Monthly Archives: October 2010

God’s Advice

I hadn’t picked up God Calling in several months, but last night, I felt a nudge.  So, I opened to a random page and read…

“It is not circumstances that need altering first, but yourselves, and then the conditions will naturally alter.  Spare no effort to become all I would have you be.  Endeavor to put from you every thought of trouble.  Take each day, and with no backward look, face the day’s problem with Me, and seek My help and guidance as to what you can do.”

There it all is, in one compact paragraph:  God’s advice on how to think about infertility, and how to get through it.

Did it rock your world?  No?  Then look again.  All the answers are in there.

It is not circumstances that need altering first, but yourselves.”  When infertility is diagnosed, it is common for couples to respond with surprise, fear and anger.  We want to know:  Why us?  Why this?  Why now?  Why?  Why?!

It doesn’t occur to us that God might have orchestrated these circumstances for a purpose.  All we can think is, “Fix this, God!”  But God is fixing what is most urgently in need of repair:  Us.

This infertility predicament, and all the associated circumstances, actually creates the perfect medium in which to mold and shape us.  Uncertainty has made us malleable, and our deep desire to conceive has enabled God to get our attention in a whole new way.  We “need altering first,” and this process is designed to effect that change.

“… and then the conditions will naturally alter.”  Instead of constantly pushing, pulling, and pressuring — doing whatever we can to end this suffering! — we need to recognize that infertility is not punishment, and a child is not a reward.  Despite how it feels, we are being blessed in the midst of this journey.

How so?

God is maturing and “ripening” us, patiently awaiting the change(s) that will make us more like the stewards He intends for the children who are coming — more faithful, more trusting, more intentional, more grateful, more selfless… more reliant on Him.

When the process results in the transformation He desires, “… then the conditions will naturally alter.”  In other words, something will shift and the pieces will miraculously fall into place.  In the meantime, God is at work preparing every one of the pieces for that miracle moment, so that our story will unfold in the best possible way.  

So, what do we do now?  How do we work with God to bring about this change so that “… and then…” can draw nearer?  The answers are right there in that power-packed paragraph:

1)      “Spare no effort to become all I would have you be.” – Lean into the process of change.  Instead of resenting your circumstances, recognize that they are a critical part of your transformation.  Be an active participant in it!  Put everything you have into understanding what God wants from you – who He is calling you to be – and then do all you can to become that person.

2)      “Endeavor to put from you every thought of trouble.” – Rest in the knowledge of God’s goodness and purposefulness.  Try not to waste energy on fear or worry.  Do your best to reject every thought that is inconsistent with God’s promise to do “more than you can ask or imagine.”

3)      “Take each day, and with no backward look, face the day’s problem with Me….” – Take one day at a time.  Focus on the future that is awaiting you, and the child who is part of it, rather than the difficulties that are already behind you.  Remember that God walks with you daily, and He confronts every problem alongside you.  You are never alone, never forgotten, and never ignored.

4)      “… and seek My help and guidance as to what you can do.” – Recognize that both power and wisdom (about what you can and cannot do) are always available from God — but you must ask for them, believe you will receive them, and trust them.  Choosing not to is tantamount to going it alone, and that is not the path to the future you want.

I promise:  God never intended to deceive you about this journey.  It has always been about the transformation He intends… en route to the dream you desire.

Trust Him.  It’s His dream, too.

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For more inspiration, click here to visit  PregnantWithHope.com

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Bad Statistics, Good Outcomes

“Fewer than eight percent of all tries at making a baby in a lab dish will succeed,” U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

On the surface, that looks like a devastatingly small chance at becoming a parent.  If you are someone whose hope is rooted in statistics and whose confidence rests on probabilities, you might be deeply discouraged.  Especially if you’ve already tried IVF and failed.

Thank goodness that’s not the whole story.

Think about this…

The truth is, that for any given couple, the chances of IVF succeeding in a given cycle are either 100% or zero.  Those are the only two possibilities.  Either it will work for you, or it won’t.  The number eight doesn’t matter.  It’s not an option.  It is an average across thousands of strangers’ entire IVF experiences.  Nothing more.

That number doesn’t predict your future, or control it.

It.  Doesn’t.  Matter.

Why?  Because, no matter what the outcome in a given cycle, every couple has a chance to progress on their journey toward parenthood.  That’s what matters because this journey is, in some ways, as important as the destination itself.

It is preparing you to be the committed parent God intends for you to be.  It is teaching you resilience, persistence, faith despite trial by fire, vital relationship skills, important self-care priorities, and so much more!  God is not wasting your time.  He is working on you, your relationship and your spiritual life – all while you make this journey.

