Only One Could Have Ever Predicted This

I am still in grateful disbelief. No one could have ever predicted this.

No one.

Except of course the author of my life Himself. The Creator of the Heavens and Earth (we can agree to disagree on this point if needed) ;). The One who chose me to be their mother...

God Himself!

I am excited to share with you all that I now have a reading plan published on the YouVersion Bible app!

I searched, emailed and hustled for months trying to figure out how to submit a reading plan, as they have not been accepting submissions for a while now. I was unwilling to accept that there were only 3 infertility reading plans and I finally received an email back. Within a couple of weeks I got the email saying they accepted my plan and would be launching today, perfect timing for National Infertility Awareness Week!

I did not fight my way into my faith until after our infertility journey.  I know faith is hard for a lot of us, especially as we are trying to survive and thrive through and after infertility. But, as I have written before, I think it is important for us to have faith in something.

For me, this is faith in Jesus Christ as my savior. Trusting the plan God has written for me, even in those times I don't really like it, and doing the work to find my place in it. I can't wait to share my full faith testimony in the next book.

For now, I hope you find this reading plan helpful. And, as I already had a client say to me, "Infertility or not, it kind of applies to any struggle."

Yep, hard is just hard.

 
Screenshot (238)
Screenshot (238)
 

Download the YouVersion Bible app and search infertility or my name to find my plan or click here.

15 Promises to the Couple Dreaming of Babies

Five years ago this week Chad and I placed an ad on a surrogacy website beginning the journey to make our family. Besides the obvious differences of less hair (sorry Chad) and more wrinkles between our two pictures, there is a lifetime of things you cannot necessarily see. To start...

 
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  • a healthy, stronger and better marriage.
  • three babies who live only in our forever scarred hearts.
  • a woman found.
  • happiness.
  • trust and faith in God.
  • new curiosities, purpose and passions.

And so, with these five years of hell and back, through the darkness of a failed infertility journey, this is what I would say to that couple five years ago who was dreaming, planning, hoping and paying for babies:

  1. It will be okay. Even if you do not get the 2.5 kids out of this, I promise, it can be okay.
  2. You must turn towards one another; remember why you looked at one another and chose each other to do life with. I promise, it was not only to procreate.
  3. Find you and your identity in many things. And, it is not only as your roles to one another as husband and wife or your roles as parents.
  4. You can be pissed at God. It is okay to ask why and think you deserve more and better; and still feel His love and trust Him always. Don't forget to breathe and look up.
  5. Give yourself permission to feel it all, all at the same time; afraid and brave, sad and joyful, angry and accepting, longing and content. Your clarity, your answers and your truth lie in the complicated gray of it all.
  6. Decide your limits, how much and how long, together. Know they are not set in stone. Be honest with yourself and with one another. Ask for what you want and need. Together you can get through this stronger.
  7. Remain open. You will have many choices. What you think is not survivable, is. What you think is the only happy ending, is not the only version.
  8. You can always make more money but you must be realistic with the long term effects of spending what you don't technically have.
  9. Even though you will feel invisible and ignored for the rest of your life at times, trust you are seen, known and loved by those who really matter.
  10. Find the things to be grateful for, it will be the single most helpful and significant thing for coming out of this alive.
  11. Speak your story even more. It will be the only way you get the support you will desperately need through this.
  12. Forgive others often and over and over. They don't get it, but they do try and mean well most of the time.
  13. Don't be so harsh and judgmental towards yourself. Unfortunately, you will get plenty of this from some of your loved ones and society, be nice to yourself and to one another.
  14. It is only through this struggle that your dreams will come true. And even though they may not look like how you had hoped they are even more than you can imagine.
  15. You will be parents. And, every day you will honor and love your three in how much love and light you put into this world.
 
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The Longing Mother

They turned up the lights after one song. We usually sing four amazing rock-band-like songs which is one of the many reasons I love our church.

Then I remembered seeing the reserved seats walking in, “Reserved for families of children dedication”.

Shit. Oh, shit.

Today is the children’s dedication at church.

Click here to continue reading over at Still Mothers.

Penned Musing: Joy

I pause before I answer the questions. A pause both because I am annoyed by my own answer, but also because I need the words I am about to say to not only be heard but felt.

I'm finding it in Him.

She looks back at me with the expected annoyance that is also dusted with a bit of I want that too.

It's hard to explain. I fought religion and therefore my faith for so long. There is not much like being the unlucky girl who spends a year of her life in a body cast who grows up to be a mental health therapist who hears terrible and sick things in her office every day who can't have babies to make you pretty pissed off at God.

She nods her head back with the knowing of someone who has also survived great struggle and loss.

But we've all had struggle and loss haven't we?

She quickly replies from the familiar place of uncertain, desperate impatience,

But how? What do I do?

Treading with the caution of walking on thin ice I reply,

Maybe it isn't about doing at all? For me, it has been just the opposite, which is even more annoying since I am a major doer. But, I've had to surrender.

She now replies with an even greater annoyance that I have come to expect,

But how do I surrender?

And again, with authentic love in my voice I shine His light down the dark scary path,

I know right? I had to come to the end of myself. Realizing I can't do any of it all alone, and that I don't have to. I gave myself permission to be completely undone by His grace, by what He has done for me. Allowing myself to fall into His grace and trust He has the end of my story.

 
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*Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here.

The Wholehearted Hustle

I'm trying to finish getting ready. I know I am not late and yet there is an overwhelming sense that I am. I am rushing all around at lightening speed and no one is around to help.

I run down the hallway my heart beating at top speed as fly down the stairs. I push open the door so hard it bangs on the outside wall that the sound nearly brings me back to reality.

I feel the crisp air on my face and piercing my lungs as I try to catch my breath when the sound of the closing door stops me in my tracks realizing there is no one there and nowhere to go.

They left.

