Direction and Prayer

Since moving to California, I started blogging to give hope to those who are struggling with infertility.  I remember how often I needed some hope to get through the six years of infertility we struggled through and I wanted to do something to offer encouragement.

I’m thinking about taking it another step and volunteering to start a Resolve group here in San Diego county.  I remember just wanting to be around other women that I could talk with in person that understood me.  I remember it was so nice meeting new people that didn’t ask if I had any kids as the first question out of their mouths and then the awkward silence when they didn’t seem to have anything else to talk about.  It was nice to joke with them too because they understood what it was like to go through the same struggle.  You have to have humor!

I’m writing just a short post today.  I worry that other women won’t want someone who has had a baby as the facilitator.  I’m going to take some more time to think about it.  Your thoughts?

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Keep Believing Part 2

I created my blog last year to be an inspiration for others who may be dealing with the hardship of infertility or pornography with someone they love.  I use the word “hardship” because either one of these circumstances is difficult to endure and relates to suffering.  My last post focused on how to keep believing through infertility and received a lot of wonderful comments, so thank you to those of you who read and responded.

I would like to write a post now for those who are either dealing with the addiction of pornography themselves, know someone who is, or would like to hear more on the subject because you may know someone one day dealing with it.  It’s not talked about very much and I think it should be discussed more openly.

About fifteen years ago, I remember researching on the web trying to find some hope that my husband could be set free from pornography addiction, but I couldn’t find one article or posting that gave me any hope.  It wasn’t talked about and in my local area, none of the churches offered counseling for it.  We couldn’t afford to pay for counseling out in town.  My husband and I struggled alone.  I’m glad to see that more churches are started to speak about it and confront it, as well as the men and women who speak out on WordPress and on the Internet.

Only a fool would believe that there isn’t a devil roaming around the Earth if they have ever looked at current or past events from around the world.  I mention this before I go on because I believe the devil likes to try to convince people pornography is harmless.  Unfortunately, far too many people in our world believe this and far too few are speaking out against it.

Someone might ask, “Why is pornography harmful if they aren’t paying for it and they are not in a relationship?”  I have to say this is where our human drive tries to rationalize something that we know is deeply wrong.  This person will pay dearly for their rationalization when they do meet someone who they would like to have a relationship with because they won’t be able to stop, even though they think they will once they meet the right one, and they will have misguided thoughts as to how to show that special someone love in the bedroom.

They will be focused more on what they get instead of give and will honestly not be satisfied because they will always be looking for that high that they felt the first time they viewed pornography.  Pornography will have stolen their chance at true romance and love/intimacy.  Not to mention, it may start out as free searches, but in time it won’t be enough to satisfy, so many times it will expand to meeting people in person and/or paying for it online.

My husband’s pornography addiction had started when he was a teenage boy at the age of thirteen.  He had the same mindset as the person I mentioned above.  He wasn’t paying for it and being in a romantic relationship was not in his scope yet, but when he did meet the person of his dreams, he wasn’t able to stop and he had unrealistic expectations that damaged our intimacy and marriage.

After ten years of dealing with pornography in our marriage, I told my husband I wanted a divorce because he told me that he had given up trying to change.  I knew I could not make him change and if he wasn’t willing to try anymore, I was throwing in the towel.  During our separation for nine months, a church nearby started a program called Celebrate Recovery which included a group for men or women struggling with pornography.  My husband started attending, unbeknown to me.  During our separation, he fought for our marriage and he finally stopped trying to change himself and let God into his life to help break his addiction.

During our years of marriage, I prayed and prayed and I believe it made a difference at that turning point of our marriage.  If you know someone who is addicted to pornography, pray for them, it may not seem like much, but you’re inviting God to work in your life and the person you love and He will respond to that.  God loves that person too and wants to set them free as well.

If you are addicted to pornography, don’t give up.  By allowing God to come into your life to help you get to the root of the issue, you will be able to break free.  I say root, because it really was like a terrible invasive weed that just kept coming back until my husband got to the root of it.  It was during one of the meetings that my husband finally asked for and allowed God to show him what was at the root of it.  It was very painful for him, but he finally found it and why he started watching pornography so much in the first place.  It’s too personal to share, but I believe there’s a root that takes place when people begin to view those images or videos.

