Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! God has been so good to us in 2013!
Looking forward to 2014. I want to love, serve, and honor Him
more than I ever have before. He's been too good to me for me 
not to give Him my best.

Love to All!
Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 FBC Secret Prayer Sister Banquet

We had our Secret Prayer Sister Banquet last week.
I thought I'd just share a few pics. 
Some of them didn't turn out well (the lighting in the
fellowship hall messes with my camera and since I am
so totally an amateur, I don't know how to fix it--please excuse) lol

I can never resist taking one of the lovely fireplace. 
 Miss Barbara did a very nice job with the tables this year.
I would describe them as "simply elegant".
She did a great job mixing the burlap and decorations to
bring out a "Country Christmas" look.

Next are just a few randoms shots as our ladies came in. 
I love to see them all standing around fellowshipping together.
It really blesses this pastor's wife to see our ladies all loving
each other...no cliches...just precious relationships. :)

Mrs. Tonia and Lindsay~ A sweet mother and daughter

Mrs. Peggy and her daughter-in-law Becky...you can see Becky's mother
in the background...I don't know what she was doing back there. ;)

Some of the earlier ladies grabbed the table closest to the fire. lol

Mrs. Teresa and her daughter-in-law Misty. 

Emily with some of her friends.

 One of the group.
It was hard to get a good picture-this was the best I could do. 
I could have used my Iphone and got a panaoramic...didn't think of it at the time. lol

Mrs. Tonia did our devotion and did such a wonderful job.
It was very timely...as it dealt with where several of our ladies ARE right now
and the situations they are currently dealing with. 
The Lord is so precious...He always knows EXACTLY what we need.

 Now, for the good part...the eating! :)

Miss Barbara

 Miss Barbara and Miss Faye~ they do so much
I could never begin to tell how much they mean to me
and to all of our church family. It makes this pastor's wife
life so much easier because I know that I can count on them. 

I appreciate Mrs. Robin too! She had some really fun
games prepared for us (I count on her a lot for this too) and
she always comes through. ***She was not having the best day either
but she came right on and I am so glad she did. 

 Games are always so much fun...we have a great time
laughing at one another. 
 In this game, we were drawing pictures while the plates were on our heads.
I thought mine was good, but I only got one point. :) lol

The next few pics are of a game we played where we had
to "act out" the names of different Christmas songs.
It was hilarious. 

And for some reason, I didn't think to take pictures during
the "revealing" and the gift exchange.
Our ladies have really enjoyed doing the Secret Prayer Sisters.
It has given us all an opportunity to focus on another lady in our church, 
to pray specifically for things that are important in their lives, to
watch for times when they've been sick or just might
need some special encouragement. I think that's it's helped us
to become more empathetic toward others. At least, I hope it has.
I can't wait to see who I get to pray for next year. :)

Next Sunday, we have our Christmas dinner. I am sure there will be a few pic
of it too. And our Christmas play and program are scheduled for Sunday night, Dec. 22nd.
Please pray...we always have a lot of visitors for that service and usually some sinners in attendance.
It is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with some
who only ever come to church one service during the year.

The Lord has been good...He deserves our love, praise, and adoration during
this season. After all, HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giving God All the Glory Conclusion

