Embracing Changing Seasons (a guest post)

I love to read things that make me smile, remember, think and then give me good, practical advice. Today’s guest post does just that. I haven’t met my friend Lindsay Hufford in person yet, but her writing makes me feel like we’ve been hanging out for ages. After you’re done here, please go visit her home page at http://www.searchforthesimple.com. The simplicity she writes so beautifully about is addicting and good for you!

Lindsay is first up in what turned out to be three different views on seasonal change.  She encourages us to do for our souls in life seasons what comes natural to do when the weather changes. Enjoy!

Embracing Changing Seasons

by Lindsay Hufford

One of my favorite pictures from my childhood features my sister and me right before Christmas time.  The photo was taken just after our family went to pick out our Christmas tree that year.  We’re wearing matching loud sweaters from the 80s with a big panda on the front.  The shirts are the only clue to what season it was in the image.  In the background, you can see lush green grass and palm trees.  This is Christmas in South Florida where the seasons don’t change but shift from unbearably hot to slightly less warm.

I lived in Florida for the first six years of my life, then my family moved North.  The change of seasons was well, a significant change.  I’ve now lived most of my life in areas with definitive seasonal variation, and I have come to anticipate and love what each season will bring.  We snuggle up on January mornings under mountains of blankets drinking pots of tea and watching crystals of frost melt off the windows.  As spring approaches, I begin obsessively checking my flowerbeds to see the first green shoots from bulbs emerge from the still cold ground.  We mark summer with the opening of a favorite lake.

I love all the seasons, but there is something almost magical about fall.  In September the mornings become crisp, and fog settles over the fields near our home. October is when Michigan truly shines.  Trees put on their best and brightest hues ranging from fire red sugar maples to golden aspens.  The world glows in October.The world glows in October.

The seasons in our lives rarely have such delineated markers of beginnings and endings as do the seasons of the natural world.  One day we are bright-eyed high school graduates ready to take on the world.  Then, in a flash, we are middle-aged adults with more wisdom, wrinkles, and cellulite then we ever thought possible.

The seasons of life can be challenging to embrace.  Some seasons prove exhausting. Others have challenges and anxieties we would never have wanted.  So how do we embrace the changing seasons of life?

We count our blessings.  More wrinkles mean we have shared a thousand laughs.   When your preschooler calls you up to their bed for the fourth time that night, hold them close remembering that soon you will be fighting for their time and attention.

Mark your seasons.  Keep a short journal to record the blessings and the challenges of the periods of your life.  Make a note of the first teeth lost and the day they realize the tooth fairy isn’t real.  Record your thoughts and feelings on aging, marriage, friendships, especially in the difficult seasons.  Your journal entries become your battle scars, proof that you made it through the hardest things and you are still going strong.

LHgraphicIf you’re in a hard season, keep your chin up and your eyes open to the beauty around you.  We only see the manifestations of the seasons in nature. Remember that tiny shoots struggle to break through the cold spring ground to become vibrant plants bearing fruit.  The trees know when it’s time to change and when it’s time to let those beautiful leaves drift away as they prepare for a season of rest and quiet.  You will make it through this season.  Don’t miss what it’s teaching you.

Wow, thank you Lindsay! I’m finding this season more beautiful every day!

IMG_6071.JPGLindsay is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to three kids.  Whether she is reading, running, gardening, teaching, cooking, dancing, writing, or chasing hens, she counts it all as joy.  Lindsay writes about this beautiful life at www.searchforthesimple.com.



A Cut Below (a story from the archives)

Some of you already know where this is going. I posted this on my old blog in September 2010. We were recently telling this story to a group of friends and I realized I have a whole bunch of new friends who may not know it.  So here you go…


New Most Embarassing Moment

By Anna Carpenter (2010)

I start this with a big sigh.

We’re all ok.

And now, I will give you permission to laugh. I know I have and still am.

Five words sum up my late night and early morning.

“Sat on knife in car.”

That is what my dear husband wrote in the block on the form explaining why I was in the emergency room at Andrews Air Force Base at 1:30 a.m., getting stitches on my derriere.

