A Playlist for the Weary

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We all have our bad days, but sometimes we have bad weeks, months, even years. How do we keep going? I ask that question of myself a lot, “How can I possibly keep going?” My answer is always the same, “Follow God.”

That is such a churchy answer. It’s the answer you give when you don’t know the answer. It’s the answer I get from my youth group teens when they tell me what they think I want to hear, instead of the truth. But in this situation it really is the answer, “Follow God”. Although, sometimes I have no idea where God is taking me. Actually, I rarely know where God is taking me.

In those times, like right now, I find myself at a loss for what to pray. I am so confused, sad, worried, fearful, exhausted that I don’t know what to pray for. At times like these I turn to music. I listen to lyrics and pray what is sung. I find peace in the worship and praise of my savior. I find comfort in the truth of his security and protection.

Here are some of the songs I turn to in the hard times. The songs that remind me that God is bigger than whatever I am going through. And some songs that just help me to hold on.

1. “One Time” By Cool Hand Luke

“There are mountains towering ahead. He says to me ‘these are mine, hold my hand you’ll be fine'”

2.“Hallelujah” by Bethany Dillon

“Whatever’s in front me help to sing Hallelujah”

3.“Boldly I Approach” by Rend Collective

“Oh praise the One who fights for me and shields my soul eternally”

4. “Fall Afresh” by Bethel Music

“Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me, come wake me from my sleep”

5. “Hold On” by The Gospel Whiskey Runners

“You make me lovely just like you….Hold On”

6. “Set a Fire” by Will Reagan & United Pursuit

“No place I would rather be, then here in Your love.”

7.“Nothing Holding Me Back” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

“Now nothing can hold me back from you, Your love will never let me go”

8. “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman

“So why should I worry? Why do I freak out? God knows what I need. You know what I need.”

9.“To Those Who Wait” by Bethany Dillon

“Lord, today You know what I need to do. But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.”

10. “Alabaster” By Rend Collective Experiment

“I will bow my life at your feet, at your feet. My lips so lost for words, will kiss your feet, kiss your feet.”

11. “Oh How I Need You” by All Sons and Daughters

“Light, glorious light, I will go where you shine”

12. “In Memoriam” by The Oh Hellos

“You are far to beautiful to want me…                                                  I think I’m far too poor for you to want me…                                          Heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only God I should have loved and yet you are far too beautiful to leave me.”

And finally one to pump me up…

13. “Not Giving In” By Rudimental 

“This time I’m gonna be stronger, I’m not giving in”

9 Ways to Make The Two-Week Wait A Little More Bearable

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When you are trying to conceive, the two weeks between ovulation and the expected arrival of your period can be excruciating to live through. This is one of those experiences where time does not make it easier to handle. In fact, the more time that passes, the crazier you feel.

I have been quite unfortunate to be diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS). If you are soul cyster (get it?) like me, you know that one of the symptoms is an irregular period. This means that I never know when I ovulate or if I actually did ovulate that month. This past month my two week wait turned into a four week wait.

Why didn’t I test after two weeks? After 5 years of two week waits and many negative pregnancy tests I know how I personally react to these situations. If I take a test and it’s negative but I still have not been assaulted by my Aunt Flo, I will continue to hope that I am pregnant: “Maybe my HCG hormone levels aren’t high enough to detect yet.” The tests have essentially become a giant money pit for me. So I wait until there is no possible way my Aunt Flo would be coming to visit.

At 12 days late I believed such a thing. There was no way I could get my period. I tested. Received a negative. Next day I got my period. I was crushed. Not only was I not pregnant, but I got my period. Meaning my two week wait time is extended to the length of my latest period, almost 4 weeks. (Biologically my luteal phase is always 12 days, but that means I have to know the day I ovulate to actually calculate my period arrival, which is next to impossible for someone with PCOS without an ultrasound. Women with PCOS will often get false positives on ovulation test sticks that test the Luteinizing Hormone levels in urine. And some months I don’t actually ovulate, so it would be impossible to detect something that will never happen.)

