Tag Archives: faith

Into the Unknown

This morning in Sunday School, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah (chapters 42-43).  Israel asked him to seek God’s will for their lives as their enemies were coming.  What God told them was completely illogical, and went against what they thought they wanted to do.  We also talked about other examples in the Bible where God asked his people to do crazy things—Noah and the ark, Abraham leaving his country to follow God to an unknown place, Jesus asking us to love our enemies, and on and on.  As the students were reminded, there will be times that God asks us to step out in faith and do something that goes against what the world says is logical.  And when that time comes, if we choose to follow Him, he has something better planned for our futures than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

 

We are at that place in our lives.  We absolutely LOVE our students, youth parents/families, church staff, and Wesley.  However, we have felt God calling us to something new, and we know that when God leads us, we must follow.

 

Words cannot describe the heaviness in our hearts as we deliver this news.  We will miss so many people, and we thank God for the time that He has given us together.  If we only focused on the leaving part, we wouldn’t be able to make it.  But we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose than any of us could imagine.  He has a plan for our family, and He has a plan for the Wesley Youth and their families.  Since He is calling us to begin a new chapter, we also believe that He is already preparing someone to come and love the students and minister to all of the youth families.

 

We would also like to give some insight into this decision.  As most of you know, Staci’s family is in Oklahoma, and Michael’s family is in San Antonio.  This means we are almost 9 hours from Staci’s family, and 5 from Michael’s.  As Josiah has gotten older, it has been difficult being so far away.  It is our desire for him to grow up closer to his grandparents and other family.  As we began to feel God drawing us to a new stage, we felt Him leading us towards the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  This will be a great central location between our families (3-4 hours for each).  Staci also has a lot of family in Dallas, including her grandpa who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Many of you also know that we went to school in Dallas and met there.  All that to say, we feel the DFW area will be a great next step for our family.  We have also considered the Tyler area, because of our love for Pine Cove, the area, and Staci has family there as well.

 

In August, Michael began pursuing his Alternative Teaching Certification in Middle School Math.  One of his favorite parts of youth ministry is teaching the students, and we are looking forward to this new career choice.  We also feel that this will be a great springboard for ministry to students in a different setting, because we all know how much impact teachers can have on students.  While we have absolutely loved working with students for 5.5 years (over 3 of which have been at Wesley), we feel it is time for a different pace.  We will still be a part of ministry at whatever church God leads us to, but it will be on a volunteer basis.  This will also give Michael the opportunity to become more involved in the worship ministry of the church, which has always been one of his passions.

 

We have also applied for a ministry called Apartment Life.  If we are accepted into this program, we will be able to minister to people at our future apartment complex by planning a monthly event, welcoming new tenants, celebrating new babies, etc. in exchange for a portion of our rent.  We will also be encouraged and empowered to build relationships with our neighbors, possibly start an apartment Bible Study, and invite them to church.  Our prayer is that this will allow Staci to stay home with Josiah.

 

Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of transition.  We are trying to sell our house, and Michael is currently applying for teaching jobs.  We have no clue how God is going to work all of this out…all we know is that He is calling us to step out in faith.

 

We will continue to pray for the students, families, and Wesley as they are also in a time of transition.  As we mentioned earlier, we believe wholeheartedly that God has someone wonderful planned to come in and work with the students.

 

After visiting with our pastor and sharing all of this, we have collectively decided that our last Sunday will be January 5, unless Michael gets a job and needs to start before then.  It’s all coming so quickly…and it’s taking a lot of faith to resign without having something else lined up.  But we just keep on praying that God will provide and that He will help us rely on Him wholeheartedly in this time.  And while we are so sad to leave everyone here, we are excited to see what He has in store for our family.

 

Thank you to all of our friends and family, both here and away, for all of your encouragement and support.  We are so blessed to be a part of the ministry at Wesley.  While leaving our students and the youth families is the absolute hardest part of all of this, we know that God has a plan.  And just like we learned in Sunday School, His plan is always better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

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–Michael and Staci

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P.S. If you’d like to read about our decision to move down here over three years ago, you can click HERE.  It’s a great reminder of how God orchestrates everything and how His plan is always the best.

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Friending

Michael and I have been watching a sermon series by Pastor Craig Groeschel entitled “Friending” (you can watch it at www.lifechurch.tv/watch).  The series is about friendship, as you could probably deduce from the title.  The second and third messages really hit me hard—in a good way.  Pastor Craig claims that we may be One Friend Away (message 2) or One Community Away (message 3) from changing the course of our destiny.

