Working Through This, Together

I had a recent comment on one of my posts about men and how this infertility journey for them can sometimes seem so different to ours, mainly because they aren’t quite so vocal about it. Which I think is true. 

Grant has been an awesome supporter of me in this journey. He’s held me while I’ve cried. He’s listened and not tried to fix things. He’s offered advice and reminders (although not always wanted!) about being a good friend to my fertile, pregnant friends. He’s attended appointments and asked questions. He’s been involved and he’s shown up, strong and resilient, through all of this. And he’s been willing to put up with crazy mood swings, the most awesome side effects of the drugs, even without the highly desired end result. 

I started writing because I felt so overwhelmed by this whole infertility journey and emotions and it seemed as if Grant didn’t feel the same. I could tell that he was upset by the doctors report, but it just didn’t seem like he felt the same way as me. He wasn’t as vocal as me. 

I’ve really been working on how I’m feeling and dealing with everything. Trying to be honest and real and allow myself the opportunity to really process each emotion. While at the same time trying to move on to acceptance and peace. And I think I’m starting to get there. I’m starting to feel like, for now, I’m in a good place. 

And that’s when my husband voices his feelings. 

This past week he’s made a couple of passing comments. When I told him I was feeling nauseous (a very out of character feeling) he said, “maybe you’re pregnant.” At first I laughed it off. It was just a passing comment. But he kept finding different ways to mention it. 

So tonight I asked him about it. Because clearly I’m not pregnant. (It’s not that I don’t think God can perform a miracle and I can get pregnant naturally. It’s just I’m not pregnant right now.) 

He replied that he was speaking it out. 
He was speaking pregnancy over my life. He was speaking hope, and expressing his desire for a baby.  

I’ve always worried that this journey will affect his faith. And here he is speaking in faith. (Thank you God!) I don’t ever want to knock down his faith and I wouldn’t dream of asking him to stop his comments, now that I know his heart behind the comments.

He did couple it with bringing up how yesterday we heard of three different people being pregnant. He spoke of how unfair it all felt. How he doesnt want to become bitter, but that he was sick of hearing about other people. 
Basically, he is feeling all the things I have been feeling for the past year and is finally voicing it to me. 

The silver lining I’m choosing to see here is that I’m in a good place, and he’s now chartering a course I’ve already sailed. It’s now my chance to be his rock. To listen, to sympathize. To help him navigate this journey. I’m so glad now that I asked him about his comments this week because he opened up in ways I never could have foreseen. 

This journey is far from over. Although we are biding our time til April 2015 we obviously still have a lot to work through together. And we are going to take it one step at a time. I’m looking forward to the day where we are both in a good place of peace, hope and faith – whether we have children or not. 

Hope is…

I was sorting through some papers and came across a collection of notes, scribbles, quotes and musings on hope. Past Anna didn’t reference the ones taken from other people’s wisdom so I can’t give credit where it’s due unfortunately. But I thought I’d post them anyway. May you be encouraged to keep hoping and believing.

Job talks of hope – that he will be honest with God in how he feels but will continue to hope that God will respond, answer and move on his behalf.

Hopelessness is a burden that is empty.

Hope is vision and direction.

Hope doesn’t change the situation, it changes us. Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one.

The Lord’s love never ends, his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, the Lord is mine, so I hope in him. The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek him. Lamentations 3:22-25

Romans 15:13 God will help you overflow with hope in him through the Holy Spirit’s power within you.

Hope isn’t wishing for something to come about as if Jesus is some kind of magic genie that if we rub him/bottle we will get our hearts desires – no matter how extravagant or outlandish, or selfish. This genie mentality is based on the granting of the wish because of some great law/rule that stipulates that we get it, not because we deserve it or worked for it [which is the same in the kingdom of heaven – we don’t get what we deserve, thankfully] but because we found the magic genie and rubbed it. This hope is based on what we can get for ourselves. A hope that once delivered is gone, replaced by what we have wished for. It is temporary.
Rather we hope in God above all else, in spite of everything that is going on, because of everything that is going on. And in doing so, we gain an eternal hope that isn’t reliant on things and what they can do for us.

But what is hope? What are we hoping, in God, for? Are something’s that we hope for ridiculous, selfish, extravagant? Are something’s that I am hoping for, in God, never going to happen? How do we know the difference? Should we waste our time wishing for desires that are never going to come to pass? Are we setting ourselves up to be heart sick? (Proverbs 13:12)

Hope is looking forward to the future, dreaming, believing for greater things than what we can presently see (Hebrews 11:1).

