Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Master of My Own Bladder

For those that don't recall part of a previous post, I have this psychological battle with myself during the night, nearly every night. I've pasted the section from the previous post here:

You see, on a normal night, I have this psychological issue where if I wake up at all, I suddenly become aware of the fact that I'm awake and that I could go pee if I tried. It's not that my bladder is full and that I NEED to go, it's just an awareness that my bladder isn't empty, which therefore makes me obsessed with that fact until I give up trying to go back to sleep and just get up and go. Silly? Yep. Just go back to sleep? I know, right? That does seem logical. Except that when I do that, and really, I have tried several times, I just end up DREAMING about going pee or having to go pee. It's a problem, I know. But at least I admit it...

I'm really not exaggerating how often this happens to me. There are nights when I feel very tired and would much rather just turn over and go back to sleep again instead of getting up to pee, but my mind will not allow it (the epitome of "mind over body" -- just not in a way that's helpful to me).

Well, lately this issue has increased in frequency because I've made a personal goal for myself to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, often times averaging around 75 ounces. It's been great making that a habit because I feel better, and know that it's good for my body. (I recently felt convicted about my need to increase my water intake due to the UTI I blogged about and pulled quad muscles that made me realize how much I took for granted being able to walk, let alone run.) The only downside to drinking so much water is that it means I'm making more trips to the bathroom each day, including at night because it takes some time for it exit my system even after I've stopped drinking at bed time. What used to be getting up once per night is now at least two or three times a night.

We've also been watching The Big Bang Theory for the first time (we bought the first four seasons), and let me tell you, this TV show will have you laughing yourself to tears with nearly every episode. So when I saw this scene in one of the episodes, I burst into laughter because I could so easily relate to that psychological battle about having to pee or not.

Just to set the context for this scene, Sheldon and Leonard's apartment had been robbed that day, and Sheldon was very scared that the burglars might return to finish them off.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


In continuing through my Bible-reading plan, I read about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-37. At the time, Elisha the prophet was at work prophesying for the Lord as he traveled around the land. This story is about a Shunammite woman, who I'm assuming was barren even though it doesn't explicitly say she was barren, and how her kindness and hospitality allowed her to receive the blessing of a child.

The story says that every time that Elisha and his servant would pass through the Shunammite's territory, the Shunammite woman would request that Elisha and his servant come and allow her to serve them a meal. After a few times of this, the Shunammite woman asked her husband if she could prepare a guest room for Elisha and his servant to stay in whenever they passed through because she knew he was a man of the Lord. So the husband consented, and Elisha and his servant stayed in the guest room prepared for them whenever they passed through.

While staying with the Shunammite couple, Elisha was overcome with gratitude for the woman's hospitality and asked his servant to inquire what Elisha could do for her to make it up to her. The servant asked the woman, but she did not ask for anything in return. But the servant observed that the couple had no children and went and told Elisha that she has no son and her husband is very old (implying that she too is very old, past childbearing age). So Elisha told the woman that by the same time next year, she would embrace her son. So the woman conceived and she bore a son.

When the child was grown up a bit, the child became ill and died. The woman placed the boy in the bed Elisha slept in in their home, and then she immediately traveled to where Elisha and his servant were at the time. Elisha returned with the Shunammite to her home to help the boy, and God worked a miracle through Elisha by reviving the boy.

This story made me think of two applicable points: (1) Serving the Lord with a joyful heart is always the right thing to do; and (2) The pain and suffering you experience with infertility doesn't necessarily end once you have a child.

Serving the Lord
Not much is said about this woman, so I may be stretching it here, but I would assume that if this woman did not have a son for most of her life, she was probably sad and disappointed about this. She probably had a desire to be a mother, and wondered why she couldn't.

But she didn't let that sadness affect her ability to serve the Lord and those chosen by the Lord. She served joyfully. She served thoroughly. She served as much as she could in as many ways as she could think of. Serving meals to Elisha and his servant wasn't good enough in her mind. She knew she could do more to help.

The way I apply this to my own life is how I often allow myself to get into a mental rut associated with our routine life. I get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, go to bed. Sure, there is more to it some days. Some days are more enjoyable than others. Some days I easily have a heart of joy and patience. Usually I enjoy the work I do at my job. But some days I go to work with a non-joyful heart, and that causes me to fall into a negative pit of despair. I will not have a productive day, or be in a pleasant mood, because all I'm really thinking about is how much I want to stop working and be a mother. I whine and complain about how much I can't wait for that to happen. Instead, I should realign my heart and serve the Lord as much as I can, with joy, while I'm in this present struggle.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

I have touched on this topic in a previous blog post, but this served as yet another good reminder of this truth. We as believers in Christ will always suffer in some form or another. Maybe not every minute of every day. Certainly to varying degrees. But don't buy into the prosperity gospel rubbish that when you become a believer in Christ, your life will magically get better and you'll be rich and happy. What is the truth?

