Saturday, December 22, 2012

Infertility Humor

Just spreading a little holiday cheer...and infertility laughs...Merry Christmas!













Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sarah's Laughter

I discovered a website that is a God-send. You can sign up for daily devotional emails to be sent to you that specifically address struggling with infertility. And I love the name, Sarah's Laughter. Below I've pasted one of the devotionals that I received last month. I happened to read this on a day that I was on my period, and it spoke volumes to my heart. If you're struggling with infertility, I hope it helps and encourages you as well. And I urge you to sign up for these devotionals too! (See the website link on the right side menu.) 

God Says "You're Welcome"

November 26, 2012
People often refer to the infertility experience as being like a roller coaster ride.  Full of emotional ups and downs.  At the beginning of a new cycle, your hopes rise and you can say with full faith and assurance that you know God is in control of your life and your future.  You know that He will bring you through this trial in your life, and you trust Him to give you a baby however He sees fit.

Throughout the dreaded two week wait (that always feels like it lasts at least two months) you try to remain positive without letting your hopes rise too high.  You know that if you’re not pregnant the fall will be devastating and the crash may be too much to take.  The ups and downs are simply ridiculous!  Still, you try to trust God through the uncertainty and you tell Him you’ll take whatever He has planned .

Day 28 comes.  Day 29.  Could this be it?  Should you wait one more day before you take a home pregnancy test, or should you do it now?  Is this the moment you’ve waited for all these months?  Did God finally come through?  Before the celebrating begins, you realize you’re right back where you started from.  There’s no pregnancy, just another period.  Another failed attempt.  Another time God has said “no”.  Another devastating “down” in this roller coaster ride of infertility.

The strong faith you held on to just days before seems to have dissipated.  You’re hurt, disappointed and confused.   If we could roll back the curtains of Heaven and have a face to face conversation with the Almighty, would it sound something like this?

“God, why?  Don’t You know how badly I want a baby?  You didn’t let me conceive.  I told You I trusted You.  I told You I believed You.  I put this in Your hands, God, and You stopped it again!”

Perhaps it’s then you would hear your Father say to you, “Child, you’re welcome.”

You’re welcome?  Did God not understand you?  Was there something lost along the way, or did God not understand?  No, hurting friend, God didn’t misunderstand.  But maybe you did.

You are reassured every time you open the Bible that God has a plan for your life that He lovingly designed specifically for you.  We quote Jeremiah 29:11 as easily as we can recite our own address and phone number, but do we really believe it?   I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.  God tells us that He knew us before we grew inside our mother’s womb.  He has us engraved on the palms of His hands.  He knows you want a baby more than you want the next breath you’ll take.  He also knows exactly what needs to happen for His plan to be made manifest in your life to bring about this hope and future for you.

God knows the hurt you feel every time you face another period and pregnancy-free month.  He also knows that if He allowed you to conceive a child that He has not destined for you it would be a magnanimous tragedy.  What if He allowed you to get pregnant, yet His perfect plan for you was an adopted child?  What if His beautiful plan for you includes a pregnancy to begin in 6 months, yet He weakened and thought, “Well, she’s begged for a baby so much, I guess I’ll give in and let her conceive a different child now.  It won’t be the child I have for her, but I’m tired of hearing her beg.”  God loves you more than that.  He loves you enough to love you through your misunderstandings.  He loves you enough to be a Father who sometimes says “no” when He knows better.  He loves you enough to make you wait on Him even when you want something so badly.  

Remember this:  Another month without a pregnancy is not a failure.  It is simply another step toward the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan for your family.

And for that, we really can be thankful.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God's Fireworks

Everyone knows the cliche, God works in mysterious ways. True, but He also works very planned, specific ways, for a particular purpose or display. It may seem chaotic from our point of view, but to Him, He knows exactly what needs to take place to perfect His plan. Like fireworks.


So much planning and calculation goes into fireworks displays. Timing is everything. How much more does God design His plan?

How does infertility fit into His plan? Why on earth would God want me to endure this pain and hardship to play a part in His plan? What good could possibly come from this pain?

John 9:1-7
1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

Reflect on that. It was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. It's not because you did anything wrong that you are now suffering the hardship of infertility (as much as the enemy wants to make you think otherwise). It's so that God's works and glory might be displayed in you. In YOU.

I'm going to borrow a story that my friend Jen shared with me to help illustrate this point. She spent some time in Peru, and while shopping in the marketplace came upon some women selling tapestries made from llama fur. She described these tapestries as so vibrant, colorful, and beautiful. To think that the fur of this


turned into this


was unbelievable to her. At the same location, they show you the process behind making the tapestries. Of taking the ugly llama fur, refining, processing, dying, and weaving it into beautiful works of art.

She said it reminded her that God is doing the same thing in our lives. We may be stuck in the mess of life, like that nappy straw stuck in the llama's fur, unable to see the full picture. Unable to see the end of this journey. But we need to trust that God is there, refining us. Processing us. Dying us. And weaving us into His plan. Into beautiful displays of His glory.

So next time you feel stuck in the muck of life and disappointment, remember this tapestry. Remember the fireworks. There will be beauty in the end, because it's God's glory that will be revealed. Trust Him to transform and use you according to His plan.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fertility Envy

This was a very interesting blog post that also references a news article written by a woman who conceived her twins easily, but felt abandoned by her friends that were struggling with infertility. Her point-of-view is interesting to read, even though I don't agree with it. She eventually admits she may have been self-absorbed about her pregnancy and it was simply too much for her infertile friends to handle. The blog post is written by a therapist who specializes in infertility support (and she herself formerly struggled with infertility).

If you'd like to read the blog post, you can click here (within her blog post is the link to the news article).

My takeaway from this subject matter is that:

A) Infertile women have a responsibility to communicate their feelings to their close friends and family. It's only wise to do so sometimes, because how can you blame a person entirely for being insensitive to your pain if you don't even mention your pain to them? Be specific. Tell them exactly what hurt your feelings, even if you think it's totally obvious. To someone who's never experienced infertility, it may not be so obvious. And don't be afraid of speaking up about your hurt feelings. Yes, it may feel awkward, but it will feel so much better having gotten that off your chest. A lot of infertility, I have found, involves teaching your family and friends what it's all about. Before I struggled with it, I had no clue what IVF, BFP, 2WW, TTC, etc. meant. I had no idea how painful it is. I had no idea how even the "innocent" question of, "So, when are you planning to have kids?" would feel like a knife cutting deep.

B) Pregnant women or women who are already mothers have a responsibility to their infertile friends to treat their heart with care. If you are aware of your infertile friends' struggles, or even simply aware of someone you know who is struggling with infertility, it's your responsibility to behave in a considerate manner. Think twice before you speak, and only speak words that encourage and edify your struggling friends. As a believer, you are called not to be a stumbling block to fellow brothers or sisters in Christ, so shame on you if you carelessly brag or complain about your pregnancy around your infertile friends.