I am alone.

For months it seemed like this was the theme of my nightly dreams, different settings but always the same scenario and feelings; fear, sadness and confusion.

They left me. I am forgotten. They've moved on.

And, they didn't even look back.

I am invisible.

I've done enough work to know where these dreams are coming from. There is not any unconscious or subconscious bullshit that I am not aware of because I've done the work and live it every damn day.

As a woman without children and an infertility advocate without the "happy" ending not only do I hardly ever fit in but I am also often ignored and forgotten.

So why were these dreams beginning to plague me now?

It wasn't until I went to my Rising Strong™ facilitator intensive that I was able to see and therefore understand and even change this theme in my life.

In the Rising Strong™ work we identify a face down in the arena moment, a moment in our lives here we have fallen or failed or perhaps completely lost ourselves. It was only in picking myself back up and rewriting my story that I realized what was happening.

I'd been hustling for so long to build the platform of Ever Upward; working my ass of on posting, emailing, writing and submitting, all in hopes of my healthier messages reaching a bigger audience. Along the way in Montana I realized, with a lot of help and love from my tribe, that my mission had actually stolen my voice. What I learned further in my Rising Strong™ work is the reason for this; the inner critic of fear and shame.

I am feeling invisible.

Often feeling like the invisible advocate only seemed to strengthen my hustle but not in a healthy way. Rather, it was a hustle from scarcity as if trying to convince myself that I am enough. Finally, with the Rising Strong™ work I realized that this shameful and fearful part of me felt that if I didn't get Ever Upward noticed and keep hustling, that not only would I be unseen and invisible but my fear of disappearing would come true.

And yet, I know I matter. I will never disappear, even if I am unseen.

Because I am worthy.

The dreams have since stopped. In this work I have been able to again let go a bit more and walk even more into my own grace as my friend Susan says.

And yet, I know I am still a person of hard work and hustle.

I am determined.

But, for my well being and to honor the work I have done, and my truth, I must hustle from a place of wholeheartedness and not scarcity.

This clarity came right at the same time as a book was delivered on my doorstep (God knows when you are ready to receive).

I had preordered Hustle Believe Receive months ago and had honestly kind of forgotten about it.

And just like that my hustle became fun again and not desperate.

 
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I highly Sarah Centralla's book. I love her 8 steps to getting what you want in life because she makes them tangible and doable for everyone. It is also highly aligned with my values and the work of Ever Upward; we choose our lives and define our own happy ending. I especially love that she shares her story along with 51 other stories of people who believed they could, worked their asses off to create the lives they desire and allowed themselves the belief and love of themselves to receive it.

I am rising Ever Upward.

I just finished Sarah's Step5: #SeeIt and can feel the strength of my dreams empowering my hustle instead of it being powered by the fear of being left behind.

Because I believe in hard work. I believe in my voice, my truth and my dreams.

I believe in rising ever upward in the wholehearted hustle.

***Includes Amazon Affiliate links.

Hope: The Anchor for My Soul, Not My Plan

I wrote this piece for an online magazine but it did not get picked up. The crazy part is that I wrote it months ago when my hope series was the tiniest of ideas. Thought it was a great way to close the week, so here it is!~~~ Hope can be a tricky concept for many us, especially those of us who have gone through any kind of major struggle, trauma, loss or tragedy in our lives.

I am a survivor of infertility and loss.

Through our infertility journey hope at times was our best friend and at other times was our worst enemy.

You see my faith did not grow strong until after our infertility journey ended. And you may be surprised, as our journey ended without the desired result of babies. I usually tell people there is nothing like being a mental health therapist who struggled with infertility to make you be pretty mad at God.

And yet, here I am, my faith the strongest it has ever been.

This strength was not found in hope, but rather in allowing myself to doubt and question. And yes, to even be angry with God.

It was within my doubt, questioning and anger, and allowing myself to fully embrace it all, that His clarity washed over me.

And hope shined again; a healthier hope that is.

Not the hope that if we kept trying, kept praying, kept doing what society told us to do that God would do our will because we had hope.

I had to learn to let go of this hope because if I am truthful it was only the hope for things to turn out the way I wanted; how I thought things needed to be.

It was the clarity of a healthier hope that came with learning to practice active acceptance of what we cannot change balanced with the trust that He holds the end of our story.

Within my working faith, within the doubt and the questioning, I allowed enough room for hope to be a true anchor.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19 NIV)

This work has allowed hope to be an anchor for my soul, not a hope for my plan, but the clarity and trust in His.

And, so I will continue to hold His hope for my life, even if it has not necessarily turned out how I planned.

Because, I know he has the end of my story, and I trust it is amazing.

 
 

~~~

Don't miss Taking Flightnow available!

 
 

When Hope Grows Up: Part 3

Part two here

 
 

We like to check the box. We quickly categorize. We think in black and white.

Therefore, we also like to feel in black and white.

Happy or sad. Angry or joyful. Disappointed or at peace.

My education, training and professional experience have always taught me that this black and white thinking is simply not how we are wired. But our society does not embrace this much and the messy complicated gray of feeling too much of anything, let alone feeling conflicting things at the same time, has many of us are numbing and self-medicating ourselves to the utter loss of us.

However, I did not truly learn and embrace giving myself permission to feel it all, and feel it all at the same time, until going through and surviving the infertility journey.

Losing three babies, not being one of the success stories and choosing to define my own happy ending means I must choose to live the rest of my life making the room to feel it all.

Sadness with joy.

Trust with longing.

Parts forever missing and yet choosing to do the work to be whole.

Through giving ourselves permission to feel it all, all at the same time, we allow ourselves to move the the dark.

With this work, we make room for the light.

This is my hope.

My hope can no longer be that everything works out the way I wanted. My hope can no longer be that if you just try hard enough, never give up and do everything right, you will get what you think you deserve.

My hope is moving through the dark to make room for the light. My hope is in trusting there are no mistakes and choosing to do the work to respond to it with love, light and courage.

When hope grows up we give ourselves permission to feel it all, and to feel it all at the same time, because only then does our light shine.

