The Carry Camp »

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Before retreat registration goes up to full price, we wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to sign up!  Wanted to make sure you knew that the retreat center is 30 miles outside of Nashville, so if you are flying you will need a rental car (or have someone driving pick you up!) – we can also help facilitate groups going in together.

All you pay for outside of the registration cost is your transportation! We will feed you, give you a comfy bed and all the coffee + snacks your heart desires!

click here to register.  

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we also wanted you to hear from some gals who came last year: 

“It was such a beautiful time to connect with other women who understand what infertility is like and how hard it is. I was so, so encouraged by the talks and teaching. It was so prayed for I knew I was hearing the truth about God and my infertility and it was emotionally so good for me.”

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“I was instantly connected to a tribe of women who totally understood my heart. We were able to engage in life-giving and challenging conversations. I was nervous going into it but I knew I’d be glad I went. And that proved to be 110% true. I am so so grateful for the opportunity to gather with and lean from these women.”

2016-05-11_0001“The retreat provided open doors to talk with women who are in the same library, reading the same book, on the same page. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced!! I realized on Saturday that I was half way through my story and could barely remember the name of the girl I was talking to. We didn’t get caught up in the usual trappings, but had the chance to cut through the crap of fake smiles and oh, I’m greats, and get right down to the heart of God’s work in our lives and brutiful mess that is infertility.”


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“This retreat was so incredibly healing. I love that there is a group of women that I know that have all walked this tough road. Through our pain God can give us hope and joy.”

“One of the hardest things about dealing with infertility is the isolation and loneliness that comes with it. Spending a full weekend of women who just “get” the struggle was such a gift to me. And learning from and encouraging each other with truth from Gods word only made our time sweeter. The women I met there will always be in my hearts and prayers and I am so grateful I took the leap of faith to travel across the country and be a part of such a precious retreat.”

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“I absolutely loved hearing the talks! And I loved hearing them from people who have made it through (seemingly from where I stand) to the other side and can see some good in their journey. Please don’t misunderstand, I know that each of you still struggle, but at this point in your journey, you can say there was good in the hard times. I needed to hear that!”

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“God’s personal message to me was to take hold of the full freedom that His grace has won for me. He really used the weekend to write into my story very personally a lesson He has been imprinting in my heart for sometime.”

you convinced yet?

click here to register.  

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guest post by Elizabeth Madeira

For me, infertility brought with it great and unexpected grief. There are some areas of loss that I anticipated, such as the loss of things going according to plan, the loss of control, the loss of time I imagined having children in our home, or the loss of a whole lot of money! But, one loss I never anticipated after our diagnosis was the loss of my identity.

I never before realized how my entire life was planned with giant arrows pointing toward the day when I would become a mother. Everything from my career choice to the amount of money we had saved in our savings account was all intricately planned to facilitate becoming a parent. When I was a young child I would watch a video of my mom’s called “Bringing Home Baby” that was about everything you needed to bring home a baby. I made lists and “went shopping” among all my baby toy paraphernalia to be “ready” and then took care of my toy baby. A few years later, I would pretend I was the mother of seven children. I would name them all and pick their personalities and interests. I came up with detailed “activities” and put them in a calendar so I could organize my “children’s” lives. I pretty much always pretended and fantasized about being a mom.

Then, in college, despite the fact that I enjoyed my Mass Communications major, I learned that the hours weren’t very conducive to being a mom, so I changed my major to education. Even though I loved being a Spanish teacher and am 100% confident this is what I was supposed to be doing as my career there’s no denying that the overarching dream of becoming a mom influenced that decision.

But, the worst part of making motherhood my identity came after marriage. Dave and I had a proposed date that we wanted to start trying and I counted down to that date. Even though parenthood always seemed (and still seems!) overwhelming, it was as if my heart was always drawn to it as the time my life would REALLY begin. So, I looked forward to that date with a little too much anticipation and excitement. I drew up a “baby budget,” attempting to plan how much baby expenses would be and how that would work in our budget, if I could feasibly go to part-time work, etc. I would even stroll down the baby aisle at Target imagining the things we would need for our baby, and even bought a few clearance items (oops).

But, as time passed, after we got our diagnosis, and after our initial treatment plans (both naturalistic and then medical) didn’t work, I realized I had no idea who I was anymore. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MOM! That’s all I could think about: the fact that I flat out wasn’t who I was supposed to be! What was I supposed to do with my life if I wasn’t planning for motherhood? If I wasn’t actually able to do any mothering?! Who the heck am I and what am I supposed to be doing with my life?! All this preparation. All this anticipation. All to just STOP.