C) We all, as human beings and especially as believers in Christ, have a responsibility to serve others around us. To not be self-absorbed and only focused on your own life. The woman who wrote the article, as the blog writer wrote, was probably unaware that those friendships were already not as close as she thought. It seemed to me that the writer was very self-absorbed and wanted to be showered with lots of praise and attention for being pregnant. Selfishness. With regard to pregnancy and children, always be thankful and humble about your blessings. After all, you did not create those children, you were merely the humble vessel God chose to carry and raise those children, so don't act prideful and selfish about it. Infertile women should strive to not let infertility struggles define your life, and consume your every thought and conversation with others. You should still invest in the others around you and not be self-consumed by your pain. Even unrelated to pregnancy, no one wants to be around a person who only cares about themselves, and shows no interest in how others around them are doing. Be selfless and not selfish.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Day Closer

When you face infertility, it's easy to get hung up on numbers.

How long does it take the average couple to conceive?
What are my chances of conception each month?
What cycle day am I on?
After trying to conceive for X months, how likely am I to conceive without help?
What are my chances of conceiving given my current age?

It can be very discouraging when your situation doesn't fit into the neatly numbered boxes that the world of statistics tries to put you in.

So allow me to suggest another way to look at your situation: Today, my friend, you are one day closer to becoming a mother. And that is 100% fact.


You see, if you're like me, you probably have your mind made up: you will become a parent some day. Though it may not result from biological children, Michael and I will be parents one day. So therefore, each and every day I awake, I am one day closer to reaching that One Special Day.

That day where my dream of becoming a mother will be realized. Where my tears of longing for a child will cease, and be transformed into tears of joy. A day where I will be able to look back on these dark years and say, "It was all worth it. You, my sweet child, were worth every agonizing second of waiting. You were worth every tear I shed."

So please, do not be discouraged if your present day is filled with disappointment, worry, or pain. If someone says something insensitive to you, if you started your period today, or if you saw a negative pregnancy test that God is with you. Today and every day. He is walking you through these dark days and towards that One Special Day. You are one day closer to that day.

It's literally just a matter of time. Each and every day, you are closing in on that One Special Day. You are closing that gap. Even though your body may be aging, and even though during these dark days you may feel like it will never happen, and your chances of having a child are only decreasing. Stop. And remember, today is one day closer to your dream becoming a reality.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Health Updates

Hi everyone, I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I have been swamped with work and that's usually when I take time to blog. (Yep, that's right, during's that for productivity?!)

I'm still planning to write a 5-part blog series, but the time frame is going to be a bit longer than I originally planned. Again, way too busy to work on it, and I'm also giving some special contributors enough time for them to send me some thoughts. I'm sorry to keep dangling this carrot, but I promise I will eventually post it!

Other updates...

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have begun a new diet. Now, when I say diet, I do not mean a temporary way of eating with the purpose of losing weight. I mean a way of eating, a lifestyle. What originally started off being, "Let's try this for one month and see how it goes" mindset, has transitioned into a fully committed decision to stick with this new lifestyle for, well, life!

I also want to clarify the details of the diet, because I actually mis-spoke a little bit in my previous entry. Our new eating plan is a whole foods, plant-based diet. The closest description of how we are now eating is vegan, but it's not exactly like that because with our diet, we can still eat meat, just in much smaller quantity than your average American. The main dietary elimination is all dairy, because it has been linked to causing heart disease, cancer, and several other serious conditions. In my case, it has been causing me to have too high of estrogen levels. I'll explain more about this in a little bit. Our diet also recommends eating no more than 2-3 servings of meat per week (as opposed to per day, America). The diet also suggests reducing significantly the amount of fat in your diet, as well as processed foods. So that means avoid oils, high-fat foods (nuts, avocado), and enriched processed foods (most cereals, breads, pastas...and a whole lot more!)

We became members of The Wellness Forum, lead by Dr. Pam Popper. Pam was featured in the Forks Over Knives documentary that I mentioned in the previous post. She has become a wonderful leader in improving the health of her clients, by practicing what she preaches. She's been eating this diet for close to 20 years. And when you see her pictures on the website, note that she's in her upper 50's...and looks, in my opinion, in her 30's. And she doesn't wear makeup. Yes, seriously.

When you become a member of The Wellness Forum, they send you a video series and course booklet for their Wellness 101 class. (If we lived in Columbus, Ohio, we could have attended in person, but obviously that would be a little out of our way.)

The video series and booklet are so helpful in teaching you the basics of the recommended lifestyle, including a new food pyramid, how to read nutrition labels, and much more. The recommended food pyramid has the following hierarchy (#1 being most important):

  1. 64-ounces filtered water
  2. legumes, whole grains, potatoes, corn
  3. vegetables, sprouts
  4. fruit
  5. breads, cereals, minimally processed grains
  6. higher-fat plant foods, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, nut butters
  7. organic animal foods 2-3 times per week (optional)
  8. occasional treats

Her recommendations for how to read food labels is so informative and helpful when shopping at the store. The key is to read the ingredients list, as opposed to focusing on the nutrition table. The greatest quantity ingredients are listed first, ending with the least quantity. She explains that food manufacturers have gotten clever about this. Take most cereal for example, even "healthier ones" like Honey Bunches of Oats. Manufacturers have learned that because they have to list the greatest quantity ingredients first, it wouldn't look very healthy to consumers to see sugar as the first or second ingredient. So they got crafty and started using multiple forms of sugar, technically different ingredients, so that those multiple forms could appear lower in the ingredients list. Another rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce it, or don't know what it is, then it's probably not good for you. Red 40 and yellow 5...what kind of tree grows that!? :)

Oh and the phrases "All natural", "100% natural", "Great source of [insert whatever]!" etc. mean absolutely nothing. There's no organization that goes around inspecting products containing that claim. But you can trust the USDA Organic seal.

She also makes the point that you may find yourself liking one particular brand of products, and 4 out of 5 products they make will be okay, but the 5th one might contain something bad. So she stresses the importance of always reading the label, even if it's a "trusted" brand.

In one of her videos, she explains about vitamins and supplements. If you recall, I was swallowing about 8 pills a day, for various nutrients. And I hate swallowing pills. But that's how much I cared about being healthy, in hopes of conceiving a child. But Pam explains that vitamins and supplements are all processed. Even though they, correctly, claim that the vitamins and nutrients come from food, it's not the same as getting the nutrients from food. She explains that our bodies are adept at extracting exactly the nutrients it needs on any given day, and those needs change from day to day. So force feeding your body the processed vitamins and supplements, forces your body to deal with the nutrients you've given it...and you're giving your body nutrients in a form that's not easily broken down by your body. And if on a particular day you have no need for extra vitamin A, then you're body just passes that nutrient quickly to waste. The best way to absorb nutrients is from actually eating food...not swallowing pills. Specifically from eating a well balanced, varied, plant-based diet. Because whatever your body needs on a particular day, your body will seek out those nutrients from the food you eat. Sure, there may be a legitimate need to temporarily supplement your body with extra nutrients, for a specific reason, but no one needs those supplements every day of their life.

Whoo! You mean I can stop taking all my vitamins? Whoo!

As we were watching that video section, she said something that made me realize it's what I had been doing. She said that she, before making changes in her life, was taking various vitamins and supplements because it was just sort of the last thing that someone had recommended to her. Like she didn't really know why she was taking those pills, but they sounded like an okay thing at the time. That described me pretty well too.

I then made the decision that I wanted to schedule a phone consultation with Pam, to specifically address my health issues (including infertility). I decided to stop taking Clomid and using progesterone cream, and to just take a break from it all. No LH surge strips. No stress.