I’m sharing my experience of almost two decades now and taken from thousands of discussions with my husband to understand his point of view.  There were some setbacks, but it was progress toward complete recovery.  The longer the images could stay out of his mind, the more it allowed him to heal.  Contrary to what mainstream public might believe, he is the first to tell anyone that pornography is damaging.  He not only saw how it affected his life, but also how it affected the lives of the other individuals that were in his group for varying reasons.  The affects from pornography are damaging.  There is science behind how it acts like a drug on the human brain, but I won’t get into that today.  Here is a website if you would like to find out more.

My husband lived in shame and tried to hide from God for a long time.  Thankfully he now knows that God doesn’t expect perfection or only want him to come in his presence when he’s perfect.  He knows God already loves and accepts him and wants what is best for him, which wasn’t able to happen while my husband allowed pornography to be in his life.  He and I can both can happily say that he has been free from his addiction completely for a few years now.  I’ve seen him become a changed man and how his confidence has sky rocketed.

We’ve finally been able to build up our relationship on a solid foundation with all the elements that a healthy marriage needs.  Though it is a work in progress, we are making progress instead of slipping back.  We have a daughter now too which I think has changed his perspective a lot.  I am so proud of him because I’ve seen how much pornography took a toll on him and it took a lot of courage and for him to be humble enough to get where he is today.  I hope this post has been helpful.  Whether you know someone right now who is dealing with it or in case you might know someone down the road.  I look forward to reading your comments.

Keep Believing

I remember one of the main struggles I had when going through infertility was wondering what was wrong with me.  Millions of women had been able to conceive children before, what did I do wrong?  This led to me searching for every way possible that explained what I was doing wrong and needed to do or not do to become pregnant.

  • I ate exclusively from recipe books that promoted fertility
  • I didn’t drink coffee or alcohol
  • I worked out, but not too hard, which basically meant I walked a lot
  • I stopped coloring my hair
  • I tried going to fertility doctors and following all of their advice
  • I watched my ovulation cycle like a hawk

You name it, I probably tried it, it’s just been a few years so I don’t remember everything I tried anymore, just the “highlights.”  All the while being ashamed of it because I felt like something was wrong with me.  I believe most women who are going through infertility try to hide it the best they can, feeling ashamed that they aren’t able to conceive.

If you are going through infertility, listen to me when I say, “there is nothing wrong with you!”

I don’t have much credibility though, so let’s turn to someone who does.  God.  God did not make a mistake when he created you and there is NOTHING you can do that will keep God’s love away from you.  His ways are above our ways and his understanding is above our understanding.  I do believe in doing what we can to help with what we are facing, but ultimately the rest is in his hands.

Say this psalm out loud today.  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

Hold on to his promises.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

You’ve probably started already reaching out to others if you are reading this or writing a blog of your own.  I encourage you to keep doing that and to see if there is a support group in your area that can help such as Resolve or Celebrate Recovery.  When you can see and talk to other women, it opens up doors and I hope will help you as much as it did for me.  Of the group that I was apart of 2 years ago, 9 out of the 10 women have had babies since then.  A group of miracle babies that we get to celebrate and I’ve formed life long friendships with.

Let me know if you need help finding a support group in your area.

Illusion of Control

It’s been awhile since I have written a post.  The holidays consumed so much of my time that it was a relief when January came so I could sit back and relax again.  Recently, I had enough energy to put together a new list of goals for this year in an attempt to try and gain some control back over all of the chaos the holidays brought.  Control is only just an illusion and was one of the most difficult things to try to let go of when I was struggling with not being able to conceive.  I realized that I didn’t have any control over a huge part of my life and I finally stopped trying to control everything.

Before I found myself at that point, I remember that if there was a whisper of a way that would miraculously help me to become pregnant, I’m pretty sure I did it aside from going to witch doctors or standing on my head after sex.  I remember giving up coffee for years, which was probably the hardest thing to do.  I gave up alcohol, I ate way more green types of foods than a normal person should, and I spent a lot of time seeing infertility doctors.  I needed to feel like I was in control of something which I learned, after a very long time, was completely out of my hands.

Then I just gave up.  I wish I could say that I leaned in and trusted in God even more and that’s why I become pregnant finally.  I would love to tell everyone about the miraculous potion I found.  Instead, after six long years of being on a roller coaster, that no one can understand unless they’ve struggled with infertility, I started drinking coffee again, I worked out at the gym harder than usual, I drank again (moderately, I don’t want to sound like I became a drunk), and I just lived my life normally again.  The point I’m getting at, is that there just wasn’t any reason to it.  I had given up trying to be in control of my fertility.  One could speculate that it was when I finally relaxed about everything that I was finally able to get pregnant.  But honestly, only God knows.

