What to Say to a Friend Dealing With Infertility

AF2A9963

Infertility is a messy business. So many more people than you realize are struggling to grow their families right now, and it’s hard to know what to say to a friend who is dealing with some form of infertility. But at times, certain sympathetic words can actually be more hurtful than comforting. Trying to make a tiny human and hitting roadblock after roadblock is stressful enough without other people (especially total strangers) offering you unwanted advice.

I want to make sure you guys know up front that this post was not written out of bitterness, not even a little bit. It’s hard to communicate tone sometimes in text form, but I promise I am not venting. Some of you know that infertility has been part of our story for the majority of our marriage, and I have already navigated the rest of the stages of grief many times (denial, anger, bargaining, depression). I am currently very comfortably planted in acceptance, praise God. ❤️ But consider yourself forewarned – this post is not angry, but it is candid. Every single one of these things has been said to me at least once, and I just don’t think people realize what they are actually saying sometimes. I am NOT claiming to be perfect at coming up with the right words to comfort people, and I also realize that some of you might write me off as too sensitive. But I would bet almost any amount of money that most women, and even men, who have walked an infertility path would agree with what I’m going to share.

Here’s my hope for this post:

  1. That my friends who are struggling with infertility right now would be encouraged and reminded that they are not alone (and maybe that they roll their eyes in solidarity and laugh while reading along); and
  2. That my friends who have NOT struggled with infertility would have a better idea of what it’s like and be mindful of how they talk to their friends who don’t have kids yet.

With that being said, here’s a few things NOT to say…

“Your time is coming.” // “It’ll happen.”
I know that you’re trying to be nice, and it’s really sweet……but literally every time someone says this to me, the first thought that pops in my head is “But what if it doesn’t??” I promise I’m not trying to be negative; I just wanna be real with you guys about where my brain goes. I know these phrases are meant to be comforting, but the truth is that you don’t know if whatever ‘it’ is – adoption, conceiving naturally, successful IVF cycle – will actually happen. For a lot of couples, one of the biggest steps forward in their infertility journey is learning to accept that pregnancy and childbirth may not or will not happen. Unless you can say with complete confidence that God through the Holy Spirit has given you a specific word for a specific couple, saying something like this is not helpful.
••• Instead, say: “I’m here for you, no matter where this journey takes you.”

“Just stop trying so hard and have fun!”
Hmmm….okay yeah, let me just NOT try to have a baby, that’ll help me get pregnant. *facepalm* Again, I know the intent is good, but not trying is not how this works. The trying is the most important part. Sure, for some people it might just happen, but for couples dealing with various kinds of infertility, there are extra lifestyle changes, doctors, diets, supplements, prayer, and medical intervention ON TOP of all that trying. Saying that someone should ‘stop trying’ can communicate that all the hard work they have been doing either hasn’t been enough or is even KEEPING them from getting pregnant.
••• Instead, say: “You can do this. Don’t give up.”

“I know how you feel, we tried for 5 months before I finally got pregnant.”
This one is actually almost a good thing to say! It’s the mention of how long it took that shoots this comment in the foot. Everybody’s road to parenthood is different, and there are too many variables to try to compare situations. Some couples get pregnant on their honeymoon, and some couples try for 10+ years and never see a single positive test, and every story is frustrating and gut-wrenching in its own way. You can relate to someone’s pain without needing to be so specific about how long it’s been for you or how many babies you’ve lost. There may be a time and place to share that information, but it usually just ends up alienating one or both people. This isn’t about who’s suffered more. Waiting and loss are hard on everyone, and it’s great to share your own experience because it helps your friend not feel so alone! Just consider leaving the comparison out of it.
••• Instead, say: “Ugh, I know how you feel – every month that I got a negative test, I cried and felt like a failure.” 

“You’re lucky you don’t have kids!”
Look, we’ve all seen the kids throwing tantrums in the middle of Walmart (and on planes, and at church, and..). And yes, we the childless people get to go on vacations and sleep late and watch normal TV shows and go out to eat without it being a major production. But I would give just about anything to have my adult sleep schedule ruined by a new baby. We are painfully aware of what we’re missing out on, and it drains us of joy and hope for the future when all a parent does is complain about the exact thing we’ve spent all this time waiting for. Don’t get me wrong – kids are the worst sometimes, and you definitely need an outlet to unload about it. But 9 times out of 10, it’s probably going to be with other parents who understand what you’re going through.
••• Instead, say: “Your patience to wait for a child is so inspiring to me.”

“You need to relax, stress will make it worse.”
This goes hand in hand with “Just stop trying so hard.” First of all, it makes it sound like infertility is my fault, which is incredibly insulting. Second of all, WE KNOW STRESS IS BAD. We are trying desperately to have babies and we can’t. We are already stressed about stressing over stress that doesn’t need to be stressed about. We are doing the best we can to maintain a calm, emotionally stable outlook about this huge, life-changing thing that is completely out of our control. Telling someone to relax is about as helpful as telling an angry person to calm down – it usually has the exact opposite effect.
••• Instead, say: “You’re doing a freaking amazing job handling this.” 

“Have you tried _____?”
Guys, if I had a dollar for every recommendation I’ve gotten…I could probably go ahead and retire. I’ve been told I need to try everything from various diets, to essential oils, to medical procedures, to vitamins, teas, herbs, superfoods, ovulation tracking devices, chiropractics, acupuncture, putting a red ribbon under my pillow during a full moon, doing the hokey pokey with a pillow shoved under my shirt…kidding on the last two, but seriously, the list goes on and on. I am NOT saying it’s bad to share things that have genuinely helped someone get pregnant, especially if the person who used them was YOU. But there are a lot of factors involved with someone’s fertility, and just because your cousin took these supplements for a month and happened to get pregnant the next month doesn’t mean that those supplements are what caused her to get pregnant. It’s okay to share ideas, but please don’t claim that you’ve found THE CURE for infertility.
••• Instead, say: “If you feel like sharing, what have you guys tried so far? No pressure if that’s too personal though.” 

