Thursday, February 02, 2017

You Just Do It

I am often asked the question, “How do you do it?”  Most of the time it is in reflection of my chaotic life;  Mama of 4, part-time employee, pastor’s wife, etc.  But that’s just it, we all of those moms we look at and say, “How do you do it?”

I ask the same question when I see a mama with twin babies,  a full-time working mama, a mom with 4+ kids who also home-schools them, let’s just say any mama who is juggling multiple things…which is all mothers.

Our weary faces, and tired eyes gently say…”You just do it!”  I learned this phrase from my own mama.  Mother to 3, employee, caregiver to many children in addition to her own,  etc.  I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at my mom in sheer exhaustion, tears in my eyes and said, “Mom, how did you do it?” With her emphatic eyes she responds, “You just do it.”

There are many wise phrases my mom has spoken to me in my lifetime that I cling to.  But in this moment, when I am exhausted, frustrated, and so sick and tired of stepping on Legos, I hear my mother’s gentle voice in my mind say, “You just do it.” 

Those words bring me comfort.  I know my mother, as well as many mothers before me and many beside and those to come, have all stepped on those dumb Lego pieces.  We all have mountains of laundry to fold, nasty toothpaste sinks to clean, curdled milk sippy cups to wash, math homework to help with that we have no clue how to explain and “we just do it”. 

There isn’t anything magical in the phrase, it’s just comforting knowing I too can get through this. 

Yes, we love our families.  Yes, we love our careers.  Yes, we do love fresh shaven legs, but whose got time for that, am I right ladies?!

In these tender, depleted moments I hear a few more phrases that comfort me deep within my soul…
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:29

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” ~1Peter 5:7

 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience... Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.”  ~Colossians 3:12-15

To my dear fellow mamas, as we herd those kids to school or basketball practice or church or wherever, let us bind together in perfect harmony and love each other.   Let us support and care just as Christ does for us.

Hang in there ladies.  “You just do it” because Jesus gives us the power to keep moving forward.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Infertility: Dealing with Mother's Day

I know I said I was done with this series, but with the upcoming Mother's Day celebration, I thought I would write a little something. 

Mother's Day is a wonderful day to honor those in our life who love, support, and give sacrificially to us. It is a wonderful day!  I love my mom deeply and appreciate her more than I can express with words. 

But for those struggling with infertility, this day is crushing, painful, and downright hard. It is a day being constantly reminded of your desire not being fulfilled. 

At our church we have a baby dedication service. Although meaningful for those involved, it's painfully suffocating for those struggling with infertility. Again, the painful reminder. 

It is also a reminder to those around who look at you with sorrowful eyes. They simply are reminded of your pain and they give that sheepish smile. All well intended mind you and most of the time done out of a spirit of love.  But crushing all the same. 

Mother's Day 2007, I had been struggling with infertility for 6 years and I was growing quite weary. After helping with baby dedication and saying with a smile, "Happy Mother's Day!" about what seemed like 100,000 times, I was done. I told my husband, "next year I'm staying home."  It was too painful to bear.  My super awesome and supportive husband understood and welcomed the thought. He's so cool. 

Here are some suggestions for dealing with Mother's Day. 
1. Celebrate your mom the Saturday before. Explain to her why you want to celebrate her and how Mother's Day in general is so hard. Most likely your mom will get it and support you. 

2. Don't go to events that celebrate moms. I know that sounds awful. You love and support moms all year, take a day away. And let's face it, no one will noticed that you weren't there, they're too busy celebrating.  

3. Do something extra special with your spouse. Go to a movie, go on a hike, go do something. It is good to get out and play on this day. Otherwise we tend to feel alone and sad. But be warned, stay away from the lunch time hour...moms galore!

4. Write in a journal what happened that day. Write about he joyful fun things you did. Make sure you title it "Mother's Day". 

Now, I don't have it all together and don't know all of the answers, but at least I hope you find this helpful!

You are loved. Hang in there!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Gasp....It's the Shoes!

Ok when I think about that statement I usually tie it to some celebrity wearing an amazing dress with some equally amazing shoes. 

