Tag Archives: trusting God

When the Plan Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can, too.

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

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

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Control, Perspective

Just in Time for Christmas

For those of you considering or undergoing in vitro — and for those who may have given up, believing failure was the definitive outcome — there’s good news, just in time for Christmas.

According to an article posted online just hours ago by the New York Times, a large study (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) has found that:

“Nearly 2/3 of women undergoing IVF will have a child by the 6th attempt — suggesting that persistence can pay off, especially for women under 40.” Even better, “the cumulative rate for live births continues to increase, albeit modestly, up to the 9th cycle of IVF.”

That’s so encouraging!

Dr. Owen Davis, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, concludes, “The take home message is your prognosis doesn’t fall off a cliff it it didn’t work after 3 or 4 cycles.”

I know, I know… That doesn’t make it less expensive. Or less devastating when it doesn’t work. But we already knew the bad news.

Isn’t it nice to get some good news for a change?

This study — which was sizable and rigorous — found that after the 9th cycle, the live birthrate was still 15.7%. That’s significant, and significantly higher than virtually anyone expected.

It is scientific proof that there is cause for hope.

As Dr. Evan Myers, professor at Duke University Medical Center, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study, “Instead of saying, ‘If you haven’t been successful after 3 or 4 cycles, think about donor eggs or adoption,’ the study says, ‘If you keep going, there’s still a substantial chance.'”

Want more encouraging news?

According to Dr. Debbie Lawlor, the study’s senior author, the study found no evidence that women who do not produce any eggs — or produce just 1 or 2 — are less likely to become pregnant via future cycles of IVF. “We found that just isn’t the case. Don’t give a load of importance to any one cycle,” she concluded.

OK, so that’s not a guarantee that your next IVF will work…. but it’s certainly cause for hope, don’t you think?

Me, too. Merry Christmas.

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

Would it help to have some spiritual context for your infertility journey? Some more cause for hope? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Hope

“Mary, Did You Know?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, she still believed.

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

Still, she trusted that God was faithful.

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

May it be so for you.

And to God be the glory.

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

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under Blessings, Hope, Trust

When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

As we enter into the official season of gratitude, I’m coming off a week that made it hard to feel thankful. It seemed like I was pushing water uphill in virtually every aspect of my life — and I found myself increasingly discouraged and overwhelmed.

Sound familiar?

While the world celebrates other people’s successes, you struggle with the secret — or worse, the very public awareness — of your repeated failure. That failure becomes a heavy burden that can seem even heavier when the calendar announces, it’s time to gather and give thanks.

What if you don’t feel thankful?

Last Thursday, exhausted by continuous efforts that failed to achieve any of my objectives, I melted into tears when my husband asked, “What’s bothering you?”

When simple questions bring tears to your eyes, gratitude is not the first emotion. Resentment, anger, despair… those are the familiar feelings that surge to the surface and belie any words to the contrary.

The truth is, it’s hard to be thankful when life is hard. Where is God? Why isn’t He helping? Why won’t He answer fervent prayers?

I told my husband that I’d been praying about several different situations while working to resolve them all. None of that had done any good. Everything was coming apart. And God’s promises didn’t seem to be translating into positive outcomes.

He told me what he sometimes tells his patients: “Let it go.”

He was right. It’s the best response when you come face-to-face with the realization that you are not in control.

Why? Because God is.

There are times when unanswered prayers are a blessing, when the struggle of the moment is setting the stage for the miracle that’s coming. Even if you can’t see it yet, it’s not defeatist to stop pushing water uphill. Nor is trusting God simply wishful thinking. It is choosing to affirm that He is who He says He is.

But, has He forgotten me? Does He care about this situation?

That’s the voice of doubt speaking. Doubt opens the door to fear and undermines faith with worry-filled fantasies that are contrary to the promises of God.

When your mind fills with doubt, worry and fear, it’s time for faith to flex its muscles. How? By exercising your freedom to choose whether to worry, or whether to trust. By definition, the more you do of one, the less you will of the other. One will weaken your faith; the other will make it stronger.

Receive that knowledge as a gift this Thanksgiving season. Recognize its incredible value, and give thanks for your freedom to choose: fear or faith.

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

Need more encouragement during a challenging season? Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Control, Trust

Talking With God

Years ago, I read about a woman missionary who was frustrated by her inability to connect with people. A fellow missionary came to visit and encourage her, and within a week, he had won over many of the locals. Embarrassed that her own efforts suffered by contrast, she humbled herself enough to ask him, “How did you do it?!”

He answered, “By teaching them how to hear the Lord speak.”

“Teach me!” she begged, because she had never heard God speak to her directly. So, he did. It changed her life… and her ministry.

What he taught her is what I call prayer journaling. It has been life changing for me, and I believe it can be for you, too.