“God’s timing is perfect.”
Can I just tell you something? We know. WE. KNOW. We are reminded of this every single month that the answer to our prayers is ‘No.’ I know that God is control of my life and that His plans are good. I really do. But a constant string of ‘No’s’ starts to hurt after a little while. And for someone who is not a Christian, this phrase can paint God as Someone cruel who enjoys our pain and deliberately withholds joy from us, rather than Someone who loves us, cares for us, and meets us in our sorrow. I don’t know why, but hearing “It’s all part of God’s plan” just is not comforting to someone who is struggling with a loss.
••• Instead, say: “It is so hard to wait without getting frustrated. I can’t imagine how it feels to wait for this long and not know what’s next.”

“You’re young, you have plenty of time!”
Youth doesn’t necessarily equal health. Age does matter when it comes to having kids, but common conditions like endometriosis and PCOS can affect fertility in devastating ways, no matter how old you are. Saying something like this also minimizes a couple’s desire to start a family, and almost makes it sound like there are so many other *better* things they should be doing with their young married years. Another thing to consider is that by the time many couples are diagnosed with some form of infertility, they have already been actively trying to get pregnant for at least a year. Being told you have plenty of time after you’ve already been worried about how long it’s taken can be interpreted as, “It’s stupid for you to worry about that.” Truth be told: (1) It’s none of your business if and when anybody decides they want to have children, and (2) A lot of us DON’T have plenty of time and DO have valid reasons to worry.
••• Instead, say: “I’m so sorry for the stress this has put on you. Please let me know if you ever need anything.”

“Have you been praying about it?” // “Just pray about it.”
I’m iffy about this one. I know that everyone who has asked this or said this has only had the best of intentions, and bringing up prayer is totally appropriate when it comes to conversations about fertility. Prayer has been my most powerful weapon against doubt and anxiety. But instead of wording it this way, it might be better to ask how you can pray for them – and then do it, right then and there. Asking “Have you been praying about it?”, although well-intended, can be interpreted as “You’re not praying enough or you’d be pregnant already.” Trust me, I have already heaped plenty of guilt on myself over this exact thing, and I don’t need anyone else telling me that I’m not spending enough time asking the Lord for a baby. But asking me how YOU can pray for me or actually praying for me in that moment will cheer me up faster than anything else.
••• Instead, say: “How can I pray for you about this?” And then do it!!

“It could be worse.” / “At least (it’s not ___, it isn’t ___)”
I mean….you’re not wrong….but how exactly do you expect me to feel after saying this?? My feelings are totally invalidated. Of course it could always be worse. But who exactly is the final authority on what ‘worse’ is, anyway? Is ovarian cancer worse? Is a stillbirth worse? Is a total hysterectomy at 22 worse? Is an ectopic pregnancy worse? Like I said earlier, this is not the time to try to one-up people with who has the sadder story. Whether we are sad, angry, discouraged, or numb, our feelings are real, and we are allowed to feel them.
••• Instead, say: “I wish I knew what to say to fix this. You are so strong.” 

“Why don’t you just foster or adopt?”
Okay, first. JUST??? When did fostering and adopting become *JUST* fostering and adopting?? It is a sacrificial, heart-consuming, lifelong process. Those children are more than “just” a consolation prize for people who can’t have kids on their own. Fostering and adoption are AMAZING, and I have the utmost respect for people who pursue them. But they are also not an immediate fix-all solution for anyone who is dealing with infertility. Having the option of fostering/adoption doesn’t mean your desire to be pregnant and give birth goes away. And for some couples, fostering and/or adopting doesn’t feel like another option. It feels like another risk. Hoping for the chance of getting pregnant and carrying a healthy baby to term is scary enough, but imagining taking someone else’s child, and raising thousands of dollars to do it is completely terrifying. Pregnancy is scary because of the risk of miscarriage, and fostering/adopting is scary because of how many stories you hear about the endless waits, financial stress, and the risk of it all falling through. After awhile, you start to feel like there is no such thing as a secure option.
••• Instead, say: “Families come in all shapes and sizes, and any future kids you guys have will be so lucky to get you as parents.”

“You’re being disobedient by not having kids right now. Don’t you want to ‘fill your quiver’ and glorify God? Aren’t you ready to start your family in whatever way possible?”
First…technically, we already have! We are a family of two right now, and it’s really, really great. We’ve gotten to spend almost a decade together, just us, and sure, I thought we’d have kids by now, but I wouldn’t wish a single one of those days away. Second, you better have a really good relationship with someone before you try to assume the role of Holy Spirit and rebuke them for not having kids. And finally, having kids isn’t what validates our marriage. I have wanted to be a mom all my life, but guess what comes first? Being a wife. And I chose him. No matter how many kids we have or how they come to us, someday, they will all leave the house and it will be just Daniel and I again. If waiting for a baby means I have more time to fall in love with my husband and nurture a strong marriage, I think I’m okay with that.
••• Instead, say: “I am praying for God to give you peace in the waiting and direction for what to do next.”

Whew! Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. ❤️

I really hope this was helpful to someone! Again – I mean this 100% out of love, not bitterness. Also, I am not claiming to be perfect at comforting people, and I’ve even said some of those things to other women myself. Sometimes we don’t know what to say, but we want to be helpful and comforting, so we grasp for whatever words we can find at the time. I feel like I should also point out that there are exceptions to almost every rule, and one of the biggest exceptions for most of those phrases is how close you are to the person you’re saying them to. For me personally, it’s completely different to hear “It’ll happen” from one of my best friends, compared to hearing it from a total stranger who doesn’t know my story. The bottom line is just be sensitive. “Think before you speak” is good advice in any situation, not just this one. Consider how your words could come across to the person who’s hearing them, and know that it’s okay to not know what to say.