~~~

Tomorrow we'll talk owning our enough; our truth.

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” ~ T.S. Eliot

~~~

Don't miss my new coloring journal, Taking Flight, now available via CreateSpace!!

 
 

Checking Expectations to Trust Disappointment

In reality my life, especially the last few years, has had it's fair share of disappointments. You know those gut wrenching ones, the disappointments where you've worked really hard for something, wanted it so badly, invested in it in more ways than financially and totally and completely manifested and saw it happening for you?

And then you find out it isn't going to happen?

The phone calls where we received the news a few years ago that none of our embryos took has been life defining, and one would think the ultimate disappointment that braces you for all future disappointments.

But I am learning, this simply is not how life works.

Each disappointment changes us, and much like the stories of our lives, we must choose how it changes us. To help with the part we do have control over, this choice, we also must be honest with ourselves in what our expectations were.

I expected infertility treatments to work for us; not only because I believe in hope (although this definition has greatly changed since then) and thinking positively but also because, if I am honest, I thought it was owed to me. Owed because I had already had hard and struggle in my life, it was about time something great happened.

What I know for sure now, is that we are owed nothing and this way of thinking only hurts us by keeping us in scarcity.

But, I completely fell into this thinking again with this most recent disappointment.

I invested time and money in training for a TEDx talk, specifically I really wanted to speak at TEDxBoulder. My talk is brilliant. I practiced, I visualized and manifested it all; even down to what I would wear and having it completely memorized already.

I knew it was a long shot as I am not from Boulder, my topic is challenging for many and my speaking experience is not yet impressive to some.

But I risked it anyway; and here I am completely admitting I believed it was possible because it was owed to me.

Owed because I have been clawing and shouting my way out of the shamed darkness that is the current conversation that surrounds infertility, pregnancy loss and recovery. Owed because I am tired, especially tired of feeling completely ignored. Owed because my words are so needed for many and yet I cannot seem to get them heard.

Owed because I already had the hard and struggle.

And once again, this is simply not how it works or who I want to be for that matter.

Every single time I feel the pull back into the shamed darkness, that feeling that maybe I need to move on, I get the light. The light of a message from a reader of how much my words and message have helped them. The light of the weirdest miracle happening. The light of my butterflies. The light of one more submission being picked up.

The light that despite not getting what we hoped, dreamed and maybe even paid for, we still have the choice to be okay.

This is the light of it being my choice to consider it pure joy (James 1:2).

It is my choice if I want to keep these forever empty arms full of my expectations and disappointments but then they will never be open to truly receive.

Considering it pure joy means I am thankful that my forever empty arms are open enough to receive what is.

 
 

The Miracle of the Monarch

At least I think so! Today I was blessed to be able to witness my first two monarchs emerge (eclose).

Which also means I spent the next several hours making this incredible video. I am so proud of it and hope you love it!

Mothering these monarchs the last month has meant more to me than words can express.

This is finding the ever upward in unexpected parenting roles.

And, I feel incredibly blessed.

 
 

Tread, Float or Just Stand

I have been blogging for a year and half now. A lot of learning, growth, healing and connection has happened in that year and a half. 190 posts of learning, growing and healing to be exact. As I am continuing to work on growing the platform of Ever Upward, I am growing my Justine Froelker's YouTube channel. You can find Self-Care Tip Tuesdays, funny videos of the dogs, tapping scripts, my appearance on Great Day St. Louis and videos of me speaking to old blog posts, so please subscribe!

I originally wrote Tread or Float in February of 2014. This is a slightly reworked and updated version of it, along with a NEW video explanation.

~~~

For the last 15 years I have had the honor of witnessing people journey through some of the most difficult times of their lives to emerge as happier, healthier and whole people. As a mental health therapist I fulfill multiple roles on a daily basis; teacher, healer, helper, educator, coach, big sister, mother, friend, confidante, trainer and, in all honesty, sometimes I’m the provider of a swift kick in the ass. Unbeknownst to them, my clients also, at times, fulfill these same roles for me as they are my reminders, and examples, of fighting the good fight to being better than okay.

Throughout the years of working with clients I have found there will be times where I must push, and I mean push really hard. Making sure they know they have the strength to change their lives; and that they are ready. There are other times where I will simply hold their hand, walking alongside them through their journey of self discovery, self doubt and finding peace. Then there are times, where I will take their hand and pull them forward, at times, begging them to trust me and try things a different way; to put one foot in front of the other and follow me.

No matter the concern someone is coming into therapy and coaching for, they are facing the hardest work of their lives. They are facing times of progress and times of feeling so stuck they can’t stand it. They will doubt their abilities, and maybe even mine to help them. They will get worse before they get better. They will at times hate me for the things I ask them to do. They will walk away and come back. They will push me away because it hurts that badly to trust someone or to have someone believe in them so much when no one else ever has.

They will question.

They will resist.

They will work.

They will change.

Simply, we will all face struggle.

Where we lose ourselves, I think, is when we make these struggles all of who we are. We turn them into our whole story. They become our entire identity, even when they start working against us rather than for us. We hold on so tightly to these struggles and what we think works to manage them that we lose the great parts, the whole parts, of who we are.

When our struggles are our whole story, we struggle to own those stories, and therefore struggle to find our ever upward. We must find the way to make these struggles simply parts of who we are, parts of our story.

But we hold onto the trouble, the trauma, the loss, the struggle because it is all we have ever known. We hold on because the unknown is scarier. We hold on because we have no idea what else to do. We hold on because, at least we’re surviving. We hold on because the old ways of coping because they have worked, we think they are our water wings, our life preservers.