I had my phone consultation with Pam on December 6th. In preparation for the call, I had to keep a food journal for at least 5 days. I must admit, I was a little nervous going into the call, because Pam has been doing this for so long. I was fearful that she'd look at what I've been eating, and even though I think it's on par with her recommendations, she might see things like "too many fruit smoothies" or "eat more {whatever}".

But from the very start of the call to the very end, I (and Michael too) felt so much peace. It has never been more clear to me that God was leading me to this change in our lifestyle. I mean, giving up dairy and restricting meat, oils, fats, etc. was not easy. It still is not easy. It was not something I ever expected Michael to suggest and strongly and boldly take the lead on. He is so passionate about sticking with this, and now trying to help our family and friends become healthier if they desire. But it's worth it. I can see now, looking back, that God was really preparing our hearts to make these seemingly drastic changes in our daily lives.

This phone call was no exception. I don't know if Pam is a believer, but I feel like God totally used her that day to speak volumes of hope and peace straight to my heart. I'm so thankful for that, Lord!

After asking me some questions about my female history (consists of 7-day long periods, with heavy bleeding, large clots, and painful cramps, and when I was early in adolescence, periods were accompanied with migraines), and my present situation (progesterone cream helped relieve the painful cramps, and somewhat with the heavy bleeding), she explained that my symptoms are consistent with too high estrogen levels. Explaining that's why the progesterone seemed to help. But artificially using hormones like the cream is only treating the symptom, not the root cause. She explained that eating dairy, which is very high in estrogen, no matter what they say, is likely the culprit. And she said she was so thrilled to be talking to me now, at 28 years old about infertility, as opposed to much older and diagnosed with a condition that results from too much estrogen (breast cancer, to name one).

She said we are well on our way to improving our health, and I'm on my way to having my hormone levels balance out to where they should be. She said it could take a few months for my hormones to balance, so to try not to worry about trying to conceive for about 5 or 6 months. She also said I should notice my menstrual periods get shorter, and my cycles may increase in length slightly.

It was just so comforting talking to her, because she sounded so confident that we're well on our way to conceiving by improving our health and eliminating the dairy. She said things like, "You'll have to send me a picture of your baby, because that's the deal I make with everyone up front" and "you'll have a very enjoyable pregnancy" and "Just focus on your health for a few months and then I'm confident nature will take its course".

She also recommends that I take probiotics for two years, due to my history of IBS-like symptoms and frequent UTI's. Apparently, 50% of your immune function is in your gut, so if your body's beneficial bacteria reserves are in danger, or depleted, your immune system is compromised, making you more prone to getting recurrent infections.

I am just so thankful that God created people like Pam who are so passionate about helping people be healthy. In my case, I feel like God spoke through her and reassured me that we're on the right path. I hope and pray that God continues to improve our health, and that He might bless our efforts to honor the temples He gave us by allowing us to conceive. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated!

Friday, November 2, 2012


I'm alive and hanging in there, just waiting to blog about another series when I have the time to prepare. It will be worth the wait though!

To give you all a quick update, we were pretty disappointed that this month did not result in us getting pregnant. It seems that each month gets harder and harder to bear, but we are pressing on, together, and continuing to trust that God has a plan for us to become parents, we just don't know how or when. Your continued prayers for us to have strength and patience to endure this chapter of waiting is much appreciated. He is always and only perfectly good.

Because this month was not successful, we have begun using the drug called Clomid. Clomid is taken on cycle days 5-9 for me and I will get a vaginal ultrasound on cycle day 12 to help us time intercourse. In addition to this, I will again test my LH levels to help us time intercourse. It's all about the timing! But we rest assured that God knows and sees all, and that if this cycle is meant to be "the one" then He will take care of the timing for us.

Clomid so far has not caused me to have any negative side effects, for which I'm very thankful. Common side effects include dizziness, blurred vision, hot flashes, and mood swings. Michael may argue that I've had mood swings, but I think things have been the same for me. :)

I also stopped taking Fertile CM (a vitamin supplement I was taking to help produce fertile quality cervical mucus) because, well, I'm cheap. And the ingredients were mostly vitamin C. I just cannot pay $20/month for vitamin C. I noticed a slight improvement the first couple cycles, but not enough to justify the cost. Instead, I've begun taking Evening Primrose oil, which is supposed to have the same benefit. The only catch is that it can be dangerous to take if pregnant, so I make sure to stop taking it after I ovulate, and instead take Flaxseed oil during the two week wait.

In other news, we have made a radical change to our diet. This probably warrants its own blog post, but I'll give you the highlights now. It's based on the documentary "Forks Over Knives" and they have a website with more information about it if you're interested. It's a whole foods, plant-based diet, which means that we are no longer eating any animal-based products (meat, dairy, including cheese, butter, etc.) or products that are highly processed. We also try to avoid any kind of oil, including olive oil. Contrary to popular belief, olive oil is not "healthy" - it's still pure fat, just a plant-based fat. So this diet recommends avoiding all oils, avocados, and eating nuts sparingly so that the overall diet is mostly nutrient vegetables, fruit, and grains that are low in fat and sugar.

For those that know us well, would you ever have guessed that Michael would voluntarily give up eating meat? I surely never did. But after we watched the documentary and did some follow-up research of our own, it's pretty compelling and we were both motivated to try it. The diet is said to help prevent and even reverse chronic health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and many more. Since we both recently had our blood tested, we thought trying it for one whole month and then testing our blood again would show if there were any improvements made. Michael for instance has high cholesterol, even as a skinny 26-year-old. Make no mistake, it's not easy to eat this way, but we are committed to trying it for at least one month.

And so far (about one week into this diet), it's really incredible how different we feel. We wake up with more energy and stay alert and mentally sharp all day. Previously, at the end of my work day, I would literally be brain-dead. It would exhaust me just to carry on a conversation with Michael. But now I'm able to focus better all day, and still have energy at the end of the day. And because vegetables are so good for you, you can eat literally as much as you want, so you don't have to stress about portion control and counting calories. Simply eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.

Stay tuned for a 5-part series coming soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is Good

Matthew 7:7-11
7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

I think a lot of people tend to read verses like this and think, mistakenly, that God is like a religious genie in a bottle. But the key in this verse and others like it is your intentions. Are you demanding of God to give you something or answer your prayer overly specific? Or are you asking instead for God's will to be done, or for God to give you wisdom about something, or for Him to give you strength through something? Or like Philippians 4:6, making a request to God with thanksgiving.

I formerly had a habit of praying like this, "God, please make me become pregnant." I was praying about it, not from a place of thanksgiving or humility, but more so translated, "God, I'll just die if I don't get pregnant!"

Whereas now I try to pray like this:

God, thank You for my husband and for all the blessings You've given us in this life. Thank You for Jesus and for saving a place for us in heaven. You know our hearts' desires to have children. We trust that You are good and that You care for us and that You are always with us. We trust that Your plan is better than our plan. Please give us children according to Your timing and will. Please give us strength to endure the rest of this trial and the suffering it includes. We desire to have biological children. If that is not Your will, please give us wisdom and guide us to the right decision. Please prepare our hearts for whatever You have planned for us.

I've read the above verses several times before. But something new stuck out to me this time. The last phrase, "your Father who is in heaven [will] give what is good to those who ask Him."
God knows I've been asking for a child for two years now. So why have I not been given a child yet?

Because "what is good" for me right now, is to not have a child. That's the only logical conclusion one could draw.

