We left the states on the 23rd February, had a 25 hour layover in Iceland for my birthday and landed back in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 4:20pm 25th February, 2014. When our plane landed it brought me back to 9 years ago when we first moved to Northern Ireland. We had very few contacts, no jobs, no church, nothing really that would make the transition smooth. What we did have was a belief that God had called us to Northern Ireland and that He would meet us there.
This time when we landed we came home, the place where we have invested the last 9 years of our life. One of our dear friends who is more family than friend, Julie, collected us at the airport. We had our lovely home to go back to. We had a bed, food in the cupboards and a few other friends had already been ahead of us and cleaned the house for us. We were coming back to a wonderful church family that we love and have missed so much while being away. We were coming back with a promise fulfilled and it felt strangely familiar to our first arrival yet so very different. Even though it was so difficult saying our goodbyes to our incredible families and friends in the states whom we love dearly, we knew we were coming to the right place. Our hope that God would meet us here 9 years ago has been physically displayed to us by all that we have come back to and all that has happened through the years.
As you can see in the picture above, we did not travel lightly. I collected many new clothes (including both maternity and baby) while away and Bryan aquired skis and boots. We both had our concerns about how the journey home would be. Traveling with that much luggage is not easy, especially when one of you is not allowed to lift anything heavy. From our first port in Seattle our trip was smooth sailing. We had help from Pete and Molly getting everything sorted in Seattle. When we arrived in Iceland all our bags were there as were trolleys for us to push our heavy bags with. We were able to collect our rental car no problem and they extended our rental till the morning we left. All our bags fit in this tiny car like puzzle pieces perfectly cut. Our bags then arrived in Gatwick and were checked into Easyjet with only one bag being additionally charged. The whole journey was so smooth and easy. Thank you God!!!
As we reflected on the journey both Bryan and I felt God’s hand had been with us. I am not trying to over-spiritualize traveling and our luggage but we both could see it. In many ways it felt like a confirmation that we were headed to the right place. It felt like a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It also spoke to us of God’s ability and desire to show up when His children do.
Our journey back to the states to invest in our families did not seem like the logical think to do. We had finally arrived at the point where both of us had full time employment and life felt comfortable. In our history when life feels comfortable that is usually when God begins stirring us to do something unique. I am not saying this is a recipe that every person should adhere to but this seems to be the way God speaks and moves in our lives. Going back to the states was a gamble and a risk financially. Yet God provided for us every step of the way after what we had saved was gone. Family and friends dug very deep at times to take care of us. Thank you family and friends for doing so. We watched you be the church and God’s hands and feet to us during our time in the US. Without your extreme and outrageous generosity we would not be pregnant today.
When we went back to the states we also left with no intention of going through fertility treatment again. Now look at us, pregnant with twins! We thought we were merely going back to invest into our own families while God could see that we would be investing in the future of our own as well. Wow!!! What a beautiful experience to have gone through it all with our families standing by our sides!
Now we are back in our lovely home living normal life. Looking for jobs, cars, making plans for the next year and settling in again, but oh it feels so good. Daily I feel God gently reminding me that He is aware of our biggest and smallest needs. Once again we are seeing miracles daily in God’s ability to provide for our needs better than we can provide for ourselves. Our past has been a continual reminder that when we are proactive and take a few risks that God tends to show up in the gap that we could not fill. Our past is also occurring in our present and I am confident that it will be the same in the future.
Abba, thank you for bringing us back to this place that represents your promises fulfilled in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for allowing us to have a home over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and even sunshine today. Thank you for preparing the way when we cannot even see a path. Thank you for my husband and his support in my life. Thank you for our expanding family and showing yourself faithful to us this way. Thank you for our family and friends who are still loving and supporting us from a distance and for our friends who are doing it up close. We give back to you these little lives that you have given us. We dedicate them to you. We will love them to the best of our ability and be thankful that you will always fill in the gaps. Simply put… thank you Jesus! Our hearts are full as are our lives!
This winter while in Alaska, my lovely mother-in-law taught me to paint watercolours. I am in love! I relax when I paint and the world fades away, plus the best part is I feel connected to my Creator when I create.
The picture above is a watercolour I did for some dear family members of ours. This family is one of warmth, authenticity, love and fun. This family recently endured something that I cannot even begin to fathom and if I am honest never want to. They have two beautiful children but sadly lost their third child, Levi Joshua. He was gorgeous! Tiny but perfect in many ways. This family has been open and have shared this journey as they have plowed their way through the piles of emotions that would obviously surface when this kind of tragedy hits. All I can say is that they have walked the faithful walk of trust even without understanding. Grace when they would have preferred bitterness. They inspire me to love God for who He is, not what He does and gives us. Those things are part of God’s nature, but at the end of each day, my (or your) circumstances will never and can never dictate the character of God. For that I am forever grateful.
