest of this week, I will share some more details about our personal experience of infertility.

  • Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive {or after 6 months if you are over 35}.
  • The World Health Organization, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize infertility as a disease.
  • 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
  • 1/3 of infertility is considered female-factor, 1/3 is considered male-factor, and 1/3 is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or is unexplained.
  • Couples ages 29-33 {without infertility issues} have only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month, and 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance after 6 months of trying.
  • Of the 44% of women with infertility issues who have sought medical assistance, 65% will give birth.
  • 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like IVF.
  • Only fifteen states have passed laws requiring that insurance policies cover some level of infertility treatment. The ACA does not require coverage for infertility treatments.
  • Researchers have found that in states that cover fertility treatment, the number of high-order multiples is lower.

Friday, April 10, 2015

National Sibling Day

In honor of National Sibling Day, I had to post a few photos of me and my most favorite sibling :)


Best. brother. ever.   :) 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I feel like my life has become a perpetual state of waiting. 

Whether it's waiting for the Lord to reveal the next steps for us in ministry or family, I feel as though I have become a professional waiter. Wait for God's leading. Wait for God's timing. Wait for the test results. Wait for God to reveal His plan. Wait for a baby. Wait for God to provide. Wait for a cure. Wait for an answer to prayer. Wait for the job offer. Wait to hear His voice.

Some days, it feels like all I do is wait. 

And quite frankly, I'm not so great at it. I am super impatient, and I get so sick of waiting. Waiting can be hard, annoying, frustrating, stressful, exhausting. Who has the time to wait?? I want what I want, and I want it now  :) 

But waiting is just a part of life and particularly, by God's design, the life of a believer. Our biblical forefathers only knew waiting, as they waited in patient hope for the Messiah. And even after Jesus came, the church now waits with eager expectation for His return. I think that waiting a few months or years is difficult; I can't imagine waiting decades and centuries!

It's in waiting that we learn a dependency on the Lord, an appreciation for His perfect plan, and a maturing of our faith. And praise Jesus that He doesn't give me everything that I want now. If I was always given what I wanted in the moment, I would have missed out on either a) something better altogether, or b) the intimacy with the Lord that develops in times of waiting. 

As a follower of Jesus, I will be asked to wait on the Lord throughout my life, and I should be grateful for the times He asks me to wait. Because the wait time is not purposeless. The Lord means to use every second of my wait to draw me closer to Him. It's way too easy to focus my attention on the thing for which I am waiting, rather than focusing my attention on Him. Am I really waiting on the Lord {truly seeking to understand Him more fully, know Him more deeply}, or am I just waiting for the thing He can give me? 

So while I am terrible not always good at it, I am learning the value of waiting. In it, I am learning to put my trust in Him, putting to the test whether I truly believe Him at His word. Waiting reminds me that He is in control {and I most certainly am not!}. My impatience shows me that He is working to root out self-reliance and instead focus my faith and hope in Him. Waiting also gives God time to work; there's more that He is doing than I can see right now. It helps build my perseverance, character, and faith. And my waiting is a precious reminder of God's patience and long-suffering toward me.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" - Psalm 27:14  
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry." - Psalm 40:1
"Be still, and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10 
"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken." - Psalm 62:5-6 
"...they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31
"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." - Lamentations 3:25-26 

We may not ever know the specific reason we have to wait, but I am so thankful that He never asks us to wait without Him.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: McCullough, Party of 8!

Our final contracts came in today, so we are now the legal owners of 6 precious embryos!! I went from praying for a baby, to praying for my 6 babies! :) 

Legally, there are no laws that specifically govern embryo adoption agreements, and the current position of the courts is that embryos are property. The contract that we signed with the genetic family is actually a transfer of property and a relinquishment of the donors' parental rights {rather than an adoption agreement}, but our contract does include additional adoption language. The law {at least in Texas} does state that any child born through embryo donation is the legal child of the birthing parents, not the donor parents.

