Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Currently: March



The currently posts are usually shared on the first Wednesday of each month, but in my scatterbrained struggle, I just totally forgot last week! There has been a lot going on and it just totally slipped my mind. So here's what is going on currently, because it's always better late than never, right?

Scheming: I am scheming up fun ways to share about my new book, which launches in just a few short weeks! It is called Choosing Contentment, and I am very excited about it.
Reading: It took me a while, but I finally finished Michelle Obama's book Becoming. It was incredible! So well written and insightful. Now I am reading Emily P. Freeman's Simply Tuesday as an exercise in learning how to notice the small things.
Buying: Nursery decor! Rory found the perfect glider through a selling app and went to get it for me last weekend. Now that we have that I am super excited about the rest of the nursery will come together.
Making: Lots of smoothies! A couple months ago Rory bought me a Ninja blender and I am obsessed with it. It is hard to get in all the calories I need in this last trimester without eating a bunch of junk, and smoothies help fill me up in the morning.
Accomplishing: A few things on my to-do list each day. It is easy for me to not feel like I am getting much done if I don't complete my list, but I want to be sure that I recognize that some productivity is better than none at all!

What are you up to currently?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Sweetest Season



The journey to pregnancy was unlike how I thought it would be. I took so much for granted- my presumed health and the ability to carry a child. I assumed that because I wanted to be a mother, it would be easy to conceive. Doesn't God (automatically) give us the desires of our hearts?

If you've been following along here for a while, you know that the journey to pregnancy was anything but easy. Months and months of charting my cycle, BBT, ovulation kits, and "just not trying" all seemed to lead to nowhere. That is, until last September when we were given the greatest surprise of all.

All of a sudden, the prayers we had sowed were worth it. We were reminded again that God's ways are not like our own. And we were oh so grateful and humbled that He has given us the privilege of bringing this sweet boy into the world.

When I was waiting and waiting and waiting on my now husband to magically appear, I wrote him letters and also wrote in my journal about all the dreams I had for us- what we would do together and characteristics I hoped he embodied. These prayers were so instrumental, and I truly believe God heard and answered the deepest desires of my heart. Now I write prayers and dreams and hopes for this little one that God has entrusted us with, and it seems surreal.

It is hard to believe that I am now in the last trimester of this pregnancy, but alas, here we are! I simultaneously want to slow down time and speed it up. Pregnancy has been full of joy for me; I love being pregnant and know I will miss it. But I also cannot wait to meet my little buddy and hold him in my arms and on my chest.

I feel like pregnancy gets a bad rap these days- people talk about how uncomfortable they are and how annoying it is to give up certain foods and drink. And I get it. I do. I sometimes feel like a whale because I have to roll out of bed. And there are certain foods and beverages I cannot wait to be able to enjoy again. But every single minute has been worth it. And I know that when I see my sweet boy's face, I will keep saying, "Thank You, Father, for this miracle. Thank You for giving me my heart's desire and entrusting me with this sweet and precious life." So I embrace the awkwardness of this season and keep saying thank you, knowing that God is using it to continue to draw me closer to His heart.

Monday, February 11, 2019

To My Friend Walking Through Infertility



Dear Friend,

You are seen and loved. Your story matters, and God has not forgotten about you. He sees you each month when you are reminded that your dream has yet to be fulfilled. He sees you when you try that new diet and are so tired of eating food you don't really enjoy. He sees you charting your temps and giving yourself those hormone shots. He sees you at the baby shower you really didn't want to attend. He sees you in the baby aisle at Target, crying inexplicably and wondering when it will be your turn. 

God is not silent in the midst of your pain. In fact, He is right beside you. He loves you with an infinite love, and He has written your name on the palm of His hands. He could never forget you.

So here is my prayer for you, sweet friend.

My prayer is that you know the depth and width and height of His love. I pray that you find His grace in each moment and remember that His mercies are new every morning. I pray you remember that it is ok to not be ok. I ask for God to open the heavens and rend down His blessings by opening your womb and allowing your body to do what it was created to do. I ask that He remind you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, which means that there is nothing "wrong" with you. I ask that He remind you of His great love for you in myriad ways so you can know without a shadow of a doubt that He has not left you and never will. I ask that you remember and know that His love poured out on the cross for you was enough, even for this deep pain that no one should have to endure. I pray that you have friends who surround you and that you are brave enough to reach out when you need one. I pray you feel His arms holding you in His tender embrace in this fragile season, and that above all, you know how loved you are. 

