Monday, August 19, 2013

Even Though Now For A Little While

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

I love this passage for several reasons. First, when I accepted Christ, I became a new person once and for all eternity. That means sin is no longer my master. When I mess up, fail, give into temptations…I’m forgiven because Christ stands before me, protecting me from the fate I deserve, and gives me a pass to be with Him for all eternity. Such grace. Such humbling, beautiful grace. Truly an undeserved favor.

Second, Peter says we have a living hope. This comforts me so much when I struggle with anxious thoughts of the unknown future of infertility. My hope is not in vain. It is alive because Christ lives in me. But like a living being, that hope must be nourished and properly cared for, otherwise it might shrink into a state of dis-health. When I allow depression and the enemy to dominate my thought life, my living hope is injured and sickly. I need to nourish it with food and water in the form of choosing hope over hopelessness. By spending time with my Father and His Word instead of dwelling on my own thoughts, fears, and worries.

Third, I’m protected by the power of God. That’s so huge and important to remember! When fears and worries begin to overtake me…when the enemy is whispering lies of shame in my ear, my God is ready and available to protect me. I need to turn to Him in those moments of weakness. He wants me to turn to Him in moments of weakness.

Fourth, Peter says that the various trials the people are being distressed by are for a little while. It is so incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed by infertility and to feel like I’m trapped in this chapter of life. Like it will last forever, I’ll never become a mother, woe to me. But that’s not true. Like any trial, it has been, is, and will always be temporary. A season. A chapter. It must have a beginning (December 2010) and therefore MUST have an END! For a little while. The “little while” may feel like an eternity to my earthly-bound state, but to God, it’s but a blip in the grand timeline He’s orchestrated. I just need to trust Him and do everything I can to be patient for His timing.

Fifth, Peter says that the purpose of our trials is to demonstrate the proof of your faith. He says trials should result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This relates to how I am called to respond in the midst of suffering and trials. The purpose of my suffering is to show the greatness of God, not the vastness of my self-pity. I am called to respond with hope and joy when it’s illogical to other people. When the world says it’s time to give up, there’s no chance, etc…I should remain hopeful and joyful. Even when I’m hurting, God is still worthy of my praise. And I truly do have so much to praise Him for!

I love how verse 9 ends with you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible. Not just a little joy, but inexpressible joy. Greatly rejoice. So much joy you cannot describe with words how much! That’s a lot of joy, and if I truly focus on all that God has blessed me with – even while facing the pain and suffering of a trial – I find it easy to have joy. My eyes see that I am so richly blessed already. Even though now for a little while I am hurting. Be joyful. Inexpressibly joyful.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Three C's

When you face a trial, a natural tendency is to blame yourself or feel guilty for getting yourself into the trial. With infertility, it's common to think thoughts like:

If I hadn't taken birth control pills for all those years, would I still have difficulty conceiving?
What did I do wrong to deserve this pain and suffering?
What more could I have done this past month to better track my cycle or time intercourse?
Why can't I do what so many other women are able to do with seemingly no effort?
What's wrong with me?
Why am I broken?

I could go on listing similar questions, but hopefully you get the idea. It's common to worry and dwell on thoughts like that.

But let's get one thing straight: infertility is NOT your fault.

You must accept the fact that there will always be certain aspects of life that are out of your control. And infertility is simply one of those things you can't control, so don't blame yourself for it.

Life is made up of choices, consequences, and circumstances. The three C's.

You have the freedom to make certain choices in life. With infertility, you can choose how much or how little you want to track your cycles, pursue medical intervention, be available for intercourse (but you only have control over your half of that equation; your husband has control over his half and you have to accept that it takes two to tango). This is the only thing you have control over, so I encourage you to pray for wisdom as you take time to decide on choices in your life.

You have control over the choices you make. You do not have control over some of the consequences of your choices. Your choices will naturally lead to consequences. Tracking your cycles excessively may result in feelings of empowerment, knowing how your body is behaving...but it may also bring added stress because you're focused on your cycle day in and day out. Pursuing medical interventions will certainly have consequences on your body, your health, your future health (increased risk of cancer, for example), your relationships, and schedule. Ask any woman who has been through IVF procedures, and she will tell you how involved and expensive the process is. Likewise, not pursuing medical interventions may lead to feelings of fear, like "What if I'm not doing everything I could be doing to get pregnant?" As I previously mentioned, you have to make certain choices about what you are or are not okay with, and then be okay with the consequences of those choices. All choices have consequences, good or bad. Since consequences are a direct result of your choices, this should motivate you to pursue God before you make a choice, asking Him for wisdom and guidance. Once you've made your choice, you are at the mercy of consequences that are out of your control.

You do not have control over your circumstances, and unlike consequences, circumstances are not a direct result of your choices. Circumstances are independent of your choices. You can choose to save up for a house, mortgage a small portion of it, and purchase home insurance, but you cannot control a tornado destroying your house and having to start over with a few belongings and the insurance money. You can make wise choices that hopefully result in good consequences, but your circumstances may affect your life dramatically without any input from you. The death of a loved one, natural disasters, etc. With infertility, you cannot control your circumstances like a close friend announcing her pregnancy, or you miscarrying your baby. You can choose everything wisely, and you can prepare and hope for good consequences to your choices, but your circumstances are independent and unpredictable.

So once you've accepted how much and how little control you have over aspects of your life, how do you deal with the things you can't control? Allow Paul to share some of his wisdom with you.

Philippians 4:11-12
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 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.

This is the key to maintaining a heart of hope and joy in the midst of trials and suffering. God will grant you wisdom to make wise choices if You ask Him. The consequences to your choices or simply the uncontrollable will lead to your life's circumstances. God asks us all to be content no matter what our circumstances are. Whether your circumstances are good or bad, happy or sad, full or empty, bright or content. There is ALWAYS at least one thing you have to be thankful for. So dwell on that. Praise God for that one thing (and the many things). Be content.

Better still, LEARN to be content. Paul admits that contentment is something to be learned. When you learn something, you usually have to study it, ponder it, repeat it, and practice it. Do the same with contentment. Choose contentment, and your consequences will follow a heart of contentment. Choosing contentment will strengthen your heart for whatever circumstances come your way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

When God Says "No"

I'm copying and pasting today's devotional from Sarah's Laughter because I found it very encouraging and I hope that you do as well. Stay hopeful, my friends!

