Category Archives: Uncategorized

truth for your sunday | lamentations 3:26

Just for a moment on this Sunday morning

Close your mouth

and open your ears

and your heart

and wait.

Wait quietly for the Lord to speak to your heart.

And

Listen closely to the quiet whispers of truth, even if they convict, and ignore the clamoring lies.

Listen closely to the precious words of grace, even if you feel unworthy, and know there is no condemnation.

Listen earnestly to the quiet melody of hope, even when it seems impossible, and wait on the Lord for His salvation.

I often find myself in prayer, talking, talking, talking. When I approach the throne of grace I often find it difficult to be quiet enough to hear the Spirit speaking truth into my life, and sometimes I become frustrated because it seems as though He isn’t speaking at all. And I realized that maybe I’m too busy yammering on and I miss His quiet, gentle voice of truth.

Maybe it’s temptation, or maybe just part of the way I’m wired, but I often struggle with being quiet and with waiting, both of which God instructs us to do!

This week I’m challenging myself intentionally wait – quiet and still – for the Holy Spirit to minister to my heart with Truth from God’s Word. Maybe you struggle with being quiet and with waiting on God, would you like to join me this week?

Here’s a little truth, straight from the Word of God, for you today. I need this reminder this week, maybe you do too.

Lamentations 3 26 print

truth for your Sunday | Joel 2:13

Just for a moment on this Sunday morning

Breathe deeply

Let your heart be quiet and still

and let the significance of this season wash over you

And

Remember the Who: The promised Messiah

Remember the What: Preparing Himself and His followers for his coming crucifixion

Remember the Why: Because of His steadfast love

Remember the When: Before He the foundations of the world

This week marked the beginning of the Lenten season. Christ followers around the world are observing the forty days that lead up to Easter Sunday.  Many of our Christian brothers and sisters are preparing their hearts for Easter by observing a season of fasting, moderation, and spiritual discipline. They have set aside this season to focus on Jesus Christ and to reflect on His suffering and sacrifice on the cross.

Even if you don’t observe Lent, will you focus your heart on Christ today? Will you lay aside the distractions that so easily entrap our attention and focus on what Christ has done for you?

He deserves our worship, not just this morning but every day. Don’t get so busy preparing for worship this morning that you forget that our lives are living sacrifices of praise to the One who died for us.

Here’s a little truth, straight from the Word of God, for you today. I need this reminder this week, maybe you do too.

If you would like to purchase a printable without a watermark, please email me.

Have a joyous and blessed Sunday.

Frequently Asked Questions about Infertility

I’m always honored when someone confides in me that they too have faced, or are facing infertility. The story of a want-to-be-mama is intensely private and often a difficult story to tell. That someone would trust me with their story of heartache and hope reminds me that we were never designed to journey through these difficult times alone. And it stirs within me a desire to help shoulder their burden because I know from my own experience how impossible to carry it sometimes feels.

My husband and I receive lots of questions about infertility, and I wanted to answer our most frequently asked questions about infertility all in one place.

Frequently Asked Questions about Infertility
image credit: redeeming love photography
Frequently Asked Questions about Infertility

1. How did you make it day-by-day?
The day-to-day of infertility seems to be a never ending cycle of fragile hope, hope, worry, hope, fear, fragile hope, and then disappointment. How did I make it through that endless cycle?

Barely, and with lots of grace and countless prayers on my behalf from family and friends. I wrestled with God over infertility. For a long time I ignored Him, and one time I even cursed Him. Through His sweet pursuit of my heart I realized what a gift it is to be able to wrestle with Him. I encourage you to get real and raw with Him, engage His Word by studying what He has to say about barrenness (it’s a lot!) and flood the gates of Heaven with your precious prayers and tears. He hears your prayers and sees your tears.

2. What do you and your husband think about IVF?
After a couple of years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, my husband and I sought medical help for our infertility. After a handful of tests we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We had a fantastic specialist who answered all of our questions, but we still had some theological and moral questions to iron out.

My husband and I did quite a bit of research about the morality of IVF/IUI/Clomid and decided we felt no moral objection to taking Clomid and undergoing IUI. We personally did not feel comfortable with IVF for two reasons:

  • We did not have insurance that covered fertility treatments, and we felt that kind of money would be better spent towards an adoption.
  • We both have concerns about what happens to potential “extra” embryos and we were not sure we could put the embryos up for adoption. We were willing to consider IVF but we knew if we did we had to be 100% willing to donate any extra embryos to another family to be adopted. We were unwilling to have our embryos be stored indefinitely or be destroyed.

