Tag Archives: strength

Content, Despite Infertility? It’s Possible

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….”

How many people experiencing infertility can make that claim:  “content in any and every situation”?  When the end of a two week wait comes suddenly… still content?  When there are no eggs to harvest, or when IVF doesn’t work – again… still content?  When everyone  – everywhere! – seems to be getting pregnant.  When it’s time to attend another baby shower, and once again, it’s someone else’s.  When money’s running low and emotions are running high… still content?  Really?

Okay… what’s the secret?

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13].  What does that mean?  How does this verse give help and hope to couples struggling through infertility?  How can we lay claim to this strength?  And how might it transform our infertility experience?

Mike discovered the answer when he and his wife lost their baby at 20 weeks.  He described his experience  in Pregnant with Hope.  “I remember standing out in the hallway feeling very dizzy.  One of the nurses got a chair for me.  I didn’t think I was going to recover.  But somehow, a feeling of calm came over me and I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘Go to Kirsten.’  One moment I was dizzy… but then one second later, I was clear-headed and able to function.  I tell you, that’ll make you believe in divine grace.”

That divine grace is available to everyone; there are only two requirements.  First, we must acknowledge our need for help.  The voice of pride tells us to be self-reliant, but as Mike said, “When a nurse grabs you and puts you in a chair, it’s because she doesn’t think you can stand.  I was spiraling out of control.”  In that moment, there was no energy for pride or pretense.  Mike was literally knocked off his feet by their loss.  His spirit cried out as his body failed him, and God answered.

The second requirement is simply that we recognize who is helping us, and trust the source.  “We had so many God-works-in-mysterious-ways moments,” Mike remembered.  “Like, I had a ‘eureka’ moment realizing I could love a girl from China as my daughter, and I felt calm.  Or another time, Kirsten began spotting and someone said to me, ‘Everything’s fine,’ and it was like a prophet telling me.  I was inspired by God.”

Was Mike content in every situation, as the Bible verse says is possible?  Not even close.  “Those were the worst two years of my life,” he said.  “It took every bit of emotional strength to get through it.”

Does that mean the verse isn’t true?  No.  “I have learned the secret of contentment…” means experience has taught me.  Mike learned through his experience that peace can be found amidst anguish, calm can be experienced despite uncertainty, and faith can be renewed by messages God sends to those He loves.

The hardest parts of the journey are what led to Mike’s confidence in the promise, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  The secret of contentment?  Mike has learned:  It’s God-reliance.

Trust him… You’ll see.

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

Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Fasting from Fear

My experiences with fasting from something during Lent never quite seemed to fulfill the objective.  Giving up Diet Coke gave me caffeine withdrawl headaches, but that didn’t make me more faith-full.  Putting aside sweets made me think about them, not about God’s presence in my life.  Turning off the TV gave me more time to read books on faith-related topics, and that was good… but I still felt like something was missing.

Then yesterday, for the first time, someone showed me a whole new perspective that changed everything.

Lisa, who’s been reading this blog for about a year as she and her husband struggle with infertility, told me that she is fasting from FEAR.  Immediately, I thought, ‘That’s it!  That’s how fasting draws you closer to Christ.  That’s how this season can be worshipful and a great blessing.’  It was a complete epiphany moment for me – and I think it has huge implications for you.

Here’s what I mean….

1) Fasting from fear breaks your addiction and frees you from constant anxiety.  Fear is addictive.  It reinforces the craving for information and control.  And, because you can never get enough, that just reinforces your fear, which makes you want more information and control.  When you can’t get it, that reinforces the desperate urgency that makes you feel so afraid.  Now, look at you – you’re caught in a death spiral that’s undermining your faith and confident hope.  Fasting from fear can help you break out of this addictive cycle and free yourself from constant anxiety.

2) Fasting from fear starves your stress habit and feeds your hunger for spiritual sustenance . Like most people struggling with infertility, you’ve unconsciously developed the habit of monitoring those around you.  Who’s getting pregnant?  Who’s flaunting their fertility and adding to your stress?  Who’s supporting you, and who’s making your life harder?  Who’s become a parent, and who’s still TTC?  Aren’t you tired of filling your mind with this useless data?  It doesn’t matter to your journey, and it won’t change your outcome.  What could make a difference, though, is feeding your spirit something that strengthens you for this journey.

3) Fasting from fear draws you nearer to God, rather than driving you away from Him.  Initially, you may have felt inclined to pull back from the God you thought was refusing to answer your prayers for a baby.  Over time, you may have felt confused, hurt, angry… and resentful.  If you look deeper, you’re likely to see that fear has slowly driven a wedge between you and the only One with the power to insure you will become a parent.  Fear of what?  That God is withholding, that He is punishing you, that you deserve this.  How do you change that perspective?  Fast from fear and refuse to feed those worries.  God is not punishing you, He will not refuse to forgive anything you’ve ever done, and He is not delighting in your suffering.  Set aside those fears, draw nearer to Him, and – scripture promises – He will draw near to you.