When God Says "No"

August 1, 2013
When you face a crisis in your life such as infertility, you must come face to face with your true belief about God.  Is He who He says He is?  Can He--will He--do what He says He will do?  In times of crisis, we must grapple with the fact that we are called on to trust the God who sometimes says “No”.
When infertility enters your life, a lot of things can happen.  Some people turn to doctors.  Others decide to trust God to allow conception to happen naturally.  Some people tell everyone they know so they can garner support, and some choose to keep their situation very private.  Emotions go haywire and decisions must be made, but one thing is usually constant when infertility invades the home of a Christian couple: we pray.  
We ask God to reverse the barrenness we carry.  We cry out for healing of endometriosis or polycystic ovaries.  We promise Him that we will be good mothers, that we will not only take these much-desired children to Sunday School, but we’ll teach the class as well.  We beg and plead with Him to end our struggle with infertility and give us the baby that only He can provide. 
But sometimes--at least for a time--God says “No”.
What does it mean when God says “no”?  It feels like He has abandoned us or that He is somehow unaware of how badly we want a baby.  Maybe He thinks I wouldn’t be a good mother, so He withholds from me the blessing of my womb.  It would be so much easier if God was unable to give me a baby!  Then I could imagine Him saying “Oh child!  I wish I could grant this desire.  I want to place life in your womb so badly, but I just can’t.  I would if I could, but I cannot.”  Then it would feel like He was a partner in this struggle with me, rather than a holy being that I must convince of my desire and commitment to being a good mother. How do I serve this God who says “no”?
If your heart is hurting today, and you are struggling with how God must feel toward you and your infertility, let’s turn together to the Word, and examine another who heard God say “no”.  Perhaps you’ll understand a little better how He loves you.  Mark 14:35-36 says this:
And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if possible, the hour might pass Him by.
And He was saying, “Abba!  Father!  Everything is possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.
This emotional passage of Scripture lets us in on the intimate exchange between God the Father and Jesus the Son, in the hours leading up to the excruciating execution of Jesus.  He is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and you can hear His anguish dripping from every word.  He cries out to His “Abba Father”--the literal translation is like us crying to our “Daddy”.  Can’t you hear Him?  
“Daddy, please!  Please, Daddy!  Please let this cup--let Calvary pass from me!  If it’s possible, Daddy, please!  It’s going to hurt!  The weight of sin will be crushing!   Oh Daddy, please, if it’s possible, make another way!”  
Didn’t Jesus know whether or not it was possible, or whether or not God could make another way?  Of course He did.  Read on...
Everything is possible for You;  remove this cup from Me;  yet not what I will but what You will.
God the Father, heard the anguished cries of His only begotten Son, begging Him to let the cup of Calvary pass from Him and God said “no”.
Why did God say “no”?  He had a greater plan.  If He had allowed Jesus to by-pass Calvary, infertility would be the least of your worries.  Your eternity would be a terrifying reality.  God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, told Jesus “no”.
Did God love Jesus that day?  Absolutely.  Did His heart break to tell His hurting Child “no”?  Without a doubt.  He does the same for you.
You’ve begged God to let this be the month you conceive.  God says “no”.  You’ve asked Him to let you avoid medical treatment, but you pick up the phone to make the appointment because God said “no”.  Others have babies so easily, yet your family is formed through tears and years. Hard to understand?  Unquestionable.  But God has a greater plan.  Will He always say “no”?  Of course not.  He has marvelous works in store for you.  He just knows that for a time, He must say “no” to allow the greater plan to unfold, and He weeps with you as your tears fall. 
Trust the God who sometimes says “no”.   His plan for you is unimaginable. His mercy for you is inexhaustible.  And just as He loved His only begotten Son, He loves you enough to sometimes say “no”.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To Plan or Not to Plan?

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I've always been a planner. Whether or not I actually carry through with a plan, I have always been one to make plans. I feel scattered and lost without at least having a plan for many aspects of my life. In other words, it comforts me to know what's supposed to happen. For example, even something as simple as running a few errands compels me to formulate a plan. I list out all the locations I want to go to and then write numbers next to each location to tell me what order I should go to each one to maximize the efficiency of my driving route.

If I'm that crazy with errands, you can imagine how much I planned for big decisions in my life. When we married over 6 years ago, our plan was to enjoy the first few years together "just us." We were both wanting to finish school and a baby was simply not in the plan. Birth control pills were the method of contraception we chose. It was the method with the highest probability of preventing conception - the method that was most likely to keep us on the path of our child-free plan. I've always been meticulous and responsible, so it was no trouble for me to take the pill at the same time every day without missing one.

I took the pill for the first 2 years of marriage, but experienced negative side effects (depression, low libido, nausea, etc.) that made us decide to change our plan. We switched contraception methods to a less certain one - condoms - in 2009. Still sticking with our child-free plan, we knew there was a higher chance that we might get pregnant using condoms than taking the pill, but we decided that was best for us overall.

It's not that I didn't like or want kids at all. They were definitely part of the plan in the future, but not yet. And if I'm honest, I wasn't starstruck about kids. Sure, they could be cute. But they could also be completely and utterly gross. Sticky. Smelly. Slobbery. Worse behaved than my dogs. I was very timid around kids, and had no desire to hold other people's kids. But I figured I would love my own kids someday, hence why they were in my plan. Plus, the way I felt about kids at that time was more like "you're supposed to have kids" not "I want to have kids." (Michael shared my same mindset.) As you can see, God had some work to do in our hearts.

About a year later, I experienced a very late period. I was so scared that I went to the doctor to have my blood tested for pregnancy. I don't know why, but I didn't think about taking a home pregnancy test first. (I think God knew what events needed to take place, so maybe that's why the thought never entered my mind.) We were both very nervous about possibly being pregnant. What would we do?! This is much earlier than we'd planned for. Could we afford to have a baby now? Are we mature enough to raise a child? The what-ifs were endless. I received a phone call from my doctor's office with the test results.

"Your pregnancy test came back negative."

My heart sank. I felt...disappointed. Disappointed?

I couldn't believe that was my response to the test result. Not being pregnant was in line with our plan, so why would I feel sad by the test result? It made no sense to me. But now I know that it was clearly God working and moving in the depths of my heart, stirring a deep rooted desire to be a mother. Metaphorically, he awoke a sleeping giant.

Since that day, my desire to be a mother has only grown. And so from that day forward, my plans changed. I wanted to be a mother as soon as possible.

At first it was I alone that held this desire. Michael was not yet ready to even consider trying to conceive a baby. I still have my old prayer journals full of prayer after prayer that God would work in Michael's heart, help him to be open to becoming a father and gain that desire for himself. I tried to talk about my desires with Michael so that he would be fully aware of how I felt. I was ecstatic when he finally relented in December 2010 and agreed that we could begin trying to conceive.

So I made my new plan in that moment: get pregnant right away and announce it Christmas morning to our families. It would have been magical. There would have been tears and hugs and tons of excitement.

But it would not have been right, because it was my plan and not God's.

Since entering the realm of infertility, God has moved mountains of stubbornness in my heart. Mountains so large and deeply entrenched that I never thought they could be moved. But He is God after all. Most powerful, yet most gentle. Unwavering in His plans.

He taught me that it's okay to make plans, but only if I remain open to His plan above all else. That's the hard part to apply in life.

When you struggle with infertility, there are so many overwhelming decisions to make. What tests and procedures to try, when, with what doctor, how much are you willing to pay, when do you decide to move on to the next step, etc.

Planners like me can be very tempted to make plan after plan and keep trying to force their plan into existence. But at some point, you must stop. You must yield to the unyielding God. You must let him move your mountain of stubbornness where He pleases (which is out of your heart). You must trust that He has a plan, that it includes you, and that His plan will truly be the best one. And then the hardest part, you must decide to choose to follow His plan instead of your own.

I continue to struggle with this, but I recognize and am thankful for how far I've come in this struggle. I know how stubborn I used to be, how hard I fought to keep my plan in place.

But I reached a point where I finally relented and decided to let go of keeping my plans in first place. My desires to be a mother have not changed. My desires to conceive a biological child have not changed. But pretty much every other part of my heart has been forever changed.