 After much prayer, we decided that we would try the IVF. (and I guess I should go ahead and own up to something) Bret was very positive and hopeful about doing the IVF. He said that he had more peace about this than anything that we had done up to this point. And it’s not to say that I didn’t have peace about it. I think I was just looking at it like this was the final thing. That if we did the IVF we would know that we had done everything that we could do, and maybe, we could finally close that chapter in our lives. Maybe this would be the Lord’s way of just giving us “closure”. I don’t know. I guess, after everything that we had gone through, I just couldn’t put all that much trust that it would work.  Anyway, whatever happened, we were going to be it a try.  So, we began all the fertility medicine and all that goes with the IVF. It took several weeks to do. I had to have shots every day for six weeks leading up to the procedure. One of the shots I could do myself, but the other one had to be given in the hip twice daily. My husband is a big ole tough guy, but he was too squeamish to be able to do it. So, my sister, Holly, came to my house EVERY DAY for weeks TWICE daily to administer the shots. We couldn’t have done it without her. The weeks went on, and once we got close to the actual procedure, I had to start making the daily trips to Knoxville for blood work. When we were just a few days away from the procedure, our doctor told us that our numbers were just not turning out as good as he’d hoped. He even offered to let us “back out” of the procedure, our chances were so slim. But, we asked him, if we tried it all again and started over, would our chances ever be any better? Or were our chances now as good as they would ever be? He said that our chances would not improve if we did it all again, that our hopes were as good as they were going to get. We decided that we had come this far, we may as well see it through to the end. So, we did NOT back out. We just went on as planned. A few days later, we had the procedure done. I had to take it easy for a few days so I didn’t get out much. The daughter of a family that we were very close to was being “courted” at that time by a young man who lived out of state. We were close to his family as well. Many times when he came to visit her, he stayed in our home. Well, it so happened that he had came to visit just a few days after our procedure. They had planned to go to a local park but it rained so the whole clan came over to our house. I remember that they had brought these little tiny kosher pickles and I ate a bunch of those little things while lazing around. In the next day or two, I started to get really, REALLY sick. This was less than a week after our procedure. Our doctor had told us that if I got short of breath or had a sudden weight gain to call him. I don’t really know why I thought to weight that morning, but for some reason I did. It was Sunday morning. I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to church, but Bret went on. I began to notice that I was short of breath, that when I laid down, that it was getting kind of hard to breathe. I remembered what the doctor had said so out of curiosity, I weighed myself. I was shocked!  I had gained ten pounds since morning. When Bret got home from church, I told him, and he called the doctor. I don’t think the doctor quite believed him but he told him to bring me in first thing in the morning. By morning, I had gained a total of 20 lbs. I was filling up with fluid. It turns out that I had a weird reaction to the fertility medicine and “hyper-stimulated” . I was terribly sick, throwing up fiercely. They finally felt they had no choice but to admit me to the hospital. I was in UT Hospital five days. I guess I’ve never been so sick. I really don’t remember much of anything about that week…with the exception of one thing. That week, we got the wonderful news that we were expecting!  ***so no, I still didn’t get to actually see a pregnancy test stick*** but who cares? And my friends, --the ones who were at my house that day that had brought the pickles—they were so cute. They brought me a jar of pickles to the hospital. But, I was so sick that just the thought of a pickle was unbearable. AND ON A FUNNY NOTE , TO THIS DAY I CANNOT EAT A KOSHER PICKLE…I CANNOT EVEN STAND THE SMELL! lol  Our doctor did tell us, though, to  not to get our hopes up. That many, many people miscarry before they ever know that they are expecting. And after all, I was only about three weeks pregnant. He told us to just take it easy, to be patient, and to not rush out and tell everyone. So we took his advice the best we could. Everyone knew about it, though, because many of our church people had come to visit me in the hospital. But, we asked folks to keep it toned down. I didn’t think that I could take having to tell everyone that after all this, we had miscarried. But, the Lord was kind and gracious. He kept me and the baby safe. A few weeks later, we were able to go back to his office to have our first ultrasound. We got to see our baby’s heartbeat at eight weeks. After a few more weeks, he released us to go to a doctor closer to home. After fourteen years, (we had our fifteenth anniversary just after Emily was born) we were finally waiting….the best wait we’d ever had…waiting for our own precious, sweet miracle to be born.
My pregnancy, after I got over the sickness in the beginning, which took several weeks, was pretty uneventful. I felt good, and everything seemed to be going along fine. Until the end, my labor started early and they put me on bed rest and medication to stop the labor. I had a fabulous doctor who told me just what to do. She gave me a steroid shot in the event of an early birth but the medicine did help and we were able to keep her safe in Mommy a little longer. We did discover that she was inverted, feet first. My doctor tried turning her but she seemed to be stuck. So it was determined that for the sake of the baby, we’d do a C-section. Two weeks later, my Emily was born via C-section, four weeks early. She weighed in at 6 lbs and 9 oz. and was 18 ½ inches long. Not bad for being early, huh? And thanks to the wisdom of my doctor, her lungs were fine. She got to leave the hospital the same day I did. And it was discovered that my uterus was heart-shaped and that was why she had gotten stuck. She got in that position and could not move. But, all was well and my sweet baby was healthy.
After a few weeks after our miracle baby arrived, we prayed about it, and we decided that we should contact the adoption agency to tell them that they could give our spot on the list to some other deserving family. We’d love to have another but didn’t want to be selfish. We felt God had blessed us abundantly and we just wanted some other couple to have their chance. When I called them, I was in for a shock! They said they had been trying to contact us. That they had decided to close their doors. Imagine how heartbroken we would have been if this had happened before we had our baby. And we didn’t get the money back that we had already spent. We would have been devastated had this happened. The Lord knew all this and took care of it all. One thing that I’ve always said. We kept wondering why the Lord kept closing the doors when we tried to adopt. Emily is the reason. Had we adopted, we never would have considered going to this new doctor and having the IVF. He knew what He had for us, in HIS time, and in HIS way! HIS WAY was best. The way that brought HIM ALL THE GLORY! For there was nothing that we could do to bring it all out the way that it happened. Only a God as great as we serve could do such wondrous things.

When we did the IVF, we had some frozen embryos. When Emily was eight months old, we tried again a second time and this time, it didn’t work. Then, when Emily was ten months old, I had a hysterectomy. This was what my doctor recommended due to the condition that they found (and almost mistook for cancer)  It was a very rare condition that they didn’t know much about. Since they didn’t  have very many studies about it, they recommended that we have the children we wanted, and then have a hysterectomy to prevent something happening later on. So, that is exactly what we did. But isn’t the Lord wonderful? He made sure no one ever saw the xray that would have meant a hysterectomy BEFORE we had our miracle. He made sure that the right doctor saw it at the right time. So many years later, so many years after we thought we should have had a baby, but at just the right time. God’s timing is always best!  And He sure outdone Himself in our case… ;)