But eventually, we hold on so tightly and so long, the very things that have saved us, that have helped us to survive, become our own cement blocks.

Our own cement blocks drowning us in ourselves.

What I ask my clients to work through and change every day is no less than an act of faith and trust. I am asking them to let go of their way. The way that has actually worked for years, at least worked in numbing or self-medicating themselves. The way that has helped them to survive but is now drowning them. I ask them to let go because if they don’t they won’t have any free hands to grasp onto the tools and the hope I am offering them.

They must let go in order to begin again.

But the most excruciating part of this battle, is that they must have faith that they will either float or tread water while they learn, grow and change.

Because they will. They will tread or float, and I will be right there with them; coaching, believing, pushing and loving.

And eventually, they will be able to grasp onto those tools.

But most importantly they will find their freedom to finally believe in the hope I hold for them.

And they will save their own lives.

They will find their own ever upward.

For me, I have also come to trust that not only can I trust and have faith in myself that I can tread or float but also there is a firm foundation just underneath me that I can trust. Reading one of my Sarah Young devotionals one night, helped me feel it completely. Just underneath me in the ocean of life, in the water that I may feel like it drowning me, are His hands.

I just have to stand.

 
 

Shining My Faith Through Doubt and Wonder

My dad asked to borrow my bible, (The Voice version) to see if he likes it. I, of course, said yes when he noticed I had a bunch of papers stuck in it. I mindlessly took them from him and placed them on my meditation/prayer altar and did not think of them again until this morning during my prayer and meditation time. One was a letter I wrote to God at the end of our church's Explorations class. Honestly, the class that changed it all for me. This is what I wrote one year ago to God and probably to myself all at the same time,

This has been some of the most challenging years of my life, which I feel like is saying a lot considering what I've already been through. And yet, I finally feel, not only more me, but I am finally feeling at peace with me, with You, with it all. I think I need permission to doubt and question, and then I really needed to admit that I was, and maybe still am, so angry at You for what I've deemed as unfair. And yet, I also know at the same time that I don't get that power of what is fair or unfair in this life, in Your kingdom or what You have planned for me. And more than ever before, with this knowledge, with this peace, with Your grace, I am finally trusting You. I feel this sense, Your spirit, inside of me; almost always. I'm still definitely learning and questioning and figuring out how to do this all, but it is with this sense of faith that I'm both proud and a little scared. But I also am going to give myself permission for that fear because I don't ever want to lose my wonder about this all or about You.

A year has passed since I wrote these words and my sense of trust in them has only grown. This sense that I can stop treading water so hard all the time and know that His hands are underneath me to help me float. This sense that everything will be okay, even if I am not loving it all right now.

A year ago this week was when I walked into the waters of baptism and every day since has been full of growth and wonder. This coming weekend I will take part in my church's baptism services. I will walk on stage and share my faith testimony with our congregation of thousands. And, in front of those thousands of people my "cardboard testimony" will have the word infertility on it.

What I hope is that I give someone else permission to seek themselves through this journey of infertility.

To know that everything will eventually be okay as we define our own happy ending.

To know that this journey has nothing to do with punishment or what is fair or unfair.

To know that through embracing the complicated gray, they will actually find their truth.

My prayer is that in that dreaded, and yet now completing word to me, infertility, the hope of being okay can shine. And, most of all, that we all can trust that we can rewrite parts of our story, trusting in how He has it all in His hands, and that the end of our story is nothing short of a grace filled miracle.

 
 

Getting Out of Our Own Way: What We Look For We Will See

Shift your perspective.

Believe in miracles.

The universe is working completely in your favor.

God's timing is perfect.

Be the change.

We've all heard something to the effect of all the above statements. On some days we believe and practice them with our whole hearts. On other days it does not seem that easy.

My faith is the strongest it has ever been. I feel lighter than I have ever felt. I honestly believe it is all possible.

And yet, there are days that my own self doubt, inner critic, comparison, and some days just life, get in the way of it all.

No, in reality, I allow it to steal it away from me on those days.

I have recently started reading Pam Grout'sE-Squared and frankly had to share my own manifested miracles with you all.

Starting the book I had my fears and my doubts, especially as a Christian.

Was I not trusting God by even reading this book?

Pam quickly dispelled my fears. As she writes:

"The FP (field of potentiality) is a force field that's equally available to everyone. It's a natural capacity in all of us, not an exclusive gift bestowed upon a few. In fact, that is the primary lesson Jesus taught. God is within. You are part of God. You can perform miracles."

"Jesus is our brother, our legacy, the guy we're supposed to emulate."

"The will of God, for those who insist on using that term, is the ceaseless longing of the spirit in you to become all you're capable of being. Amen."

And from these words, I was on board enough to try to her experiments and honestly it didn't take me long to open my heart and mind to the possibilities.

The possibilities God has right in front of me, just waiting for me to believe in.

Experiment #1: The Dude Abides Principle

Bottom Line: We are surrounded by infinite possibilities, all we have to do is ask for them. I asked the universe/energy/field/God (for me, I call it God) for a clear sign/blessing/gift and it had 48 hours to show it to me. My deadline was Monday May 25th at 4:36pm.

That morning I sat outside with my morning smoothie observing what could only be an introductory flight lesson between mom and dad robin and their three baby robins. The babies were just about popping out of the little nest they had built on top of our light right outside our back door. I, of course, had been checking on them multiple times a day for the last few weeks. I swear, I would be an animal hoarder if it weren't for Chad. And yes, I squeal with childlike wonder and joy at the sight of any baby animal. After the flight lesson I also watched breakfast be served. I knew this was incredible but still felt there was more to come.

Just a few hours later, both Chad and I were outside and Chad went up to the nest to take a peek. All of a sudden all three babies flew/fell out of the nest in all different directions.

We just witnessed their first flight.

