Sunday, January 31, 2016

{iPhone Rewind} :: January

Sasha was just chillin', resting her chin on a table. No big deal. Crazy pup.

I am so excited about this new devotional! I plan to spend my mornings digging into the Psalms, and I think this book is going to really help me.

I stopped at Panera for a quick dinner to celebrate 3 years of remission from active Crohn's. While I still have bad days, I am thankful for God's provision, good doctors, and medicine.

This was all that was left of the pigeon that hit my windshield. It was so traumatic to hit a bird, but he was the only one of his friends that didn't move out of the street fast enough...

Date #2: Game Night! #wcsavethedate16

My sweet sister-in-law made each of us our own blanket for Christmas, and I have used it non-stop. It's so warm and soft!

A co-worker gifted me white chocolate biscotti for Christmas. It was so delicious that I asked for the recipe and decided to try my hand at it. So yummy! #coffeeandbiscotti

Ya'll. The invention of gummy vitamins is the best. It's such an easier way for me to 1) remember to take my vitamins, and 2) want to take my vitamins. I figure that since all my other medications have to come through injection, I'm allowed the free pass from swallowing pills (something I hate). Love me some gummy vitamins!

Date #3: Breakfast at Poor Richard's Cafe! #wcsavethedate16 

We went out with Ben and Lindsay and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Silver Fox. The leftovers were just as yummy!

I thought this was kind of fun...I was searching for a mantel wood sign on Etsy and one of my own listings popped up on the first page! So fun :)

Miss Henley Caroline made her debut and we were so excited to meet her!

This time of year means Girl Scout cookies!! #yum #thinmintsarethebest

Going through a memory box makes for a fun afternoon with my love :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Virginia to Texas!

Today we got a completely unexpected but sweet surprise! Not only had our sweet babies shipped, but they are actually already snug and safe in our clinic! We got the call today that they had arrived in our clinic this morning, and the embryologist confirmed they were safe and ready for our transfer cycle. They had come all the way from Virginia, a little bit of a further trek than our previous embryos. 

Our embryos are stored in a cryopreservation tank, and they were shipped essentially via Fed Ex. There's more to it than that {dry nitrogen shipper, cryogenic safe temperature, etc}, but they shipped overnight. My dad is pretty fascinated by the whole process :)

I had a fleeting moment where I was a little sad that I didn't even know they were traveling so I could be praying for their safe journey. But when we shared the fun news with our close circle, every one of them said they had been praying! Of course, they didn't know they were traveling either, but it was such a comfort to hear how our little army of prayer warriors have been lifting us up through this whole process. 

The sad moment passed and was completely overshadowed by the joy and excitement of our news. This process was SO much less stressful than the last time, and we were just marveling over how much more quickly everything happened this time. Last time {from contract legalization to arriving in our clinic}, it took 76 days. This time? 8 days. We feel so very thankful tonight!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: McCullough, Party of 12!

Today the final contracts came in, so we are now the legal owners of 4 more precious embryos!! 

{Me + Mike + 6 previously adopted embryos + 4 new embryos = 12}  :)

As I mentioned with our last embryo adoption, there are no laws that specifically govern embryo "adoption" agreements. We signed property contracts, not official adoption agreements. Any birthed children will legally be our children. But to us, we are already the parents to these tiny lives. 

So this time around, we're praying for 4 children to raise. We still have to have some conversations with my doctor regarding details, but if we transfer 2 at a time like we did last time, we'll be praying for 2 sets of twins :)

We pray that we get to meet all 4 this side of heaven, but we also know {now more than ever}, that these tiny lives are in God's hands. But since we have been entrusted with these tiny ones, we will do everything in our power to keep them safe and offer them the best chance at life.

Who would have thought we would have 10 total children??  ;)

I bought another living locket with 4 unique snowflakes to represent our snowflake babies. I had bought one with our last 6 embryos, but some of the rhinestones had fallen out. But I thought it was fitting to have a whole new necklace for our new embryos. Just like with the last locket, I will wear it until all of our babies are no longer frozen.