Only God knows what is truly best for us, what is truly good for us. He cares so deeply for us, that He is not in the business of withholding good from us out of spite. He is only good, remember?

Sometimes enduring hardship or not getting what we want is what's good for us. We just have to trust that God is the perfect judge of what is good and not good for us. If you're not getting an answer to something that you want right now, then that means He has something good planned for you. Not only in the future, but also right now. Look around for it. Seek it. Ask Him to reveal it to you.

I know how it can feel to not see the good. It feels like you are wandering around in the darkness of your pain, feeling like the world is against you and you're all alone and no one cares. But there is always some good to be found, if you try hard enough to find it. Because it's definitely there. God is not idle. It's not a mistake.

So here's my question to you. Whatever your life looks like right now, whatever struggles you're going through, what is the good that God's doing? Now read verses 7 and 8 again above. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

There's Just Something About Seeing Two Lines on a Pee Stick

This is NOT a pregnancy test. It's an ovulation predictor test that measures the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in my urine.


Unlike a pregnancy test, where a positive result means that you see even a faint second line, an LH test is only positive if the second line is the same or darker than the control line.

When you're struggling with infertility, it's nearly impossible to not become obsessed with seeing two lines on a pee stick. You've been waiting and waiting, and in my case, have never seen two lines...always one. It can be crushing, just like starting your period. The only benefit to taking a pregnancy test is that you can plan the exact moment you'll find out the news of Yes/No, giving you a chance to prepare your heart properly to receive the news. I like to pray and listen to encouraging music right before testing.

There's such a longing to see two lines. To see that your body works "properly". To see that God has chosen to open your womb. To be free of this particular pain and begin the next chapter of your life. The next chapter won't be free of its own hurdles and pain, but there's a longing for something different. To move on. To not feel stuck and left behind any longer. Longing for a change.

So as silly as it may seem to some people not struggling with infertility, my seeing this positive LH test uplifts my spirits. My body produces something that's positive! And it makes me thankful that at least I'm ovulating regularly, something that other infertile women may not be experiencing. With so many opportunities to get discouraged, it's a breath of fresh air to receive positive results on whatever the test may be.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Elizabeth Series - Part III

Today I will conclude my three-part series about the story of Elizabeth. The full story of Elizabeth can be read in Luke 1:5-80. This series is part of the larger grouping of blog posts that have been labeled the Commonness of Barrenness, a label I refer to as I learn about women in the Bible who struggled with infertility. One such woman, Elizabeth, is a great example in many ways. I'm proud to say my middle name is Elizabeth, so, you know, we have that in common too. :)


Part III: The Impossible
Please read Luke 1:5-80.


When life gets hard, it's easy to feel hopelessness. Defeated. Accepting that you're stuck with the impossible. That you'll never get out of this tough place. That you'll never see the other side of this mountain in your path. Beth Moore says that hopelessness is choosing to believe the evil one's report over God's truths. Have you experienced this? What does this look like?

Whenever you're feeling doubt.
Whenever you're feeling alone.
Whenever you're on the verge of giving up.

Don't believe those lies. They are nothing more than lies and snares, hoping to snatch you up and off the path God wants you to be on. Don't let the enemy lure you. Take the extra step, and expect Satan to try to lure you. Be ready for it. Trust me, it's coming if it's not already at your doorstep.

When you are faced with the impossible, when it feels like no matter what, there's just no way you'll get past this obstacle, what should you do?

Seek God. Flee from the enemy and run into His arms. More importantly, have faith, and never give up the hope you can most assuredly claim as yours.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1-3
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

I encourage you to read all of Hebrews 11, as it lists example after example of people of faith. (My favorite of course is Sarah in verse 11.) But ultimately, we should follow the Perfect Example:

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So with regard to infertility, and having faith when faced with the impossible, I'd like to discuss two examples in the Bible. First, Sarah. God visited and told Abraham that he and Sarah would conceive and bear a son. Sarah overheard this, and scoffed and laughed at hearing this "impossible" prediction. After all, she was old. She was well past the childbearing age. How could that possibly be true?

Genesis 18:13-15
13 And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son." 15 Sarah denied it however, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh."

I love how Sarah denied her sinful response of doubt, and God called her out on it. This dialogue reminds me of the God-equivalent of children's "Nuh-uh!" and "Yeah-huh!" Don't get me wrong, I've been buried in the depths of defeat and doubt, totally convinced that I was facing the impossible and nothing and no one could change that. But Sarah (or anyone) is foolish to think that she could hide her true feelings from the Lord. He knows your heart, so don't bother trying to deny your true feelings. In fact, if you're struggling with doubt when facing the impossible, the first step may be to pray to the Lord and admit you're feeling that way. Own up to it. Faith can begin to grow from that moment of brokenness.

So let's look at another example, Mary. This time, an angel appeared before Mary and told her -- a virgin -- that she would conceive and bear a son, and that son would be called the Son of the Most High God. Now me, being of much less faith than Mary, would have heard that and probably scoffed even more than Sarah did. I might have even used the word, "Impossible!" But Mary, gosh, it's no wonder God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. Look how she responds to this "impossible" situation.

Luke 1:34-38
34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Mary questioned this prediction, but she didn't scoff at it or doubt it, only asked how could that happen. Once it was explained to her, she faithfully believes the angel in verse 38.

And I love how the angel refers to Mary's relative, Elizabeth, who had formerly faced the impossible of being told that she, a barren woman, would conceive and bear a son who would be named John. The angel uses both the prediction of the virgin Mary becoming pregnant and that her formerly barren relative is now in her sixth month of pregnancy to support his claim in verse 37, that nothing will be impossible with God.

So what about Zacharias? In Luke 1:8-23, Zacharias was told by an angel that Elizabeth would become pregnant and bear a son named John. Zacharias questioned the angel like this:

Luke 1:18-20
18 Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." 19 The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

What's the difference here? Why would Zacharias be silenced by the angel until John was born and Mary was not?
Mary asked: "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
Zacharias asked: "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."

At this point, I can only speculate because I'm not an advanced theologian. (Shocking, I know.) But I suspect that Mary's question was asked with a purer heart, free of doubt, just full of curiosity. Whereas Zacharias seemed to demand proof. Like he wanted the angel to prove to him that his words were true. It's like in John 4:48 when Jesus seemed irritated that people demanded miracles in order to believe. Jesus said, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe."

We talked yesterday about how when Elizabeth was given the impossible, she responded with thankfulness and complete humbleness. Look how faithful the six-months-pregnant Elizabeth responded when her virgin relative, Mary, came over for a visit early in her (Mary's) pregnancy.

Luke 1:39-45
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

There's not a shred of doubt in Elizabeth's words. Not a single, "Woah, Mary, I thought you were a virgin, how is it that you're pregnant??" Complete faith and thankfulness at the Lord's power. I think Elizabeth, who had previously been faced with the impossible, and likely tempted by the evil one to doubt in God's power, instead chose to believe God's truths.

She believed with all her heart that she worshiped the One True God. The Most High God. The God of miracles. The God of the impossible. Who specializes in the impossible. A God so filled with power to create the universe and to conceive a child in a virgin's womb. To conceive a child in a barren woman's womb. And this was all before Jesus lived and performed miracles. She knew the truth. And so should we.

Matthew 17:20
And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."

Matthew 21:21
And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen."