4) Fasting from fear claims God’s promise, “I am with you always,” and fights off the enemy.  Fear is an open door to God’s enemy.  It invites him to whisper worries into your thoughts, to plant seeds of doubt in your mind, and to generate a harvest of anxiety, self-pity, isolation and despair.  How can you fight stealth tactics like those when you are already exhausted?  Claim God’s promise to be with you always, put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and fight off the one who hopes to talk you into choices that lead to a faith-destroying defeat.

5) Fasting from fear is a choice to be obedient (“Do not be afraid”), which always leads to blessings.  God’s commands to us are part of His plan for us.  Telling us not to be afraid is another way of saying, “Trust Me.”  Why is that important?  Because harboring fear causes you to focus more on your feelings than your faith.  Fear tells you to trust your worries over God’s promises, and that makes it impossible to trust the God who longs to bless you with His very best in His perfect timing.  Scripture makes clear: those willing to believe God’s promises receive them.  Fasting from fear is a choice to be obedient to the command “Do not be afraid,” and to trust that what is impossible with man is possible with God.

6) Fasting from fear glorifies God because it affirms that the worries of this world are not all there is. Confident hope is an expression of genuine faith.  It is a choice to look away from everything around you that says, ‘You could fail,’ and toward the promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Yes, this journey is difficult, heartbreaking, faith-challenging and, at times, relationship-threatening.  But God has promised never to give you more burden than you can bear.  Keep your eyes on Him and you will find a place of peace in the midst of this chaotic, disheartening, maddening journey.  You will find comfort and strength, and in the process, you will honor the One who has promised, “He who honors me, him will I honor.”

7) Most importantly, fasting from fear lets you get in agreement with God that there is always cause for hope.  The season of Lent is about endurance and obedience as a path to God’s best.  What a great focus for the infertility journey!  Yes, it can seem like a marathon that requires more endurance than you think you can muster.  And yes, sometimes obedience conflicts with your original plan.  But, if you continue to follow the path God lays out for you, there is always cause for great hope.

So many reasons to fast from fear… and this isn’t even a complete list!  Do you want to renew your faith, strengthen your hope, and anticipate good news with calm confidence?  Follow Lisa’s amazing example.  Fast from FEAR.  It could change everything.

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Surviving a “Tsunami”

Sometimes, it’s hard for self-reliant women to admit their limitations — especially if they think they’re addressing them successfully. It can take a true tsunami event to knock them off their feet and force them to cry out for the help they need.

That’s what happened to Cindy.

Five and a half years ago, she and her husband began trying to conceive. The only sign of hope was a single chemical pregnancy. At 35, Cindy knew they couldn’t wait indefinitely. They needed to find a fertility specialist. So, they got a referral and met with their new doctor right away.

Meanwhile, Cindy realized she was going to need support. Her escalating stress level would not help their relationship or contribute to their success conceiving. She found three sources of support:  one clinical, one peer/social, and one spiritual.

Her clinical support came from a therapist recommended by her RE. In the therapist’s office, Cindy noticed a RESOLVE newsletter; a few months later, she sought out their local support group. And through RESOLVE, she heard about a prayer group for infertile women and began participating. She thought her proactive response to her circumstances would be more than enough to counter the ups and downs of the infertility journey.

But, she was wrong.

At lunch with a friend, hoping to confirm a pregnancy very soon, she suddenly began bleeding. “I wanted to crawl under the covers and cry all afternoon,” she recalls. She rushed home. Instead of finding quiet and privacy, she got more bad news from her husband, “Your cousin Casey just died from an overdose.”

That’s when the tsunami hit. It was a tidal wave of grief beyond anything she’d ever experienced. She lost it completely. Frightened by her reaction and unsure how to help, Scott called the therapist in a panic. What could he say to help her? What should he do?

As the therapist was advising Scott, Cindy had realized she couldn’t take any more. “That’s when I knew I had to give it to God. I told Him, ‘I can’t do this on my own. I need you to take over!”

Cindy looks back on that moment as a critical turning point.

Now the mother of a little girl and pregnant with twins, she says, “IVF worked for us, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. The thing I’ve realized is that, even though it can last for years, infertility is ultimately a temporary situation. It’s not the final word. I know people who are using donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogates…. I know people who are adopting. There are so many ways to become a family.”

How did Cindy’s tsunami moment change her perspective? “My faith in God was renewed. I asked Him to take the wheel and be the pilot, and He did. I promised that, at some point, I’d help other people through the emotional aspects of this. I’ve kept that promise and led a peer group through RESOLVE for two years now. I preach to everybody. I tell them, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a happy ending for you!’ And I believe it.”

What did infertility teach her about relating to other women struggling through infertility? “First of all, we have an instant bond because even though no two stories are alike, the struggle to become a parent is the same. Infertility has also taught me to hold my tongue when I can’t relate to someone else’s struggle. I just say, ‘I’m sorry you’re going through that.’ And, it’s helped me find a voice I didn’t know I had.  I’m not political by any means, but I was asked to speak about IVF rights at the state capitol. That’s an important legacy for my children. One day, I’ll tell them, “I fought for you twins to be born, and (to my oldest) for your right to be a big sister.”

Having survived her own “tsunami,” what advice does Cindy have to offer? “Remember that God is at the wheel and you are in good hands. And remember that you are not alone as long as you seek support from others going through the journey.”

