Hello, Sunshine

My journey in suffering started out so quietly that I barely knew what I was dealing with. A hard day here, a difficult boss there. Slowly, difficult times began to stack up.

Then David lost his job and the floodgates opened wide.

We were instantly launched into a long journey through adversity. Wave after wave of trouble hit us. Year after year we endured, with barely enough time or strength to catch our breath in between the crashing waves.

Suffering touched every aspect of our lives; job loss (twice), chronic health conditions, financial hardship, infertility, near-death experiences, car accidents, death, fractures in family, fractures in friendships, the loss of our only child and more surgeries than I care to recall.

After 11 years, we became accustomed to hardship. Dare I say we were habituated to it.

But now, it seems the tides are turning.

A warm breeze is blowing through our life and it feels like we are entering into a season of peace, or at the very least, a season of less-trying experiences. From where I stand, the majority of our challenges appear to be dissolving bit by bit. Sure, somethings like infertility and childlessness will likely never leave us but many of our other trials are slowing. The healing is coming and the darkness is lifting.

For the first time in over a decade, life feels light.

After a long season of suffering, it can feel downright uncomfortable to emerge from beneath the wet blanket of dashed dreams and crippling despair. Year after year, eventually you become accustomed to life being hard. You become accustomed to always bracing for impact.

Like coming out of a cave after many years of groping around in the dark, stepping out into the sunshine of life can be disorienting at first. The effort it takes not question or doubt the credibility of your new-found positive circumstances is immense. You can’t help but wonder how long the sunshine will last before another storm hits. And yet in the midst of this wariness and confusion, Jesus whispers, “Do you trust me? Do you trust that I am good? That I love you deeply? That I don’t intend adversity to follow you around forever? Allow yourself to hope…

Ah, hope. Such a wonderfully tricky thing for those of us who have endured life’s worst.

At times it seems easier just to not even go there. Keep your head down. If life goes well for a time, great – but always be ready to brace for impact. Hope can seem like such a gamble. Dare I hope that my darkest days are coming to an end? Oh the pain I would feel to take hold of that hope, only to have life take another detour into pain and suffering!

Hope can lead us astray if it’s grounded in the wrong things. The Bible never tells us to place our hope in our circumstances. No. That would be a grievous error, sure to disappoint. Instead, we are to place our hope in Him. The Unchanging One. The God who will always be there to carry us and to lift our faces from the dirt. The God who will never betray us or turn His back when life gets hard. And it will most likely get hard again one day.

Our ability to hope is directly correlated with our confidence in God’s goodness. If we are utterly convinced that God is good and that He loves us, we can safely hope. Hope placed in His hands will never disappoint.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement
and good hope,
 encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.” -2 Thess 2:16-17

Hard things likely still lie ahead for me, for you. But God is good. And right now the skies in my life are clear for the first time in a long time and I’m going soak up the sunshine for as long as I can.



2013: Looking Back

2013 is tempting me to have a divided heart. There’s a piece of me that wants to say…this was a tough year. We saw our final 3 IUIs fail and were faced with the reality of IVF. I had some pretty major family issues, we were evacuated from our home for a week during the crazy floods, had a melanoma scare, and we had a honeybee invasion on our house. And of course I can’t forget how we were put through weeks of turmoil and unrest with David’s old job, only to have him lose it at such a critical point. Emotionally, the first 6ish months of 2013 were exhausting, we definitely treaded some deep water for a long time.

BUT (and I say that with a big smile on my face!) the second half of 2013 was much better. In fact, I would almost go as far as to say the last 6 months have been glorious. David got a new job and it’s been wonderful. Seriously, this job is probably one of the biggest blessings we’ve ever had, and it came at our most critical time of need. God is so faithful! We’ve had the opportunity to travel and see friends and go on fun adventures. And best of all, we are slowly but surely gaining back some of the strength and joy that 2011, 2012 (and half of 2013) had sucked out of us. And it feels gooooooood! 🙂

2013 brought some tough things with it. But more than that, it brought with it some of my happiest memories (my sister’s wedding!!!), favorite adventures with David and the most peaceful days I have ever known. The highs were immeasurably higher than even the lowest lows. In 2013 blessings, adventure, personal growth and joy win. This year will go down as a good good year for us.

