IVF ONLY – Our infertility journey and how God has redeemed our pain

We have been trying to get pregnant for over three years now. And the journey has been very difficult. I wish I could sugar coat it and say there have been pros to this but the honest truth is that it sucks. As I researched a little before starting to write this post, I found articles on how infertility has ruined marriages, women’s bodies, couples mental health, and how IVF (in vitro fertilization), is not recommended. In general, most articles were honest, which I appreciate, but so negative.

Side note: If you're going through infertility, don't google about it. It's freakin scary. Talk to someone you know has or is going through it, instead. 

The reality is pretty heavy and painful and I’m going to be as honest and transparent as I can, but I will not allow my pain to dismiss that there is ALWAYS hope when you have God on your side. Infertility sucks. But God is good.

It has been a long journey so far. We started trying to get pregnant in 2016 while we were still living in a small apartment. We were anxious to move to a new place so we could have more space for our growing family. So we decided to move to a new city, buy a home we could afford, with enough room for the children we were hoping to have. Fast forward to 2019, we have a 4 bedroom home and no kids. Just me, my husband, and my mom who lives with us. And an empty room waiting to become a nursery.

In 2017, after trying for a year I decided to let my Gyno know and she recommended for us to do a bunch of tests. Blood work, ultrasounds, semen analysis, etc. After all the exams, we met with her again and my results came back normal. But my husband’s didn’t. And on the report, it read: IVF ONLY.

I was in shock. One minute we were trying naturally–just doing exams to check what was going on. And all of a sudden, we were being told IVF was the ONLY way we’d get pregnant. It was painful, scary, and I felt sad that my husband had to carry this burden.

I did not understand how or why God would let this happen to us. We had done everything in our ability to live in a way that was pleasing to Him. We had made purity when we dated and in marriage a top priority. And we served Him faithfully. I was so confused.

We decided we weren’t ready to take such a big step so we waited for a while. We knew that doing a procedure like IVF was financially, physically, and emotionally draining. It wasn’t until we felt the “ok” from God that we moved forward. In the summer of last year, I spoke to someone very dear to me who encouraged me to call my insurance to see if IVF was covered. She encouraged me to not let fear get in the way of a blessing. And I did just that. To our surprise, our insurance covers it! And that motivated us to look for a fertility clinic that we felt comfortable with. (Side note: our clinic doesn’t take insurance for some parts of the process so we will have to pay a few Gs out of pocket. As Jimmy Fallon would say, “EW”). After lots of research, we made an appointment.

Making an appointment was a big step for us. It meant that we were ready to face our fears. And it also meant that we were out of our denial. This was an issue. We are really struggling with infertility. And we were taking a step medically to address the issue.

When we met with our doctor, he had us do MORE test and exams. He suggested meeting with a urologist before we even decided our next steps. He explained what his predictions were but wanted to make sure we took every step necessary before we went down the IVF route. This made me feel at peace. I knew he had our best interest at heart. But it was also very frustrating because it meant more waiting and potentially more tests which means more money, too.

The latter part of 2018, was filled with lots of appointments with a urologist who is helping my husband improve the root cause of infertility. He’s been on medication for a while now. After a few months of being on the medication, we were told there wasn’t much improvement. Not enough to try for an IUI (Intrauterine insemination), which is a step before IVF. Another letdown. So we decided that we’d keep trying naturally while Edward took this medication to see if after a few months there was an improvement.

And that’s where we’re at right now. We are waiting. And our next appointment is coming up. To be honest, the weeks leading up to our appointments are hard for me. They remind me of what we’re dealing with. It puts focus on something that I wish so badly wasn’t true.

Throughout this process, I have wrestled with God. I have made my pain and my anguish known to him. And in return, He has comforted me and also admonished me. He has searched my heart. He has healed me from a lot of junk that I have carried for years. He has brought to light the fact that my relationship with Him has been a means to an end in many cases. He has helped me celebrate other women and their children in the midst of my pain. He has helped me cope with my pain as others became parents. And he has humbled my heart so that I don’t create an idol of this desire to become parents. Yes, even something as good as being or becoming a parent can become an idol.

There are so many articles that speak of infertility ruining marriages and ruining lives in general. I am thankful that even though it has taken a toll on our relationship, we are stronger than ever. It’s not because we are the most awesome couple in the world, it’s because we have clung to God for dear life. And we have not separated ourselves from our community.

One thing I told myself a few months ago is that I REFUSE to let this consume me. I REFUSE to let this ruin any part of my life. I want us to be parents but not at the expense of my sanity, my relationship with God, or my relationship with my husband. If I’m being real, it’s on ME to let anything ruin my life. I get to decide if I will truly believe God’s word or if I will accept the enemy’s lies.

