Monthly Archives: March 2015

Exceedingly, Abundantly, Above & Beyond….

When they opted for IUI  after a miscarriage in January 2013, Julianne and Matthew hoped to conceive and carry a baby to term. The doctors had figured their chances of having a baby as “rather slim.” Then came the news. “When I went in for my pre-insemination ultrasound, the nurse saw two good-looking eggs.” Not encouraged, but not ready to concede defeat, they prayed that one would take.

“God answered our prayers for one… and raised us three!” Their quads were born last Saturday night via c-section, not far from where I live. They ranged in size from a tiny 2 lbs 11 oz to a strapping 3 lbs 11 oz — and all were healthy. Julianne posted on her Facebook page: “Oh my QUAD!”

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us….”

What does this verse mean for couples struggling with infertility? As Julianne and Matthew’s incredible story demonstrates, it means that God is well able to answer our prayers with more than we would dare to imagine. He took a couple who prayerfully decided to try IUI once (and only once) — because they could not imagine the heartache of several more miscarriages — and doubled their chances with two eggs. And then, He doubled them again.

He made the impossible possible. One attempt… two eggs… four babies.

It is truly above and beyond what any infertile couple could ever imagine. But it happened — “according to His power that is at work within us….”

You may have tried IUI many times, and then gone on to try IVF and more. Maybe nothing has succeeded. Or, like Julianne, you’ve miscarried and begun to believe you may not be able to carry a baby to term. Let this story remind you that God has the final word. He can make anything possible. And when the time is right, He does.

==================================================

Need more encouragement? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Hope

The Ultimate Luxury

After a frantic start this morning, I decided to go to Whole Foods for a late breakfast. I tucked into the corner booth — as far as possible from the noise of checkout registers — and began to read my newspaper. I could feel myself starting to unwind. About 10 minutes later, an employee walked over and said, “Most of the people who come here are on their phones, on their laptops, having a meeting before work…. They all seem so stressed. It’s nice to see someone relax.”

As he walked away, I thought to myself, it’s the ultimate luxury.

I don’t know what you consider a “fair share” of life’s challenges, but I could certainly argue that I’ve had mine. Looking back over the arc of those many experiences, I have to say that each one has taught me to turn to God sooner and sooner. I guess I’ve been a slow learner — because I’ve had lots of chances to practice! — but it’s true: I’ve learned to release everything to Him and His plan, trusting that His ultimate purpose is to bless me and bless others through me. Whatever the details of the outcome, I’ve discovered I can trust Him in the midst of chaotic uncertainty. And so, I can actually relax. Maybe not completely… and maybe not for long… but even for a few minutes….

What.  A.  Gift.

Do people keep telling you to relax? That it’s easier to conceive if you’re not so stressed? Which just makes you more stressed?! Would it seem like an incredible gift to be in the midst of infertility and yet be able to relax? Able to trust that the One who loves you has things under control? Even if you don’t see how that could be possible?

Then consider a different approach. Call it an experiment in trust. How about, for just a day, letting God be vigilant and in control so you can rest. And maybe even, relax a little. Not too much, if that’s too hard. Just for a few minutes…, but long enough to realize that you can let go and He won’t.

My sister used to say to me, “Leap and the net will appear.” Wow, that sounded scary — definitely not relaxing. It was her way of telling me that I couldn’t be sure of God’s faithfulness without testing my reliance on it. To get from my circumstances to peace, I would have to take a leap of faith.

So today, think about taking your own leap. Whether it’s large or small matters less than that you let go long enough to realize that the Lord has got you in the palm of His hand.

“Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.”  – John 14:27

=================================================

Want more resources, help and hope? Visit www.pregnantwithhope,info.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Control, Peace, Trust

Comfort One Another

Andy Stanley, my all-time favorite pastor and a terrific counselor (despite his claims to the contrary), frequently reminds us to “one another one another.” By that he means we should love one another, help one another, teach one another, serve one another, encourage one another, support one another… seek ways to “one another one another” as an expression of our love for each other and the embodiment of Christ’s love for us.

But how do you find the strength to do all that “one another-ing” when you’re struggling yourself?

That’s Melissa’s challenge.

She wrote to me a few days ago asking for prayer. She’s incredibly grateful to have given birth two weeks ago: “We had only one embryo, only one chance. But God! …miraculously we conceived.”  Her joy is tempered by her father’s sudden death 7 months into the pregnancy. Overwhelmed by grief, her mother cannot fully enjoy the new life in the family. And, before the baby was two weeks old,  Melissa’s husband learned he may have cancer. How does she triage the needs of all the people she loves most in the world, and keep her own emotions in balance?