Mark 9:23
And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."

Mark 11:22-23
And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him."

Luke 17:6
And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you."

Luke 18:27
But He said, "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God."

Always have faith, believing and trusting in God's power, knowing that He can make the impossible possible, if He chooses to according to His will.

Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Love & Hope,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Elizabeth Series - Part II

Today I will continue in my three-part series about the story of Elizabeth. The full story of Elizabeth can be read in Luke 1:5-80. This series is part of the larger grouping of blog posts that have been labeled the Commonness of Barrenness, a label I refer to as I learn about women in the Bible who struggled with infertility. One such woman, Elizabeth, is a great example in many ways. I'm proud to say my middle name is Elizabeth, so, you know, we have that in common too. :)


Part II: Humbleness
Please read Luke 1:24-25; 39-56.


Imagine that you are Elizabeth. You are a woman and wife. You are older in age. You have spent your married life, and probably more, longing for a child of your own. In your society, it's expected to bear children. It's a show of God's blessing upon you. It's a show of womanhood. It's a right of passage. It's customary. Imagine the embarrassment you would feel at social events as you are expected to have children, but you do not have any. As you see many other women with one, two, three, or more children, but you do not even have one. For a reason you do not know, you spend year after year after year, growing older and older, watching other women bear children, but not you. As you age, you watch as the childbearing group of women become younger and younger compared to you. The gap between you begins to widen. With each passing year. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. You love the Lord with all your heart, but ache with a deep desire to become a mother too. To love and to hold your precious little one. To have the chance.

And then one day, you become pregnant. The day you have hoped for. The day you have prayed for. The day your heart has longed for finally arrives.

What would you do?

I think for many, myself included, the temptation or reflex response is to shout it from a mountain top. To parade around town and show everyone, "Look! Look what I finally have! You people can no longer make me feel shame, for I am now one of you!"

But what does Elizabeth do? She remained in seclusion.

Luke 1:24
After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

It says here that she remained in seclusion for five months. As you will see in the next few verses, the five months was mentioned because Luke writes about an event that takes place while Elizabeth was six months pregnant. It says later in verse 58 that "Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her." This implies that she continued to remain in seclusion for the duration of her pregnancy.

Why would she remain in seclusion, after waiting so long to experience this joyous event? Was she ungrateful, or bitter about having to wait so long?

Luke 1:25
"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

Nope. Clearly she saw this pregnancy as a favor bestowed from the Lord. She recognized that she would no longer feel disgrace from among her people. So why hide yourself from the people?

And why in verses 39-45 would she direct all the focus on her relative Mary (as in Jesus' mother who was pregnant at the time of her visit with the now pregnant Elizabeth), and Mary's pregnancy, instead of her own pregnancy? I mean, Elizabeth surely could have expressed praise over Mary's miraculous conception and pregnancy, and then also express praise about her own why did Elizabeth behave in this way?

My opinion? Elizabeth may well serve as an example of the most humble woman in the Bible. She is described early on in Luke 1:6 as being a righteous woman. But every way that Elizabeth is described and every thing Elizabeth says after that point portrays her as an incredibly humble, and thankful woman.

She was so thankful to God for answering her prayer. But she chose not to be prideful about it. She chose not to make an idol out of her pregnancy or her baby. She chose not to parade around town flaunting her newfound grace among the people. Remember how much pressure there was in that time to bear children, and the likely shame and disgrace Elizabeth and other barren women must have felt. It's amazing that she so strongly desired to have a child, and when she finally received that desire, she was so humble as to remain in seclusion and just bask in God's goodness in solitude.

What an example!

I hope I have a chance one day to respond the same way Elizabeth did. I don't think I can realistically remain in seclusion, never leaving my house for nine months, but I strive to keep her example as my heart's attitude. I wrote a previous blog post similar to this topic. I know that even in our society today, there is so much attention given to pregnant women. It is still very much considered a right of passage to becoming a woman. I strive to remain humble if I am given the opportunity to become pregnant.

For you women who become pregnant one day, please follow Elizabeth's example, even if you did not have to wait as long as she did to become pregnant. Remember that it's a lie to believe that you had anything to do with becoming pregnant. Sure, you're carrying the child, and you were the vessel to receive your husband's seed, but ultimately it is only God alone who chose to grow a human life in your womb. Choose humbleness over pride. Use the attention you will surely receive to be humble and express praise to God and others around you. That is true beauty.

And I'd like to say a little something special to any husbands reading this. I believe that you men are included in this story. It's not just your wives who will receive the attention from society if she becomes pregnant. I have seen and heard many husbands proclaim that they impregnated their wives. Are you sure about that? No, don't go out and demand a paternity test...what I mean is that yes, you contributed the seed, you consist of half the genetic makeup. But you did not cause the pregnancy to occur. Only God creates a life. It's prideful to think that you and "your powerful boys" accomplished this task, made this field goal, or scored this run. Try to reject the temptation to feel pumped up with your own self-power and remember that God is the one and only giver of life, both physical and spiritual.  You too can learn from Elizabeth's example to not flaunt your "power to impregnate" in front of your friends. Choose humbleness over pride.

I'll leave you with a repeated verse from yesterday's Part I post, and parts of Mary's praises to God during her visit with Elizabeth:

1 Corinthians 3:7
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Luke 1:47-52 (Mary speaking)
47 My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
51 He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.

To be concluded...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Elizabeth Series - Part I

Today I want to continue adding to my blog label about the Commonness of Barrenness, a label I refer to as I learn about women in the Bible who struggled with infertility. One such woman, Elizabeth, is a great example in many ways. I'm proud to say my middle name is Elizabeth, so, you know, we have that in common too. :)

The full story of Elizabeth can be read in Luke 1:5-80. I will focus on three related, but different topics from this passage across a three-part series, so stay tuned for Parts II and III.


Part I: Proper Time
Please read Luke 1:5-24.


The overall theme of today's post is that God has designed a proper time for everything in His plan. Sometimes events are not impacting enough to warrant any notice or deviation between God's plans and our own plans. I don't think my choosing to wear black shoes today instead of brown shoes falls under the spectrum of "universal impact".

But a life, especially a human life, always has a universal impact. If God numbers the very hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7), surely you can see how valuable, precious, and important every single life is.

Which is why there is a proper time for everything, according to God's perfect plan. We cannot rush this process. We cannot rush God's timing. We cannot change God's plan. If you are longing for a child, you must wait until the proper time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; 11-15
1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.

Be encouraged by this, instead of discouraged. If you are longing for a child, I believe God has a specific plan for you. I believe that for Michael and me, God has a particular, special child chosen just for us. He has a specific plan for that child, and we simply cannot begin that chapter of our lives until it's the proper time. A life must fit into God's overall plan, which is why He is the one and only Creator of all life.

1 Corinthians 3:7
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

In the story of Elizabeth, God had a very specific plan for her son. So specific that when the angel of the Lord visited Zacharias, he said they should name him John. God cared so specifically about this pre-conceived child, that even the smallest detail of what his name should be did not escape His concern. His name was to be John. And if you skip ahead to verses 57-66, family and friends attempted to name this child something else, but Zacharias and Elizabeth insisted on naming their son John. And lo and behold, John had a very special purpose to fulfill in God's plan: he was the "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.'" John the Baptist.