We are choosing to believe God. We are choosing to trust Him. We are taking every step cautiously so that we can hear from Him. Even though we are on the route to IVF, we don’t know for sure if that’s what we’ll decide to do. And if we do, we don’t know for sure if that route will result in a baby. And we don’t know for sure if we will ever have our own kids. Which scares me and makes me incredibly sad. But we DO know that God is faithful. And that miracles happen in many ways. Not always the way we imaged or wanted, but they happen.

The last thing we ever want is for people to pity us. For people to see us and say “I feel so sorry for them. They don’t deserve this”. I am aware that sharing all this might bring pity. And that kinda makes me nervous. I share this because I truly believe that God wants to use our pain. God doesn’t cause us pain, He is our Father and only wants good stuff for us. But he does use our pain to help us understand and be there for others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3–5)

So, this is our story. It’s still being written. And I trust the hands that are writing it. I know His plans are bigger, better, and brighter than mine. I choose to humble myself before him and accept His will for our lives. I choose to celebrate in the middle of my pain. And I choose to allow him to use it for His glory.

If you’re currently going through an obstacle, loss, medical diagnosis, hard new season, whatever it is, know that you’re not alone. God is with you and wants to hear your heart. And I am here to say that your pain is valid and real and justified. I also want to say that no matter how deep the pain, there is hope. And that hope is Jesus. Cling to him. He will never let you down.

Grace-filled Reminders For The Lady Of The House (a.k.a. Home Engineer, Family Manager, Home Economist)

StyldbyGrace_LadyOfTheHouseCards__35I’m excited to share a new freebie I created for my fellow homemakers. That word, homemaker, may be a dirty word to some but to me, it means the head lady in charge. The boss lady. The home engineer. The puzzle solver. The family manager. The lady of the house. And oftentimes, the home economist. Anything to save a dollar here and there, right?!

Loving, nurturing, organizing, and up keeping our homes can seem like an antiquated thing but God has called us to our homes and families first. If we can manage businesses, schedules, outings, and everything else in between, we should make it a priority to manage our homes. To look out for our people. To make sure everything is at peace.

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But let’s be real. In the modern world, where our careers, side hustles, and servant leadership, demand A LOT from us, that can be really really difficult. Sometimes we even resent “having” to take care of our homes. I know I do!

So, what the solution? First, an enormous amount of grace towards ourselves and our families. Second, reading and meditating on God’s word and truth. And finally, reminders that encourage us daily, rooted in God’s word, both practical and spiritual.

 

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And that’s what this freebie is all about. Practical and spiritual reminders for us ladies to have a happy and willing heart when it comes to loving and serving our homes.

You can download these Grace-filled Reminders For The Lady Of The House here and display them all over your home. I hope they’re a blessing to you and your home ❤

March Mobile & Desktop Wallpaper Downloads

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I’m really excited about the downloads for the month of March. They are unique and instead of taking a literal approach for the portrayal of Spring, I went a little abstract.

It’s simple: Spring is filled with beautiful lighting, new beginnings, and color. It seems as if God’s light shines a little brighter and sweeter in this season.

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And in this season of my life, I want to remember that God has called me to be the light. But also, as I wait for some of His promises to become a reality, I want to remember that He is my Light. Whatever is ahead, whatever situation I’m in, whatever new path I must take, He is the Light that leads the way.

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I hope this resonates with you and that these colorful, fun, and God inspired wallpapers, remind you to be the light and that He leads the way before you.

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[To download, click on the wallpaper. Then right click if you’re on a desktop or long press if you’re on a mobile device.]

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The One Solution For Your Struggle For The Perfect Summer Body

Styldbygrace_Struggle For The Perfect Summer Body

There’s a motto I use quite frequently to describe what Styld by Grace is all about. “Grace over perfection”. I had come to the realization that God wasn’t asking perfection from me. In reality, He was extending His grace towards me. How could I live by faith if everything in my life was perfect? How could I see God’s miracles at work if life was always perfect?

During the summer when there’s an endless amount of pressure to look our best, this motto of grace over perfection kind of goes out the door for me. I don’t know about you but that number on the scale really scares me sometimes. Actually, it bothers me and even makes me feel disgusted. The struggle for “perfect” bodies is real. Skinny is never skinny enough. And having the right amount of curves isn’t enough either.

The struggle for perfect bodies and the pressure that comes with it has caused me to question my conviction about God’s grace. Do I believe grace only applies to my habits, to-do list, and actions? And do I believe it also applies to my identity? Do I believe grace declares “you are enough”? My body, my soul, my personality, my wide hips, my short stature?