 

There are three types of poverty, Pastor Craig says: material poverty, spiritual poverty, and relational poverty.  Our nation is being overcome with relational poverty.  Someone might have 500 facebook friends and 200 followers on Instagram, but the chances are, they don’t even have five close friends that they could call in the middle of the night, or who have “refrigerator rights” at their house.  We can “connect” with hundreds of people around the world, but we might not have anyone we regularly sit down with and have a deep face-to-face conversation with.  In the same way, many people can not say with confidence that they have a community of other Christians that they “do life with”—rejoicing and crying together, bonding as true family, encouraging one another in Christ, ministering to others together, etc.

 

As we have watched these messages over the past three weeks, I have been convicted and challenged.  I realized that I am relationally impoverished.  Sure, I have a lot of people that I am “friends with”—I get along well with a lot of people, and I can have surface level, and sometimes even semi-deep, conversations with dozens of people.  But I have very few people who I would say know me and I know them.  And aside from my husband and family members who I am particularly close to, I haven’t done a good job of staying in touch with the close friends that God has blessed me with over the years.  In the same way, I have experienced true community, both in the Forge at Pine Cove, at college, and with different Bible study girls and couples.  But honestly, the last time I “did life” with someone other than my family was years ago.

 

So I invite you to join me in being challenged to get out of relational poverty, and begin forming (or rekindling) close, deep, face-to-face (or phone-to-phone if they live far away) friendships.  I am going to start by contacting friends that I am removed from physically, but I can still be close with relationally.  And then I am going to pray that God will show me other friendship possibilities.  But most of all, I am going to work on becoming the kind of friend that I would want to have—reaching out to others, being transparent, encouraging them, and just being present.  One year from now, I want to be able to say that I am relationally wealthy instead of in relational poverty.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

 

The Forge

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–Staci

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How are you doing relationally?  What is one thing you love about one of your closest friends?

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HOPE for MOORE T-Shirts

Hope for Moore

T-Shirts are $15, V-Neck T-Shirts are $20.  ALL PROCEEDS go to Disaster Relief in Moore, OK!

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For those of you who don’t know, my parents, sister, brother, and his family all live in Moore, OK.  I cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am that none of them were hurt in Monday’s disaster.  My parents’ house is literally one mile south of some of the worst damage.

The devastation is horrendous.  My heart feels like it’s been broken in pieces since Monday afternoon.

I wanted to do something to help with the relief, but I didn’t know what.  This morning, when Josiah woke up at 4:30 a.m., I had the idea to make a shirt.  After not being able to go back to sleep, I finally got up at 5:30 and got to work!

ALL PROCEEDS go to the Disaster Relief.  Orders and money are going through my church (thank you to my church for being so supportive and wanting to help Moore in this way!) so it is completely secure.  They will pass all funds on to UMCOR, the United Methodist Missions Organization that responds to disasters. All monies given to UMCOR go directly to the disaster area; none of it is used for administration, promotion or anything else.

I will be taking pre-orders for two weeks (until June 5).  The shirts will be in two weeks after that.  If I can get some corporations/individuals to underwrite the costs of the t-shirts, I will be able to order some extras to sell after the pre-order is over.  If you know of anyone, please email me at selizondo@wesleyumc.com!

You can find the order form below this.  Here’s the information on where to send your orders and money:

Staci Elizondo
Wesley United Methodist Church
3810 N. Major Dr.
Beaumont, TX 77713

Cash or checks only.  Make Checks Payable to Wesley UMC.  Write “Moore T-Shirt” in the Memo Line.

Please feel free to pass this information along.  Thank you!

–Staci

Hope for Moore Order


A Post Of Thankfulness Part 1- By M

I’m not on Facebook all the time, but I get on enough.  Anyway… I guess the popular thing to do for the month of November is to post something everyday that you are thankful for.  I think this is a great idea and awesome way to remember the true heart of the Thanksgiving holiday (Turkey and football are nice, but you get my point).

The only thing with posting something you are thankful for each day, most people start strong and by the second week of November most people stop.  So I decided to make sure I get all 30 days of thankfulness in, I’m going to post all thirty things right here, right now… but so I don’t bore everyone to death I’m actually going to break this into 2 posts –15 today and 15 later this week– and I’m going to try to keep each one relatively short so you can read through them all.  (Lastly, they are in no particular order)

Here we go!

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1.) My faith – It has made me who I am today

2.) My wife – The way I’ve described it before is that we are so much better together than apart.  Staci helps me be a better person in so many ways and challenges me to always grow and mature in my faith and in my daily life…. and we have so much fun together and so so so much more!

3.) My son – He is a sweet little guy and has already shown me so much about life, unconditional love, and so much more.

4.) My family – Since I already mention my personal family unit (Staci and Josiah), this one is for my immediate family.  Couldn’t be blessed with better mom, dad, brother/sister-in-law, and sister.  Also, all of Staci’s family is so special to me.  You hear all kinds of in-law horror stories… none here!  🙂

5.) My family – I know I already said family; this is for all the extended family!  I love my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And once again, all the in-laws are awesome too!