For my buddies who are dealing with infertility: even though those phrases are probably not your favorite things to hear right now, remember that almost every time, they are being said out of love. Become someone who is easily encouraged. I am praying for you, and know that I care about you even if I don’t always know what to say to make you feel better.

Thanks for reading!

It’s Okay to Believe in Impossible Things

Laura&Daniel-20

Traffic conspires against you and makes you late for work the day of your big meeting.

Your kids are unyieldingly defiant, no matter what tactic you try.

Your car is stolen in broad daylight.

No medical explanation exists for the infertility waging war on your desire for children.

You don’t get the job, even though you were qualified.

Your spouse makes no effort to have a healthy relationship with you.

A global pandemic affects your ability to get basic necessities at the store, takes away your source of income, steals the joy out of planning your wedding, forces you to deny yourself all physical and social interaction.

We’ve all been there.

Every single day, unfortunate things happen to us, through no fault of our own, and we don’t know why. Even more unsettling is the reality that we may never know why. After awhile of being continually disappointed, we start to feel suffocated and disillusioned by our own expectations, and we may even start to wonder why we ever thought things might go our way. In those moments of doubtful wondering, if we aren’t careful, we take the first step down a very steep, sloping hill toward a valley of bitterness.

Why, God?? Why me?
How could you let this happen?
Don’t you see my suffering?
Don’t you hear my cries for help?
Are you ignoring me?
Do you even love me?

Does this sound like you? If so, I have two things to say.

#1. First, God is not scared of your big, hard, scary questions. You can’t intimidate, overwhelm, annoy, or stump him with your Whys and your What Ifs and even your Where Are You Right Nows. …………BUT. Even in your most hurt, angry, lonely places, He is still the God of the universe with ultimate power and authority over everything in existence. And if you are a Christian, you are still expected to exercise control over your tongue. Yes, even when you’re mad. There is a difference between coming to the Lord in brokenness and asking Him to heal and restore your bleeding heart, and coming to the Lord in malice, hurling insults and blaming Him for things that go wrong.

#2. I can’t speak for you, but when I start to spiral into an angry valley, it always boils down to the same thing: I don’t trust God. I don’t trust that He’s good; that He’s still on His throne; that He’s controlling every moment of my existence; that His way is better than mine. I stop believing that He genuinely loves me. I stop believing that He can do impossible things.

To tell you the truth, I think we’re all scared to believe in the impossible because we’re too prideful. We just can’t stomach the idea of being caught off guard, of looking foolish, of praying in expectation for something that doesn’t end up happening. We don’t want to get our hopes up. We’d rather protect ourselves in safe, comfortable layers of realism and acceptance of what we can make sense of in our own minds.

But therein lies the question. Since when are our minds the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom?? Are we really so naive that we would spend our entire lives only believing what we can see and feel?

Take a walk with me, faith family. Let me take you a few thousand years back and remind you of a few impossible things you already believe.

I’m not talking about believing in things that are simply improbable.

I mean things that are literally not possible.


An obedient man built what was probably the largest boat that’s ever existed in human history without having any idea of what a flood was. And that flood ended up covering the entire earth.

A husband and wife who were 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively, conceived their first baby.

An exceedingly deep body of water, as deep as about five Empire State buildings stacked on top of each other, parted in half for people to walk across on bone-dry ground.

A man was swallowed by a whale and lived.

During one of Israel’s battles with the Amorites, the sun and moon stood still in the sky without moving for almost an entire day.

A man prayed for a drought, and no rain fell for more than three years.

The same man completely drenched an altar, wood and all, with gallons upon gallons of water, prayed again, and fire instantly consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the water, and even the stones.

A woman’s flour and oil continually refilled themselves in the midst of a famine.

A man spent an entire night in a pit of starving lions and survived.

Three men were thrown into a furnace so hot, it killed the men throwing them in, and they came out without a single burn or scorch mark.

An army of 300 men defeated an army of over 135,000.

A virgin conceived and gave birth to a baby.

People who had been blind, deaf, or crippled their entire life could inexplicably see, hear, and walk.

A couple loaves of bread and a few fish fed tens of thousands of people – twice.

A man’s ear was cut off and then immediately put back on, fully healed.

People who were really truly 100% dead took their second first breath and came back to life.


Can I tell you something? It’s okay to believe in impossible things. It’s okay to get your hopes up. It’s okay to know that the odds are stacked against you and still choose to trust that even if you don’t get the happy ending you’re asking for, God is able and He loves you. Our God is unstoppable. What He shuts, no one can open, and what He opens, no one can shut.

Just for today, will you let these incredible, historical, real events give you hope for the impossible things in your life?

 

 

 

The Scattered Thoughts of a Busy Brain

620AD2A7-146F-40B6-99D1-2EB147FEC605

I just found out a few weeks ago that cows have best friends, and they get sad when they aren’t together, and my heart is exploding.

For the love of Pete, why do we feel safe under blankets?? It’s not like a murder is going to come in and go “I’m gonna ki….ahh, DANG! She’s under a blanket.”

A surefire way to get humbled when you start to get too big for your britches is to try to turn on someone else’s shower.

Does anybody else lock your car door twice just to let any nearby robbers know you mean business, or is that just me?

I wish I could drop my body off at the gym and pick it up when it’s ready.

Magazines convinced me that knowing how to “go from day to night” was going to be V important…I’m still waiting for an opportunity to use those sharply-honed skills.

Sometimes when I pass a line of extremely nice cars on the highway, I secretly wonder if they are really Transformers.

