Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ethiopia in Black & White

Before I try to navigate my way through which of my couple hundred photos to share, I'll post a few photos we'll just call "Ethiopia in Black & White". I'm so officially in love with this country...

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Don't forget to enter the give-away HERE!! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm Back With a Give-Away!

I've been across the ocean and back. Now I feel like doing a give-away since I'm finally blogging again. I'll be doing much more posting on our trip to Ethiopia (nope, no baby yet). God far, far exceeded our hopes and expectations for this trip. But more on that later.

For now I want to promo two of the wonderful ministries we visited with freebies from each. The winner will receive two items.

First, there is this gorgeous scarf:

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This was from our visit to fashionABLE.

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This ministry takes women out of poverty, many times women who were prostituting themselves simply to feed their children; rehabilitates them with counseling and God's love; and gives them a fresh start with the dignity of a sustainable job working with their hands to create gorgeous scarfs. You can see many of their stories HERE. I met some of these women, and joy was exuding from them. They were so proud to show us how the intricately weaved their stunning scarves.

Their scarf retails for $36 and every single thread is hand-dyed and hand-woven (trust me, I watched in awe!).

The second item the winner will receive is a hand-made bracelet from the women of Embracing Hope

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This ministry works in orphan prevention and preserving families by coming alongside vulnerable single mothers and providing daycare and an education for their children giving the women the chance to work to feed their children and keep their families together. Some of the women make paper bead jewelry like the one being given-away here. The ministry also work with the local church to minister "the central Gospel message of holistic transformation to the various needs of the poor, children & orphans."

Steven and I visited the day cares and experienced the practical care and the love that these children are receiving as this ministry hopes to help raise up a new generation of educated, Gospel-loving children.

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So now to how to the two beautiful accessories into you own hands...

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Here's how it works. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. On Facebook like both fashionABLE and Embracing Hope. Which can be found HERE and HERE.
2. Share the link to this giveaway on either Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. (You can earn an extra entry for each one your do.)
3. Leave a comment to let me know that you did this. Be sure to let me know how many places you shared it.

And some brief rules:
  • You must live in the USA to participate.
  • You can share this contest up to once a day. The more you share (and let me know you did), the more chances of winning.
  • There will be only one winner who will receive both the scarf and bracelet.
  • The contest ends on Sunday night (August 4th). The winner will be announced on Tuesday of next week.

So follow the steps to win this gorgeous set.

And stayed tuned for more beauty from Africa...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Together Through Pain {hyperemesis}

Today is our last installment in this series, and I have learned so much! It has been a serious blessing to hear over and over the way the honesty from the guest bloggers has served y'all. I simply cannot thank these women enough. My prayer is that the effects of this series continue far into the future. There are so many more topics we could have covered, but I hope you can see some of the themes of caring that these girls have presented and use that in your unique situations.

I seriously debated whether or not to contribute to this group of posts. While it is true that mulling over my experience with hyperemesis was in some way the inspiration God used to get this series rolling, I still felt hesitant to put a post about a 9 month trial next to those involving chronic illness or miscarriage. And yet, I've found a great void when it comes to material on this topic, and for reasons I'll go into further, it seems to be something that can be really tricky for people to understand how to help.

I'm doing this with a sort of ghost writer. A girlfriend of mine is currently in the mire of this valley. Through correspondence she has helped bring back the memories of what it really was like to walk through this, and she has had some raw, helpful things to say. So with her permission, I'll be quoting her a couple times.

When You Can't Understand Your Own Trial, But Others Think They Can
I have told people that because of my pregnancies, if my girls had come before my boys, there would be no boys in our family. With my pregnancies with my boys, I experienced serious morning sickness. I remember with my first the 12 week mark passing, holding out for all the promises of the nausea and vomiting to end. Then the 15 week mark. Then the 18. It was my first clue that my body wasn't going to function the way all the books told me it was supposed to. Still it was just morning sickness and somewhat manageable; halfway through my pregnancy, my nausea subsided to an occasional event.

