I'll Show You How

It took me years to get to the point where I stopped saying, and believing, that I'd give it all away, trade it all, change it all, to have them here.

I wouldn't give myself permission to say it. 

As if I said it out loud it meant damning myself into a “truth” that I didn't really want to be a mother, that they didn't matter as much as they do, and that we didn't fight as hard and lose as much as we did to try our best to bring them into the world.

Or that we didn't have enough faith.

The reality, though?

We gained more than we lost.

Ugh, that feels so hard to write, let alone publish for the world to read.

My truth, years after losing them and ending our infertility journey without kids, is that I wouldn't trade it all to have them here.

Shit, that sentence is so scary.

And God knows, and my people closest to me know, how much I wanted them and love them still, wondering every day who they would be as seven-year-olds this year.

There is enough room for both.

It is messy and really uncomfortable.

Still, there is absolutely room for both.

This is the permission of The And - the grief and joy, the wonder and gratitude, the truth and grace.

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This life I love and have fought so hard for will never discount, replace, or make up for what could have been if our three had walked this earth alongside us.

The truth is that what we gained in and through the loss of them, I truly believe is slowly gaining to tenfold, even if it isn't what I hoped, dreamed, and planned. Because no matter how much we want to read Jeremiah 29:11* from this very human mindset that God's Plans align with what we want, it just isn't what the Lord promised.

God never promised me it would turn out how I wanted.

God never promised me a baby.

God promises never to leave me and always to work all for my good.

Just like God promised the Israelites passage into the promised land. 

However not before they spent 70 years in Babylon. I think it's safe to say that was not what they wanted or planned for themselves.

So let us not forget Jeremiah 29:10 while holding onto the promise of 29:11 that God is always with us and is always working for our good.

When we take verse 11 away from the context of verse 10, we minimize God's power and sovereignty. First, the Israelites had 70 years in a place they didn't want to be, second, many of them would never even make it there, and third, when we use it all to say that God promises we will get what we want - it just isn't based on the history.

Similarly, despite what some in the faith community will teach, preach, and weaponize, the strength of your belief, prayers, and faithfulness are not what will get you what you want, baby included.

God's goodness is.

And well we just don't get to determine or even know what that is exactly. 

I love what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place:

"His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in your will! Don't let me go mad by poking about outside of it!"

It's a dangerous message that our faith will get us what we want. And the saddest part is that thinking this is doing severe damage to our relationship with God.

Because for the longest time the thing that held me back from the loving grace of Jesus was what felt like the hardest question of my life: What does it mean when God is the one you need to forgive?

For far too long lies like: We didn't get a baby because we didn't pray hard enough. I wasn't even Christian then and still, am not Christian enough. I don't deserve to be a mother. I did something terribly wrong. God is mean, punishing, and unfair. 

These lies kept me angry, in the dark, and worst, not turning towards the loving God that had been there the whole time, just as They promised.

Chad and I didn't not become parents because we weren't faithful enough, pray hard enough, or believe enough.

We didn't not get a baby because God is punishing, because our sins were just too bad, or because we didn't deserve one.

We didn't get a baby because we made the nearly impossible decision to stop treatments before they destroyed everything good about us.

We didn't get a baby because we finally surrendered to God's plan in reclaiming our truth, honoring our three, and glorifying Him. We did the work to finally receive the bigger plan God has for us and let Him love us into building the legacy we are now. 

Always there.

Always for our good. 

The Israelites had seventy years in Babylon before returning to Jerusalem, and we live without our three to leave an aroma of the Kingdom behind us in this world.

Always there.

Always for our good.

What if we had kept going until we got what we deemed was God's will, in the definition we wanted so badly and paid so much for, a baby? 

What if infertility had worked?

Would I have still met this loving Jesus?

Would I have made all the life changes I needed to practice happy and be who I was created to be? 

Would our marriage have survived? 

Would our finances had ever recovered?