Since losing my chosen identity, I began a journey. A journey to discover who I really was with motherhood out of the picture. And it was a very difficult and challenging journey. But, you know what? It was also a beautiful journey! A journey of discovery. Of trying new things (and sometimes failing) and of discovering other things that I’m good at and that I enjoy doing that I never would have without infertility. A journey that has connected me with people that I never would have gotten to know otherwise. A journey of slowing down and appreciating each moment of life as it comes, breathing deep and being mindful (ok, I’ll admit… I’m still in the learning phase of those skills years later). But, at its core it was a journey of appreciation of myself whether or not I ever became a mother. And of being content with God and His presence and power in my life without the other things I’ve told Him I so desperately thought I needed.

At first it seemed like infertility ruined by life, but it actually gave me some undeniable gifts. I was given the opportunity to discover who I was created to be. I’m first of all a child of God, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a dancer, a writer, a learner, an encourager, an advocate, a servant, a pray-er, talker, thinker, listener, explorer, do-er, helper, crier, a planner and a laugh-er. And now, I now also identify myself as a mother of two through adoption, kids that I never would have had if it hadn’t been for infertility! Another gift! But, I’m so grateful to also have learned so much about myself that I believe now make me a better mother than I would have been otherwise.

So, don’t ignore this time in your life and use this time to discover more about who you truly are! I’m not saying that infertility isn’t a horrible, awful thing. Because it is. But, I learned to look for the little gifts along the way, some big, and some little. Take this time to discover who you are without the pressure of needing to be a mother (or father). Take this time to feel truly loved, by your spouse, your family and friends, and mostly by God. And hopefully, one day you can all add “parent” to the list of who you are. And then, it will not be your only identity.

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I miscarried in late winter, so this Mother’s Day is going to be even harder than before. Once I received that double lined test, I added “First Mother’s Day” to my dreams about to realized. But then it ended. And “first mother’s day” became “first mother’s day without you”. How do I get through Mother’s Day?

Thanks for your help,
A

Dear A,

The good news is that it’s only a day. You can get through one day. You’ve done it before. You’ve gotten through days when your period started and it shouldn’t have. You’ve gotten through days of doctors giving you bad news. You’ve gotten through countless baby showers and public baby announcements. You’ve gotten through the worst, hearing that you’ve lost your baby. You can do this. As Glennon says, you can do hard things.


You have a few choices of how to spend that day. If you just want to “get through it”, here are some ideas:
* Binge watch Netflix and eat cookie dough and drink wine and before you know it, the day you’ve dreaded is over.
* Take a day trip somewhere new.
* Skip church if that’s easier.
* Buy yourself something special to commemorate the day (flowers or a new pair of shoes).
* Deep clean your whole house and go through those boxes you’ve forgotten about in the basement.
* Avoid Facebook all the day long.
* Pamper yourself with a pedicure.

Or…you can use this day as a step toward healing:

* Allow yourself to feel weak and weary and messy. You can stay in bed until you don’t want to anymore.
* Share your feelings with your husband, and make sure he realizes how important this date is going to be to you.
* Read back through The Carry Camp, realizing you’re not alone in this.
* Ask your friends to pray for you throughout the day, lifting you when you’re too weary to lift yourself.
* Journal
* Send encouragement to the other women you know who are also waiting.
* Go for a long walk, listen to music that feels healing, take a nap, take a bath, call your mom, read a book.
* Plant a tree or flowers at your home, memorializing your baby.
* Allow yourself sadness and grief.

But, most importantly, celebrate yourself and the fact that you ARE a mother. Even though you aren’t holding your baby in your arms, you held your baby in your womb, and you are a mama. Recognize that on Sunday.


You aren’t alone as Psalm 136: 23 tells us: It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;  and  as 2 Corinthians 7: 6 promises, God comforts the downcast.

You’ve got this, sister.

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guest post by Colette Eaton

Shame is a sneaky gremlin that always catches us off guard. We are trying so hard to reach this one goal of building a family and still the question, “Am I doing enough?” hauntingly shrouds our thinking.  Our friends and loved ones give advice with the best of intentions, may cause us to feel shame. The simple activities that accompany infertility such as: trying to get pregnant, “stop” trying to get pregnant, testing, receiving (huge) medical bills, and the results. All these things can contribute to an identity of shame. We may not recognize it in the moment but that feeling of “not enough” begins to shape our identity; Of not having enough, of not doing enough, of not being enough.

{{First, let me set one thing straight before diving further into this subject. Guilt and shame are NOT the same thing. Guilt says “I have DONE something wrong”. This speaks of doing something against our very nature, something we know better about and still choose to do it. Shame says “There IS something wrong with me”. I messed up because I am messed up. Guilt can be a healthy tool that is a part of the redemption process. Shame is weight around our necks sinking us into pits of despair, anger, and isolation. Shame and guilt are not interchangeable.}}

There are many shame messages that come at us during our struggle with infertility. We are constantly questioning our actions, our heart, and second guessing it all over again.  And the message we hear often of, “not enough” is evident. We hear this message subtly through conversations or blatantly through a family member. Shame happens; in this journey and frankly, throughout our lives. We can’t completely eliminate shame; it will somehow find a way to get to us because shame is what happens to us and not about our own sinful nature. However we can become resilient to it.  I have adapted this teaching from Brene Brown’s audio teaching “Men, Women, and Worthiness”. You can buy the full teaching on iTunes for $9.99. I highly recommend it.  Here is a short summary of Brown’s shame resiliency steps and I pray that it will help us become more empathic, compassionate women in this difficult journey.

