The Cost, Conflict & Consideration of Joy

Photo by Wrenn Bird Photography.

Last week, we finally shared our big news “socially” – we are expecting baby girl #3. We are truly overjoyed. Overjoyed that He has answered the resounding prayer of our hearts. Overjoyed that Lexi will know that having a sister doesn’t always mean loving someone we can’t wrap our arms around. But it took us (me) quite a while to share this joy with the world. Not because I didn’t feel it – but because sharing it felt so, so heavy. I am no longer oblivious to the impact of this blessing beyond myself. I am [un]fortunately aware of how my own experiences might affect others. And that changes everything. It’s hard to explain, but let me try…

This joy hasn’t come without cost. Infertility after having children is a difficult space to live in. Pregnancy after loss is no walk in the park, either. We are so grateful for those who have walked with us through all of these things. The faithful friends and family who have allowed us to share difficult thoughts and express difficult feelings – our sounding boards and our prayer warriors. We would not be in this place without you.

This joy hasn’t come without conflict. Conflict in our marriage, conflict within ourselves, and conflict with God. It is hard not to question. Everything. It is easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is a different story. We stumbled – several times. We doubted – each other, ourselves and Him. We yelled, we cried and once or twice we probably asked ourselves it was all worth it. But now…now we know.

And above all, this joy does not come without consideration. Consideration for my sisters who have and are walking this journey of infertility and loss with me, but have not yet received the answer they are so desperately praying for. Consideration for the mamas who have carried little souls they will not know this side of Heaven. I can no longer be joyful without consideration. To those women – I pray that you know you are not unseen and you are never alone. I see you, but more importantly GOD sees you. Hold on to the hope that He is not saying “never” He is just saying “not yet.” I will continue to pray for you in the waiting.

It took me many, many weeks to be ready to share this joy – with the cost, the conflict and the consideration that came with it. My husband and my family gave me the grace to wait. Because you don’t always have to understand to empathize.

Jesus, thank you for giving us more than we deserve. Thank you for allowing us to walk in the depths of sorrow so we may fully appreciate the joy of our blessings. Please help us to understand that your timing is perfect. Your plan is flawless. And your love is limitless. Let us always walk in your will, trust in your timing and submit to your sovereignty. Amen. 

With Grace,

Jen

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My Not-So-Typical, Stereotypical New Year’s Day Post

I have nothing against the typical “New Year, New You” blog posts being published this time of year.  They can be introspective and inspirational, no doubt. I’ve just never had the urge to actually write one. Probably because looking back on an entire year’s worth of thoughts and memories seems daunting, and making projections about the year to come feels a bit assuming.

But this was not the typical start to a new year. And for that reason…here I am. Writing my “not-so-typical” stereotypical New Year’s day post.

The thing is, today…I started to feel sorry for myself. In fact, just after tucking our toddler into bed (after a prolonged evening of arguing with her about eating her dinner, picking up her toys, not sucking her thumb, etc., etc.) …I declared to my husband that this was the worst start to a new year EVER. Yes, I said E.V.E.R. Dramatic much?

In my defense, it had been a long couple of days. Yesterday we got home late after five days on the road and a combined total of 30+ hours in the car in that timeframe. With a potty training toddler. I mean really, who signs up for that kind of misery?

So we got home, late, to frigid -10 degree temps.  And at some point during the day, the heater in our sow barn / farrowing room malfunctioned. So not only were the waterlines frozen (cutting off the water supply to all of our pigs), but one line actually busted right above a sow whose litter is not but two weeks old. Not. Ideal. We weren’t asking for a whole lot out of our New Year’s Eve, but that scenario did not make the top ten list of things we’d hoped to be doing.

This morning we all woke up with a barn mostly put back in order (thank you, husband). We decided since it was New Year’s day, we’d cook some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Nope. Not gonna happen. Because the oven was mysteriously not working. And we had no food because we hadn’t been home since December 21st. Ok, nbd…we can improvise.

Fast forward a few hours. Husband commented that it felt a little cold in the house. Even though I had kind of thought the same thing, I basically told him to “toughen up and put another layer on.” Because I’m so empathetic. About an hour later, he realized that although our thermostat was set on 70, the actual temp. in the house had dropped into the low 60s. He was right…our house was getting cold. And sure enough…our furnace was out. As in Not. Working. At. All. Did I mention the temperature outside? Seriously.

So we get our cold, cranky toddler down for a nap thinking we’d call someone about the furnace, catch up on work and just reset. Then, out of nowhere, the smoke alarm outside her room started “chirping” like it had a low battery. But the smoke alarms are supposed to be hard wired into the house. So….yeah. Not sure about that one. To prevent an epic wake-up/meltdown, the hubs drug out the step stool to investigate. We could already hear her stirring. Then, it happened. Every smoke alarm in the house started SCREECHING this horrible sound proclaiming, “FIRE, FIRE!!” and that was that. She was no longer napping. And we had no clue what had just happened.