If you are facing having to decide about various fertility treatments, you may find this article from The Village Church helpful, and you may want to read what the Catholic Church (who traditionally takes a strong pro-life stance) has to say about reproductive therapies and treatments. This article from Ministry Magazine also addresses IVF from a Christian worldview.

If you are considering IVF I encourage you to seek godly wisdom and counsel from men and women you trust. Give them permission to ask you hard questions and to hold you accountable as you navigate the decision making process. Find a doctor who understands your concerns and questions, and who respects your worldview. And make the knees of your pants threadbare from spending time in prayer before the Lord of Hosts. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask. Ask.

The gut-wrenching reality is that there is much heartache and prayer involved in making the decision to use reproductive technology to try and grow your family. I truly believe that God grants peace to some couples, but denies peace to others about which types of fertility treatments and procedures to pursue. It is our high and holy responsibility to be obedient to what He calls us and allows us to do as we seek to grow our families.

Frequently Asked Questions about Infertility - aroyaldaughter

3. What kind of fertility treatment did you do?
We began our testing and treatment with my O.B. After a few initial tests we did three consecutive months of Clomid, which resulted in me being half crazy and still very unpregnant. My O.B. referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist, and several months later we underwent our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).

An aside: my body did not respond well to that first IUI. My ovaries, normally the size of apricots, reacted so strongly to the medication that they blew up to the size of grapefruits, and became lodged in my lower pelvis. It was incredibly painful, and there is absolutely nothing you can do except wait for your ovaries to shrink back down to their normal size. We had to wait three months before we could do another IUI.

Our third IUI was successful, and I became pregnant. Sadly, I miscarried early, and we are still waiting for the day we get to meet our sweet babe in heaven.

After our miscarriage our doctor told us we had a 5% chance of pregnancy with continued treatment but God isn’t a god of statistics and chances, is He?!). We were heartbroken and physically exhausted, and we decided to stop all fertility treatment and give ourselves a much needed break.

4. How do you feel about adoption?
After our miscarriage we decided to take a break from fertility treatment. It was hard on my body and my heart.

We spent many long days in prayer and seeking counsel from friends and family. As our hearts began to heal, we felt the Lord nudging us towards foster care/adoption. Three years ago we had the opportunity to be foster parents to three boys, and it has remained on our hearts.

When I became pregnant with Ezra we realized it was not the right time to begin fostering again.

At this time we still don’t know when we will start back, but we continue to invest in other foster parents and minister to the boys who used to live with us.

I think adoption is hard and wonderful and not at all a “second rate” way to start a family. I also feel that it should only be done out of obedience to God, not out of desperation or selfish desires. Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of adoption – our adoption through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – and I feel strongly that earthly adoption should mirror that spiritual adoption into the kingdom of God.

5. How did infertility affect your marriage? 

Infertility is hard on a marriage. Our emotions were raw and often ugly. Fertility treatment was very hard on my body. The hormone therapies and rigorous schedule were sometimes a weightier burden than the infertility itself.

There were times that infertility pulled us apart. I think this was a natural response to needing to grieve in our own ways, and needing to wrestle with God individually. We were still doing life together, still walking hand-in-hand, but at times we were disconnected and distant from one another.

Trying to conceive, especially during a treatment cycle, is hard on the marriage bed. Sex became about one thing: baby making, and we soon noticed an absence of the emotional and spiritual closeness that usually accompanies a healthy sex life. During treatment we were totally on someone else’s schedule, so there was no room for spontaneity, and that, in turn, left little room for passion.

Every aspect of our marriage was affected by infertility. And through the darkest days of doubt and bitterness, our relationship grew stronger. God gave us so much grace to be able to walk through infertility together, and to come through it more in love with each other, and Him.

If you are facing infertility please know you are not alone. I pray that God places people in your life who will gently, but firmly speak truth into your heart. Take heart, sweet soul. Our wombs may be empty and barren, but our hearts don’t have to be.

Weekend Steals and Deals aroyaldaughter

Weekend Recap + Steals and Deals

Off the blog: 

Ezra Nine Months

  • Ezra turned nine months old this week!
  • Week two of our Paleo diet is going well. Favorite meal this week: barbecue pulled pork.
  • Ezra is army crawling, clapping, dancing, and eating like a boss. He also sat himself up for the first time yesterday!
  • Mr. E.’s semester started.
  • I greatly enjoyed a girl’s night with my neighbor last night. Mexican food + shopping + girl talk was just what I needed.
  • We’re alternating between Gilmore Girls and Friends marathons on Netflix.