So now we wait for shipping coordination to happen between the two clinics. Our babies will be coming all the way from Virginia! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

You Are Ours

I follow a private Facebook group for embryo adoption. One of the member's husband wrote a song to help process the loss of their embryos. I think it's absolutely perfect. It's simple, but expresses exactly how we have felt in losing our 6 embryos.

We never even met and yet you meant so much to us
Some say you're insignificant, no bigger than some dust
But you're loved by God, and your mom and dad
I never even dreamed about the impact that you'd have
You brought us so much hope, and when you left we felt so sad
But you're now with God, and in Him we trust

You were ours. You are ours.

Your lives, they really counted. They were real, but not real long
Though longer than some think, cause lots of people, they are wrong
And you're loved by God, and you're loved by us
So we acknowledge life, and yours we never will forget
You mean so much to us although we never even met
And you're now with God, and in Him we trust


Monday, January 11, 2016

Craft Corner Makeover

I have absolutely LOVED having the craft desk my husband made for me. It has been used a lot lately, and it's so nice to have everything at my fingertips :)

I have wanted to reorganize my little craft corner for awhile now, as I have found that my previous setup did not make as much sense as I knew it could. So I set to work to reorganize! {a perfect new year project, right?}

Of course, it looked like a wreck before it got better...

It got much worse than this, but I was too deep in the mess to take photos :)

I had some gift cards from Christmas, so I was able to purchase a couple of extra organization items to aid in the makeover. Once everything had a place that made sense, I decorated a bit and love the end result!

I love this little corner of our house! Doesn't it make you want to create all kinds of fun crafty things?? It's definitely my little happy corner :)  And I'm really thankful my sweet husband supports my creativity!

Friday, January 8, 2016

High Five for Friday!

{one} Mike was asked to preach at Mercy Church this weekend. He has preached there several times before, and if you will remember, we attended their services for awhile after Redeemer closed. It was good to be back with some old friends, and I am thankful for the opportunities my husband has to utilize his gifts, even in this season without full-time ministry.

{two} BSF started back up this week, and it was good to be back in class. I have really enjoyed the Revelation study; it isn't at all what I expected, in a good way. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet with other women and dive deeper into the Word. Reading about the judgments and God's wrath is a bit unsettling, but it's also a reminder of His holiness and patient restraint on a world that rejects Him. He is sovereign, and He will one day make all things right again. I love reading about heaven and how the angels and elders worship the Lamb day and night.

{three} On Wednesday, I had my yearly check up with my GI. It was a great appointment; there was nothing new to report to my doctor, and he was very pleased with how well I am doing. I am so thankful for how the Lord has taken care of me and provided healing for my body. While there is no cure, and I will always deal with Crohn's, I am thankful for good doctors, medicine, and the last 6 months of sabbatical from full-time work. The latter has made all the difference in the world, as I feel better than I have in 3 years. I'm thankful to my sweet husband who works hard and makes sacrifices so I can have this time.

{four} Our church is promoting a Save the Date challenge for 2016. The challenge? Go on a date with your spouse at least 3 times a month for the whole year. Mike and I decided to participate, and we had our first date of the year last night. He showed up after work with flowers, and we headed to Lockhart Smokehouse in downtown Plano for dinner. It was a good night out with my love! I already have the year of dates planned, so I'm excited to spend some intentional time with my love doing some fun things!

Date #1 of 2016: Lockhart Smokehouse  :)

{five} Some old Redeemer families are getting together tonight for a game night, so we're excited to see some dear friends that we haven't been able to see recently. We miss McKinney and these sweet families, but we're thankful for the time we will get to hang out with them tonight!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Book List

I did it! I broke 20 books in a year!! This may not sounds like a lot, but for me, it's a record :)

I read 4 books in 2013, had the goal to read more {and did} in 2014 {I read 18}, and thought maybe I could break the 20-mark in 2015. I am happy to say that I read 24 books in 2015; I think my love of reading has returned! I attribute my higher book count to getting a kindle. But I also frequented the library a lot more too.