Within seconds at least ten adult robins descended upon us, making sure their new family members were safe. Each baby seemed to pair off with an adult and hop/skipped/flew off.

It was such an incredible moment; a true, fulfilling gift.

Experiment #2: The Volkswagen Jetta Principle

Bottom Line: According to Pam, the world out there reflects what we want to see. She says that it's nothing but our own illusions that keep us from experiencing peace, joy and love. The assignment was to count how many sunset beige cars we saw in the next 24 hours; then the next 24 hours how many yellow butterflies.

What we look for we will see!

My deadline for the car count was Monday at 5:30pm. My day started of strong and fabulous with my self-care morning routine. And then I totally got in my head about the book. That inner critic coming in and reminding me of scarcity and comparison. I left for my office to see 8 clients that day in a not so great mood (that I now realize I had completely created myself). I only have a short commute to work and up to that point I had only counted about 5 sunset beige cars, and admittedly, was not super impressed with this experiment thus far. On my commute I remembered, oh yea I need to count cars!

In my eight minute commute I counted 20 sunset beige cars.

I literally laughed out loud and looked up,

Got it! Look for what you want to see and you will see it.

If this isn't true perspective shift I am not sure what is. The next 24 hours I counted 7 yellow butterflies, and yes I couple of them I completely created myself in my butterfly coloring book that morning.

This is creating the life you want.

This is just the beginning...

I will post about my experiences with the next experiments but can already tell you, I am a believer.

A believer in God, in endless possibility and in myself.

I have always, especially in these last few years of practicing my recovery, known how much our lens we see the through world effects everything.

And that lens is completely within our control.

Things are always in our favor, everything is a message and it can be, and will be, incredibly amazing.

If we just get out of the damn way, believe it and live it.

This is the life I want to live and embody, one of light, love, belief, and of course, ever upward.

