Tag Archives: infertility journey

Let Nothing Be Wasted II

I love when I’m focused on a particular piece of Scripture and everywhere I turn, I encounter it. That tells me I’m onto something — something the Lord wants me to understand.

It happened today when I got an email devotional from a friend that said,

“When Jesus fed the 5,000, he broke the bread and gave it to the disciples to distribute. When we, like the disciples, embrace the broken pieces that are handed to us, those pieces can be used to nourish other people. In our times of brokenness, the most comforting thing to remember is that the bread was in Jesus’ hands when it was broken. His hands are more than capable of holding us in our brokenness and charting a path for us through which his glory can be revealed.”

Wow! I never looked at the feeding of the 5,000 that way before. I’d always read it as a story of abundant generosity, of provision that meets worry and says, “Don’t worry. There’s more than enough for you.” More than enough hope… time… strength… options…. And more than enough grace. The Lord, our provider, is well able to meet every need. That perspective has been a great comfort to me — and to other couples as they’ve struggled with infertility.

But this new perspective makes each of us more than passive witnesses to a long ago, historical event. From this vantage point, we are part of the story. In our insufficiency, we are the fish and bread — taken into Jesus’ hands, blessed, and broken so that He can use us to bless others. In our confusion, uncertainty and disbelief, we are the disciples — handing Jesus a problem, then gratefully receiving abundance miraculously created out of brokenness.

We and our infertility stories become an essential part of the greater story. Our insufficiency sets the stage for the miracle that is to come. It leads us to put ourselves in Jesus’ hands, to offer ourselves up to be blessed. In that process, we relinquish (the illusion of) control to the One who has the perfect plan — not just to bless us, but also to bless those who witness the transformative power of His blessing on us. And then, the miraculous blessing ripples out to touch those gathered around us who see firsthand “His glory revealed.”

Here’s what that looked like in my own life….

We struggled silently in our battle with infertility. The stress, the heartache, the losses went unnoticed by those around us because we grieved in secret. We felt utterly isolated and alone. Then finally, a pregnancy neared the end of the first trimester. No sooner did we share the news… than I miscarried — first one twin, and then the other. We were devastated. When we told my brother-in-law, he whooped, “Now we’ll have the first grandchild!” His words poured salt in open wounds.

Fast forward…. we had a little girl, born with a huge hole in her heart. She survived open heart surgery. Then, we had a little boy, born after 5+ months of bedrest. We were told he’d need brain surgery (which later proved to be wrong). I started chemo when he was a newborn. Everything in life seemed simultaneously blessed and fragile. Then, both of my parents died. I had back surgery when the kids were toddlers. My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. And that’s only some of what happened.

Brokenness? No doubt. Broken bodies, broken hearts, broken spirits. But in hindsight, I can say that nothing was wasted. If we learned nothing else, we learned through experience to put our brokenness in God’s hands, to trust that He is faithful, and to believe that He is glorified when we do not understand His ways… and yet, we walk by faith.

Without those experiences, I could not write the things I do with such conviction. I could not offer my brokenness — and the miracles that came in the midst of it — to you for sustenance. Apparently, that was always part of the plan! So, I offer my story to you in the hope that it will inspire you to trust God’s faithfulness.

Are you struggling? Suffering? Doubting whether the Lord even cares? Give your brokenness to Him and let Him work miracles. He will bless you, and that blessing will offer spiritual nourishment to those around you. And to Him be the glory.

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

Need more encouragement? More insight? More reason to hope? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, and visit PregnantWithHope.info.

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Worth the Journey

My husband pointed out something interesting in scripture yesterday, and I realized there’s a parallel in the infertility journey.

As the Israelites were heading toward the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them that there would be specific geographic boundaries for this new homeland.  It would be bordered by certain rivers, seas, gorges and hill country.  It wouldn’t be just anywhere — someplace they’d call good enough.  “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon,” he told them, “and from the Euphrates River to the western sea. “

What’s so interesting about that?

God’s people were being led to a specific destination, a particular future chosen for them by the God who’d planned and overseen every step of their journey.

How is that like the infertility journey?

