Category Archives: Blessings

Even in the midst of heartbreaking infertility, we receive blessings. What are they? How can we recognize and learn to find hope through them?

When the Plan Changes

As you may have noticed, this blog went dark for a few months. The reason, and the lessons I learned, might interest you. So, here goes….

In early January, our daughter went from school to the Emergency Room to the ICU in less than 24 hours. It was a harrowing ordeal that was followed by nearly three weeks in the hospital. After 3 surgeries, she now has two new scars to join the ones from the open heart surgery she underwent when she was just 4 weeks old.

Talk about traumatic. This is not how 2016 was supposed to begin. At least, not according to my plan. Clearly, the Lord had other plans. So, I got yet another chance to learn the lesson He wants me to remember: His ways are not my ways, but I can still trust Him.

Is He trying to teach you the same lesson? How is your 2016 started? Is everything going according to plan, or has your plan been changed by His?

There was a story in today’s paper that helped me think about this from a safe emotional distance. It was about a family in Clovis, CA that had a plan, “but God had a different plan, and it’s far better.” Reading it reminded me that we may not always understand what God’s up to in real time, but He has promised that “all things work together for good for those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose” [Rom 8:28].

Here’s the story…. Bryan and Tamera had one biological daughter. At age 6, she asked her parents, “We’re gathering all these clothes and toys for orphans, but isn’t what orphans really need a family?” They prayed over her question, and it led them to adopt a baby girl from China. When they visited the orphanage, they saw countless kids with special needs.

That moment led to the adoption of 8 kids over several years — 7 of them with disabilities (4 are missing limbs, 2 have spina bifida). Bryan and Tamera say their adopted children give them “front-row seats to everyday miracles. That’s a blessing.”

My circumstances are completely different from theirs. But I share their perspective. I’ve witnessed several miracles in my daughter’s short life. She, and the many people who worked those miracles, are all a blessing. They are tangible evidence of God’s favor and grace, and of His amazing plan. I am humbled  and deeply grateful when I consider what could have happened, but did not.

All is well — maybe not forever, but for today. And I have a renewed sense of gratitude for the One from whom all blessings flow. I don’t know His plans, but I am learning — again and again — to let go and trust that He is good.

You can, too.

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

Need more encouragement and cause for hope? Or a better understanding of the God who is longing to be central to your story? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Control, Perspective

“Mary, Did You Know?”

I’ve been listening to “Mary, did you know?” on the radio for weeks. I love being reminded of all that Jesus would do and become to the world, and imagining how much of that Mary didn’t know when she conceived.

This morning, I listened to Luke’s version of Jesus’ birth at church, and it struck me anew: Mary didn’t know, but she still believed. She trusted God enough to live into what seemed impossible.

I believe there’s a message in that for you.

First, Mary’s very old, infertile cousin, Elizabeth, conceived. She and her husband were well beyond the point of TTC, but her husband would not give up hope. His prayer was answered, his wife conceived, and they went into silence and seclusion.

Mary didn’t know, but then an angel told her the news (Luke 1:7, 36). She believed.

That same angel told Mary she would also conceive — by the power of the Holy Spirit, and without help from her soon-to-be-husband, Joseph. It was an unprecedented means of conception, but the angel promised that, as with Elizabeth’s late-in-life pregnancy, it would happen, “For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).

Mary didn’t know when it would happen — or exactly how. She didn’t know how she would explain it — or who would believe her if she tried. She didn’t know exactly why she’d been chosen — or what the implications might be for the rest of her life. There was so much she didn’t know!

But, she still believed.

Then, she conceived. And Caeser Augustus announced a census, which sent a very pregnant Mary, accompanied by Joseph, 75-100 miles away from family and friends. She didn’t know when she’d go into labor. She didn’t know where they’d stay.  She didn’t know if or when they’d come home again.

Still, she trusted that God was faithful.

Then Jesus was born, and shepherds arrived. They saw the baby the angels had told them about, and then, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed….” (Luke 2:17-18).  

Scripture says nothing about any conversation between the shepherds and Mary. Most likely, she didn’t know where they went or whom they told. She didn’t know how people responded, or whether anyone believed that “a Saviour… the Messiah… the Lord” had been born. She didn’t know who else might visit Jesus, when another angel might appear, or what would happen next.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Before she saw it all come to pass — while she still didn’t know what might or might not happen in the life of her miracle child — Mary believed.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”  – Luke 1:45

These words, which Elizabeth spoke to Mary, are for you, too.

Why?

