Wednesday, September 30, 2015

{iPhone Rewind} :: September

I am loving the low gas prices! It is so nice to have a little bit of relief at the pump :)

I was trying to soak up the last days of summer...curled up with ice cream and a good book sounded pretty good to me! :)

After several years away, I am excited about going back to a BSF class! We're studying Revelation, so it should be interesting. I am definitely looking forward to being back in a routine of regular study with other women.

It's that time of year: flu shot time! It's strange to me that I get these now {considering that I never used to get them}, but I have to because of my Crohn's. I am definitely thankful for medicine that can help keep me protected!

One of the things I love most about not working full time is that I get to spend more time with this little one. I got to babysit a lot this month, and she is such a crack up. She had just woken up from her nap and was just chillin' in her crib :)

Driving through Waco means stopping for Bush's sweet tea :)  Gone are the days of $0.50 sweet tea (it's now $1.25!), but it's still as good as I remember!

We attended the Love 146 Hope is Brewing fundraiser in Dallas. We are so thankful to be connected to this organization as they seek to end child trafficking and exploitation. You should check out all they do and how you can make a difference too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Home Tour :: Sherrye Space

This new home was a gift from the Lord. With all of the big companies moving into the area {Toyota, State Farm, etc}, we were having a hard time finding something in our price range. Rental properties were going just as fast as the rest of the housing market. 

The Lord brought us this space in the perfect time. Some friends from the 20s group at Woodcreek {Lucas and Lauren} were renting this house from another set of friends {Josh and Tiffany} who are currently living in China. {Random fact: Lucas and I served in Nicaragua together}. Anyway, Lucas and Lauren were getting ready to transition out of the house and knew we were looking for a new place in the area. After visiting the house, and then Skyping with Josh and Tiffany, we had our new place! 

It works out so well for everyone involved, it's like the Lord planned it or something ;)

We are still working on personalizing the space, but we were blessed with several gift cards that have allowed us to begin making this house into "our" home. And we are thankful to Josh and Tiffany for allowing us to paint!

Welcome to our new space! :)

I LOVE that we have another red door! Sasha says "come in and play!"

Frame and "M": Michaels // Print: my own // Wicker tray, white pitcher: Home Goods // Cherry Blossoms: Kirkland's

Mirror: a wedding gift // Table, white bowl and decorative spheres: Home Goods

So excited to have a fireplace!!

I'm so glad that our coffee bar fit...the important things, you know :)

Lantern: At Home // Shutters: JoAnn's (painted myself) // Frame and clock: Hobby Lobby // Books: Mike's bookshelf :)

We inherited this fun cedar chest from Mike's great aunt- we love it and store our blankets in it

We were glad that our cabinet fit in this house; it was a purchase we made with wedding money

Kitchen/breakfast nook/laundry

Breakfast nook

This front room is still a work in progress, but we each have our respective corners ;)  And Sasha uses it as her nap room haha

Excited to have my own little craft corner!

Master bedroom

Frames: Michael's // Prints: my own

I love displaying the bowl and pitcher that Mike used to wash my feet after he proposed

Frame: Michael's // Print: Almost Noelle // Vows: made myself

Guest Room/Sasha Room. Currently working on a wood sign to display above the bed
{And no- we do not require our guests to sleep with Sasha...she comes to our room when we have guests haha}

Frame: Hobby Lobby {used at our wedding} // Print: my own

Trying to add a few amenities to the space :)

Guest bathroom...

So that's our space! We also get to enjoy a pretty sizable backyard with a covered porch, a master bathroom, and a third bedroom that is currently a storage space/staging area for the remaining decorative items that I am working on. We are so thankful for the Lord's provision!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Soaking Up Some Family Time

Last weekend we were in Oklahoma with Mike's family, and this past weekend we headed to San Antonio to spend time with my family. It was a fun weekend, and we really enjoyed soaking up some good family time!

