MJ, A Woman of Courage.

27 March 2017


It seems to me that the most courageous women rarely make history. I thank God that each day I am surrounded by women who have courage to battle the odds against them. It was four years ago, or maybe even five (my memory is not so reliable in this constant state of sleep deprivation), that I met "MJ". Our meeting yet so brief would be the inception of what I hope to be a life long friendship. I chortled at her comment on a mutual friends post, it was everything I was feeling at the moment. MJ pand I had a brief conversation about how hard it was to lose weight on our infertility journeys. She commented that losing weight was hard for her and that she was much happier she was when she wasn't dieting. Both of us knew that losing weight and being healthier was essential to our mutual goal of having babies. MJ and I haven't met in person yet but I know that day will come, until then I want to share a little of her story.

I can't remember which one of us took the initiative to request the other but I'm so glad it happened. As a result I learned more about her than I imagined could be possible from a few square pictures on her instagram account. I learned that she had been married for more than a decade at that point, her husband had beaten cancer, and that they suffered through the miscarriage of their very first pregnancy. MJ had a great sense of humor sprinkled with sarcasm, logic, faith and a little profanity. To me this was refreshing, as there are too many perfect personas on the internet and I was drawn to her right away.

She's an Ivy League grad and had a very stressful but successful career. In the beginning I found that a little intimidating since at the time I was a run of the mill self employed, artsy photographer/housewife. Right away you can see how intelligent MJ is but if you dont give her a chance you may take her matter of factness for being mean. I can assure you this is not the case. I followed MJ along and eventually we exchanged phone numbers. That exchange a few years ago lead to a daily frenzy of text messages between MJ and another woman that I consider my internet bestie. MJ was very helpful and concerned for me as I started IVF, she faithfully checked in on me and she also gave great advice on how to make my intramuscular injections less painful. Im usually pretty private but whenever I talked to MJ my life was an open book. In June of 2014 she had her own procedure done and happily awaited news of a pregnancy, possibly with twins. When she said that she was pregnant, I was over the moon. I was super excited for her and ready to cheer her on to the finish line. 

Unfortunately from the beginning things were not shaping up to be exactly what we all had hoped. From the start MJ had worries because there was bleeding, and that was the last thing any pregnant woman wants to see. It was soon revealed that she was pregnant with twins but lost one of the babies shortly after. She progressed in her pregnancy and with baited breath continued to hope and pray that her remaining baby would hang in there until the due date. I couldn't fathom the conflicting emotions she was experiencing as she simultaneously grieved one baby while hoping and praying for the survival of the other.  At this time it was known that I was pregnant with twins too, I experienced a wide range of emotions for her and her experiences tested my faith as well. I couldn't understand why something that seem within reach would be quickly snatched away. I had to continually remind myself that God would turn this experience around for her good even if it didn't feel like it in the moment.

Fast forward to September, MJ finally had a little baby bump. That month she had gone on a beautiful vacation and found out that her sweet baby was a BOY. Not too long after she returned issues arose with her blood pressure. It started to rise and rise and rise. This was not a good thing and I could tell that she was worried. After a very brief hospitalization MJ revealed to us that her teeny baby had been delivered while she was still in her second trimester. The details of his birth were very traumatic so much that she only shared small details with us while holding the rest close to her heart. It hurt badly to feel so helpless in her suffering. I was devastated and honestly I didn't know how to support her through this. Though I am positive there were many emotions she didn't share with me I know that she was frightened of the outcome. There were lots of peaks and valleys throughout the time that her tiny warrior fought for his life in the NICU. There was a battle in MJ's mind as she absorbed much of the blame for his early debut. As her friend I tried to reassure her that she did the best that she could. I also told her that I believed her vigilance in watching her blood pressure and communicating with her doctors surely saved his life. During her own struggles MJ helped me when I was desperate for breastfeeding advice, she encouraged me and lent her ear during a very depressing time in her life. 