I’m weirdly obsessed with “last words.” I try to always make sure the last thing I tell someone before I leave is something sweet, just in case one of us dies that day. *I know, I know, I’m damaged*

I am 30 years old and I still check for murders behind my shower curtain.

If you’re reading this and we grew apart as friends, there is a 100% chance that I am cheering you on from afar and I still love you with all my heart. ♥

I wonder what percentage of people actually grow up to be what they wanted to be when they were 5. And I wonder what percentage of those people actually love what they do.

Anything involving raisins would be 10 times better with chocolate chips in it. For example, cookies…trail mix…a box of raisins…

As a kid, I thought I’d have to deal with the Bermuda Triangle and quicksand a lot more often than I have in my adult life.

No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say “She had a really nice car and great shoes.” We shouldn’t make life about stuff.

One day you’re not old, and the next day you have a favorite cleaning rag.

Life is too short to pretend you don’t like catchy Taylor Swift songs. Quit pretending. Everyone else is having way more fun than you just being themselves.

I don’t want to brag or make anybody jealous…but I totally still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.

In the midst of the crazy, the chaos, the pandemic….don’t forget to laugh. 😘

That Time We Threw a Roaring 20’s NYE Party

B0CB398C-EB2D-4D0E-B0A8-F4C42CAC8819

YOU.

GUYS.

O M G .

This party was SO much fun, AND it was the first themed party I’ve ever thrown that wasn’t for someone else!! Dara graciously let me steal her thunder and host this year’s get-together at our house. She and I teamed up to throw the most epic New Year’s Eve party ever, and I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

7B0DCE9C-A43F-4B5D-9127-2169CBB2A6C3

For the food, we made a few snacks and asked friends to bring something to share if they wanted. I made a large-batch, booze-free drink for everyone and called it The Bee’s Knees, and we had a big group champagne toast at midnight and sang Auld Lang Sayne.

When Dara and I started talking about what we wanted to do, a Great Gatsby party was the obvious choice. I knew that 20’s-themed parties would probably be all the rage this year, which would make it easy to find decorations. But I also knew that our house held the secret to making our party unique, something extra special that not every Roaring 20’s party could include. And that secret was…

OUR BASEMENT.

I’m willing to bet that tons of people went to Gatsby parties for New Year’s Eve. But how many of them had a hidden speakeasy??

Only a few of our friends even knew we had a basement, and we spread around a rumor during the party that there was a speakeasy somewhere and they needed the password to get in. To amp up the drama, I drew a message on our downstairs bathroom mirror in lipstick, directing people to find “The Vault.” Our basement door is halfway hidden behind another door that we typically keep open, tucked in a dark corner under our stairs, and I attached a small, discreet sign on it next to the lock. Down in the basement itself, we set up a poker table and surrounded it with wood crates full of bottles.

It was a huge hit!

So many games, so many Boomarangs, so many laughs, so many snacks, so many group photos, and so many wonderful memories!

Don’t have enough words for how much I love these people. ‘Til next year, pals ♥

40 By 40

averie-woodard-5d20kdvFCfA-unsplash (1)

Today, I turn 30.

Wow.

I can’t believe the 90’s were 30 years ago. I’m nowhere close to being old, but dang if that doesn’t make me feel ancient!

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’re probably familiar with my “30 by 30” list. When I wrote it on my 26th birthday in 2016, I had no clue how the next few years would unfold. There were items on the list that I wasn’t sure would even happen, but they did! But there were also items on the list that I was 100% confident would happen, but they didn’t. Regardless, that list is a prized possession now. I memorialized some of the most fun moments in the last four years of my 20’s, and I can go re-read the list anytime I want and experience that joy all over again!

It just felt right to continue this tradition into my 30’s, so…here we go!!


40 THINGS TO DO BEFORE MY 40TH BIRTHDAY.

1. Find a form of exercise that I truly ENJOY and do it habitually.
Like yoga! I’m a big fan of Yoga With Adriene.

2. Start and maintain a car replacement fund.
My Acura has treated me well, but she’s slowing down…

3. Keep some higher-maintenance plants alive.
A fiddle leaf fig tree and some perennials on the front porch are at the top of my list.

4. Take a class with Daniel.
Something fun, like massage, dancing, or cooking!

assorted fruit and can lot

5. Start planning meals monthly instead of weekly.
My mom is #GOALS for this one – such an organizational inspiration. I’m pretty sure she had her comprehensive shopping list created in Excel before the internet existed.

6. Give away something really expensive, anonymously.
Ideas: pool money with friends to buy a car for a single mom in need, buy a plane ticket for a friend to go on a mission trip, or get really nice Christmas gifts for kids who wouldn’t get any otherwise.

7. See one of my favorite bands live in concert.
Even though music plays such a huge role in my personal life, I’ve weirdly never been a big concert person. But I feel like I need to make this happen at least once in my life.

8. Master the basics of another language.
I took approximately four years of Spanish between high school and college, and it’s embarrassing how little of it I remember.

boats on water near buildings

9. Spend a minimum of two weeks traveling in Europe.
Between the jet lag and the expensive plane tickets, I want to get my money’s worth.

10. Take a sister trip with Robyn.
Harry Potter World????? LET’S GOOOOOO

11. Make at least three recipes from every cookbook I own.
I mean…what’s the point in owning them if I never even use them?

12. Identify mentors in my life, and make time to meet with and learn from them.
The older I get, the more I crave this. I have so much to learn!

13. Set up a home office space.
I’m gonna need somewhere to plan all of those events, right? ;)

14. Send more birthday cards, thank-you cards, and just-because cards.
Snail mail is a lost art. And I’m bringin’ it back.

15. Read at least 30 new books.
Easily one of my favorite things to complete last time! Considering the fact that I had ten done in two years for 30 By 30 (and I wasn’t really trying very hard), I’m pretty sure I’ve got this one in the bag.