As I go to bed each night I pray now, more than I ever have, for this little life that is growing inside of me. I thank God for him/her. I pray our child/ren come to know Jesus and who He really is at a young age. I pray for joy, peace and passion for life. As I pray, my heart also wanders to those who are still waiting. Waiting for their breakthrough. Waiting for God to take their pain away and to change their situation. Waiting for the anger that comes from miscarriage to subside. Waiting for the jealousy of another persons joy to fade, even just a little bit. I feel the tension here, in this place.
That was our story for 8 years. Every announcement made that wasn’t ours, every baby gift bought that wasn’t for our baby, every dedication that wasn’t ours. So as much as I am rejoicing, completely elated with the moments we are living in right now and soaking it all in. My heart is still breaking for my friends or your friends who I either know personally or who I have only heard of that are still waiting.
As a follower of Jesus, the one thing that I couldn’t contain was my hope that someday we would have a family. I had let go of the specifics of this a long time ago but hadn’t let go of the desire and innate yearning to be a mother, to see Bryan cradle our children, to see our family expand. Today I encourage those who are still in the waiting…there is always hope. For those who are praying for someone, pray they do not lose hope. It truly is the anchor of our souls and true hope is only found in Jesus. Pray they keep their eyes on Him. He is overly aware of every thought, feeling and circumstance in our lives. Nothing sneaks by Him so put your hope and trust in Him. We are still standing with you in this gap.
As you all know, our world has drastically changed since last Friday. A few days on I am still reeling from the news and shock that after our long wait, (sometimes feeling like eternity) we are pregnant. I am carrying a precious life inside of me. I will be a mother and Bryan will be a father. Our family is expanding and I don’t think either of us could be more delighted! We have watched from the outside looking in at so many of our friends over the years to have sufficiently dissipated all illusions that this next phase of life will be easy, blissful or perfect. What we do hope for is to have our hearts and minds expand as we love another human being more than we thought possible. To grow in grace for ourselves, each other and this little person/s who will demand everything from us and give us very little in return for quite sometime. To cradle our newborn and stare in awe at him/her and wonder what we ever did with our time before. There are so many hopes and dreams attached to having a family and many of them I haven’t even begun to realize. So I am praying a lot. Praying that God dreams over me as I dream over our baby. That our baby encounters Him at a young age and falls in love with Jesus the way her/his parents have. So many hopes.
Some of you may like to know how we told our families so I will give you the brief version. Once we took the phone call, heard the news, fell apart and started shaking, we made our first call to MamaChud who anxiously awaited in Alaska. It was a special moment seeing her face and knowing her heart! Then we went to the ever cool Starbucks located in the Nampa Target store and borrowed their wifi. Bryan called his brother Aaron while I called Carla, Aaron’s wife. We told them at the same time. Then repeat the cycle with Bryan’s brother Nate and his wife Marisa. These 4 conversations were so much fun, there were tears shed, questions asked and overall joy at the faithfulness of God and the ways in which only He can move our mountains.
Then came the difficult task of lying to my parents as we waited for a family dinner that night. We wanted to tell them all together so we lied, saying the clinic called and said it would be later…and later. Once we were at the restaurant (Dad, Mom, Brad, Lainie, Kyle and Cali as Chase was gone) and everyone had ordered Bryan gave me the wink ‘Are you going to show them the bruises on your stomach from the injections?’ I obliged, stood and lifted up my shirt to reveal what Bryan had written on my belly: ‘Coming Oct 4th Baby Chud!!!’ It was hilarious watching the confusion in some of their faces and then seeing the lights go on and the celebrations began! My mother started shouting ‘Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!’ over and over again and everyone was squealing with delight! The wait was over, the answer was here and God had granted us our request! Amazing! Still feeling the moments of that first day. My niece Cali sent a picture of my stomach to my brother Brent and his wife as they joined us later. They were so excited that they stopped and picked up the sweetest pair of Nike trainers for one of our first baby gifts. You can see them in the picture above as well as the adorable fur booties that Lynda gave us (they used to be Bryan’s and she saved them) and the pacifier that my mom couldn’t help but buy at breakfast one morning. It’s all so memorable and we are soaking it all in!!
We also made a few calls to friends in the states, Canada and then Northern Ireland! There was rejoicing all over the place and it was lovely to be the ones making the announcement this time! (Sorry to keep so many NI folks awake that night!!)
