Another March 8th

As March rolls around every year, it takes me back to March 8th, 2009. I don’t think there will ever be a March where I don’t reflect on the day that totally changed the course of my life – forever.

I like to go back in the blog and read posts from that time. They certainly aren’t pleasant posts to read, but they tell a story of God’s faithfulness, that is for sure. Here’s something I wrote the day after on March 10th, 2009:

What can you do but pick up the pieces after a day like yesterday?

It’s no joke that the road of infertility is full of ups and downs. While yesterday was probably the lowest of the lows for us in our journey so far, I still found myself watching the clock and waiting for the day to end so a new one could begin.

I know a new day signifies a fresh outlook and while we never assumed the outcome of our first attempt at IVF would be this bad, we can only move forward from here and deal with the new set of circumstances that have been given to us.

I decided long ago that I am going to choose to set my mind on God and not my circumstances that seem to grow dimmer and dimmer with each passing treatment.

However, this blow knocked me down hard. Yesterday put me that much closer to the reality of having to accept that I may actually never be pregnant and give birth to a baby.

But yesterday also made me realize once again that I am not in control here and neither is my doctor. God is in control and yesterday did not take Him by surprise at all.

Now, more than ever, I must trust that God has a perfect plan that somehow involves the bleak circumstances of yesterday. If I don’t believe that simple truth, I literally have nothing.

As for now, we are converting this IVF cycle to an IUI. I will go in tomorrow at 8am for another ultrasound to monitor what this solo follicle hanging out in my left ovary is doing. I’m predicting (based on how the three IUIs before surgery went) that we will be ready for insemination towards the end of this week. Assuming, of course, that this one follicle doesn’t decide to take a leave of absence as well.

Honestly, I’m not allowing myself to think too much about this IUI and the possibilities that lie within. I justcan’t allow my mind to think that this could be it.

As far as our next step beyond an IUI goes … we are once again at a crossroad of decision-making and need your prayers as we make (another) big decision.

When not-so-great odds, a huge sum of money and a deep desire to be a mother are all thrown into making one decision, it makes for a very complex decision to be made.

I know without a shadow of doubt that the prayers of many faithful prayer warriors is what pulled me through yesterday. Thank you, from the bottom of my broken heart, for all the prayers, comments, emails, Facebook messages and phone calls.

I could never convey to you in words how much it means to me to know that I have an army of prayer warriors lifting me up to the Father on a consistent basis – especially on a day like yesterday when I literally just didn’t know what to pray.

We will probably never fully understand this side of heaven the complete impact your prayers have made.

But I am completely confident that one day we will all be able to look back on this entire journey and see a beautiful outcome that is far better and far greater than anything we can even imagine today.

I, for one, am looking forward to that glorious day!

It’s four years later and I am no where near that place I was four years ago on March 8th. These words I wrote then give God glory, today: Now, more than ever, I must trust that God has a perfect plan that somehow involves the bleak circumstances of yesterday. If I don’t believe that simple truth, I literally have nothing.

Oh, how true those words were and still are now! God did have a perfect plan that did involve the bleak circumstances of March 8, 2009. He was setting the stage to do His miracle. First the miracle of Little Bug and then, two years later, the miracle of Sweet Pea – all of which He had to orchestrate outside my womb.

But He also did another miracle.

I never in a million years thought I’d ever be at peace with never experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, but I am. I am totally at peace.

There was a time when even the thought of never experiencing it would send me into torrents of tears. I always held on to hope that one day it would still happen. Even after Little Bug’s birth, I still wished I could experience pregnancy.

I really cannot pinpoint the time when God changed my heart on this matter. It didn’t happen overnight; it happened gradually. When we started thinking about #2, we talked about trying for a pregnancy again, but we soon realized God had turned our hearts fully on adoption and I realized I didn’t need to experience pregnancy for my life to be complete. Carrying a baby in my womb and giving birth does not make me who I am.

God makes me who I am. I find my worth in Him because without Him, I am nothing and apart from Him, I can do nothing.

God wrote a different story for me. Yes, God created woman in the Garden of Eden and told her to “be fruitful and multiply”. My womb will never be fruitful, but my arms are lacking nothing.