You may not feel as if you’re headed anywhere specific.  You may not sense yourself making forward progress at all.  But there is a precise destination, already seen clearly by the God who guides your steps, out there on your life’s horizon.  Of course, you can choose to quit traveling any time.  You can choose to pitch a tent at any point on your journey and announce, “I’ve had it.  This is it for me.  I’m stopping here.”

But, that’s not where God’s leading you.  And His very best won’t be waiting there.

In fact, if you choose a stopping point outside the parameters of His perfect will for you, you may end up settling somewhere that was never meant to be your future.  Of couse, God won’t stop you from making a life for yourself there.  Some of the Israelites chose not to cross the Jordan – even though they were a stone’s throw from their promised future.  Just like them, you have free will.  So, it’s your choice.  But, He’s definitely leading you to a very specific destination.  A very best future.

Moses told God’s people, “… the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”  It was their destination.  He wanted to remind the weary travelers that their journey would end in abundant blessings – but only if they followed God’s lead and made a life for themselves within the boundaries of His perfect plan.

The same holds true for you.

This journey may be nothing like what you expected.  It may seem as if you’ve been wandering in the wilderness, searching for the future you thought God had planned for you, forever.  It may seem as if you’re further and further from the dream that your heart has clung to — as if it’s past time to take charge of this endless journey and bring it to a close.  You can… but I hope you won’t.

You are not lost to God.  He has been guiding your steps all along, leading you toward the future He planned for you.  Don’t insist on following your preconceived ideas about how long this should take, or which route will get you where you want to go.  Trust that God knows what He’s doing – and why – and that He’s working in and through your circumstances, even now.

Don’t let impatience keep you from His very best for you.  The Promised Land of parenthood is not as far off as you think.  More importantly, the Lord knows exactly where it is — and exactly when you’ll get there.   Trust Him enough to keep pressing on, anticipating the joy of reaching the destination He’s always had in mind for you.

When you reach your Promised Land — when years’ worth of effort, and countless hours worth of worry, finally come to an end — you will know it was worth trusting God’s perfect plan.

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For more encouragement and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.  Click this link to order a copy today.

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Fertile Narcissism

“The faster someone achieves success, the more narcissistic they’ll tend to be.  Slow & steady builds character over the years.”   – Rick Warren

Although I doubt he was tweeting about infertility, I’m convinced Rick Warren’s absolutely right.

We live in a culture that celebrates instant gratification and effortless success.  The gossip media constantly barrage us with breathless coverage of celebrity pregnancies and baby arrivals.  “Look!  Blissful parents!  Gorgeous babies!  Happily-ever-after!”  For couples struggling to conceive, this cultural obsession only makes the burden of infertility harder to bear.

What if it’s not as wonderful as it all looks?  Could there actually be a downside to effortless conception?  And conversely, could the infertility journey be a blessing-in-disguise?  Warren’s tweet certainly suggests the possibility, as do many verses of scripture.

Think about it for a minute…

We’ve all crossed paths with narcissistic pregnant women.  Rather than being thankful for an incredible gift, they seem to take pleasure in complaining about their uncontrollable fertility, or the inconvenience of being pregnant.  Their words and actions reveal a self-absorption that is disturbing, and it does not bode well for the children they’re expecting.

In a Discovery Health documentary, one woman sobbed when her ultrasound revealed she had not conceived a girl.  A healthy 18-week pregnancy was not enough to satisfy her.  Already the mother of four boys, she said she would “always, always be sad” that she was having another.  Apparently, this woman wasn’t as eager to steward a child as she was desperate to fulfill a vision of herself.

She did not consider how wonderful this boy could turn out to be — or how awful a particular girl could have been — because it wasn’t about the child.  It was about her desire to fulfill her plan for her life.

In another story from the same documentary, a fertile mother (also with four boys) elected to use IVF with PGD — three times — in her quest for a girl.  Her first two IVFs yielded only boys, so she had those embryos discarded. Her third IVF yielded one girl and five boys.  The girl was transferred; the remaining embryos were destroyed.

Once again, no thought was given to what had intentionally been created (this time, through IVF).  The unwanted embryos weren’t donated to infertile couples, or even to research.  They were treated like trash — because it wasn’t about anyone else, only about a woman fulfilling her dream of her family on her terms.

