Infertility Awareness 2017

This week begins our 4th year of unexplained infertility.

When we decided to “start” trying to get pregnant you could not have prepared me for what the past 36 months would be like. The buckets of tears I would cry after painful procedures and negative pregnancy tests. You could not have prepared me for how closely I would check labels on everything from mascara to ketchup. Or how many times I would have to quietly delete social media from my phone to stop from obsessing over others pregnancy announcements.

In the past 36 months I have gone from excited, to embarrassed, to outspoken. Excited at the thought of joining my best friends in the joys of motherhood, embarrassed that I seemed to be broken and unable to carry a baby, and now outspoken on the heartbreak that infertility brings. My life, and my heart is different. I am a different person.

I have panic attacks: Jesus redeems. I am weak to the point of inconsolability: Jesus is strong. My mind wants to live in the “what-ifs”: Jesus whispers truth. I mourn when my friends are joyful: Jesus gives grace. I am weary: Jesus gives rest.

My hope is not in my ability to carry a child in my womb. My hope is in the ability of Jesus to make me whole.

Month after month I read the story of the fiery furnace. Daniels friends were faced with the hardest choice of their lives and this was their response.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

But even if He does not.

He could. God could have swooped down and delivered those guys from the fire. He easily could have said, “wow guys, thanks so much for sticking up for me and not bowing to the idols”. But instead Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire and God got the glory.

He is good. So good. He is able to deliver me from my hurt. But even if he doesn’t, I will not give in to the devil’s lies about my ability to be a mother. Even if He does not, He will still receive glory. This is my prayer and my hope. That others would see my fight, my story, my hurt, and see God getting the glory.

This past week was Infertility Awareness week. I am thankful for the stories I have heard  this week from women and men, telling their stories and bathing each other in grace. If you know a woman or couple who is currently battling infertility, send them a card. Remind them they are loved and cherished. Because you never know when the dark moments come, and there could never be enough support.

sometimes you need a giant stuffed puppy to cuddle you better.

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Preparing and Praying

Waiting. 

I am pretty sure there is no one in the history of the world who has said to themselves “Wow, waiting is so fun! I just love waiting!”. If you have ever been through the foster care or adoption process you know how this particular waiting feels. The emotions flow every time you meet with your DCFS agent, licensing worker, or attend a class. We are thankful for all of the screening and training, but we would also love to just have a child in our home.

On the flip side. It gives us time to pray and prepare. The most pressing realization during the wait is the sheer amount of things we have to have. Because, we realized, we aren’t just preparing for a newborn (although we are), but we are also preparing for a terrible two and a kindergartener. We know brothers and sisters and babies will enter our home without carseats or clothing or school supplies. So we work our hardest to be prepared. If I am being totally honest…I am a pretty terrible preparer. I stand in the camp of “just throw some things in the car and go”(anyone else in my camp?!). Thank you Jesus for pairing me with a over-planner planner! Chris makes lists and correctly labels things and keeps us on track. He makes me think through new ideas before I run with them. He is going to be the best daddy.

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As I sit here folding and labeling clothes, shoes, and hats I am reminded that it does not matter how much we prepare…there is so much unknown. We have no idea the amount of children who will be reunified with their family vs become ours forever. We have no idea the depth of hurt sweet babies will come to us with or the disabilities that will require endless doctors and therapy visits. This is when I remember the prayer. When I become overwhelmed with the unknown and the financial aspect and the lists that need checkmarks, I am learning to take a timeout and pray. God is so near in these moments. In this stage of our life. Even with all of the moving pieces and transitions and heartbreak we have been given an incredible gift. The gift of peace that passes all of our understanding.

So while we are in this season of praying and preparing: I also wanted to say thank you. All of the books and classes make it evidently clear that this foster care thing takes a village. Out of all of the things that we worry about, our village is not one of them. I know there are some of you who have specifically prayed for peace. Thank you. Thank you for loving our children before we even know them. And thank you for pouring your heart out to God on our behalf. We can feel it.

Now onto more preparing…

 

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Organized Chaos

 

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Anyone have a baby sock folding trick?

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Specifically Praying for the 3 year old who will wear this shirt. ❤

Finding Beauty in Vacation

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Extremely early in our marriage we made a choice to take vacation. To have periods of time without cares, technology, and alarm clocks. For the past four years we have honored this choice in large and small ways. We have gone on huge trips, and we have taken a backroad just because. Instead of grand dates for birthdays and holidays, we save that money and go on little adventures that find us vacationing in grand ways.

This Valentine’s Day we found ourselves in the Stars Hollow of Illinois…Bishop Hill. Bishop Hills, Illinois is a Swedish settlement with a rich history from the mid 1800s. Most of the buildings that were originally built (between 1840s and 1860s) are still in use today. It has a beautiful history and architecture. And the bustling population of 150 have done a wonderful job maintaining the beauty of this little village.

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We are a strong supporter of AirBnB and this trip did not disappoint. We stayed in a renovated 19th century farm cozy farmhouse. Josh and Carlee were fantastic hosts and we recommend anyone who wants a quiet getaway with all of the amenities of home…click here!  Vacation = Relaxing. And The Lilla Vita guest house was just that. Oversized chairs and couches, old records on the record player, and fresh smelling candles. It didn’t take long for us to be in true vacation mode.

