Having trouble hitting publish

Hi friends, I just wanted to come on here with a quick post to apologize for my lack of blog posts. I have several drafts that I have typed, but can’t seem to find the courage or strength to hit publish.

Some of the things I’m going through in my life right now are just really, really hard and it’s difficult to open myself up and be vulnerable in the online community. I know that the majority of you will be compassionate and thoughtful, but I’m having trouble finding the balance of what I’m really comfortable with sharing right now.

I so desperately want to blog and every time I find inspiration, I sit down and write. But everything so far is just too far outside of my comfort zone for what I want to share. It’s just kind of adding to my anxiety to put myself out there and wonder what people are thinking or how they will respond.

So for now, the blog will probably be mostly quiet. For now, I suppose I’m just blogging for my own benefit and not for anyone to actually read it. But I hope to be back blogging publically again as I work through some difficult parts of my life and find healing to share openly once again.

Thank you for your continued support and love.

Amber

 

Patience and Baby Steps

In my recent post, I reviewed my year in 2015 briefly and discussed some of the health issues I am struggling with, my reluctance to trust God and surrender totally to His plans for my life, and my ongoing desire to have a family.

To sum up that post for anyone who doesn’t want to read the long novel I posted (sorry about that, sweet friends): I talked about my struggle with GERD/acid reflux and food sensitivities, I shared that I successfully completed the Whole 30 diet in November but was disappointed to discover how many food sensitivities I have and now need to embrace starting a more strict autoimmune Paleo protocol to work towards healing, and of course wanting to work towards our goal of having a healthy baby but feeling like I’m stuck dealing with health issues that take precedence over trying to conceive.

I apologize to anyone who read my post if I was too whiny in that post. I don’t intend to share that in the hopes of getting sympathy, but rather as a form to vent my frustration and release the stress of the last year so that I can really start working towards moving forward with my life. I have to tell you, I feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders by releasing that in my blog. I’m still a little nervous to have so much personal information on the internet, but I love this blogging community that has been so beneficial for my soul over the last few years and I also hope that my words will be a comfort to someone else.

Although all of the problems in my life sometimes feel too big to even think about dealing with, I know that I have overcome many struggles in my life and I will overcome this also, with God’s helping hand.

In my quest towards healing, I want to set goals and plan/map out how I can work my way to achieving those goals. One of the hardest parts of dealing with illness, for me personally, has been the worry and stress of not knowing how to move forward and feeling too overwhelmed by having too many big changes in my life all at the same time. My goal is to plan out baby steps that I can take slowly over time to work towards my goal of good health.

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

When I started this health journey in November, I think I caused myself a great deal of added stress and anxiety because I had this end goal in mind that I wanted achieved by a set date. The reason for my set date was because I want to see my reproductive endocrinologist this summer and start working on trying to have a baby. Giving myself a deadline for healing is just unrealistic. Healing takes time and you just can’t rush that.

So part of my plan is surrendering to the understanding that I am only in control of making positive changes, but I can’t control how long this process of healing is going to take. While I still hope we will be able to see the specialist this summer, I’m prepared for the wait to be longer than I expect. (For anyone wondering why I can’t focus on healing from my GERD issues while seeing a RE: it mainly has to do with finances. I’m prepared for the RE to cost a great deal of money and I want to do everything in my power to be as healthy as I can before going. I want to do what I can on my own first and then work with the doctor with the things I don’t have control over. I just don’t want to waste money or time when I know that I’m not healthy enough right now to start that journey. Also, I’m not mentally prepared yet for starting that process. I’m still struggling with grief over my loss in July and not ready to get pregnant again.)

I’m giving myself grace and taking this process one baby step at a time.

Sending you all my love,

Amber

 

Life Updates

I wrote my last blog post in August before taking an unintentional blogging break. At the beginning of last year, I had so many plans and dreams for 2015 and all of it was turned upside down when my plans intersected with a little thing called life.

This verse pretty much summed up 2015 for me:

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Blogging was definitely a big part of my plans and I was hopeful that I would finally start the YouTube channel I’ve been dreaming of for so long. I wanted to share my infertility journey, my love of homemaking, recipes and cooking videos/blog posts and our journey to financial freedom with the world. The Lord had other plans for me.