We drove in last on Thursday night, so we were able to enjoy sleeping in and hanging out on Friday. We enjoyed lunch out and an afternoon at Main Event. I have to say that I love the fun family rivalry over {awful} bowling scores :)

They had a 4-person Pac-Man game, which my mom just couldn't pass up. She LOVES Pac-Man. If you want to see a competitive side of my mom, put her in front of Pac-Man!

On Saturday, the guys headed out for a dove hunt, and my mom and I headed out to run some errands and do a little shopping. We enjoyed lunch at Cosi and just walking around in the beautiful weather, and really just catching up. We can have fun doing not much of anything if we get to talk life. It's one of my absolute favorite things.

The guys each got their limit, so they were pretty happy hunters!

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and playing games at the house. But most of the time was spent with the 2 new puppies my parents got! I got my fill of puppy snuggles and loved every minute of it! :)




Puppy selfie :)

We're so thankful for such a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Babe, I Will Never Understand... the sheets end up in a knot at the bottom of our bed. I know you don't sleep soundly all the time, but it boggles my mind how the sheets end up SO tangled. you drop your shoes right in front of the closet instead of actually in the closet. Like, right there. So close.

...and how you drop your clothes literally right by your hamper. Like, the hamper is right there...just a couple steps to the right and they could be in the hamper and not on the floor. Just right there.

...or how you place dirty dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is completely empty. Like, not a single dish is in there.

This morning I was obviously working on a few household chores, and I had to stop myself from getting frustrated over these little idiosyncrasies. My type-A personality cannot understand these habits, and I can easily let them bother me.

But then the Lord reminded me of a few other things that I will never understand... patient you are with me. Because while these little things about you can drive me crazy at times, I know my little habits probably annoy the heck out of you. And yet you are patient and sweetly ignore my crazy. you always respond with kindness and love. Always. You may have to work really hard at it, and you may not even want to respond in kindness and love in the moment, but you somehow always manage to. Because you love Jesus and you love me. And you work really hard to be a godly husband. you can always point every conversation, every hardship, every situation to Jesus. In my sinful flesh, I am annoyed by this at times. Because it's not always as easy for me, and I usually fight it and have to be reminded of His goodness and faithfulness. But you constantly seek it, even when it's hard. And you encourage me to do the same, gently leading me to Jesus, even when I'm fighting it.

...or how much you actually love me. I have never felt like I deserved you, and I am reminded almost every day of how I don't. And yet that's what makes the precious gift of sharing life with you that much sweeter. And it makes my heart that much more grateful for the gift Jesus gave to me in you. And reminds me that I don't tell you enough how much I love you. Idiosyncrasies and all ;)

Miscarriage after Infertility, Hope after Loss

"Tears may, and must come; but if they gather in eyes that are constantly looking up to God and heaven, they will glisten with the brightness of the coming glory."
~ Susannah Spurgeon

We prayed for 3 years for a baby. In the grand scheme of our lives, it may seem like a short time, but when you are anxiously waiting for something that your heart desires so much, each day crawls by at an agonizingly slow rate.

Almost 3 years to the day, we finally got a positive pregnancy test! We were beyond ecstatic, and there was so much relief and joy and hope in that moment. It was finally happening! After 3 long years, Crohn's, an infertility diagnosis, endometriosis, embryo adoption...we were going to have our baby!

But the moment only lasted 2 days.

At 4 weeks + 5 days, we learned that we were losing our baby {ies}. My beta numbers dropped significantly and the nurse told me there was nothing we could do.

At 5 weeks + 2 days, I miscarried. 

After such a long road of struggling through infertility, this loss was beyond anything I had ever experienced. My baby was there! And then he/she was gone. I felt so empty, so alone. And so angry.

How could the Lord allow this to happen? I know that women suffer miscarriages all the time, and each loss is heartbreaking. I don't at all mean to say that our loss was somehow worse than someone else's {because it wasn't}, but I just could not understand how He could let us experience such loss after all that we had already been through. 

It was hard when we were told we didn't have much of a chance of conceiving on our own. But we knew the Lord loves adoption and that we could pursue building our family that way. It was hard having to "pay for" our babies and prove to the state and the agency that we were good enough to be parents. But we knew that all the paperwork, the inspections, and the waiting would be worth it in the end, we just had to persevere. 