The nice part about vacationing in small towns is with limited choices you do not have to waste time deciding what to do. There is only one spot for breakfast, two spots for lunch, and one spot for dinner. Between all of the wonderful country cooking is…shopping! So many handcrafted do-dads. Christopher and I loved exploring the sweet town and making memories together while lazily strolling down the brick paved roads.

We realize that many would not call a 24 hour getaway a “vacation”…however we choose to be optimistic. By leaving behind our phones (yes, which may mean getting a little lost on the way), quietly reading books on the porch, and dreaming up our next trip, we have our perfect vacation.

Whether you are a single explorer, adventurous couple, or a family with a travel bug…go out and do it. Don’t spend time planning every detail or making every reservation. The money will never all be there and the time will never be “just right”. But go! Explore. Even if it is just a day away. As we invite children into our home for short or long periods of time…one thing is for sure…they will all have the opportunity to experience the beauty of vacation.

bishophillBishop Hill has a “Lukes”!

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My Handsome Life Date.

Timeline…Foster Journey pt2

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We are so thankful for the response on my last post about Foster Care! Many of you have asked questions regarding our timeline in receiving a placement. For those who are curious, here is a super broad timeline of events for us in the next few months:

Step one: Background Checks, fingerprinting, physicals, lots and LOTS of paperwork.

Step two: Illinois PRIDE Classes. This is a 9 week class in which we will be receiving almost 30 hours of training. We are excited to start soaking in as much knowledge as possible about the children that will come into our care. Although these classes are long and the process is long we want to make sure we are doing as much as possible to glean knowledge and be the best parents we can be for Christ and for the kids.

Step three: Home inspection, Wait for license.

Step four: CHILDREN!

This whole process will put us somewhere in late spring. The big hang up would be the home inspection…only because we do not yet have a home (prayer point). Our licensing agent has been super kind and suggested we go ahead and start the process in faith that our future home will be perfect for our future children. And where most times they put the home inspection towards the front of the licensing process they are going to hold off and wait until we are able and ready.

Continue to pray with us through this process. And HUGE thank you to our friend and current Foster Parent Jihannah Hogge for taking this beautiful picture of us. We made little prayer cards to put on your fridge. If you would like one just send me your address and I’ll drop it in the mail!

Here we go…Foster Journey pt1

 

 

 

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Friends! We are so very excited to announce that we are on our way to becoming foster parents with the intent of adoption! After over a year of prayer and preparation we have submitted the paperwork to the state and had our first meeting with a licensing agent.

 

This is quite the process and we are just at the beginning but Chris and I believe so strongly in the Church’s role of caring for orphans, we want to raise awareness as we go along our own journey. I will be posting much more once we start our classes and get into the trenches! Please feel free to ask us any questions as we want to keep you informed.

 

And more than anything. Pray for us. Pray for our hearts. For the hearts of the children that will enter our home. For our social workers and judges and birth parents. There are so  many moving parts and people involved.

 

More than anything we want children to know the real love of Jesus Christ. 

big ideas, big plans, and big BIG prayers.

 

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I have big ideas, big plans, and big BIG prayers for this year. I cannot remember a year that started with so much promise. Everything in our lives up until this point has happened so quickly that most of the time when January rolls around I don’t have the mindset of thinking ahead. But this year; this year is different. The start of this new year brings excitement.

I follow many different creative women on social media. Many of them have a grand cause and are fighting the good fight against the devil. Doing kingdom work while providing for their families or supporting amazing ministries. One of those women I feel privileged to follow and learn from is Katie from Dear Mushka. She so boldly empowers women to not only learn and memorize scripture but to wear it around their necks as conversation starters and as a way to share the gospel in a casual but life-altering way. Each week Katie takes us through a different scripture verse with helpful tips and encouragement on memorization (see promise cards here). And the verse this week was nothing short of a God-ordained miracle in my life.

 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19

 

All at once, I felt the presence of God. At first I didn’t even stop scrolling as I briefly read the card. Then I went back, and read and read, until I was sitting on my bed in tears. Something just stops me at “riches of his glory”. I am in awe. Am I worthy enough to have my needs met “according the the riches of his glory”? Because there are times (honestly, most of the time) when I absolutely do not feel that way. Times when I feel defeated, discouraged, and broken. When the hurt of losing dad, or the longing for a baby, or the discouragement of letting others down makes me feel like I deserve less. But God! He wants me to be rich in him. He delights in me. My needs have been, and will continue to be met, according to the riches of his glory. Such grace!

 

So these are my “big God life change only He can do” prayers that I am starting January with. Believing that they will be met according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. I am writing them on my wall, at home and work, and sharing them with you so that when he answers my prayers that together we will celebrate.

