Tag Archives: conceiving

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

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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.

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“What if They Never Conceive?”

Yesterday, an aspiring grandfather contacted me to ask about groups in Oregon.  He has already given a copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples to his son and daughter-in-law, and also been reading the book himself.  What more can I do, he wanted to know, and… what if they never conceive?

That is every infertile couple’s deepest fear:  What if we never become parents?  What if this is ultimately a pointless quest – a wild goose chase that consumes time and money, and leaves us empty-handed?

I’ll tell you what I told him – and I urge you to consider it carefully.

The only couples I’ve ever seen wind up empty-handed are those who insist on dictating the terms by which they’ll become parents.  They say things like, “We’ll try IUI, but we’d never consider IVF.”  Or “We’ll do 10 cycles of IVF if we have to, but we’d never consider adoption.”

They acknowledge, “We would happily adopt a baby whose family history we know and approve of,” but they’re adamant that “We’d never consider a foreign adoption…, or an egg donor…, or a sperm donor…, or foster parenting…, or [insert line in the sand here].”  Some couples even insist, “Natural conception is the only godly way to become a parent.”

I’ve already written several posts about this mindset.  I believe it’s dangerous not because of the boundaries themselves, but because of the presumption to know the mind and will of God.  Intentionally or not, these couples are playing God, rather than inviting God to be God in the midst of their circumstances.

When couples insist on barring the door to possibilities God might lead them to, they risk closing the door on His best for them.

I realize it might sound as if I have an agenda – as if I’m trying to steer couples toward a particular path, or around the prohibitions of particular denominations or religions.  I’m not.  I have no agenda other than compassionate, attentive listening to the concerns of infertile couples, and obedient, attentive listening to the word of God.

My deep desire is to deliver hope to those who have begun to question God – both His plan and His purpose.  I would never presume to tell a couple what direction to take through the wilderness of infertility.  It is their responsibility to listen for the Lord’s voice, to discern His direction, and to follow it toward the future He has always had planned for them.

I am only here to encourage, to deliver hope, and to point toward Him as the source of all wisdom and truth.

So, what can this aspiring grandfather say to encourage his son and daughter-in-law as they struggle?

He can tell them that, in all my years of experience, I have yet to see the Lord abandon any couple that feels called to parent and remains open to the Lord’s leading on how that will happen.  If they trust and obey, sooner or later, it always happens.  Maybe not the way they imagined.  Maybe not when they expected.  Maybe not as they would have scripted at the beginning of this journey.

But always.

Every.  Single.  Time.

Scripture says that God honors those who honor Him, and He delights in blessing those whom He loves.  So, praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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Need more encouragement?  Click this link to purchase your copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Risk Listening to God

One of the hardest questions infertile couples face is deciding whether to give God control.  I got an email yesterday from a woman expressing a deep desire to conceive – and to have God’s help conceiving.  And yet, she admitted, a part of her resists praying for a baby, “Because what if God says, ‘No’?”

The fear of hearing God speak words we don’t want to hear keeps many of us separated from the very One who can alter our path’s course.  The only One who always knows what (or who) to bring into our lives to transform our journey from endless wandering to forward progress.  The only One who always knows how to transform our heart’s desire from unsatisfied longing to joy.

Sooner or later, each of us must decide whether to maintain the (illusion of) control that enables us to believe we can will a heartbeat into the womb, or the alternative:  humbly acknowledging that we already would have if we could.

The truth is, we need help.

Who can we trust?

Too often, we conclude:  That depends….

What is God’s plan?  How can we know?  If we knew, it would be SO much easier to trust Him.  Will He tell us anything encouraging if we risk entrusting Him with our hopes and fears?  And what if He does say, “No”?  Does that mean we will never realize our dream?  If so, will refusing to hear Him speak prevent the dream from dying?  This is the crazy-making loop we get caught in – and it prevents us from being still and listening to the voice of the only One who has the answers.

Recently, a friend gave me a copy of God Guides.  This small book reveals the extraordinary peace and power that are available to those who learn to be still and listen to the God who longs to be known, revealed, and trusted.

Mary Geegh, the author, was a missionary to India.  She discovered that, despite enormous effort on her part, she had very little impact on those she meant to be helping.  Then, another missionary came to the same village.  Within a week, the lives of the villagers were transformed.  She humbled herself enough to ask, “How do you do it?”

Her fellow missionary responded, “The first step is to ‘wait’… ‘be still’… and ‘listen.’  Then… write down the things the Holy Spirit speaks to your mind, [and] determine to obey.”