The whole goal of shame resilience is to move from shame to empathy, to move from fear to courage, from blame to compassion, from disconnection to connection.  The men and women who do this well have four things in common. These are the elements of shame resilience”

  1. Recognizing Shame We need to know when we are in shame. This is a big first step and maybe the most important. If this is the only thing you take away from this teaching, it’ll be life changing. So how do we know when we are in shame?  It’s biology. Did you know that shame actually has physical symptoms? Brown says that the feeling of shame is the same as trauma: When you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting the car in front of you, the survival part of your brain (known as the Amygdala) kicks into high gear. You know this as the “fight, flight, or freeze” zone. Here are a few physical systems that you can look for: Tunnel vision, tight chest, heart races, shaky hands, sweaty palms, hot flashes, tingling on skin, time slows down, etc.

Question: What do you physical feel when you are in shame? “This is life changing information. We are not fit for human consumption when we are in shame,” Brown states.

Once you are in survival mode, the Prefrontal Cortex goes completely offline; this is the reasoning part of your brain. At this point, we are not thinking. So what needs to happen from the time we realize we are in shame to then getting back on our emotional feet? First, when you realize you are in shame, DON’T DO ANYTHING. Don’t say anything, don’t email, text or Facebook anything. Brown states that people in shame are dangerous, especially to those with less power: Our children, our employees, our students.  Find your emotional grounding again. Second, get your Prefrontal cortex back online. Some would say they need to take a walk, get alone for a moment (normally 10-15 minutes), take deep breaths. For Brown and myself, I know that I will have to cry in order to get my grounding again. A mantra that Brown says to herself is “Don’t shrink, don’t puff up, stand your sacred ground”. Don’t shrink, meaning don’t disappear or go into hiding. Shrinking can manifest as people pleasing as well. Don’t puff up, don’t fight shame with shame. This can be any form of cruelty, anger, pride, or self-righteousness. Stand your ground, stay in your rightful space. Don’t get smaller or bigger than yourself. Stay in your sacred space: The space where you are fully loved and accepted by God.

  1. Practice Critical Awareness. Reality check the messages that fuel shame. When are you the most vulnerable? What are the shame messages that are being said?  What expectations are being laid on you?  What triggers shame for you? There are many categories: appearance, stasis, money, career, etc.  But in this particular blog, the big trigger is motherhood and fatherhood.  The messages that some of us hear are: “I am broken”, “I am not a real woman”, “I am not a real man”, “I don’t have enough faith”, “God doesn’t love me”, “I don’t deserve good things”.  When we can reality check these messages, we can discern what is really true.  Ignoring these messages is not enough.  We need to first acknowledge them and then choose to believe something else.  For example:

Shame message for me: “You don’t have enough faith. If you truly believed God would give you a baby then it would happen. This is my fault.”

Reality checking, “I acknowledge that I feel this message but I choose to believe that God does not work like a faith slot machine; That if I give Him enough faith, He will eventually give me what I want. This is a lie and I choose to continue to believe that I have been given good things through Jesus and His work on the cross”.

Question: What shame messages do you hear?  What triggers shame for you?

  1. Reach Out – Tell your shame story to a friend. One who is comfortable with shame and can sit with you in it without getting uncomfortable about the topic. This is super important to understand when sharing your story. There are people who just want to fix it and throw the lights on, and say “Look, it’s OK now!” but then you feel shame for feeling shame! Avoid these people. Find those friends who can hold a compassionate space for you while you tell your story and are empathic. In telling our shame stories we don’t need to hear good advice, we need to her “I get it”.
  2. Speaking Shame – Calling shame, shame. Not to be picky about wording but Brown talks about how important it is to call shame for what it is.  This came out of her research that people who develop shame resiliency call shame for what it is: shame. “It’s about exposing shame to the light…bringing out our darkness into the light.” (Brown)

Being Enough: Living Wholeheartedly

So the ultimate goal of shame resiliency is to live with wholeheartedness.  It’s “about engaging with the world from a place of worthiness” (Brown). That yes, we make mistakes and yes, we could have done things differently with treatments or adoption or whatever. BUT we are also brave, and strong, and have great faith. We have wrestled with ourselves and with God, and we still choose to believe that through Jesus Christ, we are worthy of love and belonging. Nothing can change the fact that we are His children, fully accepted and adored by Him. And in Him we are enough.

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