Philippians 1:29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Philippians 4:11-13
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

2 Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 2:20-21
For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

1 Peter 3:13-17
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

1 Peter 4:12-13, 16
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation...but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

1 Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

The Shunammite woman likely suffered with sadness at not having a child. Then God finally blessed her with a son in her old age. But her suffering did not end there, it merely changed forms when her son died. She still kept faith by seeking out Elisha's help, instead of letting herself fall into a pit of despair.

So for my life, I need to remember to not be fooled into thinking that the suffering ends with the end of infertility. My suffering may diminish, but I'm almost certain I will experience a great suffering in the future in other ways. But I should strive to respond to that suffering like the Shunammite woman - with joy and faith, turning to the Lord for help. The world is watching us, Christians. Suffer with joy. Keep on rejoicing. Endure it patiently and without giving up hope.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Several friends have reached out to us lately, to express their love and support and to let us know they are thinking of and praying for us. We are so thankful for each and every one of you!

This journey is not an easy one. I would imagine that any journey that involves a long period of waiting can start to feel very challenging as time continues to move on without an answer as to when the waiting will end. Singleness is probably the best analogy to infertility. Or you could also think of it like a job that you're at, but you can't quit, get fired, or promoted...you're just stuck. Waiting, no matter what you're waiting for, can be incredibly hard to bear.

Our journey has felt like a long time, but I know there are so many others who have waited much, much longer than we have. I cannot imagine that, how much harder it must be for them.

The thing that has kept me going has been when God sends me little milestones along our path. Normally, milestones are equidistant markers to show progress through time or distance. But in our case, they are markers of thankfulness for this journey we're on and they have come in unequal intervals along this path.


When we first started trying to conceive, it was the starting line of this journey. I remember feeling so much excitement that we made that decision, and were ready to begin the next chapter of our lives - parenthood. The first few months were full of slight disappointments, uncertainty, and the beginnings of doubt.

I wonder how much longer it will take for me to get pregnant? Could there be something wrong? Surely not...we're both healthy and young. Did I do something to cause this? Did we wait too long?

Then I noticed my heart starting to get more sensitive. The thickness of my skin decreased. Every little comment and remark related to pregnancy and children would register easily with me. No pregnant woman or infant within a quarter-mile radius escaped my notice.

Then in the summer of last year, I received some slightly disappointing news from the doctor about one of my blood tests (that my progesterone levels were too low). Even though this is not much of a concern anymore, at the time, it was my first milestone. It was the moment where I broke down before God and realized that everything related to conception, apart from having an intimate relationship with my husband, was completely out of my control, and that I had been desperately and sinfully clinging to all forms of control I could get my hands on. This milestone and very valuable life lesson was the first marker of thankfulness that I experienced about this journey. I was thankful to have learned that I needed to give all control to the Lord. That I needed to stop assuming that my plans mattered more than God's plans.

A second milestone was within our marriage. This milestone was placed very shortly after the first because they went hand in hand. I realized that I had started viewing sex with my husband as just a necessity to procreate, and less on the expression of intimacy and love in our marriage. My former attitude had resulted from my sinful desperation to maintain control over the situation. But with this second milestone, I realized I owed Michael a big apology for taking all the fun out of the bedroom. He was gracious enough to forgive me. At that time, I made a commitment to fully turn our lovemaking over to the Lord, by praying that Michael would initiate sex during my fertile window, and if he didn't, then I wasn't going to initiate it because I didn't trust myself to not have the wrong motives. We have since reached a healthy balance, but this milestone was very necessary at the time, and I was again thankful for our infertility because it helped me to truly appreciate my man instead of just his seed :)

The third milestone resulted from my reaching out to others about my struggle. I began to share publicly that we were hoping for children, and that we were experiencing some emotional difficulties in waiting. The return of prayer support and encouragement from friends was amazing. Again making me thankful to have experienced infertility. I also started meeting others who struggle with infertility, which allows us to share a very special bond.

The fourth milestone occurred at the end of the summer. Michael and I had previously declined to lead the Newlywed/Young Married class at church because we had expected to begin a family. But the opportunity again presented itself at the end of the summer in 2011, and we felt like perhaps God wanted us to serve in that way before we became parents.

The fifth milestone was on September 1, 2011. My first doctor's appointment with Dr. S. You can read about it here. Great doctors are a joy to find.

The sixth milestone occurred in November when a friend who formerly struggled with infertility told me that because of my advice, she gave up control to the Lord and repented of her bitterness, and lo and behold, she became pregnant the next month. Not that I really had anything to do with her conception, but it greatly encouraged my heart that I'm on this path for a bigger reason. For a God-given reason.