I know that God is always chasing us down, pursuing us, loving us into the loving arms of Jesus. No matter how long it takes. No matter how messy. No matter how much we push it all away. 

Jesus will always leave the 99 for the one. 

If it weren't for tens of thousands of dollars spent, three lost babies, a body broken from synthetic hormones and a grief so dark I wasn't sure I would ever be able to stop crying, yelling, and get out of bed again, I would not have met this Jesus in the way so many of us finally do.

Sitting beside Him by the well, broken, flawed, messed up, mad, and utterly human. Sitting beside a man, both God and human, asking to be seen, begging for answers, flailing angry punches, demanding fairness, and most of all, being in the presence of an empathic love of 'I see you and get you.'

Jesus looking into my eyes and speaking our truth in total love,

Daughter, I know this is not what you want and it doesn't feel fair. I promise I know your pain. I get it. I was always there, and I will always be here. I am here now. And when you are ready to bury this pain so something new can grow, to receive your own resurrection, I'll show you how.

*This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-11 NIV

 

Six to Seen

Today marks what would have been the 6th birthday of our our third - six years of healing, of wonder, and most of all, of honor. 

This grief journey never gets easier, it simply gets different, and this year is no exception. 

Most years, especially since it is the holidays, it is easy for me to believe the lie that I'm invisible. In fact, that is the single most used word to describe my new book from readers,

Thank you for putting into words and giving me the words to describe how I'm feeling, invisible.

For the first time in six years, I don't feel this, and not because I feel seen, rather because I don't need to be, at least not in that way anymore. 

For the first time I am beginning to feel the peace settle into my soul right beside my forever wonder and yearning of who they would have been, and of who I would have been as their mother. 

And, with a breath, I am realizing that this mother I am here on earth without them is pretty amazing and completely enough, even in, and perhaps most especially, in their absence. 

Because they were never mine to begin with, they were His.

And, because they brought me to Him. 

Instead of sitting in that lie of feeling invisible today I chose to be invisible sitting in a Starbucks. 

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I had $33 in Starbucks gift cards from speaking engagements, and admittedly I only get Starbucks at airports because I much prefer my Three Story Coffee at home. After I bought my black coffee I told the barista to use the remaining money for everyone else behind me until it was gone. Then, I asked her not to tell them who bought their coffee. I'll admit, my heart yearned for her to ask why, so I could say, "This is in honor and remembrance of my three, they would have been six this year".

And then I sat and watched. I watched people receive a gift, a gift as simple as free coffee, not believing they deserved it. I watched people pay it forward. I watched people look around and try to figure out who bought their morning cup of happy. One man, whether he saw me do it or the barista told him, stopped on his way out, smiled and thanked me. 

The card didn't last long and the experience was relatively uneventful, until of course I opened my Bible to John 1...

Life came into being because of him, for his life is light for all humanity. And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom— the Light that darkness could not diminish! John 1:4‭-‬5 TPT

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Perhaps, today a simple cup of free coffee made someone feel seen. I know for me it helped remind me that I don't have to be seen by the world because I am always seen by my loving Father. 

Our three, they made me a mother. 

He chose me, bursting through my gloom, in the gift of them. 

