Tuesday, February 17, 2015

MOM Elizabeth: Trusting God in the Delay, Part 3

Click here for PART 2

We left off last week with Elizabeth sharing how for two years she was waiting, praying and pleading with God to fulfill her heart's desire to be a mother. Elizabeth explains a certain Sunday during Advent that was particularly difficult for her.
"Advent is all about anticipation and waiting, which resonated with me as we reviewed the story of barren Elizabeth in the Bible. I squirmed in my pew, on the verge of tears, as we not only shared the struggle of infertility, but our name too."
Luke 1:37 reads "For no word from God will ever fail." When Elizabeth read that passage while alone later that day, it resonated with her in a way it never had before.  She explains, "God spoke to me that afternoon and I remembered what He'd promised me in the past. I cried a lot that day and remember wondering aloud if something was wrong with me. I just didn't feel quite 'right'".

Two days later, Elizabeth "Googled" some unusual symptoms she'd been experiencing, "I developed a metal taste in my mouth. I also began waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which was unusual for me." She decided to take a pregnancy test and "two little lines appeared! Naturally, I went to the store and bought another test. Another instant positive. I was dumbfounded!"

Later that day, when her husband came home for lunch, Elizabeth gave him a card which read, "New job...you're going to do great!" She then wrote 

"Father. Start date: August 2014"  

Paul and Elizabeth laughed in disbelief together, cried tears of joy and hugged...but they were in for another surprise and were about to have their joy increased twofold! Elizabeth explains:
"At my first ultrasound appointment (9 weeks pregnant), we found two babies! I laughed and cried at the same time. Paul was silent at first (he was in shock), and later joked that he had chest pains when he heard 'twins'! Both of our grandparents are fraternal twins, but we never thought we would have twins."
How do you start preparing yourself for a twin pregnancy?  Google, of course! Elizabeth began searching and found images of pregnant women and their twin bellies.
"I got a little freaked out about the changes my body was going to go through. Thankfully, besides swollen legs and feet and difficulty sleeping, I didn't have any complications! And I never got as big as the pictures! We even made it full term: 38 weeks and 3 days."

Meet Ada May ("happy, first daughter, wished for child") and Libby Joy ("God's promise, joyful")! They are now 6 months and are developing their adorable personalities! I would say that I'm biased because they're my nieces, but I'm not...because they really are incredibly precious!

Ada is "observant, bashful and independent. She sucks her thumb and index finger...and her toes! She has big, beautiful eyes." Libby "is my silly baby! We've nicknamed her 'pterodactyl' because she makes dinosaur noises. She is a noisy eater and has been making us laugh since she was born. She rolls all over the place, loves to be held and is a spitting image of her daddy."

A while back, Elizabeth shared the way her and Paul pray intentionally for Ada and Libby, and I asked her to share here.  I think it's such a lovely way to pray for our children and have begun to implement this as a part of our night-time routine too.

Sunday:  Salvation
Monday:  Their mate
Tuesday:  Truth
Wednesday:  World-changers
Thursday:  Thankfulness
Friday:  Forgiveness and friends
Saturday:  Sin (victory over it), spiritual armor and servant hearts.

