Follow the leader

I’ve learned so much in the past few weeks about following the path God is paving for me. It’s funny, you think you’ve got it all figured out. You think your relationship with Him is on fire and couldn’t possibly change or improve. But then He breaks you down in a new and different way. Sure, it hurts. Sure, it’s scary. But it’s also necessary. You need those experiences so that you can go to a whole undiscovered level of Him.  

Everyone always tells me I’m so strong and I totally appreciate that! But if I’m being honest, I still have bad days. I still cry and ask God why I have to wait. I recently had a night where I didn’t think I could do this infertility thing anymore. I didn’t think I could handle the weight of my maternal desires anymore. But then He sent me a dream of my baby girl and I remembered why I have even stuck it through this long in the first place.

One of my absolute favorite songs right now is called “Called Me Higher” by All Sons and Daughters. The song has legitimately been on repeat on my iPhone for weeks now. It speaks to me so deeply and profoundly. In fact, we sang it in church a few weeks back and I wish I could describe the presence of the Holy Spirit around me in those moments. Wow. The lyrics I’m really feeling connected with right now are these:
And I could hold on

I could hold on to who I am and never let You

Change me from the inside

And I could be safe

I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home

Never let these walls down


But You have called me higher

You have called me deeper

And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord

“I’ll go where you will lead me, Lord.” Profound. Infertility is hard. Life is hard. I could have chosen to let these trials drag me down. Sometimes, I actually did. I could’ve been comfortable just simply believing in God and believing that He’d eventually give us our baby. But He called me higher than that! I had to know and trust that where He was, and is, calling me was is going to be more amazing than I could even imagine. It really is as simple as a game of follow the leader. He stuck his hand out to me, and I took it. The Lord wasn’t satisfied with idleness, and frankly, neither was I. 

Since I finally surrendered this journey to Him in July, I’ve seen a major shift in my relationship with The Father. He’s always around me, always talking to me, always directing my steps. I mean.. honestly. He’s doing some crazy stuff. Y’all, I’ve always dreamt of the medical field. Anyone who knows me, knows that about me. But a few months ago, I felt Him call me to ministry. Specifically in the realm of infertility. I actually had one friend mention this to me without me ever sharing that with her. Ministry!? Not in the form of becoming a pastor (I don’t think), but definitely being an example and a light for women who know this hurt. What??? But God, ministry wasn’t in my plan. 

Then again, neither was infertility.

 

“In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord. “If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,” says your God.” -Isaiah 66:9

God never intended for me, or any of us for that matter, to suffer for no reason. There is always a story to be told. Whether you’re experiencing a death or loss, whether you’re experiencing a divorce, illness, job loss, infertility, etc. The Lord is always for us. When these things come along, it’s to shape our testimony and prepare us to go out into the world and share the good news of victory. He makes beauty from ashes. Even the most devastating and tragic events will be something beautiful in the end. I may be waiting for my sweet miracle, but Jesus Christ bought and paid for this struggle when He died on the cross. He paid for yours, too. The battle is already won! He has called you and I higher than our pain, higher than our struggles, and higher than idleness. He has called us into action! Don’t just sit and wallow in that pain. It hurts, and the last thing you want to do is to keep going. It may even feel like you can’t keep going. But I promise you, He’s got so much up ahead. You’ve just got Trust that He’s called you to it.

I refuse to sit back and be quiet. I refuse to let this struggle be for nothing. I refuse to not celebrate the victory that I know is coming. I refuse because He chose me. He called me. And buddy, I’m going. Why? Because He’s never failed me yet.

Have the most blessed day,

Mal

Obedience: Not just for the dog

So I’ve had writer’s block since my last post. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to write about, even with lots of prayer about it. Even now, I’m kind of unsure where this post is going to go. Let’s find out together, shall we?

In the days and weeks since I finally surrendered to God and handed the reins back to Him, my life has improved immensely. My spirit is lighter and brighter. My smile is bigger and the most genuine it’s been in a long time. Shoot, my worship has even changed! I started letting my hands drift outward during worship at church a few weeks ago, but today my hand went straight. in. the. air. I was getting it! I’m completely certain that this has everything to do with the fact that the Holy Spirit and I are totally in sync these days. Are you ready for this, y’all? 