DIY: Food Passport for road trips!

16. Make a food passport and fill it with “stamps.”
I came across this idea on Pinterest a long time ago, and it looks so fun! Even though our town is small and we’ve lived here for almost 8 years, there are still restaurants we’ve never visited. (However, for those of you who are locals, I can confidently say that Taste Island will never…ever…EVER make the list of places to try.)

17. Unplug as often as possible. Schedule weekly device-free time and stick to it.
One of my favorite things about our last friendscation cruise was the fact that we were totally unplugged. The only thing I did with my phone for an entire week was take pictures, and it was BLISS.

18. Go sky-diving.
I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, and 2020 is my year to make it happen!!

19. Make my own pasta.
Doesn’t this just seem like the most adult-y thing to do?

20. Spend intentional time nurturing the marriages around me.
Come on, I had to give myself a softball. :) I’m super passionate about marriage ministry, so this one won’t be hard.

21. Pay it forward at least once a month.
I’m already working on a mental list of ideas, like paying for the person ahead of me in the drive-through, leaving a roll of quarters at my work vending machine, etc. But I would love your suggestions too!

22. Make peace with my body’s ‘flaws.’
I read this quote the other day and fell in love with it:
“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.'” –Nayyirah Waheed

403997_3767021021161_635921594_n

23. Celebrate 10 years and 15 years of marriage.
Hard to believe we’re more than halfway to both of those anniversaries!

24. Take another friendscation.
ALREADY. SO. READY. TO. RAGE.

25. Do something risqué.
Liiiiiike take boudoir photos or go skinny-dipping. (Sorry Mom)

26. Come up with a system to keep track of when food goes bad and stop throwing away so much freaking produce.
So annoying. I can’t be the only one who’s bad at this.

26. Break out of my comfort zone and do adventurous things just because I can.
Geocaching, karaoke, trying more unique foods, picking up a new hobby, flying first class, taking a different class at the gym…I have plenty of ideas!

person reading book

28. Read at least one book out loud with Daniel every year.
We started doing this on long car trips a few years ago, and it’s enjoyable for both of us because Daniel is an auditory learner and I love to read aloud.

29. Save up for something expensive.
A new car? A home renovation? A crazy vacation? We’ll see!

30. Do some real landscaping in our front yard.
I’m envisioning more plants on the porch, solar lighting along the sidewalk, and maybe a tree or two.

31. Spend one year doing a “month without:” a month without Netflix, fried food, biting my nails, dessert, etc.
My friend Victoria inspired this one, although she actually gives up one thing every year for the entire year, and I’m not sure if I’m that hardcore…

person holding calendar at January

32. Make a calendar for all family/friend birthdays.
I have pretty much all of them on my phone, but I want an actual paper calendar or something so I can look at them all together and keep track of how many birthday cards I need to buy each month.

33. Host a beauty swap or clothing swap party.
I’ve done a clothing swap before, but never a beauty swap. Can’t wait to do this one!

34. Start recording my prayer requests.
I want to remember the days that I start praying about something and the days that God answers those prayers. Even if His answer is ‘no.’

35. Write letters to the 10 most influential people who have impacted my life.
Why do we wait until someone’s funeral to say the best things about them? I’m not waiting any longer. I never want someone I love to wonder how I really felt about them.

36. Play the piano every single week.
When Daniel and I got married, my dad gifted us a beautiful Kawai, and I am ashamed to tell you how often I actually play it. I want to get back to my roots and do that gift justice.

37. Remodel our downstairs bathroom.
That shower, y’all….it needs some help. Good thing I’ve got some contractors in the family!

38. Sponsor a child, and maybe even go meet him or her.
We can’t help every needy child. But maybe we can change the world for a few of them. ♥

assorted makeup brushes

39. Invest in quality skincare and use it consistently.
Gah, I sound like such a grown-up.

40. Host a backyard dinner party, with multiple courses and everything.
This was one of my goals for the year in 2019, and I wasn’t able to make it happen between all of the weddings, parties, showers, and traveling. So I’m trying again!

*Bonus: Each year, visit a new place I’ve never been before. On my wishlist:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Grand Canyon
Lake Moraine and Lake Louise in Banff, Canada
Switzerland
Redwood National Park

To see my original post about why I decided to do “30 By 30,” click here!

20 Things I Learned In My 20’s

CBP-Laura-Dan-Juneau-2017-32

1. Aside from following Jesus, choosing who to marry was the most important decision I have ever made and will ever make. To my unmarried friends, I cannot emphasize this enough: CHOOSE WISELY, because that one choice will impact your entire future, literally.

2. Social media will enslave you if you let it. It’s subtle, but crippling. Don’t spend your whole life in front of a screen comparing your valleys to everyone else’s mountain tops. Every single person on earth, including the person you’re envying right now, is insecure and awkward and unsure and self-conscious about something.

3. Don’t be high-maintenance about everything, but it’s okay to figure out what’s worth being a little *boujee* about. For me, a few of those things are hair products, professional photography, and bedding (especially mattresses). Speaking of bedding, here’s another lesson I’ve learned – going to bed is freaking awesome. Can I cash in on all those naps I refused as a kid??

4. It’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. It’s okay to change your mind a bunch of times. It’s okay to like 37 different things and have no clue how they all connect. Annnnd it’s okay to know exactly what you want to do and actually do it. All of those things are completely normal. You. are. normal.

5. Taking care of yourself becomes more difficult and more important as you get older. This is especially hard for parents and people-pleasers, because it feels selfish, but the truth is that if you spend all your energy pouring out and never allow yourself to be poured into, you will wear out. Count on it. It’s cliche but true that “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So go take a hot bath. Play with a dog. Get coffee with a spiritually encouraging friend. Turn your phone off for a few hours. Spend one-on-one time with Jesus, because you will always need more of that. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be expensive or over-indulgent, but give yourself permission to intentionally rest and recharge sometimes without feeling guilty about it.