6.) My job – Working with Staci is awesome. And getting to hang out with our students is awesome!

7.) Our students – We have an amazing group of kids at Wesley.  Love them to death!

8.) The Wesley Staff – While I’m still focused on the job front, we do have an incredible staff at Wesley

9.) Wesley Church Members – OK, one more for Wesley.  We do have some really awesome people in our congregation who care so much about their faith and each other.  What a great church family for Josiah to be raised in!

10.) Our house – Being able to build it from the ground up was a pretty cool experience. We love it and couldn’t be more happy to be here.

11.) My Heritage – Can’t lie… I love being a Mexican.

12.) The Spurs – Grew up loving them, going to games, watching them on TV.  I have lots of great (and not so great) memories with this team.  Love the way the Spurs really bring the city of San Antonio together… which brings me to…

13.) San Antonio – My home town.  It was an awesome city to grow up in.  I still love going to visit when I get the chance.  Mom, Dad, you better never move from there or I will be mad!

14.) The internet – Let’s face it… you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for the inter webs!  But honestly, I love it for the quick and easy access to information and for how easy it makes keeping in touch with friends and family through email, facebook, blogs and…

15.) Facetime/Skype – I love that even though my immediate family are hundreds of miles apart we can still keep in touch through video chat!  And, it’s not like the really choppy stuff from back in the day; we’re talking quality audio and video here.  It’s especially nice with Josiah here so that he can see his family and they can see him even though we are so far apart.
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So those are a few… I’ll have more up soon so stay posted!

During this month of Thanksgiving, what are some things that you are thankful for?

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– M


Our Sweet Boy part 1

This post is very long overdue.  But we’ve been just a little bit busy over the past two and a half weeks.  In a matter of minutes our lives were forever changed.  And neither of us would trade one moment of the past two weeks and five days.

Even the nearly sleepless nights are worth it because we get to see our precious little boy.  We’re constantly in awe of this gift that God has given us.

I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce you all to the little guy who has stolen our hearts.  Here’s a glimpse into the story (so far) of Josiah Michael.

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On July 3 I was scheduled to try to turn him at 7:00 a.m.  We got to the hospital at 5:45 and they prepped me for a C-Section in case the turning wasn’t successful.  If it was, I would go to Labor & Delivery to be induced.  Either way, we knew we would have our little boy by the end of the day!

The attempted turning was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.  I should have listened to my cousin when she told me to skip it and go straight for the C.  But I really wanted to try to get him turned.  After 4 unsuccessful attempts with my doctor pushing on my stomach with all her strength, she and I both knew that it was time for the C-Section.  Our boy just didn’t want to turn around!

While I was given my spinal block and prepared for the C, Michael waited outside the room.  He would get to come in when they made sure I was nice and numb.

When he came in the surgery room, he told me that the way he felt waiting to come in was the same way he felt waiting to see me before we got married.  We both knew that this was going to be one of the biggest days of our lives.

We were talking and in a matter of minutes (less than 3 to be exact), we heard Josiah make little noises.  As Michael said, “I’ll never forget that sound for the rest of my life.”  Then they held our little boy up above the partition and we were able to see him for the first time.  Even though he was all messy, he was absolutely perfect!

After a couple of minutes, Michael was able to go back to where the nurses were cleaning him up.  Then he came back to me and one of the nurses brought Josiah to him.  The head surgery nurse and the anesthesiologist took some pictures of us meeting him.

Even though I couldn’t hold him, my heart completely melted as I got to see him and touch him for the first time.  He was OURS.  And he was finally here!

While I went to recovery, Michael was able to go to the nursery and be with our boy.  Here are a couple of sweet pictures of their time together.  I absolutely love this one.  It’s so incredible that such a tiny little guy can grasp his daddy’s finger so tightly.

I love the pride, love and joy on Michael’s face.

Michael came in to my recovery room and told me his birth time, height, and weight:

Josiah Michael born 8:16 a.m.  7 lbs even, 19 inches even.  🙂  We were both just so proud of him!

After a few minutes, they wheeled me into my room and I was finally able to hold our sweet son!

There is nothing that can describe that feeling.  I was just overwhelmed with love and awe.  This perfect little baby had been inside of me.  And now he was in my arms!  Michael and I had prayed and tried for him for so long.  It truly felt like a miracle to be able to hold him.

It was so wonderful to have our family there.  My parents and sister and Michael’s parents were there.  Later that day my grandparents and cousin came.  Michael’s brother and sister-in-law came that weekend, and we had other special visitors throughout my stay and once we got home as well.  We’ll do a post with all of Josiah’s visitors soon.