Your sister,

Jessica


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Currently: February





It's February! Wow. This month marks the end of the second trimester for me and the beginning of the third trimester. I have thoroughly enjoyed pregnancy so far and am looking forward to what these next few months hold, too! There are lots of fun things going on right now and I am trying to enjoy what is and not worry much about all that is to come. Here's what's going on around these parts:

Anticipating: Right now I cannot believe that my sweet baby boy will be here in just a few short months. We are slowly getting things together in his nursery and it has been fun to think about what he will look like and what kind of little person he will be.
Making: I love trying new recipes, so I am making lots of yummy food at home.
Going: We just went on our babymoon to Hilton Head Island, which was so lovely. Other than that we are not going many places these days!
Watching: The third season of Victoria just started and it is so good!
Wearing: The weather decided to behave like it is spring, so I have been wearing t-shirts! How fun that has been. :)

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne today! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Currently: January

Photo taken at my dear friend Kai's wedding. :)


It's 2019, and I am so ready for all that this year holds! There is so much to look forward to when a new year comes. Maybe your last year was tumultuous, and maybe it was your best year yet! Either way, let's look forward with eyes of gratitude and anticipation! Here's what's going on currently here:

choosing: This year I want to intentionally choose joy and gratitude. Sounds trite, and we've all heard about the importance, but I want to mindfully look at the positive things I have in my life, because they are plentiful!
tidying: Our house! When we moved to our new house, I was in the throes of the first trimester exhaustion phase, so we are tidying and still purging things I would have thrown away if I had the energy back in September!
resolving: To love the life I have instead of wishing and pining for something different. If I needed another life, God would give it to me!
exploring: All kinds of new fiction! I've loved reading new things in the last year.
refreshing: My wardrobe. I waited a long time to be pregnant, and buying new clothes has been so much fun!

What are you up to these days?

Linking up with Anne today!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Currently: December



It's the most wonderful time of the year! Who can believe that December is here and 2018 is coming to a close? I know I can't! I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am excited about what is to come in the year ahead and also am looking forward to lots of time to spend with friends and family in these last few weeks of the year. Here's what is going on currently around these parts:

Gifting: I am almost done with my Christmas shopping, and I am excited to give my fun finds to friends and family alike.
Baking: This past weekend, I baked some sugar cookies to bring to Chosen for Life Ministries, a local organization who partners with foster and adoptive families. Each year they give cookies to the area DFCS workers. I was pretty proud of myself for rolling out the dough and felt like I was on the Great British Baking Show!
Singing: ALL the Christmas songs! I listen to Christmas music whenever I feel like it throughout the year, but obviously it is more special during this time! I particularly like John Legend's Christmas album.
Mailing: Christmas goodies! I have lots of fun things to send to my oily leaders, friends, and family.
Decorating: Our new home. We still haven't gotten our tree yet, but we are going tonight! It feels like we are so late because Thanksgiving was so early this year! I'm anxious to finally get it set up so that our Christmas decorating will feel complete.

What are you up to currently?

Merry Christmas! 

Linking up with Anne today!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Through All Seasons


1It was like a dream come true
when you freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion!
2We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness.
We were left shouting for joy and singing your praise.
All the nations saw it and joined in, saying,
“The Lord has done great miracles for them!”
3Yes, he did mighty miracles and we are overjoyed!
4Now, Lord, do it again! Restore us to our former glory!
May streams of your refreshing flow over us
until our dry hearts are drenched again.
5Those who sow their tears as seeds
will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
6They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!
- Psalm 126, The Passion Translation


To say that we are grateful for all God has done would be an understatement. Sometimes we look around and think, "Can this really be our life?" Over the past few years, the Lord has taught me about the value of seasons. We often fall into two camps: we take our current season for granted because it is truly wonderful, or we loathe our current season and idealize the next one. As you can read in my book, Already ChosenGod has taught me a lot about what it means to walk with Him through seasons of longing.

Throughout this entire journey through infertility and health issues, the Lord has reminded me of the beauty of seasons. Psalm 126 is one that kept coming to mind as I thought about all that we walked through in the last couple years. We are a frail people, and we want to live in seasons of abundance and obvious blessing all the time. But God just doesn't work that way. Seasons are important and vital to God's ways and plans for the earth and for our lives.