Her baby will be three this year and while a few issues have arose since then he is alive and continuing to be the little fighter he was born to be. MJ is hanging on and riding the waves of toddler mama life. I have never seen someone endure so much hardship with so much grace while continuing to carry the loads of friends around her. She is courageous and she inspires me much more than she knows. I've always wished that I could have helped her more during her time of need by bringing a meal, coming to visit, or helping out at her home while she was camping out at the hospital - but the miles between is made that impossible! It is my hope that she felt comforted by God as I interceded on her and her baby's behalf for what I remember to be 109 days. She is truly courageous!

*MJ's name has been changed for the purpose of privacy. MJ if you are reading this I just want you to know that your internet pal in Florida adores you. I think you are amazing and courageous. I love how you care for your friends and I love how much you dote on my boys. I look forward to the day that we actually meet. Until then I pray that God will send redemption and healing for all the ways that you have suffered since we met. I pray that peace, light and love pour out of the cracks in your heart. I love you, friend.

In honor of my courageous friend MJ. I am giving away tickets to the inspirational film the Zookeeper's Wife which opens this FRIDAY, MARCH 31ST. To enter this giveaway please tell me about a courageous woman in your life in the comments below.

When in Doubt.... GIVEAWAY

02 March 2017

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! Luke 1:45

To date that is one of my favorite scriptures. Sometimes I forget all about it when doubt clouds my mind and makes me second guess the goodness and the grace of God. When my husband and I were first trying to conceive I wasn't close to the Lord so this scripture didn't hold much weight in my life. I had no clue of what his promises were to me. All I wanted was for him to give me a baby so I could show all the other people how raising a child was "supposed" to look. My heart wasn't in the right place and it was black and blue from all the hurt that I had endured over the years.

Instead of giving me what I wanted God drew me in with love and christian sisterhood. He took me to a new church and brought me to a group of women that would water me with his word every week for four years before he sent me to live in a new state. He loved on me and helped to pluck out so much of the yucky stuff that I liked to keep hidden. Even with all the good it was still hard for me as I journeyed through the change.

My heart screamed louder and louder at me about wanting a child but I clung to God even more and asked him to take away that desire if it wasn't of him. I later found that it was in His will to give us a family but there was so much that had to be revealed in my heart, my marriage and my life before this child(ren) would come to fruition.

As I matured in my faith I learned that when my mind was filled with doubt there was no better time than to plant my feet deep in the word. No, it didn't fulfill my desires but it filled the space that cried out to me that I needed a child. It filled the space to tell me that with or without babies I was enough. As I begin to see myself in the eyes of the Lord the pain I felt from infertility eased up a bit. It didn't sting so much when I heard those pregnancy announcements because the Holy Spirit helped me to replace the doubts with belief.

I sat on the sidelines month after month watching babies be born or women announce that they were pregnant on each side of me. I held the hands of friends as they were told no over and over again by doctors when they hoped the answer would be yes. The journey was long and arduous. The journey was painful and lonely, but God showed up in a miraculous way just when I felt I couldn't wait any longer.

His word stood strong and saw me through several years of infertility and then it soothed my soul as I held my breath through 38 weeks of pregnancy. The Lord was faithful to me and blessed me even in the moments that I lent myself to doubt. If you trust him and believe I know he will do the same for you no matter what your situation.

There were disciples that were full of doubt while sitting at the feet of Jesus, so you and I are not alone. We have to push pass our doubt and have faith, even if its as small as a mustard seed.

If you'd like to learn more about the disciple that had doubt check out CNN's Finding Jesus: Faith Fact Forgery which airs March 5th at 9pm EST.

I have a $25 dollar gift card for LIFEWAY that I would like to give away to one reader that is interested in purchasing a new bible or devotional. Comment below and tell me about a time that the Lord helped you hold it together when you were full of doubt. Winner will be selected randomly, look for the announcement on my Instagram on Monday (be sure to follow me there).

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