Then there were the girls' pregnancies. If I thought straight-up morning sickness was bad, I was about to enter the world of hyperemesis. If you don't know what hyperemesis is, let me put it in terms anyone can understand- imagine the worst flu you've ever had, the kind that leaves you crawling to the bathroom with your gut cramping from all the vomiting. Now image that it kept going. For nine months. Until your throat burns, your stomach involuntarily tightens in atrociously painful spasms, you're too weak to stand, your head feels it's going to explode from the pressure, you struggle to process one complete thought, and most times you're left incapable of functioning on your own. This is hyperemesis. I'm not trying to be overly dramatic in describing it, but simply trying explain difference between this and morning sickness. It's quite misunderstood since only 2% of women experience true hyperemesis.

So how can you be a friend to the woman you love who is walking through this? Here are a couple thoughts...

1. Avoid identifying
Without exception, the couple of other women that I have talked to who dealt with hyperemesis found this the most unhelpful thing in this trial: most women who had experienced morning sickness fall into the trap imaging they could identify with you. It's tricky, I know! All women who have been pregnant want to identify with other pregnant women. It's like our little "war story" bonding, but in this case it is so unhelpful. I remember having a woman go on about the nausea she used to feel while pregnant and how she wished she could have at least thrown up. I listened with a forced smile on my face while my throat burned from having to face my toilet for millionth time. The words: "I know what you're going through" felt like nails on a chalkboard.

My friend and "ghost writer" puts it much more bluntly: 
"Many women think they know what you are going through, but really don't have the slightest clue. Yesterday I threw up so much that I started to throw up blood and my nose was bleeding and throat was burning and my stomach was permanently cramped from all the pumping/spasms. I asked someone for help and they told me to take heart in knowing that God specifically designed this suffering for me. I went to another friend for help, she basically said she would tell me she was sorry but that she wasn't going to because I should be grateful that it is a sign of a healthy pregnancy...  It was just so unhelpful and I don't want to hear that I am being ungodly or that I'm ungrateful for pregnancy. I was tossing in bed until 3am, not just because of nausea, but also struggling with battling roots of bitterness and just pleading to God for mercy. Every minute seems like a year and sometimes the suffering is so bad that your mind feels like its going insane and having to escape to an alternate reality." 
I found it interesting that the only two women in my church that I knew could truly identify after their own journeys through hyperemesis both responded in the exact same way to me. They simply looked me deep in the eye, and said, "I'm so sorry." Those three simple words felt like salve on gaping wound.

2. Understand that she might be lonely
While this may not be true for all women, I found hyperemesis to be a very lonely place especially during my first trimester; hours upon hours with my only scenery change being from the bedroom wall to the mouth of my toilet. I felt out of the loop as week after week ticked by. A couple dear friends called me on a regular basis just to talk and let me know that they hadn't forgotten about me. They talked to me about more than just my nausea, and for a few minutes I almost felt human again. One of the sweetest gestures was when two friends I had been meeting with frequently came to the house for our regular time together. I spent the time laid out on the couch, and they were so patient as I excused myself to the bathroom when the nausea was too much. It made me feel loved and included.

3. Be careful when handing out advice
Many well-meaning people, some strangers, told me what I should do to get rid of my "morning sickness". And I tried it all, ginger tea, magnetic bracelets, every kind of vitamin B known to man, without even a hint of relief. (Tea doesn't work to well when it's coming right back up!) After awhile I learned to just smile and nod. But in the end, the reminder that nothing could be done to curb the sickness brought fresh frustration instead of help.

4. Help carry her physical burden
Behind any woman with hyperemesis is a husband and maybe other children who probably haven't had a home-cooked meal in weeks. She knows it; and sometimes the guilt of it can compound the trial. Bring them a meal! Even though mom may not be able to eat it (or even smell it), the thought of her family getting to eat something beside pizza will help her sleep easier.

Clean her toilets. (If she's comfortable with that.) Talk about being a servant to all! This may sound gross, but I know that that having to hang my head over a filthy toilet that I was too weak to clean was like adding insult to injury.

Take her other kids. They can probably recite every episode of Wonder Pets by now and could use a change of scenery while mom gets a quiet nap.

Even if you see a friend with hyperemesis out in public later in her pregnancy, understand that she may be just be to the point that she can conjure up some version of normalcy while quietly taking breaks to keep her tell-tale signs of hyperemesis hidden in the bathroom. Even if she's tired of talking about her trial and keeps quiet, she probably still needs your care!