So now what? Well I go back in for another blood test to check my Beta levels on the 3rd Feb and then I have our first ultrasound on Valentine’s Day, how great is that? Happy Valentine’s Day to us!! At this ultrasound we will find out if we are having one or two (or as my nephew seems to think four) and we will be absolutely, 100% delighted with any number as long as the baby is healthy, strong and growing! Of course the additional bills are still rolling in and we continue to trust God for His miraculous provision this way. They told us from the beginning that there would be unforeseen costs as we went through the process and they were not lying. Yet right now it seems silly to do anything else but trust God as we have watched His hand at work through this whole process and even the timing of being stateside for it all to begin. If you still feel the desire to help us then don’t hesitate to contact us, we still need prayers and financial miracles and as always we are honest about that. We know that none of this could have happened without the prayers and financial support of each of you so once again we thank you from the depths of my belly where this child is making it’s home:) I am praying for a bit of each of your DNA to be transferred into this baby as in so many ways it is your child too.
Healthy development of the baby
Direction as we embark on our biggest adventure yet!
I was reading in Psalm 33:18-22 and 34:4-5 today, it says this:
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.
I pray these verses encourage you as they have me. We had hoped for the lovingkindness of our God and have experienced it all these years of waiting. He is what kept us alive in this personal and emotional famine, He was our manna. Our souls waited on the Lord over the years and He was our shield, protecting us. He has been and always will be our one, true hope. Through this all our prayer has been to glorify God and to walk this path in faithfulness to God. The road was rocky but because we continued to look to Him, He made us radiant, and we will never be ashamed of our belief in Him, regardless of our circumstances. Yet we are so very thankful that He moved heaven and earth on our behalf this time. Thank you Abba.
There is so much that we could say but I feel the picture says it all. The world will be welcoming baby Chud somewhere around the 4th October 2014!!!!!!!!! We found out today, the 24th January at 11:45am that our treatment was successful and that we will become parents this year!!!! Thank you so much to our family and friends who have prayed for, supported in every way/shape/form and carried us during this journey over the last 8 years. This is as much your breakthrough as it is ours!
Abba, thank you for remembering us and being faithful to keep your promise. Amen and Amen!!!!
Yesterday. How do I begin to describe the unfolding of yesterday? The best place to start is with the picture above. My best friend Kelly who came to be with us for the transfer captured this candid photo. This photo shows Bryan and I in a natural moment and I love it. We were not tense or stressed. We were relaxed, comfortable and even slightly excited. The night before the transfer we were lying in bed talking and expressed how there was no fear in either of us regarding the outcome of the test that will follow in 10 days. We know the outcome we desire but we know that God is with us regardless. Each answer will be a gift from God that can be used for His glory, it will lie in how we choose to walk forward with the answer. We also ended up in a fit of the giggles in bed that didn’t allow us to fall asleep till 2am! I consider that something special and rare as well!!!
We went out for coffee at Flying M Coffee Shop in Nampa, my favourite coffee shop, before we headed to Boise. The time was special and relaxed, very normal.
A good chunk of our Idaho family turned up for the coffee date and I am so thankful (my Mom took the picture). We said our goodbyes, gave each other hugs and away we went.
We arrived at the clinic right on time, they took me back to take my valium. This was to help me and my uterus relax, it worked! About 20 minutes later they came out for me and said that Bryan, my Mom and Kelly could all come into the room for the transfer. It was incredible having each of them there for the moment of the actual transfer. We could see it on the ultrasound screen and watch the embryos move into the uterine lining by way of air bubbles marking them (which you can see in the scan). As you can imagine it was emotional, tears all around. Dr Slater and the staff were so encouraging though. They said our embryos were the strongest for the January cycle of all their patients! That is due to all the prayers for sure!
They implanted 2 embryos and at this stage they are two weeks matured so if they implant I would be three weeks along by the time the test is taken. So many things in this process are hard to wrap our heads around and this is one of them! Since the transfer I have been on bed rest and will be till Friday morning. I am recovering well from the procedure as it was not too invasive but I am a bit uncomfortable at times. I have so many people around me that are doing everything for me and feeding me very well which I am enjoying to the full!
Today we also made the decision for Bryan to extend his stay in Idaho till the test date on the 24th January. We are both so relieved and excited to know that we will find out the news together. It’s been a long road and it only seems right that we receive the call together. This fact alone brings a calm that is so sweet and reassuring, thank you Jesus!
Now the waiting begins. This is harder than the treatment at times because you can do nothing to change the outcome at this point. We will be doing our best to occupy our minds and time over the next ten days with whatever we can. I am sure it will consist of lots of walks, movies, books, magazines and the list could go on! Yet we feel strong inwardly and outwardly. We feel God’s presence at every turn of this journey. We are at peace.
We can’t fully express our gratitude to each of you for everything that you have done for us. Your prayers and support are what has gotten us through so keep praying!!
To finish this entry I want to end with a verse Kelly read the morning of the transfer that she said was for me:
Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, lived blessed! Be healed of your plague.” Mark 5:34 The Message
This whole experience has been a risk of faith for Bryan and I again. We are hoping and believing for our healing and a wholeness, that only God can accomplish, be brought to this area of our lives. We believe we will live well and blessed as we already are but with a new fullness in our personal experience!