Every human life is sacred and special. Every life has a purpose, and all lives must wait until a proper time. Sometimes two parents begin attempts to conceive and that just so happens to line up with God's proper time. Other times, as in our case, it is not yet God's proper time. We, as human beings, limited beings, are not meant to fully understand the ways of God.

That's where faith comes in.

Michael and I have faith that our desire to have children is a godly desire. And we have faith that God will answer that desire someday, somehow. As my friend Jessica so eloquently said to me, we don't believe it's a matter "if we will have children or not". We believe it's a matter of "will we have biological children, or children through other means". In other words, it's not a question of "if", but "how and when".

As I strive to do everyday, try your hardest, through the power of God's strength, to be patient for the proper time.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blaming God

I'm catching up on a few blog post topics I've had lately. One very important topic is the tendency for people to blame God when something bad happens. Don't fear that you are the only one, we all have thoughts like these at times:

Why, God, would you let this happen to me (or someone you love)?

If you're so loving, why do you let your "loved ones" feel so much hurt?

If God knows everything, why didn't He stop this from happening to me?

I'm sure you could think of additional questions to add here...

Everyone struggles with doubting God's goodness at some point in their lives. After all, doubting God's goodness was the first sin committed by Adam and Eve, remember?

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

They were living in perfect relationship with God, but because Satan suggested that God may not be as good as He seemed, that seed of doubt was planted, and Eve chose to focus on it, which in effect watered it and allowed it to yield a full-blown plant of sin. And that was that.

How have you doubted God's goodness, or taken it a step further and blamed God for something in your life?

Do you easily believe God is good and cares for you when times are good? But what about when something bad or painful happens? Do you feel slighted by God? Forgotten? Unloved? Uncared for? Doubt His good intentions? Do you feel tempted to seize control of your life, because if God lets bad things happen in your life when you let Him be in control, then surely you can do a better job yourself? Have you ever thought that way?

I have. Lots of times!

When we first decided to try starting a family, and month after month passed and nothing happened, I took control of my life because I thought, "If God's not going to 'just make it happen', then I'll figure out the way to get the job done." So I read all I could about how my cycle works, how to track it, when to have intercourse, how, what to do afterwards, what products to use, what foods to eat, what vitamins to take....on and on and on...I attempted to cling to every ounce of control I could lay my hands on. But I was only fooling myself. No matter how hard one tries, no one can will a life to begin except for God Himself. Hey, He created this world, so I guess He deserves that solitary right to create all life...

Once I yielded the control back to God, the feelings of doubt started to creep in. Satan skillfully tempted me with suggestions to doubt God's goodness. Remember, Satan is called the most crafty beast (Genesis 3:1), and that he prowls around like a lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8). That's some serious imagery. Satan suggested that perhaps God doesn't care for me as much as I originally thought He did. Perhaps God doesn't care if I hurt as much as I am. Perhaps God doesn't care that I so desperately long for a child, a desire that supposedly God wants His people to have, so why in the world would He not give me that desire? Satan -- you gotta give him some credit -- he's super talented at his job. He is the epitome of the slimy snake businessman who can sell a pebble for a $1 million. Don't underestimate his ability to tempt you. I've faced many, many of his tactics. His suggestions. His subtle whispers that speak directly into the heart of all my fears. It's truly scary how well he knows my fears. How he can so easily target them.

I fail often when Satan tempts me. And sometimes, I'm just so used to thinking negatively, to doubting God's goodness and blaming Him for the suffering I'm going through, that I don't even need Satan's help to provide me with those suggestions of doubt. It's just buried inside of me, in the pit of my biggest fears.

So now let's talk truth. Let's focus on what's true and sure according to God's Word, so that when Satan or your own self begins to step down the road of doubting or blaming God, you can fight back.

Truth #1: God is complete perfection.
Everything about God is perfect. His actions. His thoughts. His will. His plan. He is the Creator God, and all that exists, exists because He made it so.

Psalms 18:30
As for God, His way is blameless; 
The word of the Lord is tried; 
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Colossians 1:16
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Truth #2: God is only good.
God cannot be anything other than good. Because God is complete perfection, only perfection can be in His presence. This is the root of why we need a Savior -- because we are all sinful creatures who fall short of God's standard of perfection (Romans 3:23). God is only good. Only light. It's impossible for God to have evil intentions towards anyone. So when Satan or your flesh suggest otherwise, cling to this truth.

1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Deuteronomy 32:3-4
For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

Psalms 5:4
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

Truth #3: God will always love you.
Just like the Third Day song, God's love reaches to the heavens...and everywhere and everyone in between. His love is immeasurable. Unstoppable. All consuming. Unconditional. Yes, unconditional. No matter how hard a person rejects God and chooses to never believe that Christ was real or died for their sins, that doesn't change the fact that God loves that person and mourns that he/she will not accept God's free gift to enter into a right and eternal relationship with Him. A right relationship with God is conditional on a person putting their faith in Christ and believing that only through Christ and Christ's death and resurrection can one enter into a right relationship with the Holy and Perfect God. But God's love is unconditional, and extends to all people in the world. He created man, and He said Himself that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God's love is neverending.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 John 4:8-11
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Truth #4: God will never leave you.
Not only is God complete perfection, only good, and will always love you...God will never leave you. He does not forget about you. He does not abandon you. He does not turn His back on you. He sent His Holy Spirit for goodness' sake...clearly God has no intentions of leaving you!

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you"

Romans 5:5
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

And do yourself a favor and read all of Psalms 139.

Remember these truths when you're tempted to blame God or doubt His good intentions for you. I'll leave you with one of my favorite verses:

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

HSG Test, a.k.a. The Alien Abduction

Thank you all so much for your prayers on October 4th for my HSG test!!

Question: How did it go?
Answer: Ouch, but good.

HSG stands for hysterosalpingogram. Seeing as how I had to copy and paste that, you can see why everyone prefers to abbreviate it. It's basically an x-ray, coupled with injecting x-ray visible dye to see the shape of the uterus and to check if the fallopian tubes are blocked or open. Thankfully, mine were were open. Praise God!

But as for the "how do they do that"...well, that's more akin to an alien abduction movie. So not that I recommend getting one of these tests for fun, but if you ever have to have one, or are simply curious, here's what my experience was.

First surprise is that these tests are done in radiology (unless you're at a fertility clinic where perhaps they have equipment specifically for this procedure). Then I changed into the toga-gown. Very fashionable. I think it's what they use for women getting a mammogram. Like this:


But mine was blue. So there you go.

Anyway, then they took me into the x-ray room, and I waited there for Dr. H. to arrive. At this point Michael and my mom were allowed to come in and put on their lead aprons. Then I had to lay down on the metal table. Thankfully, the nurse working that room was wonderful. She laid a blanket on the metal table so it wasn't as cold. She also gave me two rolled up rags to squeeze in case I needed to. Oh boy, how handy those came in!

After Dr. H. gathered all the tools she would need, the alien prodding began. Speculum, a.k.a. bird beak. Then I have no idea what tools were used, because I was focused on squeezing every single fiber out of those rolled up rags, and staring at the square-shaped air vent in the ceiling. You know the ones that have concentric squares of smaller and smaller sizes as you move towards the center?