This past week, I was laying in bed, and Holy Spirit whispered a name in my ear. Very specifically He mentioned the name of a girl I only knew because she is engaged to a guy I went to high school with. She went through an absolutely devastating loss earlier this year (which I knew about via Facebook) and you know what I was instructed to do? Message her. Y’all, I didn’t even know this girl. Did you hear me!? I said I didn’t even know her. And yet, He said to reach out. Hesitantly I did. I gave her the instruction to hand her pain over to God. To surrender all that hurt and brokenness to Him because He wants to restore her. WHAT!? Luckily, she received that instead of thinking I was a lunatic. Of course, my fear was of the flesh because He already knew she needed that message. She even told me she did! I can’t make this stuff up, friends. When the Lord says go, you go. 

We all know the saying “actions speak louder than words.” But did you know that saying works with God, too? Acts of faith and being obedient are part of being in an intimate relationship with Him. I mean, hello!? He is our Father. Part of trusting Him and His plan is obeying His instructions, even when they seem questionable. He will literally never lead you astray. He promises us that. And if I know anything about the Father, it’s that He never breaks a promise. 

Acts of faith are just as important. Remember last blog post when I talked about speaking life over yourself? How everyone who asks, receives? Well, acts of faith are an extension of that. Believing for a job at a Fortune 500 company? Go buy yourself a suit to wear to your first day on the job. Believing for the offer to get accepted on that house? Go buy your welcome mat. Or, if you’re me, you’re believing for the miracle baby girl that God has promised you and you’re starting to clean out your current guest room so you and your husband can paint it pink. Some might call me crazy, but if I turn out to be wrong and we have a boy, at least the nursery was already cleared out and we can always paint it blue. Buuuuuut, I don’t forsee that happening.

When you’re obedient and faithful to Him, He will bless you in ways you never imagined. He loves to spoil us! So, show Him you’re open to receiving His blessings. It might be intimidating, but you’ll never look back, I promise!

Wishing you blessings,

Mallory

Ask, Believe, Receive

Let me tell you, I’ve started and restarted this post approximately 4,000 times. I know what I want to say, but I can’t seem to get it out effectively. Let’s see if attempt 4,001 is a success.

I was inspired by two totally incredible people this week to write this. This post is actually something I posted about on my personal Instagram back in March (photo below). 

Special shout out to Caroline, the creator of our infertility support group, Moms in the Making and author of the devotional and blog In Due Time. She talked about this a few days ago in the group.

The second person is a guy I just virtually became acquainted with via Facebook after I shared a powerful message he gave. You can find a link to that here.

So, what’s this mystery subject I’m alluding to? Well, I’d be happy to share. Hold on to your seats, folks. It’s a big one.


This subject came to me months ago when a friend suggested I watch a Netflix documentary called “The Secret.” The documentary talks about the law of attraction and that if you want something, you have to speak it to life. The documentary refers to “the universe,” so I wanted to see what The Word had to say for me as a believer. What I found was that it actually lined up quite well. 

In short, Matthew 21:22 says, if you pray for it intentionally and believe you’ll receive this blessing, you will. I talk a little more in the caption about what this means. To go even further, I also looked at Matthew 7:7-8. It says:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Wow. It doesn’t get much more plain or simple than that. Our words literally have the power of life and death over our situations. What does this mean?

Well, it’s all about wording. Caroline gave a great example. You can say “I am infertile.” Which, by the way, is speaking death over your situation. OR, you can say “We are believing for a miracle, and we just haven’t received it yet.” THIS is speaking life over your situation. 

Essentially, when you speak with purpose and confidence that you will receive your blessing (a baby, money, a new job, a new house, healing, etc), you speak it into reality. But when you listen to Satan’s lies and you speak death over yourself and your situation, that’s what you bring into your life.

