Tag Archives: thoughts

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.

.

.

–Michael and Staci

.

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.

.

Advertisements

A Post Of Thankfulness Part 2 – By M

Hopefully you caught part one of my Thankfulness List.  If you didn’t you can check it our by clicking HERE.

Here is the second half of my list, starting with number 16 through 30 (and as mentioned before, this is in no particular order).

.

16.) Friends – I’ve had a lot come and go in my life, but I’m thankful for all the ones that have meant so much to me.  I don’t really have many anymore.  I guess that’s a part of growing up.  But for those that I do have, I am thankful.

17.) District Youth Director Meetings – Speaking of not having many friends, the UM Youth Directors in our area are beginning to meat monthly and I am really excited for the connections we’ve already made and will continue to make.  It’s so nice to be around other adults who totally get where we’re coming from 🙂

18.) Fusion – On a similar note, I’m proud to be a part of a new youth movement here in Southeast Texas that we’re calling Fusion.  A group of Youth ministers have come together, crossing denominational boundaries, to bring our students together for passionate worship with the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers and helping students into a deeper walk with God.

19.) My Guitar (acoustic) – Love my Larrivee!  It’s been a big part of my ministry for 8 years and I still love that it’s not a Taylor or a Martin 🙂   (this is a picture from a while back… you can tell cause of the hair)

20.) My Guitar (electric) – The second addition to my musical family.  I’ve had my Peavey amp for many ears because I got a killer deal on it and never had a good guitar to play through it.  It’s a big part of my ministry through music today and a big part of my contribution to Fusion.

21.) Music – You’ve probably seen some of our music posts on this blog.  I love to listen to it.  I love to play.  Music is awesome

22.) Thanksgiving – (put it at 22 cause that’s Thanksgiving day this year)  What is there to really say… family, food, fun, football!  Second or third best holiday in my opinion.

23.) Christmas Season – This would be the day after Thanksgiving also known as Black Friday.  I hope you’ve experienced the joys of Black Friday, but I digress.  I love Christmas and I love the Christmas season!  The music, the lights, the atmosphere, the weather… it’s all so perfect!  (And another vintage picture)

And now things take a bit of a material/superficial turn:

24.) My Bed – It’s warm, it’s comfy, it’s soft, I love it!

25.) iPhone/iPad/iMac – OK, so I don’t want to sound like an Apple fan boy or anything; I promise I’m not.  But I do love our computer and the iPad is just so convenient and fun.  I always thought the iPhone could be overrated, but I’ve really enjoyed my 4.  It may be 2 generations old, but it works great, it’s easy to use, and I love the apps.

26.) MyFitnessPal/RunKeeper – Speaking of apps; I’ve been really trying to work on getting in better shape and losing some weight.  RunKeeper helps me track my running and I like being able to actually gauge my progress.  MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and I started using it Labor day weekend.  As I’ve followed the daily plans and cut back on my calorie intake, I’ve lost 16 pounds in just 2 months.

27.) New dSLR camera/HD video camera – Staci is big into photography and I love doing video work.  These new cameras have been awesome for our family and documenting Josiah’s early life and our family experiences.

28.) DVD/Bluray Collection – I know, it’s nerdy.  But Staci and I never watch live TV (The few TV shows we actually keep up with we watch on Hulu), so we pride ourselves in our collection of movies and TV shows.  Superficial? yes.  Awesome?  Heck Yes!

29.) Modern Conveniences – I know this is kind of general and vague, but I was running out of space, and I’m just so glad for electricity and plumbing, and cell phones, cars, planes, etc.  It’s just nice.

30.) Upcoming Family Vacation – Family time is something I’ve always cherished and now that we live so far part it’s very hard to come by.  So it will be really special spending so much time with all the family.  I’m glad everyone wil get to spend so much with Josiah too!

.

So these are a few things I am especially thankful for this season.

What are some of the things you are thankful for this year?

.

.

– M


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!

