'if only to have an excuse to share my story.'

In December I shared a contest during our 12 Days of Christmas event. I didn't know what to expect, I really just went in with the mindset that I would know the winner when I saw the entry. (Turns out, there were two stories in all those submissions that were just needing to be told.) I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, to be honest. The very first email submission I received was from Jen who wrote,

I'm excited about this giveaway if only to have an excuse to share my story.


The next 10-11 paragraphs set the bar high. She told a story of life & love. Being engaged young, marrying 6 months later knowing they wanted & were ready to start a family and her getting orders to go to Iraq with disappointing news that an early blood test revealed that no, in fact those were not pregnancy symptoms as they had hoped. She told of how they survived the effects of war, transitioning into civilian life and, on top of it all, the possibility of infertility. Specialist after specialist, treatment after treatment, nothing worked - she wrote to me.

They came to Alaska for a fresh start. "We knew we were leaving behind a level of infertility treatment that is not available up here, but we thought maybe somehow a new home, a new life would make a difference. We were disappointed over and over, and began to question our choice to leave; at least in San Antonio we had a big, beautiful home, tons of shopping and entertainment, a low cost of living... everything to fill void of not having a baby."

As you can imagine, there were times in her words I started to tear up and I felt that I wasn't breathing. How could they have had to endure all of this. At this point years had passed and she felt her biological clock ticking away.

She wrote about other life events that happened during this time - finding a dog, near death, named Toklat that had been missing for 40 days. And how profound it was for her to watch his reunion with his owner. Weeks after this incident she read an article in the paper about a woman who had lost her Great Gray Owl, Earl. At this point, are you smiling? You know Earl if you have kids and live in this town. In fact, you may have seen him (& Jen) very recently. Back to the story.

Jen learned from the article that Earl was a valuable & very well loved educational bird that had visited hundreds, maybe even thousands of school children, local Alaskans, and tourists alike. When she learned he had gone missing, she became determined to find him. Not an easy task with a well camouflaged bird. But low and behold, one night after kayaking on the Chena, Lee & Jen came across Earl, hopping on the side of the road. Jen's words spoke volumes -


Earl's handler was so thankful that she offered to teach me how to handle Earl and do presentations myself. It was a welcome distraction, and something to focus on, a new purpose. Then it dawned on me: finding Toklat and Earl were a lesson about the impossible. There is always hope, even when you don't know what the outcome will be, and sometimes you just have to keep on trying no matter what.


There is always hope. I heard her say. You just have to keep trying, no matter what.

They had one more month of trying their current treatment plan before possibly throwing in the towel forever. One day after one of her doctor's appointments, Jen stopped by a local cafe and mentioned to the barista how beautiful her owl bracelet was that she was wearing. Her co-worker chimed in to say that some people believe owls act as messengers and carry your wishes, dreams & hopes to a higher power. They were the carriers of dreams.

The next time she saw Earl, she whispered her wish to him.



two months after asking a simple favor from a humble owl, a miracle happened. I was pregnant. Somerley Taylor was born right before my 40th birthday. She is a happy, healthy, amazing girl. I would try to explain what family means to me, but I think my story sort of says it all.  ... Nothing is more important than family.
Thank you for allowing me to share our miracle story with you.
I remember being in tears after I read that.
I feel so lucky I get to re-tell their story here, in a visual sense. There is always hope. Nothing is more important than family.
For you Jen, and your family. Thank you for continuing to take chances in life & love.
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