Thursday, December 31, 2015

Walk With Me Through 2015...

It's time again for my annual year in review! :)

For past reviews: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014

January started a little heavy when we shared that we had been walking the difficult road of infertility. It had already been over 2 years, but we finally decided to make it more public. It made it a little easier to explain my 2014 book list, which contained several infertility books. I had my laparoscopy, where they discovered that I had stage IV endometriosis, just another health issue to face. I was also furiously trying to finish up my {30 Before 30} list! We plugged into Mercy Church and were praying for the Lord to reveal next steps to us.

I made it to February and the end of my {30 Before 30} list. While I didn't get to check all of them off the list, I was able to make a significant dent in it. I was able to check off indoor skydiving on my actual 30th birthday! I had an absolute blast, and then I got to celebrate with family and friends when Mike surprised me with a fun birthday lunch. For Valentine's Day, we headed to Fort Worth for a fun dinner and night away. We were actually there to visit a church for a job opportunity, but we hadn't shared that publicly yet.

In March, I was part of the book launch team for Christine Hoover's second book, and I also had my first guest post with her. I also shared a little more about our infertility story. While it was incredibly difficult to lay bear those intimate parts of our life, it was also incredibly therapeutic. The cold months were really starting to get to me {especially since we had so much ice and SNOW. In MARCH}, and I was MORE than ready for the warmer spring weather to arrive. We were also doing a bit of traveling and interviewing, as we continued to explore church positions out of state.

We were trying to make decisions about ministry in April. We hadn't shared publicly that we were interviewing out of state, but it felt like we were in a perpetual state of waiting. National Infertility Week is in April, so I decided to blog about the past couple of years of our journey...all the crazy that is involved. In the midst of a lot of life change and decisions, we still found time to catch a hockey game with family, head to a Rough Riders game with friends, go on a tour of a tulip farm, host a four-legged house guest, celebrate our 5 year date anniversary, and participate in the IB spelling bee. To say that April was a whirlwind is an understatement.

May brought a little more clarity on life's plan {at least for now}. We felt the Lord closing doors to out-of-state ministry opportunities, so we made the decision to move closer to Woodcreek and reconnect with church family there. Mike started his job with RightNow Media, and we began trying to figure out what this transition would look like in coming months. We headed to San Antonio for a weekend at my parents' new house! We also had our entire front yard dug up after a gas leak, so that was all kinds of good times.

We saw a lot of change in June as well. Mike got a promotion after being at the new job only a few weeks, and I gave my 6-week notice at the bank. I bought a Kindle, which dramatically changed my reading habits {for the better!}. Peabody hit 150,000 miles, my parents stayed with us for a week, and we attended one of Mike's youth students' {and our vet's daughter's} wedding.

In July, I said goodbye to my IB family. While I had prayed for the opportunity to step back from working full time for a long time, it was still bittersweet to leave. We celebrated our 4th anniversary with a homemade dinner and a documentary about Dirk Nowitzki. We got to go to PK's first movie with her {The Minion Movie}, and we also got to spend a lot of time babysitting her. Packing was in full swing as we prepared to leave McKinney.

I was adjusting to life without full-time work in August, but was asked to stay on part-time which turned out to be a good fit. We said goodbye to McKinney and hello {again for me} to Plano. There was more than enough packing to do before our move, but we also had a garage sale in McKinney and painted the new rental house. We had a fun homemade sushi night with Ben and Lindsay, we started the weekly family ice cream night tradition with Mike's family, and I attended the Woodcreek women's ministry kickoff.

Most of September was spent getting settled in the new house, but we still got to do a few fun things. We headed to Beaver's Bend State Park for a weekend getaway with Mike's family. We also headed to San Antonio for the guys to hunt and for me and my mom to enjoy some fun girly time. We also got to meet my parents' new puppies, so I got to soak up some sweet puppy snuggles. I started attending a BSF class again, and we got a lot of good PK time. We also attended a Love 146 fundraiser, where we found a new ministry with which to partner.

In October, I was busy training my {second} replacement and preparing for our first craft show. We were still grieving our losses and shared here on the blog this next difficult phase in our infertility journey. Despite our heartache, we were still able to find times of healing and good family time. We headed to Waco to see the new stadium and watch my bears play. Not gonna lie: September/October {and really even the rest of the year} was tough.

We headed to Oklahoma in early November for Mike to speak at a college retreat. It was a good chance to get away. Lindsay and I had our first craft show in Fort Worth, and we had so much fun! Mike got to take the week of Thanksgiving off, so we enjoyed time at Starbucks, reading, playing games, and taking lots of time to rest. We spent Thanksgiving at Mike's parents' house, and celebrated Mike's birthday by putting up Christmas lights and our tree.