 
 

~~~

Keep those Amazon reviews coming please. And, keep an eye on my social media, I have some exciting changes and things coming up!

Shifting the Definition of Success

She is out there; for all the world to love and judge. She has been born; for all the world to embrace or reject.

She is shining bright; whether or not she sells or bombs.

At this point the making of Ever Upward has been years, and as of last week she has now been born into this big, scary and incredible world.

And, it feels awesome.

 
 

Saturday was my first book signing in a real book store. I went in with absolutely no expectations, or at least I tried as the very normal human being that I am.

No expectations=no disappointment.

Right?

And, just like everything else in this incredible journey, He had a lesson for me.

I had 20 people RSVP for the Facebook invite. The store manage at Barnes & Noble said that if I sold 10 books it would be considered a very successful signing.

Part of me me thought for sure this was doable. And of course, that perfectionist part of me desperately wanted those 10 sales, better yet 11!

But then there was reality. It was a super nice day in St. Louis on Saturday, which is sometimes hard to find in early Spring. I am a first time author. And, my book is about one of the most shamed and misunderstood topics in our society.

Shit, I'd be lucky if I sold a couple books. And 45 minutes into the signing, I had settled for selling even just 1.

Panic did try to settle in off and on, especially those first 45 minutes.

But, I fought her off by choosing my perspective. I practiced gratitude.

I am an author. I am an author signing her first book in a real bookstore. 

God, I am grateful.

And of course, He quickly started showing exactly why I was there that day for my first book signing.

And, it was not to sell books. For the record, I only sold 3 or 4 that day and only a few of those 20 RSVPs showed up.

I was there to connect and educate people.

First, was the older woman who stopped by and told me about her grown children who went through infertility. As we chatted, she was adamant that they got kids though so they are completely fine and would not need my book. You can bet I took that moment. I pointed out that part of the title is Lifelong because the infertility journey changes us forever, even if you do get the happy, healthy kids out of it.

No sale but she promised to tell her kids about the book.

Next there was the woman who looked at me with the fellow warrior compassion and said, "I had to go through infertility too and it didn't work for me either." She then told me about her two amazing daughters she adopted from China. We talked about the childfull life and the scars that the infertility journey leaves us with.

No sale but we connected as mothers, her as a mother to her adopted girls and me as a childfull mother.

That perfectionistic panic and doubt tried really hard to take over here. If I couldn't get these two women to buy my book, then I did not stand a chance of making one sale today.

And then He gifted me the moment that the entire day was for.

A mother and her three kids were lingering by the table, I smiled and said, "Hi!"

The mother then pushed the younger daughter forward and said, "She would really just like to meet a real life author."

My heart soared and I smiled hugely, "I guess that is me, I am a real life author now."

The girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old came right up.

"How do you exactly write a book?" she asked excitedly.

 
 

As I am telling her my book writing process her mom picks up Ever Upward to read the cover and the back cover, she lights up, "They're IVF babies!" as she places her hands on the tops of the girl's and her twin brother's heads.

She goes on to explain that they both know how hard mom and dad had to fight to get them and how they are products of infertility treatments. And then her eyes fill with tears as she realizes that infertility did not work for me. I tell her that Ever Upward is about my journey, defining my own happy ending and how I live a childfull life.

And, that I am okay.

The conversation continued with much excitement. I gave the little girl an Ever Upward journal, "For free!?!", she exclaimed. And she asked me to sign it.

I made her promise that she would write in it every day for at least 30 minutes because this helps our creative writing muscle grow. Her mom then explained that she would be homeschooling next year and she looked at her daughter and said, "Maybe she will be your English pen pal? Why don't you ask her?"

I of course said yes. As they walked away, I took that all familiar deep knowing breath and felt my soul settle, tears came to my eyes and I got it.

No sale but an amazing moment of childfull living.

That is ever upward.

I was in the bathroom when they were checking out with their other purchases, the little girl was upset when I wasn't at the table anymore. When she realized I hadn't left she ran up and gave me a huge, and quite possibly, the best hug ever. I reminded her to keep writing and to definitely email me.

I pray I hear from her and I pray her mom knows how much that moment meant to me. And best of all, I am so thankful that some of my closest friends and my family were there to share this with me.

I have always known Ever Upward was not about the royalty pay outs or the fame. But, society (and my own perfectionism) can really challenge this truth at times. I am thankful that through practicing my daily work in recovery, I was open enough to accept the gift of what my book signing was really meant to be for and mean; connection and education.

Doing this work allows me to be open to what He has in store for me, the true gifts. It is only through this lifelong work that I allow it to be good.

Better than good; ever upward.

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If you have read Ever Upward, leaving a review on Amazon helps in the exposure the book gets on search engines and I appreciate the feedback so much. Please consider leaving a review.

National Infertility Awareness Week is next week. Please consider viewing, sharing and telling CNN that my iReport story needs to be featured. Help those still in the trenches of infertility and those of us who it didn't work for know they are not alone.

The Completeness of Just the Beginning

 
 

On Friday I was surprised by an email from the Barnes & Noble in Saint Louis where I will be doing my first book signing with this incredible picture! There she is, my baby, on the shelves of an actual bookstore.

I literally gasped with tears of joy.

As I have come to expect of life, my life especially, there will always be joy right along with the struggle.

That night Chad and I attended our first class of a marriage seminar our church offered. I had requested to not be seated with couples who had young children for obvious reasons. We sat down and directly across from me was a woman who was about 6 months pregnant.

I looked at Chad and whispered, "You've got to be fucking kidding me."

Yep, I totally said that in church.

Then we learned the couple next to us was also expecting, 11 weeks along.

I took a breath, held back the tears, looked up, said a quiet prayer and said out loud, "Challenge accepted."

It was a great first class, I learned so much about what a healthy, biblical marriage looks like. I also gained a better understanding of Ephesians 5; an understanding where I do not gag on the word submit.

Class ended and I knew I had to face the pregnant women again tomorrow and I would choose to be okay. When I turned my phone back on I was notified that the Thunderclap campaign went through. Thank God! Of course you can still sign up but since we had 100 people pledge a post it means that over 91,000 people will be notified of the Ever Upward launch on April 7th. When I turned my phone back on, I also was able to read one of the most amazing reviews someone had posted on Amazon!

The dark with the light, the joy with the struggle; this is what you get when you choose to live an engaged, wholehearted courageous life. 

And it is worth every single second.

Saturday night Chad, my parents and my friend Lindsay ventured to the bookstore to see Ever Upward in person. We wandered together at first trying to find that beautiful orange breakaway monarch on the cover but eventually we split up.

"I found it!"

I had shouted way too loud for a bookstore.

I stood there by myself for just a few seconds in this moment of awe; overwhelmed by a completeness and yet, the sense that this is really just being the beginning.

 
 

I felt proud. I felt accomplished. I felt happy. I felt deserving. I felt excited.

In that moment I allowed myself to feel all the goodness.

 
 

But, along with all that goodness also comes the reminder of the journey I had to survive to get here, the losses that have forever scarred my heart and the part of me that will always be different.

I am learning this journey never ends. I will never be complete or at the end of it; or at least in how I expected. It will only be through my own work and recovery, through my connections and relationships and through my faith that I am okay.

