Monday, May 9, 2011

"Our Journey" Snapshot

Hey friends!

This is a video that a couple of our friends made to show our church on Mother's Day. It is kind of our story in a nutshell. You get to hear a little bit about our journey, and even get to see Hudson - our answered prayer! Hope you enjoy!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

MOTHERS DAY. It's amazing how those two words can evoke feelings of joy or pain (or both) in the hearts of so many people. I don't think any other holiday has the ability to do that to such an extreme.

For the past few years, Mother's Day has been one of the hardest days of the year for me. More than anything, I wanted to use the day to celebrate the wonderful mom that God has given me, with my friends who just had a baby, and most of all, the God who created the whole idea of "motherhood"...and yet, I couldn't pretend that everything was ok when being a mom was what I wanted more than almost anything. I would go to church and listen to the sermons written for mothers, and the well-intentioned preachers also mentioning those who were hurting. Although I appreciated their sympathy, it just served as a reminder that I remained childless. I would sit in my seat fighting back tears, looking around at all of the mothers with their beautiful corsages and kids sitting around them, and wonder if I would ever get to experience what it was like to be a "mom". I wanted to have hope, but that fear always crept in that I would never get to be on the other side of this struggle. It got to the point where I even considered not going to church on Mother's Day anymore. It was just too painful. I'm sure if you've experienced infertility, you know this pain all too well.

Many of you are probably wondering why this is my first post in over a year, since I am a mother now and getting to experience my first Mother's Day! Woo hoo! Well, it's because I can't celebrate this day (which I am to its fullest!), without thinking of all of my friends out there still hurting. Just because I finally have a baby doesn't mean that I don't remember the tears I shed and prayers I prayed to get him here! :) I also wanted to use this post to give all of you out there still waiting - HOPE!

WAITING. That's another word that's hard to swallow. I think "waiting" is one of the toughest things God can have us do. It requires patience (which is not one of my virtues!) and complete trust in God's timing. Urghhhh. Easier said than done!

However, I want to encourage all of you by saying that my baby was worth ALL the wait! I never knew exactly what God had in store for me, but I am so glad that He knew what was best for me all along. He taught me so much during my time of waiting and shaped my faith in ways that never would've happened had I not gone through the difficult days, and months, and years.
And let me tell you, the waiting makes the reward so much sweeter. Every moment of my pregnancy was blissful, because I had waited so long to get to experience it. When other girls were complaining about their weight gain or their belly button popping out, I was delighting in those moments. When other girls were dreading maternity clothes, I was running into Motherhood Maternity ready to try on everything they had to offer! When I had a sudden wave of nausea, I was so excited that the baby was growing and my hormones were changing! Every ultrasound was like getting to witness a divine miracle, because I was just in awe and overflowing with excitement about this little life growing inside of me. As my belly grew, so did my JOY! It was one of the happiest times of my life! (I am not trying to downplay pregnancy here or say that those of you who have had rough pregnancies didn't appreciate them. I know that several of you have had extremely difficult pregnancies and handled them beautifully. I just happened to get lucky and have a pretty easy one.)

And then, just when I thought life couldn't get any sweeter, I got to experience my little boy (Hudson Grant) coming into the world. Once again, life took on a whole new meaning. I am not going to say that parenthood is easy, because it is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I feel like mine and Johnathan's perspective on the difficult days/nights was quite different because of what we had been through. The poopy diapers, the sleepless nights, the uncontrollable cries...all precious reminders that we had a baby in our home. I can't even tell you the number of times we have just stared at him in disbelief that he is our son. We soak up every cuddle, every bathtime, every smile and giggle, because we waited so long for this. (Once again, I am not saying that those of you who got pregnant easily don't delight in your babies or cherish every moment with them. I just feel like what we went through made me appreciate every little thing to its fullest!)

I say all of this to encourage those of you who are waiting to not give up or lose hope. When God answers your prayers on His timing, it will be SO WORTH THE WAIT! Most things don't make sense until later in life when we can look back on them and see what God was doing. I know its easy for me to say all of this now that we have a child of my own. I used to get so frustrated with people who already had kids telling me that everything was going to be "ok".

It would be much easier for all of us if God would just tell us what His plan was and the timing it was all going to happen. But I believe that He doesn't do that because He really wants us to learn to trust Him and to experience life's ultimate suprises! He will answer your prayers...maybe not on your timing or in the way you think it should happen...but He hears you and sees your tears and wants to give you the desires of your heart. One of my favorite verses while we were struggling was Psalm 27:13-14: "I am still confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Hang in there, dear friends. And know that the waiting will be all worth it. Your time of deliverance will come, and you will savor every moment of the experience just like I have because you have prayed and waited for so long. (This time of waiting can really be applied to anything you have been praying for...a spouse, a job, a passion, etc.)