How does one sit on a knife in a car? That is a very good question, and though I can answer it somewhat, it really is just a set up for a lifetime of jokes.

Here’s what happened. My friend Mary dropped me off at my car after our cooking class last night.

We’re actually still good friends, even after all this!

I was in a rush to get home because it was around 11:30 and I still needed to blog. I threw my purse and my bag containing my apron, the food we made, and oh yeah, my knives, in through the driver’s seat and followed them in.

I immediately felt a little poke in my backside and realized the bag hadn’t made it into the passenger seat, but was in fact still in the driver’s seat. A quick check with my hand and I realized it wasn’t a pen that had poked me, but something that was a bit sharper and able to draw some blood. Fortunately, Mary was waiting to make sure I got off ok, so I limped over to her car and with great embarrassment, asked her to check to see what was causing the bleeding. I’m very glad it was a deserted parking lot at that point and am hoping security footage doesn’t show up on youtube any time soon!

She quickly insisted that an emergency room visit was in order, even though I was sure we could just use the first-aid kit in my glove box (we have another one in the trunk, thanks to my ever-ready-for-emergencies-husband, but the glove box was closer) to patch me up until I got home and could put a proper dressing on it. Fortunately (again) we were right across the street from the base and decided the ER there would be the best place to go.

Before we took off, I asked her to go grab my bag so I could see what the offending weapon was. There, protruding from the oh-so-protective cloth was about an inch (Mary says it was 2 inches) of my recently sharpened and sanitized chef’s knife. It had been in it’s hardened case when I put it in the bag, but somehow– in what I’m sure will be a delightful conversation with the manufacturer– had popped the case open and become, well, armed.

Mary went into the ER to explain what happened, which the nurse and techs later told me could not be done with a straight face, and a crew of Airmen trying to look serious and concerned came out to the car with a wheelchair to get me. They all took very good care of me, even while every person who came in had to ask, “How did you sit on a knife?” At least I gave everyone something to laugh about amid their other, more serious cases.

I asked them if the cut could’ve possible damaged any important parts.  They couldn’t hold back their snickers while they tried to tell me politely that there was plenty of padding in the area, so, no.

I got to hear Blueberry’s (editor’s note: this is what we called fetus Ayla until birth because we didn’t know the gender) beautiful heartbeat for the second time in as many days (Monday was our 23-week check up) and within a few hours I was cleaned up, stitched up, patched up and on my way home.

Through it all, my wonderful, supportive husband just kept looking at me and shaking his head. Mary had said it could happen to anyone, but he and I both knew that this kind of thing pretty much just happens to me!

My first GIF!! Now someone explain Snapchat to me.

So, there’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Oh! Ouch! I do have a point, though. Oh, ha ha! Butt seriously (I’m sorry, I can’t stop!), I learned for myself that laughter is truly the best medicine and one that can (and should) be taken while pregnant!

THE knife. Yes, I still use it.

My Mom Makes a Good Point (Again) (a guest post)

How is October more than half-way over? I can’t remember sleeping, let alone blinking and yet, here we are.

I had grand plans, my friends. I dreamed of a month where every day I’d be filling this page with lovely words and thoughts to fill your hearts with happiness as the days of October passed.

But life. This month has brought me four and a half school days with no school for my big girl, three out-of-town visitors, two out-of-state work trips for John, one family church retreat, one family camping trip, and just lots and lots of laundry (that’s actually true for everyone all the time but still). So, I let this little corner of the internet stay quiet. I do have several guest posts queued up, but let’s all just agree to keep taking deep breaths of this continually cooling autumn air (i.e. don’t hold your breaths), mmmkay?

Today’s guest post is from my sweet mommy. She was one of my visitors this month and I’m so grateful she and my Walter (her lover) (and husband) (and high-school sweetheart) love to travel and come to see us. IMG_0033The thing I love about this post is that you can see the way my Mom loves the people in her life so deeply and faithfully. If you’ve met her, you know this (and you’re really lucky). If you’re related to her somehow (and since most of my readers are also my family, you are), you’re double lucky. And for the rest of you, please enjoy learning a little more about my kin.