5. Help carry her spiritual burden 
There were times when hyperemesis messed with my mind. It's exhausting to be intensely ill week after week. I felt like I couldn't put a complete thought together, let alone a prayer that consisted of more than, "Please help!" Avoid trying to help your friend see the reason for this trial. My friend writes again:
"Proverbs 18:14 says, 'A man's spirit will endure sickness,but a crushed spirit who can bear?'  
A commentary says: 'A person's spirit, if it is hopeful and good, can endure sickness and adversity, but if the spirit is despondent, even when there is nothing wrong, then life itself becomes difficult to bear'
I don't think women understand how their words can crush a broken spirit, when God uses a hopeful spirit to endure sickness and to enable a woman to persevere. Not that we should give other women that much power, but sometimes words can crush or force unrealistic expectations that crush."  
Give your friend words of hope from God's Word. Remind your friend that God is the God of the valley and validate she is in a deep, dark valley. Remind her that her Father's power is made perfect in her weakness, that when she is weak, He is strong. Let your friend know that when she can't pray, you will be praying for her. Set your the alarm on your smart phone to go off at the time of the day when her nausea is the worst. Let her know that you will be praying for her during that time.

Let's walk together humbly, willing to get down in the valley together.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Adriana's Owl Birthday

For her seventh birthday, my dark-haired beauty requested an "Owl Birthday". This mommy was uber happy to oblige since I was bracing for Disney princess nightmare.

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Adriana's welcome sign...
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For a game we created some simple mini-marshmallow poppers (you can find the directions HERE) and had fun shooting them into each other's mouths. My youngest nephew walked around drunk with giddiness as he gleaned all the misses.
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The birthday queen...
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Together Through Pain {suicide}

I'm thankful to have the opportunity to share today's Together Through Pain post since this topic is not only a touchy one, but also one that seems to be less often addressed. We are going to hear how to walk with someone when they have lost a loved one to suicide. I am so glad that we get to hear about this separately from unexpectedly losing a loved one since this situation can present it's own set of issues.

So welcome Lindsay to this blog series. She and her husband Wayne live in Michigan with their two adorable kiddos. Lindsay happens to be an excellent photographer with a thriving business. If you met Lindsay with her winning smile and bubbly personality, what you wouldn't see are the scars left behind from her world flipping upside down eleven years ago. But I'll turn the rest of the story over to her...

Suicide's Real Victims
When Alyssa approached me to share my story about how to be a blessing to someone who has been impacted by suicide I quickly and happily agreed. As I reflected on the most helpful moments I had 11 years ago after such a tragic event, I began to re-live the emotions that brought me to the point I am at today. I pray that you may be blessed with the articles in this series and that you might recall them in the future should you find yourself in a position to be a calming voice in a time of sympathy. Here is my story.