And I still remember the first time that I “shared” our story. My mom and sisters had us a baby shower and we had lots of old friends and family there, and there were many there who were not Christians and didn’t understand the mercies and blessings of God. After all the fun and games, the Lord nudged me about sharing how we wouldn’t have been sitting there enjoying all this if it weren’t for His miraculous blessing upon our lives. I can remember that it was a very emotional story to tell, and how that I cried through most of it. But, I promised the Lord that day, that I would share it, with anyone who wanted or needed to hear. Our family learned that no matter what we face in this life, there is NOTHING too hard for God. And because of the years that we spent leaning on Him for strength and comfort, our faith grew so much. Maybe in way that it might never have otherwise. We learned that when life takes a turn unexpected, that He has a reason, and He will take care of us. Your “impossible” situation may be totally different from ours. Every person has different trials that they face. But no matter what it is, if you keep your eyes on Jesus, He will be your strength.

I hope I haven’t left anything out. It’s a long story for sure. I might have wondered at times why He would have let us experience these things. I wouldn’t want to go through them again, but I wouldn’t change one thing. I learned, through all that we faced, that I can TRUST Him in all things. He does know best and I don’t have to worry about the future. Our lives have been changed for the good because of what He allowed us to face.

And now, just before concluding, I wanted to share a verse that the Lord gave me many, many years ago…from almost the very beginning of our “infertility journey”.  One day during my devotions, the Lord let me “accidentally” read this verse.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 113:9 KJV
I wrote that verse in the flyleaf of my Bible the first time I read it. I must have read that verse thousands of times during the years of our wait. I knew that I believed the Bible with all my heart, that my God loved me, and that if He willed it, he would bless our home with a family. He was the only one who could turn this barren woman into a joyful mother of children. ***back then, my focus was on the “barren woman” part, but today, I still love that verse. Today, my prayer is that I will ALWAYS be a joyful mother, to the beautiful, sweet, daughter He blessed us with. If you are in your waiting time, I encourage you to love this verse as I did. His Word is the best that we have in this life to trust in and cling to. When the walking by faith part gets tough, His Word can be your comfort…if you let it. J

This has been our story. Our miracle is now fourteen years old. She has been the greatest joy and blessing of our lives, outside of salvation. She fills my heart with joy every day of her life.
So, that’s it. Thank you, dear friends, for taking the time (and lots of it) lol, to read our story. I don’t know the reason that I felt the need to share it but I do believe the Lord wanted me to.

***Since starting our story, I received a sweet msg on FB from a young lady who is going through some of these same things right at this very moment. She and her husband have been married five years and they are still waiting. I know of another young couple in KY that are facing this. And there is a wonderful young couple in our church who are in the middle of all this right now. I would love it very much if you would help me to pray for these young families. I KNOW the Lord laid this on my heart to share it. And there might be others who read it that maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable in commenting. But, believe me, they desperately need prayer. This kind of hurt is not the kind that you can just pray once, the Lord gives you victory over, and you never deal with it again. This kind is ongoing. The Lord may give you victory today, but tomorrow the devil jumps on your shoulder and starts all over again. They have to face this hurt and discouragement EVERY single day. And you might not have ever gone through something like this and could not relate at all, but maybe, my post will give you a glimpse into what some people are going through, and help you to have more compassion. Whichever way, I hope it’s been a help and blessing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Giving God All the Glory Part 4

 Thus began the many weeks and months that it took to complete our home study. We had to pay half of the cost of the adoption at the completion of the home study. We had saved and saved and yet we still didn’t quite have enough. So, we financed the rest. We hoped to be able to save the rest by the time that we were able to get our baby. The balance would be due in full when we got our baby. The agency that we got on with was a very reputable one. It had been in business for several years. So, we felt very comfortable and safe with them. They were very kind to us. They made us feel at ease and were so helpful in all the things that we didn’t understand.  They did their home studies in two parts. First, we had to do a group study, where we, along with five or six others couples would come. We’d learn about adoption, while learning how to help our hearts heal from the hurt of having to go through all this. We all had to learn to “share” our feelings. Now anyone who knows my husband knows the kind of person he is. He is a very no nonsensical person. He doesn’t go for a lot of “psycho-babble”. (his word)  So, this was for him, something that he REALLY did not enjoy. And he didn’t feel the need to share the way the way they expected and required us to do. But, as much as he didn’t like that part of it, he was willing to do whatever it took if it was in our power to make it happen. After the group sessions, they made individual trips to our home. It was very interesting the way that they had it worked out. When a birthmother would come to them, they would find out what she was looking for in parents for her child, choose three profiles for her to choose from, and from those three she would select the parents. We were told that no one had ever waited more than two years once their home study was completed.  It was such a relief and blessing to us when we finally finished everything and we were finally waiting for a BABY! All the previous waits had been for something leading up to this, but now all that was left was the wait for the baby. How exciting!
So, again we wait…and wait and wait and wait. Where they told us that no one had ever waited more than two years…we DOUBLED that! We were just NEVER chosen by a birthparent. Again, we couldn’t help but question, why? We had waited, we had prayed, we had tried so hard to serve the Lord and honor Him with our lives. Why did it seem as if everything we tried, the door always seemed to be closed?
AND ALL DURING THOSE YEARS, WHILE WE WERE PRAYING, WE WERE PRAYING FOR HIS WILL AND NOT OURS. WE WANTED A BABY, A FAMILY, MORE THAN ANYTHING, BUT ABOVE ALL ELSE, WE WANTED THE LORD’S WILL. AND IF IT WASN’T HIS WILL, WE ASKED HIM TO CLOSE THE DOOR! (sometimes we know the right words to say...we even really mean it with all our hearts, but in our humanness, we still question why things happen the way they do)
But, when the doors remained closed, it sure was hard to understand. When all around us, it seemed as if everyone we knew were just having babies. Even at the agency- couple after couple were being selected and then adopting their babies. But, we never were. If we could only understand why, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. Still yet, we left it in the Lord’s hands. And continued to wait…