We survived the day with no furnace, no oven and malfunctioning smoke alarms. And there I sat feeling really tired and really cranky about our circumstances. Until…it was time for bedtime prayers with my daughter. And, as we usually do, we started lifting up in prayer those who are less fortunate than us. And then there I sat, eating crow, thinking of all the things I had to be thankful for in the middle of our chaos.

Instead of complaining about being exhausted from a long road trip with my family, I should have been thankful that…

  • We have a reliable vehicle that allows us to travel anywhere we want
  • We have family to visit who loves us and is excited to have us there
  • We have flexible jobs that allow us to travel on days we don’t have “off”

Instead of being upset that the barn heater quit and we had frozen water pipes, I should have remembered how lucky we are that…

  • My husband gets to pursue one of his greatest passions, regardless of the set-backs
  • We have alternatives to feed/water our pigs when needed, even if it takes a little extra effort

Instead of complaining about our oven not working and not getting cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I should have been thinking about how fortunate we are to…

  • Have a gas stove top and microwave that still allow us to cook food
  • Even have food…seriously…sometimes we forget
  • Have a fridge and pantry full of things to get us by until we figure things out

Instead of worrying so much about the furnace (even though yes, it is a big deal) I should have been so, so grateful that…

  • We have a wood-burning stove that can keep our house warm for the night
  • I have a a husband who worked diligently throughout the summer and fall to make sure we had enough firewood chopped for the winter…because a wood-burning stove is useless without wood
  • Even if we didn’t have the ability to heat our house, we’d have places we could go to keep warm until the furnace got fixed

These are just a few of the many, many things I know I overlook on the daily that, in all reality, I should be so thankful for. And even though it took a hard day (or two… or three) and a blog novel to get to this place…I’m here.

And I wanted to share incase your start to the new year wasn’t quite what you expected, either. Here’s to the next 364 days…not of better luck, but of greater perspective.

#ThankfulThursday

Well, I have not been overly successful in my endeavor to share a weekly post of gratitude — but it’s not for a lack of it. Rather, some weeks I’ve just found myself too busy living in the gratitude to stop and write about it. Not a bad problem to have. 

This time last week, we were just getting settled into our Airbnb for a long weekend in Vegas. For Kade’s 40th birthday (back in August) I surprised him with 8 tickets to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. #BucketList y’all.

So…what I’m thankful for this week is the world’s best friends and family who took the time (and spent the money) to come to Vegas with us and celebrate four decades of this guy being awesome. You guys are cooler than a ride on the New York-New York roller coaster at night. And that is seriously cool. 

Grief Share Week 13 – Community in Christ

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

We did not have a funeral for Emmy, so on the one year anniversary of her passing we had a small family ceremony. It. Was. Perfect. We placed a memorial bench on the farm Inscribed with a portion of Psalm 139, planted a tree in her memory and started the tradition of a balloon release where we write messages on balloons to send to her in heaven.

We’ve reached the end of GriefShare. I’ve spent 13 weeks looking back all so I can look forward again. To rise up, we have to dig in. Even when it hurts.

In the book of Isaiah, God promises “beauty for ashes” and over the last 3 months, that’s exactly what I’ve seen. I have watched God transform a room full of broken, hurting, even angry women into a beautiful testament of His grace and love.

We’ve learned new ways to think, new ways to cope and new ways to move forward in the wake of immense grief. We’ve learned that while our personal stories of loss are unique, they do not have to be isolating. We’ve learned that we are not alone.

Each week, we’ve carried each other through hard conversations and difficult realities. We’ve passed the tissues when the well of tears threatened to break the dam. And we’ve laughed — freely — knowing there was no judgement or preconception or implication linked to that laugh. A community of broken humans came together as strangers, and left as sisters in Christ.

And friends, isn’t that exactly what Jesus calls us to do?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

I am grateful for each of the women who was brave enough to walk through the door and take a seat at the table. I am grateful for the loss and heartache that wove the fabric of our lives together. And I am grateful, so grateful that Christ redeems the brokenhearted.

Thank you to each of you who have walked through this experience with me. Today — hug your babies, hug your husbands, hug your mamas and daddies. Because we never know how many hugs we have left with the people we love.

Want to find a GriefShare group near you? Click HERE!

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#ThankfulThursday

You might (or might not) have noticed I missed last week’s #ThankfulThursday post. And that, incidentally, is the very thing I am thankful for this week — an electronically unplugged  holiday. Where being a little more disconnected from the world allowed a little more space for connection with the people around me.

No internet (i.e., no work), erratic cell service (i.e., no mobile apps) and in fact, we became so disconnected that we even forgot to take pictures the entire four days we were together.

That’s a lie…we took one.

And Lexi wasn’t even in it because she was napping. (Also, she spent the entirety of Thanksgiving day in her PJs. #momwin or #momfail …I’ll let you decide.)

So, yeah. Totally, completely thankful.

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