May 3rd, 2002 started like any other, it was a bright and beautiful Friday morning and upon waking up I quickly dressed and headed to work. All day I tried to focus on work tasks but my excitement was far too much for me to handle as the evening before my fiance Wayne, (who is now my husband) and I had purchased a small fishing boat and I couldn't wait to take it out later that afternoon. I was waiting tables at the time and with a stroke of luck I got “cut” from my shift a little early, I could NOT have been any more excited. I jumped in my little car and headed back to my apartment, quickly changed my clothes, and was ready to walk out the door. Wayne stopped, 
“Do you want to call Josh? I bet he’d love to go out on the boat with us.” 
I knew he was right, but selfishly I didn't want to share that first boating experience with anyone other than Wayne. I remember feeling guilty and selfish yet I still replied something like, 
“Next time. We’ll bring him next time.” 
I mean, there’s always a next time, right? With that, and if I’m being honest, without a second thought, we drove to Wayne’s parent’s home where we were keeping the boat. Wayne’s parents ended up joining us for our first venture out on the water and just as soon as we sailed to the middle of the lake, Wayne’s phone rang. It was a call that changed my life forever. 
I watched as the blood drained out of his face, I saw the pity, sadness, and horror flash through his eyes and I knew, I just knew, without him uttering a single word that life as I had known it was changed. He hung up the phone and I remember just standing up and screaming in sheer panic, “What? WHO? TELL ME!” Quietly he spoke, “It’s Josh…. He shot himself.” I only remember bits and pieces from there. I remember my father-in-law grabbing me when my legs suddenly gave out under me and I remember my mother-in-law crying. I remember the ride back home and started replaying something that I had witnessed a few hours before. 
On the way to the lake we passed the street that I grew up on. At the end of the street there was an Eye Doctor’s office and the parking lot was FULL of people, news vans, and what appeared to be panic. With further notice I saw the “SWAT” team on the side of a home just 4 houses down from my parents. Never once did I think anything had happened within my own family, I honestly thought it was a drug bust, not that we lived in a drug infested area but when you grow up in a small town crime, guns, and crazy people are the last thing you really think of. 
It was all becoming clear to me; we had driven past a crowd of people who were gathered because a gun went off in the bedroom that had shared a wall with my own. A crowd gathered because my brother made a decision to end his own life at 17 years old. In that crowd we had passed stood my mother, clinging tight to my brother who was just 4 years old. She stood there waiting on some word, not knowing all the details, only that there had been “gun shots” which in reality was just one gun shot. One thing I will be forever grateful for is that Josh called 911 and did not take his life until police arrived in front of our home. I will always know that he did that for our younger brother, a little boy that ran up to Josh’s room every day when he arrived home to see his “Joshie.” I believe he didn't want our younger brother to find him and for that I was relieved. 
The days after and the funeral were filled with words and actions that impacted me for a lifetime, not all were good. In moments of tragedy, I have found that those around you will do their best to relate, give words of comfort, or reflect on their own experiences with the person who has passed. I encourage this kind of sharing, be a blessing with your words, memories, and prayers. In those times when someone you know has lost someone to suicide (or any loss I suppose), do ask yourself if your actions and words are helpful or hurtful, not everything we say to comfort someone really “helps.” Here are some suggestions based on *my* personal experience, these may not be helpful to everyone but these are things that helped or hurt my own grieving process along the way and I pray that these suggestions are a blessing to you in the future.
Pray for them. The best thing I heard back in those early days, weeks, months, and even the first 5 or 6 years was, “I’m praying for you.” The power of prayer and knowing that someone is praying for you is more emotionally empowering than you may know. When someone would say, “I’m praying for you” vs. “I’m so sorry” I would feel immediately uplifted, even if only for a second. It was a simple reminder that God was on my side and at my side, walking each step with me and carrying me when I didn't have the strength to move another foot on my own. 
Please, don’t say, “I understand what you’re going through.” Most likely, you. do. not. No two relationships are the same so you could never possibly understand relationships that do not directly involve you. Aside from that, a suicide leaves a train wreck of questions and emotions that are not typical (in my experience) of other types of death. When someone passes, our hearts break, that is a given. When someone decides to end their own life, we become more like an emotional onion with so many layers of conflicting emotions and questions that can take a decade to sort through. Saying that you understand someone’s loss due to suicide can induce anger, bitterness, and more grief than you may realize instead of what your initial intention is which is to simply relate. A better idea is to say, “While I do not understand what you are going through and I can only imagine how your heart is breaking, I want you to know that I am here for you.” 
Don’t ask “Why.” In the beginning, people used to ask me, “Why do you think your brother killed himself?” First of all, just the words alone sent an automatic picture into my head. Not a picture, more like a slow motion movie of how I imagined it all happened. Choose your words wisely, no matter what you say, words can ignite a fire that is dangerous and nearly impossible to put out. People who have suffered a loss due to suicide don’t know “why." The “why” is a very slippery and scary slope for those left behind. Often, we believe that WE may be the “why.” Was it because of something I said or something I didn't say? Was it because I didn't reach out? Was it because I wasn't the positive influence I thought I was? Believe me, a victim of suicide (that’s what you are when you’re left behind) is asking themselves “why” every second of every day, when they are ready to share their thoughts on the matter, they will. I can tell you that I have asked myself “why” at least a million times and some of the most comforting words to me have been that we may not know why, but we know that with steadfast faith, God is control and giving up the “why” grief to him is the most burden-lifting thing one can do.
Encourage and uplift those left behind by telling them just how much you know the person who passed loved them. Chances are that they feel guilty, no matter how unrealistic that guilt is. The hardest thing for me as I recovered from Josh’s loss was an overwhelming sense of guilt. The guilt quite literally ate at me until I could no longer recognize the good in myself. I hated myself, I truly hated myself for being so selfish when Wayne suggested that we call Josh to have him come out with us. If I had only called him when Wayne said then maybe he would have changed his mind. I used to believe that it was 100% my fault that he was gone, that my selfishness sealed his fate. That was nothing more than Satan doing his dirty work, I know this now but no matter how many people told me that back then, I just didn't believe them. I felt guilty too because the last time I was with my brother he tried to give me the money out of his wallet and something else of his and I thought he was just being “weird.” I even had a few people ask me if I felt guilty and while I’m sure that they were really just trying to see where my mental state was so that they could reassure me that I was in fact not guilty, it only lead me to have further conviction in my guilt. The best thing you can do to uplift someone is to pray for them, pray with them, and more importantly, DON’T STOP.
Press on with them. Flowers fade and phone calls stop. It seems as if the phone calls and encouraging words fade almost as quickly as the funeral flower arrangements wilt and wither away. People always say, “Call me if you need ANYTHING.” Well, sometimes it’s just awkward to call someone and cry on the phone. It just is! Be a support system and a blessing, take initiative to call the person in mourning, not just a few days after, but six months after. When everyone else has continued on with their busy lives and the person grieving is still trying to figure out how to assemble some sort of new life after loss. You don’t have to dwell on what happened or be sad every time you call, but be prepared to let the grieving person mourn for as long as they need to in whatever way they need to, just be there. Sometimes it’s helpful for someone to talk it out. Some people don’t like to share but others find it therapeutic. I found myself, for a period of time, talking it out with anyone who would listen. Looking back now, I think I was trying to convince myself, even a year or two after it had happened, that it HAD in fact happened, I had lost my brother. I still have my moments, eleven years later, where I need to talk it out. The day I married my husband, the days my children were born, those were days I expected to relive the emotions, but driving down the road on the way to work with a million other things on my mind when “our” song comes on the radio and I just don’t see it coming, those are the moments that take my breath away all over again. There is no special length of time that someone will be “in mourning” in my opinion I believe that when a loss is so devastating, you will always find yourself mourning and missing that person in one way or another. Be prepared to be there for a week, a year, a decade, or lifetime, because these moments of emotional havoc creep in when least expect them too and it’s a blessing to have someone to talk to in those dark days.
Pray, pray, pray! Last but not least, again, encourage you to pray. Prayer is the most powerful tool that God gave us, it’s costs us nothing, fills us up, and we can do it anytime, anywhere. It was the prayer of those I didn't know who were praying that lead me back to the Lord after several years of walking a dark path through anger, guilt, and feelings of betrayal. My testimony is a story that is built on the prayers of others, prayers that literally saved my life when the guilt had overtaken my every thought and moment. My personal testimony revolves around how suicide impacted my life so greatly that I no longer felt the desire to live and began to relate to Josh in ways one never should. Had those who had been praying for me not prayed, I don’t know where I would be today, or if I would even be here to share this story. I was blessed and saved by prayer after suicide, not by flowers or cards, thoughtful as they were, the most powerful gift I was given was mention in the precious whispers between others and the Lord. 