It’s odd for me to admit that 2015 was one of my hardest years yet. Looking back, there were a few years over the course of my almost 5 year infertility journey that were filled with mourning and grief. I had a lot of good things happen in 2015 – it’s odd for me to feel like that year could have possibly been worse than 2012 when I was grieving 3 miscarriages that happened over the course of 9 months, I was grieving the first 3 set of due dates with empty arms, and grieving the results from the doctor that left with no answers for why I lost 3 children.

How could this year possibly be worse than that year of grief?

Last year, I wrestled with God. I would have never admitted it to even myself, but my hands were tightly gripped around my dreams and plans for my future and I didn’t want to give up control or surrender to God. If I’m being totally honest – I still don’t want to. I’m still struggling with wanting life to go according to my plan.

Last year was the year of discovery. I learned that I’m much more of a selfish person than I thought I was. This admission will probably make me seem like I’m totally full of myself, but I think in my mind I thought that I was willing to follow Jesus anywhere. I thought I trusted Him completely.

Last year, I wrestled with God and He humbled me.

At the beginning of the year, I mistakenly found myself in over my head with a ministry commitment that lasted through May. It was overwhelming and stressful and I wasn’t sure it was possible to get everything done.

Instead of taking my cares before the Lord, many times I found myself becoming bitter, complaining to others and especially to my husband, having a very critical attitude, and worst of all, I played the victim role very well. My husband is a saint for putting up with me. I’m sure my negativity could have easily been contagious but he was so patient with me.

At the beginning of the year, I had many plans in my heart, but the biggest plan was to focus on my health and work towards my biggest dream of all: having a healthy baby. I didn’t want anything standing in the way of that dream.

But everything did. My husband’s new job as a detective working in major crimes was incredibly busy and stressful. My ministry involvement consumed a lot of my time that I was not really excited or “willing” to give and I did so with a foul spirit and not one of giving and service. I started having all kinds of weird health problems that just got worse and worse as the year progressed. Even my two best friend’s weddings were getting in the way of my dream.

I didn’t want to be bitter over what should be exciting, joyful times in my life. But my desire to have a healthy baby was stronger than finding contentment in my present circumstances, and everything, even good things in my life, became a burden to me instead of a gift.

When I found out I was pregnant in July followed quickly by my 6th miscarriage, I was devastated (and still am) that I didn’t do everything I could that year to focus on my health for the sake of maybe having a healthy pregnancy. In my mind, all I could think is, “If I would have said “no” to everything and focused on myself, my baby might still be alive.”

After my second friend’s wedding in June and finishing my last ministry commitment (VBS), I was finally excited to have time to focus on my home, my health, our financial goals, and my personal hobbies. It was such a peaceful, quiet month. We had went for a long period of time not getting pregnant so I started to think that I might not get pregnant again and was feeling more comfortable and safe that month not preventing pregnancy. Many times in our marriage we have prevented because of the fear of miscarriage. My husband I were really close that month and we enjoyed for what felt the first time in a long time, times of intimacy not filled with fear, but just with enjoyment for each other.

That intimacy was shattered yet again by miscarriage. The next time we were together, we had to stop and broke down sobbing and hugging. It was a different kind of intimacy, one of grief and fear. Grief that our love leads to the loss of our children and grief that we can’t fully enjoy our marriage.

In August my health problems were even worse and it was time to finally set foot in a doctor’s office. Two things were causing my problems: an extremely bad case of acid reflux/GERD and mold in our apartment. We found the mold in September and promptly moved out. We moved into our first home together and I am feeling a lot better, but still dealing with the bad acid reflux issues daily.

Moving was exciting but totally stressful. We wanted to stay in our apartment for at least one more year to continue saving. Our plans were to purchase a home, but instead we had to rent because we didn’t have time and the mold was making me so, so sick. Thankfully we found an awesome deal in a cute little starter home and we love it.