I am a happy and grateful mother. 

~~~

The Complicated Gray now available here or signed copies in the store.

Our Three and a Bag of Frozen Peas

"How do you feel?" I asked as I drove him home from the doctor's office.

"Fine, it's numb right now," he replied.

The ever-stoic Chad with the ever-rumbling Justine; thank God we both choose to do the work to be complementary in our differences.

"That's good," I replied. "Are you sad at all?"

He looked at me with love in his eyes, with what I assume is that part of him that knows I want more from him, for him to feel even just a smidge of what I am feeling and in the way I am feeling it.

As I have learned through the years, he simply feels it all very differently than me.

"I mean, it's done." I continued. "I know it was done before, but this is for sure and permanent, we aren't having kids. Our genes will never live on."

"I suppose we can always reverse it if we want," he joked back. “You remembered to get frozen peas, right?”

***

Chad and I are 6 years out of our failed infertility journey - a journey that included tens of thousands of dollars, even more tears, countless injections, a surrogate, and three lost babies.

In the last six years, we have advocated for the infertility and loss community, published books, created our legacy and our happy, and I finally chose Jesus back.

It has been six years of fighting for, creating, and receiving this incredible life, of doing the work to make it all a gift.

We love our childless-not-by-choice life and we will always have lifelong wonders and grief.

Still, I was so over using condoms as a 39-year-old woman, preventing something that had the smallest hell-freezing-over chance of ever happening. As a woman, I had been the one responsible for birth control for much of my life, even if it was only to help my cycle or clear up my skin.  Still, I had to take the pill or endure the IUD, for years!  Plus, there is nothing like pumping your body full of synthetic hormones to try to have a baby that makes you want to never have synthetic hormones in your body ever again.

Hence, a vasectomy for a couple who can't have kids.

Should be simple, right?

Except, a decision, one as permanent as this, is the kind of thing that triggers that lifelong grief.

Then, on top of that bubbled up pain, we often judge it - it feels dumb and frustrating.

Damn it, I am sad.

It’s complicated.

This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with the lifelong sadness is the thing that many people have difficulty understanding when they stand across from me and my pain.

Simple: You’re sad. Fix it and figure out how to have the baby.

I get this a lot still, even 6 years out, especially in the faith community.

“Just adopt.”

“I am praying for a miracle baby for you guys.”

“Just try another round.”

When we stand across from someone and their pain, many of us will have the undeniable urge to take away that pain or fix it with what we think are simple solutions. We do this out of both love and our fear of vulnerability, because, the thought of feeling the sadness with someone is something that is often too scary.

This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with lifelong sadness is much easier, albeit not comfortable, to understand when you sit beside me with my pain.

Complicated: loving my childless-not-by-choice life and the forever yearning.

Because the thing is, I don’t want a baby now.

I want my three babies who would be six this year.

I want those babies.

So we made a decision to prevent pregnancy once and for all.

It is freeing and shitty.

It is exciting and sad.

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It is another reminder that this journey will never leave us.

It is The And.

I am a forever grieving mother and a woman who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.

So, I speak this truth because then I honor my three, I glorify Him, and I serve the world.

And, as always, I ask you to simply sit beside me and not across from me.

Right this minute though, feeling the yearning for my three, I gotta grab Chad a fresh bag of frozen peas.

Fertility Bridge: Flipping the Script is On Us

Whenever I get included in anything infertility and loss awareness wise there are three parts of my brain that fire:

  1. Ego – Duh, my story needs to be a part of this.

  2. Shame – Who do you think you are? You shouldn’t even be included, no one wants to hear or is ready for your story and message.

  3. Gratitude – Thank you so much for including me and remembering my scary story is more common than people think or want to admit.

My name is Justine Froelker, and I am the infertility advocate whose story scares the bejeezus out of most in our community.

A recap:

We tried IVF due to my history of back surgeries and body casts in high school.

