Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Hey everyone, I have some exciting news! It's kind of long though. I know I have shared before about our fertility journey and the problems that we've had as a result of Brad's spinal cord injury. To make a long story short, a few months ago we were talking some more about possibly starting a third round of IVF. However, we both just felt like God was telling us to stop, wait on Him, and trust that He is going to work everything out. As hard as it was, that's what we did. Literally two hours later I got a phone call from her doctor about a patient he knew of that wanted to put her baby up for adoption! And we were the first people he thought of. To add to the craziness, she was due in 7 weeks!
Now we have always been open to adoption, and thought there was a good chance that's what we would  one day. But we wanted to try everything we could to have our own biological child first. So we weren't on a list, or had met with an agency, or started the process at all. And God just dropped this in our lap. So we prayed about it over the weekend and felt like this was what He was calling us to do. 
From that point, He started opening all the doors and everything worked out so easily. The background checks, FBI report, home study, etc. that has to be done usually takes people about a month. We were able to do it in a week! Also, since this would be a private adoption, the cost for an attorney and everything that needed to be done would be a fraction of the cost of going through an agency. And the attorney we used had adopted his two kids so this was really important to him too. The hardest part was knowing that the birth mother had to wait 72 hours after the baby was born before she could sign the consent form or change her mind.
So on Thursday, November 12, our daughter was born at 7:55am, 6lb 14oz, and 18 1/2" long! She was the most beautiful thing we've ever seen. We stayed at the hospital with her during that 72 hours, and brought her home that Sunday. We named her Caroline Grace (Caroline). Having tried for almost four years to have a baby, we have so much more of an appreciation for her and if we had to do it all over again we wouldn't change anything. Adopting her has also given us a new outlook on how we have been adopted into God's family. We are just so thankful that we were given this opportunity.
Because everything happened the way it did, we know that God created her for us and chose us as her parents. It still seems so unreal; after all, we found out about her 7 weeks to the day until her birth. I had a friend mention that it's crazy how we limit God and what He plans to do by placing our prayers in a "box". For example, God, please let this IVF round work, or please let us get pregnant naturally. Had any of these things happened, we wouldn't have our sweet baby Caroline! She also brought up the reality that we are now holding an answered prayer. How amazing!
Lots of people have prayed for this for a long time, and we couldn't have done it without the help and support of our family, friends, and church. I do ask that you continue to pray for Brad's pain, especially now that he has a baby to help take care of and raise. There are times that he literally can't move because of the pain and that worries him about how he's going to deal with it and still be able to help with a baby now. But we are continuing to trust that God will always provide for us and allow him to do what he need to do. 

Family picture at the hospital
The dogs are slowly adjusting!
We just love her!!

My friend, Jill, made this onesie. There are exactly 1400 days between Brad's accident and Caroline's birthday! God is such a creative God!
She smiled like this twice and we got a picture!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Same Amount Of Time

Today marks the same amount of time we've been married before and after the injury. I can not believe so much time has gone by...

One one hand, I feel like I would give anything to go back to where we were and who we were. Not a care in the world, everything seemed so simple; life was on our side.

On the other hand, we have grown so much closer because of all we've been through. And even though more times than not it feels like we have a "push/pull" relationship with God, we have also grown closer to Him and stronger in our faith and what we believe.

We have definitely learned (and are still learning) what is truly important. Our families and friends have rallied around us and shown support, and for this we are truly grateful. Our lives look like nothing we would have planned. Brad absolutely misses his hobbies (his truck, motorcycle, and playing golf) and all of the everyday stuff (yard and house work, holding hands while walking through a store, opening doors for us, etc.).

It's weird but it's like the injury has erased a lot of what we used to do as well. I can only remember a few things of our routine before. It's a blessing and a curse at the same time, but there are times when it makes me so sad because memories are all we have from our life before.

I've said it before but it becomes all-consuming (suffocating, depressing, no way around) when I actually stop and consider the magnitude of what we've been through (pain and infertility as a result) and continue to battle daily.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."     -Galatians 6:9

I repeat to myself over and over... Our good and Your glory, God. Our good and Your glory...

This was from my devotion this morning, Jesus Today.

Brad took this at our lake last weekend! Amazing!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dating Through the Alphabet "A"

So, Brad and I decided to try something fun... Go on a date that has a theme with each letter of the alphabet. We saw the idea on the internet and thought it looked like fun!

For "A" we contacted Brad's cousin, Beth, to see if her husband, Brady (a pilot), could take us up for a ride! We got to go up yesterday and it was such a neat experience! It was super windy so that made the ride bumpier than usual and we didn't even think for Brad to take dramamine (he gets car sick very easily). That being said, our ride was pretty short, but we got to see our house from the sky!