Because Elizabeth conceived when everyone knew she was too old. And Mary conceived despite the fact that everyone knew she was a virgin. God made the impossible possible — as He promised He would — and blessed were the women who believed that it could be so, even though it conflicted with what other people knew.

If you long to be blessed by the One who fulfills His promises, the One who can do the impossible, you must be prepared to believe it is possible even though you don’t know how, or when. 

That can only happen if you choose to trust God, which can only happen by faith. 

In this season of hope, as you are longing for joy, well before you know how your infertility journey will end…. I encourage you to accept by faith that the One who made the impossible possible for Mary and Elizabeth is still at work in the lives of those who trust Him.

May it be so for you.

And to God be the glory.

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

Need more cause for hope this Christmas? Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Hope, Trust

“It is He….”

A couple weeks ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman behind me asked, “Did you write a book?” If you could watch the next thirty seconds on a slow-motion replay, you’d laugh at how long it took me to respond. It was so out of context, and I was so surprised that a stranger would ask me, that it took me a minute to process the question.

“Yes,” I told her, “I did.” In the video replay, cartoon question marks would appear above my head. Who is this person? How does she know me?

“Was it about getting pregnant?”

I nodded, and she leaned in to confide, “I tried for so long to get pregnant. We did IVF. It was so discouraging. Then, I heard about your book from someone at church. It changed everything. We had our baby. And now, look….” she pointed to a bulging belly. “Another one! Natural!”

Happy to share in a small celebration, I congratulated her and thanked her for telling me her story. As I picked up my bag of groceries, she urged, “Keep writing your blog.”

Since then, I’ve crossed paths with two other women who’ve told me the same thing:  “Keep writing. I know someone who needs to hear the message.” One is a woman raising twins who were conceived after she’d given up hope. The other has a daughter who’s struggling to conceive and is too stoic to admit how much she’s hurting.

What can I offer them — and you? I prayed about it this morning and a Bible verse came to mind:

“It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”   – Psalm 100:3

My first-grade class memorized this Psalm for a Thanksgiving assembly many years ago. We dutifully learned the words and practiced them every day for weeks. Little did I know, that would be one of many ways in which God would plant the seeds of His truth in my heart.

Decades later, I realize the powerful message contained in that verse.

“It is He that hath made us….” My biological parents went through the motions, but God brought me into being according to His plan and purpose. Although my conception as a (very!) unplanned honeymoon baby surprised my parents, it was no surprise to God. He intended me to come into the world as the person I am and at the moment I came.

He had a very specific plan for you, too. And your spouse. And the moment you met. And the life you chose to share. And, He has a plan for the next generation of your family.

You may try to manufacture life in the womb using the most advanced techniques you can afford. You may eat the right foods, swallow the right pills, give up all the wrong habits, and follow all the weirdest advice…. But the truth of the matter is, “It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”

You don’t have the power to control when a baby will be conceived… or whether a pregnancy will last… or whether the money you spend and tests you endure will result in joy or heartache. And no honest fertility specialist can guarantee success. Nothing you do — or don’t do — can make certain what you hope for.

That privilege is God’s alone.

Embracing that knowledge — rather than resenting it, fighting it, or running from it — is an important step of humility that can make all the difference in how long, or short, the infertility journey will be.

Have you ever heard the verse:

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  – James 4:6

It is now one of my favorites — but it wasn’t always. I used to read it focused on the first half — “God opposes….” — imagining God standing in opposition to me and my plans to become an incredible mom. It took me a long time to realize that God didn’t oppose my heart’s desire. But, He opposed my believing that I had the power to be god in my own life. He opposed me leaving Him out of a process that He alone could control.

Now, I’ve learned to lean into the second half of the verse. God gives grace, favor and blessings to those who humbly acknowledge: We are not the gods of our own lives. We do not control much of anything — but thankfully, He does. And scary though it may be at times, we choose to trust Him. His plan is perfect.

He who made us… gives grace to the humble. It’s that simple. And that challenging.

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

Want to learn more about the God who helps those who humbly rely on Him? Read  Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

2 Comments

Filed under Blessings, Control, Humility, Trust

“Our God is Truly Awesome”

A few days ago, I wrote about the minister and his wife who adopted twins after despairing that they might never become parents. They were matched within weeks of presenting their profile to the adoption agency, and they flew across the country to witness the births of their boys. What a story of God’s incredible goodness!

Some of you who are in the depths of despair over your own infertility struggles may be tempted to argue that that story sounds like a fairy tale — that things like that don’t happen to people like you, and that it’s unlikely to change your circumstances if you trust a God who seems to be failing you already.