I’ve wanted to enjoy our new house more than I have been able to, but my acid reflux symptoms are just a constant, daily pain and the stress of not knowing how to heal has been a lot to deal with. Medicine doesn’t work, so I’ve given up on that. I tried doing the Whole 30/Paleo diet challenge in November and while I successfully completed the 30 days and was so proud of myself for doing so, my acid reflux problems didn’t go away and I never had the amazing energy that other people talk about from doing the whole 30 challenge. I was still incredibly fatigued the entire time.

The Whole 30 diet was definitely beneficial, however. I discovered that on top of having Celiac disease and not being able to eat gluten, I’m also sensitive to eggs, tomatoes, mandarins/oranges, nuts and seeds, and a group of food called nightshades. Doing the paleo diet made it very easy to discover what foods I was sensitive to. I would be feeling okay and then eat a handful of almonds or a mandarin and my reflux symptoms would be so bad that I could feel everything rising to my throat for hours and had trouble sleeping from the reflux. While searching about eating paleo and being sensitive to other foods, I discovered the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol that eliminates all of these food groups for a period of time to allow your gut to heal from inflammation and damage before trying to slowly reintroduce these food groups back into your diet.

While I’m pretty much ready to give anything a try to heal from this illness, I am feeling huge anxiety about what I should eat. The Whole 30 challenge was really difficult. Every time I would try a new recipe, I would suffer the consequences of reflux problems. My diet was pretty boring the entire 30 days and most of the meals included a lot of daily cooking. Even with weekly food prep, I was still constantly in the kitchen and it felt like I was a slave to food. It would be one thing if I could make a big pot of Paleo chili that I could eat as leftovers for a few nights in a row to get a break from cooking, but the tomatoes were a trigger for my reflux. It was so discouraging. It seems like all of the bulk recipes have foods that I can’t eat without getting sick. With the exception of homemade chicken broth and chicken soup. Bless you chicken soup – you aren’t the most filling food, but I love you!

So while I know what I need to do, I have been hesitant to get back in the game. I’m worried that by eliminating all of these food groups, I won’t ever be able to tolerate the foods again. It’s already hard enough not being able to eat gluten. Too much attention is drawn to me in social settings and I hate talking about it. The thought of having so many food restrictions is simply overwhelming.

It’s been difficult to accept that all of my plans and dreams for last year (and the same ones continued for this year) have completely gone out the window. It’s hard for me to understand what God is doing in my life. What is the purpose in this illness? What good is going to come from this? Much like the miscarriages, it’s hard to see what good could possibly come from this.

And again, my biggest dream of wanting to have a baby is left in His hands, and all I want is to take that dream and hold it tightly in mine. It’s like in one way, I trust that God is going to redeem all that has been lost and use this for His good purposes. But on the other hand, I don’t know when that’s going to happen and I’m struggling with life in the valley. That mountaintop experience of seeing God’s glory, showing up at just the perfect time, well, it looks pretty far away right now.

I’m still very much wrestling with God. I have so many questions and need so much direction in my life.

I don’t really know what His purpose is for this, but perhaps part of that is that all of these struggles are reminding me of my desperate need for a Savior. All of my plans, my best efforts, my dreams and goals, while they are good and honorable to have, are only temporary. God is eternal. The pain of today is temporary. The pleasure of today is temporary. Salvation through Christ is eternal.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

While I have plans and goals for the year 2016 that I hope to work towards and especially hope to find healing from illness, I suppose my biggest plan of all is to seek after God and go to Him. My word for 2016 is “prayer”.

Starting this new year, I felt hopeless and in over my head. I know that the only way I’m going to get through this year and come out better on the other side, no matter what the circumstances are, is to run to my heavenly father for His love, guidance, correction (and sometimes rebuke – eek!), comfort, and peace.

If you are also feeling overwhelmed by life and struggling with knowing what direction to take or how to move forward when fear is so paralyzing, I encourage you to seek after God. He loves you and He cares. You might feel all alone, but I can promise you that you are never alone.