That is narcissistic fertility, and it is nothing like what God intends for us as parents.

He wants us to be people of character and of faith who commit ourselves wholeheartedly to stewarding the souls He entrusts to us.  That’s what I see over and over again in infertile couples who become parents — whether by conception or adoption.  They have learned the hard way that instant gratification is not part of God’s character-building formula.  In fact, just the opposite.

The infertility journey has been a sort of spiritual obstacle course for them.  They have become stronger and more mature as they have navigated their way along it.  They’ve learned how to work together to confront problems, deal with difficult emotions, and struggle through heartaches.

As the Bible says, “… we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  This is the blessing-in-disguise of infertility.  Although we would never wish for suffering, when we put God at the center of our experience (rather than our selves), the hardship of infertility sets off a chain reaction that builds character and produces hope that outlasts any circumstance we will ever face — as infertile couples, or as parents.

Narcissistic fertility sees pregnancy as a means of  self-gratification.  God wants so much more for you — and by extension, for the children He intends to entrust to you.   There’s a purpose to His plan.  Persevere, trust Him, and you’ll see.

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

Don’t want to miss a single post?  Please subscribe — and for more inspiration, visit PregnantWithHope.com.

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The Path of Preparation

These words leaped off the page of a book I read recently:  “When God calls you to do something, He prepares you in advance.”   The same day, I read about the Israelites ending their 40 years in the desert and (finally!) heading toward the Promise Land.

I started thinking…  What about their journey through the desert was purposeful?  How did God use it to prepare them for the Promise Land?  And, how does that relate to the infertility journey?  In what ways does God use it to prepare us for the “promise land” of parenthood?

The Regional Council of Churches, in its review of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, made the comparison, writing…

“This book is a guide for the journey through the wilderness of infertility to joy.  I could not help but think of the children of Israel in the wilderness – their transformational journey.  The lesson learned was to rely on our ever-faithful God, to trust in His hesed.  That Hebrew word, frequently translated as loving-kindness, also means the consistent, relentless, constantly-pursuing, extravagant, unrestrained love of God.”

God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they finally arrived at the Jordan River.  They passed their turn-off multiple times as they literally walked in circles.  Does that sound familiar?  Have you covered the same ground multiple times – cycle after cycle after cycle – wondering when you’ll ever cross over to parenthood?

How do you trust the hesed of a God who seems to lead you in circles?

The Israelites learned the answer to that question through the journey itself.  Their learning can help you find the path through the wilderness of infertility to joy:

  • Look for God – In the desert, God led the people by appearing as a cloud (by day) or a pillar of fire (by night).  He taught them to expect His presence, and to look past each other – and their anxiety about reaching the destination – to Him.  He should be their focus.
  • Follow God – God told the people that He would go before them, and they should follow.  He would lead them to the Promise Land.  When He moved, they should move; when He stopped, they should stop.  They were in a barren and unfamiliar land.  They would not find their way by refusing or neglecting to follow Him.
  • Rely on God – For 40 years, the Israelites relied on God for sustenance.  They had no food or water, apart from what He provided.  He delivered what they needed every day – for that day, which taught them to turn to Him and thank Him daily.
  • Trust God – Some of the Israelites complained bitterly about the length of their journey and the monotony of their experience.  They did not trust God’s purpose or His timing.  He kept them wandering until they died off.  Only those who trusted God and were grateful for His faithfulness arrived in the Promise Land.

Consider this:  God may be using the infertility journey to accomplish in your life what  He did in the lives of the Israelites.

If so, you are in the “desert” not because you are being punished, but because you are being prepared.  Live into that perspective.  Believe that this is a time of purposeful preparation.  Apply the Israelites’ learning to your journey — look for God, follow Him, rely on Him, trust Him — and rest assured God knows the way through this wilderness to joy.

He will lead, if you will follow.

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

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

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Narcissistic Fertility

“The faster someone achieves success, the more narcissistic they’ll tend to be.  Slow & steady builds character over the years.”   – Rick Warren

Although I doubt he was tweeting about infertility, I’m convinced Rick Warren’s absolutely right.