It was hard when we didn't get pregnant on our first transfer. But we knew our chances were low going in. It was hard when we lost 2 embryos to the thawing process, but we were thankful that we knew fairly quickly and that they were no longer frozen. We knew the chances that we would probably only have a successful singleton pregnancy, even though we desperately wanted our twins. It was hard knowing that we would not have any genetic siblings for future transfers, but we held out such hope for this transfer. Surely the Lord would allow us to meet our sweet baby. We had been through so much, we just knew He was going to provide this for us. And He did! We got pregnant! 

But it all ended so quickly. All of that hope and excitement was gone so quickly...

We thought we were being faithful in our decision to adopt embryos, rather than try to create our own {a choice that was best for our family and something we felt the Lord asking us to do}. We thought He wanted us to help provide the best chance at life for the tiny lives that had been created 8 years ago, and that He would, in fact, provide life to them. Or at least to some of them. We never imagined that we would have zero babies in our arms after adopting 6 embryos. We never imagined we would have to say goodbye to all 6 of our babies. 

6 babies. We lost 6 babies.

It just didn't seem fair. Why Lord? Why would He allow this to happen? Because we know that He could have saved our babies. He could have proved the embryologist wrong and shown His glory by providing life to these tiny ones. He could have answered our prayers and provided a baby for us. He could have provided some relief from the heartache we have experienced the past 3 years. He could have even given us a negative pregnancy test so that our joy and hope were not so brutally crushed just 2 days later. He could have...

...and yet He didn't. Instead, He chose to take all 6 of our babies home to be with Him, instead of allowing us to parent them here. He chose to walk us down this road of embryo adoption and be matched with this family, even though He knew we would not be able to grow ours through them. And even though we cannot see it now, He chose to accomplish His purposes through our infertility, and even through our loss.

I will admit: I don't like this plan {at least not right now in this moment}, but He is God, and I am not.

I don't believe the Lord desired infertility for us. I believe that He is just as heartbroken by the grief we have felt the past 3 years. Our infertility has been a tangible reminder of sin and brokenness in this fallen world. But I do believe the Lord has faithfully walked with us through our infertility, and now through our loss. While He could have absolutely saved us from infertility {and saved our babies}, He chose not to intervene, but instead to hold our hand and comfort our hearts. I don't know if I will ever fully understand why this difficult road somehow gave Him more glory, but I know that He is good and that His ways are not our ways. 

Can I trust the Lord after all the grief He has allowed into our lives? Yes, I believe I can, and I will. Is it easy? Absolutely not. It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It is a daily battle of surrender before the Lord. Are we still grieving our loss? Yes, and I will probably grieve my babies every day for the rest of my life. But we do not grieve as those without hope. There is a peace that passes all understanding that He has been faithful to provide to us in these difficult days. 

The fact that I can feel peace and hope after such loss is a testament to the goodness of God. Because it simply doesn't make sense for me to trust Him more now after our loss than I did before it. But that's how I know He hasn't forgotten me and that He won't leave me. It's how I know that He will be faithful to walk with me through the dark days ahead and how He will use the pains of this world to draw me closer to His heart.

My prayer is that He uses our journey to bring glory to His name and point others to the Lord of Life, the Creator, the Sustainer, our Comforter and our Hope.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Letter to Our {1st} Precious Genetic Family

This was by far one of the most difficult letters I had to write. How do you share so much loss to the family who entrusted you with their tiny ones? The words came from the Lord, and I prayed {and still pray} that our precious genetic family would find comfort and closure in knowing their embryos were no longer frozen. While it wasn't the outcome any of us wanted, I am incredibly thankful for their gift and for the grace and comfort they offered us.

{Up to this point, our communication with our genetic family had been fairly limited. We were just at the outset of our journey, so we hadn't had the chance to build a deep relationship yet. It's why the letter may seem a little direct in some places, as we were advised by our agency to communicate that way. Despite our short relationship, we will forever be connected with this precious family}.