In December, I blogged for Crohn's Awareness week for the 3rd year in a row. Lindsay and I had our 2nd craft show, which was kind of a bust, but it was good to move a little more inventory, and I got my first Etsy sale! The holidays were difficult to face, but we did our best to enjoy the season. We enjoyed attending a Christmas concert, baking cookies, volunteering at Foreman Elementary, and spending time with friends. We celebrated Christmas with the McCulloughs a few days early with dinner at Maggianos, and then headed to San Antonio to spend Christmas with my family. Mike was able to take time off, so we got to spend some good time together getting ready for the new year.


2015 was another tough year. Last year was hard with our infertility diagnosis, and this year was even more difficult because we faced such heartbreaking loss. We feel as though we have been in the valley for SO long. But we are so thankful for how the Lord walks with us and comforts us. We grieve, but we do not grieve without hope. His mercies are still new every morning, and He is still faithful.

{iPhone Rewind} :: December

When I'm cleaning or working in the house, Sasha is right by my side. She will follow me from room to room, but she definitely makes it known that she is not happy about the constant moving. This is her "mom, when are you going to stay in one place?" look.

I made my first sale on Etsy! I actually made 2 sales in the same day, which is so random, but so exciting! I hadn't really advertised the Etsy shop much because Lindsay and I were scheduled to do another craft show, and I didn't want all my inventory to be depleted. But 2 sweet customers found our shop and bought items anyway!

One of the supports on our bed gave way, so my handy hubby worked on repairing it. Hopefully, it will last longer than another 4 years :)

I know they can't make the veggies even in every bag, but really? Where'd all the broccoli go?

Mike and I had a date night to see Shane and Shane and Phil Wickham's Christmas concert. It was a fun night of Christmas and worship songs!

This is what my office looks like now, and I LOVE it! I can still work when I'm not feeling well because I can work on my laptop in my pajamas on the couch with my heating pad. #thankful #notabadgig

Hands down Sasha's favorite spot over the holidays :)

I decided to bake Christmas cookies and discovered that my cookie decorating skills leave A LOT to be desired :)

I might have gone a little overboard with the Christmas baking...

I made these fun Christmas tags to put on our gifts this year. LOVE my Silhouette Cameo!

Probably the sweetest and most thoughtful gift I have ever received. Laura knew my struggle with the holidays and how I just wanted to skip Christmas. So this is my Christmas Cozy Winter gift from her this year. So thankful.

I was busy working on Christmas gifts for nieces and nephews. I had the opportunity to work on my sewing skills!

Bryan and Christa gave us 3 ready-made dates for 2016- an encouragement to participate in the Save the Date challenge our church is promoting in the new year. We have 1 month down, just 11 more to go!

We love getting Christmas cards in the mail! They become part of our decor during the season, and we love getting updates from friends from all over. We still stuck to our digital/blog Christmas card this year, but maybe we'll print and send some next year :)

One of my favorite Christmas presents: a 48-color pencil set from my hubby :) LOVE it.

Mike was preparing to preach at Mercy Church, so I tagged along to enjoy coffee and my book. I am so thankful for the relaxing days of vacation with my hubby :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come...

It didn't happen in 2015 like we hoped it here's to hoping it happens in 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

San Antonio Christmas

{I didn't take a lot of photos, but still wanted to have the memory of how we spent Christmas}  :)

We spent Christmas in San Antonio this year. We had planned to leave early Wednesday morning, but decided at the last minute to drive in late Tuesday night. Of course, that made for a happy mama, and it allowed us to sleep in and enjoy a full day with family.

On Wednesday morning, I helped my mom bake cookies. One of my favorite things about being home is early morning coffee with my mom, so the added bonus of baking cookies was even more fun. I got to open a Christmas present early so that I could use my new apron in the kitchen :)

That afternoon, we headed to see the new Star Wars movie {my opinion: eh} and enjoy some Mexican food at Mamacita's. 

Thursday was filled with preparations for Christmas with extended family. Just like when I was little, we spent Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family. We headed to my grandma's house for dinner, presents, and lots of laughter. We had 2 white elephant gift exchanges, one with a nice gift, one with a gag gift. We ended up with a grilling tools set {nice} and a pair of rolling scissors {gag}.

Christmas was a balmy 80 degrees, but we spent the day in our pajamas, pretending it was cold outside {or at least I did}. We exchanged gifts, watched movies, played games, and enjoyed yummy food. The perfect way to celebrate with family :)

My dad gave my mom a giant Scrabble board for Christmas, so of course we had to test it out. We even got my dad to play! Between Christmas cookies and naps, we also found time to play a round or two of Wizard.