Over and over again, the Lord reminded me of the promise in Psalm 126: "Those who sow their tears as seeds will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee. They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow, but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!" You see friends, God works with intentionality and order. He does not leave our lives to chance and luck. He orchestrates every detail of our lives and knows our every longing. He knows when we will be ready for each season. He knows exactly what we need.

We cannot expect to see snow in summer or spring rains in fall. But we can know that God's unchanging love is with us through all seasons. He is our only constant through all of life's ever-changing tides. It is easy for us to desire the ease and happy go lucky emotions that summer usually brings. But the reality is that life ebbs and flows. There are winter seasons full of death and darkness, and they are not without purpose. In fact, they can be the most beautiful of all. And our circumstances, life stages, and God's timing all dictate how we experience various seasons in our lives.

The difficulty we experienced with conceiving marked one of the darkest seasons of our lives. And yet God was still good. We still had a roof over our heads, good jobs, and a loving community of family and friends. But there were days when I didn't want to get out of bed. There were days where I repeatedly hit the "unfollow" button on social media to protect and guard my ever so fragile heart. But underneath the doubt, questioning, and longing, there was a mustard seed of faith. I never wanted to give up on God. I never believed that He wouldn't bless us with a biological child. I just didn't know how long it was going to take. I know that there are many women who have walked through years of infertility who get to a point where they say, "Enough is enough. I can't do this anymore." And in a way, I did get to that point. I didn't want to use ovulation kits anymore. I was tired of charting every symptom and had long since given up taking my temperature every morning. But I wasn't ready to give up hope. Where else would I go and what would I have left if I walked away from Him?

Psalm 34:1,4-5 says, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth... I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." During this time, I had to make the difficult choice to praise the Lord when I wanted to curse Him (although I did my fair share of that too). I asked Him to help me love Him and feel His nearness when everything seemed like it was caving in all around me. I didn't experience any tangible feelings of warm fuzzies. But I did have a deep knowing and understanding that I was not alone, even when I felt like completely isolated in my grief and pain. So I clung to the truth that those who place their hope in Him are not full of shame, but rather His light.

My hope was never meant to lie in the fulfillment of my dreams and longings. My joy and happiness are not meant to ebb and flow with the changing tides of each season. Yes, I am pregnant. And that is a good, good gift from my Heavenly Father. But if I were still trying to conceive and hoping for healing, God wouldn't be any less good. The fulfillment of this desire does not mean that my life is now perfect and I never have any problems at all. I still wake up with anxiety on my chest some days. I still cuss sometimes and think jealous thoughts. I still get mad at my husband for no good reason. And there are still things I want and parts of my life that I am not totally happy about.

But God. He's greater than all of my petty and fickle wanderings. He's kind enough to woo me to Him and help me desire Him even when things are (mostly) going well. And He's patient enough to humble me and remind me of my need for Him through all seasons.

If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, so many things about our lives would be different. We wouldn't have been able to take in our three kids this summer, and I wouldn't have seen His power and strength made perfect in my weakness. We probably wouldn't have moved to our new house, and we wouldn't be preparing to say yes to fostering again. So I think God knows a thing or two about timing. And it's about time I started trusting Him in the midst of the unknown in each area of my life. He's proven that He's worthy.

Yes, we are reaping a harvest right now. There were tear-stained journal pages and sleepless nights that have brought us to where we are. But I can tell you one thing that I know for sure. My God is faithful and true. He is kind. In my darkest moments, He did not leave me. In my questioning and doubt, He helped me understand that He actually means what He says. And even if I weren't pregnant right now, I could tell with abiding joy in my heart and a lump in my throat that He is good.

Encouraging Resources for Every Season:

Already Chosen: Loving Your Life in the Midst of Longing
Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
The Broken Way: A Daring Path to the Abundant Life
Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful
Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love

Monday, November 26, 2018

Our Journey to Pregnancy



There are many new things on the horizon right now for the Mathisen family. This summer we were first-time foster parents to three and are opening our home again in January. We sold our first house, bought another and moved in September. And now we are preparing for the arrival of our first biological child! Wow. When God moves, He moves!