6. Community is absolutely vital. Find people who will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you through the good, the bad, and the really bad, and cherish them. Tell them often that you love them, look for ways to serve them, and let them take care of you when you’re the one who needs help.

7. Break-and-bake cookies will never be as good as homemade ones. Stop being lazy and just buy some baking soda already.

8. Some stuff matters a lot less than you think it does, and some stuff matters a lot more than you think it does. For example: I always wanted to marry a guy who could sing. It was actually a deal-breaker for a really long time. But when I met Daniel, that *thing* that I had held up on a pedestal for so many years just wasn’t as important anymore. I would much rather keep him for all of his other qualities – his wit, integrity, discernment – than trade him out for a guy with a great voice. On the other hand, certain things about him have proven to be a lot more valuable than I expected. When I was writing down my list of qualifications for a husband as a boy-crazy tween, I never once considered asking God for a guy who was financially savvy. But that’s exactly what I got, and I cannot put into words how grateful I am for that undeserved gift from the Lord. Long story short? Some qualities are secondary (musical ability). Some are primary (wisdom). Know the difference, and don’t settle.

9. Call your parents more often. And your grandparents. Write them letters, even! They’ll love it, and no matter how much you do it, someday you’ll wish you had done it more.

10. Every New Year’s Eve, you’ll swear time can’t possibly go any faster than it already is. But it will keep happening, again and again. Every single year will go by faster than the one before it, faster than you can possibly imagine. So be present in each one. Don’t spend all your time waiting for the next thing. Just be, right where you are.

11. Money matters. It shouldn’t be the most important thing in your life, but it also shouldn’t be something you treat carelessly. If you spend spend spend without really thinking about where it’s all going, STOP. If your long-term plan doesn’t go any further than randomly tossing money into a savings account, STOP. Don’t be a slave to money, now or later. Make your money work for you. Ask God to make you a good steward, get some wise financial advice, give to your church and community with a generous heart, save up a little for an emergency, and then put the rest to work (rental properties, retirement accounts, etc.).

12. As much as I hate this fact…you can’t eat whatever you want and refuse to exercise without consequences. You may not notice those consequences until 5 years or 55 years go by, but you will pay the price eventually.

13. You HAVE to stop worrying so much about what other people think. Seriously. Sometimes, it does matter. But a lot of the time, it doesn’t. And half of the time, they probably aren’t even thinking about you anyway.

14. Go get a piece of paper and a pen. Got them? Good. I want you to write down your plan for your life, as many details as you want. All done? Perfect. Now crumple up that paper and throw it away. (Sorry if you actually took the time to write stuff down.) But seriously, so few things in life go the way we actually plan. And thank God for that. Because if my life had gone how I had planned, I would have gone to OU instead of OBU, which means I wouldn’t have met the guy in my J-term math class who told me I should work at Falls Creek. Those three summers on the ropes course ended up being one of the biggest spiritual turning points of my life. If life had gone how I’d planned, I would have married one of the hundreds of “good guys” from OBU and probably become a youth pastor’s wife, since that was my dream in high school. But instead, God introduced me to a finance major from another college in The-Middle-of-Nowhere (aka Durant, aka D-OK, aka The Shady 5-80) who has taught me more about myself, love, forgiveness, sarcasm, and nerd board games than anyone else I have ever met. And if life had gone how I’d planned, years of unexplained infertility would not have been part of my journey to parenthood. But if I hadn’t experienced that pain and loss, I would never have understood the power of fierce, healing, all-consuming love from God, our families, and our best friends the way I do now. God works ALL THINGS together for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes for them (Romans 8:28). I believe it because I’m living it.

15. Trying to change someone is a major waste of time. God is the only one who can cause genuine change in a person’s heart. Praying for them is much more effective, not to mention freeing.

16. Directly related to #15, an even harder lesson to learn is that sometimes, you are actually the one who needs to change. Contrary to what you might think, you aren’t right about everything.

17. Traveling is AWESOME. Go as many places as possible, as often as possible. You CAN afford it if you prioritize it and make decisions accordingly. But be prepared – there will always be at least one thing that doesn’t go as smoothly as you planned. Sometimes flights get changed, traffic makes you late, and stuff costs more than you thought it would…but it’s okay. Plan as much as you can, accept the things you have no control over with grace, and thank God for allowing you to travel as often as you do.

18. High heels are overrated. Do I wear them? Yes. Do I regret it 11 out of 10 times? Yes. Do I still continue wearing them? Also yes. (What? I’m a work in progress, people.)

19. You don’t have to have an eating disorder to have an unhealthy relationship with your body. Self-obsession and self-loathing are both forms of idolatry, and God did not create you for that nonsense.

20. Change is inevitable. And I still hate it. I think it’s instinct, human nature, to resist change internally, even if we try to appear flexible on the outside. Friendships evolve, some fading and some strengthening. Our bodies age. Our preferences change. We can’t fight the fact that things just don’t stay the same forever. But honestly…thank goodness. Can you imagine what life would be like if we never moved on from being a baby? Or from being a teenager?? I wouldn’t want to live in that world. Adulthood doesn’t necessarily mean liking all the changes that take place in your life. It’s just learning to accept them as gifts of love from the God who wrote your entire life story before you were even born. We can’t see the big picture, but He can. In seasons of good change and not so good, God is trustworthy, and He only gives good gifts. ♥

Hats off to my 20’s, the best decade of my life so far, and here’s hoping that my 30’s will be even better!

Friendscation 2019: LP Edition

Wow, friends. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have people in your life that you love so much you want to spend an entire week with them. This vacation was easily in my top 3 favorite trips I’ve ever taken, and every time I think about it, I can’t stop myself from smiling!

