Congratulations:  “an expression of joy in the success or good fortune of another.”   Last Friday I posted a blog post about our story and how we are still waiting for baby number 3.  Within the hour, I had a notification from a friend pop up on my screen that said, “Congrats Jillian.”  I immediately panicked, wondering if I had mistyped something in my blog and given the impression that I was pregnant.  I followed the notification to Facebook where I was sure I would need to explain.  Instead, I was taken to a post by Steensma Lawn and Power and on it were written the words, “Congratulations Jillian Heerlyn!! You have won…”   I absolutely could not believe my eyes!  We have all received the personalized junk mail that makes you feel for a brief second that you may have actually won something or Ed McMahon might show up at your door with a million dollars.  They say those same words, “Congratulations (your name here)!  You have won…”  When I receive those in the mail, I immediately beginning scanning for the fine print because 99.99% of me knows it’s a scam or a gimmick, but there is still .01% of me that hopes that I may have won something.   I have never won anything in my life.  When I was about 9 years old, the local grocery store was holding a prize drawing and all you had to do was enter your name and you could win.  The grand prize was a TV.  I happened to have a friend over the day we decided to go down and enter, so my friend entered, too.  She won the TV!!!  As you can imagine, my 9 year old self struggled a little bit with jealousy.  I also could not believe I knew the person who had won it!!  I felt like I knew a celebrity.   I have entered many contests since and have learned from experience to not get my hopes up.  After a few contests, you learn that winning really is a needle in a haystack.  I still[…]

Our Incomplete Story

For those who are curious about a story (mine) that God is writing…   We literally had one opportunity to get pregnant in June of 2005, and low and behold, we learned on July 2 that we were pregnant with our firstborn, a daughter.  Since we had seemingly had no problem getting pregnant the first time, we were quickly puzzled when the reality that building our family may not happen in our way or in our timeframe.   When our daughter was about a year and a half, we started trying for another child.  Like many people, we wanted our children close together in age.  Every month that ticked by felt like time running away from us and we were powerless to stop it.  After a year of trying, we sought medical assistance with Dr. Dodds and the Fertility Center.   We were hesitant to seek medical assistance for fear of trying to “play God.”  Were we trying to make something happen, trying to take control?  Would God bless it if we got pregnant this way?  Many other questions wrestled around in our heads, but we received an encouraging word from a friend that has forever had an impact.  He said, “Since we know that it is the heart of God to bless us with children, I would do anything (morally) to make it happen.”  Hearing these words gave us the encouragement to keep moving forward without doubting whether or not God was with us.  He was and IS with us.  We were seeking life (a child) where there had been death (an empty womb).   God is the life-giver, and he sometimes uses medicine to make that happen.  We are so grateful he has.   Our story…   In the summer of 2007, we thought the dream of owning a home on enough land to keep our horses would be realized.  We found a dilapidated home on 5 acres at a price we could afford.  The house was in terrible shape, but we were willing to put in the work and we knew enough people who would be willing[…]


Friendship is hard.   It does not matter if you are in 1st grade, 32 years old, or 80 something.  Being a good friend and maintaining good relationships with people takes work, commitment, and intentionality.  There are no guarantees that your efforts will pay off in the way you would like, but if you are willing to work at it, wonderful, life-giving relationships can develop.   I had several conversations about friendship with my daughter over the past school year.  I have learned that in first grade, the goal of friendship seems to mainly involve having someone to play with.  Once you have a “friend” to play with, you hope they want to do what you want to do.  Manipulation can enter the scene when both parties are not in agreement about how to play.  They say things like, “If you don’t do this with me, I am not going to sit by you at lunch.”  The threat is dangled in hopes that it will sway the other person, and they will do what is desired by the keeper of the threat.   As we get older, our friendships hopefully grow out of the selfish, manipulative stage as we become more aware of the highly rewarding call to BE a good friend.  Hopefully we somehow make the transition from viewing friendship from the perspective of what we can get from it, and in its place we recognize a deeper fulfillment that comes from what we offer to the friendship.   Lately, I have been pondering the idea of Jesus as my friend, and it has been a tough concept to wrap my mind around.  Even after much time wrestling with this concept, I still feel I have very little idea what it really means to call Jesus, “friend” and to have him call me his friend.  And yet, Jesus has been stirring my heart and calling me to a greater understanding.  I can tell that he wants to move me from an elementary understanding of our relationship to a more mature friendship.   If he really does call me friend[…]

