Our Year and What’s Ahead


I have been stirring over this blog post for a little time. I anticipated it’s arrival. The last year has completely changed us.

There’s so much I want to say, but I will try to keep it short.

This past year.

Blindsided is the first word I thought described the year, but then growth came to mind. 

This time last year the journey was just getting started. July 3rd we found out we were expecting and by July 29th our whole world flipped upside down. We would go on to lose that pregnancy on August 9th. 

The medical term was “blighted ovum”. Human terms is the fertilized egg attached to the uterus, a sac formed, but the baby never did. My body never caught on and never naturally miscarried. In my own mind I thought my body had tricked me to thinking, feeling, living like I was pregnant. My heart totally broke when I had that first ultrasound. 

I don’t know, maybe I never properly grieved. I didn’t know how. We never really talk about these things. What’s normal? Was I crazy to feel hurt? I picked myself up and I moved through the next 6 months as best as I could.

Hope returns… I thought.

January 27th, we got those 2 pink lines again. Anxiety rushed through me like a hurricane, but I honestly thought God wouldn’t do that to me again.

This time at 6 weeks 4 days we had a heartbeat! We were told it was a little low, but nothing to worry about. So I did my best not to worry, but I worried. I worried I’d feel that heartbreak again.

9 days later, on Nick’s birthday it all fell apart… again. As tension filled the room, we were told there was no heartbeat. As I type this, I can feel that break in my heart like I am sitting in that Doctor’s office. We moved forward with a surgical D&C the day before my birthday. I was sent on my way with some pain pills, hormones that were about to plummet, and left to make sense of it all. I felt empty.

I turned to God because I really didn’t know what else to do. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own

Moving forward

Outside I tried to keep it together, but in these 4 walls I was a complete mess. Countless times Nick had to peel me off of the carpet just so I’d stop getting snot and tears on it. I traded the carpet for his shirt and eventually got it together.

I was confused and hurt. I had all the support around me, but felt so alone.

Did I hear God wrong? Maybe He intended for me to rescue all the puppies in the world and be a dog mom. I’m pretty good at that.

“Maybe we shouldn’t try again.” I’d tell Nick. I couldn’t do the HOPE then heartbreak thing again. 

Was something wrong with me? I read and read and read God’s word. I listened to worship music which totally changed my perspective. I KNEW, I just KNEW He intended more for me. There was no way He intended to break my heart without having a plan.

Between God, His word, my INCREDIBLE husband, our family, friends, and my work family, I was supported. I was loved. I was hurting, but I was supported and loved.

Life continues on

There’s a lot of in-between moments, but I really want to get to this next part. AND I know you have things to do and can’t be reading this ALL. DAY. LONG.

The last year has been a rollercoaster, but a beautiful transformation. While we are so grateful God has moved us in ways we never expected, we look forward to the year ahead.

I have to first tell you that my incredible Nick in the last month was accepted in to the store manager training program. A promotion he has worked so tirelessly at. A promotion we prayed and prayed for. I am inspired daily by my husband’s patience, hustle, and heart.

At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen. – Isaiah 60:22

We’ve learned a lesson in God’s timing and God’s blessings. He has fulfilled His promise to us.


After every storm comes the sunshine and we are so grateful to say our
SUNSHINE BABY IS DUE FEBRUARY 2, 2018!

Memorial Day we got our two pink lines for our sunshine coming in February! Almost 14 weeks in and our little one is growing as he or she should be. Twirling around in there and giving us first pumps on the ultrasound! A strong heartbeat and already SO loved!

We are so excited to welcome God’s gift… our littlest Panda… our Sunshine… Baby Bear early next year. God is so, so good and FAITHFUL.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
– 1 Samuel 1:27


 If you’ve made it this far, thank you! If you’ve prayed, hoped, or believed for us this past year… THANK YOU! Prayers are still welcome for a healthy delivery and for this Momma’s anxious heart. 🙂

A final thought.