October Loves (or Why My Daughter Is Wrong (This Time))

by Karen Wheelock (Anna’s Mom) (title by Anna)

I didn’t realize that someone could dislike an entire month, but I really like October.  Well, perhaps I like thinking about people who have birthdays in October.

I have many loved ones who were born in October who are significant and special. I could write an entire blog about each one. Here are just a few.

Oct 2: Richard B, my dad, known in his later years as “Poppo,” was a great influence on my life. He loved his wife, his family and his God in a way I have seen in few men.IMG_3575

Oct 4: Teresa B is one of my oldest friends and wife of my younger brother, Mike. She is a joyful and faithful wife, mother and encourager for more than 40 years,

Oct 13: Minnie S is my children’s paternal grandmother. Although she didn’t share my faith, she loved me as her “third daughter,” and accepted me into her heart and her home long after there was no “law” in our titles.

My Bubbe Min, baby Ayla, me and my mama, May 2011

Oct 15: Debbie H is my husband’s sister and only sibling. She is a great mom and grandmother and I am so glad that she is in my life.

Oct 20: Tim S is my second son and the father of four of my 11 grandsons.  He lights up my heart and my life as only he can and I cannot imagine life without him.

Mom and Tim

Martha K is my younger sister. She was a wife, mother and grandmother and is now living in heaven. She left a hole in my heart, but I know we will be together again.

Miss you so, Aunt Martha

So, I will continue to welcome October.  I will continue to welcome the smiles, tears and memories.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing these pieces of your heart with me and my readers. I’m starting to like this month just a little bit more!


Goodbye, September. (a guest post)

I am so excited to introduce you to my first guest blogger for AnnasJoy OctoberJoyFest, the wonderful Andrea Stunz. I met Andrea through Jen Hatmaker’s book launch team and instantly bonded online through our experiences living overseas and love of writing. Her wisdom has helped my soul heal in deep places and her hand is graciously outstretched from a few seasons beyond mine to help navigate the way ahead. I’m being nice and sharing, but next time, you’ll have to go get your own from her page, AndreaStunz.com.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who struggles with a month, and here Andrea shares some simple but effective things to do while waiting for redemption. Enjoy.

Goodbye, September
photo by Andrea Stunz

In two words with a comma and a period, symbolizing pause and closure, I bid adieu to my least favorite month of the year. Goodbye, September. This two-word sentence contains proper grammar and punctuation forming a complete sentence. But don’t be fooled. This tiny sentence packs in six years of brokenness and redemption.

My dread for September began in September of 2011 to be precise. The details are a story for another day, but what happened literally changed the trajectory of my life, my heart, my faith, my universe.

Each year, around mid-August, a sense of anxiety wells up inside of me knowing that it’s coming. September rolls around every year, just like Christmas does, but somehow, I’m never quite prepared for it, even all these years later. Since then, God and I have been on a mission to turn right side up what had been turned upside down.

In many parts of the world September ushers in the first signs of Fall. The climate cools and the earth feels weepy. These changes feel like a death to some, but to others they bring the potential for life.

I love Fall. I love seeing the colors change and welcoming the cooler temperatures. Fall is good for my soul. While I experience its pleasures, I also grasp its reality of death.

Isn_t it ironic how the leaves falling and the changing of colors can offer both sadness and joy? This is perfect godly order, for without one, we would not have the other.
Photo by Anna Carpenter

Isn’t it ironic how the leaves falling and the changing of colors can offer both sadness and joy? This is perfect godly order, for without one, we would not have the other.

After years of searching for God’s redemption in my Septembers, I realize that death makes way for new life. The buried seed must die and break open for the inside to release its spring.

As Fall settles in, are you in a holding pattern of anxiety over your “September?” Are you desperately waiting for the redemption of Spring? Below, I’m sharing five things that I found helpful as I’ve waited for God to redeem my September. I hope they’ll help you as well.

