What's crackin' at the chiropractor

I apologize for my title.

I can't help it.

So about 7 weeks ago I wrote about my first few visits to the chiropractor for fertility related care. If you didn't get a chance to read that post, the summary is that I decided to try out this kind of care after a few different people in my life recommended it (some with personal success after infertility). I went in skeptically but open-minded enough to give it a try.

I've been going twice per week and I haven't noticed a difference in my quality of life in general, but the chiropractor has picked up on a few things like my hips being crooked and my neck being stiff on the left side. These are not issues that impacted my every day in terms of pain or discomfort, however they are "issues;" that is, they are abnormalities that shouldn't really be there, so addressing these issues could only be positive, right?

I started my visits at the beginning of my last cycle and as you know, that cycle did not end in pregnancy nor did I notice any changes in my cycle, physically or emotionally. This cycle, however, something very interesting happened! I ovulated early. Way early.

*The following may be TMI for some. If you don't want to know about my ovulation stop reading!*

Typically "on my own" (unmedicated) I ovulate anywhere from day 15-18.

I did one cycle on Femara before I saw the chiropractor and I ovulated on day 14.

Then I did one cycle on Femara and started seeing the chiropractor and I ovulated on day 13.

After 4-5 weeks of seeing the chiropractor I did another cycle on Femara and I ovulated on day 11! Day 11! That's the earliest I've ever ovulated in my history of charting, which is almost three years.

Normally a woman ovulating day 15-17 like I do wouldn't be an issue, but since I have diminished ovarian reserve, early ovulation is a really good thing because (as I understand it) the egg will be better quality. I am only going on intuition here, but I think it is the chiropractic care that allowed my body to ovulate so early.

My chiropractor was very encouraged by this, as am I! At my last appointment I had some scans re-done and the twisted-ness we saw when I started care has much improved. It is not perfect, but I'm making significant progress.

Last week we discovered another issue based on several indicators that my thyroid is not functioning up to par. I had a blood test done with my Reproductive Endocrinologist last summer which showed my levels in normal range, but my chiropractor still things it is functioning sub-par. Since I am past ovulation right now, he's not going to address is with me immediately, but if I'm not pregnant this cycle it will be the next thing we address, via chiropractic and a nutritional supplement (if I remember right it is something that contains iodine and seaweed? I could be wrong. I'll let you know).

So that's where we are right now. When I started care my chiropractor said to give him 6 months and we're about two months in. Four more to go... hopefully less.




Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment here or via facebook to enter the book draw! I read and enjoyed each and every word you left for me. The randomly chosen book give-a-way winners are: 

1) Elizabeth with the comment: "Yay! I'd love to win one of these books! It sounds a lot like what I need right now. :-)" 

2) Lisa Myrick with the comment: "A lesson I often fail. Would love to read this."

3) Kate Tigchelaar with the comment: "Really would love to read this book...I love that you mentioned Jeff doesn't make you feel like a failure for not "getting it"... I always feel like I just didn't get the memo or something!" 

Congratulations winners! Please message me via facebook with your address so I can ship your copy! Thank you all for entering! 


I can remembering sitting in a college sociology class and hearing my professor deliver the suspicious news that the majority of Americans live below the poverty line at some point in their lives. Really? I thought. I looked around the classroom questioning if that could really be true and wondering who of us that reality might hit: the studious woman behind me? The second-career man in the back row? The friend beside me? I come from a middle class home and while we did not live extravagant lives, I never wanted for anything significant in my childhood. I didn't really question whether it would be me- whether I ever would be the one living below the poverty line. Of course it wouldn't be me.

A few years later, though, it was.

When John and I were first married and both students in seminary, we lived below the poverty line. It was something of a paradoxical time in our lives as we filled an old, crappy, falling-apart apartment with our sparkly new wedding gifts. We cooked with brand new pots and pans on a rusty 50 year old gas stove whose pilot light constantly (and scarily) went out. We ate free and discounted food from a food pantry on band new white dishes with shiny silverware. We went to sleep on our new bed listening to bats and squirrels scurry about overhead in the ancient attic, hoping they wouldn't chew on any electrical wires and cause a fire in our sleep.