Saturday morning, I headed out to shop a couple of after Christmas sales. I normally don't mess with those sales, but we wanted a few new Christmas decorations for next year and didn't want to spend the money. So off to Michael's, Target, and Hobby Lobby I went; I'm proud to say that I was done by 9am. The only thing on my list I didn't find was a new tree, but our little bargain one from early in our marriage will do just fine for another year :)

We hosted my dad's family for lunch and dessert, and it was a nice time hanging out with aunts, uncles, and cousins. I was thankful that we had decided to stay through the weekend so none of our time with family felt rushed. 

I ended up getting the cold Mike had suffered with the past week, so the end of our stay was clouded by that, but we were thankful to have time to rest. Some of our best times are just hanging out and doing nothing with my parents and brother. 

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

DIY Christmas

As if working on the projects for the craft shows wasn't enough, I decided to work on a few other DIY projects for Christmas. I am making good use out of the craft table my sweet husband made for me LAST Christmas! :)

1. Ornament Door Hangar
I posted about this a few weeks ago, but thought I would add it to the list. I have loved having this decor piece on our door, though the windy season has made it difficult for us to keep it out on a regular basis. It sounds like someone is constantly knocking on the door; drives Sasha nuts :)

2. Romans 12:12 Wall Sign
I got a custom order from the craft show, and ended up making this sign. I have decided that of all the items I made for the craft show, these 12x12 wood signs are my favorite to design and make. 

3. Walk by Faith Wall Art
Our nieces are really into their middle names lately. So I decided to make each of them a wall sign for their rooms for Christmas. Sweet Elizabeth is our ultra girly, pink lover :)

4. 1 Timothy 1:14 Wall Sign
Sarah loves teal, and is a little older, so I wanted to make her a more "grown up" sign. This one was more of a challenge because of the layered colors, but I really liked how it turned out!

5. Personalized Dog Treat Jar
My mom had been looking for a treat jar for her puppies, so at the suggestion of my dad, I decided to personalize her own! 

6. Minion Hooded Towel
Laura made these for her kiddos, and I knew that I needed one for PK. It definitely challenged my sewing skills {it was a simple project, I just need A LOT of practice}. I think these hooded towels are so adorable, and the lady who designs them has tutorials for several different ones.


I had a lot of fun working on these projects, and I hope that everyone enjoys their gifts. I'm a little crafting weary, so I think I might take a break for a bit. At least until I find another project I really want to work on! ;)

Monday, December 21, 2015

McCullough Christmas

Yesterday, we celebrated Christmas with the McCulloughs. Everyone tends to do their own family Christmas on the actual day, so we usually find a different day to celebrate all together. This year, we headed over to Granny and Grumpz's house to open presents first...

I love McCullough Christmas for the decorations alone :)

After all the presents had been opened, we headed to Maggiano's for dinner. It was a fun evening with family, and we are so thankful for the one the Lord has provided to us!

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Christmas Wish List

For 4 years, I have had only 1 thing on my Christmas wish list: a baby.

It's what my heart wants more than anything right now. I would trade all the gifts in the world for the rest of my life to have that one thing.

I have shared a little bit about our journey here on the blog, but have only really shared bits and pieces here and there. Partly because it's a personal journey, partly because it's often hard to find the words. But I just have to be honest with where we are right now, at least in this moment. Because the holidays are hard. Really hard. For those waiting to grow their family, grieving the loss of a loved one, or facing the season alone, the holidays can be such a difficult thing to face. I have tried to keep myself busy, not wanting to completely shut off and hide from the season {though it has been tempting}. But I have really had to fight for joy, more so this year than in past years. To be brutally honest, I just want the holidays to be over. I want them to go ahead and pass and for things to go back to normal, every day life.

Christmas is usually my favorite holiday season. There's such a heightened sense of joy and celebrating and anticipation of the coming of our Savior. But when you're a mama grieving the loss of your child{ren}, Christmas can be such a minefield of heartache. There is so much emphasis on family and celebrating, and that can be tough when you don't feel much like celebrating. When a family is the one thing you desire and are still waiting for, wondering if you will ever have one. I'm trying so hard to focus on our Savior's birth and what that truly means, but even that centers on Christ coming as a BABY. {The Lord knows I am not comparing my own desire for a baby to the coming of His Son...but He also is grieving with me, knowing the difficulty and triggers that the Christmas season can bring}.

This will be our 4th Christmas that we have prayed for and hoped for children. Every year I think, "next year will be different; next year we will have our baby for Christmas..." And yet, another "next year" is coming and going. And it can be hard not to let that panic moment take over, when you wonder how many "next years" there will be. Because I certainly never thought we would already be at 4...

This year, the heartache is compounded, knowing that we should be celebrating a milestone, but instead are continuing to grieve our loss. I would have hit the halfway mark in our pregnancy today. I should be headed to see family with a growing belly and the joy of celebrating new life. Instead, I fight back the tears as I try to push through the heartache and smile through the pain. I try my best to prepare myself for whatever will {inevitably} come...the probing questions, other pregnancy announcements, babies in adorable Christmas outfits...