Preparing to write this was hard. I had no idea how, what, when I would share our news. All I could think about was the women who were in the exact same position I had been in months ago. 

Worried she would never get pregnant again. A woman still experiencing the loss of her own child. Worried something was wrong. Worried she heard God wrong.

1 in 4 pregnancies will end with the heartbreak of a miscarriage. 2% of women will experience 2 consecutive miscarriages.  1 in 8 couples will experience infertility struggles. 

In all the statistics I know there are real women.. real couples… real families navigating this journey. I also know that 100% of the time, God has a plan.
 I want just one person to see, even in the heartbreak He is there. I want one person to get hope back and to keep pushing forward.

If you are moving through a season of unknown, hurt, waiting… don’t lose courage. Gosh, waiting was the ultimate word God chose for us this past year. 

If you are in one of those seasons or maybe you just need reassurance, can I share some songs with you? These songs got me through the toughest days… 

On the Throne, Desperation Band “For the Lord is
He is able, He is faithful
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne”

Still, Hillary Scott “You’re parting waters
Making a way for me
You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see
You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still”

Take Courage, Bethel “Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun
So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul”

Do It Again, Elevation Worship Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again”

THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING WITH US!

Ps… the pink dress is not a hint of any kind. 🙂
It’s just probably the last time I will get to wear that beautiful dress in the next year or two… or 3! 😉

 

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Surrender.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

I couldn’t go a full day without checking my social media. I felt left out and discouraged as I scrolled through the feed of my favorite social media accounts.
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMediaImagine if we prayed as much as we got on Instagram or Facebook.

Those were actually the words that propelled me in to complete surrender and taking 30 days away from Social Media in April & May.  Something I truly never thought I would be able to do. I thought “If I am not on social media I will miss out!”…. “What about my blog? I really want to post on my blog!” My fighting and resistance was a clear indication it was time for a break.

Breaking an addiction.

Social media is easily an addiction. Well, I know not for you, right? You’re not addicted. I convinced myself I wasn’t either. That was until I took some time away and realized I was addicted. The first week I couldn’t believe how many times I reached for my phone to “scroll”.

Do you wake up and scroll? How about during your work day, your lunchtime, while you’re driving {gasp}, while you’re avoiding household chores, or even before you go to bed?

This is not a post to convince you to ditch social media, just to shed light on what came from a social media fast. I most certainly do not believe social media is all bad, I do however believe a break is necessary.

Sometimes the noise drowns out God’s message.

First of all, I had been hearing from the Lord to give social media a break for some time. I just chose to ignore the suggestion. We sometimes do that, don’t we? 

The weeks following my second miscarriage had brought me to so many emotional roadblocks. So many moments when I thought I was making progress and I was hit HARD emotionally by something unforeseen. I could see that social media was training me to compare my life to others and seek validation in likes and double taps.

Following my miscarriage I THOUGHT I had surrendered. I thought “eh, I’m not addicted to social media”. But I still asked, why wasn’t the Lord breaking me of the hurt and isolation I felt? I began to question myself. Was I doing enough?

April 24th while asking those questions I heard the Lord, “Sign out!”. It had been one of those days of another emotional battle, my pity party felt a little like drowning, “Will I ever? Do I measure up? When will it be my turn?”

I decided to listen. Surrender.
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

Disconnecting meant more time alone.

I signed out of everything. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. I let my mom know so she wouldn’t take offense when I wasn’t “liking” the cute dog photos she tagged me in.

I committed to spending my mornings with the Lord, instead of scrolling social media. I committed to writing my journey in a journal. I committed to spending lunchtime reading a book. I committed to decluttering my mind. I was determined to hear the Lord speak to me and open my heart.

When I was wondering, He was answering.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

I just couldn’t hear with all the background noise.