Not so much my experience today.  I was  so graciously invited to a beautiful baby shower today. The land was gorgeous with all of the flowering trees and fields of yellow flowers (yes I think a field of dandelions is one of the most beautiful sights!). There was a pond...oh man any bride would love to get married there. 

When I walked in the building where the shower was being held I was in awe of how beautiful it was. It was like I walked right into a Pinterest haven. So pretty.  

Ok. Let me back up a bit. The shower began at 10:30 am and of course I'm pulling up at 10:50 am. Because let's face it, no matter how hard I try it's hard to get anywhere with four kids. (Ok real moment, it was just me and my baby coming to this party....) There are no excuses for my tardiness, but still I was uncomfortably late. 

I opened the door wearing wet hair carrying a baby, diaper bag, 2 presents and a box of diapers. Yeah, I didn't look disheveled! 

The rest of the party was fantastic, beautiful and it was so great to see the mama opening all of her sweet gifts. 

The best part of the whole day happened 8 hours after I returned from the party. I was up in my room and I look at my shoes...

Yup I wore two different shoes to this fancy baby shower! Ha ha I'm sure no one noticed or we would have all laughed.

 I looked at my shoes gasped and said, "it's the shoes!" Then laughed hysterically. 

The moral of the story...laugh at your mistakes. The End. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Taking a Break

It's spring break week. Yay!  Because of this I'm taking a break from blogging to hang with this crew. 

Hope to be posting again next week. Have a stellar week! Ha ha, I just said stellar. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Infertility: Embrace the Now

Be warned...I'm about to get real.  As I write about infertility my hope and prayer is to expose you to the real gut pain that is happening to so many couples.  I can only share with you my experience, but my prayer is that if you are currently in the middle of infertility you can find hope in that you are not alone.  If you are just reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart becomes more tender to the pain of infertility.

About year 3 into our infertility I decided that I would not allow my pain to consume my life.  I decided that if I couldn't bear my own child, I would invest in those around me.  Being in youth ministry and my friends having children, kids were everywhere.  

What did I do?  Invested in teens, my friends kids, etc.  I spent my time and energy with them.  I showered them with all the love that I would shower on my own kids.  I taught them about God and how he has a plan for all of us, etc.

I was reminded of the story of Esther and how Mordecai encouraged her to take advantage of the situation she was in "For such a time as this.."  I realized that right now I was given a gift of few responsibilities and to take advantage of it.

As I previously mentioned, I invested in students and children.  But I also invested in my marriage and friends.  My husband and I traveled around the world on mission trips together.  We took vacations, we saw a ton of movies, we laughed and played games.  We embraced life as we knew it.  I would often find myself grabbing a chai with friends.  I surrounded myself with those I loved.

Sometimes I miss those days.  I'd love to say to my husband, "hey this weekend, let's go to Chicago!"  But I wouldn't trade my crazy family for anything.

So in your waiting, what can you invest in?

Embrace the now.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Infertility: When Friends Have Babies

Be warned...I'm about to get real.  As I write about infertility my hope and prayer is to expose you to the real gut pain that is happening to so many couples.  I can only share with you my experience, but my prayer is that if you are currently in the middle of infertility you can find hope in that you are not alone.  If you are just reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart becomes more tender to the pain of infertility.

We love our friends.  We love that their family is expanding. Is it hard? Yes!  Do we celebrate with them? Yes!

Chances are if you are struggling with infertility you have gone to your fair share of baby showers for your friends.  You may have even thrown a baby shower or two for your best friend.  I threw a few of them for some friends.

Friends having babies, going to baby showers are both exciting and hard.  It is a weird combination of feelings.  Your heart is so full of joy for your friends and so full of pain that you cannot have a child.  The crazy thing is it happens simultaneously.  Wait, how can you be full of joy and pain at the same time?  You can.

"Should I go to the shower or go see the new baby?  It will be hard!" This may sound weird, but if you just can't attend a baby shower because you just found out you weren't pregnant, by all means DON'T GO!  Sometimes attending those things are more painful than helpful. 

BUT if you are in a good place or even a semi-good place...GO.  Rejoice with them. 