Dear M&A,

It is with heavy hearts that we send this email. We had let you know about the first failed transfer, but were excited and ready for the next one. We lost 2 embryos to the thawing process, but were able to transfer the remaining 2. We received good news at our pregnancy test, and we were ecstatic! At least one of the embryos had implanted, but unfortunately did not grow. A short time later we miscarried. We are beyond devastated, but we are trying to trust the Lord in the midst of our heartache.

We are so sad to share this news with you; we want to express our grief and sadness for your loss as well. We wanted so much to not only build our family, but also to share the lives of these precious ones with your sweet family. While we did not meet with "success," we are still forever grateful to you for your precious gift. While Erin only carried these little ones for a short time, you allowed her the opportunity to become a mother, and we will never be able to adequately express our gratitude for that.

We wanted to share with you the names we gave to each embryo. We believe wholeheartedly that each one was a unique life, valued and wanted and loved.

2 from our first transfer:
  • Jack and Jill- a sweet mentor and friend affectionately named them; he has prayed for us, your family, and our babies, and we thought these sweet names were a precious way to honor their little lives

2 we lost in the thawing process:
  • Amy- means "dearly loved"
  • Noah- means "rest or peace"
Both of these tiny ones were incredibly loved and wanted, and we are thankful they now find rest with Jesus. They will never know the pains of this world, but instead will only ever know the face of our beautiful Savior.

2 from our second transfer:
  • Annie- means "blessed with grace"- we were indeed blessed with the grace of this tiny life, even if it was only for a short time. This name is our reminder that we are showered with grace from the Lord, and we still will bless His name, even if there is pain in our offering.
  • Hope- chosen because of the hope and joy we felt when we found out we were pregnant. This name is our reminder that our felt hope and joy may have been taken in this moment, in this circumstance, but that our ultimate hope and joy in Jesus can never be taken

We find comfort in knowing that these precious ones are no longer frozen and are now in the presence of their Creator. Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement in this process, and most importantly for your precious gift. We pray blessings and grace over your sweet family; please know that you will always have a family in Dallas praying for yours.

Mike & Erin

Sunday, September 13, 2015

McChengverby Beaver's Bend Trip

This weekend we spent the weekend with the McCulloughs, Chengs, and Overbys {thus the McChengverby}. We stayed at a cabin in Beavers Bend State Park, and we had a great time with family!

Our sweet little welcome that our nieces and nephews left in our room :)

On Friday afternoon, we headed out for a hike. We ended up on a harder trail than we had planned for, but made it back around to the trail we started on. The little ones did pretty well for the steep and rocky terrain!

Examining the map...

Back on the right trail!

We also checked out the woodturning exhibit that was on display {yes, woodturning}. The kiddos enjoyed it, especially the toy room and toy-making exhibit.

Granny and Grumpz got to the cabin later that afternoon, and they brought hula hoops for the grandkids...good times had by all :)

On Saturday, the guys headed out for a golf game and the girls enjoyed a quite morning with princess movies and the hot tub. We also took a train ride and headed to the paddle boats.

The cutest little swimmer I ever did see :)

Saturday afternoon we headed out on a canoe trip. We had beautiful weather and we had a great time out on the river.

The very first part of the river was a little rough, and we had a little mishap. Granny and Lovie hit some rocks and took on water, so they had to be rescued. Thankfully the rest of the canoe trip was smooth sailing. And don't worry...I made sure they both could swim and were being rescued before I started snapping photos :)

Taking on water and at an angle

The onlookers

When they finally got them righted, they tipped over again!

Back to safety...and dry land :)

Saturday night we hosted the Granny Olympics, complete with a procession for the torch and judges.

 And of course, the rest of the time was filled with games, s'mores, BB gun competitions, meals out on the deck, and lots of laughter.

It was a great weekend, and we are so thankful for the family time. We loved having all of the nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and grandparents together. We look forward to next year's McChengverby trip :)