I no longer look at kids as just part of the plan. I no longer view adoption as a charitable act of kindness. I know better than to pry into other couples' family planning ("So...when will you guys have kids?"). I know that if I do end up conceiving a biological child, that child is never going to truly be mine, but the Lord's. I know that whomever ends up being my child, it is the purest form of a blessing from God, and I should be grateful day in and day out at having the honor of such an important role as a mother.

Most importantly, I know that all of this pain and heartache is ultimately meant to bring glory to God and all His goodness. He has been so faithful and gentle in dealing with this stubborn planner in yours truly. He took a girl who was lukewarm about kids and transformed her into a woman longing for children of her own yet seeking God's will even if it does not line up with her plans and desires. He took a boy who had superficial and unrealistic views about children and molded him into a man with a deep heart's desire to be a father and to teach his children about the glory of the Lord. He took a marriage that likely would not have survived had we conceived according to my plans, and transformed it into a lasting and beautiful expression of grace. He made us partners. He showed us that children are not to be idolized because all good things come from God, and He deserves all the glory, not the object of the blessing.

As much as I think my plans are best, I believe His plans are even better, and I want nothing more than to allow Him to carry out His plan in my life.

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."

The Latest Update On Us:
We are loving our new diet and lifestyle and plan (lol) to stick with it for life because we believe it's the best way to honor our temples, no matter the outcome (hoping for biological conception but whether our journey ends with conception or not will not change our decision to adopt a plant-based diet). I don't think we ever would have been open to adopting a plant-based diet unless we'd experienced this trial, so praise God for that.

We have been plant-based for almost 9 months, and although we have yet to conceive, we are not interested in pursuing any form of medical procedures to help us conceive. We have felt the Lord confirm in our hearts that He wants us to keep waiting at this time. The only way we will include the medical field in our family planning is if the Lord clearly moves us in that direction.

We are open to God's will, whatever that may be. We are open to adopting, but will not pursue adoption until we feel Him leading us down that path. Adoption is not an easy process. It will require an extensive amount of research, financial planning, and emotional commitment. We have decided to wait until December 2014 before we begin to research the adoption process, unless the Lord moves us to act sooner (or later) than that time. This is an example of me making a plan because it brings me comfort to have a date to look forward to (December 2014), but God's plan and timing come first. We will ultimately do what He wills, when He wills it.

Thank you to those who continue to pray for us. We are grateful for your love and friendship. We look forward to seeing what God has planned for our lives.

Hope & Love,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013



How long must I pray before You answer me
How long must I wait before Your plan is revealed to me
How long, O Lord, how long

How many more birthdays will pass with empty arms
How many more mother’s days will pass with silence
How many more father’s days will pass with no celebration
How many more, O Lord, how many more

How come so many ask me if I have children
How come so many friends don’t understand
How come I feel like I’m the only one dealing with this
How come, O Lord, how come

How is it that so many conversations involve one’s children
How is it that most commercials I see target mothers
How is it that most churches don’t have a place for someone like me
How is it, O Lord, how is it

How do I deal with all these bumps in my road
How do I handle the silence and waiting
How do I hold onto hope and faith
How do I, O Lord, how do I

God I need You
I need You to guide me
I need You to answer me
I need You to carry me
I need You to tell me how

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Which of the two orange circles is larger, right or left?

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Ready for the correct answer?

You guessed correctly!! Because they are the same size...

Don't believe me? Take out a ruler and measure them on the screen. (Yes, I actually did this!) This is called the Ebbinghaus illusion.

I thought this was a wonderful example of the common misconceptions associated with infertility. I want to focus on two perspectives: from the infertile's and the fertile's points of view.

I know you well. You often have thoughts like, "Why is it so much easier for [her] to conceive than me?"

My dear sister, it may feel like everyone else around you could get pregnant from drinking the water while you are carefully planning and timing and tracking and counting and peeing get the idea.

But sometimes things are not as they seem. The circle on the right may look bigger, but it's really the same size as the one on the left. Translated for you: it may seem like [she] can conceive so much easier than you, but it's simply not true.

You have a misconception about this. You are allowing yourself to be fooled into believing the lie that Satan works very hard at getting you to believe.

Because the truth is, [she] has no higher odds of conceiving than you do. Yes, really. Why? Because God is the one and ONLY ONE who decides when a life will begin. No matter what [she] says, no matter who [she] gives the credit to, no matter how many kids [they] have already, no matter how little [they] were trying to conceive...the one and ONLY reason [she] conceived at all was purely because God said it was to be so.

On the flip side, the one and ONLY reason you have not yet conceived [or birthed a baby] is because God says it is not yet the time for it to be so. No matter what doctors have told you, no matter how messed up your cycles are, no matter how many years you've been trying...the only reason you are still waiting is because God's plan is still yet to unfold in your life.

That levels the playing field. You should no longer feel inferior to [her]. You should no longer compare yourself to [her]. Your journeys are obviously very different, but your odds are exactly the same: 100%. It is a guarantee, a certainty that God's plan will unfold in each of your lives. It will happen in different ways, at different times, and with different endings, but it WILL happen.

So go "all in". Bet big. Put all your cards on the table before God. Pray without ceasing. Keep asking Him for guidance. Keep crying out to Him for help and strength and comfort. Keep the proper perspective about your situation and remember that you are loved and not forgotten. You are NOT the smaller circle.

Please remember to give credit where it is due. Just as the infertile is fooled into believing they are inferior to you, you can easily be fooled into believing that you played a bigger role in the conception of your child than you really did.

So my plea with you is to use caution with how you speak about your fertility. Always try to choose humility over pride. It may not be so easy the next time you try to conceive. Secondary infertility is a real thing for many women. They often find themselves frustrated and confused, realizing that they took for granted their apparent fertility the first time around.

Just remember that it is God and God alone who gives children to parents. You have been blessed with a precious gift, and He calls you to honor Him with it and give Him the credit for it (Psalm 127:3).

If you already know the two circles are the same size, then I thank God for your awareness of this and for your sensitivity to the infertiles' hearts. Your understanding is invaluable to us.

In summary, we are all made in the image of God. We are all fallen creatures. We are all at the mercy of our Lord's plan for our lives. Our stories will be different, our prayers will be answered in different ways and at different times. We must not compare one journey to the next. We must not think of our journey as superior or inferior to another's. Those comparisons lead only to shame.

Philippians 2:1-11
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Confessions of an Infertile

I'm a really bad waiter. I was also a really bad waitress.

I just want so desperately to know what God's plan is. I feel pretty confident that I can get on board with whatever His plan is...I just want to know what it is so all of this uncertainty can go away.

No matter what happens in my life; no matter what I'm doing; no matter how busy I am...nothing will make me feel whole. Only God can do that.

I feel like the most impatient person in the world. I do not like waiting. I get so anxious and antsy. Waiting at a red light or for a train. Waiting for a speech or lecture to end. Waiting for an airplane to get moving. Waiting to get off said airplane. Waiting in line at the store. Why do people move sooooo sloooooooow when I'm around?? Get a move on people!

That's honestly how I feel about God sometimes...get a move on God! Why are you taking so long to reveal your plan?!

Could there really be a reason for all this waiting? Is it really for some good? I mean, looking back, I definitely see all the good that has happened. So many lessons learned, relationships made, and opportunities realized. But in each moment, I feel like that must certainly be it. All the learning must surely be over. Right? RIGHT?!