It was a completely different experience because for the 'typical' person you would just step into the plane. However, Brady had to pick Brad up to get him to his seat. We have not had to do this yet, so Brad definitely had to look past this hurtle. They both handled the situation amazingly and we were able to do something we had not done before!

Us before getting in!

Brady, our pilot!

Beth, Brad's cousin!
Flying over our neighborhood!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Faithful in Prayer

Surgery Update:

This may be complicated but I'm going to try to make sense of it the best I can... We went in last Monday for the trial spinal cord stimulator. Brad ended up having 4 incisions in his back, with only one above his injury level that he was able to feel. The surgeon chose to do one 'paddle' with 16 electrical contacts at about the T4 level and then a second one at the T8 level. They were hoping that the higher one would reach his chest and back, while the lower would help his legs and feet. We found out throughout the week and after many different adjustments with the stimulator that Brad was not able to feel any stimulation where he has no normal sensation (from the middle of his chest down). Also, last summer when Brad had the hardware removed from his back, he lost some sensation on the left side of his back. This means that he can feel more on his right side than his left which also led to more adjustments with the stimulator. The bottom paddle was making Brad's stomach and lower back spasm (stimulation was reaching this low) but his legs were not responding at all.

Just a side note: Brad has NO movement or sensation from his chest down. All of the pain he feels is chronic nerve pain from the spinal cord injury.

All of this being said, the surgeon and the rep for the stimulator agreed that removing the lower paddle would be best since he was not getting any relief in his legs and feet. However, Brad did feel that the top paddle was working enough to keep it. So we went in this Monday to make everything permanent.

Initially, we were confused how the stimulator works but have found this explanation to be most helpful in helping us understand. This is from the literature that came with the stimulator from Boston Scientific: "The system electrically stimulates the spinal cord to alter the perception of pain signals that move along the nerve pathways on either side of the spine." The stimulation feels to him like a buzzing/tingling sensation that doesn't hurt, but doesn't necessarily feel good either. It's kind of a neutral feeling. However, he still feels the pain but is able to turn the stimulator up to a level higher than the pain so that his brain focuses on the stimulation and not on the pain. This is not THE answer we were hoping for, but it is providing some relief and for that we are grateful!

Through all of this we have had many discussions on prayer, the power of prayer, and the point in praying. If God is sovereign, which He is, so He knows ALL things, then what good does prayer do? We know in our hearts that we should pray, but sometimes it seems to fall on deaf ears. I have also been struggling with continuing to pray BOLD prayers because I've had them time and time again not answered HOW I want them and WHEN I want them.

The past 2 days, though, God has really shown me through my quiet time with Him the answers to these questions.

Yesterday God revealed these verses...

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" -Jeremiah 32:27

"For with God nothing will be impossible." -Luke 1:37

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." -Luke 18:1

Then this morning is was all about BOLD and continuous prayers...

"Never stop praying." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and thankful heart." -Colossians 4:2

"Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." -Romans 12:12

All of these spoke to me so clearly. We are to keep praying and not give up. Even though He knows everything, He wrote our story, we are still to be patient and keep praying. When it's hard, when He is silent, when the answer is 'no' or 'not yet', keep praying.

Something else that was revealed to me is that we need to have the confidence to pray for things that ONLY God can do (baby, no pain).

And sometimes our prayers are as simple as Luke 4:38, "Lord, help her." Joni Eareckson Tada said in her daily devotion that this short and simple prayer "describes how we've come to the end of our understanding and that we have nowhere or no one else to whom we can turn."

Proverbs 31 Ministries Daily Devotion also highlighted that, "Having a heart attitude of prayer simply means developing a focus on joy and gratitude. When we focus on the good, instead of the bad, we develop a mental attitude of thankfulness. When our hearts are full of thankfulness for God, we will find ourselves longing to talk with Him more and more and learning to recognize His holy whispers."

I pray that this post will encourage you when you need help in continuing to pray for something that you have prayed for a thousand times or need God to come through in a way that only He can.

Let's make it our focus to "keep on asking..." -Luke 11:9
On our vacation to Miramar Beach!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Tomorrow Brad is scheduled to have a trial spinal cord stimulator implanted to hopefully help manage the pain. We have been praying BOLD prayers that not only will the pain be minimal afterwards but that Brad will be able to lessen (ELIMINATE) his daily pain medications. We have had many different conversations about pain, medicines, and how he hasn't felt like himself since the injury 3 1/2 years ago. Brad is the most patient, kind-hearted person I know and I want this so badly for him; for him to be pain free and not have the 'fog' that he's felt for too long now. It's just too easy to take our health and absence of pain for granted...