Sending you all my love <3

Amber

“I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121

 

 

My favorite day of the year

January 16 has become my favorite day of the year. In 2014, I believe that God gave me a special promise that I will someday have a child. You can read about my testimony on believing that promise in my post here from 2014. I feel a little bit crazy sharing all of this online, with people that can read and think, “Okay. You’re crazy.” It’s definitely possible, haha.

But that promise has been such an encouragement to me over the last two years in moments of weakness and sorrow. It doesn’t take away from the pain, but it does give me an extra source of hope to believe that someday I will have a child in my arms. I don’t know what the situation will look like (adoption, fostering, biological, etc. – who knows). But I believe with every part of my being that God is going to work in my life to bring about His good plan.

There are many scriptures that talk about God’s heart for the barren woman and His promises to be faithful to her. A really good one that I hope everyone reading can hold in your heart as your own promise from God is:

“He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.”

The week leading up to January 16, I was talking on and on to Jonathan about my special “promise day” and reflecting on God’s faithfulness over the last 5 years of my life and dreaming about the future and all that He has planned for me.

The night before the 16th, someone in my family hurt my feelings (I wrote a post about it – but it will probably be deleted soon so I’m not linking to it) and it was kind of putting a cloud of negativity around my hopefulness and excitement for God’s promise. Well my reaction and bitterness was at least. Sigh. Maybe one day I’ll have calm reactions and not respond with such sensitivity.

But then on Friday night, I read on Facebook from the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian American who has been held captive in an Iranian prison for 3 years, that Saeed was taken out of the prison and moved to a different location. She didn’t yet know what this meant and asked all of her Facebook followers to be in prayer for Saeed and his family.

I have been praying since 2013 when I first heard about Pastor Saeed. I’ve wept for the family and have waited and waited and waited for God to finally answer the millions of prayers that God’s people have cried out for this family to be reunited. Many times, when I would think about how difficult and painful the journey of recurrent miscarriage and infertility is, I would remember Pastor Saeed and his wife and children and think, “If they can be faithful and trust in God in that horrible, horrible situation, I can do the same.” They have been a source of inspiration for my faith. I know there are many, many Christians throughout the world who are persecuted for their faith, but because of Pastor Saeed’s faithful wife’s advocacy for her husband, my prayers and I think the prayers of many others became more personal and we were able to relate and grieve in a more connected way. I think sometimes, just knowing someone’s name and knowing their story helps us to better connect when it’s so hard to understand and put yourself in the shoes of someone half-way across the world in a completely different culture.

When I found out that something different was taking place that Friday night, I immediately prayed that God would bring Saeed home and I said something like, “Oh Lord, it would be so amazing to find out tomorrow on January 16, that Pastor Saeed is finally free!”

Saturday morning, I woke up and was still feeling pretty sad from the night before. I looked at my phone and the very first status I read on Facebook was from Pastor Saeed’s wife saying: “It is confirmed: Saeed is released!!!”

Reading through the thousands of comments, I wasn’t the only one crying and praising God. This was such an exciting day in history!

I read from his wife before that Saeed felt God telling him he would be released from prison before his daughter’s 9th (if I remember correctly) birthday. I can’t even begin to imagine how long and agonizing the days must have felt behind prison walls. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to hold on to the promise that God would free him. He was given many opportunities to be freed from prison, if only he would reject his faith in Christ. But he remained faithful to God the entire time and I’m sure he was a powerful witness to those in the prison. I’m sure many would think, “What is it about Jesus that would make someone choose to stay behind prison walls? Why not just deny his name and be freed?” We can never fully know why God allows pain and suffering, but as believers, I know that God would not allow it if He weren’t going to save many people through the witness and faith of His beloved child, Saeed. I believe with every ounce of my spirit that Saeed was a bright, bright light in that dark prison.

Hearing the long awaited news that Pastor Saeed was finally free made January 16th an even more special day. It gave me even greater faith and hope that just as God was faithful to this beautiful family, He will be faithful to me and my husband in due time.

I had originally planned on going out shopping Saturday to purchase a few baby items, in faith. Elisha from Waiting for Baby Bird always inspires me to live out my faith in unique ways, and I’m enjoying picking up a few baby items every now and then to remind me of God’s promises. She is such a great example of patient trust and hope in the Lord to me and many others.