Meanwhile,my husband’s job was a pretty good one. He made a good salary for the type of work that he did and he had pretty good insurance. But, one of the greatest perks of his job, I guess, was his retirement. For every dollar an employee put it, they matched it 100%. So early on, he started having $20 each week put in retirement which of course, the company matched. Later, as it built up some, Bret shifted it around some so that it could earn more and more interest until soon, we had a pretty nice little nest egg built up. We had also learned that we could get some of that money out to help pay for medical bills. We couldn’t get it out first, but once the bills existed, we could take it to help pay them. It was about this time that I heard about a fertility doctor in Knoxville (just a little over an hour from our home) that was doing IVF. We made an appointment to go see him. We could do the IVF if we wanted to, and then take some of our retirement out to help pay for it. He took a look at some of our past medical records and he felt that he might could be a help to us. He needed to run a few  preliminary tests to be sure. One of the tests that he mentioned that we needed was the one that we had done several years before. The one that lay hiding in a drawer at home. So he asked that we bring the xray with us next time and he would look it over. We did that, and when he looked at it, he said that it looked to him that maybe the xray had become corrupted. There were cloudy and hazy. So, he determined that we should redo that test. He scheduled the test, and then they routinely sent it off to the labs. A few days later, he called us and asked us to come in. As it turns out, our original xray had not been corrupted. There was really was something there that should not have been. When we walked in, we knew that something was wrong. He just had that “look”. He proceeded to tell us that he wasn’t used to having to give this kind of news. He was a fertility doctor. But, when they sent the results of my test to the lab, they found what 5 out of 7 pathologists at UT Hospital said was uterine cancer. And they said that they thought it was a VERY aggressive cancer. But, our doctor didn’t agree with them. He said he wanted to send it away to Stanford University to the best doctors in the country in this field. It took two weeks to get the results. Two long weeks…not knowing what to think or feel.  We were so scared, not knowing what the future held for us. An aggressive cancer was definitely not something that we had ever thought we ‘d be facing. Not when we were still just hoping to get a baby and have a family. But, during this time, as hard and fearful as it was, still, we trusted the Lord. Whatever He sent us to face, He knew best. Once again, we were left with nothing that we could do to change our situation. Once again, we just had to wait. And two weeks later, our doctor called with the most wondrous news. It wasn’t cancer! And, listen to what he told us! He said the experts in the field said that even though it wasn’t cancer that it LOOKED just like it. And anyone who wasn’t a specialist in that particular condition, would have diagnosed it as cancer. So, think of this. The xray that was hidden in the drawer. It wasn’t corrupted. It wasn’t ruined at all. It really had something on it that shouldn't have been. The Lord had just made sure that no one, NO DOCTOR WHO WOULD WRONGLY DIAGNOSE IT, would ever see it. He kept it hidden until just the right doctor would see it. If one our local doctors back when we had first had the test done had seen it, they would have diagnosed it as cancer, and done a hysterectomy right off. Instead, the Lord took care of us and our situation when we didn’t even know we were in a situation. The Lord is so good! So, now instead of facing cancer, we could proceed with the IVF if we felt that we could. We prayed and this time, we felt that we should try.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving God All the Glory Part 3

 Now, we are just waiting. And have been for a good while. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve at least felt hopeful. One day, my mother-in-law called us about an article that she had read in the newspaper. It was about a relatively new procedure called IVF. In vitro fertilization. It was so new that very few doctors knew much about it. But the gist of it was that it didn’t really matter if you had a low count, that they could take one sperm and fertilize one egg in a dish. Once the egg became fertilized, they would put the embryo back into the uterus. That sounded like just the thing that would help us, medically. The closest place that I could find that could do this procedure (at the time) was in Atlanta, which was about a four hour drive from us. I called them to find out what all was involved and they said that we could have a couple of tests done in our local hospital and if we wanted to proceed that would speed up the process. So, I made an appointment with a different OB-GYN than the first one I had seen, and he set up a time that we could have the test. I forgot what it was called, but it was basically where they run dye through the fallopian tubes to check to see if they are clear and to check for other abnormalities. We had the test done, and then I called the office in Atlanta back. When I called them, I found out that it was a really involved process. We would have to stay in Atlanta for several weeks while we did all the tests and blood work. Well, we knew we just couldn’t do it. First of all, we couldn’t afford for my husband to miss work for that long. Secondly, we couldn’t afford to stay out of town in a motel for several weeks. And last, but certainly not least, we simply could NOT afford the procedure. Infertility issues were not covered by our insurance. It would not pay for ANY of it. So, I took that little xray from the test we had done and I hid it away in a little drawer at home. No one, including the doctor who performed it, ever looked at it. They didn’t because we were expecting to take it to another doctor. It was hidden away and we never thought of again for many years.