If all goes well with this trial, they will go back in next Monday (the 13th) to put the permanent stimulator in place. If we do not get the results we want, the trial will be taken out this day as well.

Please be in prayer with us that this will be the miracle we have been praying for and that he would get some much needed relief.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Closing Chapters

Anyone who has experienced fertility issues will be able to relate to this post. Anyone who has struggled in any area only to have it come so easy to a close friend will be able to relate, for that matter.

One of my very best friends, Mariana, just moved away. She and her family have relocated to Texas because of her husband's job. The sad story started about a year ago.

Mariana and her husband moved to Mississippi in 2010. She was hired at school as the new kindergarten teacher (I was also teaching kindergarten at the time). After school had started and everyone found their routine, we hit it off as co-workers and friends. We had a lot of the same ideas, and she had a lot a good ideas to bring to the team. We loved teaching together that year. However, at the end of that year (my 3rd year in kindergarten) I was ready for a change and was moved to 2nd grade. Somewhere during this time they moved from the apartment they were renting to a house one street up from us in the same neighborhood!

My first year in 2nd grade was going great and Mariana and I were still finding time to catch up with each other and share ideas when we could. In October she shared that she and her husband were expecting their first baby! At this time, I could absolutely be so excited for them. Brad and I hadn't even starting trying to have a baby at this point. Then in January, Brad's accident happened. Mariana would come up to the hospital during our rehab stay (her husband would bring coffee because he also worked at the hospital) and visit with us once we got home. At this point, Brad and I understood a little more of what it would take to have a baby of our own, but we were still excited for them.  

Mariana had the baby on June 1st and we were so happy to be there at the hospital! For a friend to let you share in that with them was so special for us!

Time passes, we do two full rounds of IVF, and Mariana is such a great friend through all of this. Even though it was so easy for them to get pregnant the first time, she wasn't pregnant while we were doing our fertility treatments and that made it easier.

Last summer (2014) Brad and I were thinking that we were ready to do our 3rd round of IVF when Mariana tells me that they are pregnant for the 2nd time. This time, hearing the news absolutely crushed me. I know that she was not doing this to me, to hurt me. However, when you have struggled with something and are still in the struggle, this is what it can feel like at times.

Early on it wasn't so hard because she wasn't showing yet, but as time went on it became harder and harder. We didn't talk at school, and I didn't share with them what was going on in our lives. I didn't know what to do with my feelings. The only thing I knew to do was to withdraw for the time being. I would talk to Brad everyday about how hard that was, how much I missed her friendship, but how that was the only thing I knew to do. She was very understanding during this time, we talked about how this was hard, and she was very patient.

Then another bombshell hits. She tells me they are moving to TX in the summer. I cried the rest of the day at school after hearing this news. (This describes my emotions toward her during her pregnancy... mad, envious, sad, crying a lot, confused...) The whole time she is pregnant I'm thinking that after she has the baby it won't be so hard and we will go back to how things were before. I will fall in love with her new baby, and one day she may have the opportunity to be happy for us. Everything will be fine...

Well, now she is gone and we will never have the time I was counting on. I was able to spend time with her the last few days they were here. I was able to help out with the kids while they were trying to get the last things packed in the cars. I pulled out of the driveway with them. Me going to my house; she moving away.

Yes, we can stay in touch through texts, calls, and social media, but it will never be the same. I completely missed out on such an exciting time in a best friend's life. I have learned through this time, though, and from other people that sometimes we have to withdraw from certain people during certain times in our lives just to take care of us and what we need at that time. This seems completely selfish and I wish I could have pushed through, believe me I tried. Now, it is like there is a hole because she is not here. I look at her backyard every time I leave the neighborhood. It's weird to think that they are never coming back. The day they left I cried thinking about the regrets, but also about the hardships Brad and I have endured to lead to these feelings.

It is so great, though, to have such a great friend who doesn't get angry when you have those feelings. Who stands by you and loves you even when you don't feel so friendly towards them. That's who she is. I am so sad that they are gone, but maybe through the distance we can find our way back together and share the closeness we once had.
In the last few crazy minutes before they left!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Graduation and Girlfriends

So, my little brother (BJ)graduated from  high school last Saturday! We are so proud of all of his accomplishments in the classroom and on the soccer field! He is so much fun to be around and always has something funny to say. Whenever we need something he is eager to help. He calls and just wants to come over and hang out. I am so thankful that God blessed us with him 18 years ago! Very much a surprise, but one that I prayed for nightly!