So in the eyes of the law, we own the embryos, but {we believe} in the eyes of God, we are already the parents of these tiny lives. Each embryo is a unique individual created by God, and we are so excited to provide an opportunity for life for each one of them.

So yes- that means that we could potentially have 6 children to raise. And because we will transfer 2 at a time, that also means that we could potentially have 3 sets of twins {!}. Are we crazy? Maybe a little, but we know that each of these little lives is in God's hands. And for whatever reason, He has chosen us to be their parents, regardless of whether or not we get to actually meet and raise all 6.

We know the percentages, and we have been told that it is not likely that we will give birth to all 6. But we will absolutely be praying for all 6 of our babies to make it. There is a chance that not all of them will survive the thawing process, not all of them will implant, or that some of them could meet Jesus before we get a chance to meet them. But we have been entrusted with these tiny ones, so we will do everything in our power to keep them safe and offer them the best chance at life.

I bought this living locket with 6 unique snowflakes to represent our snowflake babies. I plan to wear it until all of our babies are no longer frozen. So if you see me wearing snowflake jewelry in the dead of'll know why ;)

My Body Groans

If you have read my blog for any extended period of time, you know that there are no lack of posts regarding my health. There's absolutely no question that my body is falling apart and is, well frankly, kind of a mess! :)

I never intended for my blog to be filled with so much health-related info, but the reality is that it's a huge part of my life: what I deal with, what I have to process with the Lord. It's my "thorn in the flesh" ... and I have pleaded with the Lord to remove my ailments an embarrassingly high number of times more than three times.

In the last 3 years, I have been "lucky" enough to be diagnosed with 3 diseases...none of which have a cure, and all of which researchers say "the cause is still unknown." Crohn's Disease. Endometriosis. Female-Factor Infertility {which I do know is linked to issues related to the first two}.

Some days I can laugh about it; I mean, it is fairly ridiculous if you think about it. Three incurable diseases in 3 years. Ummm...what?!? How is that even possible? It's like an over-dramatic {and terribly written} movie script. 

But some days are just hard. It's overwhelming to think about how much my body just doesn't function properly. It sure feels like I am falling apart, and my body is in fact breaking down. Doctors are always finding something that can ultimately be linked back to these diseases...vitamin deficiencies. elevated cholesterol. fatigue. ovarian cysts. hyperprolactinemia. migraines. pseudo papilledema {remember that??}. body aches.

I often ask Mike if he will take care of me when I have cancer too, because I am at an increased risk for colorectal cancer from Crohn's, ovarian cancer from endometriosis, and skin cancer or hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma from Humira {which I take for Crohn's}. Please don't misunderstand me; I know that cancer should not be taken lightly. And my diseases {though incurable} are not currently killing me. I face long-term complications because of them, but I do not have terminal diagnoses. And I am so thankful for that. But this is nonetheless my reality. I don't have the best odds, and I don't have the benefit of a normal healthy life. I'm not a doomsday crier, but at some level I have to face facts.

So why a post with all this doom and gloom? Because it's a reminder to me about how my body, like the rest of creation, groans. The misery, brokenness, pain, and suffering of this world is just a reminder of sin. When sin entered the scene, so did death {and disease, pain, illness}. Which reveals the ugliness and gravity of sin, but oh, the preciousness of redemption and hope!

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." {Romans 8:18-23}

My body {literally} groans as I wait in eager anticipation for the glory that awaits. And because of Jesus' saving work on the cross, I will one day have a new body, free of disease and pain. But even more than that, I get the best inheritance of all: Jesus. This suffering is but light and momentary, so I can endure it with patience and hope. 

Without Crohn's or endometrioisis or infertility, I don't know how much of the depth and intimacy with my Savior I would know. I don't know how much I would long for heaven. I don't know how much of a comfort I could really be to others. I certainly wouldn't know the true depth of my own helplessness and the perfection of His strength. On the hard days, I can rest in the knowledge that He understands my pain and suffering, provides comfort now, and has such an incredible hope and redemption waiting for me.