We decided to have Josiah room in with us.  Even though we knew we’d be up a lot during the night, we wanted every second we could have with our little boy.  We were just so thankful that he was finally here!  Some of our sweetest times were during the nights while we were in the hospital.  Words can’t describe the feeling of being the three of us.  We were completely in awe of him.  Even though he stayed in his little crib part of the time, most of the time we took turns snuggling with him.  He loved being on our chests.  We knew he would be a snuggler because of the way he acted in my stomach–if we put our hands on my belly, he’d push himself up against our hands.  But it was just so sweet to have him snuggling in real life.

Look at this precious face!  Even though we weren’t getting much sleep, we wouldn’t trade seeing this for the world.

I loved (and still love) our time nursing.  It’s just incredible to know that God has given me the ability to give him the nourishment he needs.  And it’s such an incredible time of bonding.  Here we are sharing a special moment before it was time for him to eat.  I’m so in love.

One down-side to having a C-Section is that I couldn’t get up at all for the first 24 hours, and after that I was still in a lot of pain, which made getting up and down really difficult.  As a result, Michael was left to do all of the diaper changes, swaddling, and anything else our son needed that couldn’t be done with me laying down in bed.  He was amazing!  I was completely blown away by the way he took such good care of our son.  I always knew he would be an incredible father, but I fell in love with him on a whole new level when I watched him caring for our little boy in the night.  See what a great job Daddy did swaddling?

Here we are snuggling before he got dressed for the day.

The next day was the Fourth of July.  So even though it was a little big, we had to put him in his little “My First Fourth of July” shirt.  Some ladies had knitted little patriotic hats for all of the babies in the nursery.  Here he is all dressed up for Independence Day.

Here are a few of my favorites from day 2.

Look at those eyes!

That night was full of more snuggling with Mommy and Daddy for little Josiah.

I think that this morning was the first time that I was able to get up and help change his diaper.  Even though it was something so small, I loved being able to help.  It helped me feel like I was really recovering.

After we changed him that morning, our little guy decided to suck his thumb!  Michael captured the moment, and it’s become one of our favorite pictures of him.

The next day, we were able to go home!  Here’s Michael getting our little boy all dressed and ready for his first day at home:

I forget how tiny he was (6 lbs 6 oz when we came home) until I see pictures like this!

We couldn’t wait to go home and finally be taking care of him in our house.

Getting ready to get in the car!

Home sweet home!

It’s been such an incredible journey with our little boy so far.  There have been so many times that we just look at him and are filled with awe and love.  We had no clue that this is what it felt like to be parents.  Our hearts are literally swelling for our little boy.  And it’s made us love each other in a whole new way as well.

Thank you all for following along on our journey into parenthood.  We are so excited to continue to share this wonderful time of our lives with you.

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–Staci and Michael

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A Year Ago-ish Today – By M

I feel like I can’t say this phrase enough, and I know I’ll just say it more and more as time goes on, but “time flies!”  It’s hard to believe that it has already been over a year that we began the process of building our house!  About a week ago, last year, we signed all the paper work and got everything all picked out, and our house started the preliminary stages of being built.

This was all we had… Smiles and an empty lot!

Over the summer (which was, by far, the craziest summer of my life) we saw our house go up and have been so blessed to be in our first and brand new home!

And here we are a year later…

We have now been in our new house for nearly 8 months!  And I remember when it felt like we would never be moved in!

God has blessed us so much!   And we couldn’t be more thankful!  We have been given an awesome and beautiful new house! And a little one on the way!  I don’t think we’ve posted anything with his new bedroom that we have been working on, so I’ll go ahead and post a little teaser pic (I know Staci will want to do a full post sometime later on).

And now we’re only a little over 2 months out from our son’s due date!  ….so speaking of crazy summers…. 🙂

That’s more or less what’s new with us… What has been going on with you over this past year?  I know a lot of you are having babies too!  I think Staci and I counted up about 14, or so, couples of our friends who are expecting or have just had their first baby this year!  So Crazy!  So what’s going on in your neck of the woods?

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– M


Worship Leadership – By M

Many of you who read our blog know that I play guitar and love music.  I began playing the summer before 9th grade mostly because I was bored and we had an unused guitar in the close and learning how to play gave me something to do.  Over the next few years I taught myself to play and sing, and eventually became a part of our youth worship band.  I had a great opportunity to continue to learn and practice and was mentored into leading worship.

Ever since the first time I lead worship (my Junior year of high school) I have loved letting that be a big part of my life and ministry.  Of course with the rewards of getting to lead worship, there are also many pressures.  We live in such a musically driven society, and, maybe it’s just me, but I feel like worship leaders are naturally judged based upon their skills, abilities, and styles.  Also, I think singing, much like public speaking, makes me people more subconscious than just about anything else.

So I have always found myself struggling with my vocal abilities while singing, as well as the fact that I’ve never really been a writer (sure, I write on our blog, but that’s not exactly poetic literature or anything).  And it has always made me feel a little “less than” as a musician and worship leader.