So, again we are back to waiting. But, we felt okay because at least we are waiting for something.  We had some friends way back then who were involved in the foster care program. They suggested that we look into that. It might be something that we would be interested in. We hoped that maybe, just maybe, we might be able to find a “hard to place” child in the foster care program and be able to adopt that way. We weren’t set on that it had to be a newborn infant. We just wanted a family. So, we signed up. We told our case worker at the beginning that we were interested in adoption. They said that was okay. The first thing we had to do was take these MAP classes. ( I don’t remember what that stands for) We took the classes –one or two each week—for several weeks. We came down to the very last class and we talked to the instructor (a different lady ) and told her that we were interested in adoption—maybe in “hard to place” child or a sibling group. She told us point blank…if adoption was our goal, then we were in the wrong place, that the foster care program was not designed to adopt out children but to find temporary homes for displaced children. The goal was to get the children back in their own homes. Which is great, but it would have been nice if they had told us that in the beginning. We thought about and prayed about it some and decided AGAINST foster care. Not because we didn’t feel it a worthy thing to do, but because we were afraid we just weren’t ready for that. Since we didn’t have any children of our own, we felt like we would be devastated when it was time for a foster child to move on.  So, we reluctantly, passed on this as well. So, here are again…back to waiting. During all this time, we are still on the “list to be on the list” but nothing has happened…in a good while. During the process of the MAP classes we met another couple who were also interested in adoption. Together, we did a little research on international adoption. At the time, there were several people adopting children out of Romania. So, the four of us drove to Nashville to try and learn a little more about it. For us, it was very enlightening…and also, COMPLETELY out of our reach financially. It seemed like no matter which direction we looked there just weren’t any open doors.  We just have to keep waiting on the agency. This was really our only option at the time.

***Now, since we are still in “waiting” mode, I felt like maybe now would be a good time to talk about some other issues that we were dealing with.
Feelings and Finances
First off, feelings. There’s a lot of talk these days about being “transparent”. I am not sure what I really think about all that. I don’t think it’s really our job as believers  to be transparent so much as it for us to be a light to a lost and dying world. Instead of worrying being transparent, we should be more aware of how we represent our Lord. But, I am not sure how that I could describe how I felt during this time without “coming clean” how it really was at times. To try and put into words, years of feelings and frustrations, is very hard to do. How can you ever convey to someone how alone you can feel when your arms are empty? How can you ever explain how sad you feel EVERY SINGLE DAY, missing the life you’ve always dreamed of? There’s really no adequate way to describe how truly empty and alone you feel. Yes, you have a wonderful mate, one that you really feel the Lord blessed you with, but together you still feel sadness that this may be all that you ever have. And you try, so hard, to not let everyone see how you hurt inside. And the holidays are the hardest. On Christmas morning, there’s no toys or pitter patter of little feet running down the hall to wake you way too early. Somehow Christmas was harder than any other time, even Mother’s Day. And Mother’s Day was hard too. There were many, MANY times on Mother’s Day when I just wanted to stay home and not go to church. I didn’t want to take away the honor that we bestow upon mother’s on that special day. But, for the one who hasn’t been blessed with a precious little one yet, it is a painful reminder of what they are missing.  ~~Just a thought, next Mother’s Day, how about sending a card to someone you know who hasn’t been blessed yet? ~~ .  And the things that you have to put up with! You would never believe some of the ridiculous, insensitive, hurtful things that people say! Things like, “you don’t know how lucky you are to not have kids”.  And you have to stand there with a smile on your face and take it. These are just a few of the things that you would have seen if you could have looked into my heart. And of course, all this goes on and on, for years and years, every holiday the same.
As for the finances, you have to remember, these were different days. We didn’t have access back then to same things we do today. I know of a few couples today who are adopting or planning medical procedures. Today, with access to internet, one can raise money in so many ways. Technology has changed the way we do things today. I am so happy for the people we know who are facing these things today, that it's not as difficult as it was back then. Today, there are options. We have much, MUCH more access to WAY more people because we can share with friends, they can share with their friends, and so on. Praise the Lord for this technology and the ability to reach out.But, back then, you could only do so much. My husband had a pretty good job and pretty good insurance. But all we had to spend was what he made. And we didn’t really have to way to raise the funds to do anything else. We could only spend what we had access to. So for us at that time, expensive adoptions (like international) and expensive medical procedures (like IVF) were not possible.