But with the excitement of Pastor Saeed’s release from prison and checking my phone all day for updates from his wife (she is so kind to share her journey with all of us), I completely forgot to go shopping. Who forgets to shop? LOL!

Around 10 that night, I remembered and I asked my husband if he wanted to make a “fun” trip to Walmart to look at baby stuff. He was already in bed, so I’m sure you can imagine his answer.

Instead, I went online in search of a few sweet items. I found a onesie on Etsy that says, “Worth the wait” and I ordered a cloth diaper with a teddy bear pattern that was on sale.

After almost 5 years of infertility, I don’t exactly enjoy looking at baby items, but on that day, it was really fun and exciting to dream about the day I will finally get to use those items.

In the past, I would sometimes see a cute baby item and want to get it but I would tell myself, “You don’t even know if you will have a baby! You might be wasting your money.” But then one time, I saw this adorable police officer onesie (my husband is in law enforcement), and I was showing it to Jonathan and saying how much I would love to see our baby in that, but I didn’t want to waste money because there was a good chance we might not have a baby. He was so sweet and encouraged me to get it, saying, “We’ll get to use it.”

My encouragement to all of you today is to have hope that you will be a happy mother of children. I know it doesn’t take away from the pain of today, but maybe, just maybe, it will lift your spirits to let yourself dream a little. And if you need it, I’m giving you permission today. Buy the cute onesie that makes your heart fill with wonder at the thought of your little one in it.

Sending you all my love,

Amber

 

 

 

My friend had a miscarriage

I’ve met people in real life that have had miscarriages before, but they were always on the other side of the loss and they were the ones offering me comfort.

Jonathan and I were married much earlier than all of my close friends. We were married when we were 23, almost 24 years old. We actually had a three year engagement so it sure felt like a long wait, but we were engaged at a much younger age than all of our friends. We also started trying to have a family right away. This is mainly for the simple fact that I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009 and even though, at the time we were married, I no longer had endometriosis, we were aware that we might struggle with infertility. Even though I had no reason to believe we would have problems conceiving, it was difficult to move beyond the mindset that I had held for 2 years following my endometriosis diagnosis.

Continue reading

Choose Joy

Tomorrow, I should be 10 weeks pregnant with our baby that we lost in July, but instead, we had to say goodbye and the plans and hopes I had for that little one are no more.

Today is my dad’s 60th birthday. When I found out I was pregnant and I looked ahead to the calendar realizing that my dad’s birthday coincided with the week that I would reach 10 weeks pregnant, the furthest point we have ever reached in previous pregnancies. I figured that I would have my first scan around this time so that I could announce to my dad that he was going to be a grandpa, provided that the scan went well of course. I know I shouldn’t have let my mind get so carried away with that dream, but I couldn’t help but to hope that we would be able to celebrate a baby on his birthday.

Instead of being sick from morning sickness, I’m sick from chest pains and a cough. My appointment last Friday with my doctor went exactly as I thought it would – she referred me to a GI specialist and also put me on an antacid, Nexium. My appointment with the GI specialist is not until September 16 so I have a bit of a wait to find out what’s going on. I’m feeling a little bit better after reading a GERD forum where people talked about their symptoms and problems they have from the disease. It put my mind at ease to realize that I probably didn’t need to worry about esophageal cancer. Even though my symptoms seem pretty scary, apparently GERD can cause a lot of painful problems and the chances of me having cancer are highly unlikely.

Even though I’m dealing with these pretty frustrating symptoms, knowing that I most likely don’t have a deadly disease has given me a more positive attitude and I have been feeling thankful that although I feel bad now, my future is not without hope.

But today, I hurt all over again. Today reminds me of the baby we didn’t get to meet. Today reminds me that I don’t get to share happy news with those I love.

Today, I will struggle to choose joy. But I WILL choose joy.