I understand those feelings. I wrestled with anger and resentment for years as we attempted to start our family.

So, here’a another story — with a very different outcome.

Jovita Nwaugwu was unable to conceive after years of fertility treatments. She discovered this blog and, through it, the book Pregnant With Hope. She emailed me recently asking for an opportunity to share her story with you. Rather than paraphrase her testimony, I will just post it here in her own words:

“Hello Susan,

I emailed you years ago about how to pray when you are struggling to conceive. Now, I want to share my testimony…

After 7 years of fertility treatment and no success, I decided to seek God seriously. During that time, I realized God does not owe me a child. I changed my spiritual environment and started fasting and praying to know when to stop the fertility treatments. Finally, my pastor told me it was time.

I prayed for a confirmation. It was time for us to start fertility treatments again and my husband refused. He said, “God doesn’t want us to go back for any further treatment.” Even though he had wanted us to go back to treatments, he suddenly changed his mind. I said okay, and I thanked God for His confirmation by my husband’s refusal.

This was in 2014. Then my husband said, “Let’s see what God has for us this year.” This was in April/May.

In August, I found out I was pregnant. Usually, when I’m pregnant, my progesterone level is low and my pregnancy ends up in miscarriage, but this time my progesterone level was perfect. I started thanking, trusting and believing God.

My daughter was born on March 17th and her name is Grace Ogechi. “Ogechi” means “in God’s time.”

Please, I want you to continue encouraging your readers. Your book, Pregnant With Hope, gave me all the hope I needed to go through the wilderness of infertility — and God saw me through. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy journey, but God was with me from start to finish. Our God is truly Awesome and doesn’t share His glory.”

And all God’s people said, Amen.

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

For more help and hope, visit PregnantWithHope.info and read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blessings, Loss, Speaking Up, Trust, Uncategorized

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Hope

Sharing Stories

When couples confront infertility in secret, with little or no support, aided by an expert they hope will work miracles and a faith that feels increasingly feeble, their fear is often palpable.  Isolated, anxious, afraid to contemplate “what if we fail?” – they are grateful for the smallest encouragement.

That’s why I write this blog.  That’s also why I encourage couples to share their stories with one another – and then, to seek spiritual sustenance that points them toward true hope.

If you are in the midst of a journey that seems hopeless, if you’re longing to hear that there’s still reason to believe that God is working in and through your circumstances, listen to the voices of some other aspiring parents who’ve written to me….

“Susan – I have so appreciated reading your blog over the last 6 months — often your message is just exactly what I need to hear that day and so insightful into this journey.  Thank you for taking the time to write.”  – Lisa

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

“Susan – I found your site in April when I was at rock bottom with infertility.  At that point, all I needed was some hope, and your site brought that.  Going through infertility has made me grow in ways I have never thought possible.  I have truly felt God working in my life and helping me with my pain.  I found that I run to Him so much more now!  Anyway, after hitting bottom, we are expecting twins.  Thank you for your help, your resources, and your guidance.  God bless you as you continue on in this ministry.”  – Kelli

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

“Hi Susan  – We are a Christian couple from Romania and we try to have children. We realized something is wrong and we consult a doctor.  He told us we are less than 15 percent to have a child. My husband was so disappointed he refused to preach anymore and turned angry to God.  Today I was wondering if I can find some encouragement and looking on Youtube I found you. I needed to know somebody understands.  Thank you for hope.”  – Elena

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

“Hi Susan – Your blog is a blessing and I have recommended it to several friends in the midst of infertility struggles.  God used the words from your blog to give me perspective and to help sustain me during this journey.  I wanted you to know we are due this week with our miracle IVF daughter and are beyond thrilled. THANK YOU!!”  – Melissa

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

“Dear Susan – THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BLOG.  I don’t think I ever let God help me out cause I was too stubborn to let God take the lead. But now he’s my only hope!  Thanks for the encouraging words and please don’t stop writing. Your words have given a whole new meaning to this journey.  My life is in the hands of the almighty. There is nothing impossible for him!”  – Pushpa

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

“Susan – Just to let you know that God has used your book to minister to me and I am very grateful. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the one writing.  Your book has made me realize that God did not pull away from me, but I pulled away from him.  Thank you.  Remain blessed.”  – Javita

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

“Susan – I want to thank you –you have helped me have hope and faith and the desire to be more open to things and look at them differently and I thank you deeply for that.  We are perfect strangers but you put out your hand for me and I was smart enough to take it.  Thank you for the huge source of support you’ve been to me.  I wanted to let you know that our miracle has arrived!  God Bless you and all you do.”   – Andrea

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

“Hi Susan – I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your blog.  I haven’t spent much time on most other infertility sites because they tended to make me feel more depressed or desperate.  But now I turn to your blog multiple times a week for a reminder of God’s love and an extra dose of hope through the struggle.