Back to where we were…waiting. We waited many long days, weeks, months, and even years. But finally, one day the call we were waiting for came. We could finally get started with our home study. What a relief!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving God All the Glory Part 2

 So, after at least a couple of years going back and forth to doctors, doing all sorts of tests, spending tons of money, we had to discouragingly admit that it had not really accomplished anything. We were exactly where we started…only a little poorer. (and yes, I know that’s bad grammar) ;) lol
We had finally come to a place where we needed to evaluate what, if anything, we could do. We took some time to pray and finally decided to look into adoption. First off, we thought we’d just go to our hometown Department of Children’s Services. Well, we totally didn’t have a clue. When we walked in their office and said “We’d like to adopt a newborn baby”, they practically laughed us out the door. You always hear people say things like, “Oh just adopt a baby”.  Most people really have no idea what an ordeal it can be. So, we knew that we couldn’t just go through DCS. It just wasn’t possible. So, I did a little research. (this was back before internet was in every home) so it took quite a bit of time to just locate some different agencies. At this time, we had been married about three years. After talking to more than a dozen agencies, I found myself more discouraged by the minute. They had very strict guidelines and criteria that you had to meet. And for EVERY ONE of them, you had to be married AT LEAST five years. So, again we had to wait.
***We learned to do a LOT of waiting. Nothing involving infertility can be rushed. It takes TIME! And it’s hard to wait…but you simply have no choice. You just wait. So, wait we did…for two more years. Our intention was to get in touch with an adoption agency when we hit the five year mark. So, we just decided to sit tight and wait. (it’s not like we were being super spiritual—we really had no choice) When we finally made it to our five year anniversary, I called the agency.  (we had narrowed it down to two choices-because they were all mostly church affiliated and you had to belong to their particular brand of church…for instance…Church of Christ, Southern Baptist, Nazarene, etc.)  So, basically there were only two of the  agencies on my list that accepted families  that didn’t belong to a particular group.  I was excited to call them. We hoped that we were finally going to get the ball rolling, so to speak. When I called, I got a surprise. Their list was closed! But, we could, however, get on the list TO GET ON THE LIST! Unbelievable, I  know. We did tell them that we would like to get on the list to be on the list. They told us to call in six months. I called again in six months. Same thing. They said call again in six months. Same thing again. We went through this process for a couple of years.
Then, through someone that we know, we were contacted by a preacher in another town. He told us that he had had an older lady come to his church and she had recently gotten saved. She was expecting a child but was not in a position to be able to care for it. So, she wanted a Christian family to adopt it. He had heard of our situation and had asked for our number. We called him and told him that we would be happy, so happy to adopt her baby. She didn’t want to meet us (and we really weren’t too comfortable with an open adoption at the time either) so it was to all be taken care through the preacher. We got an attorney who drew up all our paper work, and we were preparing to do everything that we needed to do in order to have it all ready when the baby came. Everything seemed to be going along fine. The preacher would call occasionally to share how the birthmother was doing. We were really excited because it seemed like this might really work out. Then one day, the preacher called us and shared with us that she was having a girl. We were so excited. It seemed like a dream. But within a few days, the preacher called us back. He said she wanted our number. That she had begun to feel insecure, as if we were just trying to get her baby, and didn’t care about her at all. (she had had a drug problem before she was saved and the preacher felt like she might be having some sort of relapse)  We were really uncertain about what we should do. He called several times and each time it seemed that she was becoming more and more unstable. So, we talked our attorney. He advised us to let this one go. He felt like the situation was just too volatile . Like she might be apt to change her mind and decide to get the baby back. He believed this was too much of a risk. With hearts broken more than we could ever  express, we had to contact the preacher and tell him that we couldn’t do it. This was devastating for us. We decided right then and there that we would not ever try a “private” adoption again. ***and this is not to say it doesn’t work out for some—I know one family that adopted two beautiful children through private adoption. But, we were so heartbroken and just scared to go out on that limb again.
Then, it came time again to call the agency. Unbelievably, this time they gave us a date to call upon which they were going to accept ten names to add to their list. They would open the phones at the start of the business day and would take ten names only. (this was really just a preliminary list, not the actual list) So, on that morning, I actually called before opening hours. (I was just so excited) And I got a BUSY signal! So I called again, and again, and finally I got through. We DID it! We got our name on that list. Sure, it was just a preliminary list, we would still have a wait, but at least it was a start. We could finally feel like we were doing something. Now, we just had to wait on them to contact us to let us know when and what we needed to do to begin our home study. They did tell us that this could take as long as a couple of years (they had quite a long list) but this would give us time to save our money. The cost of adoption can be very expensive and as I said before, we were on a VERY limited budget. So, now we are waiting again…but at least this time, there was something worth waiting for. We could be saving our money while we waited, and hopefully our arms wouldn’t be empty much longer.