Deep breath. And again.

And again.

Days like this make it really hard to trust that God knows what He's doing. But that's absurd. Because He's GOD! Of course He knows what He's doing. He made the world and everything in it. And the most crucial detail: He made time. Time belongs to Him. The stupid thing that I keep obsessing over is the very thing that He made and is in complete control of.

So the real question I find myself asking is: How to be patient? I clearly do not possess this skill when it comes to waiting for God's plan to be revealed, so how can I learn to be patient? Is there a class I can attend? A book I can read? A magical potion I can swallow?

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

It's a fruit of the Spirit. Great! And which store can I pick that up at? I'm a health nut...I love fruit!

But this fruit is not something that is so simple to find and possess. Or is it?

John 15:1-11
1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

This is lengthy, but so very informative and valuable. In short, the only way to bear fruit (read "patience" for yours truly) is to abide in Christ. So patience is not something that I yield on my own. Just as a farmer is not the one to grow a crop, he is the one who puts in the time, labor, and care. God then causes the growth. So I will only gain patience by putting in the time, labor, and care (love) towards Christ.

And that's not all. In verse 5, He says that if you abide in Him, you will bear much fruit. You mean I might bear more things from that list than just patience?! Sounds unbelievable...I mean, have you met me before? Phew, God has His work cut out for Him growing so many different fruits from this sinful being.

But God is faithful. So I must be faithful. I want to abide in Him. And if I have any hope of keeping some semblance of my sanity, I need to abide in Him. I need to stop and smell the roses, not push passed all the slow pokes at the park. I need to bear fruit while I wait for the Lord.

God, please help me abide in You. I long to make you proud. I want to bring You glory. Please help your daughter out.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't Be a Fiddler

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"I'm fiddling"
(You get an 'A' if you know what movie this is from!)

Are you a fiddler? I'm the type that will fiddle with something in my hands when I'm thinking, conversing,'s just something I mindlessly do with various objects nearby. I'm usually not actively thinking about it. My hands seem to have a mind of their own in that way and before I know what happened, I look down and realize I've unscrewed the pen tip or I'm twirling my wedding rings around my finger.

Infertility can be like that. Without even realizing what happened, you can find yourself going from carefree to fretting. You can find yourself obsessing about one tiny detail or following the thought pathway of a particular what-if scenario.

I've come to realize that the enemy uses these "mind fiddles" as an opportunity to decrease your faith. Because when I have that moment of realization that I've been fretting about something, I realize that I feel more hopeless and alone. The enemy uses those opportunities to draw you away from God.

So it's very important to faithfully and continually evaluate yourself. If you realize you're fretting or that you've started claiming the reins of your life/situation thinking you have control over something that you really don't...release it. Give them back to God.

1 Peter 5:6-11
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 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. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

It's unfortunately not a decision you just make once; it's a decision you have to keep making throughout your journey (and whole life, I would argue). Let it go, and put the reins back into God's hands. Take charge of your thoughts, and direct them where you know they should go.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

Take ownership of what you do have control over, but nothing beyond have to let those things go. It's worth it, because whose hands are more capable than God's?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hopeful Mother's Day

Mother's Day. A day to celebrate mothers. But how exactly do you define a mother?

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In a church service, Mother's Day usually includes a special "Standing of the Mothers Ceremony." It's not normally called such a prestigious title, but for some women, that's exactly how it feels. Sometimes small gifts or roses are given to those who stand. The picture above shows a church crowd on Mother's Day, where the mothers were asked to stand. I don't know why some men are also standing...but notice that there are some women who are still seated.

This very special day can be very complicated. Is a mother strictly a woman who has born a child? What about adoptive moms? What about women who bore a child that died in its infancy? What about a woman who had a stillbirth? Miscarriage? Pregnant? Infertile? What about single women who desperately long to get married and have children?

This public event at church - that I'm sure has very good intentions to honor mothers - at the same time dishonors and isolates women in these complicated classifications. To stand or not to stand, that really is the question.

I long to be a mother, but it's not the appointed time for me yet. But my heart already acts like a mother's heart. My heart is already so full of love for my children, and I haven't even met them yet. Does that mean I'm "worthy" of standing? I have five furry children...does that count? Have I earned my mother's badge?

I love that there's a special day to celebrate mothers, I just wish that we could honor mothers without isolating non-mothers. This blog post addresses this issue very well.

So what to do, what to do?

Moms Already
You are so blessed. Psalm 127:3 says, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward." Please be considerate of other women around you who may be deeply hurting on this day. Don't be afraid to reach out to those women and encourage them, pray for them, and love them. And please think twice before you utter a complaint about being tired, frustrated, spit up on, etc. Learn to better appreciate the blessings you have been given. You are richly blessed, so have a heart of joy and thankfulness.

Wanna Be Moms
This day will be hard for you. Brace yourself, it comes every year. You should decide for yourself how you will handle this day. We personally choose to skip church on this day, because our church congregation still does the Standing of the Mothers Ceremony. And there is nothing more awkward and painful for me than sitting in a room full of women who have the honor of standing, where all I long to do is have the credentials necessary to stand. I literally have dreams about being in a room full of pregnant women/mothers. It's isolating and painful, so I choose to avoid this day to protect my heart.

But don't let this day be a day of darkness for you. You may not have a physical (human) child yet, but you will one day. Each new day you wake up, you are one day closer to meeting your child. So stay strong in the Lord. Worship Him for His goodness. His plan is perfect and beautiful. Pray for strength, comfort, and peace to wait patiently for His plan to unfold. Treasure this time with your husband, and celebrate the day as a day of Hopeful Mother's Day.

Church Body, Pastors, and Congregation
Know that the church body is composed of sinners. This means that the black and white mother/non-mother descriptors are a thing of the past. So let's just celebrate and honor the mothers we know personally, rather than having a formal Standing of the Mothers Ceremony. Mothers should be honored, but not in the way that is done in many churches today. So reach out to the mothers you know and tell them how much you appreciate them. Encourage and uplift them. And also be aware of the more complicated situations, like adoptive, infertile, and former parents. There is much suffering in the church body, and we should all seek to uplift and love on those who suffer. Let compassion be your motto.

Happy Hopeful Mother's Day!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jealousy - Green Is Not My Best Color

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I have struggled with jealousy for all my life. Blame it on being an only child, or simply the fact that I'm a regular, sinful, selfish human being...often times my first response to someone who has something that I want but don't have is a response of jealousy. This especially became a foothold for me when we first began struggling with infertility. It took every ounce of strength I possessed to not dwell on thoughts like this (and I often failed, allowing myself to stew in jealousy):

Why does she deserve a baby and I don't?
She's so ungrateful for being pregnant by complaining so often, it just makes me sick.
I bet I would handle that so much better than her.
It's so unfair that teenagers get pregnant all the time after "just once", yet I can't get pregnant at all!

And on and on...turning greener and greener by the minute.

As I learned to depend on the Lord, and give everything about this journey to Him, submitting to His and only His plan, it became easier for me to reject thoughts of jealousy. I still face many temptations to be jealous about others' pregnancies and children, but the more I focus my attention heavenward, the easier it gets to move past the narrow-focused thought of jealousy.