We lost three babies.

The money was gone.

Our hearts were broken.

We stopped treatments before we got the babies.

We are not choosing adoption.

We are accepting a childless not by choice, or as I like to call it, a childfull, life.

I am a forever grieving mother who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.

I am happy and sad…you can watch my TEDx talk on that.

I am happier than I ever was before failed IVF because I choose every day to honor my three, and myself, in the work of happy. I realized the infertility journey had left me a shell of who I once was without the ability to ever go back to her, or even the desire to go back to her. I have fought for, created, and received this incredible life, a life that didn’t turn out how I hoped, dreamed or planned.

Infertility is not who I am. A woman without her children here on earth is not who I am.

Continue reading over at Fertility Bridge here.

The Extra of the Infertility Journey

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The friendships. A wholehearted truth. Renewed dreams. My reclaimed life.

Just a few of the extras of my infertility journey, none of the above a consolation prize of my hard story and three lost babies, rather gifts that I have fought for, created, and received.

My friendship with Kaeleigh, of Unpregnant Chicken, is one of those extras. Last week my friend, who I only met through the community of infertility and loss and this big awesome world of blogging and social media, released her first book. I am so excited to support her by being a part of this amazing blog tour and offering a giveaway! To be entered to win your own copy of Extra! simply comment on this post. I will draw a winner on February 15th, 2018. I am so proud of this project and it's offer to families who need a little extra to find their way to their version of the complete family portrait.

Make sure to follow along on this blog tour and check out Christine's post from Friday and Victoria's which is coming tomorrow!

He'll Do It Again

I’ve seen You move… You move the mountains. And I believe… I’ll see You do it again.

You made a way… where there was no way. And I believe… I’ll see You do it again.

I’ve been listening to this song over and over. I usually end up in tears as it amps up with this chorus.

We often hear how we need to ask God to move our mountains and we must also tell the mountains in our lives how big our God is.

He made a way, when there was no way for me in many ways throughout my lifetime. The biggest though was just over three years ago when I began the mighty faith wrestle into His waiting arms.

A wrestle that was only the result of the gift of my three. The old me would say it was when He took my three away. I suppose it is only a difference of semantics, and many could say both are true.

Five years later, I choose them as gift.

It was only in the darkness of grief and loss that I found the light, His and mine. He made a way for me to Him, when there was no way. Three lost babies and accepting life without children…only God can create such a mess. Five years out of our failed infertility journey I can say it has all been a beautiful mess – a true gift.

Because I am a daughter of the King, He loves me, I trust Him, and so I trust it.

Does it still hurt like hell? Yep.

This is the permission of The And, and it allows me to feel that sadness and the trust all at once, because therein lies my healing.

Friday my The Permission of The And TEDx talk officially hit the TEDx YouTube channel with over 9,000,000 subscribers.

And thus, comes another mountain.

Since the publication of Ever Upward, almost three years ago, the constant mountains in my life seem to be book sales, video view counts, and shares and likes. Now that both of my TEDx talks have posted, it seems like I have another gigantic mountain in front of me, to get enough YouTube views and likes to be featured on the TED website.

Except it finally feels different.

I want this bad, more views and likes means more people reached. More people reached means braver people living in this world and rewriting their stories of shame.

This is my purpose on earth – the mother He made.

But I no longer want it more than my own well-being and happiness. I no longer believe that the success of my work, paid or otherwise, has anything to do with my worthiness. I am putting it down at the foot of the cross once and for all.

I am enough and He’s got this.

No more hustling, no more begging. I will continue to do my part – creating life changing content, loving well, teaching those who are ready to receive, and finally having fun while doing it.

My belief is that it will grow.

How big? Only He knows that part.

And finally, I am going to let that be enough.