Please be patient with us if we have seemed distant or uninvolved, if we have not reached out or joined in on the celebrations. Please give us grace for slipping out of church service early on child dedication Sunday, or for not wanting to hold or talk about your baby. We still love you {and your baby}, we are just trying to figure out what this whole grieving, and waiting, and trusting thing looks like. And we're having to do that while navigating grandma's probing questions, every other Christmas song about the BABY coming, and all the emphasis on the child-like joy of the season.

I came across this quote from Tim Keller yesterday:

"Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God, and that was enough."

This Christmas, in addition to having "baby" on my wish list, I am also adding that I can see God. Despite our heartache, we have seen God, over and over. He is our strength and comfort, our sustainer and refuge. And the reality is that He is enough. We just get lost in the grief and the waiting, and sometimes we forget that. We pray constantly for our baby, because we know it is a good and godly request before the Lord. But we also pray that we never want our baby more than we want Him.

While this season is hard for us right now, we know it is just that: a season. The holidays will pass and the Lord will continue to bring healing. We are reminded of our Savior's birth, and all the joy, hope, and healing that His coming represents. We continue to fight for joy, even when it's difficult. We allow ourselves grace when it's just too hard, and we need to just grieve. And we continue to pray that next year will be different, as we trust and wait on the Lord's timing for our family. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: We've Been Matched {Again}!

Today we accepted the match for our second set of precious embryos!

Again, we won't provide a lot of details on this blog {for privacy reasons}, but we are so thankful for the family the Lord has brought to us. Just like with our last match, we are in awe of how the Lord orchestrates His plans, and we look forward to how the Lord continues to reveal and develop a sweet connection with this family.

Our genetic family {J&J} is from Virginia, and they have 2 beautiful kiddos through IVF. They said that donating their embryos to Snowflakes was the easiest decision they have made as a couple. Their desire was to bless another couple who had walked the dark days of miscarriage and doubt. They had vowed never to give up on building their family and wanted to help someone else in the struggle they knew too well. 

This sweet family has 4 precious embryos. When we read their letter, we felt as though they were speaking directly to us. We are so humbled that they chose us to care for their tiny ones, and we are so excited to move forward in this process with them. Our hope is to still have genetic siblings, but we know that we have to trust the Lord with the lives He has entrusted to us.

I may or may not have created 4 individual snowflake cookies in the midst of my holiday baking...

We actually received the profile for J&J about a week ago, but we were waiting to hear from my RE to get her take on the embryology report. Because of our previous losses, we needed to take the embryo grading into more consideration for our next match {a whole other post for another time; just a difficult part of this journey}. It was SO difficult declining the last match with I&A {I hated saying "no" to babies}, and I really didn't want to have to do it again. We really fell in love with this sweet family and were hoping this was THE one, so we were praying for a good report. 

And today we got the "good report" we prayed for! The embryologist said we basically have 2 really strong embryos, and 2 average/fair embryos. She and my RE feel we have a good chance at a successful pregnancy {ies}, and that it was a good group to adopt. That works for me! :)

So now we move forward with contracts and shipping. We have been praying that the Lord would bring our embryos to us before the end of the year...they're almost here!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Silver Wings Gift Galleria

Lindsay and I decided to do another craft show in an effort to move some more inventory. So this past weekend, we headed to the Silver Wings Gift Galleria at Hebron High School. The nice thing was that we didn't have to prepare anything for it; we just showed up!

We had a little larger space this time, which actually worked out really well. We were able to put out more product, and it felt more open for customers to walk through.

The show itself had a lot of vendors and really was great. The Silver Wings dancers were adorable and super helpful the whole day. The sad thing is that there just wasn't very much traffic. So unfortunately, it was kind of a bust. I did get a custom order out of it, so that was kind of fun.

Our craft show days might be over haha, but we are glad that we tried! We enjoyed creating our inventory and learned a lot in the process. And if you're interested in any of our products, check out our Etsy shop :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

{Crohn's Awareness} :: IBD and Laughter

In the days and weeks following my diagnosis, there was no place for laughter. I was scared and worried, and I desperately was trying to figure out what my life was going to look like with an incurable, chronic, autoimmune disease.

But over time, I have been able to find times to laugh at my Crohn's. Sometimes it's simply because I would cry otherwise. I can't deny that Crohn's is a serious thing, and I can't make my body get better. Crohn's sucks, there's no way around it. But even though I can't change my situation, I can learn to laugh despite it. 

So I thought I would end the week with some good ol' IBD humor. Crohnies unite; non-Crohnie's, just remember you're laughing at our pain...but you're welcome :)


Or meeting or prayer time...

It's true what they say; laughter truly is the best medicine :)