a multitude of gifts

christmas ornaments

{{The most adorable Christmas ornaments EVER…. complete with personalization and crowns!!! Swoon! … this anonymous gifter knows me well!!}}

Let’s be real.

People don’t have to like us. And, people don’t have to like our kids.

Because, truth be told, we aren’t always all that likeable and every kid isn’t either.

They don’t have to stick through the rough and tough, deal with the less than desirable sides of our personality, our awkward quirks, and the days we aren’t the most fun. We aren’t always all that likeable.

And, honestly, I know I’m not always that super friendly, incredibly kind gal who always has everything together. I can be very “hard” and bound to rules (when I want to be! lol). I’m not always easy to get along with, I’m not the funniest person in the room with the biggest personality. I’m a real and true introvert, creative, blunt, and mouthy kinda chick who has high expectations and expects everyone around me to work as hard and do as much as I do. But, on the flip side, I am also kind, giving, sacrificial, and sensitive. Sadly, the good doesn’t always overshadow the bad, especially when it should. I thank Jesus daily that grace abounds, that He has given me a heart to seek Him & follow the example He has set… to soften, to be more gentle, more patient, and more relaxed. So, I’m working on it.

In the meantime, I’ve had some die hard friends who have stuck by me, who have been there and done that with me…. I have friends who have shown up in incredibly major ways over the past few years, specifically during our adoption and this pregnancy. I’ve made some pretty awesome friends over the past year who have been more than wonderful….. Older relationships that have gotten sweeter over time, new relationships that are easy to embrace, the kind where you’re able to be transparent and give/receive encouragement & support….  Strangers who only know this little space and my Insta have been so encouraging in our journey. It’s been beautiful.

These people love me… love us… love our girls. And, for that I will never be able to find the words that truly express how it makes me feel. To know that there are people who’re invested in your children and genuinely care for them is indescribable. You’re proud, humbled, and thankful – because you know people don’t have to.

There’s a confidence and a safety felt when you know people love you – the real you. When you’re angry. When you’re sad. When you’re going through hard times and just don’t feel like it. They don’t mind the quirks, the effort, the clumsiness, the imperfectness of your being.

It’s beautiful….
And, just realizing that it’s exactly what is asked of us to do. Love our neighbor as ourselves… to forgive and to give grace and patient and endure the tough and not so fun.

Working on being all of these things when I don’t quite “click” with the person and when I feel it’s undeserved. Working on it because you deserve it. Because there are other friends, women, and mamas who are struggling, who aren’t always at their best, who have some growing and maturing to do, girls who need a friend.

… here’s to sisters loving on sisters. Day in, day out. Loving hard, loving gently, loving relentlessly and reliably… no matter what!

Post Jam: Taylor Swift Shake It Off (because it’s fun, ok?!?!)

 

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it’s all a dream….

IMG_3359(photo credit: Christin Armstrong)

It’s easy to take this belly for granted or to complain about the daily nuances of a baby belly… It’s easy to get so used to it that you begin to believe that it is deserved.  That it’s just “normal”, a “regular” thing. It’s easy to feel far removed from a past that was still very much a part of who you are. Although, the evidence of this pregnancy has become my norm and is the very beginnings of being defined as a mother, I make sure to keep at the forefront of my mind how spectacular a blessing it is.

The saddest part of this experience is that I don’t feel as if my heart has completely softened or slowed yet… I don’t feel as if I’ve caught my breathe or truly grasped the reality or heaviness of this pregnancy – which is insane. And, truly heartbreaking for me.

But, infertility will do that to you. It has a way of changing your heart and the very essence of who you are, how you relate to others, and deal with life. Some lessons of this journey are definitely beneficial, others I can definitely do without. Like, the numbness that results from constant disappointments. The roller coaster rides. The ups and downs of medications. The never ending poking, examining, and prodding. The adoption paperwork, meetings, and packets. The anxiety, fear, and difficulty in trusting what actually is or your gut feelings. Never knowing what’s coming next. The heartbreak of every failed attempt to just breathe. The empty desire to live each day without the worry or stress or chaos… because you know that that’s just not a part of infertility-trying to conceive-trying to adopt journey.

While an upside of being on this journey lends itself to the possibility of growth; in the moment, that reality doesn’t seem to matter in the moment. But, if you keep moving forward you realize that it’s the growth that has kept you going.  You don’t immediately see how you’re torn down while simultaneously built up, reinforced, and strengthened. You are stripped of everything you “knew”or “wanted” and given (without permission.. rude) completely new perspectives and desires. And, that’s frustrating. On many days I was angered and frustrated at how these past four years of infertility have negatively impacted my life. Bitter towards the seemingly most insignificant and most glaring ways it has impacted my marriage and my relationship with my husband. The wasted money, the wasted hours at doctor’s appointments, pointless injections and medications. The guilt of the twinge of jealously and sadness felt when you’re out and about and it seems that every other woman on the planet is expecting; it forces you to reckon with your inabilities and circumstances. And, dealing with it is hard. Balancing the thin line between the unmistakable joy you have for friends and family who are expanding their families and the unmistakable pain you feel when the next cycle begins or you’re in purgatory wanting to just give up but still wanting to soothe that ache in your heart. Or, issues with an adoption agency slow progress or things just aren’t going the way you feel they should. It all seems purposefulness.

The disappointment, guilt, fear, sadness, and pain colors and consumes so much of your life…. It’s easy to lose hope, to accept that it’s “never” going to happen, and to begin to believe that “expansion projects” just weren’t for you. Easy to succumb to this inner defeat that you truly don’t want to give in to but seems to be swallowing you whole.

So, you let it go. You move forward and begin to revamp your life plan. You begin to hope for new things and believe that there’s more than one way to live this life with purpose and experience fulfillment in ways that didn’t include a house full of children, noise, and sleepless nights.