God gives hope. God plans hope for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) God is hope (Romans 15:3)

Other words for hope – confidence, trust, belief, faith, desire, dream, promise, wish, to have ambition, expectancy, anticipation, to aspire.

Hope is something you can feel, entertain, foster, feed, nourish, give, hold out [to someone else], promise, encourage, inspire, harbour, cherish, live in, rest assured in, rest in, be secure in, be, rely on, trust in, lean upon, cling to, and raise.

Hope is bright, cheering, unsuspecting, fearless, free from fear, free from suspicion, free from distrust, free from despair, exempt from fear, exempt from suspicion, exempt from distrust, exempt from despair;

You can have a beam, glimmer, flash of, dawn of, ray of or mirage of hope.

Hope is an olive leaf – evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.

Mighty Is the Lord Is My Battle Cry

I’ve been reading about David in the Bible. He is easily one of my favourites. David, a man who is anointed to be King while Saul is still reigning. Instead of taking over control he honours Saul and Jonathan. Even when he is attacked, driven out, on the run, hunted down, he still honours those in leadership and he still praises God. David is a man who is flawed, he’s a liar; a musician; a lover; a leader; a friend; an adulterer; a less-than-perfect father; a dancer; a fighter; he knows pain and loss; and he has some family issues. And still God wants to use him. And still David chooses to have faith in God. I love that David is a fierce warrior and a passionate worshiper.

2 Samuel 23:8 – 39 is about Davids mighty men.
The elite men of his army, trained to use both left and right hands. Men who are not afraid of battle, of fighting for David and what they believe in.

This passage of scripture talks about the battles three of the ‘mightier’ elite men fought.
Jashobeam alone killed 800 men with a sword in one battle.
Eleazar and David stood and fought the Philistines when the rest of their army fled. The two of them stood and fought until their arms were weary. Needless to say, they won and their army didn’t return until the battle was over.
Shammah fought in the middle of a field, alone after the rest of the army fled again. He beat back the Philistines and won the victory.

Another time David once remarked how he missed the taste of the water from the well by the gate at Bethlehem so the mighty three (from the elite army of thirty) broke through the Philistine lines, got the water and brought it back for David. These men were looking for any excuse to defy the Philistines and to take victory.

This particular passage of scripture tells some other heroic battles by the thirty elite men but Benaiah’s story is one of my favourite, because its just so badass. On a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.
On a snowy day, when its cold, wet, and hard to move he chases a lion. He goes into a pit and kills it. Bad. Ass. I think this is also notable because David also killed lions, back in 1 Samuel 17 David talks about how he protected his sheep from lions and bears by killing them. Its interesting to note, that as a leader, you can only take people where you have been. Now, I definitely don’t condone violence or cruelty to animals, (but I can understand hunting) but the reason why I like this story is because Benaiah has no fear. He knows what he wants, he knows what he is fighting for and he doesn’t let anything stop him. All of the mighty men stand up and fight when everyone else has run away. They suit up and go into battle. Even when its just them against a multitude they still fight. Even when the statistics, the facts scream failure, loss, and death they still boldly go into battle.

And when they win, God gets the glory and the victory.

I believe that my God is into statistics. The bigger the statistics, the bigger the glory that goes to God. David and David’s mighty men see the statistics but then they see God and know that God is bigger than any statistic. Just as David fought to protect his sheep, we too need to fight in order to protect that in which God has given us to protect. I believe that we need to fight for the promises and callings God has in-store for us. Because when we do fight and claim victory then God gets the glory. Its easy to be overwhelmed when the rest of the army, or your support network, your friends and family flee. Its easy to listen to them and turn around and walk away. But then what glory is found in giving up? We must believe that we can fight because God is on our side, even when the stats are against us. Who would you put your money on – Benaiah or the lion? The one man, who has God on his side, or the army of 800?

Right now the statistics aren’t looking good for Grant and I and my infertility. Eating healthy has not worked. Acupuncture has not worked. Medication has not worked. Exercise has not worked. All of these things together have not worked. I am not pregnant. Right now the facts scream failure, loss and emptiness. Yet I will trust in God. I will trust that my battle is not over yet. Although I may feel weary I will still rise with prayer and praise until I get my answer. And then all the glory and victory will go to Him. I am not ready to walk away yet. I am not ready to give up the fight for my miracle just yet.

Abraham’s Promise

Lately I have been reading from Genesis (NLT version). I love this book, a tale of beginnings, promises, hopes and waiting. This book establishes our relationship with God as creator.

The story of Abraham and Sarah (or Abram and Sarai, before the name change) is obviously a story I’m interested in, because its about promises, infertility and legacies.