We had lots of new gifts to fill our apartment, yet we wore out our clothes and we worried from pay-check to pay-check about affording tuition, books, rent, utilities, and gas. We had no savings and we constantly held our breath, hoping no major unexpected expense would arise.

With great relief and humble gratitude to our LORD's faithful provision, we made it through those slim years. When John graduated and secured a full time job we were able to buy a modest house thanks to a low-downpayment provision from the government. Soon I also graduated with my degree and started working. We felt like we finally had our heads just above water... and then God called us to adopt.

You can probably imagine how we felt looking at that $35,000 adoption price tag. Overwhelmed is something of an understatement. We set to fundraising for a big chunk of that money, but we wanted to pay for as much of the cost ourselves as we could. We quickly recognized that God had been preparing us for something we did not anticipate: he was showing us how to trust in his provision and how to live frugally in order that we might be free to follow his divine leading.

Now that Arie is home and our adoption costs have been paid, John and I have certainly loosened the tight restrictions we had on our budget, but we still hold some of those lessons close in our hearts in our home. Today we do our best to live minimally because we've tasted the kind of freedom it brings when we look to our faith and God's purposes in our lives instead of our things to be satisfied.

Last week I had the pleasure of reading and being both convicted and inspired by a new book called Satisfied by Jeff Manion. Jeff pastors a large and growing church in our area and has served my husband John as a preaching mentor over the last few years; when Jeff sent a copy of his new book to John I read the subtitle (Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption) and was immediately interested since this task (finding contentment in God rather then the fulfillment of my desires) has been something I've been working on.

Sometimes when I hear people talking about this topic I get frustrated because I feel down on myself and focus on how I'm failing. This book was different. I felt my heart glow at one point where Jeff wrote about the freedom we find in living the satisfied life. He writes:

The virtue of contentment is utterly liberating. It frees us from the illusion that a purchase can take away our loneliness, fill our emptiness, or heal our brokenness. .... We have become enslaved to our stuff, and the road to freedom will require a new language. The language of the contented, satisfied life (pg. 29-30). 

Jeff remains true to this declaration: throughout the book I found not even one hint of condemnation for those of us (me!) who often get it wrong. In the place of condemnation are stories of people and couples who have indeed found freedom in a contented, satisfied life.  Jeff also writes simply and sincerely about his own on-going journey to satisfaction in a way that truly inspired me.

Some of his words convicted me, particularly a chapter on the subject of comparison. He concluded the chapter by exploring Jesus' Parable of the Worker's in the Vineyard. In (very) short, the parable is about a landowner who hires men to work in his vineyard for a day's wage. He hires more and more men to work as the day progresses and at the end of the day, pays them all the same full day's wage regardless of how long (or short) they worked. The ones who started working at the beginning of the day are very upset, even though they had agreed to their wage. The part that convicted me is at the very end where the landowner asks those angry workers, "...are you envious because I'm generous?" Jeff writes:

As I reflect on Jesus' story, I realize that the wounded rage wasn't generated because the twelve-hour workers received too little. The rancor erupted because they thought the one-hour workers were given too much. We are prone to lose our balance, not because we have received less than we deserve but because someone near us has received more than we think they deserve. The wounded voice of comparison demands, "Why them and not me?" (Pg. 67) 

Um. Yea. In my journey of infertility I have had to fight against so much bitterness. When my friends get pregnant, yes, but especially when I hear about teenagers or women getting pregnant when they didn't want to or when they didn't "deserve it." I've witnessed with heartache some women who neglected or abused their children or even had them removed continue to be blessed with more children. It grates hard and painfully against me and I ask exactly the question Jeff posed, "Why them and not me?"

I have no answers, but I know that the comparison does no good; it only robs me of joy. Jeff writes, "Comparison is a thief and a killer. Comparison robs you of gratitude and contentment. Comparison massacres joy" (pg. 63).

Since reflecting on that chapter I am finding myself working hard to repent of my comparison and ingratitude and move forward to joy in Christ. It has been convicting but also freeing. There is great freedom and joy in surrender to Christ!