I am thankful to be in this place, today, 48 months later.

My life is about to change.

My life is about to change.

I will be the mother to two little girls. Just allowing myself to type that is a step of faith because I keep myself so guarded during the adoption process, that I don’t really even allow myself to think about what will be. I live in the present, taking one day at a time.

But on this morning, God woke me up (on my sleep in morning when I should be sleeping until Dave and Little Bug come in here to wake me up!) so I figured He must have something to tell me. So I grabbed my journal and started writing and this is what God laid on my heart:

To think of where I was just three years ago…we were starting infertility treatments, had just done our first IUI and August 4th, 2008 was blood test day.

There was so much HOPE that finally my dream was going to come true.

Finally, I would see those TWO pink lines, and the pain of all the months that had passed with no pregnancy suddenly wouldn’t matter as I looked at that pregnancy test and realized I was finally pregnant.

But August 4th came and we went to the clinic for my blood draw, came back home and began the wait until my cell phone would ring giving us news that our dream had come true.

That day we had planned to work on a project outside. We replaced all the wood mulch with red lava rocks in the front flower bed. I knew I needed a distractor as we waited for the phone to ring.

We had finished the project and we were inside when the phone call finally came.

I answered immediately shaking and holding my breath to hear the words my nurse, Holly, had to tell me.

I’m sorry, you are not pregnant, is NOT what I wanted to hear that day, but those are the words that came out of her mouth.

As soon as I hung up, I started crying. It wasn’t the trickle-of-tears-running-slowly-down-my-face kind of crying. It was uncontrollable, gut-wrenching sobs. Screams of why? and a feeling as though the weight of the whole world was on my shoulders.

One of the lowest points of my journey through infertility, for sure.

But GOD had a plan! Even as I sobbed uncontrollably and screamed at God asking why He couldn’t have just let it work, God had a plan.

In a way only God would orchestrate, He picked up the pieces of my broken heart that day and became my Strength as I pressed on to what was next.

God used August 4th and all the months that were still ahead and full of more disappointments and heartbreak to grow my faith in Him and teach me about His Plan being absolutely perfect and bigger and better than my wildest dreams.

Almost three years to the day of August 4th, 2008, I stand in complete awe and amazement at what God has done in and through my life.

If my life doesn’t proclaim the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, I don’t know what does.

If my life doesn’t proclaim that GOD IS FAITHFUL THROUGH IT ALL, I don’t know what does.

And so in these final days/weeks of our journey to #2, I press on, walking in faith.

May 29th

When planning Little Bug’s birthday party I would not plan her party for today, May 29th, because I do not like the date May 29th.

I know that may seem strange, so let me explain.

We had a waiting period of 81 hours from the time of Little Bug’s birth to getting the call from our lawyer saying Tracy had signed the consent and Little Bug was officially ours.

I know for some states, there can be a waiting period of 30 days for the birth mother to change her mind. To me, that is torture, for both adoptive parents and birth parents. In our state, Tracy could sign the consent after 48 hours of Little Bug’s birth.

Originally,we were set to do the signing at 9am on Friday, May 29th, just over 48 hours after Little Bug’s birth.

I will forever remember the drop in my heart as we pulled into the parking garage around 7pm on the night of May 28th for a visit with Tracy and Little Bug at the hospital.

My cell phone rang as we were getting out of the car. It was the lawyer and she told me words that ripped my heart right out of my chest.

She told me that Tracy didn’t want to sign the next day. My mind was literally swirling as I tried to comprehend whether she didn’t want to sign, period, or if this was just a delay.

I could barely keep myself together as I made my way up to the hospital room. I sat holding Little Bug completely torn whether I should allow myself to love her or if I would walk out of that hospital room and never see her sweet little face again.

It was agony.

In the back of my mind there was always the knowledge that I was holding a baby that was not yet officially mine.

As soon as the visit ended, I was back on the phone with the lawyers who tried, to the best of their knowledge, to fill me in on what was going on.

I can’t go into details (sorry), but I can say that I knew I was completely out of control of the situation and there was nothing I could do to sway the outcome of this situation – except wait.

And so began the LONGEST twenty-four hours of my life.