A few highlights:

Road trip to Texas
 Awesome time exploring Canyonlands
 Living it up in Aspen/Snowmass for a week
 Backpacking to American Lakes
Jenny’s Wedding! 2nd best day of my life, next to my own wedding!
Hillsong concert
 Crazy floods…
 Sister’s trip to Seattle!
 Christmas pictures!
2nd trip to Moab
We got some snowfall this weekend so David and I headed for the hills to get a little time away in the mountains. He backcountry skied and I snowshoed. It was a beautiful bluebird powder day, so much fun! Not a bad way to end 2013! 🙂

Cabin in the Woods

Ever since David and I made the decision to not pursue any further treatment at this time and to just enjoy life as the two of us, I’ve been caught in this balancing act. It’s a balancing act between completely isolating myself from everyone around me and trying to live a normal life, surrounded by family and friends with beautiful babies and families of their own.

Up until now, I thought I was doing a lovely job at this balancing act (if I do say so myself). And then my dear friend Jenn called me up on the phone and called me out on it. Ah, you gotta love it when the Lord uses friends to shoot arrows of conviction straight into your heart. “you’re isolating and pulling away” she said. Immediately I got defensive and I wanted to say “What’s that Jenn? What did you say? I can’t hear you…I think you’re in a dead zone…maybe try calling me tomorrow…or never.” Hahaha-just kidding Jenn, I love you- call me anytime! 🙂 The point is, when I get defensive, it’s a dead giveaway that I am in the wrong.

And before I knew it, I was pouring my heart out about this little balancing act of mine.

I just feel so different right now. And I don’t know what to do with it. It feels like 99% of the people in my life are either currently pregnant, just had a baby, adding to their families, completing their families or doing some sort of beautiful thing with their beautiful family. I even feel different from some of my friends who have battled infertility, because even they are moving on with a plan of some sort. And I don’t have a plan anymore. I’m just here.

I just feel so utterly different from everyone. 

And I don’t like feeling different. I don’t like it at all. It brings out a nasty little instinct in me that I like to call my “cabin in the woods syndrome.” I sometimes joke that I could live in a cabin in the woods, 100 miles from my closest neighbor and I’d be totally fine. Especially if that little cabin had a wrap around porch and a cozy fireplace and a stone path that lead to a dock on a lake….ahhhh I digress 😉

I’m an introvert by nature. I love being alone, I crave time away from others. In my typical week I can only schedule a certain amount of meetings/coffee dates/photoshoots or else I go into “introvert overload mode” where I’m totally overwhelmed by the amount of time I’ve had to be “on” and I completely shut down. Because I’m so introverted, it’s pretty darn easy for me to pull away. Pulling away from others feels safe and happy and comfortable.

So when you combine my natural introverted nature with my dislike for feeling so completely different right now, you get this ugly mess where I just withdraw from everyone in my life. I withdraw because it hurts less to be different when there’s no one around you to compare yourself to. When you’re by yourself, you get to set the standard for “normal.” There’s no one around you to show you just how different you are.

Realistically, if I did live in a cabin in the woods, 100 miles from my closes neighbor, my life would be pretty void of a lot of joy that the relationships and friendships in my life bring me. And I doubt I could get wireless internet out in my cabin in the woods, which would be a huge bummer. And so, tempting as that cabin is, I know it’s not healthy and it’s not what God wants for my life.