We live in a culture that celebrates instant gratification and effortless success.  The gossip media constantly barrage us with breathless coverage of celebrity pregnancies and baby arrivals.  “Look!  Blissful parents!  Gorgeous babies!  Happily-ever-after!”  For couples struggling to conceive, this cultural obsession only makes the burden of infertility harder to bear.

What if it’s not as wonderful as it all looks?  Could there actually be a downside to effortless conception?  And conversely, could the infertility journey be a blessing-in-disguise?  Warren’s tweet certainly suggests the possibility, as do many verses of scripture.

Think about it for a minute…

We’ve all crossed paths with narcissistic pregnant women.  Rather than being thankful for an incredible gift, they seem to take pleasure in complaining about their uncontrollable fertility, or the inconvenience of being pregnant.  Their words and actions reveal a self-absorption that is disturbing, and it does not bode well for the children they’re expecting.

In a recent Discovery Health documentary, one woman sobbed when her ultrasound revealed she had not conceived a girl.  A healthy 18-week pregnancy was not enough to satisfy her.  Already the mother of four boys, she said she would “always, always be sad” that she was having another.  Apparently, this woman wasn’t as eager to steward a child as she was desperate to fulfill a vision of herself.

She did not consider how wonderful this boy could turn out to be — or how awful a particular girl could have been — because it wasn’t about the child.  It was about her desire to fulfill her plan for her life.

In another story from the same documentary, a fertile mother (also with four boys) elected to use IVF with PGD — three times — in her quest for a girl.  Her first two IVFs yielded only boys, so she had those embryos discarded. Her third IVF yielded one girl and five boys.  The girl was transferred; the remaining embryos were destroyed.

Once again, no thought was given to what had intentionally been created (this time, through IVF).  The unwanted embryos weren’t donated to infertile couples, or even to research.  They were treated like trash — because it wasn’t about anyone else, only about a woman fulfilling her dream of her family on her terms.

That is narcissistic fertility, and it is nothing like what God intends for us as parents.

He wants us to be people of character and of faith who commit ourselves wholeheartedly to stewarding the souls He entrusts to us.  That’s what I see over and over again in infertile couples who become parents — whether by conception or adoption.  They have learned the hard way that instant gratification is not part of God’s character-building formula.  In fact, just the opposite.

The infertility journey has been a sort of spiritual obstacle course for them.  They have become stronger and more mature as they have navigated their way along it.  They’ve learned how to work together to confront problems, deal with difficult emotions, and struggle through heartaches.

As the Bible says, “… we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  This is the blessing-in-disguise of infertility.  Although we would never wish for suffering, when we put God at the center of our experience (rather than our selves), the hardship of infertility sets off a chain reaction that builds character and produces hope that outlasts any circumstance we will ever face — as infertile couples, or as parents.

Narcissistic fertility sees pregnancy as a means of  self-gratification.  God wants so much more for you — and by extension, for the children He intends to entrust to you.   There’s a purpose to His plan.  Persevere, trust Him, and you’ll see.

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

Don’t want to miss a single post?  Please subscribe — and for more inspiration, visit PregnantWithHope.com.

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Wandering in the Infertility Wilderness

These words leaped off the page of a book I read recently:  “When God calls you to do something, He prepares you in advance.”   The same day, I read about the Israelites ending their 40 years in the desert and (finally!) heading toward the Promise Land.

I started thinking…  What about their journey through the desert was purposeful?  How did God use it to prepare them for the Promise Land?  And, how does that relate to the infertility journey?  In what ways does God use it to prepare us for the “promise land” of parenthood?

The Regional Council of Churches, in its review of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, made the comparison, writing…

“This book is a guide for the journey through the wilderness of infertility to joy.  I could not help but think of the children of Israel in the wilderness – their transformational journey.  The lesson learned was to rely on our ever-faithful God, to trust in His hesed.  That Hebrew word, frequently translated as loving-kindness, also means the consistent, relentless, constantly-pursuing, extravagant, unrestrained love of God.”

God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they finally arrived at the Jordan River.  They passed their turn-off multiple times as they literally walked in circles.  Does that sound familiar?  Have you covered the same ground multiple times – cycle after cycle after cycle – wondering when you’ll ever cross over to parenthood?

How do you trust the hesed of a God who seems to lead you in circles?