Don’t believe me? Tell me, when you have a goal and you are motivated and determined to meet it, how often do you achieve that goal? Most times, right? What about when you have a goal but you say “I could never reach it”? 

To push this further, let me touch on Vaughn’s message. He makes an excellent point. Why do we focus on our problems instead of focusing on the One who has already promised to provide a solution? Why did I waste so much time focusing on the mountain of infertility I faced before I realized I needed to turn to the Father, who has conquered the world and promises me redemption? God crumbles mountains! What seems impossible to us is minuscule in comparison to God’s power. Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing! 

One of my favorite worship songs right now says “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” A-stinkin-MEN! I don’t have to live a life of fear, of what ifs, or of pain because I have JESUS! Jesus came, died, and rose again to set me free from the fear of the unknown. He gave us the freedom and the power to speak LIFE over ourselves and our situations because what makes us happy makes Him happy.

Speak life over yourself! You only need faith the size of a mustard seed to see that your Mountain can be moved. All you have to do is tell it to.

You can do this,

Mallory

B is for barren

barren [bar-uh n] (adj): 1 not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile: a barren woman. 2 unproductive; unfruitful: barren land.


In my first post, I referred to Psalm 113:9. It discusses that the barren woman will, at some point, have a happy home and children. The Bible says a lot about barrenness. In fact, there’s five major stories of barren women that stand out. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth. 

The one people are probably the most familiar with is Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Sarah was infertile for 39 years before she became pregnant with Isaac at 90 years old. 39 years of barrenness!! And yet, she believed and God answered her prayers. If you don’t know the story of Isaac, definitely look into it. Great stuff!

The story that sticks out to me the most, though, is the story of Hannah. Oh, how I admire her strength. The Bible goes in depth and paints a very clear picture of the pain and agony Hannah endures emotionally as she prays continuously for a child. She gets to the point where she’s in a place of such brokenness that she stops eating. And yet, she still hands it over to the Lord. Eventually she goes on the have SIX children.

Ok, I know. You weren’t expecting a Sunday school lesson while you were here. So why is this important? Allow me to explain.


You see, I relate to Hannah on such a deep level. I have had days where I legitimately could not bring myself to get out of bed. My poor husband would sit at my bedside and stare helplessly at me and hold my hand as he asked me what he could do. I’ve had days where I thought I couldn’t do this for even another second. Days where I’ve yelled, screamed, and shouted at God. I’ve questioned His goodness because how could He do this to me, His child? Didn’t He love me? Of course He does. There’s nothing that I have done or ever will do that will change His steadfast love for me. 

Still, I got to a point where I was broken down to probably my lowest level. And that night, a very dear friend and amazingly strong sister in Christ got very real with me. She told me truths I didn’t like hearing. I almost hung up on her. I cried and I got filled with absolute anger toward her. She had the audacity to tell me that I didn’t trust God, even though I said I did. How could she say such mean things to me? What did she know, anyways!? You know that saying about the truth hurting? Yeah, that. 

Turns out, she was right. And I slowly took the advice she gave me that night. Bit by bit, I chipped away at the wall I’d built. My death grip on the illusion of the control I had slowly started to loosen. There’s a quote I encountered during that time that will forever stick with me. “In order for God to show us He is in control, He has to put us in situations we can’t control.” Obviously there’s a special “Mallory” clause that states that you also have to have a friend get really real with you on top of that because you’re just too stubborn to let it go, but that’s beside the point. 

*pause. This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding. Praying right before the ceremony with one of the biggest prayer warriors I know!*

So where do I stand now? Well, I’d say my wall is nearly gone. There’s just enough between God and I that I can reach out to Him and allow Him to hold my hand, but I just need to step over that last couple rows of brick so that we can walk side by side.

I’m so very blessed that we have an absolutely incredible support system. I’ll tell ya, there won’t ever be a child more loved or covered in prayer than our baby will be. I get to know some of the strongest prayer warriors this side of Heaven, and they’re praying for OUR baby. A baby that has been chosen for us by God, whom He has shown me in my dreams. And allow me to be very clear: no thing and no one in this world has the power to put a stop to what God has already set into motion. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Why? Because our God is a big God, and guess what? We’ve read the back of the book. Spoiler alert: God prevails! Our miracle is coming, ready or not, like it or not. We just have to wait a little extra and work a little harder to get our baby. But we WILL get her.