That’s all for this post. We still have a ways to go. Hang in there! J

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giving God All the Glory Part 1 (Dealing with Infertility)

Well, I’ve had it in my heart for a good while now to share our story. It’s a long story, one that spans almost our entire marriage, but definitely one worth sharing. But, please, bear with me. Who knows? It might be that there is someone who needs to hear it all, in its’ entirety, because they need to find hope for what they are facing. I will break it up into smaller sections simply for the sake of making it easier to follow. We had been married for approximately one year when we decided to start a family. After a few months of “trying”, we found that we were still not expecting. I tried not to let this bother me, as I knew it sometimes takes a while. In the meantime, we were seeing all our young married friends getting pregnant without much trouble at all. ~ I guess that I should probably insert here that I had never been very “regular” with my cycle. Really all of my teen years, I typically stayed “messed up”. In other words, it was nothing unusual for me to go months and months before my “time” came. Still, I didn’t expect this to cause problems (na├»ve, I guess). Anyway, after several months passed, I was starting to get a little discouraged. Each month, when I didn’t get a “visit”, I would run right out and buy a pregnancy test. (this was at a time when you couldn’t just pick one up for a buck—it was quite costly). And since my husband and I were on a very tight budget back then, I began going to our family doctor office for one (it only cost a few dollars to go and just do a urine test) But, after a few months of this, I just couldn’t take going in that office and having those nurses look at me and have to shake their heads “no”.  Several more months of this passed and I just wasn’t sure what I should do. A friend recommended to me that I should go to an OB-GYN in our town so I made an appointment. We went, he ran a few tests there in his office, and just like this—I KID YOU NOT—he said, “Oh, I see the problem. Your husband has low count so you wouldn’t be able to conceive”. Also, it should mentioned here that he never offered to run any further tests… on me. Since this was obviously not what we expected to hear, we were, to say the least, a little taken aback. So, I asked him what we could do. He said that there was NOTHING that we could do and we should probably just look into adoption. Keep in mind now that we’ve only been married just a little over a year and we are not much more than kids ourselves. (probably around 20 and 19)  We were just floored! We went home and cried and prayed but couldn’t find much comfort. We had some very kind friends who came over to house that night and just cried with us. When we had pretty much cried out, they suggested that Bret see a urologist. We felt very uninformed and ignorant but we were willing to do anything that we could. So, we got an appointment for Bret and he went to see a doctor.

***From this point on, we never focused on me or any problems that I might have. We were simply going on the information the first doctor gave us.

Bret did see a urologist and he confirmed that he did have a low count. But, he told us that there were options; all sorts of different things we could try. So, finally we felt we had some hope. One of the first things he had us try was to have Bret take a prescription. (it was actually a fertility medicine that women take except that he would take them daily instead of just once a month as women do)  This was a VERY expensive medicine and we were on a VERY limited budget. But, we wanted a baby so much that if we had to eat rice and beans, that ‘s what we would do. So, we got the first prescription filled. The cost of that one month prescription was about a third of his entire monthly paycheck! You can imagine how difficult it was to mange that but we did it. Then came the wait for “time” of the month. We were so hopeful. And of course, as always, when I was “late”, I ran right out and bought a test. And as always, the test was negative. (and this may seem like a totally stupid thing to think about but I have never ONCE had the joy of looking at a test stick and seeing a positive)  Yes, we did have Emily but I am not going to give all that away yet—you’ll just have to wait) ;)  Anyway, the doctor said that was normal, that sometimes I took a few months to help. So, for several months, we spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars, trying the medicine. But, finally, the doctor told us that it just wasn’t working. So, next, he advised us to have a biopsy done on Bret to check to see if there were any blockages that could be causing our problems. He said that this was pretty common and could be pretty easily repaired. ***this would mean a day surgery, hospital and lab bills, plus the cost of the surgeon. Bret did have insurance through work and so it helped with some of our bills. We still had the cost of the deductible to come with and then the 20% balance that insurance didn’t cover. All this after having just spent all that money on expensive prescriptions the last several months.  They did the surgery, found NO blockages, and no physical reason why he should have a low count. (this might have made us feel better except that if they can’t see a problem, they can’t find a remedy). So basically, this put us back at square one. The next several months were spent waiting, for no better reason other than that we had to make monthly payments to pay off all those medical bills. After a few months, we were able to finally pay all that off, so we went back to see the urologist. This time, he felt like maybe Bret should see a different urologist, one who specialized in the things that we were facing. We went to him for a few months, did several more tests, piling up more and more bills, and still, NOTHING. We had come to a place where we felt we needed to take a break. We needed to pay off these medical bills and try to save up some more money before we could do anything else. So, we waited. In all honesty, I can’t even remember how long we waited. It was at least several months, maybe even as much as a year. When we finally felt ready, we went back to our original urologist.  This time, he sent us to Vanderbilt hospital. Same thing. Tests, tests, tests, and more tests. With no results except more bills that had to be paid. So again, we waited…while paying off medical bills. These were some seriously discouraging times for us. We just a young married couple, trying our best to build a life serving the Lord, and not understanding WHY we were going through this. We had friends who were having babies right and left, acquaintances and colleagues who didn’t even go to church, and they were having their babies and starting their families with no problems whatsoever. It seemed so hard to comprehend. Trying to have faith and believe that all things work together for good, but not seeing how any good come from this. It was hard. Very hard. But, somehow, His grace was sufficient. We literally, just tried to live one day at a time and not think about all the sad, lonely days ahead of us.