If you know someone going through infertility, please do me a favor and don’t tell them that I said they just need to relax!  I remember hating to hear that and it usually had the opposite effect.  Just give them a hug and tell them that you’re there for them.  If you end up getting pregnant and know that your friend is still waiting to have a baby, don’t be ashamed to tell them.  Just make sure not to mention how you weren’t even trying or how easy it was to get pregnant, they may never talk to you again.  I have been on both sides of this matter and I remember that it hurt more not to be asked to someone’s baby shower than to be asked, at least then I had the choice to politely turn it down or not.

Oh control, I wish I had it, but I don’t.  I had the illusion and that made me go bat crazy.  If you are someone whose trying to conceive, the best piece of advice I can give to you this new year is to keep hope alive that maybe this is your year, but don’t get caught up in Pinterest or cookbooks focused on eating to conceive or any of those things that you can end up making a grocery list out of just so you feel like you will finally get pregnant.  If there’s anything I learned from my experience, it’s that I just needed to keep living life as I had been before I started creating a lot of rigid rules that centered around baby making.  I’m sure it made my husband a lot happier too when I finally threw out the list.

The way I see things now, as my daughter just turned 16 months old, is that for some reason God wanted her to be born on a specific day and on a specific year.  I may not know why right now, but I believe there’s a reason she’s 16 months old right now and not six years old.  I don’t care if anyone doesn’t agree with me, but that is how I feel.  I’m good with that.  I’m good with God being in control because honestly, he can see the big picture much better than I can down here, typing away on my computer in my room, in this little apartment that we now live in because we decided to move back to Southern California.  That’s another story for another time of giving up control and trusting God to bring us back to be close to family again.

So for now, I have my calendar planned and goals set for this year because I have to feel a little in control of my days, but I’m treating them more like a rough draft instead of a final copy.  I’m beginning to realize what’s more important in life and I’m slowly getting my priorities in order.  My New Year goal this year is to keep God first in my life so I won’t be inclined to try to control everything that goes on this year, like when I start looking for a new job.  What’s your New Year goal?

Baby Dedication

My husband and I have never been on time for anything, so why start with our daughter’s baby dedication?  It is now more of a toddler dedication, but it is what it is and the whole purpose behind dedicating her to God still remains the same.  Our church asked us to be ready to explain why we want to dedicate her and to send a few pictures in before her dedication next month.  I couldn’t decide on a few so I sent almost ten, figuring someone, who is a little more objective than I can be, can filter through and find the few they think would be best.  The reason why is taking some more time to think through.

Those of you who have been following my blog know that my husband and I went through six years of infertility so our little baby girl, Grace, is nothing short of a miracle.  The doctors kept telling me that there was nothing wrong with my husband or I, which didn’t help really, and we did everything we could think of to bring her along.  I look back and laugh now about how I used to think I could manipulate God by saying that I would never talk to him again or try to get him to feel sorry for me by crying for hours, but that’s just not how it works.  Our daughter had a certain time and place and I just needed to trust in God and wait.  I hate waiting.  Even if my husband and I have been standing in a certain part of the store for too long, I go crazy and tell him I’m moving to the next aisle.  I was glad the wait was finally over and I don’t think I really breathed until she had made it through pregnancy and to her first birthday.

There’s many reasons we want to dedicate her to God, but I don’t think anyone will truly understand how excited we are to dedicate her to God unless they know what it was like to be in our shoes.  We didn’t just wait the nine months most people get to experience, we waited ten years after we got married to make sure we had a good home to bring a child into (my husband had an addiction for many years), and then we waited another six through infertility wondering if we would ever have a child.

Every moment I spend with her is like living in a dream and I’m so very thankful every day that I get to hear her laugh and feel her big hug when she’s drowsy in the morning after first waking up.  We are so thankful to God for bringing her into our home and for preparing us during the time we felt like we were walking around the same mountain for years.  I grew more during the time I went through infertility, than any other time of my life, even after the first year of sleepless nights from having a newborn.  That was a piece of cake compared to the monthly roller coaster and wondering if…

I want our daughter, Grace, to know that she is special and specially made by God.  I want her to know how beautiful she is inside and out because she was created by God and her worth is not based on anything we find on Earth or in anyone here on Earth.  We want to dedicate her to announce publicly that she is a gift from God and we will be a godly example so she will know how to be.  To symbolize that we are entrusting her life to God’s will.