It's not easy. It certainly wasn't easy for me or for John those years when we were living below the poverty line, but I would do them over again because it prepared our hearts and freed us to trust in God and live simply to save for our adoption. It isn't always easy today to commit to living minimally, passing up on excess, but it is incredibly freeing to live this way. I am able to stay home with Arie and write this blog, we are currently free from debt except our mortgage, and we are able to give more generously than we've ever been able.

Make no mistake about it: if you determine to seek the satisfied, contented life, you will be swimming against the current (pg. 10).

Swimming against the current isn't easy, but I like to think of it as fighting for your freedom: freedom from the enslavement to stuff, to discontent, and in my case- to jealously and bitterness. It's a worthy journey.

Jeff has given me three copies of his book to give to you! I asked him to sign them so they come inscribed with a heartfelt wish to their recipients. If you would like to enter the draw to win one of these three books please leave a comment below or better yet on the link to this post on my facebook page.

*If you comment below please sign-in before you comment. Anonymous comments will not be counted. Will ship to continental US and Canadian addresses.*

I will announce the winners on Friday morning! Check back to this post. 


If this idea of journeying toward a satisfied life is something that has pricked at your heart and mind, here's the amazon link where you can purchase the book yourself. 

Happy reading!



Fertility update and our eternal winter

After I shared that our second cycle with Femara (fifth medicated cycle) failed a few of you messaged me to ask what our fertility plan is from here. We are doing two more cycles with Femara and if we don't conceive in those cycles, truthfully I don't know what we will do. The hope I have about conceiving is growing dimmer and dimmer yet I don't feel ready to give up either. It's been about eight months since we started seeing our fertility doctor and a combined 2 1/2+ years of trying; I'm weary.

We have options ahead of us like injectable ovulation stimulating drugs and more IUIs or even IVF, however the financial and emotional cost of more treatments are high. What I'm trying to decide is are they too high?

I was telling my friends last week that I am struggling to know whether the hopelessness I feel is a divine voice warning me not to move forward or whether it is simply my own grief and fear clouding the way. One dear friend told me later that she thinks its the fear- not the divine voice- that I'm feeling. I felt very emotional when she told me that and thankful beyond thankful to have wise voices in my life, shining a light when I feel like I'm walking in the dark. I'm hoping and praying that if we ever get to the point where it is time to stop trying, I will feel peace and not the dark and fear I feel now.

Even in the midst of the dark and the doubt, we are living life. We are having fun with friends, moving excitedly forward with our ministry at our church, and loving life with our little boy. Here in Michigan we are being held completely against our will in an eternal winter. It has been cold and snowing since the beginning of time and according to the 10 day forecast, it shall continue to be cold and snowy for all eternity.

We've been moving through the stages of grief about this eternal winter. John is currently in denial; a few days ago when it snowed for the trillionth time since November, he looked out the window and declared, "I'm not shoveling ANYMORE."

It's true. He hasn't. Our front steps are still covered in snow and I've almost lost my life at least four times on them just today. Our poor mailman.

He's not alone either. Yesterday a woman at church told me she washed and put away her family's winter coats. When her husband objected due to the fact that we're just barely in double digits, she just told him too bad.

We're halfway through March. It's not supposed to be winter ANYMORE.

Personally I've been stuck in the anger stage, groaning loudly and shouting expletives at weather.com on a near daily basis. Today, however, I did my best to move into acceptance and took Arie on a winter hike.

He will seem happy in these pictures, but you should know that he wakes up every morning, looks out the window and asks me, "Is it meltin' yet?" He literally cried this week when our first spring rains turned back into snow. Cried.

We feel you, Arie! We really do.

Seems a winter hike was much needed to lift our spirits. If only to remind us that spring is coming.... someday.

Arie's favorite part was standing on various bridges and exclaiming excitedly about the lack of ice on the stream. "It's WATER Mama! It's not ice! It's melting!!"