I still intentionally protect myself by setting boundaries that aid my ability to reject jealousy, such as refusing to attend all baby showers or visit newborns and new parents. I do this in the same way that a man who struggles with sexual purity might set a boundary by installing protective computer software or avoid seeing a movie with sexual content. It's only prudent to set yourself up for success rather than willingly entering a situation you know will lead you into temptation and struggle. But the greatest recipe for success is keeping your gaze focused on the Lord, pursuing Him actively.

Hebrews 12:1-2
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.

The Sarah's Laughter devotional below is a wonderful example of how jealousy, especially in the midst of infertility, can lead you away from the dream you so desperately long for. We infertile women must be extra cautious about the condition of our hearts. We must make every effort to not set ourselves against our husbands and begin a trend of instilling jealousy in our children. It does not mean you are not allowed to feel sadness and grief, but always viewing the world from the perspective of "what I'm not getting" is a selfish and narrow perspective to have. We must fix our eyes on the hope and plan God has for us.

Profile: Rachel

April 15, 2013
Rachel was definitely one of us.  She wanted a baby so badly, and it seemed that nothing she tried worked.  There is much we can learn as we examine Rachel’s life.  Just as Hannah gave us examples of how we should strive to handle the heartache of infertility, Rachel gives us a crystal clear look at what pitfalls we need to avoid as best we can.
Jealousy was a major chapter in Rachel’s infertility story.  Undoubtedly, the most painful reminder of her infertility was her sister.  Her sister who lived in her own house.  Her sister who lived in her own house and was pregnant.  Her sister who lived in her own house and was pregnant by Rachel’s husband.  I know it’s tough to be infertile in 2013, but most of us don’t have pregnant siblings living with us who are carrying our spouse’s child!  Ugh!
Jealousy was such a factor in Rachel’s heart that it is one of the themes that Scripture shares with us about her life.  She was so jealous of her sister that it tainted everything she did, everything she said, and even played a role in the naming of her children that God did eventually grant her.  Rachel’s jealousy didn’t go away when her children were born.  It colored her parenting and even affected her children throughout their adult lives.
All of us feel a twinge of jealousy when we see a pregnant woman or hear someone our age announce their third pregnancy.  Sometimes it’s more than a twinge!  Ask God to help you with this hurtful emotion when jealousy begins to rear its ugly head.  Don’t let your infertility story be written by jealousy’s hand.
There is no doubt that Rachel was consumed by baby hunger.  She was also consumed by rage.  She was so angry that she couldn’t conceive and her anger spilled over into her relationships.  In Genesis 30:1, we see her snipping at her husband.  Chances are, it wasn’t the first argument they’d ever had regarding her inability to conceive.  “Give me children, or else I die!”  What was her husband, Jacob’s response?  Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel...(Genesis 30:2).  No wiping her tears.  No strong shoulder to lean on.  Rachel’s accusations lit a fire in her husband’s heart. (Remember Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”)  How many times could she lash out at Jacob without expecting him to reciprocate?  Chance are, he was doing everything he could possibly do to help her get pregnant.  
Learn from Rachel’s mistakes.  How different would her life have been if she had found a way to harness jealousy and rage?  How much lighter would the burden of infertility have been had she not had to simultaneously struggle with broken relationships and hurt feelings?
No one says it’s easy.  No one expects you to get through this season of your life with the total absence of anger or jealousy.  After all, you are a human being, you know.  But keep an honest eye on yourself and on your heart.  Don’t let Satan get a stronghold in your life as he tries to wrap your heart in anger and jealousy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Living in the Now

Philippians 4:11-13
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Take a moment to meditate on the verses above.

Today I want to speak directly to those reading this who are currently in the midst of infertility. Usually my posts are generic enough to apply to other life issues, and perhaps you'll still be interested in reading this, but I just feel compelled to level with my fellow infertile-sisters today.

My sweet sister, do not take the present for granted.

I know how easy it is and how often you dwell on your future hopes, and that's certainly not a bad thing. But you must be careful not to get so overly-focused on the future that you neglect the present.

Some "state-of-your-heart" questions to ask yourself are:
  • Have I been an active participant in my other relationships besides my spouse, or have I pulled away?
  • Are my husband and I focusing on our marriage well, or is there tension and strife?
  • Am I over-consumed with the potential of being pregnant that I'm neglecting having fun? (Have a drink occasionally! Don't fret about eating sushi...bleh, if you like that sort of thing.)
  • Do I become distraught over "wasting" another month when the timing of intercourse doesn't work out?
  • Am I allowing time to become a master over my attitude? (Fretting about my age, timing intercourse, the timing of fertility treatments/decisions, etc.)
  • Am I actually enjoying sex, or is my primary thought about the potential of conceiving?
  • Have I been putting off any life-goals or activities for the hopeful possibility that this will be "the" month? 
  • Am I angry with God for not answering my prayers?

Sisters, the present is full of wonderful adventures and beauty, you just have to allow yourself to live in it. And I get a free pass to say this next statement, because I'm still a member of the "infertile club": please enjoy the quiet house, the full night's sleep, and the spontaneity you have with your husband. Seriously ladies, enjoy it! Your house will one day have children in it, but not today. So don't let this time slip away without its proper appreciation. You are blessed today, and you will be blessed tomorrow. Be thankful for the present and learn to be content in your present circumstances, even if they are not the circumstances that align with your plans and desires.

Here's the latest update on us...

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We are loving life. We are filled with the Lord's perfect peace and feel completely sure we are doing what God wants us to be doing right now with regard to growing our family: patiently waiting.

A few months ago, as my mental health improved and I finally overcame my depression about infertility (thanks to the Lord and better physical health!), I can honestly say that I have learned to be content about our family situation now. My baby room is still empty, but my heart is full of peace.

I've truly been thankful for the ability to have so much quality time together, just the two of us. Free of interruptions, dirty diapers and spit up. Quiet serenity at home (except for the occasional dog bark of course). Getting to sleep in a little on Saturdays. The ability to keep a (relatively) clean house. Even though I desire to be a stay-at-home Mom, we have a lot more "fun money" at our disposal because we both currently work full-time. That also means we'll pay off our house much sooner than if we had gotten pregnant according to our plan.

I really do want God's plan over my own. Many months ago, I had to recite that to myself, hoping I would actually believe and feel it one day. But that day has finally come. However God plans to bring children into our life, that's what I want. And I'm totally at peace about that. I'm just dedicated to soak up as much of the present as I can before God reveals His plan to us.

I can relate this feeling to the time when we were living in a one bedroom apartment and saving up for a house down payment. It was all I could do not to get worked up with desires and dreams about one day living in a house. It was an eventual certainty - we would be living in a house someday, just not quite yet. A real house! With a yard for the dogs, and more than one bedroom. More than one bathroom! But I also knew that I would likely never be in that present situation again - living meagerly to save as much as possible. Having crazy stories about how cramped we were living with 2 humans and 5 pets in a one bedroom apartment. Making up nicknames for all our neighbors. Walking to church. I knew that I better take good mental pictures, because one day I would look back on those "tough" times with fondness and nostalgia.