Motivated to succeed, she took the advice.  Her ministry became one of patiently waiting on God’s word alongside those who were struggling.  “He has the answer for every problem,” she promised.  Her fellow listeners discovered it was the truth.  Her book is filled with stories of incredible outcomes for those who listened and obeyed.

At one point, Mary writes, “We were given two ears and one mouth because we should listen in prayer  twice as much as we speak.”  As we listen, we must be ready to hear the truth — because the Lord cannot be other than completely truthful.  If we are unwilling to hear the truth, and yet we pretend to “listen” for Him, we will hear a resounding silence.  Why?  Because we have hardened our hearts to His message.  We have turned away from Him – choosing autonomy and (the illusion of) control over trust.  Although we will always be permitted to choose this path, it will never lead to His best for us.

So, must we risk listening with open minds and hearts?

It is not as fear-inducing as it sounds.  Scripture is full of promises of God’s love for His people, His faithfulness, and His deep desire to bless.  Wouldn’t you like to be on the receiving end of unlimited grace and power?  Wouldn’t you like to experience the incredibly abundant goodness of God?

If so… be still.  Rest in the knowledge that He is for you.  Trust that He intends to make you a victor, not a victim.  Listen for His reassurances.  Wait patiently for His guidance.  Write down and follow His instructions.  This is the path to abundant joy.

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Want more inspiration and cause for hope?  Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.  Here’s a link to order your copy now.

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The Season of Discernment

Unexplained infertility can seem like psychological torture.  No one can tell you what’s wrong, what will work, or if anything ever will.

Faced with little-to-no information, how can you make decisions?  When the voice in your head is shouting, “The clock is ticking! You’re running out of time!” how do you think clearly?  When the most-likely-to-succeed protocol fails – repeatedly – what should you do next?  Where can you turn for input?  Who can you trust?  And how much more can you handle?

Bottom line:  What does it mean when there’s still no baby?

Welcome to a season of discernment.

When Don and his wife reached this point in their infertility journey, Don made a very wise choice.  He decided to slow down, wait, and listen.  “I’m one who believes God’s touch is very subtle,” he said.  “You’ve got to exert immense patience to understand – and wait for – what He’s doing in your life.  If you jump to a conclusion, you may miss the message.”

After several miscarriages, Don thought, “We haven’t been able to get pregnant.  Is God sending us a message?  I was listening and thinking, is God saying, ‘You shouldn’t be parents?’ or, ‘You should take another approach?’”  He and Robin decided to join the infertility Bible study to spend time with other couples struggling with the same questions.

“When I first went to the class, I was struck by how many people were emotionally distraught about infertility.  But I kept reminding myself:  God has a way of moving things around so that it’s a win-win for everybody.  It sounds formulaic, but you have to trust Him.  Be ready – do your part – but let it come on His time.”

The more they listened to other couples’ stories – especially those of “alumni” who came back to talk to the group – the more they realized, “you have to be patient.”  Speed and a desperate sense of urgency had not made  these other couples parents.  In fact, just the opposite!  Quite a few affirmed Don’s sense that  “you can’t just take over.  God’s got opportunities, messages and subtleties there for you… but you’ve got to be listening.”

Over time, Don and his wife felt a growing, deepening peace about the choice to adopt.  “God understood what I needed to make a decision,” Don recalled.  “We researched our options thoroughly, moving slowly enough to seek God’s guidance at every step.”

To a casual observer, it might have looked as if they were making no progress on their journey toward parenthood.  But in fact, the most important progress occurred when they slowed down and were perfectly still.  How so?  A birth mother tried to put her twin boys up for adoption five times  – but she always changed her mind.  Finally, she decided she was ready.

“If we’d been ready 6 months earlier, this mom wouldn’t have been ready,” Don said.  “And if we’d been ready 6 months later, we might have missed adopting our boys.  I want to recognize God’s timing in this miracle.  It was perfect.”

God’s timing always is.

The words “Be still and know that I am God” are not just a suggestion from scripture.  They are an imperative command for our benefit.  They are also the only way to answer the many unanswered questions on this journey.

When we are still, we make space for God’s voice to be heard.  Sometimes, He may be silent.  If so, we should stay still, but not be afraid.   He has not forgotten or neglected us.  And it is not His desire to compound our fear and anxiety.

We must trust that He is well able to speak clearly when we are ready to listen, and when the time is right. Those are the two key ingredients to forward progress.

This season, give yourself the two gifts that will bless your journey:  intentional stillness, and active listening.  Expect God’s guidance – wait patiently for it – and He will honor your faith with His faithfulness.

He always does.