On the blog:

Favorites from around the web:

Weekend Steals and Deals aroyaldaughter

This post contains affiliate links.  Income earned through this blog allows me to pursue my dreams and enjoy being a stay-at-home wife and mama. You can read my full disclosure and see a listing of affiliate partners here. Some shops know I’m featuring them, and some don’t. Maybe we can make their day together, what do you say?

Amazon Prime – $72 today only! Amazon.com

Amazon-primeLogoW

Today only, Amazon Prime is $72 instead of $99! Sign up here.

Personalized Treble Clef Necklace, Music Necklace – BellissimiOrnamenti

Use the code WELCOME2015 for 25% off + FREESHIP15 for free shipping. Shop here.

Chalk pens from GroopDealz

1.24.15 Groopdealz sale

Set of 8 for $12.99 – 48% off! Shop here.

Dainty Elephant Necklace – GroopDealz

1.24.15 Elephant Groopdealz

$5.99 – 70% off! Shop here.

Flash and Fall Necklace – GroopDealz

$3.99 - 82% off! Shop here.

$3.99 – 82% off! Shop here.

Handmade Easter Basket – Cody Quilts

Use code SHASTA40 for 40% off $30. Shop here.

 Shop Indie Shirt – krmbal Online

On sale: $20! Shop here.

Zulily

Moo.com

25% off all business cards through January 28! Shop here.

If you have a handmade shop and would like to be (maybe) be featured next week, send me an email! If you have a sale this weekend, leave a link to your shop in the comments so others can go shopping. Don’t have a shop of your own? Tell me, where is your absolute most favorite place to shop online?

Enjoy your weekend!

Ezra in his crib

Our Life Lately

This post contains affiliate links.  Income earned through this blog allows me to pursue my dreams and enjoy being a stay-at-home wife and mama. You can read my full disclosure and see a listing of affiliate partners here.

They told me it would go by too fast, but the truth is, even though I thought I was prepared, I wasn’t. It goes by so much faster than you can even imagine!

Today my sweet babe is nine months old!

Big Blue Eyes

Our lives are full of joy and delight as we watch Ezra grow. Our blue eyed boy is army crawling like a boss, and while he can get himself up on his hands and knees, he doesn’t seem to have much motivation to start full-on crawling yet. But he sure does love to army crawl, and has been known to skip a nap or two in order to practice.

Ezra eating greens

Two weeks ago we started a 30 day Paleo meal plan. We’ve ditched all grains, beans/legumes, dairy, sugar, and processed foods for a month. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Ezra was eating anyway. So basically Mr. E. and I are eating what Ezra eats. So far we’re loving it, and since we were already gluten-free, the change has been pretty painless.

Ezra has the appetite of a boy. He really began eating solid foods right around Christmas. We decided to try out Baby Led Weaning, and though we began offering him food around 7 months, he really wasn’t interested until just before he turned 8 months old. Since then, though? Yep, he’s been eating his little heart out, and we haven’t even dropped any nursing sessions yet! Right now his favorite foods are sweet potatoes, avocados, green beans, asparagus, and pears. You can learn more about Baby Led Weaning here.

Ezra eats his greens

Ezras messy hands

Mr. E. started back to school this week. He’s teaching all online classes this semester, for the first time. Ezra and I both really enjoyed having him (mostly) home during the holiday break, and we’re trying to get used to him being back at work.

He’s also been doing quite a bit of preaching over the past couple of months. He’s provided pulpit supply at three area churches over the last several weeks, and while we love visiting other churches (and I love to hear my husband preach!) we’re really looking forward to being at our church this Sunday. There’s just something sweet about being present where you’ve put down your roots.

Ezra in his crib

I watched Mary Poppins for the first time this week. I’d seen bits and pieces of it as a kid, but had never seen the entire movie. After watching Saving Mr. Banks a couple of months ago I was really looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins. It is quite magical.

I finally made it back to my Zumba class this week, which was great, except for the fact that the class has learned a bunch of new songs since I was there last, and I had no idea what was happening most of the time.

Ezra sweet hands

Those sweet little baby hands learned to clap this week. He especially loves to clap at the table, when he’s done eating. I, of course, take it as a personal compliment to my fine culinary skills.

That’s what’s going on in our life lately, what’s happening in your life?

 

http://www.aroyaldaughter.com/2015/01/20/gift-infertility/

The Gift of Infertility

This post contains affiliate links.  Income earned through this blog allows me to pursue my dreams and enjoy being a stay-at-home wife and mama. You can read my full disclosure and see a listing of affiliate partners here.