First off I would like to start with an explanation of this picture. World, meet my niece Ava! Ava is a caring, strong and fun little girl who adds so much brightness to our lives. We have 7 nieces and nephews in total + one on the way and we love them all!!! This photo is from Ava’s dance recital in Anchorage. The Chud girls were able to go into town on Saturday for a girlie day and we started it with the performance. We may be biased but we thought Ava was the best dancer, smiled the most and simply lit up the stage! Saturday was one of those ‘normal life’ moments I have come to treasure during this extended time in the states. Soon I will be back in Idaho and making some more normal life moments with my side of the family. Right now I am thankful for it all!
To update you on where we are at with our fertility journey. This past Thursday we received an email from the clinic in Boise granting us 25% off all procedures and treatments!!!!! This doesn’t include meds, labs/bloods or anesthesia but still means they will take off a significant chunk from half of the procedure cost. We are also delighted, overwhelmed and shocked to report that as of right now we have $13,300 committed and $9300 actually in the bank. Some of the money committed will be coming after the new year. We estimated with the clinic that the treatment would cost around $20,000. Now that we have been granted the discount the figure is closer to $17,500. We cannot believe so many of you have been willing to not only support us through your prayers but also through financial gifts! Thank you from the deep places in us for your outrageous generosity!! Words feel very inadequate to truly express how we feel. Thank you!
The next step is our phone consult tomorrow morning to set up our Plan of Care. As I have explained before this is when we will find out the timeline of treatment. We will be informed of when we will start our drugs, when Bryan will give his sample, when the eggs will be retrieved and when implantation will occur. The schedule is set up but much of it has to do with how my body responds to the drugs. The clinic has already sent us an example plan. It was kind of intense to read over. If I am honest I got a little emotional. Reading through the schedule stirs up something inside of me that feels like a mixture of hope/anxiety/excitement/concern/etc; an emotional cocktail of sorts. It reminds me of our first attempts at achieving pregnancy through ICSI. It reminds me of the shots, ultrasounds, check-ups, uncertainty and the overall feeling of having no physical privacy left. It reminds me that we are going through all of this again in hope that it will work and turn into genuine and legitimate excitement, not just the idea of being excited. It reminds me of the days that followed our two unsuccessful rounds of treatment and the grief and sorrow during those times. It reminds me of the kindness of the staff at the hospital in Belfast who were so kind when I had hyper-stimulation. So many memories.
At church today I had the pleasure of helping lead worship with my husband, two brother-in-laws and a few other musicians. For those of you who don’t know, my brother-in-law Nate is a talented songwriter. He introduced a new song of his this morning called ‘Magnificat’. He wrote the song after being inspired by reading Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-55. Nate asked me to read the passage of Scripture. As I read the passage I nearly lost it emotionally. Read the passage yourself and you will understand why. Verse 31 was where I lost it. This is what it says:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
The word ‘conceive’ gets me these days. There are so many verses that say something about women conceiving, there wombs being opened and having children. I am in no way comparing myself to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, a worshipped religious figure to many. Yet I find comfort in knowing that Mary conceived her first child in an extraordinary, divine way. I am looking at our experience of treatment as an extraordinary, miraculous opportunity to conceive. I am thankful for modern technology that can hopefully help us achieve our dream of starting our family. Mary had the angel Gabriel, we have angels too in my opinion. They are Dr Slater, Kara, Diane, the rest of the staff at the clinic, our family and friends.
To conclude this post I end with Psalm 27:8, a friend recently encouraged me to read it, thanks Grace.
When You said,”Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Abba, through all of this, help Bryan and me to seek Your face. It is You we seek. We long to bring You glory and the honor that is due Your name. Take our lives and this journey of having a family and use all of it however You will, but give us You. Amen.
This past Tuesday Bryan and I went to the hospital in Wasilla to have bloods taken. This is one of the first steps towards moving forward with our fertility treatment. The pic above shows the tags put on each of our vials (Bryan gave 3, I gave 7). During this difficult process there have been some humorous moments and Tuesday reminded me of one of them.
A year ago I, Bre, had bloods taken to test for ovulation. A few weeks after the test was taken I received a very apologetic phone call from the nurse at our doctors office in Dungannon. Apparently my blood test had been labeled with Bryan’s name and not mine so the test came back inconclusive and they would need me to come in again. The lady was sincerely sorry but I started laughing out loud on the phone with her. Reason being that I was imagining the lab technician reading the test he was running on the blood, then realizing it was a mans name on the vial. He most likely was a bit confused or hesitant to run the test. Sometimes mistakes happen and thankfully this was a small one but I am relieved as well to know that Bryan has not been ovulating nor do I think he ever will!