What tips or advice regarding motherhood did Elizabeth discover to be useful?
"Breastfeeding twins is downright difficult. I wasn't prepared for the emotional or physical toll and it is easily the hardest thing I've ever done! I took advantage of seeing a lactation consultant and a breast-feeding counselor which I would recommend to everyone."
What was one thing Elizabeth wasn't quite prepared for?
"A mom sacrifices SO much for her children! I knew this was the case, but I didn't understand the extent until I hadn't slept well, showered regularly, or left the house in a month! I was overwhelmed with love for my girls and I was determined to give them anything and everything they needed, no matter the toll."
Does Elizabeth have any advice for expectant, or new moms of twins?
"A lot of people tell me 'I don't know how you do it with twins!' The truth is, if they were given the pleasure of two babies at once, they would figure it out too. We decided early on that we wanted to include our girls in our everyday lives and not stop doing things, simply because we had babies. So we took them to a day retreat with our youth group at 3 weeks old, family camp at the beach with our church at 4 weeks old, drove 300 miles (a 5-hour trip that took us 8 hours) to spend time with my parents when they were 5 weeks old. When they were 3 months old, we flew to Los Angeles so they could meet their Auntie who was on an airport layover. At 4 months, we went on a youth retreat, at 5 months we flew to Texas for a weekend work conference. Most recently (6 months) we went on our youth group's winter retreat. We are raising flexible, adaptable babies who are learning to love traveling!"
Elizabeth has some words of encouragement, as someone who has been there herself, to anyone who may be struggling to conceive:

"You are not forgotten and you are not alone!"

 "Be honest with what you are feeling and share those emotions with those closest to you. Allow people to journey with you because it's too heavy to carry it alone." 
For more resources and a community for women in the midst of infertility, a friend of Elizabeth's has created a ministry called  The Carry Camp.  Look into what they have to offer for you, or forward this on to a friend whom you might be able to bring encouragement.

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Check back next week for the final installment of Elizabeth's interview, and learn more about her hobbies, passions, and how she is making an impact on the world in regard to social justice and lasting change!

Monday, February 9, 2015

MOM Elizabeth: Trusting God in the Delay, Part 2

Click here for PART 1
Elizabeth and her husband Paul had prayed, waited, and trusted in God's timing in regard to the decision to start a family.  So when they felt God filling their hearts with the desire to be parents, the were ready! However, Elizabeth explains, "Naive as it sounds, we were not ready for the waiting which lied ahead."  
Elizabeth was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome after trying to conceive for seven months.
"I wasn't the least bit surprised because I'd always known something was off with my system. My hormones were completely out of whack.  I was constantly plucking black hair from my chin, I wasn't ovulating...the most pressing reality, though, was that it probably meant it would take us a long time to get pregnant and we'd likely need intervention."
Elizabeth and Paul did their research, spoke with professionals regarding treatment options, and spent time praying for "wisdom and discernment" as they began to "navigate unfamiliar territory." Seven months turned into two years...

"Two years of frustrating appointments and health complications. 
Various approaches to natural medicine.
Acupuncture, chiropractic visits, a no-sugar diet.
Herbal tea and supplements.
Prenatal vitamins, ovulation predictor kits.
An unreal amount of feminine products.
Prescribed medications.
Two painful, invasive procedure.
Blood tests.
And lots and lots of waiting."

730 days passed, and during this time of praying, trying and waiting, Elizabeth explains how she identified with the woman in the Bible who suffered from prolonged bleeding (in Matthew 9).
"I could picture myself reaching out to touch Jesus' cloak as he walked by, believing in His healing power. There were moments where I genuinely, without a shadow of a doubt, believed the timing was now. And I was wrong over and over again...I questioned why I still had to plead with God to give me the deepest desire of my heart when He already knew it all too well"

While diving into Scripture, Elizabeth was reminded over and over that there was a greater plan in the works, and God had a purpose for this time of waiting, although she could not yet comprehend what that might be, "Of course, Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, knows best.  It's the Sunday school answer and it's the truth. There is always a purpose and God is always right on time. Even in my situation." 