I had planned on writing a health update post this fall to inform everyone of how things were going for me post-procedure. It wasn't looking so great (to me at the time), but I thought I was at least headed in the right direction. You see, after my procedure in January, I experienced some relief, but did not get the results I hoped for. I still was experiencing a great deal of pain during my menstrual cycles each month. My specialist in Atlanta who performed the procedure told me that the UFE was completely successful, so any remaining issues could not be coming from the fibroids that had been embolized because they are essentially dead. So according to my symptoms, Rory and I concluded that I most likely have undiagnosed endometriosis. This is a "silent disease," because although 1 in 4 women suffer from this chronic illness in the United States, most people have no idea what it is. You can read more about it here.

In May, I began seeing a naturopathic doctor here in town. Even though my specialist in Atlanta said it wouldn't be an issue for me to get pregnant, we weren't "intentionally" trying. I wanted to try to get my other women's health issues under control and was focused on getting relief first. My naturopath told me that it would take about three months for me to see results from the regimen she gave me, which was monthly visits to her for acupuncture, several supplements, and a diet change that eliminated most of the "fun stuff." I had already modified my diet quite a bit and got even more strict. It wasn't fun, but at this point, I was desperate for any relief I could get.

After a couple months, I didn't see the results I wanted to see and was growing impatient and frustrated. Two of my good friends also suffered from endometriosis in the past and had been to a specialist in ATL for a surgery that I thought I might be a good candidate for. I completed the application to be seen by him and also conversed with their office via email several times. At this point, I figured that it was going to take another surgery for me to find any sort of relief and to increase my chances of being able to have a biological child. The only problem is that the specialist was out of network and very expensive. Rory and I had quite a few "discussions" about it, but I was ready to submit my application after our move to our new house in faith that God would provide and open the door if I was supposed to be treated by this doctor.

In August, right after our kids left, I was crying in our bed, writhing in pain because I still had horrible cramps. I didn't understand why I wasn't getting relief and why I still wasn't able to get pregnant. I was able to control my cramps with ibuprofen that time, but I was not experiencing the grand sweeping changes I had hoped and prayed for for so long.



Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, when I was awaiting the arrival of my period yet again. I was getting antsy because it was late, which is quite rare for me. But I assumed it was because of the supplements I was taking, stress related to our kids leaving, and the upcoming move to our new house. Early that Saturday morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and was feeling a little perturbed. I mean, why wouldn't my dang period come so I could get the worst of it over during the weekend and not have to be miserable at work the next week?

A little nudge told me to take a pregnancy test, and I did so in secret for fear of being embarrassed yet again at a negative result. Much to my surprise, I watched in shock as two pink lines very quickly appeared. What?! That is not what was supposed to happen! I burst into our bedroom and said, "Babe, wake up right now!" Rory is not a morning person at all, so he was quite confused. I tossed the test in front of him and said, "Look at this!" He said, "Is that real?!" I quickly reassured him that it couldn't be real, and we proceeded to Google all of the reasons why one might get a false positive on a pregnancy test, none of which applied to me.

I guzzled some more water so that I could take another test and headed to the bathroom to grab a digital one. If this was real, I needed to be able to see the word "Pregnant" and have no doubts. When I sat down on the bed next to Rory, I handed him the test and said, "I can't look!" and proceeded to cover my eyes. I waited for what felt like forever, and he said, "Holy crap, babe." I looked down, and sure enough, there was the word "Pregnant," clear as day. I immediately started crying and hugged him, and he teared up too. We realized that this was in fact no fluke. We are having a baby!

That day I called my family and got to tell them the happy news, and we were also able to tell Rory's parents in person since they live in town. It felt (and still feels) very surreal. The three-week wait before we could go to the doctor was almost unbearable. I felt like the Lord had assured me that everything was going to be ok and that I would, in fact, carry my baby to full-term, but every now and again (like a few times a day), fear would creep in and I would begin to be overcome with dread and a sense of "This is too good to be true." But then I would reach out to a friend, turn on some praise music, or read Scripture, and my heart was calmed again.

When we went to the doctor, I was extremely relieved to hear our sweet baby's heart beating oh so fast. The ultrasound was so funny, because at that point the baby looked like a little gummy bear! It is incredible to see the way that God knits us together through each stage. Through this time, we have been so grateful for our family and community of friends who have gathered around us to encourage us and pray. The best truly is yet to come!

My Favorite Pregnancy Resources (so far)

Praying Through Your Pregnancy: A Week-by-Week Guide
God's Plan for Pregnancy: From Conception to Childbirth and Beyond

What to Expect When You're Expecting
The Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Val Marie Paper Pregnancy Prayer Journal

Images from our sweet friend Bri Moore :)

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