~~~

You are enough too. If you are ready to begin the work to believe this, I’d love for you to grab your brave and come do this work with me. Whether it is through my Therapy Thursday videos on Facebook or joining my Rising Ever Upward Video Course or attending a workshop or intensive, choose you, do this work, and rewrite your story.

The Heartbeat of 9 Million

The email was short and sweet,

It’s here!

Followed by the link.

A link to one of my dreams come true, the hardest work of my life, and a story of my sacred truth all there for an audience of over 9,000,000.

Whoa!

My hands shook and my heart pounded so hard and loud I could feel it pulsating throughout my whole body.

Fear and trust, excitement and surrender.

The And.

As I sent the link to everyone I know and refreshed the YouTube channel my pounding heart skipped a beat as I saw my other TEDx go live right before my eyes.

Two TEDx talks, both live, to over 9,000,000 in less than three hours.

Holy shit!

A squeal and a jump followed by an immediate hitting of my knees in gratitude and asking for protection, I felt washed over with a sense of knowing and unknowing all at once.

The And.

Here you go world, my two TEDx talks (The Permission of The And and The Donut Effect). Watch, share, give brave feedback, and share again. And, most of all, thank you.

 
 

The Moon of Fair and Prayer

I’ve had this post in my head and heart now for almost two weeks. I’ve sat down to work on it no less than 20 times in those weeks. Let’s call it the endless to do list of building my wholehearted empire, denial, grief, or fleeting creativity, it has not been penned until just now.

In which, I completely trust, this is when the words will be gifted to me.

It all started on a drive home two Sunday nights ago after a great dinner with some of our chosen family. Dinner conversation with three of my favorite boys about the movie Wonder, who their best friends are (I made the cut for Evan, that boy knows his audience), and then too much yelling and laughter about which girls they all like.

“Look at the moon,” I said to Chad as we were driving home much too late for a Sunday evening.

“Whoa,” he said with a catch of awe in his voice.

“Have you ever seen it like that before? The half on the bottom and not the side?”

“No. Kind of weird.”

“And, beautiful,” I reply.

We spend the rest of the drive in silence with worship music playing – grief and God wrestling in my head and heart.

My day had started with church, where as usual, I cried during worship, mostly tears from undone-ness in gratitude. Then, after weeks off due to tour and TEDx, I served in the 3rd to 5th grade room, where I ran the 3rd grade boys small group. The verse for the week was, 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:18

We began by discussing the worst things that could happen at home, school, and their sports or school activities . Most of their answers centered around peeing or pooping their pants or barfing, because… boys. Then we got to the tough part, how to still be grateful even when you’ve shit your pants at school.

Their answers of gratitude were so refreshing. Nothing from comparison or scarcity like so many of us adults do. Just true gratitude of what good could come from pooping your pants at school – like a new pair of pants and getting to talk to the really nice nurse.

Gratitude even in the shit.

It’s the holidays.

It’s no secret I struggle with the holidays.

Last year we only put up a tree. I managed to string lights on it, and still couldn’t bear ornaments because… grief.

They’d be five this Christmas.

How much fun would that be?

Chad asked if we could decorate just a little more this year and said we could go get a new tree of my choice if that could help. We settled on a small pencil tree, pre-lit and with ornaments already attached.

Because, that is where I’m at this year, and it’s progress.

And, I only cried in Menards once.

That weird half moon, with the half somewhere it didn’t really seem to fit and yet it shined brilliantly for all the world to see, felt like looking at me that night. Most days, especially during the holidays, I feel like that moon, never fitting in, a little off, and still brilliantly shining.

The moon is always a reminder of God’s grace for me, as are the sunsets, sunrises, basically anything nature.

But that night was different, maybe it was the song playing on the radio, saying something to the effect that it is all for God’s glory…even the hard, dark parts, even the shit I suppose.

When you don’t get to parent your children here on earth and grief is a part of your daily life, the holidays are hard for obvious reasons. It also really makes you wish that people would remember what Christmas is really about.

There is also another reason it is difficult though.

There are a ton of adorable pregnancy and birth announcements, and lots of them say what a miracle it is and how God answered prayers. Not much unlike the miraculous conceptions of Jesus and John, because sometimes even the Advent reading plans can be tough.

I love seeing the joy of my loved ones’ families growing. And, the enemy will never miss a chance to have that small voice torture me.

You didn’t pray hard enough.
You don’t deserve to be a mom.
You weren’t faithful enough.
You’re being punished.
It’s not fucking fair.

Here’s the thing, I know better now.

This is not about fair, or really prayer, for that matter.

Sure, God hears our every prayer. Hell, our prayers can even change His mind I think. At the end of the day, though, I don’t get to say which prayers of mine He answers. And, I for sure, don’t get to say how He answers them.

Now to the toughest part, because all you have to do is read the news to get a sense of how unfair it can feel that Chad and I don’t get to be parents in the traditional sense of the word and a bunch, like a freaking bunch, get to. Bottom line, fair or unfair, that shit is above my pay grade. I doubt I will ever get the answer as to why I don’t get any and why someone else I have deemed undeserving gets four. I know my clarity and full healing is waiting for me when I get to meet Jesus face to face one day.