Will the outcome be worth all the effort?

Yes, if you stop fighting God and start allowing Him to work in and through your story.  Stop doubting His presence and start trusting His timing.  Stop wondering how zero can ever lead to 100%, and realize that it very often does.

Still worried about that eight percent statistic?  Consider this…

One hundred percent of the couples who’ve studied the messages of Pregnant With Hope with me have become parents — all within a year.  One hundred percent of them had experienced zero success before that.

What made the difference?

Consistently, what changed was the depth of their faith in God’s control over the outcome, and their ability to find peace in the midst of uncertainty.   That was the spiritual destination God intended for them to reach before they became parents.

The next time you hear a statistic that rattles you, remind yourself:  God is in control 100% of the time, and that is the only statistic that really matters.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Despite Infertility, You Can Exhale….

“If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

If we have anything to be grateful for in the midst of infertility, it is this:  even if we are faithless, God will remain faithful.  He cannot be otherwise.  We can reject His faithfulness.  We can deny it.  We can insist it is not real because we are not getting what we want when we want it.  But, that does not change the nature of God.

He can only be who and what He is.  Faithful.  Always.

And so, we can exhale.

We don’t have to understand this suffering.  We don’t have to feign gratitude when what we feel most are hurt and anger.  We don’t have to earn God’s favor or the blessing we desperately desire.

In fact, we can’t.

All we can do is wrap our arms around the gift of grace and whisper, “Thank you.”  We are loved despite our imperfections.  We are going to be blessed, despite our many failures.  We are pregnant with hope, and God intends to grow that seed into the reality of a family — in His perfect timing.

Even if we are faithless – which we so often are when tests come back negative, numbers are discouraging, bleeding starts and hope is dying – even then, God is faithful.  He walks with us to comfort, strengthen and guide.  He sends encouragers to speak His truth into our hearts.  And He continues to nurture the seed of hope that He planted in our hearts for a reason.

So, whatever you do, or don’t, believe…. believe this:  He will remain faithful, for He cannot be otherwise.

Thank God.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, please click this link…!

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The Infertility-Altering Power of a Thankful Heart

Fertility specialist Dr. Alice Domar has spent years studying the correlation between aspiring mothers’ mindsets and the outcome of their infertility journeys.  Her clinical research has consistently found a high correlation between infertile women’s moods and their ability to conceive.  Study after study has shown that lower rates of depression and anxiety correlate to higher rates of pregnancy.

The implication is obvious:  Cheer up!

But it’s not that easy.

According to Domar and her colleagues, feelings of depression, isolation, anger and hostility — as well as stress-related symptoms (headaches, insomnia, etc.) — are common responses to infertility.  What’s the prescription for curing that?  Domar recommends infertile women “seek to restore a sense of joy, hope and well-being.”

Okay… but how?

How do you will yourself to feel something your heart can hardly comprehend?  How do you find joy in the midst of unending struggle?  Where do you find hope when you’re faced with constant heartache, despair and grief?  It’s not as easy as Domar makes it sound.

But, good news.  There is one thing that works:  the power of a thankful heart.  You cannot change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective on them.  Doing that will begin to turn the psychological tide.

Two days ago, I wrote that God’s will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances.  It’s not His will because He wants to mandate gratitude.  It is His will because thankfulness changes our focus.  It  helps us remember the promise that “all things work together for good.”  It reminds us to trust that God is a promise-keeper.  It helps us remember that what looks bad won’t always be bad; our circumstances can and will change.

Giving thanks reaffirms that nothing happens by accident.  Whether or not we understand God’s purpose, we can be confident of His purposefulness.  He is always in control, and nothing comes into our lives without His permission – and His determination to use it for good.  Abundant blessings are part of His plan “to prosper and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”

How do you muster gratitude when all you ever get is bad news and failed outcomes?  What can you sincerely thank God for?  See if any of these expressions of gratitude fit your current circumstances:

Thank you that there’s more to my story than today’s bad news.  Thank you that every day moves me one step closer to the blessing that awaits us.  Thank you that you already know the happy ending.  Thank you for other infertile couples; they remind me that we’re not alone.  Thank you for other couple’s good news which reminds me that anything is possible.  Thank you that my trust is not in doctors or statistics, but in the only one who has control over how this story will unfold.

Thank you for those who encourage me; their love and concern comfort me.  Thank you for the resources we have to tackle this problem:  doctors, clinics, medicines, procedures and more.  Thank you for this struggle because it strengthens my commitment to being an amazing parent when I finally get the chance.  And thank you for inspiring messages that empower me — giving me actionable strategies and hope.