I feel like my 2015 list can be summed up in one word: random. I read books from all different genres and authors, and there really was no rhyme or reason to it. And I LOVED it. There wasn't any pressure to cross books off a list. If I wanted to read it, I did. If I heard about it in passing and thought it seemed interesting, I read it. And if I needed a suggestion, I consulted my list {or someone else's} on Good Reads. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand // LOVED this book. I had heard a lot about it and even put it on my list a couple of years ago, but I finally got around to reading it. It is written so well, and the story of Louis Zamperini's life is almost unbelievable. Definitely a must-read.

2. Live Sent: 31 Days in the City by Shauna Pilgreen // I follow Shauna's blog, so when Send Network offered this ebook for free, I knew I wanted to read it. I think some further editing is needed, but if you can look past that, you will find such value in this book. Shauna offers so many practical ideas on how to engage your city with the gospel, whether you are new to town or have been in the same place your whole life.

3. From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover // review here

4. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith // This was a fun and light read; I really enjoyed it! She talks about how to make a home, wherever you live and whatever your budget. There were great tips, and I appreciate her story of learning to love the place{s} you live.

5. This Momentary Marriage by John Piper // I am trying to include a marriage book on my list every year, and I'm glad I chose this one. It is a really good gospel-centered view on marriage, and I really enjoyed it. It's always good to be reminded of the purpose and design of marriage.

6. Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle // I read her book on marriage last year. When I heard that this book on friendship was coming out, I was really excited to read it! She is a great story-teller, and I literally laugh out loud when I read her writing. This book was no different. It was a sweet picture of friendship from elementary school to adulthood, and I really enjoyed it. A quick, fun read :)

7. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan // This was a random pick up at the library, but I enjoyed it. We like watching his comedy shows, and his book was just as funny. A light, quick read.

8. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker // This book was an intro for a women's study I attended over the summer. It is the account of the author's journey of questioning her comfortable Christian life {a good thing}, and the Lord convicting her to re-evaluate how she was living on mission for the gospel {also a good thing}. That being said, I must admit that I dove into this book with an overly critical eye, simply because I am usually cautious of trendy/viral blogger-writers {of which she is one}. I agreed with a lot of what she had to say, but I also was concerned by a lot of things she had to say. Most concerning were her heavy influences. I wouldn't not recommend the book; I appreciate the author's willingness to ask hard questions and move outside her comfort zone. I would, however, caution the believer to make sure you are wrecked by the beauty of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit {being rooted in Scripture}, and not a trendy blogger's book.

9. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers // Several years ago, I read a few books by Francine Rivers and enjoyed them. So I decided to pick up this book from the author. It was predictable, and a little cliche, but one of those light, summer reads. I will say, I was surprised by a particular scene at the end that was described; not what I expect from a Christian author, so just a heads up.

10. World War Z by Max Brooks // I know, this one is completely random. But I heard really good things about the book, and I may or may not have become addicted to The Walking Dead...I liked how it was told from varying people's perspectives. Judge me if you like, but I really enjoyed this book.

11. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot // With the passing of Elisabeth Elliot this year, I realized I hadn't read any of her books. I have read excerpts and quotes from her, but never an entire book. So I chose the biography she wrote of her husband's mission/ministry to the Auca Indians. Such an incredible story of persistent faith in the face of obstacles.

12. The Confession by John Grisham // I have always enjoyed John Grisham's books. I like the mystery/legal aspect, and I just enjoy his stories. I hadn't picked up a Grisham book in years, so I have missed several, but started picking up the ones that were available at the library. This was a quick read, and is an intimate look at the death penalty.

13. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen // I read this book in high school and in college, but thought it was time to read a good classic. As I dove into the world of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, I was reminded of why I like this book so much. It's a great piece of literature and I think everyone should read it at least once. I even got my hubby to watch BOTH movies with me afterward :)

14. Unplanned by Abby Johnson // With all of the media attention on Planned Parenthood this year, I was reminded of this former PP director's story and decided to read her book. It is such an incredible story of God's redemption and grace in her life. I am so glad she was brave enough to tell her story; I highly recommend this book. She now operates a ministry to help abortion workers leave the industry. Check that out here.

15. Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice by Russell Moore // This was more like a mini-book, but it popped up on my twitter account as a free e-book. I enjoyed how he talked about adoption as being a calling on every believer's life, in some form or fashion. I do wish that it was a more complete book, as I felt like a lot of his thoughts were incomplete. But perhaps that's the purpose of the mini-book and a fuller version will be forthcoming. I do know he has written another book on adoption that I would like to read.

16. Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto // If you have suffered a miscarriage {or even if you have not, but know someone who has}, you need to read this book. It's a quick read, but is filled with so much truth and grace. I appreciated her gentle words to point the reader to Jesus and the gospel in the midst of a heartbreaking loss. I especially loved her prayers for the suffering mother at the end of each section. I highly recommend this book.

17. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr // I enjoy historical fiction and thought I would enjoy this story about a blind French girl and a German boy during WWII. I thought it read slowly, and I did not think it was well written. I hate that, because it actually won the Pulitzer prize, but it just wasn't for me.

18. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn // I canNOT recommend this book simply due to the vulgar language and references. Don't waste your time or defile your mind.

19. The IBD Healing Plan and Recipe Book by Christie A. Korth // Mike had bought this book for me awhile ago, and I finally got around to reading it! I found it so helpful. While I was already practicing a number of her suggestions, it was also interesting to read more in depth about varying foods and how they affect IBD sufferers. With anything, not every suggestion will work for everyone, but I highly recommend this book as a starting point for IBD sufferers as they work to adjust their diet.

20. Love Letters to Miscarried Moms by Samantha Evans // This book was not was I expected. I appreciated the author providing her perspective on miscarriage, but it seemed to be more of a stream of thought on her experience, rather than thoughtful love letters to others who have experienced miscarriage. She does admit that she wrote it during the actual days of her miscarriage, rather than allowing some time to pass. I personally don't process heartache with humor {something the author attempts to do}, so I did not find this book helpful. I would even go so far as to say it was not completely sensitive. But I am still processing our miscarriage, so I may be overly sensitive to her approach.

21. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee // I wanted to re-read this beloved classic, and I enjoyed it just as much as when I first read it back in middle school. I am curious about Harper Lee's newly released book, but with all the controversy surrounding the book {both its release and its story}, I don't want it to ruin the original. I will say that I am not sure how the Atticus of this book can be the same in the new one, but I guess I will have to read it to see.

22. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's List by Leon Leyson // I happened across this book by accident. I was searching for another book at the library, and this one popped up instead. It is a memoir of a boy who survived the Nazi occupation of Poland, mainly due to his family being on Oskar Schindler's list. It's hard to say that I "enjoy" books about the suffering of the Jewish people during WWII, but I appreciated the author's story.

23. To Live is Christ To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler // I enjoyed this book. I enjoy Chandler's teaching, and he writes just the same. I appreciate his encouragement for Christians to pursue maturity in Christ. And he does so in a way that makes sense, offering tangible examples to apply to every day life. And he doesn't mince words. I think this book would be a great addition to a Bible study over Philippians. I kind of want to read it again while doing an actual study over Philippians, as I think it would be a great summary and commentary.

24. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty // I bought this book with a gift card I received from the credit department when I left IB, and I appreciated a lot of what she had to say. It is definitely a memoir, the author's story of infertility, adoption, and learning to trust God's goodness in the face of heartbreak and shattered dreams. The book's promos say it's for anyone who has faced difficult circumstances, but I do think it is very specific to infertility. If you haven't walked that road, it may be difficult to appreciate the outpouring of her heart, and her emotions may be misunderstood. While not my favorite infertility book, I still appreciated her story and her desire to try to see bitter circumstances as an opportunity to know the Lord in a deeper way.


I have already started working on my list for 2016! :)