But from reading, I believe Dr. H. did something to hold onto the cervix to allow her to insert a catheter into it. On the other end of the catheter was a syringe with x-ray visible dye. The first time she tried to inject the dye, it wouldn't inject, so she had to re-insert or maybe insert the catheter even farther to allow the dye to be injected. Like I said, I was not aware of anything at that point, just those concentric squares and squeezing those rags. An actual alien could have walked into the room and did a song and dance number and I doubt I would have noticed. In fact at some point, the radiologist was all of a sudden at my side, operating the x-ray machine to take images of my pelvic region as the dye was injected. Being male, normally I'm very shy and paranoid about being modest and ensuring I'm all covered, but by this point I was just wanting. it. to. end. (Plus I knew Michael had my back, lol.)

Apparently whenever the cervix is tampered with, immediate cramping can be triggered. Now obviously I do not know this from experience, but I'm guessing that what I felt was similar to early stages of labor, except that it wasn't letting up until she removed everything. Hence squeezing those rags. Oh and breathing. Slow deep breaths to try to force myself to relax despite the pain. The nurse had wonderful bedside manner, and kept checking on me and rubbing my shoulder and asking if I was okay. Her name was Mary. I love you, Mary!

The procedure part lasted about 10 minutes for me since she had to re-insert the catheter. It probably would have been a bit shorter otherwise. But once she removed everything, I felt much better, with only mild cramping and a feeling of being light-headed. So I remained lying down while Dr. H. showed me the x-ray image and reassured me that everything looked great, both tubes are open.

Sorry I don't have a picture of my uterus, but here's an example of what a "normal" HSG test looks like:


Michael and my mom said it was really neat to watch the x-ray images form a flipbook like video of the dye filling the uterus and going through the tubes and then exiting the tubes in a spiral cloud.

Dr. H. said that having this test can "flush out" my tubes, which can increase our fertility chances this month and told us "don't skip this month". ;)

If I do not get pregnant this month, then next month we plan to begin using a fertility drug.

Thank you again for your prayers and sweet messages on the 4th! Please continue to pray that we would be patient for God's timing, and that He would guide us to the best decision about what steps to take next. Thank you!

Monday, October 8, 2012


I've been reading through a Bible-in-a-year plan, and a few weeks ago was in the book of Esther. If you have never read this book in the Bible, I encourage you to do so. It's an amazing story about how God works through His people, according to His perfect plan.

The part of Esther I'm going to focus on is from chapter 4. To provide you with a brief background, Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah) was an orphan who lived with her uncle Mordecai in the city of Susa under King Ahasuerus' reign. The king ordered that all the choicest young and beautiful women be rounded up and beautified for one year. Then each woman was given one night, one chance with the king before the king would decide which woman would become his wife. The king chose Esther and she became his wife. At this same time, there was an evil and very prideful man who was named Haman. Without sharing all the details (seriously, you should read the book for yourself), Haman hated Jews, and he manipulated the king into passing a law that would allow for the complete death and destruction of all the Jewish people in the kingdom. You see, the king did not know that his own wife was one of the Jewish people because her uncle Mordecai instructed her to hide that fact from the king for her own safety, and he was the one who changed her name to Esther before she was taken into the king's palace. So when this law was passed that would allow for Haman to slaughter all the Jewish people, Mordecai immediately went to Esther to plead her help. Here's how it went down:

Esther 4:8-17
8 He (Mordecai) also gave him (Hathach, Esther's messenger boy) a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go in to the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.

9 Hathach came back and related Mordecai's words to Esther. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: 11 "All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days." 12 They related Esther's words to Mordecai.

13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"

15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 "Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish." 17 So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.

Verses 8-12 show how Esther experienced feelings of fear. She probably knew deep down that it was the right thing to do - to go to the king even though unsummoned, risking her very life - but she was initially afraid. It only took some tough love from her uncle in verses 13-14 to give her the courage to face that fear and trust in God.

I love the way Mordecai challenges Esther. The way he reminds her that God has a plan. His plan is perfect. And most importantly, His plan will not be changed. Esther could either choose to be a part of His plan, by helping the Jewish people and go to the king unsummoned, or choose to cling to her fear and wait it out. Mordecai said in verse 14 that relief and deliverance would come from another place if Esther chose to remain silent. God's plan will not be swayed, even by the disobedience of His people. He will find someone else to obey Him.

Even more so, Mordecai pointed out to Esther in verse 14, that perhaps God appointed her to the position of queen for this specific time and purpose. Isn't that incredible? God orchestrated the set of events that led to Esther being made queen. From her very birth, as a naturally beautiful knock-out of a woman, to being chosen from amongst all the other knock-outs in the kingdom.

So again, Esther was faced with a choice: to play a part in God's plan or not. Whether to remain silent, in effect being useless to and failing to serve God, or not. In verses 15-17, Esther made her choice. "If I perish, I perish"

She was resolved to obey the will of God, no matter the consequences. No matter if her life was at stake. No matter if she was scared. She recognized that she was chosen for a specific purpose, and ran with it. Trusting God to do the rest.

In my opinion, Esther is one of my favorite examples of a God-fearing woman in the Bible. She sets such a great example for me.

I did not choose to struggle with infertility. I certainly did not choose to experience this pain and suffering. But God chose me. Though he may not be directly causing my infertility (recall from this post that God does not cause suffering, but allows it to come about and then uses it for His good and glory), he certainly allowed it to take place because He knew that I possessed the character qualities and personality to serve Him and work according to His plan to bring Him glory.

This is an important and very encouraging point that Beth Moore also mentioned in her book, Get Out of That Pit. That when you experience hardship, there can be a tendency to blame God for why that hardship could be happening to you. But Beth Moore makes it clear that God isn't picking on you...he picked you out.

Take comfort in that truth. God is not bound by time. He knows all things, down to smallest molecule, for all past, present, and future. Whatever hardship you're experiencing, is because He has chosen you to help His people. To be a light for Him. To bring glory to Him. He looked at all of time, all that there is, and He decided to allow you to experience this hardship because you are the right person for the job. You were chosen to face this hardship.

Even though it hurts. A LOT. Even though you're battling a multitude of fears and what-ifs. Obey Him. Trust Him to handle the rest. Trust Him with every aspect of your life - your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety. Trust Him.

Love & Hope,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Latest Update and Prayer Requests

August through October are hereby declared the season of "Doctorall" in our household (or do you prefer "Doctorer" or "Doctoring" instead?)

Between the two of us, we have been (or will be) to the doctor:
August: 4 times
September: 6 times
October: 4 times (scheduled so far)

Keep in mind this is compared to the other typical months of the year:
Typically: 0 times

I don't want to do the math to figure out how much that is in co-pays...yikes, I did it anyway...geez

So here is the latest update on us:


Completed Appointments:
August 2 -- My annual checkup with my primary care physician, Dr. S., and to get a renewed progesterone cream prescription. He also ordered a blood test for me to check CBC (complete blood count) and progesterone levels again.

August 21 -- Unrelated to infertility, I had a cyst removed from my scalp. Fun, let me tell you...but Dr. S. did a great job, and thankfully there is no bald spot. I've since gotten a haircut to celebrate:


For those who haven't seen it yet...I got the length of it trimmed, the front angled, and now have side swept bangs instead of no bangs.