It starts in Genesis 11:27
This is the account of Terah’s family. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28 But Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of his birth, while his father, Terah, was still living. 29 Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. (Milcah and her sister Iscah were daughters of Nahor’s brother Haran.) 30 But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children. 31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. 32 Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.

Ur of the Chaldeans means ‘reducer’. In other words it means, diminish, recede, ruin, weaken. A great place to live right!
Haran means ‘dry up’ or a better translation may be ‘depression’. It is halfway, in the middle of the journey to where they were intending on going. It was an average place, neither great nor bad and so they settled.

But Abraham refuses to settle like his father. He hears God calling him out of Haran, where they all settled as a family and takes upon the promise land of Canaan, which was originally promised to his father. This makes me wonder, is it possible to take up other peoples promises because they choose to settle? Is it possible that someone else takes my promises because I settle for less than what was intended for me? Abraham packs up his family, lifestock and leaves his country, family, security and goes where God leads, with the promise that he will be the father of a nation. He is 75 years old.

They wander around for a quite a while. They stay at a number of places including:
Moreh – possibly meaning ‘sacred tree’
Negev – meaning ‘dry’
Hebron – meaning ‘unite’ (incidentally this place is where King David becomes anointed and Caleb ends up owning it)
Gerar – meaning ‘lodging place’

During this wandering time God reiterates His promises to Abraham again and again. Both Abraham and God are developing their relationship, Abraham continually gives God the glory for what is going on around him, and God continues to repeat the promises in different ways.

My favourite, and the most well known, has to be the conversation under the stars. God and Abraham are having a conversation about the promises being made and Abraham is having a hard time getting his head around it (who can blame him) and God pretty much says, “get out of the tent and look up.”

So many times I can become enclosed in my little tent, its hard to focus on anything else but the walls surrounding me. Thinking becomes small, narrow and confined. “Get out and look up” is a directive to change position physically, mentally, and emotionally. Its a request to change what I’m looking at and an invitation to be in awe of God. Once you’re in awe of God and His creation you can’t help but change. I like how God draws Abraham out to be in wonder of his creation, when they are talking about creating life. God made Sarah and is well aware of her barrenness. He created her. He is talking about creating a life in her. He is talking about creating a healing within her. He is saying to Abraham that he wants to create a miracle. All the while Abraham is looking at his creation of the night sky. I love how God understands that sometimes we just don’t get it. And that sometimes we need tangible, physical things to help wrap our heads around what He is saying. The stars are an awesome metaphor for the promise He is giving.

But 11 years later, Abraham gets impatient with God and tries to bring about the promise his own way. He sleeps with his wife’s servant and has a son. The first born son has much favour and blessing and Ishmael is indeed blessed, princes come from his lineage and many descendants came from his line, but it’s not how God intended it to happen.

13 years later, God reminds Abraham and Sarah of the promise He has made many times. Again and again He tells them of the great plans He has for them. I think at this point I would be feeling a bit fed up. And I can understand Sarah’s laughter (Genesis 18:13) at being told that she will have a baby. If it was me I would think it was starting to get a bit beyond ridiculous. I like Sarah, I would be feeling just as cynical and impatient as her.

I like the kind of relationship that Abraham and God have established. God reveals some plans that He has for Sodom, that – to me – He really didn’t have too or need too. I think He wanted Abraham to have a say and allowed him to change his plan (Genesis 19:29 But God listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe…). To me this shows trust in Abraham and further develops the relationship they have with each other, as well as revealing more of Gods character to Abraham.

Then, 25 years after the command to leave the place of Haran and the promise was made to Abraham that he would be the father of a nation that would become God’s chosen people, Isaac is born!

Genesis 21:2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, Gods timing is perfect. But He’s missed some awesome opportunities to be early. I mean really God, 25 years for a promise? I’m so glad that I can trust that God is working things out for the right time, and I’m continually developing this trust. Although it may seem, to little ol’ me, that God isn’t working at the speed I would like I can trust that He knows best. I’m beginning to understand that His timing is perfect, my understanding is not.

Abraham got impatient with God, and tried to create the promise through his own means, yet Abraham is still listed among the great men of the Bible, a man of great faith and obedience and he has a song, father Abraham had many sons. Had many sons had father Abraham… (Ah. Childhood memories.) But best of all, Abraham wasn’t perfect and God understands that, He created us, He knows our hearts and in His mercy and grace He forgives us.

Abraham did not see the promise of the multitude of nations nor the possession of the land promised to him by God, yet he faithfully believed that despite the odds, the facts, the statistics, the situation that it was possible. He believed in God enough to obey Him, no matter what. Even when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham was obedient to God, and knew God enough to know that he had heard from God in the first place! It’s more than a story, it’s about a man who refused to settle, who had a relationship with God that enabled him to live a life of obedience and faithfulness.