May God bless your path in the days, months, and years to come. Thank for you taking time to read this story.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Amish Farm

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of spending the day on an Amish farm. After a picnicing on sprawling lawns next to lushous gardens and bright flower beds while munching on a lunch full of farm produce and fresh beef stew and watching my children run free, enjoying the animals and spaces, I have to admit that country life was looking pretty sweet.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Together Through Pain {infertility}

Early yesterday morning I received a text that my dear friend was headed to the hospital for induction to give birth. This should have been a happy text accompanied with some squealing sound effects when read, but instead there were tears. You see, my friend is was only about to hit her 20 week mark in her pregnancy when she found out that her little one's heart had stopped beating. Instead of labor accompanied by the joy of birth, my friend had to labor to give birth to the child she was going to bury.

After a some raw crying out to God, I was met with the familiar feeling of helplessness. How could I be a good friend to this woman? In that moment, I was thanking God for Abby and her words of wisdom and all the women who have opened up to us through this series equipping us for these very moments.

Our next contributor is Jenny who writes a beautiful, honest blog called Blessings and Raindrops from her home in Arkansas. When she and her husband Dave tried to start a family, they unknowingly stepped into the world of infertility. After a couple years, they decided to head down the road of adoption. But the Lord had other plans, as Jenny found out she was pregnant with not one but two little blessings. She and Dave now chase after two blonde little boys. They are also in the process of bringing their gorgeous (trust me, I've seen her picture) daughter home from Central Africa. So, I'll turn this post over to Jenny as she helps us understand how walk lovingly with a girlfriend who longs to be a mother.

