Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: "Cold Tangerines"

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday LifeCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Shauna Niequist shares her journey in small little chunks - each chapter is a poignant slice of real life. I love the subtitle "Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life" - so often we forget how extraordinary every day, every moment truly is!

This is probably one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. ... Life with God is a daring dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we've said we'd never do. And with the surprises comes great hope."

Isn't that so true? I love that about life with God, but I've never been able to express it so fully.

Another quote I love and is also on the back cover (of my edition anyway):

"I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. ... I want to read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift."

Amen, right!?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Surrogacy & Kids

Wow!  We have just been overwhelmed by everyone's love and support after our big announcement!  Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes!  We appreciate every one of you so, so much!

We just heard back from the doctor's office that the big embryo transfer date is set at June 24th!  I'll have an ultrasound and blood work done on June 5th, and then if all looks good, start my round of hormones the next day!

But in in the meantime, I wanted to answer everyone's biggest question:  What will Micah and Kenzie think? 

Kenzie is only 22 months old and not quite vocal enough to voice her opinions, but perhaps she might be at the end of the pregnancy.  Micah, on the other hand, is pretty aware of what's going on.  He was old enough to remember Adam & Natalie's 2nd miscarriage (if not their 1st) and often references their baby being in heaven with other things going on in his life.  For example, when my mom & Steve lost their dog Champ, Micah immediately said, "he's in heaven with Adam & Natalie's baby now."  These are the moments that make a proud mommy's eyes water!

Adam & Natalie with Micah
So, we've been pretty honest with him from the beginning.  God's making Adam & Natalie a baby at the doctor's office and the doctor is going to put it in Mommy's tummy and then Adam & Natalie will have a baby for you to play with when he or she gets bigger.  He's very happy about this.  One morning, Eli & I went to one of our initial doctor visits/consultations, and Adam & Natalie came over to watch the kids.  Apparently, as soon as Micah woke up and saw Adam & Natalie here, he proudly announced "Mommy & Daddy are going to get you a baby!!!"

So, I think they'll be OK.  They are at the glorious age where they don't know enough to think it's weird, and they don't know enough for me to answer awkward questions either!
Adam & Natalie with McKenzie

On a side note, when I first started thinking of this surrogacy journey, I googled it (of course) and I remember coming across a website for a surrogacy agency recruiting potential surrogates and it suggested that the ideal surrogate already has 2-3 kids of their own and is in their 20s or 30s.  Eli and I are quite content with our biological offspring, and feel very complete having 1 boy and 1 girl, and now hope to help Adam & Natalie complete their family by God's grace!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Back Story

I feel like I'm writing a prequel to this really great story that is still being written... a story that's being written
by the Greatest Author; the One who knows the ending, the beginning, and everything in between; and the Creator of all things! But I am sooooooooo excited to be a part of this little story, and I am ready to share it with the "world" (or my little world who will stumble across my little blog at any rate!)!

 This is going to be long... here goes...

 Eli & I left some of the best friends we could have ever imagined in St. Louis when we moved back home to Kansas. In fact, it was kind of a lonely 1st year back here, we were close to family, had a church home and served there in the youth ministry, but missed our small group. I think that sometimes God gives you empty spaces in your life so you'll appreciate what He fills them with all the more. In September 2010, we decided to start a grow group with a fun young couple who'd been serving in the youth group with us - Adam & Natalie Johnson!  Our group has grown to 9 families that are our family. It's the most amazing thing to see what doing life together can really look like. I wish I could get everyone in a small group (grow group, life group, community group) for this experience. You celebrate a lot of joys together (new babies, promotions, weddings, moves, graduations, birthdays), but you also have someone to go through all the harrowing times with.

Celebrating New Year's Eve 2013
Adam & Natalie's first miscarriage (@ 11 weeks) actually started at one of our Thursday night meetings. They left for the hospital, and we prayed together like we'd never prayed before. We grieved with them and tried our best to comfort them by bringing them meals, always knowing that only God could heal this hurt.  Not long after this, Natalie visited St. Jude's hospital where as a little girl she had been treated and had beaten cancer!  We were having dinner one night (summer 2012) and Natalie told us that their take on her situation was basically "It's a miracle that you ever got pregnant.  Maybe you should consider surrogacy."  I think I pretty much immediately blurted out, "I'd be your surrogate."  Eli probably raised his eyebrows, and we left it at praying and waiting and seeing.