The Gift I Didn’t Want

I held my breath in anticipation as I unwrapped the gift. The year was 2005 and we were still newlyweds crazy in love, and I was opening my big present from my new husband.

He was excited about this gift, I could tell by the look on his face and because he’d made a few references to how he’d chosen it just for me. We had been married for six months and I was certain he had chosen something unforgettable to commemorate our first Christmas together. I imagined a delicate piece of jewelry or my favorite perfume, or maybe something that featured our names monogrammed in a lovely script – something romantic and heartfelt.

When I opened the gift I was very surprised and a bit disappointed. For our very first Christmas as husband and wife my ever-practical husband gave me a roadside emergency kit for my car.

Not at all romantic.

Or so I thought.

I was mostly speechless, and managed to squeak out “Aw, thanks, Babe.” as we moved on to the next round of gifts.

It was later that day, after the paper and ribbons had been thrown away, and Christmas dinner had been enjoyed, that he explained his heart behind my gift.

“You travel 40 miles a day going back and forth to work, and your car isn’t new anymore.”

I knew he was right, and I knew exactly where he was going with this line of reasoning.

I want you to be safe in the event the car breaks down or won’t start. The kit has everything you’ll need, and jumper cables in case it’s the battery.

I knew his gift was thoughtfully chosen, hand picked for me. But it didn’t seem romantic, or special, and it wasn’t even pretty. I tried not to be disappointed, but deep down – where I didn’t let him see – I was.

That was nine years ago. By now I’ve become quite used to my husband’s very practical gift giving, and I love him for it. And do you know what? Of all the gifts my husband has given me over the years, that roadside emergency kit is the gift I’ve used the most. It has come in so handy not only for myself with my car, but it also has allowed me to help others when I see them in need of assistance.

My husband chose that gift because he desired to provide for me and protect me even when he may not be with me. That is romantic. He wanted to make sure I was as safe as I could be if I ever found myself in an otherwise unsafe situation. That is special. He was preemptively lightening my load in what is often a frustrating experience. That is a beautiful gesture of love.

He demonstrated his love for me by giving me a gift he knew I needed, but one that I never really wanted.


The Gift of Infertility

Years later, when I was in the trenches of wrestling with God over our infertility, I realized that in His grace and sovereignty, God had demonstrated that same kind of love to me. Infertility was a gift I never asked for, and one I certainly didn’t want. But it was a gift.

Through infertility Christ drew me to Himself. Though I was wounded in the wrestling, He healed those bitter scars. My pain and tears collided with the Source of all comfort, my bitterness was crushed by His grace, and my broken heart was tenderly pieced together by the Masterpiece Maker, and filled with a joy and peace that only He can offer.

Identifying infertility as a gift rather than a curse wasn’t easy and changing my thinking didn’t happen in one definitive moment. It was through hours of prayer and Bible study, months of wrestling and questioning, and the grace of God that my bitter heart was changed.

The Gift of Infertility

For me the gift of infertility was found in the sovereign will and glorious purpose that only God could have orchestrated. While we hoped and prayed for God to open my womb, we had no promise that He would. But we did have His promise that He would be faithful to us, and that He is constantly working His will for our good and for His glory.

In spite of my petulant attitude, God used our barrenness to shape me and mold me. He graciously allowed me to wrestle with Him! Because of His great love for me He used what I once thought was the most grievous diagnosis as a way to relentlessly pursue my heart! What a gift.

Maybe you’re facing a harrowing journey that is leaving your heart bitter. Have you ever considered that maybe it’s a gift, unwanted though it may be, from a God who is pursuing you with extravagant grace and resplendent love?

Shutterfly 40 percent off everything deal

Life & Pregnancy Update + Steals & Deals

Life Update 

  • It’s been quiet around here this week. The past week and a half was really tough. On Wednesday my husband worked from home because he was a bit worried about me getting too dehydrated. I’m incredibly thankful that yesterday afternoon brought relief from the nausea and some extra energy! Here’s hoping (and praying) that keeps up for a while!
  • My family and close friends have been incredible to provide food for us over the past several weeks. I think I’ve cooked a grand total of four times in the past ten weeks, and while my husband deserves most of the praise, I’m really thankful for family and friends who give him a day off from cooking every now and then!
  • Fall has arrived, which makes this hot mama very happy. And by hot, I mean sweating like a boy scout accompanying the Miss America contestants (which my husband did!) due to pregnancy hormones. I love having the windows open, and smelling the fresh out doors.
  • We’re fairly certain our cow was bred this summer – her belly is swelling up, so either she’s overfed or she’s with child. 
  • I haven’t left my house in more than a week – and really, I can’t complain. I’d rather be sick at home than anywhere else, so I’m glad to have been homebound for a while.
  • I’m super excited that 19 Kids and Counting is on Netflix!