The same applies to your life in the midst of infertility. It's fun, good, and exciting to look ahead and dream. But you should make as much effort as possible to enjoy the present, while you still can. Don't be in such a hurry to rush this process. God has His plan already laid out, so try your best to sit back and live it out. Your precious time of "just the two of you" is running out quickly. You may not feel like it's quick, but trust me, one day you'll look back at this time and realize just how quick it was. So don't miss out on today's opportunities to enjoy your time together. This time is truly precious.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

October Baby Movie

Here's a trailer for the movie, in case you've never heard of it:

Every Life is Beautiful.

That's the movie's tagline. We watched this movie last week and were moved to tears. For several reasons.

1. It's a reminder that no matter what, you have the power to forgive others for their wrongs. For their choices. But here's the key: you only have that power if you yourself hold the free gift of God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ in your heart. "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." - Ephesians 4:32

2. It's a reminder that God has a plan. And even when, from our narrow perspective, His plan includes pain, suffering, and death...there is inevitably beauty and glory to be found in that plan. When a life is lost due to miscarriage, abortion, murder, an accident, illness, suicide, or simply old age, it is a tragedy. It does not escape God's notice. It is within His sovereign plan. There can be joy found in those moments of sorrow. When a life is saved from those tragedies, it's for a purpose. Had a life been successfully aborted, then that life would never have interacted with all the people it eventually did. It's amazing how the chain of events are impacted. In our personal situation, we are beginning to see how God orchestrated every detail in our journey of pursuing to have children. Every moment of sadness, every setback, every disappointment...has led us to the place where we are today. God has used our painful journey to shape us, completely change our hearts about a variety of things, and open our minds to the reality of our health choices. Enough to change our diet and lifestyle forever. Which, in case you didn't know this about us, has now changed how we plan to raise, nurture, and nourish our future children. If we have anything to say about it, our children will not eat meat or dairy. When they are adults, they can make their own choices, but while in our house, they will be given no other choice than to follow our dietary standards because we believe it's what best for them. We can only speculate if God has spared us or our future children of some health-related condition that would have otherwise been developed. He is so good!

3. It's a beautiful story about adoption. Without spoiling too much of the movie, I'll simply say that it's tearjerking to hear stories of fallen, sinful human beings displaying the kind of unconditional love that God showed to us through Jesus. God adopted us horrible creatures as His children. We don't deserve it. We should not be desirable. But God loves us and adopted us anyway. When there is a child who is adopted in the world, it's beautiful. When there's a disabled or impaired child who is adopted, it's so beautiful. God loves us all. We should strive to return that love to all the world.

I highly recommend that you see the movie!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Settled In

It was a sunny afternoon on December 4, 2010. We had just returned from a church social event, where a mutual friend/couple had brought her twin girls. They were so precious! She asked me to help feed one of her girls, and I sat in awe as I held this little girl and gazed into her eyes as she sipped from her bottle. I remember thinking, "I could totally get the hang of this." (I formerly had a fear that I wouldn't have a clue how to take care of a baby's needs.) Michael came over shortly after and held one of the girls. I remember thinking how much I loved that image of him - my handsome husband holding a tender, delicate little baby girl.

I had been talking for months with Michael about how I felt more and more comfortable with the idea of starting a family. So this afternoon, after having been around babies, of course the conversation went that way again. I shared my feelings and desires to become a mom, and after expressing some concerns about financial stability and how a baby would dramatically change our lives, Michael agreed that we could begin trying.

Hooray!!! It just so happened that I was scheduled to ovulate a couple days later. What perfect timing to get pregnant, just in time to announce it to our families on Christmas morning! How did I ever get to be so lucky to have that timing work out so well.

After a few days of enjoying the "consequences" of the decision to start trying (hint hint), I began counting down the days until I could take a pregnancy test. I had everything planned perfectly...I went to the Dollar Store and bought a cheap pregnancy test. Kudos to me for saving some money!

Finally the day arrived when I could take the test. Having never taken one before, I of course had to read the instructions to make sure I did everything right. Put a couple drops of urine on the strip, wait 3 minutes, and then let the celebrations begin!

2 minutes 55 seconds...
2 minutes 56 seconds...
2 minutes 57 seconds...
2 minutes 58 seconds...
2 minutes 59 seconds...
3 minutes!

Wait a second...what does one line mean? Only one baby?


It's amazing how much one tiny pink line can impact one's emotions. And it's equally amazing how quickly your mind can be inundated with thoughts of doubt.

Is there something wrong with me? With Michael? Will we have a hard time getting pregnant?

A little disappointed, I brushed off those thoughts, and was determined to figure out this whole conception thing. Christmas came and went.

I remember sitting in bed talking with Michael on New Year's Eve. We were discussing our New Year's Resolutions. Michael's was to compete in an arm-wrestling tournament (which he did). I remember stating mine: "To become a mom."

Oh dear was I setting myself up for disappointment. To make that a resolution, or even a goal or accomplishment was so naive. I had yet to learn how little control a person has on the conception of a life.

Fast forward to today. It has been 2 years, 3 months, and 7 days since that decision was made. 829 days to be exact.

829 days of waiting. Of prayers and pleading. Of tears and broken dreams. But also of growth and character development. Renewed faith and neverending hope. God has completely transformed the both of us in these past 829 days. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually...we are forever changed. We have a new mindset and heart when it comes to children and the hope of having them someday.

I personally went through darkness and thankfully, emerged again into His light. I know that I did not always behave or react the right way during these past 829 days, but I have learned so many valuable lessons.

I'm at a point now where I feel very settled in. Infertility is the norm for me now. I don't mean that in a depressed way. More of a comfort level kind of way. I am so used to the process of trying, waiting, grieving, and trying again, that I feel like if things were to change, it might take me some time to get used to that change.

I've always been slow to's just my personality type. When I make a plan, I get uncomfortable if the plan changes. I used to be a lot worse about that, but I've relaxed quite a bit thanks to infertility. But still, I'm comfortable with where I am now. The thought of getting pregnant is almost bringing back the same fears as before we started trying. Wow, could I really learn how to take care of another life?

I realized the other day after we listened to a conference call about pregnancy that the Wellness Forum hosted that I know nothing about pregnancy and labor. I mean, I know the basics of what goes in must come out, but I'm lacking the details of what happens throughout a pregnancy, the stages of labor, and what in the world you're supposed to do with a baby when you take it home (without an instruction manual)...that's really scary to me. I intentionally forbade myself from reading and learning about it in order to keep my expectations from getting out of hand. I also wanted to save something special for pregnancy. Because of that, I realized that if the Lord does allow us to become pregnant, we will be starting completely over from scratch. We will have a ton of research to do and things to learn and decide about. I already feel like I need to start taking some deep breaths to relax!

Sometimes I imagine what our lives will look like if the Lord does allow us to get pregnant. Would it really change our lives and daily routine all that much? What social norms am I comfortable with now and which am I uncomfortable with? Will I one day forget about this struggle and begin to take our child for granted? And here's my biggest question: Will I always feel that twinge in my stomach whenever I hear a pregnancy announcement or see a pregnant woman, or does that go away? I have gotten so used to that twingy feeling that it's hard to believe it will disappear over night.

I'm just so thankful that no matter what changes occur in our lives, one thing will remain unchanged:

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Our lives could remain this way for even more years, or they could be thrown upside down with the blessing of a pregnancy. But God will always remain the same, forever the steady and peaceful presence by our side. Settled or unsettled, He is always with us. I'll close with a song I love that illustrates this point...enjoy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hindsight Series, Part 4: Sonia

Our last story is told by Sonia. Sonia and Cameron have been married for almost 12 years, where a third of that time was spent waiting for the Lord to bless them with a child. Please enjoy Sonia's story below. Thank you, Sonia, for taking the time to contribute!