That night and lots of following nights, Eli and I talked a lot more about my crazy offer.  Thankfully God blessed me with an amazing husband who was willing to support me and shares my love for Adam & Natalie, and he didn't totally freak out about the idea.

Some time passed, Natalie's OB told her she could try again, and one day, Natalie was telling me she was pregnant again!  It was truly another miracle and we rejoiced and prayed and prayed.  There are so many horrible things about what happened to my sweet wonderful faithful friend that awful day in June 2013, but while at a Nazarene District Assembly with her worship leader husband and our pastor and his wife (who happens to be her aunt and uncle), Natalie had her 2nd miscarriage (@ 14 weeks), just hours after announcing to our church via video their good news.  This time, Natalie's life was really in grave danger, and by the grace of God, she survived though her baby boy did not.  When they made it back to KC, we went out to dinner and I remember eating on the patio at a restaurant while Adam told us how narrowly Natalie survived this one and insisting that he would not allow her to go through this again.  At this point, I reiterated that my crazy offer was still there.

Carriage Ride on the Plaza
For the next couple weeks/months, we prayed, talked, prayed, talked, prayed, prayed, prayed.  I remember one night praying to God, "God, is this just my crazy plan or is this from you?" and very clearly getting the answer spoken into my heart, "Katie, no one would think of this on their own."  HA!  That was so comforting and reassuring to me.  Yes, my pregnancies had been healthy and relatively easy, I'd had plenty of energy and no problems; but at the same time I needed that word from God that this was His will.  He reaffirmed this for me in so many ways - through friends & family, through Pastor Joel's sermon on Ruth (of all things!) through His Word and in my prayer-time - that Eli and I went back with a resounding "YES!"

And so that's when it all began...

Now, fast forward through Natalie getting the green light to go, my OB giving me her blessing, trips to the doctor for blood work and interviews, an afternoon with a counselor making sure all of us were mentally and emotionally fit for this journey and had thought through all the worse-case scenarios (yuck!), lawyer visits, a lengthy contract with more scenarios that you hope you never go through with friends, and now here we are.

I'm going to be a "gestational carrier" for a baby that is genetically 100% Adam & Natalie's - in other words, Natalie's egg, Adam's sperm, my uterus, Eli's patience.  ;-)

Natalie has been taking all kinds of hormones and shots and yesterday (May 14, 2014), our wonderful Dr. Milroy of the KU Med's Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine retrieved 8 eggs from her.  Adam made his biological contribution (lol!) and now they have 4 fertilized embryos growing.  After 3 days, they will freeze them, and in about a month, Lord willing, 2 of those will be implanted in me.  (The stats on 2 embryos are very good, roughly a 75% chance that 1 will make it, a 25% chance that both make it).  I'm game for twins, in fact, I'm hoping for a boy and girl for them, though I know God already has a plan in mind!

OK, this is where you my faithful reader who has made it to this point comes in.  We need your prayers.  This is a crazy cool medical miracle that God is working on, and we covet your prayers for this process and the future baby(babies) of our best friends.   My prayer has been and is "O Lord, God, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to Adam & Natalie" (Genesis 24:12).  Please when you think of us, pray for us.  I appreciate you so much!

Check out Natalie's video-blog for her side of this amazing story.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: "Praying for Boys"

Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need MostPraying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most by Brooke McGlothlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this thoroughly practical book on how to pray for boys. Author Brooke McGlothlin shares her own life and experiences (the humorous and the serious) and how she used them to teach her sons truths about life and God. Her commitment to praying for her boys is inspiring. She also provides detailed guides and even fill-in-the-blank (with your son's name) prayers based on scriptures and specifically fruits of the Spirit. I plan to use and reference these in my own prayer time for Micah - to remind me to pray for him and to guide me when I don't know where to start! Brooke also really motivated and challenged me to think about and realize what a great task it is to raise a good Godly man (they're hard to find, huh?)!!! Our world definitely needs more men who are willing to pray, serve God, work hard, provide for their families, stand up for others, be faithful to their wives and in their giving, and be a true man after God's heart. I pray that Micah will be able to grow into all of these roles.

I highly recommend this to all moms of boys (no matter what age!). Never too early or too late to pray for our sons!

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