Continue here to PART 3, to read more of Elizabeth's journey to motherhood.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

MOM Elizabeth: Trusting God in the Delay, Part 1

BOTH children are napping right now!!!! Such a rarity. So that means it's Momster Mash "go time".  I promise I'm working on getting ahead of myself so I can be sure to post each Momster Monday. 
I'm so excited to introduce you to the Momster of the Month for February, Elizabeth!  I have been blessed to have inherited her as a sister because we married brothers within 6 months of each other in 2009.  We affectionately call each other "Sistaw" because it's much easier, and sassier, than typing or saying "sister-in-law". Elizabeth has a HUGE heart, and would most likely be the kindest person you would ever meet, should you be lucky enough to meet her one day. She is an ice cream addict, world-changer, Christ-follower, modern-day abolitionist, DIYer, and she has a story to tell about her journey to mommy-hood. Let's start from the beginning...
How did you meet your husband, my brother-in-law ("brothaaaw"), Paul?
"We got set up through a mutual friend! We were living 2.5 hours apart and I randomly got an email from a friend one day that said something along the lines of "he's a youth pastor, he likes coffee shops, and he has a big dog.  Are you interested?"  It was so out of the blue and uncharacteristic of her that I knew she wouldn't have contacted me if she didn't think this really could be something.  I was intrigued, but had low expectations of anything working out because of the distance.  We both were very invested in our respective communities and jobs, but the more we got to know each other, the more willing we were to make the drive or ride the train to see each other."
They had a few weekend dates, several late night phone conversations, and prayed about the direction of their relationship. While Paul was directing a summer camp, Elizabeth decided to take a few days off work and visit him, and there they found some quiet time together.
"We snuck off to the waterfall (camp director privileges) to have the DTR ("Define the Relationship") conversation and decided to give it a go! We both desired to be in a relationship where we would be more effective in ministry together, than alone."
At what point in the relationship did you realize it was L.O.V.E.?
"I realized I loved Paul after spending the weekend with him on a youth retreat where I got to be a camp counselor.  I love my cabin of girls, but have to admit I was a little distracted by the handsome youth pastor. Paul says he realized he loved me a few weeks later at Lowe's Home Improvement store, picking out tile together for his bathroom! It was the little moments of 'everyday life' where he started to picture us together beyond some really fun weekend dates."

"Ten months later, we were engaged, 
and four months after that, we were married."

Elizabeth recalls the summer of 2011 when adorable baby announcements began taking over their refrigerator:
"I started wondering when Paul and I would be ready to start a family.  I can remember teasing him about it at first, and then growing more accustomed to the idea...it certainly was a gradual process, though.  You see, I love Paul a LOT and the idea of sharing him with another didn't initially sit well with me.  How could I love someone as much as I love him?  The one I choose every day to share life with?  The man who doesn't complain, is not easily angered, the man I feel most 'me' with?...I questioned if there was really room in my hear for another.  To be Paul and Elizabeth plus one."
Elizabeth admitted she sounded "pretty selfish" as she verbalized these thoughts, so they began to pray that God would "quicken our hearts at the right time". Then God spoke. 
"At camp that summer (can you tell that's a special place for me?) I had a powerful experience during worship one night where God spoke directly to my heart...I felt God stir in my heart the way I had asked.  I don't remember hearing exact words, but in that moment, I felt God begin to prepare me for motherhood. Planting and confirming my desire to be a mom. A mom to a child of my own. Instant joy and peace." 
When their week at camp was over and they were driving home, Elizabeth shared her experience during that worship service. 

Do you know what he said... "Me too".

God spoke to Paul the very same night about being a dad, that he spoke to Elizabeth about being a mom, "We laughed in disbelief, marveling at the Lord's handiwork and timing and preparing our hearts to love our someday-child."

That June, she became Aunt Elizabeth to our little Lucy.  We like to call her Auntie El :)  Elizabeth says that she "melted, again, and desperately wanted to be a mom"

Elizabeth holding our Lucy for the first time.
Elizabeth gives us a glimpse into the years that would follow:
"It's as though a switch was flipped as soon as we made the mutual decision to stop taking birth control. I was ready, and I was ready now. Each month that passed without a child was more difficult that the previous one...God was delaying the answer to my need which caused me to consider how I receive His silence. Do I trust God in the delay? Could I be right where he wants me to be, right now?"
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Continue here to Part 2 to read more of Elizabeth's story, as she openly shares more of her painful journey to conceive, and the lessons she learned along the way.