Sonia's Story

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1. Please share your story/background briefly (about your journey of infertility and how it ended, where you are now)

Cameron and I tried, prayed, and trusted God for 4 years to get pregnant. We had all sorts of tests done, saw doctors & specialists, did 3 IUIs, I was treated by a Chinese acupuncturist & a Russian naturopath, took herbal fertility supplements, and were prayed over at a faith healing center by some friends. While I had different issues affecting my fertility, i.e. endometriosis & luteal phase defect, doctors never gave us definitive reasons as to why we couldn’t conceive. After 4 long years while taking a break from seeking treatment, to our surprise we were pregnant! God made the impossible, possible. Praise God! He first blessed us with our son, Lincoln (now 2.5 years old) and 10 months later, we got pregnant with our daughter, Naomi (now 1 year old).

2. Looking back, how was God at work during your time of waiting for children?

I think that God was maturing us. With Cameron, when we began trying to get pregnant, he wanted to have children, but it wasn’t a really strong desire. After a couple of years of trying, I feel that he began to really want to have children and become a father. With me, I feel like God drew me closer to Himself during that time of waiting. While reading through the Bible and in prayer, over and over God laid things on my heart. He impressed upon me that nothing was too difficult for Him, that He was right there with me on this journey, and that He loves me. I experienced a beautiful intimacy with the Lord unlike I ever had before. Suffering and waiting for a child is what brought me to my knees before my Savior. While the waiting was painful and harsh at times, there was a sweetness to it knowing that God was with me, right by my side, and that He would get me through it. Were there times when I lost hope that I would ever get pregnant? Yes. Often I rode on the hopes of others and my hope in God that He could do a miracle.

3. Looking back, what would you describe as the purpose for you having to wait for children? In other words, what do you think was the reason(s) you had to wait?

I feel like there were several reasons that I know of as to why I had to wait and the purpose behind it. Of course, I also realize that there were other reasons that I’m not aware of and that I may never know or understand. My role is to be faithful to Him and trust that He loves me, He works all things together for my good, and that He is in control. He is the author and sustainer of life. I had to learn to put my hope in Him, not in my doctor, upcoming procedure, or anything that I was doing. God wanted to use the time of waiting to grow and mature me. In the Bible, James 1:2-4 says that God uses hard times to develop perseverance. Perseverance helps us to mature. In Romans 5:3-4 it says that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.

Another reason I think I had to wait was to give me compassion and sympathy for others going through infertility and other struggles. I was clueless about infertility before we journeyed through it. Looking back now I’m reminded about a few of the insensitive comments and questions I said to others. And those are only the ones I remember. I’m sure there were more. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”. How beautiful is that? He comforts us and we comfort others out of the comfort we’ve received from Him. Infertility has definitely helped me to better be able to comfort others and walk with them.

4. What was the biggest lesson(s) you learned through your journey?

God’s character is never on trial. His character does not change whether it’s smooth sailing or I’m going through hard times. My circumstances do not dictate His character, His nature and who He is. Also, I’m not in control. I never was and I never will be. I thought I was in control of my life as I enjoy setting goals and planning. Infertility helped me to see that no matter how hard we tried, or what our doctors did, God is in control of my life. He is the author and sustainer of life. I believed before that in most things if you try hard enough, set your mind to something, you could accomplish anything. This is not the case with the miracle of life. It’s just that. It’s truly a miracle and God has to act.

5. What helped you endure the time of waiting?

Endure is the right word as it was such a challenging rollercoaster ride! For me it was spending time reading through the Bible and in prayer, journaling, seeing a counselor, meeting with other friends going through infertility, having family & friends pray for me and knowing that I wasn’t forgotten. Also important was allowing myself to grieve, but to not stay stuck in the grief. So I would have a good cry when I needed to and then I would ask for God’s help to endure. As a couple we continued to live life and do fun things like travel and visit friends. It was also critical to not compare myself to others. Comparison robs you of joy. So I made it my goal to keep my eyes on Jesus and to not shift my focus onto who all was pregnant or having babies.

6. If you could go back and tell your past self something -- the past self who is in the midst of waiting -- what would you say?

As you suffer, suffer well. God is going to redeem the time and turn the suffering into something beautiful if you let Him. It will be more beautiful than you could ever imagine. This is really hard, but you’re going to get through this and come out on the other side. Put your hope in Him, trust Him, lean on Him and the family and friends supporting you.

7. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

A friend of mine, Heather, once told me in the midst of waiting that God has in mind a certain time for my child to be born. God wants him to befriend certain people and influence those around him. I have seen that come true. God has given me some beautiful friendships through my son. There is a bigger plan at work around us. Allow God to do His work and you won’t be disappointed. You will be amazed!

Previous: Part 3: Jenny's Story
Return to Hindsight Series Introduction

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hindsight Series, Part 3: Jenny

Our next story belongs to Jenny. Jenny and Kyle now have three beautiful children and maintain their own blog called A Chosen Child. Thank you, Jenny, for taking the time to contribute to this series. I hope you all enjoy her story as much as I do.


Jenny's Story


When I think about my story of becoming a mother, I think about adoption. About God teaching me that He loves me so crazy much that He would come down to this place, make a way into my life and choose me, for some reason I'll never figure out He chose to adopt me as His daughter. I think about how somewhere along the way He began to teach me that He wanted me to love someone so crazy much that I would find a way into their life, that I would cross over countries, and fears, and obstacles, and make them mine. I often forget that He started that journey for me years before I knew what was happening, that He used us waiting to conceive to show us that there are other ways to build a family.

We waited 14 months to become pregnant with Kylynn. At the time it seemed forever, it seemed like it would never happen, at the time it was all the reason I needed to believe every lie Satan tried to feed me. But somewhere in the midst of it all I looked at Kyle and said, "What if this never happens, what if we can't get pregnant?" and without missing a beat he said, "Then we'll adopt." It was simple for him and even though my mind was raging with BUT...I allowed myself to cling to his simplicity and say, "Okay."

We never saw a doctor, I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to doctors, but after about a year I decided that even though we weren't interested in most medical interventions, we should at least consult a doctor. So I made an appointment. They couldn't see me for a couple of months, October 5th was their earliest date. On October 5th, I heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time, I was six weeks pregnant. It was one of the happiest days of my life, we celebrated at Sonic, we called family, we rejoiced, and I quickly put to bed the idea that our family would consist of anything but little Kyle/Jenny clones.

But before I knew it Kylynn was 11 months old and it was time to talk about having more children. God had done something quietly, steadily in Kyle's heart during those months and he had decided that one: he only wanted two children, and two: it was important to him that we adopt at some point and so that some point had to be now.

I did not feel the same, I mean adoption is a nice thing and sure I wanted to (maybe/probably) do it someday, but let's do that once we are done having biological children. But God gave me a peace about what Kyle wanted to do and I was able to say yes to his plan. This was the first time in my life I can remember simply obeying God, even though I didn't like it, I was finally learning to let go. At that time if you would have told me I would never give birth/nurse another baby I would have been heartbroken, God took me to where I am today slowly. I began to pray during Jack's adoption that God would remove every one of my own desires in regards to children from my heart and replace them with His desire for children in our family. He was so faithful with that prayer, which I prayed daily for months and clung to desperately. Our third child, also adopted, is testimony to how He changed the desires of my heart, it made everything in our journey easier.