Be Okay with Not Being Okay
Give yourself grace even when others don’t. You are worth it – not like you deserve a king size Reese’s peanut butter cup kind of worth it. But you deserve to be healthy. One day, you’ll be okay. Just maybe not right now.

Get Help
I can’t imagine walking through my waiting times alone. One dear friend calls it her “holy honor” to be an encourager in my story. Maybe your “person” is a trusted friend or maybe it needs to be a qualified therapist. Get the kind of help that is right for you. The kind of help that helps.

Often, in our waiting times, we get busy. Too busy. “If the devil cannot make us bad, he’ll make us busy.” (Corrie Ten Boom) We wear ourselves out. Let’s not be too exhausted when redemption comes to notice it.

Stay and Move
While we wait, in our persevering (waiting with forward motion), we can simultaneously rest and run. Rest in Him and run towards Him.

Raise Your Hands
Raising our arms high puts us in a posture of worship. It will actually change how you feel. It opens up our spirit and connects us to something bigger. Try it! Amy Cuddy says in her TED Talk, “Tiny tweaks lead to big changes.” Raise your hands in worship and wait for it. Wait for Him.

While my lackluster attitude is towards September, others have different months or seasons that bring feelings of sadness or anxiety. What’s yours? I pray you will allow God to redeem it.

Hello, October!

Andrea Stunz Bio ImageAndrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the committed wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.


Do you have a story, piece of beauty or way to help me and the other readers here smile? I’m still taking contributions! Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail to annasjoy at gmail.

Help Me Help Me (and You)


September’s almost over, so it’s time to tell you what I’ve got coming up here in October.

Last year I wrote about how much I dislike the month of October and all the reasons why. This year I decided to do something different to help me like it more.

I reached out to several of my friends and fellow bloggers to help me help me. (Yes, I know it should be “help me help myself,” but I like my way better.) I asked for their funny stories, beautiful pictures, family traditions, and special insight so I could share all the smiles with my readers. I’ll also be pulling some stories from my archives (I’m looking at you, “I Sat On A Knife” story) and sharing some of my creations and favorites with you.

We’re also going to be talking about happy places, so of course we have some features about the Happiest Place on Earth, Aldi’s. What, that’s not your happy place? Ok, we’ll talk about Disney and other fun places too.

Knowing what’s just around the corner has got me excited about next month, so it’s working already!


I don’t have quite enough content for every day of the month yet, but that’s where you can help me help me. If I haven’t asked you directly, consider yourself asked! Do you have something you’d like to contribute to this month of smiles? Leave me a comment with your e-mail address and idea or email me at annasjoy at gmail dot com.

I don’t usually push my readers to subscribe, because I don’t do a lot of it myself. However, if you’d like to get all the joy this month, you can sign up over there ———> to get emails whenever something is posted here, and then unsubscribe at any time.

I also have a public Facebook and Instagram page, so unless you need me to just call or text you every time something is posted here*, I think we’re covered!

What are you looking forward to about October?

*(I won’t)

The (in)courage post is up!

20170909-Carpenter-PermanentHomeHow many American flag-themed décor items are appropriate to have in any given room? Asking for a friend. It’s me, actually. I have at least six in my living room but there are some empty spots on the wall, so I could still add more.

I love America. I’ve served her both in the military and as a spouse to a soldier-turned-diplomat. I’ve given up years of my life to be deployed and to be a solo-parent when it was my husband’s turn to go. I’ve given crisp salutes to officers at the Pentagon and pushed my kids’ strollers past guards in embassies overseas.

Though I obviously love my country, and our flag, my ideas of what it means to be American are ever-evolving and I’d sway a little if you asked me to pin it down to just one thing.


Read the rest (if you haven’t already) over at (in)courage.

They posted it Saturday morning and sent it out to their email subscribers (oh, just about 48,000 of them!) and before I even woke up, I had several messages with comments thanking me for my service and the article.

(Do you want to get free, daily notes like mine showing up in your email? Sign up here.)