My broken heart was an opportunity to grow and learn. Learning so I could live and share with others a new lifestyle I have become so fascinated with. Learning and becoming inspired by the woman God wanted me to grow in to. My time away brought refreshed inspiration and new found passion for a new way of living. I began to read books on how I could prepare for “next time” and the child God had planned for me. I became inspired by women’s health. I learned God intended this journey for me to help other women overcome heartbreak and find empowerment in holistic health. The time away helped me grow.

Is it time for you to take a break? How do you decide when it’s time to step back?

5 signs you might need a break, too

  1. You can’t go a full day without checking your social media.
  2. Every morning when you wake up, social media is the first thing you check.
  3. You seek validation and worth by how many likes you get on social media. You feel bad if you don’t get any or as many likes as you thought you would. You check your phone constantly after you make a post to see who liked it.
  4. You feel left out, discouraged, unworthy, or question who you are after you have spent time in social media.
  5. You find yourself missing moments with people because you are too busy trying to capture the PERFECT photo to post.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMediaWhen so-in-so seems perfect on social media… when you’re watching the highlight reel of others, it is difficult to embrace the season God has you in. The season of waiting brings great growth. Growth is so much more valuable than “perfection” or who has the “best life” on Facebook. 

When “likes” and “perfection” are getting the best of you, it might be time to consider taking a break. Take a break to see just how much you are relying on Social Media. Take a break to find self worth in things other than people liking your status updates or photos.

If you are not ready to take the full plunge and sign out today, how about a 7 day social media detox. You can take a different step for 7 days to help disconnect from social media and “likes”.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

It is easy to think that we don’t need time away from social media. It is easy to believe “that’s not me, I’m in full control”. I hope you can take a moment to really consider your relationship with social media and determine if a break is necessary. If you’re waiting to hear God speak, the quietness might be exactly what you need. 

Not all social media is bad and it definitely connects us as a culture. However, not all breaks are bad either and time away can really help shift your perspective.

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He’s in the Waiting

Don’t interpret God’s silence as His absence.

Ever sat and wondered “Why am I in this season of waiting?”…”Why haven’t my prayers been answered?”…”Why does God allow such pain and hurt?”

I’ll be the first to raise my hand. In fact, I think just about everything in our lives right now is in a MAJOR season of waiting. Work promotions, home buying, the growth of our family.

It was something I totally resisted at first. “Lord, you have given so-in-so ______, why not me?” The season of waiting can easily win the award for one of the most uncomfortable season, on top of being kind of eventless.

The season of waiting, however easily earns the award for beauty, growth, and transformation. In fact, if you haven’t had a true season of waiting, I hope you do. Not for heartache, but to experience such magnificent growth.

I heard this song, Take Courage  and I wanted to share it with you all. Music for me delivers some of the greatest messages.

“Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing”

Don’t interpret the silence or the waiting as God’s absence, He’ll reveal all to come.

Season of waiting look different for everyone, but one thing remains consistent GOD HAS A PLAN. Things we cannot see, sometimes things we don’t even expect… all a huge part of His bigger plan. 
In your season of waiting or heartache, choose music that is uplifting. I have a playlist on Spotify that I listen to for hope and encouragement.

In your season of waiting journal or find uplifting books to read. I have been reading Wait and See by Wendy Pope. When we want something to happen in our lives immediately and it doesn’t happen, we tend to doubt God. This book is excellent to help guide you through a season of waiting and those times when we think God isn’t answering us.

Let the season of waiting run it’s course. Resisting the waiting only makes it more painful. Trust me, I know. Surrender really is an every single day action. There are days that will hurt more than others, but He does not cause pain without allowing something new to be born. 

I’ve been completely inspired by the book of Isaiah. Words of encouragement. Like Isaiah 60:22… I have this one as my phone background…

 “At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

OR

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Stand firm in your faith and trust that all of this… ALL… A-L-L of this is for a purpose, even if we don’t understand. Even if it is so painful, feels suffocating, or is purely exhausting. Even when you question WHAT the purpose is, know it will be revealed in due time… in His time. And the most beautiful part, you will be stronger because of it.