Fortunately, I am in good company in my barrenness and waiting. Countless strong women (and men) have gone before me, and they survived. That’s because barrenness isn’t forever, it’s just for now. You see, when God created the world, He created it ALL. When He said “it is finished,” He MEANT it. He didn’t say “this is a work in progress,” He said it was done. That means He knows the very moment of conception of our miracle. The moment she will take her first breath. The moment of her first step, first laugh, first word, who she will marry, all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He knows ALL of those things! I need only to wait. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” -Exodus 14:14

Fruitful thoughts,

Mallory

Hello, my name is..

Oh, hey there.

It had been suggested to me on more than one occasion to start a blog. After being assured that at least one person is interested in reading what I have to say, I said “why not?”

I guess that leads me to why I’ve started a blog. It’s simple, really. And also really, really complicated. “It” is infertility. If you, too, are familiar with a reproductive endocrinologist or want to learn more about what the heck that is, you’re in the right place. So then, I guess this means I should introduce myself for those of you who are new here, huh?

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My name is Mallory and I am 25 years old. I’m happily married to my awesome husband, Josh, who is almost 28. He is otherwise known as “that guy with the beard.” We live in a small town in Indiana with our four (yes, four) dogs: Freckles, Max, Peanut, and Leia. We also own a cat named Bandit, or as we like to call him, Kitty. We were married August 6, 2016 and started trying right away. We knew it would be difficult to conceive, but it became very clear, very quickly just how big of an understatement that was. To paint the picture for you, let’s take it back a few years.

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After a five year battle, I was officially diagnosed with stage four endometriosis when I was 18 years old. It was so extensive that 2 weeks after surgery, my doctor flat out told me I’d be lucky to ever get pregnant. However, if I DID want to get pregnant, I’d need to try sooner rather than later. I was young, dumb, and unmarried so babies weren’t exactly on my mind. I naively continued on my birth control. Collectively, I spent nearly 8 YEARS on the pill. Ask me now how I feel about birth control and its effect on the body, I dare you. Hindsight is 20/20, amiright? Anyways, there’s a lot of irrelevant fluff from 2010 to early 2015 when Josh and I met. I can tell the whole story later, but we knew on night numero uno that this was it. A few months before we got engaged, I started tracking my cycles intently. Anyone who knows me knows I’m very educated on the inner workings of the female reproductive system. My current gynecologist once described me as “very astute” and her most “well informed patient.” *insert curtesy here* I say current because the OBGYN I was seeing when we got married is not the same doctor I now see. In fact, I told my previous doctor in 2014 that I thought I had PCOS. Long story short, she essentially told me I was ridiculous for even mentioning it. Spoiler alert: I was right.  ANYWAYS, I called after the wedding to let her know I was having 50-70 day cycles that were extremely irregular and that I needed help ovulating. Wanna know what she did? Not a darn thing. She said “lose some weight and call me in a year.” Mind you, for a woman my age with no known gynecological history, this is a standard response. But she KNEW of my history. However, she still found a generic response to be appropriate for my case. Well, if you don’t know this yet, I’m very strong willed and stubborn. Needless to say, I didn’t like that answer. I sought out my current OBGYN in October 2016, and guess what!? She diagnosed me with pcos in the first week of my being her patient. I was already headed down an awesome road to finding answers.