I know that as hard as it may be sometimes, and as much as it goes against my instinct, I need to keep engaging with the world around me. I need to keep pursuing friendships, relationships, conversations. I know God has called me to live a joyful life, surrounded by the people in my life that I love and care about. He has called me to be a light and I can’t very well do that living in isolation. I want to be obedient to that calling. Even if it means I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. Even if it means I’m uncomfortable. Even if I feel painfully different from most of the people around me. Even if it’s hard. There might even be some joy to be found in being different…and I’ll never know unless I embrace it give it a try. 🙂

Deep Water and Spacious Places

I know I was rather vague in my last post about the “bad thing” that happened to us. I hate being vague and I promise I’m not doing for the sake of being dramatic, drama isn’t in my nature. Like I said before, hopefully soon enough I can share more. I just can’t quite talk about it openly on the great world wide internet at the moment for fear of someone finding out, who shouldn’t find out.  Rest assured, our close friends and family know and are praying for us. And thank you to those of you who are praying, even though you don’t know specifics, we appreciate it!

I can say that it has nothing to do with our health or with fertility stuff. It has nothing to do with our family or friends. No one died and there were no tragic accidents. And for that, I am very very grateful! It’s something that very unexpectedly happened to David and I and to make along story short, it feels like we’re in deep water.

You know that feeling…the one where you just can’t quite seem to keep your head above the surface, except for a quick breath of air before the current drags you back under. You feel like you’re floundering in rough water and choppy seas. There’s no land in sight, no life boat, you don’t know which direction to go and you’re too tired to even attempt swimming. There’s nothing concrete that you can cling to. That’s where we are.

Although we don’t have much in the way of concrete things to cling to right now, we do have one thing we can cling to, which is better than any life boat or beach. We have the Lord Almighty. He has taken ahold of us and I know He will lift us out of these rough seas.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me our of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16

Though we might not be out of the deep water yet, I know He has us. God is in the business of redeeming ugly situations, of rescuing those in need of help. Does it always look the way we want it to? Nope. Does it sometimes get worse before it gets better? Yep. Our rescue hasn’t happened quite yet, but I am confident that our Rescuer is on his way.

Despite the floundering and feeling a bit beaten by crashing waves, I can feel Him moving right now. I don’t know what He’s doing, but He’s working. And that gives me peace and hope for things to come.

Just a couple verses after Psalm 18:16  in verse 19 it says, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” I love that picture of being rescued and brought into a spacious place. I picture being lifted out of the depths and into a big open field of wildflowers. I just think it’s beautiful imagery. Not only does He rescue us, but He brings us into a better place. Amen to that!

Thankfully, we’re getting tiny glimpses of what that spacious place might looks like. I also mentioned in my last post that there was a good thing that happened as well and that we were hoping good would overcome bad and that good would win in the end. I like happy endings and silver linings. 🙂 Only time will tell, thanks a bunch for your prayers!

6 Years!

I’m more than a little sad that I’m not in Montana right now. We should be eating breakfast in bed right now or puttering around in a paddle boat on Whitefish Lake or hiking Great Northern Mountain. We should be getting excited for a delicious lakeside meal tonight and maybe a slice of chocolate cake to top off a wonderful day celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary. When I close my eyes, I can picture us there. Like in another world, we are there, having the time of our lives.

Instead when I open my eyes to the reality we’re in, I’m sitting in my living room, hooked up to an oxygen machine, trying to ignore the pain and watching Julie & Julia while David attempts to figure out how to assemble his lunch before I need another Oxycodone. Not exactly the way I pictured September 2, 2012 going.

But, I suppose it’s much better than the way September 2nd 2012 could have gone. My tube could have decided to rupture 4 days later than it did. We could have been hiking in the mountains, miles from civilization when it happened. I could have died in the wilderness, literally. And so for that reason, I am very grateful that I’m not in Montana right now. God was really watching out for me when everything happened when it did. We even managed to get all our hotel money refunded back to us, what a blessing as we await hospital bills.