Just as I sang in church today, "I stand in Him complete." And so, even though I may never feel the completeness of finality, I know I can find it in Him. I know He has this; just as He has Maddie and my three never to be babies.

I know in Him I rise ever upward and therefore this is just the beginning.

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I am so close to hitting 50 reviews on Amazon before the April 7th launch. If you have read Ever Upward please consider doing a review. Just click the Kindle version of the book, click the customer review link under the title, then click write my own review.

You may also notice I have added a tab in the menu. If you are interested in the all natural health and wellness supplements I personally take and recommend to my clients you can check out more info there.

Guest Post: Life Is Messy

In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks.

This week we have a post from Elisha over at Waiting for Baby Bird. Elisha has been a huge support of Ever Upward and a great friend and honestly faith mentor to me (even if she doesn't know that until now). I appreciate and love her vulnerability as she writes about her struggles and triumphs through infertility, fostering and standing stronger than ever in her faith.

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Life Is Messy

 
 

I scroll through Facebook and I look at everyone's beautiful pictures on Instagram and as much as I try not to, comparison sneaks in and starts to fatigue my soul. Thoughts of...she is prettier...her cooking is better...their clothes are nicer...their life is easier...her house is perfect...their marriage is flawless...and so on roll through my mind. And before I know it, I feel like I have been in a mugging.  Comparison comes, punches me in the gut, and steals my joy.  It makes me feel as if I am not enough and what I have accomplished isn’t enough. Especially since this is the view of my bedroom this morning. Oh how I wished it didn't look like this. Instead I wish the clothes were folded and neatly put away. The drawers were closed. My bed was made with the pillows perfectly arranged on top and everything else was in its proper place and therefore worthy of a picture to post for the world to see and click “like.” And then turn around and pridefully give myself a pat on the back for how many "likes" I got.

But it's not.  And the one thing I have learned about comparing my life with hers or his or theirs, is that no matter what I am comparing it to, it is an ugly thing.  It has the ability to instantly and without warning replace my happiness and joy with bitterness, jealously, envy, and hopelessness as I only begin to start seeing what other people have that I want. It creates a type of tunnel vision to where everything around me starts to look dark and gloomy.  And it creates the false belief that God is sitting up there picking favorites.  Which I know is wrong according to Romans 2:11 which states, "God does not show favoritism." But still, I can't shake the thought.  Can you relate? If so, you are not alone. I am not alone.

In Justine Froelker's book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Define Your Own Happy Ending, she says that comparison definitely got the better of her more times than not.

But the truth that we need to have resonate in our souls is that we can't judge our insides by someone's outsides. We can't compare ourselves to what we think we know about someone just by reading their status updates, looking at their perfectly filtered Instagram photos, or seeing them stroll through Target.

Because that woman I became jealous of the minute I saw her with a shopping cart full of kiddos or holding a precious newborn baby, might just be fostering. Or perhaps she once struggled too. And that husband and wife who I always see smiling together, might actually be struggling behind closed doors. And the momma who looks like she has it all together, might be hanging on by a thread. Or that family who has the fancy cars, trendy outfits, and extravagant vacations might be drowning in debt.  And that meal my friend posted and bragged about cooking could actually taste like...well, crap. And those Pinterest projects they always do with their kiddos probably cost them too much money and added unneeded stress to their day. (Side note: It is okay to stick with Play-Doh.  It is cheap and not as stressful.)

So friend, let me be the first to say, it’s time you and I start taking it easy on ourselves.  Because just like my room is messy, so is life. Life is messy. It's scattered and unorganized. It's dirty and more often than not, it never looks the way we want it to.  But despite the messy, scattered and unorganized parts, there is something I have learned over the course of time and through reading Justine’s book; and that is the prettiest filter through which we can view our lives, is the one that recognizes the beauty even through all the mess.

It is the laundry that needs to be folded because we are blessed to have clothes to wear.

It is our husbands dirty socks thrown on the floor next to the clothes hamper that remind us of how hard working he is to provide for the family.

It is the unmade bed that reminds us we had a soft and warm place to lay our heads down at night.

It is the blankets not folded and put back that remind us of when they were used for snuggling.

It is the dirty dishes in the sink that serve as a reminder of the stories exchanged over dinner. And it's the contents of your fridge that look more like a science experiment that remind us that the reason it wasn't eaten, was because we have more than enough...

It is easy to want life to look a certain way and get frustrated when it doesn't. But friend, despite it not always looking like what we imagine, it is still okay. It is okay because while life can be messy, scattered and unorganized, it can also be beautiful when we choose to look through the filter of gratitude and love and joy.

So my sweet friend, if today you are struggling with the way your life looks, just change the filter. Try to look past the mess and see the beauty. It's there. I promise.

 
 

I love to connect with new readers and friends!  Stop by my blog at waitingforbabybird.com or let's get connected on instagram at @waitingforbabybird or through my facebook page by clicking here.  I can't wait to "meet" you!

My Christian Complexity

I am a Christian. I curse...a lot. I have tattoos. I believe in the power of love and connection. I believe in the Universe. I am afraid and brave all of the time. I doubt and question a lot. And, I believe.

I am complex.

The EQUINOX is here on March 20th 2015 and a powerful portal is opening up with a TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE and New Moon in Pisces on the same day!

What does this means exactly. As I have read and been told by some of my much better educated in this realm friends, it means rebirth and starting anew, a reset and the power to get it all done!

Sounds like my kind of magic and exactly what I (and we all) need.

But I had to ask my friend Kaeleigh, "But what does that mean for me?"

To which she reminded me that I am pretty aligned with these things and making the world a better place. But, I had to push her.

"But what can I do?"

I mean, I'd like to capitalize on this too! Ever Upward could really use this power right about now!

And her response seriously made me laugh out loud.

"For you oh, Christian magoo, I suggest meditating and maybe a vision board."

I love it. She's right, how does one combine this kind of thought with their Christian faith?

My self-care includes practices such as yoga, meditation, tapping and believing in the power of the Universe. This may make some Christians cringe. But, when I refer to the Universe I believe the Universe was created by God. And yes, Jesus is my Savior.

Can I hold onto to these truths? I think so. I mean life is hard and people are complicated. And, thus you have the complexity of me. As I think we all are. Just as I told one of my clients today as we were discussing God, life and recovery; do what you feel drawn to, what works for you and give yourself permission that it doesn't necessarily have to fit in one box.

Be you.

Be fully you, in all her complex glory.

I responded to Kaeleigh that this Christian needs some fucking star power, pixie dust, unicorn glitter and magic too. And, so I meditated (as I do every day). And I prayed. And prayed. And prayed some more. And read some scripture. And, I made that vision board, filling it with hopes, dreams and realities. And, I've decided to share it with you because then it is like planting it in the fertile ground to grow strong roots toward the ever shining sun. Because, the world needs the light of healthier messages of ever upward in the infertility, loss and recovery world. And, I am ready to shine it.

 
 

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Only 18 days left on the Thunderclap campaign and 10 pledges left for the world to see Ever Upward on their social media walls on April 7th. Please help me by pledging a post.