The Israelites learned the answer to that question through the journey itself.  Their learning can help you find the path through the wilderness of infertility to joy:

  • Look for God – In the desert, God led the people by appearing as a cloud (by day) or a pillar of fire (by night).  He taught them to expect His presence, and to look past each other – and their anxiety about reaching the destination – to Him.  He should be their focus.
  • Follow God – God told the people that He would go before them, and they should follow.  He would lead them to the Promise Land.  When He moved, they should move; when He stopped, they should stop.  They were in a barren and unfamiliar land.  They would not find their way by refusing or neglecting to follow Him.
  • Rely on God – For 40 years, the Israelites relied on God for sustenance.  They had no food or water, apart from what He provided.  He delivered what they needed every day – for that day, which taught them to turn to Him and thank Him daily.
  • Trust God – Some of the Israelites complained bitterly about the length of their journey and the monotony of their experience.  They did not trust God’s purpose or His timing.  He kept them wandering until they died off.  Only those who trusted God and were grateful for His faithfulness arrived in the Promise Land.

Consider this:  God may be using the infertility journey to accomplish in your life what  He did in the lives of the Israelites.

If so, you are in the “desert” not because you are being punished, but because you are being prepared.  Live into that perspective.  Believe that this is a time of purposeful preparation.  Apply the Israelites’ learning to your journey — look for God, follow Him, rely on Him, trust Him — and rest assured God knows the way through this wilderness to joy.

He will lead, if you will follow.

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

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

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Filed under Peace, Trust

Infertility and the Promise Land

These words leaped off the page of a book I read last week:  “When God calls you to do something, He prepares you in advance .”  The same day, I read about Moses and the Israelites reaching the Jordan River, just prior to crossing over into the Promise Land.

I started thinking…  God called the people to journey to the Promise Land.  How did He prepare them in advance?  What about their journey through the desert was purposeful?  And, how does that relate to the infertility journey?  In what ways does God use it to prepare us for the “promise land” of parenthood?

The Regional Council of Churches, in its review of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, made the comparison, writing…

“This book is a guide for the journey through the wilderness of infertility to joy.  I could not help but think of the children of Israel in the wilderness – their transformational journey.  The lesson learned was to rely on our ever-faithful God, to trust in His hesed.  That Hebrew word, frequently translated as loving-kindness, also means the consistent, relentless, constantly-pursuing, extravagant, unrestrained love of God.”

That God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they finally arrived at the Jordan River.  They passed their turn-off multiple times as they literally walked in circles.  Does that sound familiar?  Have you covered the same ground multiple times – cycle after cycle after cycle – wondering when you’ll ever cross over to parenthood?

How do you trust the hesed of a God who seems to lead you in circles?

The Israelites learned the answer to that question through the journey itself.  Their learning can help you find the path through the wilderness of infertility to joy:

  • Look for God – In the desert, God led the people by appearing as a cloud (by day) or a pillar of fire (by night).  He taught them to expect His presence, and to look past each other – and their anxiety about reaching the destination – to Him.  He should be their focus.
  • Follow God – God told the people that He would go before them, and they should follow.  He would lead them to the Promise Land.  When He moved, they should move; when He stopped, they should stop.  They were in a barren and unfamiliar land.  They would not find their way by refusing or neglecting to follow Him.
  • Rely on God – For 40 years, the Israelites relied on God for sustenance.  They had no food or water, apart from what He provided.  He delivered what they needed every day – for that day, which taught them to turn to Him and thank Him daily.
  • Trust God – Some of the Israelites complained bitterly about the length of their journey and the monotony of their experience.  They did not trust God’s purpose or His timing.  He kept them wandering until they died off.  Only those who trusted God and were grateful for His faithfulness arrived in the Promise Land.

Consider this:  God may be using the infertility journey to accomplish in your life what  He did in the lives of the Israelites.

If so, you are in the “desert” not because you are being punished, but because you are being prepared.  Live into that perspective.  Believe that this is a time of purposeful preparation.  Apply the Israelites’ learning to your journey — look for God, follow Him, rely on Him, trust Him — and rest assured God knows the way through this wilderness to joy.

He will lead, if you will follow.

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

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

*Book citation:  Believe That You Can, Jentezen Franklin

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