Friday, July 31, 2015

{iPhone Rewind} :: July

It had been awhile since I updated our Ebenezer Stone collection, so I sat down to reflect on what we needed to add. The Lord has been so good to us, and it was a good reminder of all that He has done!

I received all sorts of kind words and well wishes on my last day of work. These flowers were a sweet farewell, but was only the beginning for the bittersweet day. 

By far the best message I received on my last day. It may not seem like much, but from this amazing boss {a man of few words}, it means everything :)

And the best surprise of all? The fun celebration I came home to from my hubby. Perfect ending to a lot of hard work :)

I took the plunge and chopped my hair off {again!} I have wanted to get to this length for awhile now, but was too chicken to just do it all at once, so I have been slowly getting shorter. It's taking a little getting used to, as I can't put it in a ponytail anymore, but I really do love it. It's a GREAT summer cut!

You can call me the cat lady :) I took care of several people's cats this month while they were out of town. Sweet Kane was missing his family, and was MORE than excited to see a person :)

We got A LOT of time with this little one this month! We got to play babysitter while Lindsay was getting a haircut. So we had yogurt, played in the kiddie maze, and ran around in the hot sun until we were all exhausted. It was awesome :)

We had an impromptu dinner/game night with the Daniels, and it was so much fun! Laura and I try to see each other one a week or every other week, but it's harder to get our schedules to match for us to get together as couples. So this was a fun treat! I am SO excited about moving closer to them next month!!

I realize this is ridiculous, but it was SO exciting to have real signs for our exit! We have had all kinds of makeshift signs for the entire time we have lived in McKinney. The construction continues, but it's fun to see progress!

Packing is now officially in full swing! It's so weird to be packing up our little house...but we're looking forward to the new place!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Stand for Life

In recent weeks, several videos have been released showing doctors, lab technicians, and executives from Planned Parenthood candidly discussing the practice of selling organs from aborted babies. The videos are chilling, and they are incredibly difficult to watch. The only reason I have watched them is because I wanted to see them for myself instead of just hearing what others had to say about them. Critics have said the videos have been highly edited, but the group responsible for the videos has also released full versions of each video conversation. Regardless of your religious views or opinions on abortion, it's hard to deny that the videos are fairly damning for Planned Parenthood.

I recognize that abortion is a hot-topic issue. I usually try to avoid discussing these issues on the inter webs, not because I shy away from discussing hard topics, but because there is wisdom in knowing when and how to discuss these topics and speak truth. People who claim to be Christians too often mar the name of Jesus with how they respond to these issues, making it that much harder for truth to be shared in love. 

But these videos have hit me hard these past couple of weeks, as we are mourning the loss of our tiny ones. The reminder that our society worships the "right to choose" and allows the atrocity of abortion to continue is a slap in the face to those who face infertility and pray for their miracle babies. As a follower of Christ, I am heartbroken and sickened by the videos. As a woman who desperately wants to have children and can't, I am deeply hurt by these practices. 

The videos shed light on the abortion industry in a way that too many have turned a blind eye to for too long. Defenders of abortion are saying that anti-abortion extremists are taking private conversations out of context, just to attack women's healthcare. As someone who is unapologetically pro-life, my stance against abortion has nothing to do with denying women healthcare and everything to do with protecting innocent life.

The reality of the abortion industry is not new, but the continued support of and blind eye to what they do is appalling. These videos further highlight the depravity of the human heart, and how we have strayed so far from truth. In the aftermath of this conversation, we have seen {and will continue to see} the justification for murdering babies. I am not some right-wing fundamentalist, but I cannot dress up the reality of what abortion is: murder. And if you support abortion, you support the murder of an innocent life. You're not pro-choice, you are pro-murder.


"It's not a baby, it's just a clump of cells."
The very fact that organs are being harvested from aborted fetuses debunks this argument. This is what harms the pro-abortion argument the most. If there is not a human life {as they claim}, then how can you harvest the organs of that human life? It cannot be "just a clump of cells" and a human from which you can harvest organs. 

While doctors and science assisted in the process, I know that my babies were created by a loving God, and the very idea that these tiny lives are not valued in our society is a pain that is almost too much to bear. Even at their tiniest and most vulnerable of state {an embryo}, they are image bearers of the living God. I saw this "clump of cells" for myself, and I was even more convinced in that moment of the life they represented.



"But I have a right to my body, the right to choose."
And what about the baby's right to choose? That baby did not choose to be conceived, and he/she certainly did not choose to be murdered. Why is it that when a child is wanted, he/she is a person to be protected and cared for, but when he/she is not wanted, he/she is to be aborted and dismembered?