Hope Not Expectation

I went out to our little strawberry patch last night expecting to pick a few strawberries.  I was not going to take a bowl with me but decided it would probably be a good idea to grab one just in case.  I grabbed one of our largest glass storage containers, figuring that the bowl would be way too big.  Once I was halfway through picking our tiny patch, I realized that the bowl I had selected was way too small.  My expectations were exceeded as I began piling the strawberries on top of each other like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   We started our little strawberry patch last summer with maybe 12 plants that initially struggled to survive.  This summer, our patch has grown and is bearing much fruit!   Contrast our strawberries with our apple trees.  (What can I say, I love fruit).  My mom gave me two apple trees the first summer we lived here at our dream home on the range.  The directions for planting the trees came with the promise that the trees would probably bear fruit after 3 years.  That was 4 summers ago and still no fruit.  Last summer (summer 3), one of the trees had several blossoms, but the early spring and late freezes killed those blossoms.  I thought for sure it would blossom again this year, along with its friend, but it did not.  So we wait…   I did not expect many strawberries this year, but was pleasantly surprised.  I expected apples, and was disappointed.  Expectations are tough.  If expectations are met or exceeded, life is good, but if a situation or person fails to meet our expectations, we are left to figure out how to move forward.  Regarding fruit, it is fairly easy to move forward from disappointment, but life deals us situations that are a lot tougher than a few barren apple trees.   We can save ourselves the heartache of the disappointment that comes with unmet expectations if we practice having hopes and not expectations.  Hopes and expectations desire the same outcome, but having a hope leaves[…]

Death and Destiny

As you know, if you read my previous blog, we have spent the past week mourning the loss of a dearly loved family member.  As we process and grieve, we have naturally had a multitude of thoughts and feelings flood through.  What IS heaven really like?  What will it feel like when my soul leaves this earthly body?  What is grandpa experiencing RIGHT NOW?  What will it be like for Grandma to adjust to a new normal after spending well over 60 years sharing this earthly space with her loved one?  How does God determine who gets to live for a long time on earth and who only gets a short time?   Somewhere amidst all of the questions and wonderings, in popped a verse:  “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).   Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.   For years (long before I came into the picture) the house of Grandma and Grandpa was a house of feasting.  Up until a few years ago, they had their entire family (3 children + their spouses, plus all grandchildren and eventually their great-grandkids) over for all of the major holidays.  They selflessly cooked a large, delicious meal and fed everyone.  The house of feasting is great and full of memories.  I can testify to that fact.  Yet, God says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning.”  Why is that?   Here is what I have come up with:  When we are feasting, we are focused on and delighting in the material world, a world that will eventually fade away.  When we are mourning, we are mindful of a world (or realm) beyond the one in which we are living.  THAT world is the ultimate destiny of every person.   It is tough to be mindful of the unseen when there are so many things to be seen in front of our face.  Distraction[…]

Welcome to!  I am so glad you are here. This space was created when my life story was not following the path I expected.  For years, infertility was the main topic of my wrestle.  These days, I find myself sorting through the mental chaos of mothering, wife-ing, friend-ing, teacher-ing, daughter-ing and what-is-my-life-purpose-ing.  As I try to steady my thoughts and park them in a healthy place, God has made one thing clear:  maintaining hope in Him is the key. Check out my blog for a window into my story.

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