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For more information about RESOLVE and peer-led support groups, please visit www.resolve.org.

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When God Speaks During Infertility

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….”

How many people experiencing infertility can make that claim:  “content in any and every situation”?  When the end of a two week wait comes suddenly… still content?  When there are no eggs to harvest, or when IVF doesn’t work – again… still content?  When everyone  – everywhere! – seems to be getting pregnant.  When it’s time to attend another baby shower, and once again, it’s someone else’s.  When money’s running low and emotions are running high… still content?  Really?

Okay… what’s the secret?

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13].  What does that mean?  How does this verse give help and hope to couples struggling through infertility?  How can we lay claim to this strength?  And how might it transform our infertility experience?

Mike discovered the answer when he and his wife lost their baby at 20 weeks.  He described his experience  in Pregnant with Hope.  “I remember standing out in the hallway feeling very dizzy.  One of the nurses got a chair for me.  I didn’t think I was going to recover.  But somehow, a feeling of calm came over me and I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘Go to Kirsten.’  One moment I was dizzy… but then one second later, I was clear-headed and able to function.  I tell you, that’ll make you believe in divine grace.”

That divine grace is available to everyone; there are only two requirements.  First, we must acknowledge our need for help.  The voice of pride tells us to be self-reliant, but as Mike said, “When a nurse grabs you and puts you in a chair, it’s because she doesn’t think you can stand.  I was spiraling out of control.”  In that moment, there was no energy for pride or pretense.  Mike was literally knocked off his feet by their loss.  His spirit cried out as his body failed him, and God answered.

The second requirement is simply that we recognize who is helping us, and trust the source.  “We had so many God-works-in-mysterious-ways moments,” Mike remembered.  “Like, I had a ‘eureka’ moment realizing I could love a girl from China as my daughter, and I felt calm.  Or another time, Kirsten began spotting and someone said to me, ‘Everything’s fine,’ and it was like a prophet telling me.  I was inspired by God.”

Was Mike content in every situation, as the Bible verse says is possible?  Not even close.  “Those were the worst two years of my life,” he said.  “It took every bit of emotional strength to get through it.”

Does that mean the verse isn’t true?  No.  “I have learned the secret of contentment…” means experience has taught me.  Mike learned through his experience that peace can be found amidst anguish, calm can be experienced despite uncertainty, and faith can be renewed by messages God sends to those He loves.

The hardest parts of the journey are what led to Mike’s confidence in the promise, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  The secret of contentment?  Mike has learned:  It’s God-reliance.

Trust him… You’ll see.

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

Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Battles, Peace

Strength to Overcome Infertility

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…. ” [Philippians 4:12]

How many people experiencing infertility can make that claim:  “content in any and every situation”?  When the end of a two week wait comes suddenly… still content?  When there are no eggs to harvest, or when IVF doesn’t work – again… still content?  When everyone  – everywhere! – seems to be getting pregnant.  When it’s time to attend another baby shower, and once again, it’s someone else’s.  When money’s running low and emotions are running high… still content?  Really?

Okay… what’s the secret?

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13].  What does that mean?  How does this verse give help and hope to couples struggling through infertility?  How can we lay claim to this strength?  And how might it transform our infertility experience?

Mike discovered the answer when he and his wife lost their baby at 20 weeks.  He described his experience  in Pregnant with Hope.  “I remember standing out in the hallway feeling very dizzy.  One of the nurses got a chair for me.  I didn’t think I was going to recover.  But somehow, a feeling of calm came over me and I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘Go to Kirsten.’  One moment I was dizzy… but then one second later, I was clear-headed and able to function.  I tell you, that’ll make you believe in divine grace.”

That divine grace is available to everyone; there are only two requirements.  First, we must acknowledge our need for help.  The voice of pride tells us to be self-reliant, but as Mike said, “When a nurse grabs you and puts you in a chair, it’s because she doesn’t think you can stand.  I was spiraling out of control.”  In that moment, there was no energy for pride or pretense.  Mike was literally knocked off his feet by their loss.  His spirit cried out as his body failed him, and God answered.

The second requirement is simply that we recognize who is helping us, and trust the source.  “We had so many God-works-in-mysterious-ways moments,” Mike remembered.  “Like, I had a ‘eureka’ moment realizing I could love a girl from China as my daughter, and I felt calm.  Or another time, Kirsten began spotting and someone said to me, ‘Everything’s fine,’ and it was like a prophet telling me.  I was inspired by God.”

Was Mike content in every situation, as the Bible verse says is possible?  Not even close.  “Those were the worst two years of my life,” he said.  “It took every bit of emotional strength to get through it.”

Does that mean the verse isn’t true?  No.  “I have learned the secret of contentment…” means “experience has taught me.”  Mike learned through his experience that peace can be found amidst anguish, calm can be experienced despite uncertainty, and faith can be renewed by messages God sends to those He loves.

The hardest parts of the journey are what led to Mike’s confidence in the promise, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  The secret of contentment?  Mike’s learned:  God-reliance.

Trust him… You’ll see.

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

Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Loss, Perspective, Trust