.

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.
.

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?

.

.

– 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!

.

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?

.

– 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.)

.

Our Baby Story – Part 4: From News to Now

.

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.

.

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.

.

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!  🙂

.

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!!!

.

.

–Michael and Staci

.


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.)

.

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

.

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.

.

Up Next: Our First Ultrasound and more

.

.

–Michael and Staci

.


Our Baby Story – Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of Our Baby Story, click HERE.

As I mentioned in the first post, this is our transparent, honest story of our journey to getting pregnant.

(Michael’s thoughts will be in italics.)

.

Our Baby Story – Part 2: More Testing

.

The first part of our story ended with me going to a new doctor in Houston.  She was wonderful, and we continued to test in order to hopefully find some answers.  We knew that I had PCOS, but we wanted to rule out other factors.

Our Houston doctor referred me to a male specialist and I had my personal tests run.  As awkward as it all was, I reminded myself that Staci had put herself in much more awkward situations with doctors throughout this whole process and it was time to pay my dues.  As we waited for the test results to come back, I secretly prayed that if there was going to be a reason that we would never have children that it would be me.  When the tests came back positive (or negative… or however you look at it) — when the tests came back that I was ok, it was a very bitter-sweet feeling for me.  I was glad to know that we still had a shot, but I was also worried that if Staci was unable to bear children, she would have to live with the weight on her shoulders, and I would rather have been the one to live with it.  And so the focus moved from me back to Staci.

The bloodwork continued to point to PCOS, though.  In fact, one fancy test showed that I have the same number of eggs as the average 13 year old girl!  That’s how few times I’ve ovulated in my life.  Well, there’s our answer…no ovulation=no pregnancy.

On top of all the blood-work, tests, and other doctors visits our summer was jam-packed with youth activities.  If you read my summer recap post you would know that out of 78 days of summer, we spent 42 of those days doing something with our youth students (not including Sunday morning church).  We spent 1 week on HS mission trip, 4 days on MS mission trip, 1 week at summer camp, 1 week at a conference in California, 1 week with Harry Potter and much more.  So imagine dealing with all of this, plus infertility and traveling 1 and a half hours to and from Houston for countless doctors appointments and check ups.

While we were on our high school mission trip the second week of June, God really spoke to me one of the nights.  One of our boys who lives at a home for at-risk teenage boys was just sobbing and talking to Michael and me about how much he missed his family.  He’s been at this house for at least a year, and he was told he has to be there for several more years before he can return home.  After he left, I just started bawling.  My heart was so, so broken for him and for our other students.  So many of them have such tough things going on.  God reminded me that it was such a blessing that I didn’t have a baby–and even that I wasn’t pregnant–because I had been given this time with the students.  I was able to be “all in” with our ministry.

That next day, my little brother and his wife Skyped us and told us that we were going to be an aunt and uncle.  While we were happy for them and excited to be an aunt and uncle, our hearts still broke a little bit.  It was nothing at all against them.  It was just so hard every time we heard about someone else having a baby since we were having such a hard time trying to get pregnant.  But this was another time that we just had to take things to God and trust in His perfect timing.

It was also difficult, because at this time it seemed like so many other friends on Facebook were getting pregnant, and, once again, although we were very happy for them, it was hard to see so many others succeeding in what we couldn’t achieve.

The last week of July, we went to California with our youth students.  Throughout all of this, I’d been charting and taking my basal body temp.  I knew that 18 high temps after ovulation equals a pregnancy.  Even though I’d had more false alarms/false hopes than I could count in the past year and a half, I just “felt pregnant” this time.  So as we got closer and closer to the 18 days, I would get my hopes up more.  I was running to the restroom constantly, and our youth intern even made a comment about us possibly being pregnant.  However, I also knew that if my temperature slowly dropped 1/10 of a degree at a time, this meant I was probably miscarrying.  It started to do this toward the end of our trip.  But I tried not to freak out.