Did anything there stir up an inkling of gratitude?  If so, express it frequently;  if not, create your own list.  Whatever you are thankful for, voice it to God and watch your perspective begin to change.

If Domar is right, you will not only be following God’s advice.  Your new outlook will directly impact your fertility.   How’s that for worth a try?

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, click this link…

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Taking the Two-Week Challenge

What if someone offered you (seemingly) irrational advice that could alter the course of your infertility journey?  Would you be willing to try it?  What if it didn’t change the time it took you to become a parent, or the number of heartaches you’d experience along the way – but it changed your perspective on the journey.  Would you still consider it useful advice?

Yes?  Then I want to pass on these words and challenge you to live into them for the next two weeks:

“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you…”                       [I Thessalonians 5:18].

I can tell you from experience, this is not a challenge for the faint-hearted.  It takes incredible effort and self-discipline.  But it’s worth it.  The results are dramatic.  Instead of feeling stressed, nervous, anxious, sleepless, worried, frantic, irritable, and much more… you will begin to experience peace despite the uncertainty of infertility.  You will find rest in the midst of your struggle.

How?  By resisting the natural impulse to respond to every bit of bad news with fear.  Fear takes our eyes off God and puts them on the things we cannot control.  Giving thanks in all circumstances redirects our attention – away from what we see in the moment, to the One who controls that moment and who has promised us hope and a future.

When your news is negative, expressing gratitude can seem like a completely irrational choice… unless there’s more to the story than the moment’s bad news.  When a long-awaited result isn’t what you hope for, it’s devastating… unless there’s more to the story than the moment’s bad news.  It’s easy to get mired in despair and the grief that accompanies loss… unless there’s more to the story than the moment’s bad news.

There is more to the story!  God is at work.  You are not battling infertility alone.  In the unseen realm, He is creating opportunities, scheduling “coincidences,” sending encouragement and implementing “the plans I have for you – plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

You might have scripted your story differently.  Most infertile couples would.  But God has chosen to let your story unfold this way in order to make “all things work together for good.”  There is a reason for everything that’s happening.  Some of that may become clear in hindsight; some may not.  But you can trust that God is in control.

Giving thanks actively asserts your faith in the goodness and purposefulness of God.  It makes you feel stronger because it replaces fear with confident hope.  It renews the prospect of joy because it anticipates blessings which are in-the-works.  It is a great coping strategy!  But, on the surface, it looks completely irrational.

That’s why I’m encouraging to take the Two-Week Challenge.  Try thanking God for what He’s doing, and lean into believing that it’s all good, and see if that doesn’t change how you experience this journey.  I predict it will.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Making the Impossible Possible

What enables people to feel extreme confidence when faced with impossibly long odds?  Where do they find the inner strength, the reservoir of resilience, to look past moments that would psychologically devastate most people – and continue to focus on the finish line they are certain they will reach?

As I watched my husband race across the finish line of a 50-mile ultramarathon this weekend (three hours faster than expected), I wondered about that.  Clearly, he’d taken a bad fall.  His hand was bandaged, his knee was bleeding.  He’d been running for nine hours.  But, he was the picture of confidence.  He’d known all along he was going to finish strong.

I saw the same sort of confidence in my friend Toni when she battled infertility.  The first time she and her husband, Mike, tried IVF, the doctor canceled the cycle.  There wasn’t anything to retrieve.

The second time, the doctor thought there were two or three eggs to get, “but she looked at the statistics, my age, and the number of eggs we had – and it wasn’t looking good.  She thought it was very unlikely to work.  Doctors go by statistics.  She told me, ‘You may want to consider adoption.’  Before even trying the IVF, she was already expecting a negative outcome!”

Many couples would have been psychologically defeated in that moment.  They would have taken the doctor’s words as truth and given themselves over to grief.  Not Toni.

“I remember saying, ‘I know you can only do what you can do, but there’s another factor involved here.’  I didn’t want to say, ‘God is doing the work’ because I didn’t want to offend her, but that’s what I was thinking.”

Mike and Toni decided to go ahead with the retrieval despite the long odds.  “Statistically, it was not likely to work,” Mike recalls, “but it worked for us.  The one egg we retrieved became our son.”

A year later, Toni and Mike decided to try again.  The doctor said, “Do you know how lucky you were to get pregnant the first time?  And now you’re back?!” Many couples would have been intimidated by the doctor’s question, and by the implication that another success was virtually impossible.  Most couples would have felt self-conscious, as if the doctor’s implied advice – “don’t be greedy” – was both reasonable and appropriate.