With all that being said, a friend sent me a wonderful article about the two week wait that is ACTUALLY helpful. I can’t tell you how many two week wait articles I have read that gave the worst advice imaginable (keep an eye out for my “Top 10 Worst 2WW Tips”). Without further ramblings, here it is:

9 Ways To Make The Two-Week Wait A Little More Bearable

 

The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-26)

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photo (4)I was asked to do a piece about the story of the Woman at the Well. The piece is intended for the women of our sister parish, Fe Y Esperanza, in Nicaragua (hence the Spanish). One of my favorite things to draw is bible verses. Each block represents a piece of the story.

Following is my shorthand explanation of each block:

woman at the Well Numbered

  1. The Gospel of John 4: 1-26
  2. V5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob has given to his son Joseph (This pattern is used in many of my works as a symbol for ancestors and offspring, this color was used to symbolize Jacob in a previous work about Jacob and Essau)
  3. Jesus stopped his journey beside the well and sat to rest (even Jesus needed to rest!)
  4. Jesus was alone
  5. A Samaritan woman came to draw water (She is represented by a pink skirt pattern)
  6. Jesus asked her for a drink of water
  7. The woman is shocked he is talking to her—he is a Jew (Separation and differences between the cultures)
  8. V9 “How can you ask me for a drink?”
  9. V10 “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
  10. V12 “Are you greater than our father Jacob…?”
  11. V14 “The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  12. V18 “The fact is you have 5 husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” – She then believed he was a prophet
  13. There is a time when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain…
  14. …nor in Jerusalem (Stones of the temple)
  15. V24 “God is spirit” (Spirit is often represented by light shining through the leaves of trees in my work)
  16. Worshipers must worship in spirit (Flaming tongue of the holy spirit)
  17. And in Truth (Verdad is Spanish for truth)
  18. I know that Messiah is coming
  19. I am He

Grainless Peach Cobbler

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When I removed grains from my diet I found myself missing out on some scrumptious summer desserts. I have decided I no longer want to be left out. Here is my first attempt at a grainless peach cobbler. I don’t have exact measurements, because I don’t ever use exacts while cooking (which is why I can never conquer the science behind yeast breads).

Ingredients:

1 Peach Diced

1 handful Pecans (crumbled or chopped)

1 handful sliced almonds (I crumbled those in my hands too)

1 Small handful unsweetened coconut flakes

2 shakes ground cinnamon

1 shake ground nutmeg

1 shake ground cloves

Drizzle of maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the diced peaches in an oven safe single serving dish. In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Spoon the mixture onto the top of the peaches and bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy immediately.

Paleo For PCOS and Infertility

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For the past couple years one of my closest friends has been trying to get me to give up grains. She does a lot of research on nutrition and she is a personal trainer. To be honest I thought her suggestion was stupid – if grains were so bad for you why would they even be on the food pyramid? I didn’t understand. However, I gave up most wheat (except for pizza and the occasional beer), because I was having some major stomach issues. It helped a little bit, but overall not enough to keep me from eating them.

Then another friend of mine told me she had started eating paleo and her stomach issues have disappeared. She looked fabulous and from how she was talking she felt great! I decided to give it a shot. In just two weeks I have dropped 5lbs. I have never been able to lose more than 1lb. in a week and that was when I was religiously counting my calories and working out at least 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week.

Ever since high school my weight has been just high enough to be considered overweight. I was never obese and I never considered myself to be fat, but I have always felt that my body didn’t match the amount of effort I put into it to be thinner.

I didn’t start eating paleo to lose weight, so I didn’t even think to track my calories. I just wanted my constant stomach pain and bowel issues to stop. I was willing to try anything (the meds the doctor gave me just weren’t cutting it).

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done any research, aside from recipes. But after the results of these past two weeks and this article I’m sold. In the past two weeks I have had a total of two stomachaches (as opposed to one after every single meal), I am completely off of my meds, my chronic jaw pain miraculously disappeared, and bonus I lost 5lbs.

I will definitely be doing more research, especially with how paleo may help with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome – the reason why I am struggling to get pregnant).