And, then…..IMG_3310-Edit(photo credit: Christin Armstrong)

…. you realize that every single moment you thought was wasted is redeemed…. the humiliation, let downs, and devastations of every experience are being traded for crowns of beauty and you see with your own eyes that God really does make everything beautiful in his own time. That all things truly work tougher for good, that our Father in Heaven truly is the giver of really good and incredibly perfect gifts.

…. you learn by experience (which they say is the best teacher!) that God’s plan for your life truly is much greater than anything you could ever consider. You’re able to look back and see the struggles you’ve gone though and it pales in comparison to what is coming.

…. you are grateful for every experience meant to hurt you and break you because they drove you to the cross and positioned you to be vulnerable and open to the people put in your life to support and love you.

…. you learn that God can restore. That He gives you the desires of your heart. That your soul truly can trust in the Lord and rest in his goodness.

…. most of all, you recognize that these experiences, these years were not wasted, the circumstances not created to break you, but rather to point to someone much greater than ourselves.

This dream…. these girls…. didn’t happen because we finally “stopped trying” or because I “did things God’s way”….. This happened in spite of us  with the purpose of glorifying God alone. Our story happened the way that it did because God planned it that way. The worst of it shows God’s goodness and faithfulness, the best his grace and love for us.

Infertility isn’t the easiest life experience to walk through. Treatments and adoption aren’t either. While neither brought us children, I know how difficult they both can be. The most comforting part of walking any road is that you aren’t the first nor will you be the last to walk that same path. You aren’t alone. Finding, building, and engaging with women who have and are experiencing what you have is a blessing. Being able to walk along side other women who know that struggle is the most encouraging and comforting opportunity.

Share your story in your own way, in your own time. Other women and couples need to hear your voice…. even if it’s a whisper.

 

These little girls truly are a dream come true and I’m so thankful for all of you who have come along side of us, who have stood with us, prayed with us, cried with us, and who are finally rejoicing with us. This is a big deal. I am absolutely looking forward to celebrating our children (whoa.) with our closest friends and family this weekend. It’s going to be so special.

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sixteen weeks

photo 4.PNGHow are we feeling??!?!?!
Pretty good…. I had a random bout with vomit for a day; I was terrified that MS made a U-turn and made it’s presence known again. Thankfully, I haven’t had any signs since. My feet have started swelling just a tad, so I’m going to have to be extra careful to follow the suggestions in my When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, & Quads book. They suggest sitting as much as possible, transferring weight often, and using a step stool to rest one foot on if you must stand a lot. I’m also going to consider having a barstool in my classroom. LOL. We’ll see how it works.

What’s going on with the bump?!?!
I love it so much. I have an abnormal obsession with it. To watch it grow and change shape is really fun. LOL. The questions of what I would like at a certain point in my pregnancy or what I would look like pregnant are slowly but surely being answered.photo 3

So, how are you feeling?!
Emotional. Very, very, very emotional. We were able to see our babes this past week and I cannot believe the reality of the gifts we’ve been given. I’m falling in love with them more and more everyday. I literally just sit and rub my belly at times, I feel that I’m at a loss of words when I think about them. I just thank God over and over and over again. We’re trying to settle on names so I’ll say the name and use it in different scenarios… wonder how they’ll sound as they’re learning to talk and say each other’s name. Wondering if they’ll have nicknames or if their names will match their personalities. I’m just in awe. Complete and utter awe. At this point, I have no idea how we’ll function once they get here because I don’t think I’ll be able to do much but hold and stare at them. (Feeding and diapering will be thrown in there, too, of course!)But, I just cannot believe it. We’re closer to the halfway point which is scary and funny and exciting. I’m just so thankful.

I had a rough day yesterday….. struggling with not feeling well, swollen/swelling feet, hot flashes, and all of the not so fun things that come along with pregnancy. The best part of twin pregnancies is that everything comes sooner and it’s all more intense. Yay, right? Later that day, I walked past a mirror and saw my belly and that alone put so much into perspective. While it didn’t make me FEEL better, it made everything a bit more tolerable. Let’s hope each day, week, and month that passes I find something to outweigh the sucky parts of this experience!

Anything else?
I’m actually gaining weight which is exciting and it all seems to be going to my belly which is even more fun!!! lol. I had my first “Are you pregnant?” whispered to me a few days ago and it was fun to be able to say “Yes…. with my first two!” That last little bit always throws people for a loop and their body language and facial expressions are hilarious!!

Actually getting dressed (versus throwing on something quick) makes me so happy! lol… I LOVE my maternity dresses and tops; it’s so fun! I look forward to wearing my favorite pieces…. while it’s true that beautiful clothing can make you feel just wonderfully, theres nothing like a beautiful maternity dress!!! photo 1.PNG-2

From mommy….
I love you guys so much. I think I’m going to start reading to you and playing music for you. I know you hear my voice all day everyday, but I think it will be fun to just have some “us” time…. after talking to everyone else all day, certainly it would be fun to just talk to you, ya know? Part of me is so afraid to welcome you into this big world. It’s as wonderful as it is scary and as cruel and it is kind. I hope to teach you to understand, expect, and accept that bad things will happen to you intentionally and unintentionally and how to move past it with grace without allowing it to alter your character or personality. We are working to prepare for you in every way possible. There’s so much to do on so many levels in so many different areas. So much that won’t be “fixed” or made perfect by the time you arrive, but we believe in a sovereign God who loves us and does what’s best for us so we believe that all things will be fine. I can’t wait for you to be a part of our growth, of our family, and of the lives of the people you who have prayed for you, who are waiting for you, and love you already. Keep growing strong, be kind to each other. We love you.
– mommy

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