On the way home from the hospital on the night of the 28th, Dave and I stopped at the gas station just down the street from our subdivision. I was sitting there in the passenger seat staring off into space when my sister-in-law’s roommate (who happens to also be my friend) pulled up in her car beside me. She got out of her car and walked over to me.

“Congratulations!", she said. When she asked how I was doing I started to cry as I shared with her what was really going on. The compassion in her eyes was the genuine concern of a sister in Christ. I poured my heart out to her and together we got the idea to have a prayer meeting at my house that night.

I called some close family and friends who came over to our house that night to pray with us. There was a somber, yet hopeful mood in my home that evening.

Everyone took turns just pouring their hearts out to God on our behalf and pleaded with Him to please allow this precious baby girl to be our daughter. And yet, even though it was so hard to pray, everyone prayed God’s will be done – even if it meant Little Bug was not to be ours.

I cannot tell you just how uplifting it was to have family and friends surrounding me that night. Driving home from the hospital I didn’t know how I was going to survive those hours of waiting.

I needed the presence of my family and friends and they were there surrounding me in the darkest hour.

That prayer time lasted about 2 hours. I’d never been a part of something so amazing and haven’t since.

I didn’t know how I was going to get a wink of sleep that night, but I slept and I slept well. My hope was in the Lord and it was His strength that was holding me up as I waited.

I awoke very early on the morning of May 30th. I went into Little Bug’s nursery and continued the conversation with God that had been started the evening before.

Our parents came over to our house to wait with us that day. I didn’t want to be sitting in our house alone. I wanted people around.

We were in contact with the lawyers who told us we were to meet with the birth mom that afternoon to discuss some things.

This was my breaking point. I remember sitting in a chair in my living room completely feeling lifeless. I had not an ounce of strength in my body. I seriously did not know how I was going to get up and go fight the battle that I had to fight.

God’s presence was all over during those torturous hours of waiting. Suddenly a strength came over me like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.

I stood up.

I walked to my bathroom and began brushing my teeth, getting dressed and getting ready to go to battle for my child.

I felt an inner strength within me that I knew was God and God alone.

I wasn’t going to this meeting alone. God was going with me and He already knew the outcome and nothing I said, or didn’t say, would change that outcome.

I remember telling Dave, “Let’s go. I’m ready.” and avoiding my mother like the plague because I knew if I allowed myself to get a hug from her or allow her to say anything to me I would crumble right there and not have the strength to go on.

We pulled out of the driveway. Mama waved.

Later she told me she went into Little Bug’s nursery armed with her Bible and prayed and read Scripture until we came home.

Turns out Tracy decided the meeting with us was unnecessary. We met with the lawyers and a councelor who had talked to Tracy that morning.

We learned what was causing the delay. (I will just say it wasn’t Tracy second guessing her adoption plan. It was something totally unrelated to Little Bug and the adoption plan she had made for her.)

The signing of the consent was set for later that afternoon.

We went home for more agonizing waiting. Every minute seemed like an hour and every hour seemed an eternity. Time stood still.

Our parents were still at our house. We played games and ate dinner, all in the hopes that those activities would be great distracters from thinking about what was happening.

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I had felt a sense of calm but as 5:30 approached and we had not heard anything from the lawyers, I felt the anxiety creeping into the corners of my heart.

The waiting was literally about to make me go crazy. I didn’t know how much more I could take. I was getting to the point that I just wanted to know – I wanted to know if Little Bug was going to be our daughter or not. Just tell me!

I went and laid on my bed. I just laid there. I didn’t have any more words to pray.

In God’s great mercy, I had been laying there for probably 10 minutes or less when my cell phone rang.

I sprung off the bed and began running like a manic through the house to my cell phone. I urgently answered when I saw it was our lawyer.

She said, “She’s YOURS! Congratulations!”

I know I probably hurt her ear because I was still holding the phone when I screamed for the entire household (and probably a few neighbors) to hear, “SHE’S OURS!!!!!!”

It was a glorious moment. Tears streamed down my face and a prayer of thanksgiving filled my heart completely.

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It was over.

The years of waiting.

The pain and disappointment of the recent past was no more.

