Monday, February 23, 2009

When Mom's Not Happy, Daughter's Not Happy!

It's been a long day!
When my physical abilities and emotional energy are both so drained, it noticably impacts our kids. Our 9-year-old is a rock, but I ache for him that he takes so much adult responsibility on his shoulders. I appreciate his strength and stability, but also pray for him as I wonder how much he enternalizes in healthy or unhealthy ways. I want to be his Mommy and protect him for the impact of my illness, but I cannot.
I see some negative impact in our 3-year-old (mostly in copy-cat outbursts following his big sister's example), but our 6-year-old seems to have the hardest time coping. Please pray for her as she has been really acting out this week. She struggles with the same Romans 7 ("For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.") sinful nature that we all face, but for her it seems especially hard. I cover her in prayer and strive to give her extra patience and grace (ballanced with the stability of firm paramaters and reasonable consequences), but this is a hard season for both of us to cope with. Your prayers for her (and wisdom/strength for us as we parent her) would be especially appreciated right now. She is such a precious blessing and I grieve for the heartache my limitations cause her.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rocky Road

I have a chronic illness that stems back to a virus I had as a child and the acute onset of additional complications my freshman year of college. I've lived my entire adult life battling pain and debilitating fatigue and a range of other symptoms, but some seasons are better than others. At my worst I spent 2 years nearly entirely bedridden, so I am very thankful for every day I can get out of bed and function at a reasonably normal level.
Having said that, I am going through a pretty rough season right now and could use some extra encouragement and prayers. I am seeing a wonderful doctor (one of the world's leading specalists in his field!) and am receiving the most in depth care I've had in 20 years. I am very thankful!
But my current treatments are taking a toll on me and I'm struggling physically at a level I haven't faced on a daily basis in several years. My doctor had warned me that this 6 weeks of treatment could make me feel a lot worse before I started seeing any benefits, and for the first 2 weeks I thought I had gotten off pretty easily. But the harder parts hit with vengance a few days ago and I know I still have 3 1/2 weeks ahead of me for this particular treatment.

Thank you for your prayers. I am striving to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12). These struggles, while seemingly all-consuming to me in the midst of them, are truly "light and momentary" (2 Corinthians 4:17) in the grand scope of eternity and even God's plan for my life here and now! Even so, I can so easily loose sight of God's grace and mercy and start down the path of self-pitty when I know that choosing joy is the better path on all counts! So your prayers are a blessing and I humbly ask you to uphold me before the Lord at this time, yes, for physical endurance and even healing if it is the Lord's good pleasure to grant this blessing. But most of all I ask your prayers that my heart would remain right before Him in the midst of this current struggle and that I would continue feeding on the joy of the Lord.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lover of My Soul

Last night (evening before Valentine's Day) I had the pleasure of sharing a little bit at a women’s event. There was quite a mixture of women there: married, divorced, singles, moms, those without children, those who had lost children...

I attended wearing a red turtleneck sweater. Over the sweater I wore a beautiful, large crystal-cut heart necklace. Under my sweater, unseen by anyone, I wore a second heart necklace, one of solid metal and inscribed with the words of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

We started by talking about thoughts that came to mind when hearing the words “consume” or “consumed". Answers varied from eating and drinking to living in a “consumer-driven” society where we practices "consumerism" of material goods. I then asked for input about what kinds of things we can be consumed by or that consumes us. The first answer was “fire,” followed by more of an understanding of what I was getting at: all-consuming goals, passions, ideas, anger, fear, etc.

I then pointed to my crystal necklace and talked about the ways we can strive to look beautiful on the outside and reflect a good image to the world around us, just like the facets on this necklace reflect beautiful colors and light. To look at most of us you might think that we “have it all together.” But if I take off my necklace (as I did while saying these words) and hold it off by itself, we can see that all that beauty is just outward and that inside there is nothing there but plain glass. Sometime what we portray to the world is simply a disguise for the fragile emptiness we are feeling inside.