Your words hit right at the heart of the matter so many times and always provide much needed encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to allow God to speak through you to provide hope to so many who are struggling with infertility.” –  Cindy

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

“Dear Susan – Thank you for your inspirational messages. I must give God all the glory and honor for leading me to find your blog – it impacts lives! I can’t say which of your stories, of many, impacted my life the most.  May God always bless you for being a blessing to so many.  Our little girl that we will welcome into our world in April is a miracle!”  – Darlene

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

“Dear Susan –  It has been a dream for the past 9 years… and now, I’ve received word that I’m pregnant!  I’m amazed.  The night before I got the news, I read Psalm 139 and every word spoke to me.  As soon as I got the news, I got on my knees and thanked God about 50-75 times.”  – Melissa

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

“Dear Susan – After a 10-year battle with infertility, my husband and I finally conceived and now have twin girls.  I truly believe God set us on this path to help others.  Through lots of prayer and searching for His purpose we believe we are to offer hope and support to others enduring infertility, so we are starting a support group.  Your book will be the resource we use.  Thanks so much!”  – Alesha

Wish one of these good news emails was from you?  Don’t give up hope.  Cling to the One with the power to make all things possible.  Trust that the hope He gives is always fulfilled — according to His purposes, in His perfect timing.  Let go of fear, set aside doubt, and let Him take control.  He will respond to your trust with blessings “beyond what you can ask or imagine.”

To Him be the glory.

2 Comments

Filed under Blessings, Hope, Speaking Up, Trust

It’s a Blessing…

Once couples who’ve battled infertility reach the goal of parenthood – whether by conception or adoption – it’s tempting for retroactive amnesia to take hold.  Who wants to remember the heartache of the journey?  Why would anyone hold on to memories of loss, grief and suffering?  After all, given the time, money and effort it took to become a family, why do anything but enjoy it?

Because it’s not just about you.

Everything God does has a purpose.  Every difficulty He allows into your life is for a reason.  And very often, His reason extends beyond the impact of this journey on you and your faith life.  He also intends to use your experience, and its life-changing effect on you, to bless others.

As scripture says…

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

The temptation to focus on a hope-filled future, while intentionally forgetting the faith-challenging past, is just that:  a temptation.  It is a common one, a completely understandable one, and one you should resist.

Why?

Because part of our calling is to be the body of Christ for one another.  “…To comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive.”  The infertility journey doesn’t end with parenthood.  Instead, we graduate to the next stage of the journey – one in which God calls us to set aside our former need for privacy (secrecy?) and openly witness to God’s goodness and faithfulness in order to give hope to those making the journey behind us.

Kristi and her husband, Carlos, kept his male factor infertility a secret from their family and friends.  But they confided in me, asking that I pray for their decision-making process, and for peace in the midst of uncertainty about the outcome of their journey.  [For more on their story, click this link].

Recently, Kristi got a call from a close friend who confessed that she and her husband were struggling with infertility.  In a split second, Kristi had a decision to make:  should she protect her privacy and the perception of an effortless conception, or should she share her story?  Kristi felt God nudging her to tell the truth.  She did.  She also talked about Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, and about this blog.  “It was a spiritual lifeline for me,” she assured her friend.

Kristi’s friend hung up, immediately ordered a copy of the book and went online to read recent posts.  She called Kristi back in less than thirty minutes, and “we cried together over how good God is, and how everything happens in His perfect timing.”

Kristi shared this story with me so I would know how much the book and blog helped her — and by extension, her friend.  I pointed out that Kristi’s now taken on the role I played during her journey — of comforter, encourager, faithful witness, and Spirit-filled friend.

You can do that, too.

Do you know someone who’s struggling to find hope in the midst of the infertility journey?  If you’ve become a parent, share your story.  If you’re still making your own journey, it’s not too soon to help someone else.  Pass on your copy of Pregnant With Hope.  Send a link to this blog with a verse of comfort.  Risk exposing your need for God’s help and allow Him to use you to deliver a message of hope.

You will experience the joy that proves the axiom “It is a blessing to be a blessing.”

3 Comments

Filed under Blessings, Hope, Speaking Up