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We started with two rounds of clomid (a drug that aids in ovulation). I responded really well to it, but I didn’t get pregnant. In January we did our first semen analysis and started talking about surgery. Surgery was scheduled for Valentine’s Day, and our results came back from the semen analysis. They weren’t good. We had very poor motility (the way the sperm swim). It was only 10% and she wanted it to be at least 50%. Our counts were great at 34 million, with a minimum being 20 million. We got Josh started on some supplements to see if we could improve the numbers. Those results will come later. I want to take a moment to pause and say that although Josh is fairly open about this half of our infertility journey, I’ve never shared that publicly until now. In fact, very few people knew until now. I guess I wanted to protect him in a way. From what, I don’t know. But I’ve come to the realization that I’m not truly sharing our journey with you all unless I’m honest about that. I am a huge advocate for infertility awareness and part of that is breaking the stigma that it is something to be ashamed of. It’s not! — Anyways, back on track. Surgery showed more endometriosis, definite pcos, and unfortunately completely blocked Fallopian tubes. Doctor felt confident that she got them unblocked and was optimistic about our chances of getting pregnant moving forward. Keep this detail in the back of your mind, it’s important later. Two more rounds of clomid were unsuccessful, and my final round caused painful overstimulation. Josh’s second semen analysis showed 34% motility (yay! Improvement!) and 51 million sperm. Still not ideal, but a huge improvement! Way to go, hubs!! However, I began to feel like something wasn’t right.

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I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of my emotional roller coaster through those months. There were millions of tears, days of utter depression, moments of screaming out to God, physical pain, emotional agony, countless hours of prayer. The list goes on. The only way I made it through those moments was knowing God promised me my baby, and someday I’d get it. And on a day when I’d gotten yet another negative pregnancy test and laid on the couch and sobbed uncontrollably, God spoke to me. He shook me right out of my emotional breakdown and awoke in me the desire for more. More answers, more professional opinions, more options, more, more, more. That day I made an appointment to meet with my first reproductive endocrinologist. A reproductive endocrinologist (RE) is, to put it simply, a doctor specializing in infertility. This doctor agreed we needed help. Clomid wasn’t enough. He said we needed intrauterine insemonation (IUI). Long story short, that idea was okay at first but eventually, it didn’t sit right with me either. That’s not because of my humanly feelings, by the way. God had bigger plans for us, and I just hadn’t hit the nail on the head yet. As always, He showed up to direct my path. By God’s own good design, a friend reached out and recommended her RE from Indianapolis. I did some research and listened to her testimony. I took a leap of faith and scheduled an appointment for 5 days later. When I got there, the doctor confirmed what I knew in my heart. We didn’t need clomid. We didn’t need IUI. What we needed was IVF. My endometriosis and pcos combined were too extensive and too damaging. However, her number one concern was my Fallopian tubes. Remember those? She said they’ll never be properly functioning and it is only a matter of time before they are blocked again. This was our only shot. But it was going to cost us roughly $15,000. How in the world!?

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I came to terms rather quickly with the idea of IVF. You see, God has given me peace about it since day 1. We are in the midst of fundraising for this procedure (actually, procedureS, but whatever). Not once have we hit an obstacle or had something stand in our way. God has taught me everything about what it truly means to surrender the things I want to control. Let me tell you a secret: I don’t have control anyways, but I pretend I do. He has never failed me or my husband. He has promised us children. One verse I cling to is Psalm 113:9, which a friend shared with me almost a year ago. It states, “The Lord will give the barren woman a home and make her the happy mother of children, praise the Lord!” Amen!? He has promised us a baby, and He has even gone so far as to give me visions of her face. That’s right, blog page heard it first. HER. I fully expect a baby girl first for the Dull family. We aren’t picky, but the Lord shows her to me often. She’s gonna be gorgeous, and I’m totally not biased. But, for now we just have to wait for the Lord to decide when we get to hold her. I will praise Him through this wait because He is GOOD. He may have assigned me infertility, but He also designed me as a leader. And as it turns out, He needed me to be a voice for those who don’t have one. Because the reality is, an estimated 1 in 8 struggle with infertility. Estimated because not everyone is open about it. So I will gladly be the voice. I will gladly advocate and spread awareness. I will gladly share my story in the hopes of inspiring others. And you bet you tush that I’m going to have one powerful testimony to share one day, and I’m going to do it while holding my miracle baby, sharing the glory and the power of Jesus. Because in all things and all situations, He. Is. Good.

Thanks for reading!

Wishing you blessings,

Mallory