This world is not my home, and someday I will make it home to the place where there will be no more death or pain. But for now, I will choose joy on the good and bad days, because I’m still here, I’m still breathing and I still have a purpose. Today I will enjoy some boring household chores. Nothing to be excited about, but I can choose joy and be thankful that I have a loving husband who works hard to provide for our family and I can enjoy the chores I have to do knowing that I have loved ones to care for. Tonight my husband will come home and we will get to enjoy dinner together and take our dogs for a walk.

This weekend I will be headed to visit my dad for a surprise birthday celebration. We are going to eat lunch and go play laser tag – I will definitely choose joy over getting to celebrate my father’s life and have some fun with family.

Today I will choose joy that about 11 years ago, my dad’s life changed forever when he became a believer in Jesus Christ. On his birthday more than ever, I can reflect on the dramatic transformation that Jesus has had in my dad’s life. His transformation as a believer was the proof to me that I could also place my faith in Jesus. My dad did some really bad things before coming to Christ and my family suffered greatly from the consequences of those decisions, but God had a bigger plan to use all of that suffering for our good. My dad, me and now my older brother have now all come to faith in Jesus Christ and our lives have changed for an eternity.

A friend once asked me how I could forgive my father for what he did to our family. For me, forgiveness was not saying that what he did was not wrong. Forgiveness gave me peace, but more than that, forgiveness came easy when I realized, it wasn’t mine to give. God is the one who forgives and Jesus paid that price for my dad (AND ME) on the cross. Forgiveness was easy for me to give, because I realized early on how much I, myself, did not deserve forgiveness from God for the sins I had committed against Him and against others. I can tell you that before coming to Christ, I could identify with the adulteress woman who the religious Pharisees wanted to stone to death. I felt unworthy in every way, and yet, Jesus said, “I forgive you.”  I wanted to give forgiveness out willingly because ultimately, I am incredibly thankful for what God has done in my life and my family’s life. Why would I want to hold on to the hurt and pain that was ultimately part of Satan’s plan instead of seeing that God used that pain to bring us all to Him to heal us all completely at the foot of the cross of Jesus? I want to live abundantly in the plans that GOD has for me – and that does not include withholding forgiveness or choosing bitterness.

Today, I feel sad for the losses we have faced, but I will not choose to give into the enemy’s plans to make me bitter and angry. Instead, I choose joy because just like with the struggles and heartache my family faced, God can in the same way use my pain of recurrent miscarriage to bring about a beautiful story. The wait is hard, but He’s right here with me and I’m never alone.

Are you struggling today from the worries and weight of the world? Cast your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you deeply. Choose joy today, for “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Much love to you all,

Amber

“The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Scary Symptoms

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for the lack of blogging over the last month. Following our miscarriage last month, I was experiencing a full range of emotions as well as insomnia. Every time I tried to sit down to write on my blog, I couldn’t focus on one topic because there was just too much going on in my head.

By the grace of God, I was able to attend a local mission trip last week with a youth girl’s group I help teach. We decided to do a local trip to support a homeless ministry in my city that is currently working on starting a women’s transition house. We have worked with the pastor of that mission on many occasions so it was nice to be able to support him and his wife instead of going to some place else where it would only be a short term type of support. With this mission, we can continue to be involved so it was nice to stay put. It also worked out well with my Celiac disease as I was able to prep all of my food the weekend before and bring my meals with me every day.

The week was a lot of hard work, but it was also an amazing experience. I feel like it was just what I needed to lift me up out of the pit of despair following my miscarriage. It restored my hope in God and my joy and passion for mission work.

On the last day of the mission trip I woke up sick Friday morning and had to go to the doctor. After my doctor’s appointment, I went back to the mission to finish out the day with the girls. On top of my getting sick, the other leader twisted her ankle that morning. I’m calling it a divine redirection because our original plans for the final night was to go prayer walking around the neighborhood and just be praying for the community. But because I was not feeling well and because my friend hurt her ankle, we decided instead to head to the grocery store to pass out tracks (which are just like little brochures that share the message of salvation).

After handing out several tracks to people, there was a young man that was standing around reading it. I didn’t want to bug him, but I just had this leading feeling in me that I should ask him if he had any questions. We started talking and had a really great conversation. He opened up to me about a lot of problems in his life. He also shared that several people in the recent past had been speaking to him about Jesus and he was starting to wonder if it was more than a coincidence. I was able to share the simple message of the gospel and had the pleasure of asking him if he would like to receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. He said YES!