Then as I was reading one of the blogs I follow (Ragamuffin Soul) I was encouraged by what this graphic that the author, Carlos Whittaker (Who is a Worship Leader and church consultant of sorts) put up:

I found this really encouraging (Especially coming from a well-known worship leader and Christian icon).  It helps to remind me that even if I don’t have the best voice, or the best musical ability, or the ability to write the best song (or any song at all, for that matter) that God can and does use me as I lead in music worship.

I think this also applies in plenty of other ministries and areas of life.  So if you ever feel a little “less than” just because your not the child prodigy that can do everything without having to think about it, remember that God wants to and can use you no matter what you do!

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Have you ever felt a little “less than the rest” in life?  What’s something you’ve found to be encouraging in your life recently?

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– M


A Sunday Christmas – By M

This is year is kind of an unusual one.  For the first time since 2005, Christmas falls on a Sunday.  This makes for a pretty interesting December 25th for us Ministers and other church go-ers… To have a Christmas day service or not?  THIS POST by Jon Acuff made me think about this question again, and it made me want to post my own thoughts about it.

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Although our last Sunday Christmas day was only a few years back, I honestly don’t remember what our family did that day.  I had just completed my semester of college, and I do remember that I got pretty sick over the break, so the 2005 holiday is pretty much a blur to me.  Also, it was the first Christmas that my brother and sister didn’t spend the majority of Christmas break at home.  That shook things up around the house a bit.  And to top it off, it was the first of several years that my dad spent Christmas away from home on medical mission trip.  All this to say that it already wasn’t a typical Christmas at the Elizondo’s that year.

The only previous Sunday Christmas day previous to that (that I was old enough to remember) was in 1994.  I remember being bummed out that we had to get all dressed up and leave home for church when I wanted to stay at home and play with my new toys.  Granted, as a 7 year old, their really isn’t much else on the mind other than to play with your toys.

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This year, I have been struggling with the fact that Christmas lands on a Sunday meaning that Staci and I will be at our church’s 10am service rather than staying in enjoying the warmth and comfort of home.  That is, I struggled with this thought until this past Sunday.  During our church service, our senior pastor gave a pretty compelling message why it should be a no-brainer to have and attend church this Christmas day.

He pointed out how ironic it is that Christians are usually pretty good about getting upset that Christmas, the day we celebrate our Savior’s birth, is so horribly commercialized.   We fume about how the mainstream media is pushing the phrase “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.”  We demand that Culture not take the “Christ” out of Christmas!  Yet… we look at our calendars dreading the year that Christmas fall on Sunday.  Why?  Because it’s too inconvenient to go to our place of worship to celebrate Christ’s birth?  Because we’d rather stay in and play with all the new gifts and toys we got for Christmas?

I don’t post this to sound preachy.  I only post it because I was so convicted as the words came out of my pastor’s mouth.

Hopefully I can make Christmas more about this…

 

And less about this…

Presents, family, friends, memories… They’re all great!  And they are great by-products to the season.  But hopefully we can still put Christ at the front –above all else– this Christmas.

That’s my prayer for me this year.

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– M


Our Baby Story – Part 4

Click the following links for Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, or Part 3 HERE.

Thank you so much for following along with our story.  It has been the hugest blessing for us to be able to share it with you.

(Michael’s thoughts will be in italics.)

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Our Baby Story – Part 4: From News to Now

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When we last left off, we’d just received the most wonderful news of our lives:  We were going to be parents!

My doctor ordered bloodwork for that day (Thursday) and for Monday, and the results came back great.  So we set up an appointment for an ultrasound and check-up with our fertility doctor for a few weeks later.

(By the way, I’m going to put the weekly belly pictures at the end, so you can see the comparison.)

While we didn’t talk about it much before the appointment, I was a little bit nervous that everything wouldn’t be ok.  We’d been praying SO much for the health and protection and growth of our baby, but I knew that there was a chance something could happen.  After we checked in, it was time for our very first ultrasound with a baby.  I’d had so many over the past 8 months that they were second nature to me, but this was the first time we were looking for our baby!

He called Michael over, and began the scan.  He told us that the black area showed a pregnancy, and that the little circle at the right of the shot was our baby.

You can see the little measuring dots on the top and bottom of our baby.  The thing to the left of the baby is the yolk sac, which he said would go away a few weeks from our ultrasound.

If you’re like me and you have a hard time seeing these things… more specifically, if you look at the small white ball all the way to the right of the big black blob, that’s our baby!  Still very tiny at this stage!

I can’t even describe the feeling of being able to see our baby!  Even though it didn’t look like a baby yet, we knew that it was growing, and that it would look like a baby before long.  He told us that the baby’s size was perfect (only 4mm long!), and that our due date of July 12 was correct.