Instinctively, she reached out to someone who has also experienced infertility, the joy of new life, the early death of a father, the grief of a widowed mother, the fearful waiting for news of cancer and all that that may foreshadow. In doing so, she offered me a chance to live into a powerful promise from scripture:

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:4

“He comforts us….” There is no question whether God will comfort us; He will and He does. When? “… in all our troubles.” Not some of the time. Not only when He decides our troubles are someone else’s fault and we are innocent victims. He comforts us all of the time in all of our troubles.

How does He do that? Through scripture. Through the indwelling comfort of the Holy Spirit. Through those who love us. And sometimes, through those who hardly know us — those who are completely unaware of the ways in which their words or actions help us or give us hope.

Why does God do that? Not because He owes us something. Not because we’ve been guaranteed an easy life or a quick rescue from heartache. He does it “…so that we can comfort others.” He comforts us in a whole host of ways that are designed to meet our needs so that we can pay it forward. So that we can embody His love for us and extend it to someone else. So that we can “one another one another.”

The verse goes on, “When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” I’m claiming that promise! Melissa is troubled, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will be able to give her the same comfort God has given me as I have struggled through each of the difficult challenges she’s now facing. By the grace of God and according to His promise, I will be able to give her the comfort that gave me peace in the midst of loss and uncertainty.

I will be able. Not because I’m me, but because God is faithful. And because He equips us to “one another one another.”

====================================================

Find more cause for hope in Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

1 Comment

Filed under Battles, Control, Hope, Loss, Perspective

Your Body, God’s Temple

“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” – Psalm 48:9

When my husband and I were struggling with infertility, I was also grieving my father’s death and my mother’s new role as a widow. My job was stressful and demanding, as was my boss, and I had very little time — or emotional energy — to spend meditating… particularly on God’s unfailing love. The truth was, it felt like God was failing me pretty spectacularly. My stress expressed itself through my body as frequent headaches, sleeplessness, exhaustion, and bouts of tears that were provoked by things as random as sad commercials or turning my ankle on an uneven sidewalk. I was barely keeping it together.

I’d go to church on Sundays and wonder why God seemed so far away. Wasn’t this where I was supposed to encounter Him? But, I didn’t hear His voice or sense His presence. None of His followers ever asked how I was doing, what burdens I was bearing, or whether I could use their help. They all seemed to be absorbed in their own lives, their own prayers, and their own conversations with the God who appeared to have forgotten all about me.

Little did I know, He was with me, even so.

That church that seemed so devoid of God’s presence was not where I should have been looking for Him. True, in the Old Testament, there was a physical place in which worshipers could encounter the living God — “within your temple, we meditate….” God didn’t move; they came to Him. And plenty of modern-day churches still seem to follow that “temple model.” But God doesn’t.

Jesus/Immanuel, “God with us,” changed that forever. We no longer need to go to a physical place to encounter God. Jesus promised, “I am with you always,” and that promise is delivered — in part — by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In other words, your body is now the temple in which to encounter God.

What would I have thought if someone had shared that with me back when we were struggling with infertility? When my body seemed to ignore every instruction I willed it to obey:  Ovulate! Conceive! Nourish! Grow! Sustain!

What if I had thought of infertility as an invitation to seek the help of the Holy Spirit within His dwelling place/my body? What if I had sought to engage the Holy Spirit there — to pour my heart out to Him, to share my thoughts and fears, to praise and thank God for His promises, and to restore peace to my spirit? What might that have changed?

In hindsight, I believe it would have changed almost everything about my experience. It would have freed me from a sense of profound loneliness and isolation. It would have given me a safe place to grieve, be confused, ask questions, and even express my anger. It would have let me stop worrying about how the world might judge my infertility, and start focusing on how God intended to use it to bless me.

“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” Even when I was sure that God was failing me, the Holy Spirit was with me — in me — patiently waiting for me to acknowledge His presence and engage in meaningful dialogue.

I wish I’d known then what I know now:  the Lord is always with me, and His love never fails.

=====================================================

Need more encouragement? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bystanders, Peace, Perspective

Bitter or Better

Two women wrote recently to tell me about their infertility experience. One is furious: “I think God is very unfair in regards to who is afflicted with infertility and who isn’t! Nothing good can ever come out of the misery we have experienced! I’m fed up with Christians giving God credit for the good but absolving him of all responsibility for the bad!”

Have you ever felt like that? Ever wanted to curse God for putting you through infertility? The stress, the grief, the loneliness, the frustration, the endless heartache…. because “nothing good can ever come out of the misery”?

Actually, scripture promises otherwise. It promise “beauty for ashes” and “that all things work together for good,” but it can be hard to believe that when you don’t see any evidence. All you see is God resisting your pleas, turning a deaf ear to your cries, and ignoring your suffering. So, you’re tempted to slam the door on Him and take charge of the situation. At least you’ll be in control! And that’s what this is really about.