The team at (in)courage has been so great to work with, making me feel so welcome and, well, encouraged! I also adore the graphic they made to go along with the article. I’m already planning to submit another post the next time they take submissions and will be looking for other sites to submit posts to.

If you’re on Facebook and like to follow writer pages, you can find me here.

I kindof love this cover photo I made on Canva.com

I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @annasjoy.

Thank you, my dear friends and family, and welcome to any new readers who may have stumbled in. I’ll always be thankful that you take the time to read what I write.

A Good Surprise

I don’t love surprises. I actually don’t like them at all. I get this from my mother. No surprise there.

Gratuitous Mommy and me shot because she’s beautiful

My poor husband tried to surprise me once when we were dating and once again as newlyweds and then he learned. I still can’t explain why I wanted to be “surprised” with the gender of our first baby, but really there’s not much variance there, so I could handle either of the two possibilities.

The surprise I’m talking about here, though, is one I’m actually really enjoying.

I’m almost 40, as you know, and it’s been a delightful surprise, but probably shouldn’t be, how much my friends are really good at supporting me lately. Like cheering me on type of support. Like unabashedly telling me I’m good at stuff. And not even just trying to make me feel good when they say I should try or apply for certain things because of course I’ll get it. And when good stuff happens to and for me, they aren’t surprised because they knew it would.

For example, a few months ago, I submitted an article to (in)courage, an online community of women offering blogs, book clubs and other ways to connect run by DaySpring, which is the Christian subsidiary of Hallmark. Beforehand I did some research and didn’t read any of the voices there that sounded like me. They were good, professional, touching and sweet, but not me. I still wrote my story, planning to share it here when they sent me the nice rejection letter. Nothing to lose, right?

I sent it to a few friends to look at, they offered helpful suggestions but told me it was good and it’d be accepted. I didn’t believe them, but thanked them and sent it in anyway.

Wouldn’t you know (you did know, of course!), (in)courage accepted it! fullsizeoutput_1c4

My article is going to run Sept 9! What a great birthday present! (Nope, that’s not my birthday, but pretty close!)

Included in the happy and surprising acceptance letter, the site editors requested the links to my public social media accounts. I don’t have any public social media accounts. I should probably set some up.

So, between now and Sept 9, you’ll see me get a little more proactive with self-promotion. I don’t know anyone who loves to promote themselves, but it’s necessary these days for getting published and I can’t avoid it anymore. I’m going to stomach it by not thinking of it as “self-promotion” as much as amplifying the opinion my friends have of me. When I say “Hey, read this thing I wrote!” I’m really just saying, “My awesome friends think this article is really good, maybe you will too!” That’s better, right?

If you are good at being surprised, I’d love to hear about your favorite surprise. If you’re not, I’ll see you at the annual meeting which we all know about because we don’t like being (what’s that? I’ve run this into the ground? Ok, gotcha!)

I Know (You Make It Through This)

I know it’s so unbearably hard.

I know it breaks your heart with an ache that goes all the way to your fingertips and makes it hard to focus your eyes.

I know it’s making you question all the choices you’ve made and your ability to make future ones.

You’re trying to do the right thing, but it. does. not. feel. right. At all.

If I could, I’d wave a big, ol’ magic wand and change all the factors in your life so this one thing can’t hurt you anymore. Your pain is so big, I feel it over here.

Here’s something else I know. You’re going to make it.

It sounds so trite to say, but you’ll have to take my words for it. I’ve seen you face down giants. I’ve seen you move mountains. I’ve seen you cross that bullet-filled No Man’s Land with your battle face on.


This is not the thing that’s going to break you. You make it through this.

You aren’t alone in this, you know. Do you hear all of us chanting your name, cheering you on? We’re not mere spectators here, we’re all running our own races, fighting our own battles, but we see you. You’ve helped so many others. You’ve shown us that life isn’t over when it seems to go off-track.