We all have different heartaches. Yours may be longing for someone to love or be loved by. It may be seeking fulfillment in an unfulfilling job. It might be trying to make your body look differently than it does in order to fill that void in you heart. For me it was a combination of infertility and losses, along with chronic health issues, that lead me to the point of desperation and even contemplating suicide. No one could see that lonely emptiness inside, but I knew it was there. I was consumed by the pursuit of motherhood and my feelings of failure as a woman because I couldn't get there. The heartache and grief consumed me every day and I felt abandoned by God because it seemed that He didn't even care.

But thankfully how I may "feel" about God doesn't dictate reality. Lamentations chapter 3 is a long book of heartache about all the things this author suffered. But hidden right in the midst of his complaints, he dramatically shifts gears for a few verses and boldly proclaims, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." While I was busy feeling overlooked by Him, He had already been going out of His way to prove the opposite to me.

What is the value of something? It isn't really the cost of an item as much as it is what someone is really willing to pay. There are many things I don't buy because the price tag is higher than I feel the value to be. But God placed the ultimate value on me when He choose to pay the price of His son's life to prove His love for me! Many of us know the verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God made this verse very personal to me in the midst of infertility when I realized that "God so long to call me His daughter that He allowed the death of His only biological son to pay the price of my adoption."

If you are feeling empty and fragile and wondering about God's love for you, He has proved it better than any knight in shining armor ever could. John 15:13 is engraved on this necklace (as I pull the second necklace out of its hiding place and let it rest outside my sweater) and states that "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Just like this necklace is strong and solid and full of meaning, when I put my hope in God and trust Him at His word even when I don't "feel" Him there, He fills that empty place in my heart with hope.

” Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness…
For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.“

-Lamentations3:21-23, 3:31-32 (NIV)

Free work from home training!

I've been enjoying my time on the (Christian Work At Home Moms) message boards for several months now. If you are a woman working from home (with our without children living under your roof), this is a great resource and a wonderfully encouraging group of women. Yes, it is a "moms" group, and if you are in a really hurting place with infertility right now, I would say this probably isn't the best spot for you. But if you are a Christian woman from any walk of life who is simply looking for great Christian fellowship while you learn about working from home, please come check these forums out!

Now's a great time to join the forums as they are offering a posting contest with a prize worth over $1,200 in free advertising and business building tools for the top poster in February. Yes, I know the month is half over, but I feel new members really have the advantage in a contest like this because you will find a whole forum of topics to chat about and comment on including many that established members have aleady posted to prior to the contest. ;)

And while we are talking about the resources at, here's a announcement that anyone interested in working from home should not miss: Announces Work At Home 101
A FREE online 3 week course designed to give moms a work-at-home starting place.

Most people are curious about working from home. We know others do it, but aren't sure how they do it.'s Work at Home 101 is designed to give you an overview of the choices available that will allow you to work from home. This online course will give you the starting place you've been searching for.

Best of all - it's completely free! CLICK HERE!

Some of the things covered during Work at Home 101:

* Where to Start
Home-Based Businesses
Avoiding Scams
Entrepreneur Tips

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How I Became a Published Author

Monday night our Reno Christian Writers group met again for the first time in many months, and it was refreshing to re-establish those connections. I'm excited to see where God will be leading each woman's writing over the coming months.

A friend recently asked me, "I'm curious about something if you don't mind answering. If you don't have a platform like speaking, how in the world did you get Nav Press to publish your book in 2005?"

Since I'm frequently asked how I became a published author, I thought I would share my answer with all of you too:

LOL I don't mind you asking, but the simple answer is God! The longer version is very long! I am not known for brief answers. ;)

In 1994 my husband and I began what we thought was to be a "small local support group" for families facing infertility and pregnancy loss, called Hannah's Prayer (HP), and almost before we knew what was happening, we were in charge of an international ministry with multiple chapters and an unmanagably large newsletter mailing list. Rick started a basic website for us in 1996 when I was still terrified of computers and a yahoo search for the word "infertility" brought up only 7 results with HP being the only Christian-based resource out there!