After 5 plane rides in 5 days (3 take-offs and landings the last day) and just the stress of being gone so much, I knew that my fears were probably coming true.  A couple of days after the trip (21 days after the temp rise), I stayed home with excruciating pain.  I finally had to call Michael to come home.  Even though we never received a positive pregnancy test, I believe that we lost a baby that day.  It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I’ve never been in so much physical or emotional pain.  We went to my doctor in Houston, and she said that she didn’t believe it was a true miscarriage since I didn’t have a positive test, but if it was, my body had taken care of everything.  My mom flew in for the week to help take care of us.  It was the hugest blessing.  Our pastor also stopped by, and numerous people surrounded us and prayed for us during this hard time.

During this time, one song ministered to my heart so much.  My best friend from college had made me a mix CD one summer, and for some reason she included this song.  I’d always thought it was beautiful, but now it was just what my heart needed.  The song is “Glory Baby” by Watermark. (This video is for a charity, but it has the song.)

Glory Baby

God continued to pour His love on us and comfort us in this time.  Through others, His Word, and each other, we were able to grieve and to see the hope of His promises.  One blessing of not getting a positive on my pregnancy test was that we were able to move forward even more with the testing and eventually the treatments.

The coolest (and most expensive) test I did was called a hysterogram, which basically means “fancy dye test/x-ray of my tubes”.  I was able to watch the x-ray screen while the radiologist inserted dye into me.  I watched as it filled my uterus to check to see if it was shaped right, and then I watched as it filled my tubes to check for blockage.  I was so fascinated!  Thankfully, all of that came back fine, and we knew that PCOS was our culprit.

Around the time I did my dye test, I asked my OBGYN for a fertility specialist recommendation.  She’d told me that she would send us there if the dye test came back fine, and I was just ready to set up an appointment.  She gave me a couple of names, and wished us the best of luck as we moved forward.  I was able to get an appointment with a fantastic fertility specialist in Houston for later that month (August).  We were anxious to take this next step, and we continued to pray that God would bless us with a child.

.

This concludes Part 2.  Stay tuned for Treatments and a Positive Test!

.

.

–Michael and Staci

.


Our Baby Story – Part 1

Michael and I wanted to share a little more about our baby story–this journey to where we are now.  It’s been a long almost two years, but I think that makes where we are now that much sweeter.  The following story is one of transparency.  We feel that by sharing our true story, God might use it to encourage someone else who is in a similar situation.

(Michael’s thoughts will be in italics.)

.

Our Baby Story – Part 1: Our Infertility Journey

.

In December of 2009, we decided to get off birth control and just see what would happen.  At first (from about Dec 09 – Apr 10) we were pretty iffy about whether we were ready or not.  While we loved the idea of having a baby, I don’t know if we were ready to actually be parents and all that comes along with that. By the time summer came around, we were both really ready to start a family.  However, it turned out to be a good thing that we didn’t get pregnant before or around then because that’s when all of the job change/moving stuff started happening.  And it would have been so crazy to be expecting a baby when we didn’t even know where we were going to be or what we were going to do. 

It was definitely a time for us to see God’s hand in not letting us get pregnant at that time.

During the summer and throughout the fall, we began to slowly tell family and some of our close friends.  We were worried that it would cause all kinds of questions and things every month, and we weren’t sure how we would feel about people knowing.  But it turned out to be the best thing.  It was such an incredible relief to know that the people who were closest to us were praying for us and supporting us through all of this.

We came to Beaumont in October of last year.  While I still wanted to get pregnant right away, I now see that we were able to spend some really great times with the students here that we wouldn’t have been able to with a baby or a huge pregnant belly.  This past summer was especially good for community building and growing closer to our youth.  And we’re thankful that we had this time.

But it was still tough.  By this point (last winter), I really, really wanted to start a family.  But I was trying to hold it all in and act like everything was fine.  I mean, I knew that I was supposed to trust God completely, so I convinced myself that by burying it deep down, that’s what I was doing.