I called all of the youth girls over and my other leader and asked them to pray with us and I think the other leader could tell I needed help in the prayer so she took over for me and led him in a prayer to ask Jesus to save him.

After all I have been through this year, after all of the tears and struggles and hard work, this was such a miracle. After losing my baby last month and agonizing over whether or not I should go on the mission trip, it was like a hand-picked gift by God to give me the pleasure of being able to lead this man to Christ. It was one of the best moments in my life – I’ll never forget the joy I felt when he said yes to Jesus!

I hate that we had to say goodbye to my baby, but I know that she is smiling down at her mama as I keep fighting back the dark and reaching a hurting world with the love of Jesus. Someday I will hold her and all of the pain of yesterday will melt away.

While I would love to live on that mountain top “high” from our mission trip, unfortunately daily life calls me back to the valley and back to reality. This has been a hard year. This year has just brought trial after trial after trial. Thankfully, I have the lessons I learned on our trip last week and the memories to give me more of a positive attitude and hopefulness about some of the troubles we are facing.

Getting a consultation to see the RE is unfortunately being put on the back burner for the moment. Since January (I believe), I’ve had some bizarre symptoms throughout the year that kind of made me wonder if I should get in to see a doctor to check on my health. I really wanted to go, but I never had a free moment to get into the doctor and it seemed like every time I did have a free day, our stupid car was breaking down and in the shop.

Like seriously, our stupid car is driving me crazy! Jonathan has a work car, thank God, but I’m getting a little frustrated constantly dealing with repairs. And two days before my mission trip, we were headed to my nephew’s birthday party when we ran over some kind of sharp metal object on the highway. It completely ruined our tire. We were trying to wait a little bit longer before we replaced all 4 tires, but went ahead and got them all taken care of at once since we really needed to get it done anyways. Sigh!

So my health issues have taken a seat on the back burner and I’m now regretting not taking things more seriously when I first started having symptoms.

Back in January, I started having trouble swallowing food. It was just things like baked potatoes or bread (gluten free of course). But they would feel like they were getting stuck in the middle of my chest where your sternum is. It hurt really bad and took a long time for the food to finally pass. I kind of panicked a bit wondering what was causing my trouble swallowing, but a quick google search made me feel better when I saw something about “GERD”.

I’m not really sure you should take “GERD” as lightly as I did, but I was just kind of like, “Oh, it’s just some type of acid reflux or heartburn. Whatever. I’ll just not eat that food and it will go away.” I literally came to this conclusion after looking on the internet for about a minute. Seriously, if I could back in time and slap myself and say, “go to the doctor, you fool”, I would.

I can’t remember when exactly it started, but I think it was definitely by April that I started to experience chest pain right in the spot where I have been having difficulty swallowing food. Don’t ask me why I didn’t put two and two together. Honestly, I’m not usually this dumb. I think I’ve been so distracted and busy this year that I literally have just kind of brushed everything under the rug that I didn’t have time to “deal with”.

It was also in April when I got a bad cough. So bad that I had irritation either in my esophagus or throat that caused light bleeding in my mucus when I spit up. I didn’t think much of the blood because it was such a light amount and it was obviously just from irritation from coughing so much.

The cough went away but the chest pain continued on.

Because of all the stress I was under, I started to think that maybe my chest pain was from anxiety. Again, I’m not sure why I wouldn’t take it seriously enough to see a doctor because the chest pain is constant. It’s like a pressure in my chest that doesn’t go away. Even when I sleep it affects me.

Last month during my miscarriage, I noticed that my lymph nodes in my throat and behind my ears were swollen again. I’ve noticed this has happened a lot over the last year, every time I get sick with a cold/cough (now looking back I’m realizing how much I keep getting sick). The day after I started to miscarry, I also got sick with yet another cough/cold.