Our first living son was born at the endo of 1999. In 2001 I had another two miscarriages (before our first son's birth we had already lost our first daughter to miscarriage and endured 7 heart-breaking adoption attempts) and we began seriously talking with agencies about adopting a daughter from China. By early 2002 one of the Hannah's Prayer Board members, Kathe Wunnenberg, who had already published 2 books through Zondervan, called me up and said, "Zondervan just told me that they wanted a book proposal from me on the topic of infertility. You have been saying that you wanted to write a book for as long as I've known you, so I want you to be my compitition in this proposal because I want at least one of us to write this book!" I had no writing training (dropped out of college after one year because of health stuggles causing me to sleep 18-23 1/2 hours out of every 24 at that point), am dyslexic, and had never even seen a book proposal.

The one benefit in my favor is that I was a homeschool graduate and my mom had really emphasised reading and writing and I had even taken 2nd place in a California state science fair my freshman year of high school for a research paper I wrote. But that was the extent of my real writing experience. I had a vague idea of a book outline based on the verses in First Samuel 1 and part of the text of one chapter written out, and I now had about 2 weeks to have a full book proposal, paragraph chapter description outline, market research and two sample chapters together for one of the largest Christian publishing houses on the market!

In God's timing and humor, I dropped the proposal in the mail to Zondervan on Saturday and found out the following Tuesday or Wednesday that I was pregnant with our now-6-year-old. (Yes, she disproves "Just relax and you'll get pregnant," because she was conceived during one of the most strssful 2 weeks of my life!) This surprise came after having been told just a couple of months prior that I would never again be able to conceive another child even with medical aid, and if my any chance I did conceive, that I certainly couldn't carry another baby to live birth!

I was actually angry with God about this pregnancy and was scared to love her or "get attached" because I feared loosing yet another child. And on the other hand I felt that if I could somehow give birth, that it not only "disqualified" me to write on infertility, but it also meant letting go of the dreams we had to adopt a daughter from China. So I left my manuscript untouched, went through a high risk pregnancy including many months on bedrest, gave birth, struggled with undiagnosed post-partum depression and hormonally-related chronic migrain headeaches, and 13 1/2 months went by with absolutely no word from Zondervan.

Finally a very kind, personal, encouraging rejection letter from Zondervan stating that my book had great potential but that they had just contracted with two other authors on this same topic. The other authors turned out to be Kathe Wunnenberg who had challenged me in the first place, and another friend/HP Board member, Sandra Glahn, so I really couldn't feel bad in light of the names they chose! :)

Then in a whirlwind, the very month I got that letter, God put me in touch with another author, Jan Frank (author of the wonderful book, A Graceful Waiting) whom I had been trying to contact for years without success. We ended up getting to talk by telephone for over an hour and by the end of the conversation she had given me the name of her acquisitions editor at Nav along with her personal recommendations to Nav to consider my book. I revamped my proposal and had it back in the mail to Nav within a week.

Six weeks later I received a phone call from one of Nav's senior editors offering me a book contract, we negotiated back and forth, and when our daughter was about 8 months old (and I was still dealing with depression and migraines) I had a signed book contract around Oct. 2003! My manuscript (that was still basically untouched since her conception) due date was our 12-year wedding anniversary in the summer of 2004, and Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss hit store shelves a week after Mother's Day in 2005.

In April 2005 we learned of yet another God-surprise with the conception of our youngest son. He was a total gift from God, being conceived for the first time in our entire marriage that we were specifically trying NOT to get pregnant (because my health had been hit so hard by my last pregnancy and I was just coming out of a 2-year battle through depression). Though his pregnancy was physically my hardest yet, and definately confirmed that I should never try to carry another baby for the sake of both of our health, he has been God's joy-restorer in our home, bringing much laughter and healing to our lives!

As far as platform, I think Hannah's Prayer is considered a built-in platform even though I don't do much outside speaking. The book has sold about 8,000 copies so far since May '05 (I honestly have no idea how that ranks in the world of sales) and I think most of that happens because of Hannah's Prayer, my online presence (I always include my book link even when posting about Christian jewelry or mineral makeup I sell, and I post all over the internet) and a lot of word-of-mouth because it is such a heart-felt topic. Because of the book I have had several speaking doors open for me, but because travel is so very taxing on my body, I have turned down far more opportunities than I have been able to accept. I've done a lot of radio interviews conducted via telephone ever since HP started in the 90s, but as for in-person speaking, this is very limited and probably always will be.