In the middle of the night on Dec. 22, I thought I had a miscarriage.  I called my doctor in OK (it was really tough to go through all of this without a doctor, by the way, and there were no openings until June for any of the good doctors here), and she said to go to the ER to get checked out.  We went to the ER the next morning, and it turned out it was probably just a ruptured cyst.

Honestly, I was really disappointed.  I was hoping that it was a miscarriage, because then at least I would know that I could get pregnant. 

And after a year of trying and not getting any results, we just wanted some kind of an answer.

One of the ladies at our church who is a nurse called and got me in to see a doctor (actually, a nurse practitioner) in February.  After talking to her, she ordered an ultrasound for a few weeks later.

This was also a difficult time because it was the one year mark for trying unsuccessfully to conceive.  In the fertility world, this meant that we were officially diagnosed as fighting infertility.  It was hard to let that truth sink in, and even harder to think that this might be a bigger problem than we thought.

In between this time, I went on a spiritual weekend called a “Walk to Emmaus”.  It was incredible.  My Walk was from Thursday to Sunday, and it was just a time of drawing close to God and learning about His grace and our response.  I had a chance to talk and pray with our “spiritual director” for the weekend, and she told me that she and her husband waited 17 years for her son.  She prayed over me and told me that she believed that God has given me a promise–we will have children.  God also helped me to be honest with Him about my feelings.  Even though I was putting on an “I’m trusting in God” face, I was broken inside.  So I finally shared with God just how deeply I was hurting.  And through my honesty and brokenness, God began to heal my heart and give me true trust in Him.

One verse that she shared with me began to be a lifeline in my life.  Even though I’d memorized this verse as a child, and it had meant a lot to me over the years, it took on a whole new meaning.  She told me that she believed God wanted her to give this verse to me, and I began to cling to its truth like never before.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires or your heart.”  –Psalm 37:4

A few days later, I had my ultrasound.  Afterwards, my nurse’s nurse told me that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and gave me some medicine.  I had to go home and look up what that even meant, because she wasn’t informative or very helpful.  However, after my bloodwork, they told me (over the phone) that everything looked fine, and there was nothing wrong with me.

I also read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” around this time and I started charting and taking my Basal Body Temperature every morning.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  It really helped me to understand my make-up as a woman, and I continued to be amazed at how God created us.

It was also around this time that we shared our story with even more people (my Emmaus Walk had given me confidence to share and ask more people to pray).  We began to have the view of “the more people that know, the more people that can be praying.”  It was a wonderful gift to have so much love and support surrounding us.

During Easter weekend, while we were in Tennessee for my brother’s wedding, it finally hit me how hard it had been not being able to get pregnant.  Without sounding like I wasn’t looking toward it before, I just had my doubts and reservations up to this point.  I had seen how God had kept us from having a baby for different reasons (moving from Oklahoma, starting a new job, looking towards buying a new house, etc.) but I guess it finally clicked in my mind that we were way past normal as far as fertility is concerned.  I also so how heavy it weighed on Staci to not be pregnant, and we spent an evening just holding each other and crying in our hotel bed.   At this point it had been a year and 4 months with no positive response, and it was even more frustrating that the Dr.s didn’t really seem to have it together.

We kept having doubts about the medical advice/diagnosis we’d been given, and we felt I needed a second opinion.  Through my uncle’s help and recommendation, I was able to see a doctor in Houston in May.  She was incredible!  From the first few minutes with her, Michael and I knew that God had brought us to her.  She explained that, yes, I do have PCOS, and she even made lists of every cause of infertility in women and showed me how I don’t have any of the other things.  She gave us a plan for the following 3 months (hormone medicine and ovulation predictor kits to see if I’m ovulating or not) and said for Michael to go to the doctor as well.

.

And this is where we’ll end Part 1 of our Baby Story.  Stay tuned for more!

.

.