Why is it illegal to kill an unborn child if the mother wants the baby, but it is legal to kill an unborn child if the mother does not want the baby? Why are we as a society allowed to treat an unwanted fetus as a human without rights? Why does the mother's "rights" supersede those of the baby? Just because the baby cannot speak up for and defend itself? The right of a woman not to be pregnant and the right of a baby to not be killed are not equal rights; wouldn't the value of protecting a life be far more important than the value of not being burdened with a responsibility you don't want?


"It's just part of the procedure. The patient consents to the tissue being donated."
Does the patient truly understand what she is consenting to? Is she {and he, don't want to forget dad} aware that her baby is being methodically torn apart to be sold for parts? This isn't just a matter of doing something with medical waste {ugh, I hate even using that term}. They are planning which babies would have the best body parts to sell. They are modifying the procedures to accommodate the sales. If the demand is for livers, they are sure to crush the baby in a way that would allow the most intact livers. If the demand is for calvaria {head}, they are sure to turn the baby and extract feet first so they ensure the most intact calvaria. And they are purposefully skirting the laws to avoid backlash. They are consulting with their legal team and other clinics to be sure they all have the same story and don't get caught. This is not openly public information; they hide this information. Evil hides in the dark and avoids the light.


"We're not selling human body parts {which is a criminal offense}"
When you receive any form of compensation in the exchange of goods, you are selling said goods. If you truly wanted to donate in the name of science, then don't receive any form of compensation, $100, $30, or $0.01. But even if this is truly Planned Parenthood's stance {which I do not believe it is}, then why do they have an entire legal team advising them on how to ensure their practice is not viewed as breaking the law? This argument would never fly in the corporate world. 

We must not be blind to the depravity of the human heart. If there is a way to make a profit, people will find a way: legal or illegal. So if Planned Parenthood as an organization doesn't condone the practice of receiving compensation for body parts, you can bet that there are individual clinics out there that are finding ways to profit. There should be oversight. Not legal teams advising you how to "interpret" the laws in a way that favors your pocketbook.


"Planned Parenthood participates in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research."
This is such an incredibly ironic and deeply saddening statement. For an organization who categorically opposes saving the life of the unborn, it is twisted that they would then turn around and want to support lifesaving scientific research. How have we become so blind? 

I can understand wanting to support lifesaving research. I pray every day for a cure for Crohn's Disease. And I know that has to come from the dedication and hard work that comes through scientific research. But despite my desire to live in a world without Crohn's Disease, Cancer, MS, ALS, Lupus, or any other myriad of diseases, I do NOT wish that to come at the cost of innocent lives. With all of our advances in human technology and the smart people out there, surely there is a better way. We cannot be ok with sacrificing innocent children and touting "lifesaving scientific research." 

"Women need access to healthcare; who are you to deny them that right?"
I don't argue this point; women do need access to healthcare. But if we are going to talk about "choice," then we need to be honest and truly offer ALL choices, not just abortion. Planned Parenthood's foundation and bottom line runs on abortions, not women's healthcare, regardless of what they say. And now that we have the Affordable Care Act, PP is not the only place that women can access affordable healthcare {and other options...something necessary to truly have a "choice"}. To believe otherwise is simply false. I want my tax dollars to actually go to women's healthcare, not abortions. And while they may say that the money cannot be used for abortions, anyone with a basic understanding of how a business runs knows this is a smokescreen argument.

Women need to be made to feel like abortion is not their only choice. Women need to be supported and loved, encouraged and celebrated as strong and valued. If I am honest, I can fairly admit that the church has not done this well, and we need to do this better. An unplanned pregnancy is not a death sentence, but abortion most certainly is. Speak up for the life of the unborn. Love the women who find themselves in a place of fear and hurt. Love and care for both mom and baby.

-------

This news will be a short blip on the radar of our liberal media. The pro-life movement will shout from the rooftops for a time, but it will eventually be buried in favor of a more sensational story {apparently the chosen story now is Cecil...umm, what??} Followers of Christ, we cannot turn a blind eye to this horrific story. We cannot deem it sensationalized and ignore the reality of what is happening in clinics across this nation. Our hearts must break for the things that break the heart of God. And I can assure you; the mass murder of tiny lives most assuredly breaks the heart of God.

This is not a matter of choice. This is a matter, literally, of life and death.


"The horrifying knowledge of harvested baby hearts must lead to our own broken hearts." 
- Albert Mohler



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Christmas in July

I definitely started this project months ago and just now finished it. So I thought I would go ahead and post about it now...a little Christmas {and Thanksgiving} in July :)



I love that I can use these blocks for both Thanksgiving and Christmas decor. And I may or may not have plans for ALL of the holidays! 