When God doesn’t deliver what we want when we want it, we’re tempted to act like entitled children. We want to indulge the negative emotions we’re so sick of feeling, and take it out on the One who has the power to change things: “Why won’t you?! I hate you!!”

It may feel satisfying in the moment, but it doesn’t change things for the better. Instead, it makes us bitter.

The alternative, as another woman commented, is to see trials as a chance to choose between bitter and better. “Admittedly, losing my only sibling when he was 36 made me a little of both (bitter and better). I deal with it well now, I think, and the good Lord fills in my empty spaces, but the immense loss certainly does color my outlook. That is partly why I spent my successful pregnancy in disbelief. Why would we be parents after 12 years of infertility? But we are! We were honored to welcome our son into the world last year thanks to the generosity of another couple at our clinic who donated one of their embryos to us. God is good… even when our faith has just about run dry!”

It’s the truth. His timing is rarely ours. But it is perfect.

“For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  -Romans 8:28

What makes that verse “work” for some people, but not others? I’ve been asked that question many times by couples struggling through infertility — some of them lifelong Christians. How can it be that their suffering is an essential step in becoming parents? Will they ever have a baby? Why can’t it be now?

Their faith is facing a test: Their heart’s desire is not being satisfied by the God who doesn’t appear to care. How do they get Him to “work all things together for good?”

The answer is in the verse itself. All things work together for good when we love God, trust His purpose, and act according to our calling.

Is your calling to be a parent? To steward a soul — or more than one  — through life? To honor God by raising that child to know and trust Him as you do? If so, believe that God placed that desire in your heart, and recognize that, with Him, all things are possible.

The woman whose baby was born from a donated embryo lost her only sibling while battling infertility for a dozen years. She had every reason to be bitter as she struggled and struggled, but as she wrote later in her note, she clung to the promise that “all things work together for good…” — not because she was seeing it unfold in her life, but because she saw that possibility with eyes of faith. Even when her faith “had just about run dry,” she resisted the temptation to give up on God.

And He proved faithful.

When God’s timing isn’t your timing, and His ways aren’t your ways, it can be easy to get impatient, angry and bitter. You can choose to lean into those feelings and find yourself in a very dark place — emotionally, and spiritually. Or, you can lean into believing what you can’t yet see — that God is a promise-keeper who is glorified by our willingness to trust Him when life is hard.

He is at work in your life. Trust and believe. Wait and see.

=======================================================

Need more encouragement as you make your infertility journey? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. The stories of ten couples who chose faith over bitterness will inspire you and renew your hope.

1 Comment

Filed under Peace, Perspective, Trust

Therefore, We Do Not Lose Hope

Several years ago, I suddenly stopped writing this blog. What I didn’t tell you was that life had taken an unexpected turn… as it often does… and everything I’d ever written was being put to the test.

It started when a doctor told my husband he had Stage 3 colon cancer and offered sobering odds of survival. Surgery was scheduled immediately, and chemo began soon afterward. My husband continued to see his patients while fighting for his life. His pallor and weight loss went unnoticed only because the patients were so consumed with their own struggles.

As he fought for the health of his body, I wrestled with God for his life.

I had released any claim to our children’s lives long before — when our daughter had had open heart surgery at 4 weeks old, and when I’d miscarried our son’s twin and spent 5 months on bedrest in the hope that he’d survive. Those challenges had seemed all-consuming at the time. I had found peace only by entrusting their lives to the God who’d first entrusted them to us.

But my husband had been my rock. Naive as it may sound, it had never occurred to me that his life could suddenly end. When that possibility became a very present reality, we got scared. And I got angry.

I fought with God around-the-clock. I railed at the injustice. I begged for mercy. I pleaded and negotiated and tried everything I could think of to sway the outcome.

And then finally, exhausted and powerless, I surrendered. I opened my hands and admitted that I could not control things; I could only trust the God who claims to love me.

Over many, many tears, I acknowledged the Lord’s right to take away what He had given and to test my willingness to live what I believe. Despite my fear and anticipatory grief, like Abraham, I put my beloved on the sacrificial altar and prepared to fulfill my promise to trust God even when His ways are not my ways.

And I was flooded with peace.

I knew in my spirit that He would care for me. He would be my beloved, my provider, my comforter, and my source of hope. He would never fail me. His promises would be fulfilled in every way I needed them to be.

Tears of grief gave way to tears of gratitude as I embraced the truth of His faithfulness and His promise, “I am with you always.”

Fast forward….

My husband survived. He’s now cancer-free — back to running, practicing medicine, and helping raise our children.

Why tell you this story? Because words of encouragement don’t matter if I’m not facing trials, too. And, because pollyanna posts can wear thin, but the Truth has a power of its own….

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid… for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  – Deuteronomy 31:6

==============================================

Want to hear more about the God who makes all things possible? Order your copy of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples today.

3 Comments

Filed under Bystanders, Hope, Perspective, Trust