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For more inspiration and words of hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com or read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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The Infertility Prayer God Always Answers

A few days ago, I wrote about narcissistic fertility – the tendency of some “fertiles” to take pregnancy for granted, and to think of a baby primarily as an extension of themselves.  It’s easy to criticize that kind of self-absorption.  And, it’s tempting to think “I would never….”

The problem is:  we would, and we do.

Don’t misunderstand.  After the struggle and heartache of the infertility journey, I don’t believe any of us would take a baby for granted.  But, I do believe that many – maybe all of us – set off on this journey believing we deserve to be parents.  We want it, and we unconsciously believe we have a right to expect it.

We see the people around us conceiving effortlessly and assume, that’ll be me – pregnant and living  happily-ever-after.  We might never say so, but at some level, we feel entitled to that story.

Here’s the problem:  that entitlement attitude puts Self at the center.  It presumes that what we want is what’s best for us — because we want it.  In hindsight, that seems both arrogant and a little ridiculous.  The truth is, it’s simply human nature.

We tend to think of ourselves as able to make perfect plans and control our destinies… until we discover we can’t and we don’t.  That’s when we start to feel confused, frustrated, and even angry.

Now, we see a clear need for God in our story – but He seems to be withholding our heart’s desire.  Or worse, punishing us for something.  Why can’t we conceive?  And why does He insist on thwarting our plans?

Because our plan is not His plan.  It’s not His best for us.

So, now what?  How do we get past our emotional response to God’s “no,” and onto a path that leads to parenthood?  That’s the question I was thinking about recently as I read Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To.

I wondered: Is there a prayer God always says “yes” to when infertile couples pray?  If so, what is it?  What makes it work?  And does it always?

The good news is that there is one prayer God always answers for infertile couples.  And I’m convinced the purpose of the infertility journey is to prepare us to pray it with complete sincerity of heart, mind and spirit.

No one told me about it when we were struggling to conceive.  At that time, the God I’d grown up believing in no longer seemed generous, loving and faithful.  Instead, He seemed distant, silent, and even secretive.  I had some strong feelings about that, but I was afraid to express them for fear of making a bad situation worse.

So, we struggled on in silence (as if He didn’t know my thoughts).

I felt increasingly invisible and lost to God.  Either rejected by Him or simply ignored, all I could see was that He didn’t seem to be working with us.  In fact, He seemed to be working against us.  Rather than breathing life into our dream, He was thwarting our desire to become parents.  He could have made it happen at any time, but He kept saying, “no.”

Does it seem as if God is thwarting your will, too?  Are you doing everything you can to get to “yes” only to sense He’s repeatedly telling you “no”?  Then pray the prayer He always answers:

Thy will be done.

This 4-word prayer has the power to set life-changing events in motion.  It can overpower whatever emotional distress buffets us, whatever circumstances devastate us, whatever fears paralyze us, whatever thoughts terrorize us.  It is the “open sesame” that makes all things possible because it is the prayer that puts all things in our lives under God’s authority – including us.

It is a prayer of incredible power… because it a prayer of total submission.  It acknowledges that God sees what we cannot see, and knows what we cannot know.  It invites Him to accomplish His perfect plan in and through us, with our complete cooperation.

Can we trust Him enough to give Him complete control?  Can we stop obsessing over our own plans and trust that “no” means His plan is better?  Can we set aside our impatience long enough to give Him whatever time He needs to accomplish His purpose?  And will we?

That’s the hugely important choice we must make.

We can continue to insist on our plans and our timetable, giving God room only to optimize what we will for ourselves.  That path will never lead us to His best.  Or, we can let go of “when?” and “how?” and choose to trust Him completely and unconditionally.  That path leads to nothing less than His very best.

How do I know?  From personal experience, and from my front row seat watching the stories of countless infertile couples unfold.  Every single couple who comes to a place of being able to pray unreservedly, “Thy will be done,” finds joy.  Every.  Single.  One.

May it be so for you, too.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

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Where is God in That Awful Moment?

There are moments – split seconds even – that can seem to last forever.  When the nurse calls with the news you dread.  When the tech stares silently at the ultrasound image, refusing to speak what you already fear.  When the doctor delivers the baby at 18 weeks, and you know the truth before he says a word.

So many of the couples I’ve worked with have described the feeling of an unbearable moment that goes on and on….  It’s as if time stops.  The past falls away.  The future is unimaginable.  There is only the moment and the realization that everything you’ve hoped for is gone.

Grief begins to form a tidal wave in the distance.  But in the moment, there is nothing.  No feeling.  No understanding.  No faith.  No hope.  No way to wrap your mind around this awful reality.