 

  1. I pray that 2017 is the year we see foster children in our home.
  2. I pray that 2017 is the year that Northwoods Community Church impacts children in ways that furthers the kingdom like never before.
  3. I pray to be connected to scripture in 2017 unlike any year before (this includes 52 new memorized verses).
  4. I pray that 2017 is the year my sweet husband gets to use his incredibly creative talent for big and important kingdom work.
  5. I pray that 2017 will be a year where and abundance of people will enter our home and feel like they are loved, cherished, and honored more than ever before.

 

How are you praying this year? I challenge you to pray a “big life change only He can do” prayer. And believe in the power of Jesus’ name. Happy 2017 my friends.

6 Successful Poshmark Tips

I have been apart of the Poshmark community for a year now and many have asked me how I continue to be successful not just at purchasing great items and outfits for over half the cost, but also making a profit. Poshmark has easily become a second income that provides us extra date night money, cash to pay off debt, or spending money for vacation. It helps you declutter, upgrade your wardrobe, or simply find a steal of a deal on that pair of shoes you need for your sisters wedding. Regardless of your motive I have 6 Poshmark tips to help you jumpstart your closet into making sales.

 

#1) Take fantastic photos.

The cover photo is the first thing a browser sees. There may be hundreds of size 7 red pumps, you want yours to be the one that stands out. Start by using natural lighting. Find the room in your home that has the best natural light and use that as your photo and staging area. By using natural lighting you will be most accurately showing the color, texture, and style. Another tip when it comes to photos is styling. Let’s say your item is a blue dress. You could style the dress hanging up with a jacket and necklace, or laying flat with a pair of shoes and handbag laying next to it. Styling helps others see beyond the one piece into what their outfit could look like by buying your one piece. (bonus points if your “styling pieces” are also listed in your closet)

 

#2) Price Accurately

Having accurate pricing is vital. If your item is priced too high potential customers will avoid it and look for the same or similar item at a cheaper price. If an item is priced too low they will automatically assume it has a major flaw and will also avoid the item. It is easy to come up with an accurate price by first remembering or looking up (google for the win) what it cost new. From there you can search your item on Poshmark and see what others are selling the item for and make your price there. Remember when you want to notify others of a “dropped price” you must do so in 10% or more increments so this may play into how you initially price your item.

 

#3) Clearly describe item

As clearly as possible describe your item. Instead of saying “Blue Dress. Good condition”, you could expand and say “Darling Blue A-Line dress from J.Crew. Hidden zipper in back and cute pleats along the front. Cotton/Polyester blend. Worn in office with a jacket or cardigan. Good used condition, just some minor wash wear under the arms, barely noticeable”. You want to make sure their eye is drawn to the details once they click on your listing. And once they purchase the item you want to make sure you are shipping exactly what they believed they were buying. This will help you get better ratings and also a better seller’s reputation. Never, ever, lie and try to make a product sound better than it is, not only is it dishonest but Poshmark could easily band you for misrepresenting your listing.

 

#4) Interact with potential buyers

A key to success is not only being kind in your responses but being prompt. If someone asks you a question about your listing make sure to respond as soon as physically possible. Sometimes I am asked a question that I cannot get to right away such as, “Can you take an additional photo of the hem?”. Even though it will be several hours before I am home to take the additional photos, I will still respond in a timely matter to let them know I see them, “Hi @sarah921, I’m sorry but I’m at work right now. I will get you those extra photos as soon as I get home! :)”. Sometimes you can even engage in potential buyers before they even ask a question. If I see someone has liked more than 2-3 items I can comment on one and ask if they would like me to bundle up some listings to save them money, ie, “Hey girl, @shopaholic43, I see you have liked 4 different items of mine. I would love to bundle those up and give you a great discount! Let me know if you’re interested!”. Staying engaged is important when you have an online community such as Poshmark.

 

#5) Share Share Share Share…

Many people forget about “Self Shares”. A self share is when you literally share your listing with your followers. This helps your listing be among the first that pop up when users are searching for a specific item. Personally, I self share all of my items twice a day and then periodically throughout the day I will share items I believe to be “top sellers”. You should also share others listings. You can do this by finding people you follow and sharing their closet, or just from your home feed just start sharing away. Poshmark is a community that relies on each other for sales. So people whom you share will share back. Likewise, make sure if someone shares from your closet you make every effort to share back.

 

#6) Be quick to ship

One sure fire way to get good reviews and in turn more sales is to be quick to ship your sold items. It is as easy as getting free priority boxes or envelopes from the USPS, printing your shipping label, packaging it up, and dropping it at the post office! I use tissue paper, ribbon, and hand written thank you notes to package up my sales. That way it feels like Christmas being delivered to your door!

Remember, like anything worth having, making sales on Poshmark requires your time. For me, for the first few months that I was getting established, I deleted all games and some social media from my phone. Any time I was in a time wasting situation I would turn “sharing” on Poshmark into a game. In my first three months I made 80 sales and almost a year later have over 300. If you put the time into it you can have some fun spending cash and meet some fun people. If you’re just looking to update your wardrobe I have found everything from a bridesmaid dress, to swimwear, to henna, and some darn cute wedges for my upcoming vacation. Whatever you’re looking for, buying or selling, I highly recommend downloading Poshmark.

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