Materials: wood blocks {courtesy of my brother-in-law}, scrapbook paper, mod podge, vinyl
Tools: miter saw, silhouette cameo, foam brush
Total Project Cost: $10 (but would have cost a little bit more if I had to pay for the wood)


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Trying Again

Today I went to see my doctor again to figure out next steps. I just have to say that I am incredibly grateful for her. No one ever wants to have to see an RE, but I am so thankful for the one the Lord provided to us. I loved her the instant I met her, and she has been an amazing support along our journey. She is incredibly respectful and supportive of our decisions, and she has done everything in her power to help guide us in the process. 

The first thing out of her mouth today was an apology and empathy for our heartache. I say empathy because she gets it. She herself walked through infertility, so it has only served to make her that much better suited for her position. She has an incredible compassion for her patients, and I wouldn't want to be working with anyone else.

So what's next? The good news is that we can try again beginning with my next cycle. She actually recommended sooner rather than later because of my endometriosis. We have 4 day-3 embryos left, and so they will thaw them a couple of days before the transfer and let them grow to day-5. The protocol will otherwise be the same as far as meds, lining check, and FET. 

So now we're waiting {and praying} for the start of a new cycle. She did warn me this one will be intense, so I'm not looking forward to that. But I am thankful that it will mean that we will be able to try again with our other babies. Our hearts are still processing the loss of our first 2 {Jack and Jill}, but we have 4 other little ones still waiting for us.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Jack and Jill

The last 10 days have been incredibly long and difficult. After the conversation with the embryologist at the time of our transfer, our hearts were heavy, but we were still trying to hold out hope for our miracle.

We went in first thing this morning for our blood pregnancy test and had to wait 7 excruciating hours before we heard the results: "I'm sorry, but the results came back negative."

Negative. Not pregnant. Still no baby.

Our tiny ones didn't make it. We knew the chances were low, so we were not surprised by the news, but somehow it didn't make the heartache any less. We knew that God could do anything, but for reasons only He knows, He said no again. We know He is still good, but it's still so hard. We're so tired of hearing "no." And now that "no" is linked to the loss of 2 of our babies.

Our little ones were affectionately named Jack and Jill by one of Mike's mentors who has been relentlessly petitioning the Lord on our behalf. Jack and Jill. Two tiny lives that were created 8 years ago, held on ice, and lovingly given through adoption. These little lives could not have been more wanted and loved, despite the fact that they didn't know life here. We are sad that we will not get to meet them this side of heaven, but we are thankful that they are now in the presence of Jesus, no longer frozen. 


So we continue to wait to meet our family. We knew this was a reality of the embryo adoption journey, but man, is it ever hard...


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrating 4 Years

Four years ago, I married my love. I had no idea what the next 4 years would hold, but I knew I was excited to start life with the cute guy who had stolen my heart. And now looking back, I can't imagine my life without my best friend.

We had a low-key celebration at home this year. When we were dating, I made Mike enchiladas from scratch and haven't done so since :) Every now and then, he will ask me for them, so I decided that our anniversary was the perfect time to give it a go. 

Being all domestic ;)

I roasted the chicken myself in the crock pot. Be impressed.

This recipe makes enough for 2 full pans of enchiladas. Lots of leftovers!

We enjoyed a quiet, candle-lit dinner at home, and then we snuggled up to watch the new Dirk Nowitzki movie- Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot. Mike is a Mavericks fan {no one is perfect}, so I knew he would enjoy the documentary. It was actually pretty good. I have a lot of respect for Dirk Nowitzki, and it was interesting to learn more about his story.


I am so thankful for this guy. He makes life fun, and he keeps me sane. It's hard to believe we have been married for 4 years, and we are ready for the next 40 :)


Monday, July 13, 2015

Though You Slay Me

I feel like all I do these days is come before the Lord broken and weary. I beg and plead with Him to answer this prayer or that, and I feel too often like my faith is running on empty.

We all know that this life just doesn't always work out the way we want it to. And when you walk through a season that seems to turn into a constant beating, it's enough to make even the strongest and most faithful question God's goodness. I feel like I have been in that season for a really long time. I post on my blog about the good things because they do happen, but I am also desperately trying to see the light for the darkness. 

If you have followed my blog for any number of time, you know that the Lord uses music to encourage my heart and/or get my attention sometimes. I came across this song from Shane & Shane, and I couldn't make it through the first verse without becoming a blubbering mess. These words are so hard for me to sing right now, but that doesn't make them any less true. And I desperately want to believe them with all of my being. The beauty and grace comes from knowing that despite my lack of faith, my God is still working, still comforting, still pursuing. I may not be able to see it, but He is still good.

Whether or not I believe it right now, He is all that I need. He is enough for me. Father, forgive me for believing otherwise.