Romans 12:15 has become one of my life verses. "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."  Maybe it is because i understand both joy and pain, or maybe it is something completely different. I don't know.  But one thing I do want to be known for is someone who rejoices when others rejoice.

So when your friends are having babies, do what you can.  Don't push yourself to the point of depression, anger and severe pain.  It's not worth it.  Just send them a gift.  But if you are in a place where you can handle it, even if it is still hard to attend.  Attend the shower, or go to the hospital and see that new baby.  Support your friends, love on them and their new baby.  Rejoice with them.

Romans 5:3 "We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Infertility- They Said What?!

Be warned...I'm about to get real.  As I write about infertility my hope and prayer is to expose you to the real gut pain that is happening to so many couples.  I can only share with you my experience, but my prayer is that if you are currently in the middle of infertility you can find hope in that you are not alone.  If you are just reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart becomes more tender to the pain of infertility.

People mean well. They really do.  But even well meaning people say stupid stuff sometimes.  I know I have said stupid stuff and now cringe when I think of what came out...Yikes!

When you are dealing with infertility people say dumb stuff.  You often hear, "When are you going to have kids?"  A very well meaning and fairly normal question. But to someone who struggles with infertility, it is like a dagger to the heart.  Why?  Because infertility is often on your mind, children are on your mind, you see pregnant women everywhere you go, and YOU CAN'T HAVE KIDS!  So although it is a very gentle question, the pain and hurt of everything you are walking with resurfaces and your heart hurts.

To those of you who ask those questions, it's ok.  You are not in the wrong, you are a very caring person.  Just be aware and sensitive to those who are struggling with infertility.  For those of you who are struggling with infertility, remember these people are not out to get you.  They actually care for you and they are speaking out of love.

Then you just have the rude mean people.  And to those people I say, steer clear.  Here are the two of dumbest things said to me while in the midst of the pain of infertility.

"When are you going to stop being selfish and have kids already?"
This was said to me at a restaurant with my husband, our friends and their children.  My friends' eyes opened wide and they stared at me.  All that went through my head is the coined phrase that was my polite way of saying "BACK OFF!"  That line, "When God provides."  I offered a fake smile, excused myself and cried.  Dumb words, right?

"Guess what Janelle, I'm pregnant and it only took me 3 weeks!"
This was said to me while I was at church ministering to high school students.  A fellow leader (she was well aware of all of the heart ache I was experiencing) said this to me at the beginning of youth group.  Needless to say, I was done for the night.  I offered her the fake smile and said, "Oh that is so great! Congrats!"  Then I excused myself, ran to the bathroom and cried.

I know, right?!  Who says that?  

It's ok to cry.  It's ok to get mad and frustrated.  But don't live there.  If you live there, that is when bitterness, self-pitty and whole bunch of ugliness settles in.  And it ain't never good to live there!

So in the midst of these dumb comments, find a phrase you can pull out of your back pocket when you are in shock!  Deal with the pain of that comment, but then also move forward.

It's also ok to laugh at the sheer ridiculous nature of some of the dumb comments you get. If you can find humor and laughter in the midst of this, laugh, it will only help.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Infertility-The Silent Struggle

Be warned...I'm about to get real.  As I write about infertility my hope and prayer is to expose you to the real gut pain that is happening to so many couples.  I can only share with you my experience, but my prayer is that if you are currently in the middle of infertility you can find hope in that you are not alone.  If you are just reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart becomes more tender to the pain of infertility.

I titled this post "The Silent Struggle" because that is what infertility is; a struggle no one wants to talk about.

It is usually by year 3 of marriage with no kids that people start to whisper when you walk around them.  I get it. Curiosity gets the best of me too.  Most of the time it is people who so badly wish for a couple to have kids because it is such a great thing.  What they don't realize is those whispers are painful.

Why are they painful?  Because all of a sudden you are put on an island with a giant bright light shown on you.  You are exposed.  The most precious and intimate part of your marriage is on display for the world to see.  Only you didn't agree to this.

No way would you want to struggle month after month with not having kids.
No way would you want to have awful feelings of inadequacy plaque your mind.
No way would you want to be the only one of your married friends not having kids.
No way would you want to have the pity eyes placed on you.
No way would you want to....the list is endless.