With it being graduation, this time also reminds me of conversations mom and I had years ago. There are almost 12 years between BJ so I guess once I realized what this meant in timing with his graduation and how my life was "supposed" to look, mom and I would talk about the fact that I would "probably have a child or two" by his graduation. I also had thoughts that he is going to make such a great uncle one day and wouldn't it make more sense for us to have a baby while he is still living at home before moving to college? That way he could be an active part in something so great! But the day came and went and there were no children... Other people had lots of kids... crying during the service, running wild, looking super cute in their Sunday best... but not for us.

On a positive note, I want to take the time to say how thankful I am (in a weird, I am not alone kind of way) that my best friend Claire is going through some of the same things I am going through. Our friendship is unique because we were friends long before marriage and infertility. We met in middle school, had sleepovers, celebrated birthdays, bridesmaids in weddings, have taken trips together, and now teach at the same school! But because life is crazy and unpredictable, we have grown that much closer. She was so great to bring meals to us at least once a week when we were in rehab. And since then with different procedures Brad and I have had she has done the same. We love to walk after school which turns into our therapy sessions a lot of days. In our situation, though, God has opened up different doors for both of us. Claire and her husband have felt led to adopt and have recently had their name added to the adoption list! They are so excited about this next step and to see where God leads them. Brad and I are going to continue on the "crazy train" of fertility treatments and options as we feel God is leading us!

I also have another friend (Jill) whom I have met through our blogs who is going through the same thing. They have been on the infertility journey now for years and are still pursuing options. It is so good to have someone to relate to so closely and know that they have been through everything we have. This journey brings so many questions, with very little answers, and having a sounding board keeps you sane. We share our questions about God's goodness through this journey and build one another up when the other is feeling lost and hopeless.

Having these 2 friends has definitely been a God-thing through this part of our life. Even though it is a sad situation that has helped us find common ground, it has been such a relief as well. One should never have to face troubles alone!

On a spiritual journey note...

I have spent the last few weeks feeling that God has been extremely silent. We have had doors open, only to close it seems just as quickly. There are still so many "unknowns" and "uncontrollables" and it feels like we are standing still, but want so badly to move forward and feel closer to God and His will for our lives. I have heard from others that they have experienced these times as well. But when God is being silent, how are we supposed to respond? I feel that I should continue having my "quiet time" but a lot of these times feel more obligatory than out of desire. This is not a good feeling and I just feel crazy and unsettled on the inside. But again, I didn't know what to do with the silence...

Today I have taken the time to sit outside and catch up on devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries. This has helped tremendously in finding a new perspective on where we are at this moment. (Below are prayers and thoughts from their daily devotions that have spoken volumes to me... Italics are my thoughts)

Dear Lord,
I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I  know You love me. But sometimes it's just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You.

Control is a deceptive emotion. We think we are in control, but we really are not. 

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."  -Philippians 4:8

This verse reminded me that when I begin to think God is silent, out to get us, trying to make things harder... This is not where we need to let our minds rest. In our core, we know these thoughts to be false and from satan. It's because we are human that it's easy to have these thoughts. But they are not helpful in any way and only drive us further from Him. 

"When I open a door, no one can close it. And when I close a door, no one can open it. Listen to what I say."   Revelation 3:7b

God is in COMPLETE control. No amount of planning, researching, stressing, or worrying can change this time we are facing. If God opens it, then it's because He loves us and it's for our best at that time. If God closes it, He loves us just the same, but has something BETTER in mind. How hard it is to think that the disappointments will only lead to something better...!

There have been times when I felt like God was getting in the way of my plans. It seems as if I'd take one step forward and three steps backward.

This completely describes our life over the past 3 years. Pain, fertility, medical complications, you name it.

If God opens a door or calls us to do something/pray for something, shouldn't it be easier?

This thought consumes me most days. Why does everything have to be SO hard? But at the same time, it leads to bitterness, confusion, and anger which get us nowhere. 

Not all of the answers come right away, but I refuse to give up. I keep reading my Bible and asking God the tough questions. I continue to trust Him and follow His lead even when things don't make sense.

After reading this, my answer to God's silence became clear. We have to persevere even when it's hard and quiet. We have to trust because our lives were never promised make sense. This is the essence of faith.

A closed door is not God's objection toward me; it's His sovereign protection over me.

God loves me too much and knows me too well to give me everything I ask for. His protection for me will always override my earthly wants and desires. Even when I have the best intentions in mind, His plan is always better.

Let me see the potential of a closed door as a divine detour that will lead me closer to You as I wait for something better...