I pray you found some encouragement today. If there is anything I have learned in my own season of waiting, it is that I am not forgotten. Sure, there are days I feel an earthly loneliness. Some days I do feel like people in the world have “forgotten” me and I feel a little isolated. But along the way I have learned, that the Lord doesn’t forget us. What he is doing is intentional, even when it hurts a little.

Do not forget His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

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Another “M” Word

If there was one thing I wasn’t planning on doing, it was sitting down to write a blog post about another miscarriage. I am learning though, things don’t always go as planned. I rehearsed this blog post a little in my head, but sitting down to write my fingers and brain feel a little blank. 

I suppose it is because it is such a taboo or vulnerable subject. It is difficult for people to find the right words when they hear about someone else’s loss. Maybe I should first start by saying, I am okay… we are okay. We have faith in God and God’s plan. While it is a vulnerable subject, I choose to talk about it to bring awareness to something that impacts 1 out of 4 women. 25% of women will experience a miscarriage, but it isn’t something we talk about. Maybe it is because women will feel judged? (been there) Maybe because it’s kind of awkward? (been there) Maybe because we feel like we are letting down the ARMY of people who pressured us to “hurry up and have kids”? (been there, too)

In all of the awkwardness, I choose to be a little vulnerable so the 25% of women will know they aren’t alone. Even though, it is still something people seem to think is uncommon.

A survey was completed with 1,084 people, both men and women. 50% of those surveyed thought miscarriage was uncommon. 22% of those surveyed thought miscarriage was caused by someone’s life choices or they felt the person was at fault in some way. With statistics like that, I feel like we should really talk about this. 

Miscarriage isn’t a personal fail or something someone is to blame for. More than half of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. There was something wrong from the beginning. The other half of cases are due to abnormal hormone levels, the structure of the uterus, or autoimmune disorders. Basically, the complication of miscarriage is usually uncontrollable. There isn’t a better diet that could have “fixed it”. There isn’t an “eat more of this” or a “you should just relax” that would eliminate miscarriage.

Our second miscarriage had blessings wrapped in the chaos, which is what keeps us moving forward. We found out we were expecting on January 27th. February 15th we went in for an ultrasound. Unlike last time, we got to hear a heartbeat. Such a blessing. To hear and know you can create swoosh heartbeats, exciting. We headed back in on February 24th for our 8 week ultrasound.

I waited for the doctor for what felt like forever. I kept reciting over, and over, and over in my head Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” After what felt like FOREVER, our ultrasound began.

Unlike the week prior, there was no heart beat. The baby measured 6 weeks, 6 days, when we should have been around 8 weeks. As a woman, as a mom, you just know, this time isn’t it. We were sent for a confirmation ultrasound in radiology. It was confirmed the baby had grown it’s wings and my body hadn’t realized it, again. My heart actually felt like it was in a million pieces.

Very reminiscent in some ways to our August miscarriage, we prepared for what was ahead. A surgical D & C was scheduled for February 28th, the day before my birthday. We waited all day in the surgery center as an add on. Recovering took several weeks, but surprisingly my mind healed faster than my body. All of the downtime, the waiting, the recovering, allowed for a lot of soul searching.

Here’s what I believe –

First, God does not hand us anything we cannot handle and He certainly knows the plan for our lives. Our WHOLE lives. “He has a plan” isn’t some cliche saying that holds no value. If you believe He has a plan, you will find comfort. He also doesn’t want you to live in fear.My comfort comes from trusting God’s plan, even in a time of fear. Everyday I sang “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music  to my little one. I didn’t know what the future held, but I knew (and still know) that any pregnancy is a gift from God and serves a purpose. The lyrics still comfort me while moving through a journey that is a little unknown. I have always found comfort in music, 

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

We sang it in church the other day. I was a total snot crying mess. 🙂 

My amazing Nick and I trust this plan. The best thing we can do is trust it, lean on each other, and keep living out our plan.

