Tag Archives: fear and infertility

Fear: It’s All an Illusion

I learned something huge yesterday, and it has very real implications for your infertility journey.

Here’s the back story:  the host of a TV show came to my house to film an interview.  She wanted to get the story behind Pregnant With Hope.  Why did I write it?  Why do I write this blog?  And what keeps me going?

When she asked me to do the interview, I was honored and excited.  What a great way to reach more couples, and the people constellated around them.  In half an hour, I could deliver messages of help and hope that could alter the trajectory of countless infertility journeys!

I felt nothing but anticipation… until the middle of the night, when fear flooded my heart.

It came out of nowhere and gripped me so tightly I couldn’t sleep.

When the host arrived yesterday, I was a basketcase.  All I could think about was anxiety and failure.  The prayers I’d prayed seemed powerless in the face of such potent fear.  What was my problem?  The host urged me to relax, but my heart was racing.  My mind was already rehearsing thoughts of failure and defeat.

Somehow, I survived the interview.  But all afternoon I was burdened with a feeling of deep despair.  I had wanted so much to trust God and honor Him with this story.  How could I have failed so completely?

I emailed my husband defeatedly, “It’s over.”  He emailed back, “You were obedient.”  I clung to those words as I tried to console myself.  But when we got in bed last night, I couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned for hours before finally begging God to lift the burden of failure off me so I could rest.

And that’s when I learned something huge:  it was all an illusion.

God answered my prayer by revealing the enemy’s tactic.  My mind had been filled with lies!  There was nothing to fear.  I spoke my heart and my words honored God.  The interview was great, and when it airs, it will speak hope to those who see it.  It wasn’t a disaster – it was a victory!

Here’s what I’m trying to say….  God cannot be defeated.  When we trust and honor Him, when we are obedient to His call on our lives, there is no power that can stop us.  The only obstacle we must overcome is ourselves and our tendency toward fearfulness.

God’s will for our lives — His perfect plan — can never be overpowered when we say an unconditional “yes.”  So, the only weapon in Satan’s arsenal yesterday was to get me focused on (negative) feelings, rather than the fact that something awesome was underway.

The same holds true for your infertility journey.  God already knows the outcome.  The victory is already written in the Book of Life.  It is done!  But there is a spiritual battle underway over you.

Will you focus on who God is and the seed of hope He has planted in your heart?  Will you trust Him no matter what you see or hear from those who do not know Him?  Or, will you trust feelings of fear and thoughts of failure planted in your heart by God’s enemy?  Will you anticipate defeat, lean into that expectation, and invite it to be so?

Learn from my experience.  Your feelings are not the whole story.  In fact, they’re nothing more than a distraction.  An illusion.  A mirage.  They are confusing and distressing and anxiety-provoking – but they are not the Truth.

Ask God to show you the Truth – to tell you the Truth – and watch your fears fall around you like a house of cards.  It will amaze you!  And it will change the way you see everything.

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To see the video that was filmed that day, click this link.  And, for more inspiration, visit PregnantWithHope.com.

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When the Statistics are Sobering…

“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’ comprehensive 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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God Is Still Faithful

“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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Feeling Like Job….

I have some friends who are struggling through a Job-like season right now – a time when everything seems to be coming against them and they can barely keep their heads above water.  Constant change.  Constant uncertainty.  Constant stress.  Exhausted and destabilized, they are struggling mightily to hang on to anything resembling hope.  And in the midst of all the chaos, trying to conceive.

Where is God in all this?

The Bible says He is “our refuge,” “our strength,” and “an ever-present help,” but He doesn’t feel ever-present to them.  Never-present is more like it.  They can’t seem to find any refuge, and they are running very low on strength.  So, now what do they do?

God Calling, the devotional book I discovered on vacation, has the answer:

“To see Me, you must bring Me your cares and show Me your heart of Trust.  Then, as you leave your cares, you become conscious of My Presence.”

If they want to find the refuge, the strength and the help God offers, these are the steps to take:

1)      “…bring Me your cares…” – Vent honestly; Job did.  Take every hurt and heartache to the One who is always ready to listen, who never resents your need or refuses you compassion.  He is waiting for you – hoping you will choose Him over whatever comfort you might seek (and fail to find) in the world.

2)      “…and show Me your heart of trust” – Don’t dump your problems and run; stay long enough to show God your desire to trust Him, despite your circumstances.   Let Him see in your heart a longing to look past this moment’s struggles, and a choice to believe in what you know about His character, His faithfulness and His love.

3)      “Then, as you leave your cares, become conscious of My Presence” – Hand Him your burdens.  Release your grip and let them go.  Give them to Him as a trust-based offering.  As you do, you will find yourself able to turn your focus away from them and toward His presence.  That shift of focus may not last long at first, but keep repeating these 3 steps.  You will become increasingly aware of His ever-presence.  And in that realization, you will find the comfort and hope you cannot find anywhere else.

When I went through a Job-like season, I got so desperate I was willing to try anything.  Virtually everyone and everything I’d assumed would comfort me failed to, sooner or later.   Only God never failed.  That realization — tested and proven in trial by fire — was the great blessing of the season.