Is grace also the cure for my endless struggle for the perfect summer body?

I think so! I believe that God’s grace allows us to be who we truly are without shame. Even the imperfections. And it empowers us to grow and become better versions of ourselves. It gives us favor to be who we are meant to be and strength to keep going in that direction.

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Last 4th of July weekend I knew I’d be out in the sun. I really wanted to be in the water. But I also knew what that entailed. Putting on a bathing suit. Did I feel super confident? Was my stomach flat and sculpted? NOPE. But I made a conscious decision to love myself right where I was at. To love my imperfections. To receive God’s grace and be conscious that I didn’t need to be ashamed. And that I’m a work in progress.

This summer, I give you permission to put a bathing suit on and feel happy. Extend grace to yourself. Love your body right where it’s at. Know that you are enough, even if your body isn’t where you’d like it to be. For all you moms out there, rock that mom bod like nobody’s business! And for the girls who’s hips don’t lie (like me), embrace them and love them. If you’re thin and self-conscious of what you’re “lacking”, don’t believe that lie. You too are enough.

So, here’s to a happy and healthy summer. Embracing grace and loving our perfectly imperfect bodies right where they’re at today.


For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)


P.S. Stay tuned for some healthy body image advice from my friend Angie Gonzalez, who helps young women overcome eating disorders.

 

3 Things that Build Lasting Relationships

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Let’s stop for a minute and think. Our lives revolve around interacting with other people. Some people we like and others we don’t. Some interactions are good and others are not so good. I wish all the relationships in my life were pleasant and easy. The reality is that relationships, whether it’s your marriage or a friendship, take effort. And whether we like to admit it or not, our relationships matter and mold who we are.

The effort we put into our relationships will influence the course of our lives. The people we meet, the people we love, the people we encounter, our relationships with them can lead to marriage, lifelong friendships, and even our dream job.

According to God’s word, loving God and loving people is our greatest calling. If it’s important to God then it should be important to us. And if we do all things through love for him and others, then our relationships and life will be a whole lot rewarding and meaningful.

Deep down inside, even us introverts, long to build lasting and deep relationships. Even when we have a billion walls up to protect us, we long for fulfilling relationships.

Being married, losing friendships, and leading others have taught me that to build lasting relationships we gotta:

Be consistent
I’m convinced that consistency is the substance that makes up success. When we are consistent we exude trust, reliability, and legitimacy. How can a person who’s late and unreliable keep a job or get a promotion? The same goes for our friendships, marriages, and people we mentor. We have to be there for the people in our lives, in the good and the bad. It’s pretty sad when I realize that I tend to push people away when things get messy. If we study Christ’s attitude towards His relationships, we see His dedication, consistency, and involvement. He was always present, always encouraging, and always showed up.

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Show Grace
Stepping out to be Jesus’ hands and feet at times can cause us to feel helplessness, discouraged or even downright angry. When we are there for people we see the stuff we wish we didn’t. We encounter people’s hang ups and faults. There’s one thing that gives us the strength and courage to keep building our relationships when they get sticky. It’s called grace. When I got engaged I wish I would’ve known that grace was something I was going to need more than ever. If marriage has taught me anything, it’s taught me that grace goes a long way. It actually is what sustains a relationship. Grace tells me to care and love my husband even when he has offended or hurt me. Grace tells me to reach out to a friend who is being distant even if it means disposing of my pride. Grace tells me to stop being so hard on myself when the fish I “cooked” tastes like crap.
P.S. My cooking has gotten a lot better 😉

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Be Vulnerable
The glue that binds it all together is vulnerability. When I hear the word vulnerability the first things that come to mind are exposure and fear. But vulnerability isn’t meant to expose us in a way that’s detrimental. If we lose the fear of being rejected, isolated, or judged, we are open to vulnerability. And when we are vulnerable with the people we love, meaning we are unafraid to show all of who we are, we can show grace when it’s hard and we can be consistent in their lives. The times I’ve been the most vulnerable, in my career or with my husband or with God, have lead to a total “vulnerability hangover”. Have you ever experienced that? I start questioning myself: “Was I too honest, too outspoken, too open, too caring, too loving? Will letting down this wall make me seem weak?” But looking back it’s those moments that have forged relationships, opportunities and have opened doors of success.

To learn more about vulnerability, connection, and letting go of fear, I highly recommend reading Brené Browns, Daring Greatly. It has been an extreme blessing in my life!


What have you learned from past and present relationships about building lasting connections?

What is one practical way you can build your most valued relationships today?