Now, I can’t tell you exactly how, or when the fog will lift to let you see the way out. It will, though. It always does. You’ll eventually see the next step and you’ll be brave enough to take it and on and on. One day you’ll look back and see what you came through and you’ll see the strength in yourself that I see now.

I see you. I love you. I’m here, saying these words to you as firmly as I can across these interwebs. Read it all again if you need to, 100 times if you need to until you believe it.

I know you’d say these same things right back to me. I know just how amazing you are, always have been, and that you will get through this, pain and all.

Why It’s Ok If Your Mother’s Day Wasn’t

Mother’s Day makes me antsy. I know it’s over now, but I’ve still got some words to use about it.

During the days around Mother’s Day, my social media feed was filled with a mix of sentiments. From sweet Mommy-Offspring photos, to thankful tributes to Moms and Bonus Moms, to raw expressions of pain and disappointment because of unmet expectations, the experience of Mother’s Day–much like Motherhood—is all over the emotional spectrum.

I have positive feelings about the day, and my heart is tender toward those who don’t. “And” can be a vulnerable place to stand, thus the anstyness (or should I say andsiness?)

For women who go to church, Mother’s Day Sunday can also be a mixed bag. I’ve appreciated how my church acknowledges the day, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. I’ve seen how other churches use the Proverbs 31 passage (or alternately the stories of Sarah, Ruth, or Mary) in M-Day sermons, supposedly as an exhortation to moms, but it can have the reverse effect. We women walk away feeling under-qualified for the job, as we’ll NEVER EVER live up to that P31 unicorn of a woman, at least how she is presented in the traditional interpretation of the passage.

This year, my heart sank when my pastor said he was doing a Mother’s Day message. I looked skeptically up from my notes app thinking this was going to be a doozy.

Sure enough, he launched into how motherhood was chiefly fueled by sacrificial love. Then he did what I’ve been needing someone to do.

He put motherhood in its place.

College-aged Anna thought that being a wife and a mom was the highest calling for a woman, and that’s all I wanted to be. I also planned to get married right after graduation to the mystery man who met every qualification on the husband list I completed when I was 16. I loved to babysit, so I wanted eight children and couldn’t wait until all my days were full of babies and wifeyness.

Middle-aged, squishy-bellied Anna thinks being a wife and mom is really hard and, as callings go, isn’t so fulfilling. I KNOW what I’m doing has eternal value. It’s even fun and beautiful in the present time. I just didn’t expect to struggle so much to find joy in it all.

Time out for naughty kids on the floor of a grocery store. It didn’t work!

I question if I would be a better, or at least happier, mom if I worked outside the home. I question if my kids are really better off having stayed home with a grumpy and easily-agitated me, rather than spending their formative years in a bright and cheery day care. I look at my mom, who still wrestles with the choices she made in our upbringing and still prays for the seeds she sowed decades ago to bear fruit. I hear lots of moms around me asking similar questions. Our families need so much from us and we have limited resources to meet those needs. So many times I feel like I’m running on fumes, and whatever works to get me filled back up doesn’t work for very long.

During the Sunday sermon, my pastor explained that since there was no way that mother’s could be adequately thanked or compensated with just one day of flowers and a meal we don’t cook, we had to find some other way to navigate the unavoidable sacrifices. Please, sir, tell me how!

He talked about his years of being a single dad after his young kids’ mom lost her battle to cancer. He obviously loved his children, but struggled with the unexpected life of giving far more than he was getting. He found being Mr. Mom was unfulfilling and somewhat boring. Yep, yep, so there!

I often wonder, is any of this going to be worth it? And if so, when, exactly? How long until I see this sacrifice, or investment–if you will–pay off?

Is there a way to be fulfilled in the sacrifice?

We’re all called to sacrificial love, my pastor (and Scripture) said. As disciples of Christ, the One who made the ultimate sacrifice, we’re called to lay down our lives for the sake of another, period. That’s a hard calling. It’s hard as a mother or a student or a parking lot attendant at Costco. Our culture and our human nature inclines toward pursuing fulfillment, not sacrifice, he said. Our true fulfillment though, our completed joy, comes from Christ.