The best thing we can do is keep praying, keep building a strong foundation, and continue to build a home of positive energy and love. We trust that our rainbow after the storm will come, but we must wait out the storm.

No one ever said life was easy, but the beautiful part is we get to choose how we respond to the trials we are handed.

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Dear Body,

Last week I made my first appointment for acupuncture. I am excited and cannot wait to do something relaxing for my body. I plan on documenting the journey using acupuncture to reset my body after loss and improve how I allow stress to affect me.

I laid awake that night thinking about the amazing things my body has done for me. I thought about how this was an opportunity to give back to my body and thank it for being so resilient. I laid awake dreaming up this letter to my body. This letter is true to how I feel and a genuine expression of gratitude for the amazing journey we have been on. When is the last time you actually acknowledge what you’ve put yourself through and what your body has overcome?

Dear Body, 
I wanted to take the time for all of the incredible things you have stuck with me through. You kind of had no choice I guess, but I am amazed at your resiliency. 

I suppose I should start by thanking you for getting us through the teenage years. The years in and well beyond high school that included crash diets of spinach and green tea in an effort to “clear up my skin”. The days of cinnamelts from McDonalds, 3 at a time and eating salad the rest of the day. What was I thinking?!

Then were the days of restrict and binge. You remember, sometime around 20 and 21 where I would “diet” throughout the week and then completely stuff my face on the weekends. Let’s be honest, my diet was McDonalds grilled chicken wraps, yogurt, and protein bars. Then 21 brought alcohol. Mmmm hhmmm, it was far from a health way of life. It’s highly likely you were starving, which is probably why we hit our highest weight. Restrict like a little rabbit during the week, binge on the weekend. Yeah, I don’t miss those days.Ooooooooo, then there were the competition days. Oooooh body, I know you haven’t forgotten those days. The 2 and a half year journey of “what the hell was I thinking?!” Really expensive rhinestone bikinis and being, well, a tad bit obsessive about my food and maybe a little too skinny. Okay, too skinny. Don’t get me wrong, they are the days that actually saved us from the restrict and binge diet days, so they were actually life changing. The thing I think about most is how HARD I was on you. At your tannest, leanest, most fit-self, I still nitpicked the “flaws”. I was still overly judgmental of you, body. I was so hard on you in the quest for perfection, whatever that was.

We can agree, the competition days were a much needed journey, but a time of way too many “rules” and a lot of judgement. Those days led me to understanding how to fuel you and how nutrition played such a big role in how you functioned. I learned which foods helped me with my anxiety, my acne, and energy. I learned so much about how to nourish and energize you. A learning process I am still going through.

Your resiliency shined this past August when we took on our first miscarriage. A little tough, am I right?! You went from being pregnant, to complete loss and emotional turmoil. The last thing on my mind was proper fuel and nutrition for you. You were resilient, you healed, you kept me moving. Moving straight in to the holidays and finally overcoming the emotional struggles inside.Right as we started to get in motion again this January, another pregnancy blessing came. February was filled with probably a little too much fear, mixed with excitement, and a whole lot of crackers. Body you are so strong and smart. Something wasn’t right and our little one went on to grow little wings after 8 weeks. Another difficult loss. Again, you shined. You were resilient. Recovering from another loss, a surgery, and the 5 boxes of brownies I consumed in a week.

Body, you are resilient and I don’t thank you enough for the amazing things you have pushed through. You have survived so many obstacles, been fueled on only protein bars and green tea at times, and still you are resilient. Still you operate like the beautiful machine you are. Still… still you move me through some of the most difficult times and you always respond when I nourish and love you.

Right now, we have a few boxes of brownies to put behind us, there are a few yoga classes we should put to use, and my plan is to continue to nourish you, thank you, and keeping pressing on. I will continue to trust God and you that you know what you are doing. Thank you!

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