My friends are in the process of receiving the same blessing.  Although they can’t see it, I truly believe it.  Suffering is a door none of us would ever choose to open.  But sometimes, it leads us straight to the heart of God.

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Want more inspiration and cause for hope?  Visit PregnantWithHope.com

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You Are Blessed

This is a rerun of one of the most widely read and forwarded posts I ever wrote.  See if it has something meaningful to say to you….

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Not long ago, I discovered a book by Mother Teresa, You Are Blessed.  I walked past it as I was leaving a bookstore, and God could not have spoken to me more clearly if the book had leaped off the table and into my hands.

I am blessed, but sometimes – especially when I’m not getting what I’m badly wanting and desperately praying for – I forget that.  I lose sight of my glass half-full.  All I can see is that it’s partly empty.  As I look around me, “everyone else” is already enjoying the blessing I want.  That’s when the negative self-talk starts:  it’s so unfair, why them and not me?  A minute later, I’m caught in a psychological death spiral… down, down, down… into a dark hole of worry and gloom, until I feel so far from God that I can’t possibly hear Him.

Does that sound familiar?

Maybe it doesn’t happen so fast for you.  Or, maybe it’s such a blur, you can’t even describe the stages of descent – just the fact that one minute you’re fine, the next minute you’re losing it.

It’s those death spiral moments that make infertile couples ask, “Where is God in all this?”  He can seem so distant, unresponsive, and unmoved by our trauma and drama.  But, He’s not. We’ve pulled away – out of fear, a need to control, repressed anger, and so much more.  Meanwhile, God is busy blessing us.

How can we see that more clearly?  What would that change?  And why is it hugely important to our infertility experience?

When we focus on what we do not have – and those who already have it, we open the door to resentment and jealousy.  We foolishly invite darkness into our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.  We unconsciously push God aside to make room for His enemy, and then give ourselves over to despair.  We choose a path that cannot possibly take us to joy.

Unbelievably, this is our choice.  It is our decision to marinate in toxic emotions that make it virtually impossible to hear or see  God.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If we shift the focus from self to God – from “I want but don’t have…” to “He’s already given me…” – we find cause for renewed hope.  Even more, we experience a restored confidence in His faithfulness and compassion.  It is choosing to see the glass half-full (thanks to God), rather than half-empty.  And it makes all the difference in how we experience the infertility journey.

So, when you want a child and can’t conceive one, can’t carry one to term, can’t imagine another cycle but can’t imagine giving up… how exactly is the glass half-full?

If you have a loving, supportive spouse, you are blessed.  If you have found a doctor you trust and respect, you are blessed.  If someone outside your marriage is encouraging you, you are blessed.  If you’ve ever gotten a good test result, you are blessed.  If you’re healthy enough to try again, you are blessed.  If you can afford ART, you are blessed.

If you’ve found a community of infertile couples, you are blessed.  If you’ve read an uplifting message, you are blessed.  If you have a friend who understands your struggle, you are blessed.  If you continue to hope despite losses and grief, you are blessed.  If you still believe that God hears your prayers — even if you don’t sense His answers — you are blessed.

You are blessed.  You are blessed.  You are blessed.

And all of it – every bit of it! – was put in your path by the God who loves you and longs to bless you more.  He intends to give you His very best, in His perfect timing.  It’s hard to be patient – especially when you don’t know the details of His plan – but you can trust the God who’s proven Himself faithful throughout scripture.

Mother Teresa’s book reminded me today that I am blessed.  I took several minutes, right in the middle of the bookstore, to think of the ways God has gone before me to prepare a path strewn with blessings – too many to count.  Recalling those blessings was a blessing in itself.  I felt a surge of gratitude for the God who knows and loves me.

Do you have a thankful heart for all that God has already done for you?  Tell Him so.  Thank Him.  And, trust that He is not ignoring your pleas for the blessing of a child.

Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

What greater blessing could there be than this promise?  Claim it, choose to see that the foundation is already being laid, and give God your “thank offering” of a grateful heart.  The change in your perspective will alter your trajectory.

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

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A Pre-Mother’s Day Pep Talk

Have you ever had a day that’s so bad you want to spread some misery around?

Not long ago, I had a horrible stomach bug.  I struggled with raging fevers that left me alternately freezing and melting.  The trashcans were overflowing with Kleenex, and I couldn’t even muster the energy to empty them.  What a perfect time to write a Misery Loves Company post… just in time for Mother’s Day!

Don’t worry.

I didn’t.

But it was tempting.

Lots of internet writers seem to think spreading misery is a great idea.  A quick online search found loads of despair waiting to be shared on blogs and in tweets posted in the last 24 hours.  There’s something about Mother’s Day approaching that tips infertile women over emotionally, making a difficult struggle suddenly feel impossibly unmanageable.  And sharing some misery with the world is so cathartic:  Come bond with me!  We’ll be miserable together!

It’s a trap.  Don’t fall in.