So back to your question, really the only reasonable explanation is God! I break all the rules for how I "should" have never been published, but God had a plan and purpose and I'm awed and humbled all over every time I get to share this story! As I did with Hannah, I want to write a similarly-styled book on the life of Paul and his "thorn in the flesh" but get overwhelmed just at the thought of such a monumental project, so for this season of life I know God has this dream on hold. When He gives me the go-ahead, I know He will open all of the right doors in His perfect timing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian Infertility, Pregnancy Loss Retreat

Event: Hannah's Prayer Retreat
Date: Fri, May 01, 2009 - Sun, May 03, 2009
Place: Cincinnati, OH
Details: If you are a Christian woman facing the heartbreak of infertility, pregnancy loss or infant death, you are invited!

This retreat is for married women who have experienced infertility, pregnancy loss, or infant death. Join other sisters in Christ who know the pain these experiences bring, and be encouraged together to look to Christ for hope and healing.

Location: Sheraton Cincinnati Airport Hotel, 2826 Terminal Drive, Hebron, KY 41048

Cost: $200 per person for event, hotel, and all meals. $65 per person local option for event and Friday dinner only.

Speaker: Ginger Garrett, author of several books, including Moments for Couples Who Long for Children and Beauty Secrets of the Bible.

The theme is "Beautiful in His Sight." Through worship, prayer, encouraging messages, various workshops, and fun & fellowship, we hope to strengthen our relationship with Christ and one another and be reminded that even though our bodies don't work the way they're "supposed to" and our lives are not turning out as we'd planned, we are precious and beautiful and loved by the Lord, and He has a great plan for our lives, whether He sends us children or not.

God brings beauty from the ashes in our journey!

For more information or to register, please visit Hannah's Prayer Ministries at

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Work From Home?

In a recent thread on the (Christian Work At Home Moms) website, the question was posed about how we each started working at home. I thought my answer there might be of interest to my readers here as well. I sort of "God-stumbled" (seemed rather accidental to me, but obviously God-ordained in hind-sight) into working from home as a consultant/representative of other companies. It's been quite a journey to get where I am today, but I'm happy with where God's led me.

When we were newly-weds we were approached about "network marketing" from a big company and we tried them for about 4 years and spent more money than we ever made, though we attended all their big, expensive quarterly rallies, monthly and weekly meetings at the home of the multi-millionaires a few steps up from us in the business. We even drove our beat-up old car 10 hours to sign up the one and only couple we ever managed to sponsor into the business in our entire 4 years with this company. (Our downline couple were college friends and amazingly still are friends even after that experience we endured together.)

So obviously we became rather disillusioned with network or ML (multi-level) marketing! It's been more than 10 years since we left that company. Then a few years ago a friend was joining a new gift rapping company online that was recruiting new consultants. There was no sign up cost, monthly quota or other fees, and I could get adorable gift rapping supplies at a heafty consultant discount. So I figured "there's nothing to loose" and signed up. It wasn't a bad deal, but I certainly didn't make any money at it. I then jumped from one "free to join" company to another, buying products at a discount and filling my closets with "stuff" but still not turning any real profit.

I found one company I really thought I could run with, but just after I sunk quite a bit into inventory, the company changed hands and product lines and rules and I was stuck will several large boxes full of build-your-own stuffed animal kits and clothing. I wasn't interested in the structure of the other company we merged with nor the monthly quotas, and they weren't retaining our product line any, so I left. I've spent the last few years with ready-made gifts for birthday parties and have finally almost used up all that old stock!

I followed the original owner of that company to her new free-to-join makeup business, recruited over 80 consultants within my first few weeks, was quickly promoted to a management position and poured my heart, time and resources into that as well. All of this only to find the hard way that the owner wasn't good at always standing behind her word, that her product line lacked consistant quality, and that all I had invested in there wasn't worth sinking my own reputation by staying tied to hers. It was a hard lesson.