In essence, it is three simple steps: 1) Find a quiet place to be alone, 2) Write down what you want to ask God or talk to Him about, and 3) Wait patiently and quietly until you sense a response in your spirit that is not your own; when you do, write it down.

This morning, I wanted to talk with God about a crushing disappointment. We had invested time, effort, money and hope in a deeply-desired outcome… and then received the news that what we had hoped for was not to be. The implications were many — and all discouraging.

Why? I wanted to know. Why, if we believed for the best, did everything we could do to bring about a good outcome, and saw all the ways in which it could be a blessing? Why, if we were convinced that this was God’s best for us? Why, if the outcome we experienced seemed full of harm and not good? Why did this happen? Why this bad news?

I took my questions straight to God, pouring my heart out on the pages of my journal as tears coursed down my cheeks.

When I finally paused to listen to Him, I sensed this answer in my spirit, “Trust me. All will be well. Do not be afraid. I AM in control.”

Can I tell you exactly what that means about our situation? Unfortunately, no. So, now I have a choice: 1) Dwell on where things are and give in to despair, or 2) Believe that all things are possible, and that this is not the end of the story. I choose believing.

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”  – Psalm 5:3

God sees. He knows. He cares. And, He loves me.

That will tide me over until He acts — or speaks again.

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

Want more encouragement? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

Leave a comment

Filed under Control, Loss, Perspective

Doubt vs. the Voice of Truth

Andy Stanley gave a great talk on doubt last Sunday (here’s a link), and what resonated most with me was what he DIDN’T say.

He didn’t say, “Real Christians never doubt God.” He didn’t say, “Doubt is evidence of weak faith — and it explains why things aren’t going well in your life.” He didn’t condemn. He didn’t judge. In fact, just the opposite.

He said: “Everyone doubts.”

Everyone.

Here’s why that’s important. Lots of couples struggling with infertility are secretly afraid that their doubt-filled faith has alienated God, and that infertility may be the direct result. Now, the question is whether to commit wholeheartedly to doubt, abandon God and embrace science in the hope that it can do what He hasn’t — or, try to keep trusting a God who can’t be seen to do something that (seemingly) can’t be done.

That’s not an easy choice. And, I’ve come to believe, that’s the point.

When life is not going according to plan, doubt gains a foothold. When you realize you are not in control of things you desperately want to control, it’s human nature to wonder whether God is working with you… or against you. That gives doubt a chance to gain ground.

When things go from bad to worse, the voice of fear starts to whisper.  Negative thoughts begin to circle like vultures, “I doubt God’s listening. I doubt He cares. I doubt this means anything to Him. I doubt He’s going to help. I doubt He’s even there.” Those thoughts can be frighteningly persuasive.

What do you do in when fear invites doubt and threatens your faith? Do you listen?

The band Casting Crowns sings,

“The voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says, ‘Do not be afraid.’ The voice of truth says, ‘This is for My glory.’ Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

Did you catch those words? “I will choose….”

Not, “I will think of myself as a victim — passive, helpless, broken, forgotten.” But, “I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

It was a challenge for us when we were trying to conceive. Doctors made (positive) predictions that didn’t come to pass. There were multiple miscarriages, failed IUIs, harrowing trips to the hospital. We felt so alone! It seemed as if we were the only ones who couldn’t conceive at will — except when we crossed paths with other worried souls in waiting rooms and hospital corridors. It was an awful, painful, where-is-God-in-all-this time in our lives.

And doubt made a run at me more than once.

I instinctively did what Andy Stanley and Casting Crowns advise: I clung to the truth. I couldn’t will the doubt away, but I held faith and doubt in two hands, and I kept them open and uplifted, believing that God somehow knew I was doing the best I could, given the circumstances.

I see now that that my willingness to hold things in two hands — rather than drop faith entirely while embracing doubt — brought Him glory. My willingness to trust Him demonstrated my faith — not just to Him, but to every person who asked me, “How do you keep hoping?” That had power. It had value. It was a witness and a testimony to the faithfulness of the God I chose to trust.

Don’t get me wrong: I was afraid. I was full of doubt. I cried more often than I can remember. But, as soon as I could muster the strength, the courage, the will to choose to believe that God was still good and still in control, I would lift my hope to Him and pray, “Please, Lord. Show me that my faith is not misguided. Help me not to be afraid. Help me trust You.”

Don’t endure a season of struggle and grief without meaning. Make it a season of spiritual growth for you and glory for God. Despite your doubts about the future, choose to believe...

“All things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  -Romans 8:28

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

For more messages of hope in the midst of infertility, read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

Leave a comment

Filed under Battles, Hope, Trust

“Our God is Truly Awesome”

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello Susan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all God’s people said, Amen.

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

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

 

 

Leave a comment

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