God had walked me through the fire and blessed me beyond measure. This was truly happening.

I was a mother to a precious baby girl.

Those moments after the phone call from the lawyer were surreal.

It wasn’t 10 minutes later and Dave and I were rushing to the hospital to see our baby girl.

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Yes, God is a God who turns mourning into dancing and weeping into laughter.

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Waiting for a Miracle

This week I’ve been remembering where I was a year ago around this time …

The end of March 2009 will always be remembered as the low of the low before the high of the high.

I was coming to terms with the fact I’d most likely never have a biological child and my mom and I were working everyday on getting our Family Profile put together to turn into the adoption agency.

Now that I am not living those days between March 8th, 2009, when I found out I would most likely never conceive, to April 9th, 2009, when I turned in our adoption paperwork and was told we could have a baby in two months, I love to think about those 32 days.

I especially like to think about the spiritual aspect of those days.

I had been walking the hardest road to date of my life for the past year and a half. I had had to make choices along the way of whether I was going to be mad, and stay mad at God, or if I was going to trust His words in Scripture and believe with all my heart that He did have a plan for my life in all this and it was a plan that was better than anything I imagine.

I chose to believe in the marvelous plan God had for my life.

It was so hard to wait. I lived knowing God had a plan for my life concerning becoming a mother but having absolutely no clue whatsoever what that plan might be.

I can remember thinking many times, “If only God would just give me a little hint and tell me,  ‘By this date, you’ll be a mom.’”

That is just not the way God works – thank goodness.

Had God told me, “Ok, Elaine. It’s April 9th, 2009. That is the date things will turn around for you. It is on that day you will go to the adoption agency and the lawyer will tell you you and Dave can have a baby by June. There. Do you feel better now?”, I would have missed out on so much.

I would have missed out on developing a trust in God that was truly a trust in God to take care of every little detail of my life. I reached the point where I knew things were totally out of my control and I was at the mercy of God to play out His plan for my life.

April 8th, 2009, I was still waiting. Still waiting for God to come through and reveal this plan that was better than anything I could imagine.

April 9th, 2009, God knew the time had come. I woke up that morning like I did every morning. I had no clue a miracle was about to happen before my very eyes.

I like to imagine God on this day being so excited that this day had finally come. He knew what was about to happen as I walked into that lawyer’s office. He had been planning every small detail.

September 2009, He created a life in a woman named Tracy. In September 2009, God chose to not create life in my womb during one of my IUI cycles.

In December 2009, God lead Tracy to the adoption agency because Tracy knew she could not parent this child for multiple reasons. In December 2009, God opened our hearts to adoption.

On April 9th, 2009, God lead me to the same adoption agency that Tracy had contacted back in December. I was told that day there was a baby available for adoption in June. Over the next couple of days, Tracy saw our profile and met us and chose us to parent her baby girl.

It was 10 months ago today that Tracy signed her papers making Little Bug our little girl forever.

Words are inadequate to describe the emotion of that day, but a picture might do it some justice:

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Over the past 7 weeks we had been eyewitnesses to a miracle that God had performed.

Those days were surreal.

And just like God had promised in his Word, His Plan was better than anything we could have imagined.

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His Plan was Little Bug.

Again, words are inadequate to describe our love for this little girl.

A year ago, I dreamed of a one day being a mommy to a precious little girl.

And now, I cannot imagine being a mommy to any other little girl on this earth other than my Little Bug.

This year, persevere

My devotional for January 1, 2009, was very fitting. The title was, "This year – persevere".

Even though at this time I do not know which direction we will take concerning fertility treatments, I do know that whatever we decide will take much perseverance and focus.

Which is why I will keep this verse close to my heart as we press forward in 2009.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Those three failed IUI cycles must be forgotten and left in the past. I cannot take the fear of another cycle failing with me if we are going to press forward and try again.

Right now the thought of another IUI cycle is just hard to swallow. I want desperately to try again, especially now with the endometriosis gone, but stepping out and taking that risk for another possible negative result is just frightening.

On the other hand, I know without a shadow of a doubt that if God does lead us to another IUI cycle He will provide everything we need to endure it again – no matter the end result. Once again, His grace will be sufficient.