I started to feel better after about 7 days, but the cough has not gone away (we are going on 4 almost 5 weeks of coughing now). It’s been a very minor cough, just coughing here and there, but I can feel the cough in the center of my chest right where I’m having chest pain and right where I’m having trouble swallowing.

Last week on Tuesday I was at the mission center having dinner and eating a sandwich. The bread again got caught in my chest, but this time it took a really long time for it to pass. I was really starting to worry and for a minute I thought I might have to go to the ER because I was so worried it wasn’t going to pass this time. Thankfully it finally passed with the help of water, but I was scared to keep eating my bread after that so I just took the sandwich meat off and ate that by itself. I would have stopped eating all together, but I was starving from doing yard work in 100 degree weather all day.

I thought that doing all of the work at the mission center would make my cough worse, but it was pretty minor the entire time. I just coughed here and there, but nothing major. There was only one time during the week when I had a bad coughing fit and one of the young girl’s asked if I was okay. I said, “Oh yeah, I just have a lingering cough that’s taking a while to go away.”

I felt fine all day Thursday, hardly any coughing at all. Friday morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and then had another bad coughing fit. Only this time, there was so much mucus inside my chest that I started gagging and throwing up.

And the reality that this wasn’t a normal cough hit when I realized I was coughing up blood every time I spit up, and not like before where it was obviously from being irritated from a cough. This was a pretty significant amount. Not so much that I was like, “Oh I’m dying!” but enough that I realized I needed to get into see a doctor right away.

The doctor wasn’t terribly concerned by my cough not going away yet, but she was concerned by my chest pains. Like a fool, I didn’t write down all of my symptoms and at the time, for some reason, I didn’t really think my problems swallowing were connected to my cough and chest pain, so I forgot to mention that pretty important symptom. She sent me for a chest x-ray and asked me to come back in a week if the cough did not go away (with some medicine to help).

The chest x-ray came back clear and I felt relief. But I started to feel a little irritated. What’s wrong with my chest? Why am I having this pain? There has to be something causing this!

A little bit more research online and I discovered those symptoms could be caused by GERD (this time I took it more seriously and read for more than a minute) but I also discovered my symptoms could be indicating much more serious problems – Barrett’s Esophagus or even Esophageal cancer, which is a very fast-growing, deadly cancer that you don’t mess around with.

These issues would need to be diagnosed most likely through an endoscopy. I’m sure that I’m just having a bad case of GERD, but because the symptoms are the same for more dangerous conditions, and because long term GERD can lead to dangerous complications, I’m not going to wait around and take this lightly any longer.

I’ll be back in the doctor tomorrow morning and I’m sure they will send me to the GI specialist. It took me three months to get into see the GI doctor for Celiac disease, so I really, really hope it doesn’t take that long this time around. I want an endoscopy as soon as possible. I hope because of the serious nature of my symptoms, I’ll get bumped up to a quick appointment. I don’t think I can handle waiting and spending all this time wondering, “Is it GERD or cancer?”

I’m obviously nervous about what’s to come, but I’m just trying to stay positive and hope for a good outcome.

The good thing about all of this is I’m realizing how much healing has occurred over the last few years in my heart. Even though we are still experiencing loss and troubles, I have this hope that keeps me in the fight, and even a joy that is coming back again, Praise God! I remember I used to sob on an almost nightly basis after our first three losses, and I would just beg God to end my life and take me home. With these scary symptoms, I’m kind of facing mortality and thinking a lot about when God will call me home. And I have this strong desire to keep living. I have been praying in tears that God will let me live because I know He has good plans for my life and I want to be here to see all of it unfold. I’m not afraid of the pain my infertility brings anymore because I know that while it hurts now, there is a beautiful story that God is working on, and it’s worth it for me to hold on and trust Him while I wait to see all the beauty He is restoring through these ashes. I’m already seeing so many beautiful miracles (hello, a new brother-in-Christ!).

If you would like to pray for me specifically, I would appreciate prayers for peace and not worry, prayers for God to provide for the tests for diagnosis, prayers for answers to my health problems, and prayers that it will be a minor health issue and not a life threatening diagnosis.

Blessings and love to you all,

Amber

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9