I loved this blog entry by Danielle and her battle with PCOS and grains.

http://www.danfredorivera.com/2011/04/battle-of-beige.html

A Song for Every Situation – “Not This Month”

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If there is one thing you need to know about me it is this: I can relate almost any situation to a song. I love music and I often associate events from my life to specific songs or albums. Which is why some songs never get old for me. My husband can tell you that I will listen to the same songs over and over again. What he can’t tell you, is that I do that because I want to remember or relive a situation or because I find myself in a similar situation and I found comfort in that song years, months, or even weeks ago.

You have probably figured this out, but there is one situation that has been reoccurring in my life. As suggested by my blog name I struggles with infertility. I will spare you the gory details, but every month for almost 5 years (58 months exactly) I have relived the same situation. Some months were harder than others, and some months were not hard at all. The severity of my disappointment and heartbreak greatly changed the songs I chose to sing out, but somehow this song has managed to make it into my playlist every single time. In fact, I will belt this song out everywhere with or without the music. It just fits so well. It’s encouraging, heartfelt, and uplifting.

*I will be posting additional “A Song for Every Situation” posts as the weeks continue. Not all about infertility, that is just the one on my mind right now.*

 

To Hope or Not to Hope?

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It seems a stupid question; to hope or not to hope? The obvious answer is, “to hope.” Because hope is what brings peace during times of tribulation. Hope is what makes it possible to be patient for what we do not see. But what about when hope is lost? The fall from hope is so sorrowful, so painful, that surely it would have been easier not to hope at all. To hope puts you at the risk of losing hope. So I ask it again, to hope or not to hope?

The doctors have not told me it would be impossible, they have merely stated that my odds are very slim without treatment. Well, I tried the treatments, and they were not for me. But it doesn’t matter, it’s not the doctors that I’m listening to.

God spoke to me several years ago. He told me I would be a mother. He did not tell me how or when, just that I would be one. It was in the early years of my infertility- I had just received news from a very unwelcome Aunt Flo that I was not to be a mother quite yet. I was disappointed and worst of all, I was starting to realize that Dean and I might have a problem with infertility. The fear of never becoming a mother was starting to take root. I cried out to God with my fear and less than five minutes later I received a text from a good friend. She sent me Psalm 113:9 “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Now I know it was my friend who texted those words to me, but I truly believe in my heart that it was God who spoke them to me. He spoke words of hope. I have held fast to those words. I revisit that Psalm over and over again. It gives me peace when I begin to fear and it gives me patience when I can’t see how I will ever become a mother. I have hope.

I thought I lost that hope once. It was after my first fertility treatment. A nurse called with my blood work results,

“I’m so sorry, but you are not pregnant” She said. I cried bitterly for an hour on my kitchen floor. It sounds pathetic, but that month I had dared to hope that it was finally my turn. I had not allowed myself the excitement of hoping for over two years because of fear. I feared that my hopes would shame me. I feared that if I never received what I was hoping for then I would lose everything I ever believed in- my God, my savior, my sweet Jesus. So there I was on my kitchen floor, sobbing. Mourning the loss of something I had never actually attained. I couldn’t make sense of the situation in my head, “I had 3 viable eggs. They told me there was a chance of multiples. How can I not even have one?” I was falling from the highest point I had ever allowed my hopes to reach. The sorrow of that moment still brings me to tears.

I had imagined telling my closest friends and family the wonderful news. I had imagined my belly swelling to the size of a beach ball while I kept my athletic build and even lost some of the pudge around my butt. I had imagined Dean holding his son or daughter for the first time. I had imagined so many things, and in the span of a 30 second phone call, I lost them all. It was in that hour of mourning that I thought I lost my hope. There was too much sorrow to allow any room for hope. But then my sobs eased to silent tears and then eventually even the tears stopped.

I sat there on my kitchen floor in silence. Completely still, without a thought on my mind. It wasn’t a numb feeling; I was still sad, but at the same time I was ok. It was a peacefulness that surpassed my understanding. I felt God press these words into my heart, “Not yet, dear one.”

God did not leave me or forsake me. He was with me in my joyful imaginings and He was with me on the kitchen floor. He wept with me, He held me, and He comforted me. I no longer feared what would happen if I lost all hope, because I realized my hope was in something far greater than just the desire to be a mom. My hope was in Jesus and nothing could take that away from me.

I choose to hope.

Romans 5:2-5 

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.