August 24 -- Fasting blood draw that Dr. S. ordered from the August 2nd appointment. This was on my cycle day 23 of 28 (optimal time to check progesterone levels). All CBC blood work was normal, except for a very slight vitamin D deficiency, so I've added that to the bunches of pills I swallow every day. :)
And I was so excited because my progesterone was 15.5!! (Previously in the 7-9 range)

August 29 -- Went to have my stitches removed, and could finally scratch my head normally. Hey, small things make a big difference, okay?

September 4 -- Another U.T.I. and so you know what that means...more Adventures of Peeing in a Cup!

September 5 -- Michael had a fasting CBC blood draw appointment.

September 10 -- Eye appointment. All looked great, and I was fitted with a trial pair of contacts to see if I can switch from Acuvue 2 to Air Optix Aqua.

September 13 -- Follow up eye appointment. Couldn't see as well, so he increased the prescription slightly to the really poor mild amount of -8.00 and -7.50 contacts (my natural eyesight is so good, that without the contacts, I couldn't make out the big E until I was inches away)...but at least I can see 20/10 with the contacts!

September 19 - A doctor appointment with my OB/GYN, Dr. H. This appointment was meant to be a discussion on the next plan of action to take (additional tests, procedures, etc.) and to discuss our options. I really love Dr. H. She is so nice. And what I love most is that she is not pushy at all. And when I say not pushy, I mean she says things like "Well, here are your options [lists them], but I just don't know what you guys feel is right for you..." It's so refreshing to hear a doctor say stuff like that.

So the consensus is that we have two options from here:
  1. Continue down the road of diagnostic testing (try to find a problem to explain why we haven't conceived); or 
  2. Begin basic fertility assistance treatments (drugs, IUI, IVF). 
After discussing the fine details of our particular situation, Michael and I feel like the best option at this point is to have one more diagnostic test done called an HSG test that will check to see if my fallopian tubes are open or blocked. It's not a very comfortable test from what I've been told. They insert a tube into your cervix, and then inject x-ray visible dye through the tube, then immediately x-ray your abdominal cavity to watch how the dye moves through the uterus and (hopefully) out both tube openings near the ovaries.

Dr. H. doesn't think there's any reason my tubes would be blocked, but the reason Michael and I (and Dr. H. agrees) want to just be sure my tubes aren't blocked is because we feel ready to take the next step under option 2) -- Clomid drug.

So if you recall from a previous post referring to a doctor's visit in the summer of 2011, Clomid was the drug that my first OB/GYN doctor wanted to put me on, but I didn't feel comfortable at that time because Clomid is a drug meant to stimulate ovulation. But at that time, I knew from my cycle tracking that I was already ovulating (and this fact was confirmed via vaginal ultrasounds with Dr. H. later). But Dr. H. thinks that even though I'm ovulating regularly, it might be a good first drug to start with because it may cause multiple eggs to be released, which might increase our "normal chances" each cycle. (So instead of us, say, having an average chance of 5% of conception, we may have 10%...just made those numbers up as an example.)

She also said that Clomid has been around for a long time (50 years) and that it's the cheapest fertility drug you can get. (There are injection type drugs that costs hundreds/month.) But, using Clomid is pointless if your tubes are blocked because there would be no way for the sperm to meet the egg no matter how many eggs there are, hence why we want to be certain my tubes aren't blocked before paying for and using Clomid.

The positives of using Clomid:
  • 45% of couples using Clomid get pregnant within 6 cycles (they recommend not using Clomid for more than 6 cycles) 
  • It tricks your brain into thinking it hasn't produced enough estrogen, so your body kicks it into overdrive to make more estrogen (estrogen is what makes cervical mucus and stimulates egg production)
  • Since I've been low in cervical mucus production, there's a chance my body may produce even more (hopefully)
But the negative side effects are:
  • Clomid can cause your body to make hostile cervical mucus - obviously not what I want, but they say that this risk is greater for higher doses (I'll be starting on a low dose) 
  • 10% chance of twins (although I would love to suddenly have two children instead of zero, twins create a complicated and potentially dangerous pregnancy)
  • Headaches 
  • Nausea 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Hot flashes 
  • Mood swings 
Again, these are more likely to happen with higher doses, so hopefully I won't experience any of them. I also plan to use ovulation predictor pee sticks to facilitate our timing of intercourse, just in case the Clomid dries my cervical mucus to where I can't tell when I ovulate (since I don't track my temperatures anymore, I've only been watching my cervical mucus to determine when I'm about to ovulate).

September 20 -- Michael's annual appointment with Dr. S. to discuss the results of his blood draw from September 5. Overall his CBC looked great, just a slightly high cholesterol level. Dr. S. recommended we eat a wheat-free diet, which we are now moving towards. I may blog about this later because it's a lengthy topic on its own. :)

Upcoming Appointments:
September 27 -- Vet appointment. Obviously this doesn't involve us or infertility, but I just wanted you all to know that our pet children are getting the care they need. :)

October 3 -- Urology appointment for me. I've contracted 3 U.T.I.'s in the past year, and since the usual tips to avoid getting them have not been helping me, they want me to see a urologist to make sure there isn't some other reason I might be prone to getting them all of a sudden. (These 3 have been the only 3 U.T.I.'s I've ever had.)

October 4 -- HSG test to check my fallopian tubes.

October 10 -- Dermatology appointment to check possible skin allergies. Over the past 6 months or so (not really sure when I finally thought that it was strange), I've been getting very short-term (15-20 minutes) raised bumps along my jaw line that itch like crazy for a little bit and then disappear. I can't tie it to a particular product or food or anything because it also happens on days I don't wear anything on my face, eat different foods, and it happens at different times of day. Sometimes once a day, sometimes several times in one day. Maybe stress-related? I hope whatever it is would be easily identified and treated if necessary.

October 30 -- Dentist appointments. Unrelated to infertility, but still good to have done. Gotta maintain those purrty smiles! :)

Prayer Requests:
  • Urology appointment - that the results would be favorable, no serious cause for frequent U.T.I.'s. Or better yet, that I would simply stop getting them, period! (And while you're at it, you could pray that I'd stop getting periods for nine months...thanks!)
  • HSG test - I'm a little nervous about this test, because I tend to get a little squeamish when it comes to medical procedures, and this one does not sound like your ordinary OB/GYN checkup. As my mother can confirm, my first gynecology appointment at 18 years old was traumatic for me. I literally fainted. And this procedure is going to feel "uncomfortable" she said, and she also suggested I take 3 ibuprofens about an hour beforehand. So your prayers about this procedure for me to be calm and tough it out would be much appreciated. Dr. H. was wonderful in explaining all the details I can expect to happen that day, which brings me a lot of comfort that she takes the time to tell me everything. Also please pray for the result to be favorable (tubes would be open).
  • And the usual prayer request - For us to have patience and strength to wait for God's perfect timing and plan to unfold.

So that's where we're at. We both feel excited about this next step for some reason (trying Clomid). I'm surprised, especially because we both were so resistant to using Clomid back when my first doctor prescribed it last summer. My hope (not having expectations) is that God knew we needed to go through this past year of growing in Him, faith, and our marriage and that's why He didn't let us feel peace about Clomid the first time, but now we do. I know I definitely needed to learn that I cannot control everything, because there will always be some things that are simply out of our control. Creating a life is one of them. We are both so thankful for all of the humility and wisdom God has taught us through this, and we greatly appreciate your love, prayer, and support. This journey would be much more difficult to bear without it. Truly, we thank you!

Love & Hope,