The best thing, though, was getting to hear the heartbeat and see the baby’s little heart fluttering on the screen!  It looked like a little flicker in the circle, but it was very obviously a heartbeat.  It sounded like a fast little washing machine.  It was the most beautiful sound!  I started crying.  I was just so overwhelmed with thankfulness for this little child growing inside of me.

Thankfully, I didn’t start to cry.  I think it was because he was a male doctor.  But it was so so so SO exciting to see our little baby was inside of Staci.  And it was so incredible to see its little heart just fluttering away!  It was really reassuring to think that our baby was doing so well even at this very early stage.  I think God gave us the blessing of hearing/seeing the baby’s heart beat because we were both so so nervous that everything would be ok.

Here, you can see the heartbeat.  The doctor said it was very healthy!

(Sorry for the picture quality, by the way.  I snapped a picture of the pictures with my phone as we were in the car.  We haven’t had a chance to scan them yet.)

After our ultrasound, it was time to meet with the doctor in his office. We talked about pregnancy in general, my pregnancy, and any questions we had.  He said that since the baby’s heart was so healthy and he or she was the right size and everything, he’d release me to go to my OB-Gyn in Beaumont.

It’s so hard to put into words just how we felt.  It was a good type of overwhelming.  We were just blown away by God’s faithfulness and the fact that we were really and truly pregnant!  And hearing the baby’s heartbeat made it that much more real.  That is our child growing inside of me!

Also, one of the ironic things about our fertility doctor’s office is that it’s located right next to a very large OB-Gyn office.  So every time we came for an appointment we would always see tons and tons of very pregnant women, and to be honest it was hard to see them and just hope that we would be there someday.  So it was exciting to walk out of the office knowing that we had a baby on the way! 

Over the past month and a half, we’ve had so much fun telling our family, friends, and our youth.  It’s been wonderful to know that we’re so loved, and that our baby is already so loved.

Yeah our baby already has tons of love and attention!  Our baby better not be a shy one, because everyone is going to want to play with it.

Last Monday, we met with a lady in my doctor’s office for my prenatal interview.  She basically asked all of the preliminary questions (family health, lifestyle, etc.) and asked if I had any questions for her.  She also gave us an awesome goody bag with all sorts of freebies and mail-ins for more freebies (oh–and the important papers too).  We also met with the financial planner and she told us just how much our baby would cost us–well, the doctor’s portion at least.  It was actually less than we expected, and we found out that our insurance is fantastic, which is a huge blessing!

On Tuesday of this week, we had our first appointment with my actual OB-Gyn.  She is so hard to become established as a patient with.  She only accepts you if you’re already pregnant; and then she only takes a certain number per delivery month.  But since we found out I was pregnant so early, I was able to get a spot.  She is fantastic!  We both loved her.  We were a little bummed out that we weren’t going to get an ultrasound, but we’d already had the one to confirm the due date and see the heart beating (with my fertility doctor).  So we’ll just have to wait until next time.

After my exam, it was time to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  She warned us that at this point in my pregnancy it might still be hard to hear the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler.  But if that was the case, we’d just get an ultrasound to hear it.  As soon as she touched the doppler to my stomach, we heard our little baby’s heart!  It was beating so clearly and strong.  Our doctor started smiling and said, “or it could be as easy as that!”  She told us that the heartbeat is perfect, and everything sounds great.  We’re so proud of our little baby!  At one point, she moved the doppler and we could hear my heartbeat and the baby’s heartbeat at the same time.  It was so crazy.  Our baby’s is so fast, and it sounds like a little washing machine; while mine is so slow and just sounds like thumps.  I’ll never cease to be amazed at this life growing inside of me.

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Week by week picture time!

Week 5 (the morning we found out)

Week 6

Week 7

We literally have no clue where that thing came from.  It was nothing one day, and a week later, I was pooching out big time.  And I shouldn’t have been showing at all yet.  I hadn’t gained even one pound…I think my body was just so excited that it had a baby inside.  But thankfully it hasn’t changed much since then.

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

My belly looks bigger here than it actually is.  The whole holding under the belly thing is probably the best pregnancy trick.

Week 11

We haven’t taken a picture this week yet.

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Now, for pregnancy symptoms:

Fatigue: Since about the 6th week, I’ve felt like I’ve been hit by a train most days.  I’m so stinking tired!  I never knew that growing a baby would be so exhausting.  But I hear I should be getting some energy back in the next few weeks to a month.  There have been days where I’ve taken a 2.5 hour nap and still been tired.  A few weeks ago, Michael read that a brisk walk could help my fatigue, and it’s a lot shorter than a nap.  He convinced me to give it a try, and it worked!  So we’ve been taking 20-30 minute walks around our neighborhood quite a bit.

It’s good to get a little exercise too.  And it’s fun walking around the neighborhood right now and looking at everyone’s Christmas decorations.