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the LORD.  For his (her) whole life he (she) will be given over to the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28

Affordable Eggs

I hope no one takes offense by this title who is struggling with infertility.  One of the main things I remember when I was going through infertility was that if my husband and I couldn’t keep humor as a part of our marriage, we were going to have a much bigger problems to navigate through as time went on.  Unfortunately, infertility drugs and treatments are ridiculously expensive.  I would like to share a recipe that I made often and still make because it’s so healthy and yummy.  Eggs contain iron and protein which are very important nutrients for fertility.  Broccoli is a great source of folate and fiber so I hope you will enjoy this recipe that blends these two foods together.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Frittata

Ingredients:

2 cups bite-sized broccoli florets

4 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup grated white Cheddar, divided

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp oregano

Optional: Add a handful of spinach for an added boost of zinc.  You can cook the spinach to have it wilt down some first or cut as it is into 1/4 inch pieces before adding in step 3.  If you add spinach, you may want to add a little more cheese if you are like me and don’t completely love spinach.  🙂

Serves 3-4

1.)  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil; add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain well.

2.)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl.  Stir in the broccoli, red pepper, 1/4 cup of the Cheddar, and 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

3.)  Heat oil in a 12 inch ovenproof, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 3 minutes to set the bottom of the frittata.  Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar and Parmesan cheese.

4.)  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the frittata is set in the center and slightly puffy, about 10-15 minutes.

5.)  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan.  Then run a spatula around the edges and slide onto a large plate.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Let me know what you think and if you made any variations to try.

 

Restoring a Marriage From Pornography

If you were to ask most people today what their view on pornography is, I wonder what the response might be.  I suppose it would be different among age and gender demographics.  Even though more and more money is going toward the pornography industry, is it because more people are finding it acceptable or just the percentage of people who have always poured money into it, are just pouring more money into it?

I still believe the majority of people are wise enough to see the destructive venom that pornography brings into the home.  I can tell you first hand how destructive pornography has been in my life and my husbands life.  It has been a battle that at times, many times, neither one of us thought could be conquered.  It began long before we became married and like most men believe, the desire for it doesn’t stop once you have found “the one.”  It’s a poison and the effects it has on the brain have been proven to be very similar to that of taking drugs.  The impact it has when someone views it for the first time leaves an imprint and a chasing for that same experience that they will never get, but won’t stop trying to achieve.

For both of us it was a cycle that never seemed like it would end.  For my husband, he would be tempted and end up searching for hours on the Internet, since he had already considered himself as a failure for viewing it in the first place.  Then he would disconnect from me and become emotionless.  Without that connection with me or God, he would go back to view it again, and like a drug, he just couldn’t seem to get enough until he would quit cold turkey all over again.  There never seemed to be end in sight, even though he loved me and he truly wanted to stop.

For me, I blamed myself and thought I wasn’t good enough for him.  I struggled with my looks.  I don’t feel comfortable saying more about that, but I took some extreme measures trying to make myself more attractive.  I doubted his love for me because if he loved me enough, I believed he could stop.  I would grow cold and distant from him when I’d find things on his computer or under the mattress to punish him.  In our distance, he would just go elsewhere which kept us in that never-ending cycle.

For anyone whose ever said pornography doesn’t hurt anyone, they are fools.  Their ignorance is beyond words.  I was in the movie theater with my husband one night a few years ago and there was a husband and his wife and their two kids sitting between them.  I glanced over to see what the husband was watching on his phone before the movie started and he was watching pornography, right there next to his kids.  I hope that father has found a way by now to unleash himself from those chains of bondage so he can step up and be the father and husband his family needs him to be.

If more people realized who was in these pornography films, they might see how foolish they’ve been to believe its harmless as well.  There was a documentary done and most adult actors they found, have been abused sexually as children.  Also, many of them are forced and this is not a choice for them.  Some just don’t know how else to make money because that is all they’ve known.  You don’t normally see a person from a supportive and loving family who has never been abused getting into the pornography business.

My husband and I will be celebrating our sixteenth anniversary this year.  It has not been an easy road.  We didn’t spend our tenth anniversary together because I had filed for divorce and separated from him.  You might be wondering what brought us back together.  Is there hope for marriages that are being destroyed by pornography?  It’s not just men being addicted to it nowadays either.  I’ll tell you what finally broke us out of that cycle.  I left.