So although we’re not going to be dining lakeside tonight and we don’t have 8 days of beauty and adventure that await us, we’re still celebrating. We might even get a little fancy and get a pizza delivered tonight. 😉

The past 6 years have given me so much to be grateful for. I couldn’t ask for a better husband. David is the most caring, loving and supportive man a girl could ever want. He tells me I’m beautiful every day, he works hard to help support us, he prays for me, he accepts me as I am and he is everything I could ever ask for in a husband. We have a beautiful marriage, something truly special. Six year ago, I never could have guessed how happy we would be together today. God has blessed us so much!

Happy 6th Anniversary David! I love you with all my heart. Muah! 😉

The New Normal

I’m happy to say that I’m finally feeling 13.7% less overwhelmed right now than I did on June 18th when I started my 2nd job.

Waking up before 6am every day is pretty standard, it doesn’t totally throw me off my game anymore. Editing photos until I go to bed has also become pretty routine. Getting off work and driving to a photoshoot and getting home late after a 16 hour day isn’t as bad as it once was. Answering client emails from the bathroom at work doesn’t bother me anymore (sshhh! Don’t tell my boss…I probably shouldn’t be doing that haha!).

I don’t know what’s worse…that I’m doing all of that stuff every day or that it has come to feel normal. This summer has been so incredibly hard. It’s odd to think that I’m starting to feel comfortable with how difficult it all is. This shouldn’t feel like my new normal.

On top of all the madness from my own life, dear friends around me are dealing with tragedy after tragedy. Deaths in the family, diseases, lives being flipped upside down…I want so badly to support them in the way my heart desires. I want to bake them cakes and tell them everything is going to be ok. I want to help them with laundry and cooking and give them endless hugs. But it’s hard to take care of others when you’re barely taking care of yourself.

Thankfully, my wedding season is over soon. Just a few more weeks until I can have a sliver of sanity and peace back in my life. Just a few more weeks until Fall arrives and I can close the door on this summer. A dear friend and I named this summer, “The Craptastic Summer Whose Name Will Never Be Mentioned Again.” It’s silly and yet that name couldn’t be more spot on.  
If I never have another summer this hard again for the rest of my life, I’ll die a happy lady. But, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to me through it all. He got me this job so that we could continue paying for fertility treatments. He is the one who wakes me early enough to see the sun rise. He is the one who has given me energy to get through each day… without caffeine (ok, seriously. Can we talk about this for a sec? I don’t know how I’m functioning without coffee in my life right now. It is truly a miracle that I am surviving without it, it must be an act of the Almighty that I haven’t fallen into a deep hibernation by this point). He has given me a husband gracious enough to not be upset if I work all night next to him on the couch. He is shaping me through this season of difficulty. He is shaping David as well and our marriage too. And I know that I will come out on the other side a stronger woman because of it. 

Survival Mode

Yesterday, we only had one doctor in clinic so my boss told me I could go home early if I wanted to. David just so happened to also get home early and for the the first time in a long time, we were both home at the same time for longer than one hour and I didn’t have any photo editing to do. We went for a walk and started talking about how life just feels really hard right now. David said it felt like we were operating in Survival Mode and I honestly couldn’t agree more.

Would y’all mind praying for us? 

We’re both absolutely exhausted and drained. It feels like we’re running on fumes right now. Essentially I’ve been working 60 hour weeks ever since I started my new part-time job. I’m doing a really crumby job at balancing the part-time job with my business and also being a good wife. I’m trying to take steps at my job to switch up my hours a bit to hopefully give me a little more time at home, so hopefully that will help. I have 6 more weeks of weddings and then hopefully things will slow down a little bit. But those 6 weeks are going to be hard if I don’t figure out a way to balance everything.

It’s so easy to think “well, just quit the job silly” but I need this job if we are going to pursue more fertility treatments (IUI#3 is in 2 weeks!) and I’m really trying to change the “things are hard, I’m just going to quit” mentality that I’ve had for so long. I really am grateful for this job, I just wish I was doing a better job at balancing it with everything else. So, we would greatly appreciate prayers for strength, endurance and grace right now while we try to hang onto our sanity for dear life. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a 13 hour wedding day ahead of me…