For awhile now I have been thinking and praying about what to do with this blog. I still want God to get all of the glory for what has happened and continue to use this blog to help and encourage others. Therefore, I have decided to continue this blog by posting insights, words of encouragement, and stories to help those of you still battling with the bully of infertility. Even though I have gone on to have a child, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about those still struggling and remember what it was like to be there. When I hear of another couple going through it, my eyes fill with tears as I remember the pain all too well. It is still an issue that most people keep private and not many people want to talk about. So, I will continue to post things here and there to help those of you feeling isolated in that struggle. I pray that God will continue to use this as a way to let anyone out there know that they are not alone. God is walking with us and among us each and every day, and our lives exist to bring Him glory.

Tomorrow, Mother's Day, is going to be a very special day for us, not only because it is my first, but because they are showing our story through a video we made at our church on Sunday and then praying a blessing over our son, Hudson. I will try to put the video on our blog in the next post, so that you can watch it if you want to. And for those of you who have asked, I promise to give you some updates on our little man and what God is teaching me as a mom!
I want to leave you with the words of one of my favorite songs...

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord.

Our God, you reign forever.
Our hope, our strong deliverer.
You are the Everlasting God.
You do not faint, you won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles.

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint." - Is. 40:31


Sunday, March 28, 2010

GREAT is His Faithfulness!!

Well, for those of you who follow my blog, you have probably been wondering why it has been almost two months since I posted anything! It is with a joyful and thankful heart that I finally get to tell the world is that I AM PREGNANT! I have dreamed of this moment, begged God for this moment, wondered what it would be like, and now I am finally getting to experience the joy and beauty of carrying a little-bity life within me! It is the most amazing feeling in the world and many days it still feels like one big dream! After three long years of trying, Johnathan and I still can't believe it's true, but we know one thing...that God has had this moment planned long before we ever knew about it and that this baby is a testimony to God's awesome power and perfect timing!!!

It all started the day after Valentine's Day, when I was expecting to start my period but then woke up with a high temperature. (For those of you who have been trying to conceive for awhile, you know all about the temperature charting!!) Typically, your temperature is supposed to drop on the first day of your period, but when mine was still up I just couldn't go back to sleep knowing in the back of my head that this might be our lucky month! I jumped out of bed and took a pregnancy test, only to see a positive sign immediately pop up! Once I woke up Johnathan with my scream of excitement, we both started rejoicing and crying and saying prayers of thanksgiving for this precious gift!

Since that day I have had a few scares (one of which was ruling out the possibility of another tubal pregnancy), but God has been incredibly faithful through it all. We have now had blood work done and three ultrasounds to get to see our little "peanut". He/she is growing SO fast and we can't stop talking about what a miracle this whole process is. I just don't understand how someone can witness a life growing within them and deny that there is a God. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced...and I am only 10 weeks into the journey!

First and foremost, I want to give all the GLORY to GOD! He has heard our cries for a child and answered them! We are so thankful. The verse I keep coming back to is Psalm 30:11-12, "You turned my mourning to dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever."

Secondly, I want to encourage any of you struggling with infertility to consider giving acupuncture a try. I know that it sounds weird and "earthy", but it did wonders for regulating my hormones and getting my body back on track. I never thought that I would be promoting acupuncture, but I am now its biggest fan! It is completely natural, holistic, non-invasive, very relaxing, and inexpensive (especially compared to fertility treatments!). If you want to know more about it, please don't hesitate to ask.

Finally, I want to let all of my sisters still struggling with infertility to know that I am still hurting with you and praying for you. Not a day goes by where I don't think about the pain of what we went through and lift you up to the Father. We are only a couple of months beyond that struggle, and I still feel like it was yesterday. I know that it seems like the journey will never end, but I honestly can't wait to rejoice with you when God answers your prayers too...and He will. (I realize its easy for me to say that now that I am on the other side, but I believed that long before I knew what our outcome would be.)

Thanks to EACH of you for the prayers, encouragement, and advice that you have given us that have helped carry us through the high and low days. We have truly learned the importance of having a "family". Please continue to pray for us and our little baby as it grows and develops. Pray for it to be healthy, but most importantly to be a lover of the Lord. And pray that Johnathan and I can parents that show it the love of God every day through the way that we live and guide.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." Eph. 3:20


Our little "gummy bear" at 9 weeks!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why NOT me???