So about the time I figured homebased business maybe just wasn't for me, I discovered Tara and Affordable Mineral Makeup™ (AMM). Even though I didn't like some of what I had witnessed with that other company, I was hesitant to make a full break from them at first because I didn't want to jump from one mistake right into another. But Tara was very patient with me those first few months as I really put her, her products and her word to the test. She eventually asked me to make a choice between the two companies, and though the other one had been "free to join" and had no monthly quotas, while there was a small enrollment fee and a reasonable monthly minimum to stay active with AMM, the difference in integrity between the two companies was night and day. I realized that it was an easy choice to make! (In the end, that other company ended up going out of business and many consultants were left with overstock and frustration just as I had been with the stuffed animals.)

What I learned from all the previous things I had tried is that I needed a business that was going to:
1) Be something I was going to use on a day-to-day basis anyway and would probably spend the full retail price to purchase even if I didn't receive my consultant discount.
2) The product line had to be one of consistantly high quality that I fully believe it so that I could have confidence to share with others.
3) The leadership of any organization I represenedt had to be one of integrity. Business had to be run as a business rather than as someone's hobby that happened to benefit off all my efforts.
4) And ultimately I learned that really, "you get what you pay for" and that "free to join" rarely is going to provide the same business opportunity, training or support that is found is a business that calls me to invest a reasonable amount and reach realistic sales goals on an ongoing basis.

I've spent nearly a year and a half with AMM now, and am still feeling thankful for God's leading in this decision. Besides that first company that we financially invested into so deeply and tenaciously tried to make work for 4 years by buying products we really didn't need at prices that were overly-inflated to make their system stay afloat, not one of the free-to-join businesses I tried every was worth my while to stick with for even a full year. With AMM I feel I have found a home and anticipate being a representative with this company for a very long time to come.

Using the same criteria about product usability, quality, price, and company stability/reputation that AMM taught me, I spent nearly a year as a retail customer with Gurrlie Girl Christian Jewelry before finally deciding to become a Fashion Consultant for them as well. I've only been with them since last fall and had major surgery shortly after joining them, so it's just been within the last month or so that I've had a chance to really get to work with this company. But it too is already turning into a great blessing for me with a rapidly growing team, products I love to wear and share with others, and a great leaderhips foundation.

Both companies are built by women who care about their customers and offering fast, quality service. (It isn't unusual for me to have my orders within 2-3 days from either company, even living far from either headquarters.) The Bible talks about the importance of a good name and that our reputations matter, and I'm happy to align myself with companies who understand that it's not just their name on the line, but my personal reputation as well! These two companies' product lines work well together as I blog about our beauty in Christ on my InnerBeautyGirlz blog. And that's why I'm a WAHM (work at home mom) today. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

This and That

I haven't checked in for a few months and just want to share some updates. My sugery in Novemenber went well and I'm also moving forward with treatment for my other chronic health issues, so it has been a busy fall/winter medically. While treatment is going to be intense and taxing it its own right, I have more hope about my long-term physcial health picture than I have had in quite some time.

God's also doing some big things with my business. In January I had asked Him to really show me what He would have me do with the companies I represent as a consultants. Within 2 weeks, totally outside my own pursuit, 3 differnt ladies had contacted me to join my Gurrlie Girls Christian jewelry team and two local women asked me to host jewelry shows! I had done nothing whatsoever with this business since September because of my surgery and recovery, so it was very obviously a direct answer from the Lord that this is an area He wants me to continue to pursue. :)

My specific prayer right now is that God will raise up a few other local consultants as I'm the only GG rep within nearly 100 miles in any direction of Reno. With health limitations I am not really in a position to do shows on a consistant basis, but I would love to be able to be a resource to my team members and watch God grow their success with such a great business, while I keep things more low-key on a personal level, taking individual sales and team building.

Homeschooling continues to be a huge blessing in our lives, even at times where I really struggle physically just to cope with the basics of motherhood and home management. When a friend was recently sharing that she didn't think she could homeschool, I told her how school time is our point of connection even when the rest of life feels like it might be unraveling around us. I am so thankful for this blessing to share such sweet time and memories with my precious miracles.

Exciting things are happening with Hannah's Prayer too, as I will share soon. Because it's so special, that needs the attention of it's own entry. ;)