I come, God, I come
Return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need

Though tonight I'm crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You're still more than I need
You're enough for me
You're enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need
Sing a song to the One who's all I need



Friday, July 10, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Transfer Day


Our babies are on board! :)

Today we had our Frozen Embryo Transfer {FET}. We transferred two day-5 blastocysts, so yes- we are praying for twins! Just like with the mock embryo transfer, the worst part of the procedure was having to go in with a full bladder. But unlike the mock transfer, Mike was with me and we got to see our tiny ones transferred together.

For all the things that infertility stole from us, one of the cool things about our story is that we got to choose the day and actually know the exact time that our embryos entered my uterus. We got to watch it happen together on the ultrasound screen. How cool is that?

I LOVE the fact that my gown had snowflakes on it :)

Today was supposed to be a day of excitement and joy, but we left the clinic with mixed emotions. Before the transfer, we had a difficult conversation with the embryologist. Because our embryos were frozen using an older, slower freezing method, they did not do so well in the thawing process. If you know anything about what 5-day blastocysts are supposed to look like, you can see from our photo that our babies lost a lot of critical cells in the thawing process. We knew this was a risk, but it was still a heartbreaking conversation. 

Despite the low chances we were given, we still did the transfer to give our embryos the best possible chance at life. We couldn't just leave them in the lab. We left the clinic with heavy hearts, but we are trusting the Lord with the outcome. We are pleading with Him to take care of and grow our little embryos, but ultimately, we know they are in His loving hands.

-------

Age of Embryos? They were created in May 2007, so they have been frozen for 8 years
Size of Embryos? About 0.1 to 0.2 mm
Development: 5-day blastocysts; the entire genetic blueprint for life {chromosomes/DNA} are present
Meds: Cabergoline 2x/week, day 21 of Estrace, day 7 of progesterone in oil
Sleep: Despite my excitement and anxiety, I slept fairly well...nice and rested up for the transfer
Best moment of the week: Actually making it to transfer day and knowing that we are giving our babies their best chance at life
Miss anything? My butt not being a pin cushion...but it's SO worth it for our babies
Cravings: Oreos- but mostly because I am sad today and needed some comfort food
Symptoms: Tired from the progesterone
Looking forward to: Our pregnancy test in 10 days, and finding out if our babies implanted, despite the low chances they were given


**This post was written on our transfer day, but was not published until after we made our official announcement. I back-dated to the actual day so we could have all of this for our own records and memories.**




Friday, July 3, 2015

Goodbye IB

When Mike started his new job, we made the decision for me to step away from working full time. I needed to step away for awhile, so that I could focus on my health. There's a part of me that is frustrated that I even have to make such a decision {because my body just can't do what it used to do}, but I am so very thankful that I have the opportunity to make it. My sweet husband has always been super supportive of my career, and he has always taken good care of me. I am thankful for the time I will have to take a break and make sure I am as healthy as I can be.

So today I said goodbye to the IB family. It was definitely a bittersweet departure. Aside from event planning, I don't think I have ever loved a job more. I loved everything about being an executive assistant, and I could not have asked for a better group of people to work alongside.






The last 3 years have been an absolute blessing. From the incredible way the Lord provided this job, to the sweet relationships I have built, I just cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this job. I was able to see the excitement of preparing for and completing an IPO, and I have been a part of a lot of growth and change. I have worked alongside some of the greatest business leaders in the city, and it has been such a joy and privilege to serve them.

I am definitely sad to leave this IB family behind. It's a little strange to be closing {for now} the chapter of my working-outside-the-home life. I am, however, excited for what the Lord might have for me next!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Lining Check

I have been taking Estrace in increasing amounts for 2 weeks now. Today we went in for a lining check. Basically, we had to determine if the medication was working to prepare my body for a transfer. Today would determine whether we move on to the next step of our journey.

My doctor said my lining was 7.5mm triple stripe - perfect and ready for a transfer! So on July 10 {8 days from now}, we will transfer our first 2 little ones! :)

My doctor said that my endometriosis was already coming back; she seemed frustrated by this, especially since I had the surgery to remove it back in January, and just a few weeks ago my repeat hysteroscopy seemed clear. She said it seemed like I have an aggressive form of endometriosis {of course I do!}. Good news is that it won't affect a transfer. Bad news is that I will have to have another surgery in the future. Blast.

Today we also received training for the dreaded PIO {Progesterone in Oil} shots. I will take these intramuscular shots every day until our pregnancy test, and if we get a positive, then every day for 10-12 weeks of the pregnancy. My rear will become a pin cushion, and it won't feel awesome, but you can bet I will do whatever I need to do in order to keep our little ones safe and growing!