This is a personal struggle.  One that is so private that should be shared with your husband. Only now, the world is starting to notice and is starting to talk.  They don't necessarily talk to you to see how you are doing, because they don't want to offend you.  Instead they talk about you and how awful they feel for you.  Now don't get me wrong, most of the time it comes from a very loving and concerning heart.  It's just not always executed well.

So what struggle silently.  As you walk through this very difficult part of life, you feel as if you are all alone.  You want to sit and talk with someone else who gets it, but who?  So instead you sit there, quietly.  Crying with each passing month knowing just a bit more of your hope is dying too.

You struggle wondering what you have done in life to have deserved this.  You struggle wondering why God would allow this to happen to you.  You wonder why people who don't want to have kids get pregnant and have an abortion, yet you cannot get pregnant.  You wonder, will my husband leave me because I cannot bear a child for him.  You struggle with self-worth, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. 

For those of you walking through infertility surrounded by a fog and completely confused...I get it.  I've been there.  In those darkest years when a piece of me died each month, I held on to one thing...a rope.

God gave me a picture that I still use when I face trying times.  I want to share it with you.  

You are in a pit.  A really cold,dark, scary one.  All you want to do is get out of that painful pit.  When all of a sudden you look up and you see a small hole of light.  That is where you want to go.  As you begin to focus more on that hole you notice a rope.  You notice that rope could take you out of the pit and into the light.  That rope is named "hope".  "Hope" that is placed there by God.  You see on the other side of that rope is Jesus holding on to it so you wont fall.  He believes in you and wants you to believe and be hopeful. 

You grab that rope and begin to climb.  You start climbing and begin to make progress when all of a sudden something happens and you slip.  You recover and begin climbing again.  Again, you slip and fall further than before. Determined to make it to the top you keep climbing.  Time and time again you slip falling further and further away from the light, from the promise.

Time has passed and you are exhausted.  Your body and mind are fatigued.  You have fallen so far that the only thing that remains is one tiny thread of that rope.  The very last string of hope.  Determined you hold on to that rope.  As you hold on, you hear a voice saying.  "Hang on!  Don't let go!  I believe in you and have hope for you."  You muster up the very little strength you have left and you hang on. You tell yourself, "do not let go of the thread, it is your lifeline!"

Eventually, you make it to the top.  Exhausted, sore muscles and ripped up hands you lay flat looking up at the sun.  It seems brighter, warmer, fresher.  The climb was hard, painful and discouraging at times.  But you didn't let go, and you are stronger for it.  

Whatever your life issue, we all have them.  We may not understand what someone else is walking through, but one thing we all understand is pain.  So if you are walking through pain, I'm sorry.  I understand pain.  I want to encourage to you find your rope of hope.  

What/who is the rope in your life?  Allow God to hold on to your rope and pull you up. And  always remember...Don't let go of your Lifeline. He is your hope.

You are loved.

Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Infertility-The Back Story

Be warned...I'm about to get real.  As I write about infertility my hope and prayer is to expose you to the real gut pain that is happening to so many couples.  I can only share with you my experience, but my prayer is that if you are currently in the middle of infertility you can find hope in that you are not alone.  If you are just reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart becomes more tender to the pain of infertility.

It is no secret that Derry and I have struggled with infertility.  In fact it is a major part of our greater God story.  I have often been asked to share my story, be it with a woman's group, teenage girls, or young moms struggling to get pregnant.  I gladly share my story because it isn't my story, but God's amazing grace in my life.

To begin this series I thought I would give you a brief back story on my married life.  My super awesome and HOTTT (yes "hot" can be spelled with 3 t's) husband Derry and I were married in May, 2000.  We are so pumped to have been married at the turn of the century.  It makes it easy to remember how many years we've been married.

In June 2001 we decided it was time to start trying to begin our family.  I went off birth control and we let nature do it's thing!  However, a year passed and the message never got to the baby stork delivery department.  Because there was no baby a brewing in my tum tum.