The temptation to wallow in self-pity is a powerful one.  We tell ourselves it doesn’t hurt anyone – and believe it can actually help.  But really, it doesn’t.

Dwelling on despair makes hope feel much further away than it actually is.  It makes God’s purposefulness seem veiled and impenetrable.  It gives us an ever-expanding laundry list of reasons to grieve, resent, and give up.  None of which makes this journey any easier.

“Our lives are the expression of the thoughts that lie behind them, and of the thoughts that inspire them.”  – Marjorie Jackson

Especially now, as Mother’s Day approaches, it matters what you feed your mind and spirit.  A steady diet of hopeless messages may seem to satisfy your hunger, but it will actually starve you of the strength you need for the journey.

Unless you’ve chosen to give up on the dream of parenthood – deciding it’s too arduous a journey and no longer worth the effort – you need to FOCUS:

– On why you are doing this:  God planted a seed of hope in your heart.  And He did it for a reason.

– On why you have hope:  “All things work together for good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose” {Romans 8:28].

– On where you find your strength:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Ephesians 4:13].

– On how you resist self-pity:  “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” [I Corinthians 10:13].

– On how your story will end:  “I (God) will pour out My spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants” [Isaiah 44:34].

God has given you the power to alter the course of your journey with your thoughts.  They will express themselves in the life that unfolds before you.  You are certainly justified in thinking thoughts of failure and defeat.  But, you are also justified in thinking thoughts of strength, sufficiency and victory.  Which will it be?

Use your power wisely.  And be thankful for this Mother’s Day gift.

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

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Taking the Long Way

Infertility can seem like the long way to nowhere. The stress of not knowing how long the journey could take, combined with the uncertainty of whether you’ll ever get where you’re trying to go, can be almost unbearable. What’s the point of a journey if you can’t make forward progress? That’s the question that convinces some couples to give up before they ever reach their desired destination.

Consider this… Sometimes, there’s a reason for getting lost. A purpose for the time spent wandering. A blessing that results only if you take the long way.

I’ve been re-reading Exodus and thinking about the 40 years it took for the Israelites to make an 11-day journey to the Promised Land. Talk about taking the long way. What happened? They could’ve made it there and back more than 650 times in 40 years.

Were they totally lost? No, God was leading them – as a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Was He intentionally leading them in circles? It seems that way. What was the point of that?

Clearly, there was a purpose for the time spent wandering. A reason for making it impossible for them to see how close they really were to what God had promised. What was it?

1. A transformation had to occur in them resulting in total God-reliance. They had learned how to stay alive in Pharaoh’s world by relying on his capricious favor. God wanted them to realize that life in that world meant little more than survival; He intended to bless them with much more. But first, they had to un-learn their fearfulness, their self-protective instincts, and their tendency to panic when they couldn’t understand what was happening.

Does that sound at all familiar to you? Might God be teaching you the same things? How so?

2. The 40-year journey was a time of mutual testing. The Israelites tested God’s trustworthiness, and He tested their trust. God heard and responded to their frequent calls for help. He proved Himself responsive and generous. He demonstrated His faithfulness and His abundant goodness – time and again. Could they trust Him to provide what was needed, when it was needed? Even when they couldn’t see how He could possibly provide? Would they learn to accept His ‘no’ with as much trust as His ‘yes’? Could they learn to rely on Him with confident hope — despite whatever they could (or could not) see or understand?

If any of this resonates with you, mght it be that you and God are also testing each other? If so, how could that make this time seem more purposeful?

3. As Barbara Brown Taylor writes in her new bestseller, An Altar in the World, God spent the 40 years empowering His people, while also teaching them gratitude: “God strengthened that wilderness gene in them, the one that made them strong and resourceful even as it reminded them how perishable they were.”  And, “by the time they [finally] arrived in the land of milk and honey, they knew how to say thank you and mean it.”

Might you be discovering a new kind of strength and resourcefulness on this journey, even as you discover how fragile you and your dream really are? Might God have a purpose in teaching you to be strong in and through Him prior to reaching “the land of milk and honey?” And, might it be hugely important for you to be ready to thank God and mean it when you finally get there?

Here’s the good news I see inherent in the 40-year journey – and in your own:

1)      Duration does not always predict success. The Israelites took 1,327% longer than the “average” traveler to get where they were going, but they were meant to get there – and they did. The time it took was, in hindsight, a blessing that built their faith and prepared them for their future.

2)      Speed does not equate to favor.  First and fastest doesn’t prove (or disprove) anything. Writes Taylor, “If someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times.” It is those who follow God’s leading, trust His timing, and stick to His path who will, ultimately, be most blessed.

3)      God always passes tests of trustworthiness. If you draw the obvious parallel to the Israelites’ story, the only unknown is whether you will pass tests of trust. Are you at peace despite the appearance of being lost? Do you believe God knows exactly where you are, and exactly how to get where He wants you to go? Do you believe He wants to lead you to nothing less than His best for you?

Lean into this journey. Trust that it has a purpose. And be confident that you are not lost to God.

 

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