It's funny how hard it is to remember that time of waiting on children, they surround me today and overwhelm me, and sometimes they even remind me to bend low in awe of His goodness and the abundance of blessings in my life. But what I learned while we waited for Kylynn and for Jack and Chloe -   adoption requires a lot of waiting :)   - was that I want more than anything for His will to be done in my life. He is using this journey to teach me that He is truly good, that He can be trusted, it has caused me to want to choose His plan (scary and painful as it may seem at the time) every time. It taught me that it's only in trials and pain that we can grow and strange as it may seem that there can be such sweet joy in the midst of deep sorrow, there is nothing quite like being tended to by the great Comforter.

Waiting, on anything, is painful. Waiting to become a mother is perhaps one of the most painful times. All my children came to me through a journey, all of them required a great deal of waiting on the Lord. If I could go back in time to the woman I was as I waited on Kylynn, I would want to introduce her to the woman I became while I waited on Jack. I would encourage her to use that time to draw nearer and nearer to our God, to allow herself to be stretched, to be changed, to rejoice in the midst of pain. I would press down on her that God's promises are true and He can be trusted.

"This God-his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?-
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless."
Psalms 18:30-32

Previous: Part 2: Charissa's Story
Next: Part 4: Sonia's Story
Return to Hindsight Series Introduction

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hindsight Series, Part 2: Charissa

Our next story belongs to Charissa. Charissa and John had a lengthy journey of waiting on the Lord, but now have three beautiful daughters. They also have their own blog called Highs and Ludlows. Thank you, Charissa, for taking the time to contribute to this series. I hope you all enjoy her story.


Charissa's Story

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1. Please share your story/background briefly (about your journey of infertility and how it ended, where you are now)

John and I were married for 4 years when we just felt it was a good time to start trying for a family. We ended up trying for 3 1/2 years before i got pregnant. My mom got pregnant very easily and I just never had infertility on my radar. I didn't know anyone who had had a hard time trying to conceive personally. Sure I heard stories and prayed for people's prayer requests, but it wasn't really real until it happened to me.

We tried for the year that they suggest to you before you do anything, and nothing. So we both went in for tests and my doctor was not really concerned at that point. I felt that it was a lot of tests, just for them to say, 'eh'. We decided to pursue medical intervention through IUI. My doctor really only recommended three rounds and this what we did for 3 months. Scheduling, shots, and tears were normal during this time. We took a break for a few months and then tried one more IUI round.

The day I got my period and not a pregnancy was the day we also got a call that John's younger sister had gotten pregnant on her wedding night. We called a counselor the next day. It wasn't that I didn't want her to have a baby, it just was supposed to happen to me first! Going to a counselor was one of the best decisions that John and I have made as a married couple. We discussed our families and how we viewed God, and the loss of not being able to have a baby.

We also felt like we were ready for the next step of IVF. I read in one of the many infertility books that sometimes couples can go broke trying for just "one more time", and that it was good to have a limit on what you were willing to do before you started. So we set a limit of one.

It was during this time that I heard our pastor's wife share her personal story of infertility at a women's event. I came blubbering afterwards to talk to her and we met a few months later with a group of others who had struggled with infertility. I was surprised at who all showed up. Couples I knew in passing showed up. Couples who already had babies were there. And I remember bitterly thinking, "They have their babies, why do they struggle anymore?"

God was so gracious during this time. He showed me how much he did love me and cried with me each disappointing month after disappointing month. We used the same doctor as the pastor and his wife, which was unfortunately 2 hours away! John and I used that time to pray, talk, and discuss life. We transplanted two embryos but unfortunately lost one of the babies in month 2.

Gianna Joy was born 6 weeks early in an emergency C-section as she was breech! But God was faithful and our baby girl came home with only 8 days in the hospital. Fast forward 18 months later and we found ourselves going through IVF again. John had amazing insurance that covered IVF, and he was laid off but could still be on COBRA. We had no frozen eggs so we repeated every shot, every pill, and every blood check again! On the day of our retrieval, we had to be relocated for our procedure to Dallas, as our doctor's office was in the direct path of Hurricane Ike. God spared us and this time two embryos are our twins Elizabeth and Cosette. Currently we are days away from Gianna's 6th birthday and Elizabeth and Cosette are 3 1/2.

2. Looking back, how was God at work during your time of waiting for children?

I would say that God used my time of waiting to let me really see how good He is. Even when things were hard - that He still cared for me and my needs, that He cried and held my dreams dear. That He loved me no matter what, and that I needed to love Him no matter what too.

3. Looking back, what would you describe as the purpose for you having to wait for children? In other words, what do you think was the reason(s) you had to wait?

I wish I knew! All I know is that it was totally His timing. Maybe it was so I would be able to identify with so many women and share how a void worked in my life. Maybe it was to bring about greater dependency on Him, or maybe it was just so I could remember when other things have been hard - that I survived and He helped me with the pain once as He will do again.

4. What was the biggest lesson(s) you learned through your journey?

That God is good no matter what.

5. What helped you endure the time of waiting?

Having my husband be in the same place of desperation and longing and dependence on God as I was. We were partners and prayed so so much together. It also helped to have friends that had been through infertility praying for me. And honestly, going to counseling really helped me identify some sin patterns and areas I needed to trust God in, that I don't think I would have ever discovered if not for going through infertility.

6. If you could go back and tell your past self something -- the past self who is in the midst of waiting -- what would you say?

Your life may not ever end up being the daydreams you had in your mind. But God is still good, and you are loved. Time will ease this pain and memory.

7. What were your thoughts/feelings about IVF prior to trying for a family, and how did your struggle affect those feelings?

Ok, honest truth - I judged people who had IVF. I wondered about all that science stuff and if it was really "God's plan." I thought that twins from IVF weren't "real" and somehow cheated. So yup, I am a hypocrite. But when faced with my options I no longer cared. I wanted a baby and felt that if other holy women in my life thought it was ok to do, that I just might be ok with it. We prayed and really put up our own limitations prior to ever walking in the doctor's door. We knew where our lines were and what the number and effort we were willing to do for it. I also flat out told family members that we have prayed about our decisions, and shared some of our reasons for them, but that if they had any problems with IVF to keep them to themselves and to just pray for us. I was blown away by the support from many members of all our families. I also struggled with the "what ifs" about having too many fertilized eggs, but I never had any extra to spare that were of the quality to be frozen. In fact when we decided to do IVF again because of insurance, I had to start completely over with every shot and pill again. God was gracious with us again and the second time we didn't have any eggs that were of the quality to be frozen.

8. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I truly can't believe how fast time has flown since I cried ugly tears and begged God to give me a baby each and every month. I still pray with a heart that understands when I hear of someone who is struggling with infertility. It's a shared sisterhood of quiet tears. I now know the pain, but I also know God more. Without the struggle, I would have kept God in my box and my plans and my desires. I wouldn't have been able to say my God is good - all the time.

Previous: Part 1: Amanda's Story
Next: Part 3: Jenny's Story
Return to Hindsight Series Introduction