Nausea: Even though I’d been a little queasy here and there, my nausea didn’t really hit me until the day before Thanksgiving.  I was literally sent running from my Meme’s house at the smell of the dressing cooking.  It was the worst Thanksgiving I’ve had as far as food goes.  All of my favorite foods were there, but I couldn’t eat much of anything.  But what was lost in food was made up for in family time!  The day after Thanksgiving was the first time I threw up.  Since then, I get sick about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time, and feel nauseous most of the time.  But I hear this should let up pretty soon as well.  I’m just glad that I haven’t been as sick as some of the people I know!

I guess this is to help me get used to the idea of throw up too… baby throw up… yay…

Food Aversions: The strangest things make me sick to even think about.  I’ve wanted practically nothing to do with bread.  For those of you who know me well, this is completely crazy.  Michael’s s’mores PopTarts also make me want to be sick.  The thought of most meats and veggies also turn my stomach.  But then there are times that I can eat tons of meat and not have a problem with it.  It’s just been so strange.

I don’t know why you hate my food 😦

Food Cravings: The first thing I craved was tomato basil soup from LeMadeline.  I have never, ever liked tomato basil soup, but I ate it like it was going out of style.  At first (before the nausea really kicked in) I was craving lots of veggies and eggs.  But now that’s sloped off some.  I go through milk, saltine crackers, cheddar cheese, apples (fruit of any kind, really), and pickles (only Claussen dill) like I never thought possible.  I also have been really into fresh strawberries with ice cream for a bedtime snack.  Now that my nausea is not so great and I’m losing a little weight, I know that it’s important to eat whatever I can handle.  But I’m sure there will be a time that I can no longer eat ice cream every day and get away with it!

Yikes!

Emotions: I’ve cried more over these last few weeks than I did all the rest of the year.  Michael has been so wonderful and understanding.  He just hugs me and lets me cry.  And when I started bawling while we watching Dumbo (where his mom is locked away and she holds him in her trunk, while “Baby Mine” plays) and every time it showed a part of the song in the extra features, he just held my hand and told me I was sweet.  But I’m sure he was thinking “this woman is crazy.”  I’ve also been working on our Disney World vacation for next December with Michael’s family, and I get choked up all the time while I’m making plans.  For the most part, I haven’t had mood swings, per se.  It’s just been that I’m a lot more emotional and teary than usual.

Yikes! Yikes!  🙂

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Thanks so much for reading along!  We absolutely LOVE being able to share our story with all of you.

And there will be more to come as the baby continues to grow inside of Staci.  Thank you for your love and support!!!

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–Michael and Staci

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Our Baby Story – Part 3

If you missed Part 1, click HERE.  For Part 2, click HERE.

First of all, we would like to thank everyone who has read our story.  We are so blessed to be able to share it, and we continue to be amazed at how similar so many people’s stories are to our own.  We know that God brought us through all of this for a reason, and we are thankful to be able to share it with so many of you.

(Michael’s thoughts will be in italics.)

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Our Baby Story – Part 3: Treatments and a Positive Test

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Our last installment ended with us being referred to a fertility specialist in Houston.  We’d had all of the tests we could have under my OBGYN.

One thing I forgot to mention in the last post was what a blessing it was to have people encourage us who had been through similar situations.  One of my family members had struggled with infertility, and it was a gift from God to be able to talk with her about everything.  One of our close family friends had also had a miscarriage years ago, and she really encouraged me a lot.  She copied part of “Heaven is for Real” and sent it to me.  In this particular part of the book, the little boy talks about seeing his sister that “died in his mommy’s tummy” in heaven.  It was so sweet, and just what I needed to hear.

We met with the fertility doctor in Houston in the middle of August.  We were so impressed with his professionalism, warmth, and knowledge.  He talked to us in his office and explained a lot of things, including possible treatments, and then he did an ultrasound.

One of our favorite things was that during the ultrasound, the doctor called me over to the ultrasound screen to show me all the different things he was looking at.  Typically during ultrasounds, you sit there while the doctors or technicians scan everything and then they talk to you about it all later–it’s typically a rather cold procedure, but our fertility specialist made it very comfortable and informative.  

During the ultrasound, he found a 3.5 centimeter cyst on one of my ovaries.  He explained that he didn’t want to surgically remove it since it could harm the other eggs, but that we couldn’t go forward with treatments until it was gone.  So we set an appointment date for about a month and a half later to see its progress.

We prayed for the cyst to shrink on its own or burst so that we could proceed with treatments.  We had a lot of family praying as well.  One of my family members had had a 2.5 centimeter cyst a few months ago, and it took her months for it to go away.  But we were praying for a miracle.

When we went back to the doctor, the ultrasound tech scanned me again, and the cyst was completely gone!  God answered our prayers and gave us a miracle.  Because it was gone, I was able to start the first step of the treatment plan.  This month, I would take Clomid, which is a medicine that stimulates follicle growth, which will hopefully make it where your body can ovulate those follicles/eggs.  I would come in for an ultrasound later in the month to see the size of the follicles.