Where is God in this moment?

The Bible says He is with us.

What is this moment like for Him?  2 Peter says, “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  I believe that means that God understands the agony of a moment that seems to go on forever.  But it also means that time expands and collapses, stretches and compresses, with Him.  In other words, time does not limit God in any way, nor what He can accomplish in a given moment.

We may be psychologically paralyzed, frozen in a split second that’s too unbearable for us to experience.  But not God.  He is fully present with us, providing comfort and strength for as long as this “moment” lasts.  It may seem as if He has failed us.  As if He has broken His promise to give us hope and a future.  As if He has been so slow in keeping the promise that He is somehow too late.  Or worse, as if He has abandoned us in our moment of need.

But that’s not true.

God is never defeated by our circumstances.  He is never too late  — to comfort us, to strengthen us, or to deliver joy into our lives.  The problem is that we are unable to see past this moment.  We cannot imagine that this season of suffering will ever end, and so we conclude… it won’t.

The Bible says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.”  We don’t understand why we have to wait so long, or why God seems to be moving so slowly to fulfill His promise.  We don’t understand His timing, His reasons or His plan.  He has shared none of this with us.

So, we have to trust Him.  And wait.

Thankfully, 2 Peter says, “He is patient….”  with us, with our response to failure and loss, with our self-absorption in grief, with our confusion and our anger, with our depression and our fear, with our temporary loss of faith in His goodness and purposefulness.  He is patient with all of it.  And with all of us.

In the end, the suffering that seems to be lasting forever, will be over “like a day.”  And the joy that comes with the child He has always planned for us — the soul He has already chosen to entrust to us — “will be like a thousand years.”  We will see this journey from His perspective, and the moment of heartache will be a blink… just before life with our child began.

Hang in there.

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For more compassionate understanding and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Barren and Blessed

These words leaped off the page at me when I read them the other day:

“Praise the Lord.  He settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children” [Psalm 113:9].

How often do you hear those words spoken from a pulpit?  Never.  Read to you as part of a scripture reading?  Never.  But what an incredible message this is for infertile women!  Read it again:

“Praise the Lord.  He settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children” [Psalm 113:9].

First, think about what it doesn’t say.  It doesn’t say God condemns the woman and punishes her by making her barren.  It doesn’t say, aware of her infertility, God ignores her pleas for a child; He does not care about her heartache or suffering.

It doesn’t say He intends for the woman to accept her childlessness as permanent because that is the future He has planned for her.  And, it doesn’t say, He may occasionally bless a barren woman, but He’d never do it for you.

It doesn’t say any of that.

What it does say is “He settles the barren woman….”  Not just sometimes; this is what God consistently does.  He “settles” her.  He is not a dispassionate observer of an infertile woman’s struggle, or an unresponsive witness to her deep longing.  He is present and active in her story.

In the natural, she may believe she is the one battling to stay settled in the midst of uncertainty.  Will she ever be a mother?!  But in the spiritual realm, it is God who is actively working to bring her what will settle her:  comfort, peace, hope and a future.

“He settles the barren woman in her home….”  Picture a bird making a nest, preparing to lay the eggs that will hatch at the perfect time.  God is settling the barren woman – nesting her – preparing her for the future she deeply desires.  He intends to realize her dream, and to do so  in what will be her child’s most nurturing environment:  the home.

“… as the happy mother of children.”  I love every word here!  God transforms the barren woman into a happy mother (we all know how unhappy she was when she believed children were not in her future).  Lifelong childlessness was not her dream – nor was it God’s.  His vision is for her to be a mother, and a happy one.  And not of “a child,” but “of children.”

Notice that the verse does not specify that the infertile woman will become a mother by conception.  Does that matter?  Yes, I believe it does.  God’s plan is not for every future mother to conceive.

God’s desire is that some families will be created through adoption.  Others may be created with the consenting involvement of a third party:  a surrogate, an egg donor, a sperm donor… or all three.  Some may be formed through fostering, caring for an extended family member, or a child neglected by its birth parents.

But notice:  these details, though important, will not devalue the fulfillment of the dream.  At the end of this journey, they will not reduce  the woman’s happiness, nor will they make these children any less truly hers.  In fact, these children will be uniquely and unquestionably the loves of her life — brought into it according to God’s perfect plan.

No matter how stymied we may be by our bodies’ apparent inability to conceive, God is never limited in His ability to give birth to His best for us — or for the children He intends to bring into our lives.  Never! This powerful realization is one of the greatest blessings of infertility. 

I agree with the psalmist:  Praise the Lord.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and visit PregnantWithHope.com

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