Here I am, on this journey of infertility and finding myself also wandering around, visiting different places. Not physical habitats like Abraham mind, but places of sorrow, pain, hurt, joy, hope, dryness, faith, and doubts. Maybe visiting these places are part of my journey with God and along the way we shall develop a relationship and God will reveal more of His character to me. Maybe, at the end of this journey, God and I will find ourselves occupying a whole new place. Along this journey I, like Abraham, will have to fight for something, I will have some land to claim, some wells to dig and I will have to spend some time out of the tent. By the end of this particular journey, whether it be months or 25 years away, I hope that it can be said that I walked with obedience and faithfulness and have left a legacy worth following.

Praying Scripture

I have been reflecting on prayer this week and have been reminded that when we speak and pray the scriptures we are coming into agreement with God. Through this aligning and agreeing His power is released to answer our prayers.

Praying the scriptures will increase your spiritual growth. You actually learn what God says about certain situations. Prayer puts the situation from being in my control and in my hands into His. It releases the situation to Him. Some days I need to release my infertility and future to God more than once a day. It is so easy to become focused on the obstacles, to the point that its blinding and hard to see anything else. But I find that talking it all through with God changes my perspective and releases it back to Him. Again.

I believe that Gods word has authority and when we speak it out over situations, circumstances and obstacles, victory has to come. Knowing this renews my hope, increases my faith and causes me to once again be in awe of my big, powerful, victorious and gracious God. This is a God who gives us practical keys to unlock His power in our everyday lives.

Some of the scriptures I have found/been given to pray over my infertility are:

Psalm 113:9
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.

Exodus 23:25-26
Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

Genesis 1:28
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over it.”

Luke 1:37
For no word from God will ever fail.

Yes and Amen!

Praise

The reason that Paul and Silas could praise God in the prision cell was because they knew God was with them.

Psalm 16:7-9 says:
I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts His praises. My body rests in safety.

People were always after David, his land and his throne, yet he had a lifestyle of praise in all situations because he had learnt that God was with him and that God was and is good in the midst of whatever was happening around him. Paul, Silas and David had faith that God had their back.

Despite the situations and circumstances David, Silas, and Paul praised God. Some of Davids psalms contain him crying out for the wicked to get what they deserve, for protection from those threatening his life and the promises God had given him. This makes me think that life wasn’t a bunch of roses all the time for David. Yet his psalms still tell of Gods greatness, faithfulness, protection and favour for David.

I believe that praise changes our perspective and our countenance. In Paul and Silas’ case it caused chains to be broken open, freedom to come and a miracle happened. Praise also inspires others (when they hear it), and praise blesses God.

v9 : No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts his praises! My body rests in safety.

In Hebrew mouth reads glory – so it could be read as: no wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my glory shouts his praises! Any glory that I have is from God and shows that God is in my life changing, and renewing me; protecting and teaching me; encouraging and favouring me. His glory on me shows that I have relationship with God, that I have been in his presence.

I choose to praise God regardless of the situations and circumstances I find myself in. When I praise God I find my focus shifts from being stuck on negative, selfish and small minded thoughts to positive and hopeful. When I praise I am reminded of how big and mighty he is. I recall how loving, caring and just he is. I am also reminded that God’s timing is perfect, (although he’s missed some awesome opportunities to be early) and that even before I was born he knew the great plans he has for me. I can trust that God is never surprised by what happens daily in my life. He is never caught off guard.

And although right now I don’t know if I will ever get pregnant, or what lengths we will have to go through to get pregnant, I can trust that God is in control. Completely. And knowing that helps me to praise Him.

I hope I praise God, not for what he can do, but because of who he is. I know that as a very ‘real’ human that sometimes its hard not to mix this up. Lucky for me, my God is full of grace and mercy and understands my heart beneath the praise. I never want to become a person who gives lip service to God, or uses him as a lucky rabbits foot or believe that if I praise and pray in a certain way every day then I will get my hearts desire.

No, I praise God because he is worthy. Even if everything in my life has come apart I hope that I will still stand up and praise God. Yes I will still have doubts and questions and maybe even a choice word or two. But I think my God can handle that.

I believe that God is always with me, when I’m having a blood test, getting a scan, meeting with the doctor, taking my medication – God is right beside me. He is the reason I can get up each morning and work, with joy in my heart, with other people’s children. Is my life always a sunshine of roses? Is the smile plastered on sometimes? Is it hard to keep praising God each month that passes where I am still barren? Yes, yes and yes again.

But then I start praising God anyway and I’m reminded of who He is all over again.