The devotional book defined perseverance as "succeeding because you’re determined to, not because you’re entitled to". I like that. Before I go further, I need to define to you what I believe success for me looks like when I finally do cross the finish line.

Success does not necessarily mean a baby in my arms. I believe with all my heart that when I do cross the finish line, it will be with a baby in my arms. However, that, in and of itself, is not the measure of success.

The measure of success is my attitude, obedience and the glory my journey gave to God. Did I remain positive with an attitude of relentless trust and faith in Jesus Christ through every dark valley this journey brought me through? Did I listen and obey God as He directed me in every single decision, big and small, that had to be made along the way? Did I give God the glory as I crossed that finish line and every step before?

I can do none of the above apart from God’s strength, power and grace working in me.

Those are my goals this year. If I can cross the finish line with my faith intact and the glory all given to God, there is victory, baby or not.

Faith and Surrender … they go hand in hand

A few posts ago, I wrote about this infertility journey being a “Faith Walk”.

It is a “Faith Walk” on the road of surrender and faith in Jesus Christ.

And as I’ve learned over the past 16 months, even though at times it is scary and frustrating, it is a very good place to be.

Long ago, I had to come to the point of surrendering my will for God’s Will. And through the part of my “Faith Walk” where I went through month after month of negative pregnancy tests and then three failed IUIs, I can now look back on that time and see the purpose.

God was teaching me the invaluable lesson of surrender. He brought me to the place where I was able to say, with confidence in Him, “Not my will, but Yours.”

If I was still thinking things should have worked out my way, I would be stuck in mourning. I would be mourning the pregnancy I should have experience in August 2007 and the baby I should have given birth to in May of 2008, of which would have now made me the mother of a 7-month-old baby.

But no, God had so much more planned! And I praise Him for that!

My faith is in Jesus Christ because as Scripture tells us in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

As I’ve said many times before on this blog, God has lovingly taught me that my infertility goes beyond just an issue of egg and sperm having a hard time joining together.

That is the surface issue.

The deeper issue is there is a God who created mankind for the purpose of receiving glory through them and having a close personal relationship with them.

Scripture clearly tells us that God has ordained for us every day we would live before we ever were born! Which means, even before He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He knew endometriosis was going to be a part of my design.

But that certainly does not mean gloom and doom for me for the rest of my days!

God has taken my endometriosis, my infertility, and used it to draw me closer to Him, which allowed God to teach me to forsake my will for His perfect plan for my life.

Putting my faith in Jesus Christ is the only reason I have HOPE.

I believe with all my heart that if God wills, this time next month, I will be pregnant … that’s the faith part of this “Faith Walk”.

And as I’ve said from the beginning of this blog, I desire, above all, God’s will, for His ultimate glory … that’s the surrender part of this “Faith Walk”.

Faith and surrender … they go hand in hand.

Decorating for Christmas

Last night Dave and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in town and then came home and put up the Christmas Tree! I know … it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. (There is still a scarecrow in the yard and the fall wreath is still on the front door.)

This got me thinking about my emotions this Holiday Season. I think of Thanksgiving being a time to be thankful for God’s blessings and with Christmas comes ultimate joy.

And this Holiday season those are the two prevailing emotions rolling around in my heart. I have so much to be thankful and joyful about. So much.

I must admit, last year as I packed up the fall decorations and pulled out the Christmas decorations I thought, "Next year when this time comes, my baby will be here or I’ll at least be pregnant!" 

But I am not.

And while a year ago, if given the choice to either A) Get pregnant within 6 months of trying or B) Travel the road of infertility, I most certainly would have picked choice A – without hesitation.

But I would have missed out on so much …

  1. A deeper and more personal relationship with God.
  2. Invaluable lessons learned about God’s Plan vs. my plan and how God’s Plan is ALWAYS better.
  3. Invaluable lessons learned about trusting God
  4. Witnessing another example of God’s faithfulness in my life as He walks me through this trial.
  5. A strengthened marriage and greater love for my husband.
  6. Witnessing firsthand the power of prayer as so many people have prayed on our behalf for us through this. (Thank you!)
  7. The women I have met through blogging.