We found colorful berries hanging out on twiggy branches. Are they a sign of spring? Or are they there all winter? In any case, I told Arie they were growing for bears to eat when they come out of hibernation. He thought that was awesome, so no one tell him otherwise, k?

Speaking of eating, Arie ate snow. Not fresh snow, either. Snow directly from the path. Snow that had been previously trampled on by who knows how many boots and peed on by wild animals. This was his reaction to me shouting from behind the camera, "DON'T EAT THAT! IT HAS BIRD POOP ON IT!" 


Besides eating snow, we threw sticks into the creek....

... and one of us fell down a lot

We had fun.

(Obviously didn't bring the right lens for selflies.) 

We are ready for spring. I am ready for some more sunshine in my life, to feel the warmth of the sun, and to move out of the fertility grief. I'm hoping they will happen together. I cherish your prayers for me and for John as we seek God's face moving forward. 




Femara cycle #2 results

Last night my family went to our church's Ash Wednesday service. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. At the close of the service, the pastors marked our foreheads with ash in the sign of a cross. "Remember from dust you came and to dust you will return, " they repeated, marking the faces of infants and elderly alike.

Biblically, the ashes symbolize a state of two things: grief and repentance.  I certainly feel the weight of grief, as John and I have completed another failed cycle of trying to conceive. Once again the pregnancy test was negative. Once again our hearts break. Once again we call out to God and ask him why he refuses to bless us with another child. I grieve in ashes.

In my grief, I also repent. As I walk the road of infertility, the line between the good and godly desire for another child gets blurred- or marred- with anger and jealousy and a proud sense of I know better than you God. I repent in ashes.

Of all the scripture passages read in our sanctuary last night, my heart latched tightly on to this one from Psalm 51:

As I prepare my heart to try again, I bring it, broken, as a sacrifice before the LORD. Even as I am broken and covered in ashes from another failed cycle, I come with humble thanks because I know he does not despise me in my grief and sin. Instead, he cleanses me with redemption.

This next cycle- another round with Femara- will take up the majority of lent. With an extra measure of longing this year, I walk through lent with sadness and approach the cross in my great need for joy and gladness.

Yesterday, ashes. Today as I rise, I fix my eyes forward on Easter. I join again with the psalmist and say,

Let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 



Prayer for Lent 2014

Because Arie was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church, I've been slowly and surely learning more and more about Orthodox traditions in an effort to see how we can incorporate some of them into our religious expression. This year as I learned about the Orthodox tradition of lent, I found a beautiful lenten prayer and have decided to take it on daily for the duration of the season. I love knowing I am joining with thousands of Orthodox voices- my brothers and sisters in Christ- across the world. I also love the spirit of this prayer; it perfectly captures the spirit of lent. If you are looking for something to take on during this season of lent, I invite you to join me in praying this prayer. I believe God will use it to humble us and bring us into deeper communion with him.

Saint Ephrem's Prayer:

O LORD and Master of my Life, 

Take from me the spirit of 
lust for power, 
and idle talk. 

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of 
and love. 

Yes O LORD and King, 
grant me to see mine own faults
and not to judge my brother. 

For blessed art Thou unto the ages. 


The three best things we did for attachment

Any adoptive parent can attest to the overwhelming nature of the pre-adoption education part of the homestudy process. During this part of the homestudy, prospective adoptive parents learn about the emotional impact of relinquishment, substandard care, abuse, and loss on their future child. By the time parents are done reading articles, attending seminars, and listening to lectures on the subject, it can be nearly impossible to imagine that a child can ever heal from emotional injuries acquired before their adoption.
It is true that some children go on to live with attachment disorders and struggle to make meaningful connection with others; I would never want to belittle this hard reality or in any way suggest that the sustained emotional injuries are the fault of the adoptive parents. We live in a fallen, broken world and sometimes the healing we seek for our children will not be fully realized until Jesus returns to us and God makes all things new. However, I believe it is also important to hold up the truth that the majority of these children come home to heal and thrive in their new lives! God has placed an incredible mechanism called resiliency in the human heart.Prospective adoptive parents have great reason to hope for the emotional healing of their children!
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