If you have read Ever Upward, please consider doing an Amazon review. I am trying to get to 50 reviews by launch. Just click the Kindle version of the book in order to do so. Thank you!

Guest Post: A Mighty Throng

In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks.

This week we have Lisa from Amateur Nester. Incredibly, just like many of my other friends in the blogging community, I cannot say for sure how Lisa and I found one another. All I know is that it was no mistake and God's timing has been perfect. I have learned so much from Lisa's journey especially in regards to her strong faith through her infertility journey. I am thankful to have her to look up to and respect, especially for me in the faith department. Mostly, I am simply thankful for her joyful shout she shines into the world.

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A Might Throng

I recently came across the Bible verse Psalm 68:11, “The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.”  Regardless of whether you practice the Christian faith, the image of a “mighty throng” of women proclaiming truth should stop us in our tracks.

It makes me think of all the women out there who use their blogs to spread hope and positivity during infertility or childlessness.  One tiny blog might not reach many people on its own, but when you think about the combined reach all the bloggers have, the more stunning the imagery in the Bible verse becomes.

Some of you might be thinking about how you can spread light to others.  Perhaps you are interested in starting your own blog.   Maybe your first step is just sharing your story over coffee with a friend or co-worker.  Or maybe you feel a calling to write a book.  Everyone’s gift and talents are unique, so there are so many creative ways we can give hope to others.

Even if you only pass your hope and positivity on to one other person, you are part of this “mighty throng” of women.

So start your blog, and keep writing even if no one appears to be reading yet. Give your testimony at church. Take your neighbor to coffee. Give support to people going through tough times on Twitter or Facebook.  Proclaim truth and light for the benefit of others. And as each of us reaches one person at a time, we are indeed a mighty throng!

Lisa Newton writes about her infertility journey and the faith that gets her through at Amateur Nester.  She lives on the California Central Coast with her husband, Tom, and their spoiled orange cat, Hemingway.

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Please consider spreading the word and signing up for my Thunderclap campaign for the April 7th bookstore release of Ever Upward!  Be a part of spreading positive light and education in a social media flash mob!

Also, don’t forget to send me those questions for the Ever Upward Book Club!

A Convoluted Christmas

I know I am not alone this Christmas; I am not the only woman who's heart is filled with joy yet sorrow. I know I have millions of fellow warriors in my club; the club of infertility. And, yet a significant part of me feels very alone.

I didn't get to play Santa into the wee hours of the morning doing last minute wrapping and assembly. I wasn't woken up by excited children at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought.

I feel sorrow.

Last night I did get to attend a beautiful Christmas service without being distracted by a child on my lap. Last night I got to eat out at my favorite nice restaurant, share a bottle of wine with my husband and have adult conversation and connection.

I feel joy.

I scroll through social media to see all the matching pajamas, the smiles in front of the tree surrounded by wrapping paper everywhere and pure Christmas joy. I Skype all of my chosen children to see what Santa brought them and to see them open the gifts we sent.

I feel sorrow.

 
 

The dogs play with their new toys and make a us laugh as they do every single day. I cook for the family Christmas we have this afternoon and for our own Christmas dinner tonight. And, I know tonight we will get to play games, have some more wine and have this Christmas to continue to figure out what our Christmases will look and feel like without children for the rest of our lives.

I feel joy, I feel sorrow, I feel it all.

I am struggling with how convoluted it all feels. I feel the freedom and less stress perhaps without having children at Christmas time. And yet, I feel so sad and maybe even a little empty without them. I can feel the miracles that are Christmas, including my three little ones looking down on me. And yet, I feel the ever upward clarity that I am okay.

I guess, I just feel it all. I am not sure what to do with it. I am not sure how to communicate it. And, I am not sure what it all means.

Our second Christmas without our should have been babies, and yet our second Christmas defining our family traditions and finding our ever upward; parts just us and parts childfull.

And, the permission to embrace it as it is, to practice my recovery more than ever today and to own it; sorrow, joy and all.

My Ever Upward Mothering

Exhausted; physically and emotionally to only be on a late flight home the Sunday before Christmas on December 21st, 2014. December 21st, one of my seared dates, a day I was supposed to become a mother two years ago, even though I now know I became a mother the day a dreamed of becoming one.

Just a few days ago on December 21st, when I shouldhave had a two year old on my lap, God wrapped my seared date up with the perfect ending. The old me, before working on my recovery, would have been crushed, frustrated and sad with the ending I was given that day. And, I will admit there was still a part of my heart that felt that punch to the gut. But most of my heart and soul knew that this ending was perfectly imperfect, the complicated grey and the warm embrace from God reminding me that I am better than okay.

I had spent the three days prior to December 21st witnessing and helping my in laws, my family,through Chad's sister, Becky, receiving a heart transplant. Three weeks prior we had been through the heart ache and scare of not knowing whether she would make it and of wondering how long she would have to wait for a new heart. During that week, I mothered. And those three days prior to what would have been the 2nd birthday of our never to be baby, I mothered again.

I supported by writing the Caring Bridge site. I bossed around loved ones, reminding them to eat and sleep. I provided space to doubt, question and talk through the gravity of the experience. I helped feed Becky in her early days of recovery with her new heart. I helped wash her hair, combed through it and made it as pretty as possible. I reminded her of and reflected back to her the strength that she has, the power to be whoever she wants to be and that she deserves the world, especially from those around her. And, I cheered her on and cried tears of joy as she accomplished her first walk down the ICU hall with her new heart.

I mothered.

I mothered not my own children but I mothered no less.

I mothered in the way that I am accepting and embracing but also defining myself.

 
 

Because, as my friend Kelly has seared into my heart and soul, I am meant to mother the world.

As I was helping and taking care of everyone at the hospital, the significance of the date had slipped my mind, for I was distracted putting everyone else above myself, just like moms do.

December 21st, the due date of our last embryo.

But December 21st (or August 31st) will never again pass without significance for me. Which is exactly when God gave me that nice nudge and warm embrace I needed. Reminding me by placing me on a plane home, the Sunday before Christmas, not only on a flight filled with kids but with several right around me. The two year old and his five month old brother in the row in front of us and the adorable six month old little girl right next to me and her 18 month old sister across the aisle from her. For just a second, as I smiled and talked to that bright blue eyed and full joy six month old named Zoe, I felt that twinge.

That twinge of damn it, not fair. Seriously, after everything and on this day You sit me surrounded by adorable kids?

But, then I felt the light. The light I've worked hard to define myself and the work that I have practiced in finding my ever upward. The light that comes with the deep knowing breath and the grateful smile, that this is exactly as it is meant to be, there are no mistakes and He's proud of my journey. So proud that He sat me next to those kids on that flight home, not as a punch to the gut but as that pat on the back, the hand on the shoulder and the embrace to say:

You are okay. You have done the work to be well with your soul. Continue the journey out of the ashes, it never is fixed but rather continues to heal.

And, making sure I know He is pouring my heart and soul full of the message:

You are doing your ever upward mothering and you are doing good My child.