When I left, I didn’t give my husband even a glimmer of hope that I was coming back because at that point, I honestly wasn’t.  I had enough and I thought if he hasn’t been able to be faithful to me for ten years, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life this way.  Being separated allowed my husband to realize what was more important to him.  It gave me a chance to focus on my relationship with God and learn to trust in him.  My husband finally decided to reach out for help and joined a church group called Celebrate Recovery.  They had a recovery group for drug, alcohol, and pornography addicts.  It was during those months that my husband made the choice to allow God to help him find the root of his addiction.  It did not come overnight or during a few months.  There were significant changes the first year, but it still took a few years to get to the root of it, which he did.

Does he still get tempted today?  Of course, we are not ignorant to that fact, but he has a fighting chance now to overcome that temptation because he has spent more time away from seeing those images than when he still had them fresh on his mind.  It takes time and he has to diligently ask God to take away those images or temptations when they cross his mind.  Our marriage is still healing.  We didn’t have a foundation of trust and the love we had, had been worn away over those first ten years so it’s been difficult.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  I love him and we have a lot of great memories together.  I can tell you that there is a significant difference when God is apart of our marriage and when we start to push away.  We can’t make it without God, there’s no doubt about that.  I know that as long as we keep God center, we can keep growing together.

I don’t know what your situation is while you have been reading this post.  I can only tell you what my experience has been and hope that it helps.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.  I know when my husband and I had been going through all of this, I faced it alone because I didn’t want anyone I knew to know about my husband’s struggle.  Luckily, there’s more information and groups to help these days.  If you or your significant other are dealing with this, just know that neither of you are alone and there is help.  There is always hope.

Is Waiting To Have A Baby The Right Decision?

It’s amazing how 16 months have gone by so incredibly fast, not to mention the nine months before that.  How has it already been 25 months since I haven’t had to be on the roller coaster ride of infertility?  Before that time, it had been the longest six years of my life and my husband’s life as well.  You have to understand that before we even started trying, we had waited nine years after we married because my husband was in the military and we reasoned the longer we could wait, the younger our child would be when he retired.  Then we wouldn’t have to make them move around to so many different schools and have to make new friends all over again.

It was a choice that we made and almost regretted.  Nine years put us in our thirties and little did I know that it would be so difficult to become pregnant in my thirties.  I must have missed that part of sex-ed when they discussed how women are born with an x amount of eggs and lose them as time goes on.  After all, it seems like that’s what everyone is doing nowadays anyway, right?  Most people are getting a jump-start on their careers and putting off having families until they’ve achieved a certain element of success.  This was also part of our decision to wait also because it took several years for me to finally graduate with my bachelors degree.  Since we had been moving around every couple of years, I had to keep transferring my credits around and by the time I finally graduated with my bachelors degree three states later, I had enough credits for a bachelors plus another associate degree.

Thankfully, we were still able to conceive, but I think if I had the choice to do it over again, I wouldn’t have waited so long.  Especially if it meant we wouldn’t have had to endure those six agonizing years.  Yes, I did learn a lot about my marriage, myself, and my relationship with God during that time, but it was really crappy to say the least.  Another part of it was that I enjoyed being selfish and being able to go and do what we wanted.  It was great, but if I knew that I could have had the chance to bring Grace into our family that much earlier, I would have jumped at the chance.  Having a child completely erases all of those things that I thought I would want more, such as sleep.  Insert laughing and crying emoticon.  It’s true though, she makes me laugh more than I ever thought possible.  It’s amazing to see the world from her new perspective.  I would have given up the bar scene and weekend trips in a heartbeat, just to snuggle her and listen to her heartbeat.

If you are having trouble conceiving, one day it will all end for you as well and you’ll be looking back over the months wondering where they all went one day.  You’ll never forget the pain though.  Your child will be lucky because they will always know how much they were wanted and never be taken for granted.  If you are wondering about waiting to conceive or not, this is my story and I can’t tell you one way or another, but just share what had happened in my situation.  Would we still have gone through waiting six years to have a baby or would it have been even longer?  Would we have been able to become parents ten years ago and have that much more energy to take care of a baby, who knows?  I do know that I’m so blessed to be Grace’s mother and I don’t know how I ever thought not having to pay for a babysitter or sleeping in whenever I wanted was better than my little girl.

Featured image: Grace turning one years old