When Your Arms Are Empty
Infertility is isolating. It is painful. It is full of heartache and disappointment and bitterness. It is all consuming – emotionally and physically. You can’t get away from the pain. The struggle is fresh and raw each and every month.

Yet, above all of the emptiness and hurt -- a persistent, unrelenting spirit of hope remains.

Hope that this is going to be “the” month. Hope that this new doctor, this new test, this new procedure, this new medicine will finally work.

As someone who walked this dark road for several years, I can attest to the difficulty of being a good friend to anyone in the midst of infertility. I know it was hard to be my friend during that time. I felt isolated and alone most days. Innocent remarks such as, “so, do you have any kids?” or “you need to soak up all this free time you have now before you get tied down with kids!” sent me reeling. Pregnancy announcements, baby showers, birthday parties, baptisms; even family dinners would leave me in tears. The grief was overwhelming at times.

If you have not walked in our shoes, you may wonder how you can best minister to a friend facing such intense heartache. Simply by reading this post, you are showing how much you care for your friend. You are likely seeking practical ways to encourage and love your friend in an authentic, Godly way.

First, I would recommend being careful with your words. Struggling couples find themselves especially sensitive to the words of others. At the same time, I know that the pressure to say the “right” things can be difficult for the loved ones of infertile couples. This doesn’t have to be daunting. Simple changes in the way you phrase common questions can be extremely helpful and prevent infertile couples from feeling put on the spot. For example, when first meeting someone, instead of the question, “so, do you have kids?” try asking something more open-ended like, “tell me about yourself.”

Withhold offering advice to help “cure” infertility problems. Medical issues cause infertility, and “relaxing” will not resolve the problem. Nor will going on vacation, wearing boxer shorts, drinking a margarita or deciding to “just adopt.” Adopting may be a part of God’s plan for your friend, but this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Not to mention that, statistically; adoption does not increase chances of pregnancy. Allow your friend the opportunity to seek Biblical counsel and to work through God’s path for her family without your opinions or stories of what worked for a friend-of-a-friend.

The book, Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake, was a lifeline for me during our journey. Now, when I know of a friend that is struggling with infertility or adoption loss, I always send a copy of this book. The wisdom shared is comforting {it’s always nice to know you aren’t alone in your pain} and biblically sound.

I’m tempted to plagiarize the entire book because it is overflowing with wisdom on this subject. Instead, I’ll just share this well-written advice from Jennifer in one of the book’s “Burden Bearers” segments:
"Communication is imperative. You can have all the general guidelines in the world, but you can best minister to me by getting to know my heart and learning my triggers for rejoicing or heartache. When in doubt, ask me directly.
In some ways, you are in a 'no-win' situation. If you ignore me when it is time to send out baby shower invitations or birth announcements, it may make me feel all the more removed from normalcy. Yet, if you do include me and I’m having an especially hard day, I may feel you have been insensitive. One idea might be to send me the same baby shower announcement that you are sending to all of our friends, but inside include a handwritten note acknowledging that you know this might bring me pain. Let me know that I am free to come or not, as I so desire, but that you love me and are praying for me."
Such wise advice. I love the compassion shown with the inclusion of a few kind words written in love. Rather than ignoring or belittling your friend’s heartache, you are able to live out the Gospel in a beautiful way -- bestowing love and joining alongside her in prayer.

I’d also advise you to not be offended if a loved one does not choose to share their fertility struggles with you. This does not mean that she doesn’t love and trust you. Infertility is an incredibly personal and private struggle. My husband and I didn’t share what we were going through for several years. This decision was made consciously and, in our case, choosing to rely on God and one another for support and comfort strengthened both our marriage and our faith.

If a loved one does share with you, please know that she is placing a deep level of trust in your friendship. Respect this trust and do not share this news with anyone else. She has chosen you to be a confidant, a prayer warrior and an encourager. Do not take this role lightly. Pray diligently. Encourage sincerely. Love genuinely.

Finally, I would encourage you to take some time to explore resources for understanding what your loved ones are going through. A couple of my favorites –

Hannah’s Prayer Ministries – Christian support for fertility challenges.

Empty Arms -- A video that communicates how painful the journey of infertility can be, helping you to understand where your loved ones are coming from.