–Michael and Staci

.


Halloween – By M

Is it just me or is Halloween the red-headed step-child of holidays?  We don’t get a day off school for it – regardless of the fact that everyone knows everyone else will be out late trick-or-treating or at a Fall Festival – we don’t get out of work early, half of the Christian community thinks that Halloween is from the devil….

.

I really am not sure what this post is about other than to say I’m somewhere in the middle when it comes to Halloween.  I mean when you think about it, Halloween spawned from a Christian holiday, All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve.

I was raised in a family where we celebrated Halloween as kids (by “celebrate” I mean we got dressed up and went trick-or-treating).  Then as we got older, and things got more dangerous, we did the whole Festival thing – as those became more popular too.  Once we got into late middle school and high school, we really didn’t do much except sit around the house and watch a movie, and eat pizza and popcorn.  Now Staci and I are involved in our church’s Fall Festival which is lots of fun.

I do have to admit that some things about Halloween do give me the creeps.  I’m not a big fan of all the dead stuff and spiders and what not, but I don’t think that’s any reason to not go out and get a ton of candy and have a good time.

.

What are your thoughts on Halloween?  Any family traditions?

(Us as CTU Agents (from “24”) for Halloween last year)

.

– M


What Songs Move You? – By M

“You moooove me, Baby!”  …Have any of you heard of Mark Lowry?  He’s an old school, 90s, Christian comedian and song parody writer.  He’s known for great hits such as this (click “this” for the link) remake of “Place in this World” by Michael W. Smith, and this remake of the classic “I Surrender All” by Clay Crosse.  He also does stand up, and one of his sketches is talking about how we say, “I love you with all my heart” because the heart is the seat of the emotion.  However, in the Bible the seat of the emotions was the bowels, and he dares his audience to imagine saying to your significant other “I love you with all my bowels, Honey.”  Then makes a joke about a husband telling his wife… “ooooh baby, you move me!”  Anyway, I guess you can make the connection (hopefully those bowels aren’t doing too much movement, if you know what I mean)… and this pretty much has nothing to do with the rest of my post

.

Well, ok, it does.  Recently, aka yesterday, Staci and I put up a post about music that we really like.  And as I thought about why we like music, I realized that we are drawn certain types of music, movies, art, etc because it moves us… (so you see my train of thought now.  Sadly, Mark has ruined me to think of him every time I think of being “moved”).  And now I’ve totally ruined what comes to your mind when somebody says that they’ve been moved by something (yay, I’m not alone anymore!)

So I was thinking about songs that move me, and I wanted to share them with you.  I know that I’ve probably ruined all seriousness in this post, but hopefully we can all get back on track and you can appreciate these songs:

This first one is actully an instrumental piece from the show LOST.  As many of you know, Staci and I are pretty big LOST fans.  Variations of this theme are played during very serious, heart warming/heart breaking, moments in the show.  But even if you haven’t seen the show and couldn’t pictur action to this music, listen and enjoy because this piece is really beautiful.  I hope you like it.

This next song is more upbeat and just gets me excited (It’s also not instrumental).  It’s by a band called MUTEMATH and the song is called “Typical”.  (The music video is pretty cool too, so enjoy.)

This is another upbeat song that puts me in a good mood everytime I hear it, and it basically makes me want to act like the guy in the music video.  This is “Count Me In” by Leeland.

For this last one, it’s not so much the song as it is the music video that always gets me.  Some of you may have read this post about how over the past few years I’ve become more of a cry baby when it comes to movies and such.  Well this one makes the water works turn on everytime.  This is “SMS (Shine)” by the David Crowder*Band.

.

Obviously there are a ton more songs out there that move me; the song by Gungor that we posted in our last blog, plenty of Jars of Clay, Mat Kearney, and other David Crowder*Band songs, many many worship song, and more, but I won’t bore you to death.  And I hope you can find these songs enjoyable and moving.

I’d love to know:  What songs move you?