These last thoughts are the hardest to understand, let alone apply daily. We will always have some form of difficulty, but God knows what He is doing. My goal is to push into Him even more, even when it doesn't make sense, even when it's hard, even when I don't want to. I don't want all of this pain and heartache to be in vain. I want to see, when we get to the other side of some of these difficulties, my growth in Him. I want our journey to inspire and help others. I want others to feel they are not alone. Jesus is with us EVERY step of the way... even when He is silent.

At our church graduation brunch!

At graduation!

At Iron Horse Grill afterwards!

Saturday, March 7, 2015


A quick update...

We decided to put off the spinal cord stimulator after having 2 different people tell us about hormone replacement therapy. One guy told Brad through a forum that it dramatically helped his chronic pain and has since gotten off of all of his daily pain meds. Another guy does the same thing but not for pain. It just helps him feel better overall. So we talked with our general physician and he said he would be willing to try this out, but that he had never heard of this helping with pain. So we are a month into trying this with me having to give the injection every 2 weeks. Brad has not seen an improvement so far with the pain but we want to give it ample time to work before moving on to something else.

However, he has been wearing a TENS unit on his chest and back and this has provided some much needed relief. This is definitely not a long-term solution but is working for the time being.

It is crazy the emotions that one human being can experience. One minute you're fine and happy, knowing that everything in life is working out for a specific reason, being ok with the struggles and heartache, and the next minute the what-if's are flooding in and you feel completely overwhelmed, sad, left behind, and angry.

Before the accident, life seemed much more "controllable" than it is now. Now, I know that God is always in control and His plan will always succeed for His glory and our good. There are times though, that we have to repeat this to ourselves even when God feels very far away just to get through the moment. For instance, Brad was recently released from wound care from the initial pressure sore and burns on his leg only to have to return a month later because of another pressure in the same spot. We think it was the cause of getting back into a normal routine a little too quickly, but whatever the cause he is having to  go back weekly. Because of this, we will not be able to go to an Adventure Skills Workshop that the Shepherd Center in Atlanta hosts. We were really looking forward to this opportunity to try new things and meet other people who have spinal cord injuries.

Another set of emotions that we often feel is regret...

I found out last week that one of my closest friends is moving away this summer. She has been an amazing friend and provided support before and since the accident. However, she is about to deliver their second baby since the accident, and I have had the hardest time with her second pregnancy. The first time was during the accident and rehab, so we didn't really know all of the struggles that we would soon be facing. Since then it has proven to be quite the challenge and the only way I knew to cope with the second pregnancy was to withdraw. Trying so hard to keep our eyes on what God is doing in our lives, I had to focus on us for a while, knowing all along that she would be there when I was ready. Now, I see this friend every single day so this has been a very difficult feat. I love this friend so dearly, but I just didn't know how to be happy for them when we are still left with so many questions. I would think about her every single day, with the thought that after the baby was born things would go back to our comfortable normal. Now, we won't get that chance to the same extent because of their moving. I am, though, going to be very intentional with my actions until she leaves and look past my sadness to enjoy the time we have left.

So many times I have the thought that "this is not what our life was supposed to look like". Brad should still be playing golf, riding his motorcycle to work and his dirt bike with his dad and brother. He should still be kicking the soccer ball in the backyard with my brother and mowing our yard. He should be the one changing all of the light bulbs and pulling the Christmas decorations out of the attic. He should be able to come up behind me and wrap his arms around me and I should be able to hug him with my head to his chest while he rests his head on top of mine (our last hug like this
 was the morning of the accident).

I know from this post that gratitude doesn't seem to be an often-felt emotion, but it honestly is. I am very grateful for friends that are experiencing the same fertility struggles we are, all for different reasons. Some of these friends I have known for many years, while others we have made because of this struggle. Some of these friends have since had babies, while some are still fighting the fight. For this to be such a personal struggle, and one that is not often talked about, these friends have made carrying the burden that much lighter. While having friends going through the same thing at the same time is sad because our struggle is still a common factor, it is an amazing comfort because we are not completely left behind and alone.

This post seems so sad and there are tears even as I write. While I don't want to present a false impression of how we are on a daily basis, most of the time we are excited about what God is doing in and through us. On the other hand, sadness is still a huge part of our lives.

I have recently picked back up in Jesus Calling and here are a few excerpts that continue to provide encouragement...

"I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. I will not necessarily remove your problems, but My wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one of them."

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."   -1 Corinthians 1:25

"The One who goes ahead of you, opening up the way, is the same One who stays close and never lets go of your hand... I am everywhere at every time, ceaselessly working on your behalf. That is why your best efforts are trusting Me and living close to Me."

Us with BJ at his signing day with Hinds!! So proud!
At the in-laws Christmas morning!