The seventh milestone was on December 1, 2011. My first doctor's appointment with Dr. H. Again, great doctors are a blessing to find, and my appointment with her was awesome. She also followed up with me on December 29th and confirmed that everything appears to be functioning and looking normally.

The eighth milestone also occurred in December 2011. I started this blog and began finding other inspiring infertility blogs out there that really spoke hope and encouragement to my heart. I felt the Lord leading me to share my thoughts about infertility to hopefully help others on this journey. I never would have had that opportunity if I hadn't experienced infertility. It made me thankful.

The ninth milestone also occurred in December when we decided it was time to tell our families that we were struggling with infertility. This resulted in us feeling much closer to family, which made me incredibly thankful.

March 2012 marked the tenth milestone for me with the first meeting of Hope Does Not Disappoint. I again felt thankful because I felt the Lord reassuring me that all this pain I've been feeling has a big purpose in His ultimate plan, that He's doing lots of good through it.

I went downhill a bit since then, struggling back and forth with uncertainty of what to do, how to move forward, weariness from this journey. It became difficult to experience a thankful attitude because I just wanted the pain to end. So my most recent (eleventh) milestone happened only in the past two weeks, and it was in the context of our marriage again. There was a particular issue that has been a source of pain in our relationship for our entire marriage and much of our dating years. But just recently, Michael and I were able to communicate our feelings effectively and experience great healing that was so very needed. It was so beautiful to see that happen in our relationship. I know for a fact that had we not been on this infertility path, it would have been years and years from now before we would have experienced this healing, so it made me the most thankful I've ever been for infertility.

That's the funny thing about milestones for me. Each milestone is like hitting the reset button in my heart. I'll be trucking along, starting to get really weighed down by hopelessness, and then boom, I run straight into a milestone that God puts in my path that wakes me up and makes me realize that I don't regret a single minute of the pain we've been experiencing. The glory and beauty of each milestone greatly outshines the pain that's behind it in the past. It makes me truthfully say that I'm glad for every minute we've struggled, because I'm glad to have learned what we've learned and be where we are right now, this minute.

So if you're praying for us, please just pray that God will get us through the rest of this journey and guide us every step of the way. We desire His will and timing to be done, so we just ask that He prepare us for that plan of His. And maybe pray that in the meantime, God will put many milestones in our path to continue to help remind us to be thankful for it. Thank you all so much!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dig Up the Root of Bitterness

While Michael and I were watching Part 5: Taking Out the Trash of Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage video series, I felt very convicted about my heart. While it's true that I have been down in a rut lately with feelings of hopelessness, the Lord also convicted me that my heart has been filled with bitterness towards certain people.

As I alluded to in the previous post, there have been a few people who have greatly hurt my feelings regarding our infertility. Whether it was intentional on their part or not, whether they are aware of the fact that they hurt my feelings or not...it does not matter. Not in order for me to forgive or not.

This was my main holdup in my battle to forgive or not to forgive these people. "But God...they haven't even said they're sorry. In fact, some of them haven't even said a thing!"

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Oy. You mean, I should forgive because Christ forgave me...not because they apologize? Oh. Ok. Hm...I hadn't wanted to think much about that.

Mark Driscoll went on to explain that by choosing not to forgive someone (definition of bitterness), that's like you saying that Christ's blood is insufficient. Golly Mark...way to punch me in the face! Or I guess maybe it was the Holy Spirit doing that, but I fully admit I deserved the punch.

He also explained that just because you choose to forgive someone does not necessarily mean that you should also seek to reconcile the relationship. This was something I had also been held up on...I was thinking that if I forgave these people, that would mean I would have to get over the hurt feelings and be their friend again, regularly see them again, and allow them into my life. I'm relieved to understand that this is not the case. He explained that repentance of bitterness (choosing forgiveness) requires one person. Reconciliation requires two people.

Another thing to remember is that forgiveness is not just a one-time deal. I chose on Saturday to forgive all of these people who have hurt me. But there will be (and already have been) moments that will trigger the hurt feelings again, tempting me to walk down the path of bitterness. So I will have to re-forgive. And re-forgive. And re-forgive. Possibly for a very long time. Probably until Michael and I are well past this trial. Practice makes perfect, right?

One very helpful exercise he suggested, especially in the case of the situation where the person who has offended you has never apologized, was to journal out your feelings. This allows you to experience a sense of closure that can allow you to move from bitterness to forgiveness.

Hebrews 12:15
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.

That's probably a good idea, so that my heart of bitterness doesn't continue to spread in my heart like a cancer, and then bleed over into Michael's heart, and so on until much destruction is caused.

So I chose to forgive these people. It may be hard to do, but it's so freeing if you can actually accomplish it. Choose forgiveness over bitterness, and let the healing begin. (And turn on Tenth Avenue North's Healing Begins song, just for good measure!)