I am going to stop here for today. That’s a sad place to stop I know. But, for sake of time, I will continue in the next post. I hope with all my heart that some of what I am sharing will be a help to someone out there who needs to know—there is hope. I promised the Lord that I would always share it—with everyone who wanted to hear. I’ve shared bits and pieces on my blog in the past, but now, in the famous words of Paul Harvey, you get to hear “the rest of the story”. Lol.

So, be watching for my next post. J

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Continue On by Roy Lessin

I have just finished reading the book A Love That Mulitplies by Michelle &Jim Bob Duggar.
We (Emily and I mostly) love watching their show. It is a blessing to us to see a family (on tv)
with many of the same values and standards that we practice as a family. And for a young lady
who is trying to love God with all her heart, obey and honor her parents by living by the
standards and convictions they laid out for her, and be DIFFERENT in a world where it
seems everyone (even in the Christian realm) are all the same-- it is a blessing to be able
to see that there others who are aren't caving in to the pressure of the day.Anyway,
I digress... this is not the point of the post. :)

While reading their book (which I LOVED by the way), I ran across a poem that was such
a blessing and just thought I would share. Many times as wives and mothers, we feel inadequate
or like, somehow, we are just not making a difference. Whether we are stay-at-home wives with
children, stay-at-home wives (without children)(I have been both), or working wives and/or
mothers. Either way, it seems we are always second guessing ourselves or questioning our
value. I am convinced that this is just another tactic Satan uses to get us all bogged down
worrying over insignificant matters that keep us from doing our best and being content in the
place He has us. So, here is a copy of the poem. It was a blessing to me. I hope it will be to
you as well.

"CONTINUE ON" a poem by Roy Lessin

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.
She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.
She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. "Is it worth it?" She often wondered.
"Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?"
It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.
"You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be."
Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. " But I notice."
Most of what you give is done without remuneration. "But I am your reward."
Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.
Your children are precious to me.. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.
You may never be in the public spotlight, But your obedience shines as a bright
light before me. Continue on. Remember you are MY Servant.
Do all to please me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Princess Party

Well, Emily had her first party today!
She was so excited. And it went very well, I thought!

Here she is with the birthday girl!

And here she is with another sweet little princess!

Emily and the birthday girl again!

The entire group of children with their "royal" attire. ;)

Here she is getting ready to read a story to them. 

Aren't they a bunch of cuties?

She did a great job!
She was excited about her first party
and we were able to give out some cards to with her info
so she may get some other parties from today.
Her little business venture is off to a good start. 
She now has four wigs and two new dresses coming
so she will soon have three princesses to offer.
The last one we are still working out the logistics on (Ariel~the mermaid)
But, we will figure it out--(maybe have a prospect for her to do a party as Ariel in December) :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Rapunzel" Visits the Library

Emily made her first trip to the library for Storytime.
It went very well and we had a great turnout for the first time.
There were seventeen children in attendance.
She read them stories, spent time talking with each one of
them, and then had a photo session at the end. It was just
precious. It was the first time some of those children ever got
to see a "princess" in person. 

Just thought I'd share a couple pics since I posted
about it previously. 
We're hopeful that this will be a very
successful venture for our local library
as well as Emily's little princess business.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Emily's New Project

Emily has an idea of something that she would
like to do to make a little money, get to be around
little kids (which she absolutely LOVES), and
still get to enjoying dressing up (which she has ALWAYS loved) ;)
Her idea is to dress up as a princess and go to parties
(you know~kind of like hiring a clown only in this case
you would hire a princess) We thought it was
a great idea because what little girl doesn't love princesses?
And we do not have anything like this in our area.
We wanted her to be responsible, though, and not take
any of it too lightly so we insisted that if she really wanted
to do this, she should be the one to invest in it.
So, she SAVED her money for months--including having
a yard sale and selling a lot of stuff-- and bought
her dress and wig! (which was pretty expensive)
She plans to make up some flyers and hang them around town
to advertise her business.

In the meantime, we thought it would be a great idea
for her to do some community service. 
We went to our local library and talked with
the librarian to see if they would be interested
in having her come in dressed as a princess
for story time. Our librarian LOVED the idea!
So, this coming Saturday, Emily will have her first
"Storytime with a Princess"
at the public library. She and the librarian
will pick some nice classic and seasonal stories to read
to the children. She has committed to going
to the library one Saturday each month for story time. 

Here are a few pics of Emily dressed as Rapunzel.

She also can go dressed as Cinderella as she 
has an appropriate costume for her. And a dear
friend of mine wanted to "invest" in Emily's new project by
giving her money to purchase another wig, which she has already
bought and is in transit. She doesn't yet have that dress ordered.
She wants to do Ariel next (she plans to order her "human" dress which is
much more modest)  :)
I hope this all works out well for her. She's very excited about it.
And she already has two parties booked! How cool is that? If she could
make a pretty good go of this, we wouldn't have to worry about
her having to get a job where she had to work on Sundays or Wednesdays.
There's really only so much that a young lady can do (we have always
tried to teach her to be responsible about finances) and as she
gets a little older, she will need to be able to do something as far
as making money. This would be something that she could do that
she loved, while learning responsibility. And who says it can't be FUN? ;)

What do you think of Emily's idea?