Pretty much as soon as we got back from our cruise with the McCains in the fall of 2018, we started brainstorming. What did we want to do next?, we wondered. Who should we invite to come with us?

Well.

We decided on another cruise.

And we decided to invite everyone. 😂

Our days were filled with excursions at our ports (Jamaica, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman), naps, drinks, hot tub time, spa time, and lots of laying out by the pool.

Our nights were full of fun group dinners, shows, karaoke, blackjack, and hanging out at the Irish pub, which had literally THE BEST servers I’ve ever experienced out of all the cruises we’ve been on so far.

Probably my favorite thing from the entire trip was our excursion in Grand Cayman. The water was gorgeous, and swimming with stingrays…I don’t even have enough words to explain how funny and cool this experience was!!

Two of my favorite pictures from the trip. ♥

But let’s keep it real….lol

“Hey, I like my outfit today, will you take a quick picture of me???”

*wind instantly speeds up to 50 mph for literally no reason*

50E708B4-1B81-4E42-A242-8AE6E37536E8

The Lord was so gracious and somehow made every day of this trip feel like three long days. By the time the week was over, I felt like I had been gone from work for about a month, and it was AMAZING. After planning Nicole’s wedding, this break was much-needed and the biggest breath of fresh air I think I could have gotten!

Who’s ready to rage again??? Friendscation 2020, here we come!! ♥

 

What I Know For Sure.

0CF24F80-83B0-4C49-80D1-6022C6844E63

Let’s start this off strong.

I don’t know a lot.

In fact, I feel like the older I get, the less I actually know. Does anybody else feel this way?? It’s like my brain is pulling a Benjamin Button. In every new life stage, I’m both the smartest and the dumbest that I’ve ever been.

But there are four things I know for sure:

  1. I’m not ‘enough.’
  2. Life is a series of waiting rooms, metaphorical and literal.
  3. The ‘hustle’ culture is overrated and damaging.
  4. I literally don’t know what I would do without God.
  5. I’m bad at math.

One of my goals for the year is to take a break from TV at least one day per week, and take a break from all social media platforms at least one day per month. Yesterday was my day off of social media, and I was shocked to discover how many times my fingers mindlessly wandered and opened those apps throughout the day. Of course, as soon as I did it, I would snap out of it and close the app. But still, I reflexively tapped those apps probably 20 times, and for no other reason than that I was bored. I wanted to know what was happening in the social world that day. I didn’t want to miss something ~iMpoRtAnt~ and be left out or left behind.

Adulthood is hard. I’ve talked a lot about that in various posts, but it bears repeating, especially because of the savage mischief-maker that is social media. Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks; after all, you’re probably reading this post right now because of some form of social media. And yet in spite of all the new connections it may spark, we’re lonelier and emptier than ever. I’m convinced that no generation has been more aware of all the things we don’t have. We are bombarded daily with hundreds of things that we’re supposed to know, be, have, and do. And a lot of us actually manage to keep up, or at least look like we’re keeping up. Sort of. But behind all of our photos and memories and virtual transparency (because it’s cool to be *real* now), we’re all still secretly terrified that it’s not enough. We don’t know enough, and we’re not doing enough.

Worst of all, though, is the fear that we ourselves are not enough.

And you know what? I think that fear is justified.

Because deep down, we already know that we aren’t enough.

We can’t create, curate, fabricate, or initiate enough beauty, humor, authenticity, popularity, or overall goodness to overcome the fact that

W E .  A R E .  N O T .  E N O U G H .

We will never be funny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough, or good enough when the measuring stick is our own self-perception or the rest of the world’s standards. Telling ourselves we’re enough in the mirror or slapping the phrase on a t-shirt does little more than bury our fear underneath a mountain of self-focus and self-help. Ultimately, our merit and abilities won’t get us very far if the focus is on what WE can do, because at one point or another, we will inevitably fail. Our skills are limited. Our energy will run out. We can’t fix other people’s problems. We can’t even fix our own.

Guess what, though?

“Being enough” was never our job.

Jesus is enough for us.

He is strong enough, smart enough, worthy enough, perfect enough. We are made whole only through a relationship with Him, and until we surrender to Him completely, we will never be able to relieve the taunting, lingering ache of “not enough.” If Jesus was enough to satisfy the debt of every human being’s sin, once and for all, then He is enough for our day-to-day. And when we bravely and humbly tear down our altars to ourselves and lay our pride at His feet, we learn that our strength to do literally everything comes from Him. We discover that the absolute best place to be is NOT behind the wheel.

The truth is, I’m not in control. I want to be. But I’m not. And that is so counterculture. We are conditioned from an early age to believe – genuinely believe – that we have control over the outcomes in our lives. We are told that if we do A + B, we WILL get C. Our DIY #bossbabe world screams “You can do anything!!” and encourages us to hustle hustle hustle to get what we want, and we buy into the lie that if we work hard enough and believe hard enough and pray hard enough…we can make God do whatever we want Him to do.

That’s what we’re really saying.

It’s ugly, isn’t it?

We want so much to believe that we know what’s best, and that if God would just get on board, then everything would be golden.

But that’s not how it is.

The Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His sovereign Will always plays out exactly the way He planned from the very beginning (Proverbs 19:21). But we have hope, because He loves us (Ephesians 2:4-5) and everything He does is for our good (Romans 8:28). In the face of that kind of love, we can let go of the burden of trying to be enough for others, ourselves, and even God Himself. We can release our desperate desires to be famous for something; our need to be liked, respected, or envied; our unrealistic expectations; our selfish aspirations. We can be free, truly, and live a life marked by real joy and real peace.