I’ll admit, I’m better with words than drawing, but I got this picture when I was thinking of how I’ve come to understand this.

John told me God looks scary and it looks like He’s giving me popcorn. I’ll probably stick to writing from now on.

I’ve been guilty of looking at motherhood, or calling, as the source of fulfillment, when it’s just meant to be a vessel. I’ve let entitlement slip into my relationship with God because I’m expecting answers, outcomes, and solutions from the thing He gave me rather than from Him.

Mother’s Day this year was actually really sweet for me. (Like really sweet, John got me Duck Donuts for breakfast!) My kids were so excited to give me their handmade gifts and the flowers they picked out for me are still blooming. It was made even sweeter, though, by the gift of this important message.IMG_8425

Motherhood, or any other calling, doesn’t belong on a pedestal. Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be full of Instagram-worthy images. Regardless of what others do for us on this day, it’s a good day to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us that makes our sacrifices possible, and His ever-lasting resources to keep us full.

(If you’re interested in listening to this message for yourself, you can get it here, or you can read the sermon notes here.)



Tears on Loan- National Infertility Awareness Week

Tears on Loan-2It’s been exactly seven years since I struggled with infertility. 10 1/2 years if you count when it started.

I’ve written at length about my journey through that hard time, but many of you are newer to reading my story and may not want to go scroll through my old blog (annasjoyblog.blogspot.com), so I’ll share a bit of it here.

We were married in 2005 and a year later planned to start trying for a baby. In anticipation of this, I prepared to separate from active duty service in the Air Force and we started clearing out the room that would be the nursery. It’d be more dramatic to say that room stayed empty for four more years, but the truth is that it served as a guest room and housed foster kids in the meantime.

A year and a half into the trying, we decided to get tested to see why we weren’t getting pregnant. The tests, including a Hysterosalpingogram, came back inconclusive. My obgyn suggested some things that might help; Metformin (a diabetes drug that was thought to help fertility), Clomid (a fertility drug that is supposed to regulate ovulation), seeing a urologist who specialized in male fertility, but nothing helped. We still didn’t have a baby and still didn’t know why.

I started following several bloggers who wrote about their journeys through infertility and started a support group with other women in my church desiring to be moms. Fortunately, I never felt alone, but I did feel lost because for us, there was no roadmap or timeline to the end of the journey.

If something can be both long-awaited and sudden, that’s how our infertility journey ended. In April 2010, Ayla came in to being. I knew someone was “in there” after about 12 days because I’d been Taking Charge of My Fertility. We wanted to have kids close(r) in age, but ours are three years apart (almost exactly. April is a good month for us!), so we had a second–shorter–trip in the waiting lane.

Sometimes I see one of my kids interacting with someone, creating joy with their magical smiles and hugs, and I think, “yep, that’s why they are alive and this age at this very moment.” And while that might be a comfort to me now, I’m not naive enough to try to use it as hope bait for someone still waiting for the end of that journey.

I still struggle with infertility because I still have precious friends walking through it. It feels somewhat trite for me to sit here with my life full of mommyhood, saying “I know what you’re going through.” But there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t remember what it was like to want to be pregnant, to mourn on the day it was clear I wasn’t and to hold the questions of Why and When like burning coals in my heart.

No, it’s not the season I’m in anymore, but I want to remember it and honor those who have been through it and are still there. My tears for the loss of dreams, expectations crushed and unanswered questions may be stored in the vault of memories, but today I’m taking them out on loan for my loved ones still in the wait.

In honor of this week, a time to recognize that infertility exists and affects millions of women (1 in 8 couples), I’m raising my hand and waving my banner to support those I love in this battle.

One of my favorite warrior mamas, JM, shared an incredible blog post about her story of Unexplained Secondary Infertility, and I’d love for you to read it. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with any type of infertility, there’s a list of resources at the end of her blog you should check out.

Finally, I’d love to pray for you (for this or any other issue) if you’d trust me with that. Leave a comment or email me at annasjoy at gmail. Thank you.