Concerned but not overly concerned, we decided to talk with my OBGYN to see what was the deal.  We chatted, I began charting my monthly cycle.  After a few months of filling out charts, she put me on Clomid.  If anyone has ever taken that stuff, then you know the hormonal mess I was about to embark.  YIKES!!

I'm not quite sure how many years I saw my OBGYN before we decided to see an infertility specialist.  We were starting to get anxious and all of our friends around us were beginning to have children.  Life was getting hard in this area.

At the specialist, we had tests done.  Both of us had minor issues, but nothing that would keep us from having kids. It was just going to be harder for us.  We were encouraged by our first visit.  But with the passing of months and years and no baby, our hearts hurt.

By August of 2007, we had three IUI* procedures done, no children and a whole lot of tears and disappointment.

Life without kids was hard.  Many people told us well meaning but hurtful things.  We were prayed over and encouraged.  All wonderful things, but all the more painful with each passing month and no baby.

Life was hard.  It was hard to smile.  At times it was hard to breathe.  It was just...HARD.  

In 2007 we adopted our first child, 2011 adopted our second child, 2012 I gave birth to my biological child, and in 2015 we adopted our forth child.   Although we adopted our two oldest, we were still battling with infertility.  Our battle lasted 11 years.  And in that time, although I had become content and overjoyed with having our family expand through adoption, I still wanted to experience pregnancy, and everything else that comes with having a biological child.  

So now you know that back story.  
Stay tuned for more...

* states "Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the Fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Who Am I?

I am Janelle.  Daughter of the One True King,  Bought by the blood of Jesus, Co-heirs with Christ.  I am loved by my heavenly Father and am called cherished and beloved.

I am Janelle.  Wife to the AMAZING one and only Derry Prenkert.

I am Janelle. Mother to the sweet Katylynn, the caring Moses, the playful Kiki, and the tender Malachi.

I am Janelle.  Daughter of two wonderful parents, Dave and Pat Lister.

I am Janelle.  Sister. Co-worker. Friend.

I am Janelle. Graphic Designer.  Gardener.  Restorer of things old.  Amateur artist.  Blogger?

I am Janelle. Mentor.  Small Group Leader.  Teacher.

I am Janelle. Lover of laughs and smiles and Disney.

Who am I?  Someone greater than titles.  Someone who values life and people.  Someone who is need of a Savior.  Someone who desires to love Jesus above anything or anyone else.

I am Janelle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Before I die..."

I am sitting in a location that has different elements of interaction.  A fireplace directly behind me, a coffee/bookstore to my right, large windows where I watch the snow gently make it's way to the ground. But to my right I also see two large boards that say “Before I Die…”  

Written in chalk are colorful dreams and desires including "To be a mom", "Fly a plane", “Host SNL”.  The SNL one made me smile and giggle simultaneously.

As I sit and type, a teacher enters the room with about eight 4 year olds.  She brings them to some chairs by the fire and has them sit down.  She explains what the boards say and proceeds to ask the children what they would like to do before they die.

One little boy says, “I want to bake an apple pie with my grandma.  She is in heaven.”

A little girl says, “Go to the park.”

And still others shot out many fun ideas.  These kids may or may not understand the question asked to them.  But as I watched them answer I saw excitement and wonder dance within their eyes.

I now sit and ponder that question, “Before I Die…”

So many thoughts flood my mind “skydive”, “go to Australia”.  Then I allow my mind to fall deeper into that question.  What do I really want to do before I die?   Probably the more appropriate question is, “What legacy do you want to leave Janelle?”

  •  To love Jesus my whole life through.  When I die, I want my life to have reflected that of Christ.
  • To guide my children in the way of loving Jesus with their whole life.  And to love Him as He created them, in their own way.
  • To bring awareness of issues that plague my heart.  Some of which, but not limited to: adoption and the orphan crisis, those caught in slavery around the world, and to love people as God designed them to be.
  • To disciple and encourage females in life.
  • To write a book to my kids.  Explaining all I have gone through and how Jesus has transformed my life.
Oh the list I can create of what I want to do before I die.  But honestly, what I REALLY want to do before I die is to live out the Great Commandment;  to love Jesus and to love people.

What would you write on the board marked “Before I Die…”?