When tragedy hits or things get tough, it seems like the first question we tend to ask God is, "Why me"??? As it started to become apparent to me that infertility was going to be one of my struggles in life, I remember asking this question often. ...God, why would you allow a 16 year old girl to get pregnant and not me? Why would let a woman that you know was going to have an abortion get pregnant, and not me? What did I do to deserve this?...
And then it hit me - life is not meant to easy and if it was easy, none of us would need God. What makes me think that I should be exempt from the pain or suffering in the world? What makes me think that I am better and deserve more than other people have? My selfishness started to become very apparent to me.
I heard a friend say recently that the enemy's greatest tool is to keep us focused on ourselves. If our focus, energy, and attention is all on us and our needs, we lose sight of our purpose in life, which is to love God and love others. How can we unconditionally love others if we come first?
So, every time I start to think "Why me?", I try to replace that thought with "Why not me?" What if God is trying to use this trial to strengthen me or make me more like him? What if God is using this struggle to test my faith? Or bring more glory to himself than it would have if I had gotten pregnant right away? Or make me appreciate and love my children all the more?
For someone whose life has been pretty easy up until now, I have no doubt that God is using this in some way to transform me, mold me, and make me stronger than I was before. If this is what it takes to get me to where He wants me to be, then bring it on! It is never a struggle that I would ever wish on anyone, or myself, but I fully believe that God's ways and thoughts are far beyond my own (Is. 55:8-9) and that He can and WILL do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Confessions of a Grumbler

Last Sunday night I got to experience what church should really be like. Dave opened up his time of teaching for a time of repentance, and one by one people stood up to confess their struggles and repent. I cannot even begin to tell you how real and honest people were, which was so refreshing. I was reminded of the beauty of accountability and how God has given us "family" to help carry us through the trials and tribulations of this world. Since I didn't stand up and share my confession at church, I wanted to use my blog as an outlet to repent. So here it goes... "I repent of trying to control my own life and force my agenda and timing on God, rather than submitting to His plans for me." As much as I try to live in submission and surrender to Him, I still run back to my safety net of trying to control it all on my own. So, I ask for your accountability and prayers as I learn to truly submit everything that I am and all of my dreams to God.

I remind myself so much of the Israelites in Exodus 16 who grumble because they are hungry and thirsty. They had been first-hand witnesses of God's amazing works (the ten plagues, the passover, the parting of the Red Sea), and still, STILL they doubt His faithfulness and ability to provide what they need. They begin to grumble and complain to Moses and Aaron about not having enough food to eat, and so God begins to provide them with a daily portion of manna to get them through. What I love about God is that He doesn't give them more than they need, but just enough to get through that that their reliance on Him will continue, and that they will have to trust that He will provide for them each and every day.

As I read this story a week or so ago, I was so convicted of being just like the Israelites. I have seen God's mighty hand in so many ways, but I still complain when things don't go my way or grumble when things don't happen like I think they should. Yet God is always so patient with me, just like He was with His people back then. He provides me with MORE than I really need each day, but also keeps me searching and hoping for more in the days and months to come. I know now why Jesus told us to pray, "Give us this day our DAILY bread", because He wants our full dependence to be on God and His ability and desire to provide for us.

As I see the people in Haiti starving, thirsty, and crying out in pain after the earthquake that devastated their country, I cannot do anything but stand in the presence of God and repent for my selfishness and discontentment. I am so blessed and have no reason to be complaining about not having a child yet. God faithfully provides what I need each day, and I have been reminded more than ever this week that I need to just be thankful and praise Him for His blessings.

Quick update...Johnathan and I went to our first adoption seminar yesterday. We left feeling very overwhelmed by all of the information, but with even a bigger heart to bring a child out of an orphanage and into our lives and our home. We have another seminar to attend this week, and ask that you continue to pray for peace and guidance as we choose an agency and country to adopt from. Right now we feel like God is leading us in a certain direction, but will wait to share the exciting details with you until we know for sure that God wants us to pursue that route. We love you!