But they’d been attending the infertility Bible study and, as Toni recalls, “I had confidence from God.”  How?  Why?  Because in the Bible, God says:

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”

Toni chose to cling to those words – “I leaned on God a lot” – as she waited for IVF results.   “People said I was so calm.  I said, ‘You know what?  I’ve done everything I can do.  The doctors have done what they can do.  Now, it’s up to God.’”

God honored Toni’s faith with His own faithfulness.  A second miracle son was born, despite the doctor’s predictions and the gloomy statistics.  She says, “Doctors don’t give older women a lot of hope – or they throw a lot of statistics at them.  I tell women, don’t let the statistics tell your story.  Put your faith in God, instead of in those numbers.”

Scripture says “all things are possible.”  It is our faith, combined with God’s faithfulness, that makes those things possible.  We are never limited by statistics, except to the extent that we trust them more than we trust God.

So… are you looking at the numbers, or to the One who can help you reach the finish line?  Your choice makes all the difference.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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“Infertility is not Wasted Time”

London-based fertility coach Anya Sizer read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples recently and wrote this review (reprinted with permission):

“In her book, Pregnant with Hope, Susan Radulovacki has created a unique and truly inspiring read.  It is one the church desperately needs as it seeks to comfort and encourage the 1 in 6 couples currently facing infertility.

It is also a wonderful book for any Christian in terms of the invaluable lessons about God that we find within its pages.  As I read it, a mother of two IVF children, I found myself in tears several times realizing again something of this amazing God we serve.  Of his Love for us in the big and the small areas of our life.  And that surely is a lesson for all believers

The book is written with an easy style.  Sections are given to case studies, as well as personal reflections on what we are learning. It is not a passive book we are to read and go away from, but rather a challenge and a journey to undertake.

The starting premise of the book is that, as people facing infertility, we are holding on tight to an illusion of control and a fear that if we really let God into the darkness, we will somehow lose this control.  But…

‘Infertility shows you the limits of your faith in a way that is inescapable. You discover that letting go completely feels impossible because you don’t trust God.. at the same time, infertility reveals the limits of your own power.’

We are left, then, with a choice.  And as Radulovacki says, it is a choice which takes tremendous courage.  Do we carry on with the illusion?  Or, do we step out in faith and let God deal with it?

Throughout the book, there are many biblical examples of men and women of faith who were tested and challenged by God.  Job, for example.  Here was a man whose life was tested to the limits of what he could endure.  EVERY area of his life was affected.  And yet, through the process (rather than overnight), he learned to shift that source of peace away from himself to a loving and faithful God.

We cannot do it on our own, nor are we meant to.  God will find a way to get us through all the many highs and lows if we will let him in. So often, when we hear sermons or read books about this concept, we are left with only half of the equation. We know we need to be letting God take control, to be trusting him and not ourselves or our circumstances, but HOW?!

Pregnant with Hope has some hugely useful ways forward:

1. Actively choose to put Christ at the center of your life, to displace worry.  This is ongoing and a daily decision, but one that God will more than honor.

2. Actively choose to see life and your relationship with God as holistic and all-encompassing.  Move away from compartmentalizing life into areas of the secular and the spiritual.

3. Begin the process of “renewing your mind,” taking captive all the unhelpful and negative thoughts that can so easily take over, and replace them with God’s truth.  This was so incredibly helpful, it resulted in me having a bit of a cry on a bus into work one day!

4. Remember that “I can do all things (injections, scans, the highs and lows of treatment, etc) through Christ who gives me strength.”

5. See these months as Wilderness months.  Reframe this as a journey through something.  The Wilderness teaches us many things, not least of which is perseverance, compassion for others, and the ability to rely on God for our daily bread.

I also found Radulovacki’s concept of “active waiting“ to be very helpful.  As Christians, we do not live for the future only, but rather, we work with God in our present circumstances – whatever they may be.

The journey of infertility will test a person and their faith in God more than they could ever think.  And yet, God’s faithfulness is always so much more than we could imagine.  It will be sufficient.  My own six-year struggle is testimony to this, and my children were worth every step of the battle.

Infertility is not wasted time.

“Are you willing to trust that if it’s a different story [than you planned], God’s plan will be better?”

This book most certainly reassures us that, with God’s help, we can walk through this season with him to lead, guide and strengthen us.  What good news.

This is a wonderful and much-needed book.”

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For more inspiration, resources and cause for hope, click this link….

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