When I came in for my ultrasound, it showed that I had 3 eggs that were growing, but none were big enough to ovulate yet.  I’d also been instructed to use an ovulation predictor kit, which had only frustrated me in the past since I didn’t usually ovulate.  I was pretty sure that I had a positive, but I wanted to be completely sure.  So we had another ultrasound scan, and sure enough, I’d released one or two eggs!  So we didn’t have to have a shot to induce ovulation.  My body responded to the Clomid just how we were hoping it would.

That day, we left for San Antonio for me to attend the Women of Faith conference with my mom, Michael’s mom, one of my friends from Pine Cove Bluffs Family Camp, and lots and lots of other Christian women.  It was an incredible weekend!  And throughout the weekend, I just kept praying that God would be creating a baby inside of me.  One of the mornings in our hotel room, my mom and mother-in-law prayed that God would bless my womb and that we would be pregnant this month.  The weekend was a wonderful time to draw close to the LORD, remember His faithfulness, and be surrounded by so many wonderful Christian women.

When I got home from the conference, Michael and I continued to pray that God would bless us this month and give us a baby.  We had more hope than we’d ever had because we knew 100% that I’d ovulated.  But we still tried to not get our hopes up too much.  We were so used to soaring and then crashing when it didn’t happen.

During our last ultrasound, we’d set up an appointment in case this wasn’t our month–so we could discuss the next step.  That date kept getting closer and closer, and we still didn’t have a natural negative, but we continued to just wait.  I was also still taking my Basal Body Temp every morning, and it continued to remain high, but it hadn’t been 18 highs yet.

Finally, the day before my appointment, I knew that I was going to have to take a pregnancy test so that when I called the doctor and told them that we might have to reschedule my appointment, and they asked if I’d taken a test, I could say, “Yes, but it was negative.”  That was really what I was expecting.  Even though I felt like I might be pregnant, I thought it would be too early for it to test positive.

And after having test after test, month after month, be negative, although we hoped there would be something, we weren’t expecting anything.

So I took my test so I could cover all my bases for the doctor.  I decided to check it to make sure it was working (which is what I always did with these things), but I knew it wouldn’t have any lines yet.  I mean, it’d only been about 30 seconds, and they say to wait 5-10 minutes to read the test.

But we were wrong!  It was already clearly showing a positive line!

I started yelling “Michael!  You need to come here!”  He rushed in, thinking something was wrong, and I just pointed to the test.  I started crying.  We were just blown away!  We’d waited for this moment for almost two years, and now it was clearly showing a positive when we weren’t even expecting it.

I really didn’t know what to say or do, so I just started to laugh!  And being the cautious person that I am, I kept saying “Are you sure?  Are you sure?  Does the line have to be darker? ….”  And then I realized that the test only needed to show a line no matter the color!  So I picked Staci up and kissed her belly (our new baby’s temporary home) a million times.

We hugged and laughed and he kissed our little baby in my belly.  All I could say was “Thank you, Jesus!” over and over.  We were in shock.  But a good kind of shock!  It just didn’t seem real.  I mean, we were hoping and praying for this, but we weren’t expecting an answer so soon.

When we could once again talk coherently, we got on our knees and prayed, thanking God for this blessing growing inside of me.  We thanked Him for this whole process, because it made it that much sweeter to finally be pregnant.  And we thanked him for giving us this wonderful, wonderful blessing.  We also prayed that he would make us into parents that taught our children about God and showed them what it looked like to love Jesus.

Then it was time for some pictures!

One really funny part of the story is that on the day that we found out that Staci had officially ovulated we went to eat lunch at Pei Wei because we love it.  After our meal I opened up my fortune cookie and found this fortune…

So I kept it just in case… because at that point, you never know.  So we took a picture with it and our positive pregnancy test.

Hands on my belly, now that we knew our child was growing inside!

Proof!

4 weeks, 1 day.  No sign of a baby except my smile!

Our very messy front room.  Now it holds all of the things we haven’t put away yet, including our old kitchen table, decorations, and all of our toys from when we were little.  Soon it will be the baby’s room!

I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced as much joy as I had that morning.  This was something that we had longed, prayed, cried, and tried for for so long.  And now God had chosen to bless us with a child inside of me.  And to be able to share this excitement with my best friend, my amazing husband, was just more than I could ask for.

It’s been such an exciting blessing to be pregnant with my wife and best friend.  We are so thankful to God for bringing us through this very long, very difficult journey.  We’ve seen God’s hand moving in our marriage through it all, and our continual hope is that our story would be one of encouragement to those who may find themselves in a similar situation. 

God is SO good, and this is just one more testimony of His faithfulness.

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Up Next: Our First Ultrasound and more

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–Michael and Staci

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