In the meantime, I praise God for giving His only Son for us. I know in Him, because of Him, and through Him I am whole, loved, okay, and a message of grace for this world.

As I have wrestled with so much of the new teachings that have been brought into my life and reading more and more scripture, and wading through the glittered difficulty of the holidays, I was brought back to the moon just this past Sunday, a week after the ‘little off’ half moon.

I remembered just before bed that I had to go see the Super Moon. In my pajamas and socks, I ran out to the driveway to see the moon, something I actually do on a pretty regular basis. At first, the big, bright full super moon was behind a veil of thin clouds. Even veiled a bit, it still reflected it’s shining glory onto everything.

With a deep breath, I prayed,

Lord, Help me to lay it down for good this time, I don’t want this anymore. I know it was, and is, fair. Because you are good and I am your loved daughter. My sadness and grief can coexist with my trust in your fairness, because when I live in the permission of The And, I honor you, me, and them. It is all for Your glory, and you love me so much, it is also for mine.

And then, the clouds floated over the moon to reveal a perfect opening for all His glory to shine in and on.

My story is hard and it is beautiful. It is my message of grace and I will never stop loving it, trusting it, and speaking it.

It has nothing to do with fair.

It is the story He has written for me and for Him.

And, graciously, it has given birth to me.

~~~

Exciting adventures: My new newsletter is short, sweet, and full of great content, make sure to sign up here. I have a new prayer plan over at Reflective Prayer, use coupon code JustinePrayer for 15% off! And finally, my Rising Ever Upward for Network Marketers video course is now available!

I'm Still Here, Just Different

It has been a minute since I posted, about two months actually. Are you still here?

I am.

How are you?

I'm different...

I've spent the last two months traveling around the country offering my Rising Ever Upward workshops and intensives. Oh the stories I have...but you'll have to wait for that book to come out! I've met some incredible people, grown this tribe, visited super cool cities, and eaten my fair share of amazing food! I believe in this work more than ever and am honored to continue to offer it and live it.

I wanted to stop by with a few updates:

  1.  I booked a TEDx talk!!! Actually 2! I am speaking at TEDxDearborn October 13th and TEDxLaSierraUniversity November 10th. I will let you know if these events will be livestreamed, and of course, share once they have made the TED website!
  2. More workshops and intensives are coming soon! Make sure to check here for future dates.
  3. My next book, The Complicated Gray, is in final edits as we speak! And, I am in development for the next one too!
  4. This fall I am launching a 3 part video series based on my workshops and intensives for network marketers.

Now for the different... I have done a lot of work and growth this year, especially in changing my relationship with my pain. This has enabled me to reach more people and build what is slowly but surely becoming an empire. While my team (I have a team guys, small and mighty, yay!) and I get our barrings, especially in figuring out what this looks like starting first with a one stop, all inclusive new website, I'd love to share a series I have started on my Facebook page called #TherapyThursdaywithJustine (TT). Each week we will post a new TT video for you here. If you don't want to miss them live each Thursday, make sure to like and follow at www.facebook.com/justinebfroelker.

Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for the continued support, love, and prayers. There are really big and exciting things coming, and I can't wait to share them with my community here.

For now, here was a bonus TT (for FREE,  accountant Chad always likes to add) I did this week about judgment...

 
 

A Workshop and Dream

Tomorrow kicks off my Rising Ever Upward Tour, and there are not enough emotional words to type to accurately describe how I am feeling. Thank God I have this work to help me navigate it all.

Tonight I am offering a FREE workshop as I wrap up my 7 week Mini-Course, I'd love for you to join me. I'll be sharing a glimpse into what this work is all about and much more. You can read more about it here.

 
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I feel a lot of writing coming from me while on tour, some for the next book of course, and some for you all here. Thank you for your patience as I enter into this new stage of my career. I cannot thank this community enough.