Friday, January 15, 2010

A Friend Loves at ALL Times

I was blown away recently when one of my friends (who already has children of her own) told me that she had bought a book on "infertility" just so that she could read it and try to understand what I was going through. I was so amazed that a friend would give up her precious time to read about a topic that she wasn't even struggling with, in hopes to help encourage me and be a better friend to me in my darkest hour. WOW, I am blessed! It really made me take a hard look at my heart and wonder if I would do the same thing for my friends who are struggling with various things...and shamefully, I have to admit that I am often too selfish with my time. This was a real wake-up call for me and gave me the desire and motivation to be a more devoted, compassionate friend.

Once she finished reading the book, she passed it on to me in hopes that it might help me too. So far, the book has been awesome. I can relate to everything she says and I would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with infertility. Some of the things in the book are a little different that what I am used to (since she is a strongly devoted Catholic) but our feelings, fears, and desires are all still the same. I'm sure that I will end up posting sections of the book on my blog, but if you want to get it yourself it is called, "A Spiritual Companion to Infertility" by Julie Irwin Zimmerman. Even for those of you who aren't struggling with infertility, it really might help give you insight into what the day-to-day battle is like.

The past month has been one of the hardest yet in our three year journey, and yet things seem to be taking a turn for the better. My body finally seems to be regulating itself (after two months of acupunture and God's miraculous work!), and I am so thrilled to see it go back to "normal" after years of inconsistency and unpredictability. I am truly amazed at how acupuncture really seems to balance out the hormones in the body and help your reproductive organs to do their job! Since going off of birth control, I haven't had a regular cycle without the help of fertility medications or hormone injections...until now! YAY!! I am giving God the glory each step of the way and praying that our chances of conceiving will greatly increase in the coming months!

On a different (yet similar) note, after much prayer and consideration, Johnathan and I have decided to attend a couple of different seminars to learn more about international adoption, and to see if God might be leading us down this road. For a long time now, we both have been convicted that this is something that God wants us to do at some point in our lives - we just don't know exactly when. We really need prayers for God to give us clarity on when exactly He wants us to pursue this, as well as what agency and country He wants us to adopt from.

So, as you can see, there is a lot going on and yet so much to be excited about and grateful for! The holidays were rough, but we have hope that we are going to get to experience some beautiful miracles in 2010!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking Ahead to 2010

I certainly don’t mean to be a debbie downer, but I want to be 100% real in this blog. So often we show our strength through our weaknesses, but at times it’s a real struggle to find positivity. As an outsider, I want you to know that Brooke and I are immensely blessed and we know it. We live an amazing life, but we experience lots of pain in our sufferings. I just wanted to share a very candid, frank glimpse into how we are feeling. The holiday’s were wonderful, but they were some of the toughest days this year. Here are my thoughts on 2009:

It’s that time of year when we reflect back on the past year and look forward to what the new year has awaiting us. I always get anxiously excited about what I am going to get accomplished in the coming year and I always get sentimental at what the past year had to offer. This year I could not be more excited to move forward. While I am so blessed in so many ways and 2009 confirmed so many of those blessings, it will always be a year of sadness for Brooke and I. It is honestly crazy that another year has come and gone with no baby Akin. 2009 was particularly difficult because of all the steps we took to grow our family (we basically found Nashville Fertility Clinic to be our 2nd home). We had 2 failed IUI’s, 1 successful IUI that gave us a taste of turning the page to a new chapter, only to see it end as an ectopic pregnancy. I remember so many nights of tears, so many negative pregnancy tests, and so many times when I pleaded with God to get us out of this phase in our life. Just thinking about the struggles of 2009 makes me tear up. This has been the hardest thing Brooke and I have ever faced. As a Christian, I am reminded everyday to “trust in the Lord” or to “not be anxious about anything” or I am gently reminded that the Lord has a plan for us. I truly believe all of those things, but it is so hard to really live that out each day. It is so hard to not feel abandoned or to wonder why we are experiencing so much pain.

I have no idea what the Lord has in store for the Akin’s in 2010 but I know the Lord is good and that he will continue to walk side by side with us on this journey. With a new year on the horizon there are new hopes and new plans awaiting us. As sad as I get in this process, I know I cannot give up and stop trusting God’s will for us. I just ask you guys to please join us on our journey. We absolutely cannot do this alone and we need everyone to pray like crazy in 2010. Pray that the Lord will guide us and give us peace with our next steps. Pray for strength, patience, and positivity for each day. Pray that someone else that is experiencing this can be blessed by reading our story. Pray of course for a BABY! Just keep us on your prayer lists (trust me, I am sick of dominating them). We love all of our friends and our families and we THANK YOU for being the bright spot in our 2009. Thank you for supporting us and your continued support as we excitedly begin a new year, which in our eyes is a fresh start!