Pregnancy Update

  • I’m officially 14 weeks, 3 days. I don’t have any bump pictures (or really any pictures!) to document the pregnancy so far, but my tummy is starting to show and my pre-baby wardrobe is down to yoga pants and maxi skirts.
  • I haven’t felt any real movement yet. A couple of weeks ago I thought I might have felt something in the middle of the night, but that was at 12 weeks, which I guess is too early to feel anything. I haven’t felt anything since then.
  • Food craving: well this one is tough, seeing as how I never know what will stay down or not. My favorite thing to eat over the past few days has been grilled cheese sandwiches. After not being able to hold down water or gatorade, on a whim I mixed fresh-squeezed orange juice and ginger ale – and not only does it taste amazing, but my body seems to like it!
  • We plan to find out the gender – hopefully right around Thanksgiving!

Weekend Steals & Deals

I’ve already started Christmas shopping (okay, so I started at the beginning of the summer. I’m one of those people) but I’m not quite finished and I wanted to share a few fabulous deals I found and thought you might like too! I know some of you need a good kick in the pants to get started Christmas shopping. Some, but not all of the links are referral links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, I receive a small commission for referring you. It’s a deal for you and for me!

Shutterfly
Shutterfly is my favorite place to shop for Christmas cards. I think we’ve used them for the past six or seven years! Right now they have a 40% off site-wide sale – that’s 40% everything from custom calendars to photo prints, Christmas cards, and photo books. Now’s a great time to create your custom photo book or picture calendar for Christmas presents!

Use the code FIRSTLOOK for 40% off, and use the code SHIP30 for free shipping on orders of $30 or more!

Shutterfly 40 percent off everything dealshop Shutterfly

MailPix
MailPix is offering 10 FREE 4X8 greeting cards through October 31! You *do* have to pay shipping, but the cards are free, no purchase necessary! Just use the code GREET10 at checkout.

Get 10 Free Christmas Cards

DaySpring
Y’all know I really love DaySpring! They’ve added some fabulous fall decorations, and as always they have great Christmas items. Through October 31 you can use the code EARLYGIFT and save 40% off any one item!

$10.19 with discount – available here

GoDaddy
Okay, so you’re probably not going to purchase a domain name for your ma or pop for Christmas. But for those who are looking to purchase a domain or web hosting, GoDaddy has a 25% off sale going on through November 7. Use the code HPFBG25 at checkout. (Does not apply to daily deals or current sales.)

Craftee McGee
This handmade shop features jewelry and crocheted items made right here in the U.S.A. Use the code NEWFALL15 to save 15% off your purchase, valid through October 28.

$15.30 with discount – available here

Homespun Happiness
My friend (and fellow Texan) Jennifer has an entire section of sale items that are ready to be shipped out. And she’s offering my readers free shipping (on any purchase) with the code SHIPFREE!

Stately Love Pillows – $18 – available here

Better Life Bags
Oh goodness I love this lady. Rebecca is a visionary with a heart of compassion. Her vision for Better Life Bags is to employ women who ordinarily are not allowed to work outside the home (for religious reasons) and use their talents and gifts to create beautiful bags and purses. She’s changing the lives of women right in her home town! You can find out more about her recently hiring 4 new seamstresses here.

Right now BLB Laptop Bags are on sale for $10 off. Use the code LaptopLove to save $10. What’s great is that you can customize your laptop bag!

BLB laptob bagI really love this color combo! $40 with code, available here

Diana Meredith Designs
Diana has another sale to share with you guys! Use the code HAPPYFALL for 15% off your entire purchase. Her crochet designs are wonderful and colorful and perfect for autumn.

sweet birdy hat – $15.30, available here.

I hope you guys have a great weekend. If you think of it, will you pray for me? That the Lord will sustain me through these rough weeks of (all day) morning sickness and that I will choose to be joyful even when I’m sick and tempted to be frustrated.

One more thing: my dear sweet friend Brittany is working hard to raise money for her Big Brother Project. She’s partnered with Mocha Club to raise money to support orphans in Africa. If she meets her goal she is going to audition to be on CBS’s Big Brother. Yesterday she held an Instagram auction. Everything that sold yesterday is gone, BUT there are a handful of items that are still available for bidding. Check it out, go Christmas shopping, and help and orphan.