It sounds contradictory, I know – giving up your autonomy and yet also being free. But it’s real. The most freedom I’ve ever felt in my life has come when I stop trying to control everything, surrender to God through prayer, and remind myself that not only is He big enough to handle my wants and my needs, but He is also worthy of my trust because He has a perfect track record and has never, ever failed to do what is best. If He thinks I need something, He’ll give it to me. If He thinks I don’t need something, He won’t give it to me. And even though I may not like it or understand it at the time, I will still choose to believe that He is right and He is worth following. After all, I don’t really have any right to hold anything back from a Person who gave up everything for me, who died so that I could live. I owe that Person everything, I think. ♥

Nicole + Ben ♥

4E263F3C-D9D5-4C35-B18B-433DDE147628

“I cannot believe this day is finally here. 😍 Most of you probably know, by this point, that I have an affinity for event planning. I’ve had dozens of people tell me I need to turn it into a full-fledged business, and because of this girl right here, I am 50% less scared and 100% more inspired to actually…make…it…happen. She took a chance on a rookie, and today, I am coordinating my first wedding as a paid event coordinator. 😭💛🧡@nicole_diseker, you will forever and always be my VERY FIRST BRIDE!! I would say ‘My heart is full’ but my heart isn’t big enough, so let’s just say that my whole body is full of all the feelings and I will treasure this day always! Let’s do this thing!!”

That was the caption for my Instagram post on October 19th, 2019.

A day I will never forget.

The day a long-held dream finally came true.

I have been developing my love for planning parties for quite awhile. I’ve even helped with a bunch of weddings in an unofficial capacity over the last few years.

But this….this was different.

Not long after Nicole and Ben got engaged, she made some off-hand comment at our community group about how stressful wedding planning was. Instantly, this little voice in my head was like “You should do her wedding….!!” I had no idea if they had the budget for a coordinator, or if they even wanted one. But I couldn’t ignore the nudge from the Lord to put the option out there. So I texted her.

AND I’M SO GLAD I DID!

Their wedding ceremony was at Parkside Baptist Church, and their reception was at 903 Brewers – super eclectic, but super cool! The first time Nicole took me to look at the space, I can’t lie – I was a liiiiiittle nervous. 😂 But I was thrilled with how everything came together, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as special without the drapery, dreamy lanterns, and string lights that Ben put up!

I can’t say thank you enough to the bridal party and my food crew for making everything happen before the event. I literally could not have done it without all of you! ♥♥

Hands down, one of my favorite parts of the wedding was the fall leaves tossed down the aisle. But they weren’t tossed by a flower girl.

They.

had.

a.

flower.

man.

Yes, an adult man. 😂😂😂😂

Another neat feature of this unique wedding was the macaron towers! Nicole’s mom made hundreds of flavored macarons for all of the guests to enjoy, and HOLY MOLY they were good. I tried at least half of the flavors, and I can attest that the peanut butter and jelly ones were the best. THE. BEST. I need some more, Donna!!

Cuties. ♥

61E5CE42-C2C4-44B6-8156-C1A94071F86D

The very last picture of the night was taken at Cellarman’s, after the bride and groom made their grand exit and everything was packed away in boxes and bags and laundry baskets. It’s probably one of the worst pictures I’ve ever taken, but I don’t even care. I had to take this picture, because as tired as I was, I knew that I would want to remember the people sitting around that table. The people who willingly pitched in and helped clean everything up after the reception without being asked. The people who sacrificed the rest of their evening for me, who shouldered the load with me simply because that’s what family does. I took the picture because I wanted to preserve forever how deeply loved I felt that night. Since that day, I have relived everything about the wedding countless times, and every time I look at this awkward, hilarious, blurry photo, I am instantly transported back to the emotions I felt as I took it: completely overcome with exhaustion, gratitude, and joy. ♥

Finally, enjoy a few photos from their wonderfully talented photographer, Spencer Patton!

N+B-52 (2)

N+B-248

Congratulations again, Nicole and Ben – thanks for trusting me with such a momentous, beautiful day in your life together.

If you need help planning a party or coordinating a wedding, let ya girl know – I’d love to get ice cream or coffee with you sometime and talk about your vision!

Sheridan’s Bae-Bee Shower

What a sweet honor it was to throw a baby shower for one of my best friends, Sheridan! She and her husband Jeremy were part of the young married community group Daniel and I hosted at our house years ago, and we were so excited when they told us she was pregnant. Much like my friends Les and Dara, the Burnses decided to wait to find out if Baby B was a boy or a girl, so I went with a gender neutral theme – honeybees!

The menu was brunch-themed, and I had a ton of hosts to help me get everything ready. We had mini chicken and waffles, cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, avocado toast, and bacon-wrapped tater tots, along with coffee and mimosas. Oh, and the deliciously pretty honeycomb cookies from Chasing India Cookies!

Hands down, my favorite decoration was the handmade honeycomb background for the food table. My brother-in-law Sam is so talented – he’s the one who made the famous mountain shelf that has been used over and over and over!

The rest of the decorations included a honeycomb ball garland, honey sticks as party favors, and lots of fresh flowers.

75D9B360-D282-4D88-B1AE-C692C6C06D2F

Looking for a fun baby shower activity? Pictured above is my all-time favorite: a DIY alphabet book. Print off pages with each letter of the alphabet and ask guests to create a page or two, and then compile all the pages into a book for the new parents.

F4BBB9E4-C3F8-4910-9430-FA99C504FD9C

Ugh, she was the cutest pregnant girl!! ♥

And guess what they had?? ↓↓

77E5C4C5-0504-4CF2-9FB2-2EC9CB74EFAD

THIS cute girl!! Cheeks for dayyyyyz. I love you, Ruby! (And Sheridan I guess)

If you need help planning a party, let ya girl know – I’d love to get ice cream or coffee with you sometime and talk about your vision!