So … it’s a good thing GOD chose this road for us. He certainly knew what He was doing – even though at times it has seemed everything under the sun is completely out of control.

I’m reminded of a simple children’s song … "He’s got the whole world in His Hands."

He does. Even if, right now, it seems like the world is crashing in upon you from ever direction.

So, yesterday I packed the fall decorations up once again. But this year, I didn’t think too much about if I’d have a baby or at least be pregnant by next year.

Instead, I put my focus on thankfulness and joy.

Jesus came at Christmas as a baby boy, born to a virgin woman, with the purpose of being the Savior of the world.

He came, bringing HOPE, to you and me.

5 days after surgery

5 days post-surgery makes a big difference!

The air pain is almost completely gone! Praise the Lord. That really was the worst in this whole ordeal. I’m moving a whole lot faster now but still need to take it easy as my insides are not completely healed.

I am so thankful to be here in the process of recovery!

I have an appointment with a nurse at Dr. L’s office for a “wound check” on Thursday.

Then, on November 17th, I will have a post-op appointment with Dr. L. I have about a thousand questions I want to ask him concerning endometriosis and the surgery. Plus, we will discuss where we will go next as far as treatments are concerned.

Dave and I have spent some time talking about where we feel God is leading us next. I will share more on that later …

Thank you again for all the prayers and support through this.

God is still at work, painting a beautiful masterpiece, that in time we will all see.

On the mend!

Taking that pain pill last night, right before going to bed, was the best thing I could have done!

Around 11pm I took the pill. By 11:30pm I was in the bed. Dave and I always pray together before going to sleep. Dave prayed and then it was my turn. I was already half-asleep and remember saying, "I’ll just pray in my mind." That’s the last thing I remember before waking up, expecting it to be the middle of the night. It was 8am! My head hit the pillow and I was out again until I finally woke up around 11:30am!

I can finally tell I am on the mend and it is a GREAT feeling. I’m able to move around better and can finally get myself in and out of this chair with no help.

I’m hoping by tomorrow or atleast Monday I’ll pretty much feel completely back to normal!

Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and support through this. I appreciate the visits, phone calls, emails and comments so much.

God is speaking about what’s next for us but I haven’t been able to completely process everything enough to be able to put it into words. As soon as I am able, I will post what we feel God is desiring for us next so you too can pray in that direction. 

For now, just keep praying my body continues to heal and praise the Lord with me that all the endometriosis is GONE!

One Day at a Time

If I would have known 15 months ago where this journey was going to take us I would have booked the next possible flight out to China to escape my life. So many times in life when we are in the middle of a crisis, we cry out to God just wanting to know where in the world He is taking us next.

If only I just knew what was coming next!

Haven’t we all been there at one time or another in life?

But through this journey so far I have learned that God, in His great wisdom, hands us life one jigsaw piece of the puzzle at a time because the truth of the matter is our little finite minds cannot fully grasp the whole picture at the beginning of a long journey such as the one I’m on now.

Sure, 15 months ago I had no idea I was headed here. But I wish to declare to the world that God has been faithful to us every step of the way. His Grace has been sufficient through everything. Through trying unsuccessfully for 6 months to conceive. Through fertility testing. Through four unsuccessful IUIs. And even through the incident when I thought I was actually pregnant but it turns out I wasn’t.

God was faithful through ALL that. It is by His Grace, His strength and  His peace that I endured all that.

I am once again reminded of Matthew 6:34, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

God supplies our needs in our time of need. Think of it this way: One staff aids a traveler; a bunch of staves is a heavy burden. God didn’t give us what we needed to get through 4 failed IUIs on the first failed IUI. Instead, he gave us what we needed to get through the first IUI that failed. Then a month later he gave us what we needed to endure our 2nd failed IUI. Then our third … and now, our fourth.

I do not have the answers as to why we have not conceived but I do know that God in his infinite wisdom has faithfully brought us through everything thus far – and He will continue. 

My future is still uncertain … to me. Last year this time I was hoping to be pregnant by the end of the year. Now here I am a year later and I still have no guarantee I’ll be pregnant by the end of this year.

But the name of the Lord shall still be praised!! God is a loving God. A God of hope, peace and joy!