Monday, September 28, 2009

What I Have Learned From Infertility

Last week, Lisa had a great post on why she is thankful for infertility. After my previous post on Psalm 127, I had been thinking that the few things I had mentioned learning from infertility really didn't even begin to do justice to all the Lord has taught me through this trial. Also, I didn't want to give the wrong impression that because that post was about trusting and believing that God will "build our house"that I am only focused on the child which hopefully awaits. So I had been thinking about writing a post about all I had learned from infertility and then I see Lisa's post and felt like it was the Lord prompting me to write this. The thing is it is so easy to forget and I don't want to forget all the Lord has taught me. I didn't start blogging until I was in the midst of an IVF cycle, then I was pregnant, and then I miscarried. After which we did a second cycle and then moved. In the midst of all this there was much I didn't write about. Many posts have been written in my head, but never written here and so right now there is too much left unsaid. Even if no one else reads it, I want to have these things recorded for me to look back on. Of course, I hope it will encourage others. Some of what I have learned is a direct result of infertility/pregnancy loss and some was learned through experiences I would likely not have been able to have had I been a busy mother. I think many of these deserve their own separate post and so I am hoping to list them all here and then do separate posts for the ones I want to write more about. So here is my list:

1) When John and I had to be separated due to military service for a little over a year, I had one of the most difficult times in my life, but it was also a life changing experience (perhaps this wouldn't have even happened if we had conceived right away prior to John joining the Air Force). I ended up living with my cousin and becoming part of the small group she led at her house. This was my first experience with Christian fellowship and it changed my life forever. I learned so much about the Lord and it was at this time that I became "sold out" for the Lord. However, John did not have the same experience during this time and so when we reunited we were on different pages spiritually. If we had conceived at this time, we may have remained so because we may not have been able to take part in the Alpha course where John grew immensely. He even ended up facilitating a discussion group and then leading an Alpha course follow up group. I got to see my husband grow into an amazing man of God and I got the opportunity to serve along side of him - an answer to my prayers.
2) I got to study Romans when I first got to Florida at a ladies Bible study that didn't offer child care - another life changing experience. Romans is one of my favorite books of the Bible - it presents the gospel so clearly. There is no one righteous, not even one, it is all about His grace. We can only respond in humility.
3) God's plans are better than my own - I learned this as God brought us from the Alpha course and into the small group He had planned for us. I had another plan in mind, but God showed me His ways are higher than mine. I don't know what I would have done if we hadn't had our small group when we lost Johannah. Because of this small group, I met Monica, my crisis care counselor who saw me through an amazing time of healing, not just from losing Johannah, but also from past hurts.
4) Learning about God's perfect plan through the Alpha course and through a study of Matthew (same Bible study where they didn't offer child care) taught me about surrendering to God's will for my life. I began to learn to give up trying to control and began to trust.
5) As we began to pursue infertility treatment, the Lord taught me the truth of Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." It was not in my control. I had to trust Him with the outcome.
6) During my first IVF cycle, I learned what it meant to take one day at a time and fix my eyes on Jesus. I learned God gives "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."
7) I learned to praise God no matter what because He is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory.
8) I found hope.
9) I came to know of God's goodness and His love for me.
10) If you don't know He is good and that He loves you, you can't trust Him. You have to know Him to trust Him. I have come to trust Him.
11) I learned what the joy of our salvation is in my darkest hour.
12) God's ways are not my ways, neither are His thoughts my thoughts. We don't always understand why things happen.
13) I came to understand God remembers my sin no more and became truly free of my past.
14) Recently, I have been learning what it means to depend upon the Lord each day, asking Him for the grace and strength for the day.
15) I have learned so much about prayer, about having a genuine prayer life where I "pour out my heart to God." My prayer life is much deeper as a result.
16) I have become a more loving, compassionate person.
17) I have learned to wait upon the Lord, surrendering to His perfect way and timing.
18) Brokenness - I can now say not my will, but thy will be done and really mean it and desire it.
19) I appreciate the blessings in my life, like my husband, so much more. And we have grown closer together through all we have been through.
20) I believe in miracles and I have come to have faith that the Lord is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

Despite the pain and hurt of infertility and pregnancy loss, I have much to be thankful for - the Lord has truly worked infertility for my good. Thanks Lisa for encouraging others to do this - I am so glad I did.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Formal Application Submitted!!!

Not the best picture of me, but it captures the moment right before we submitted the formal application to Bethany. Amazingly, I was able to get it done from start to finish yesterday and submit it well before the October 10th deadline. Despite having to study, John was able to come down and help me with the more challenging parts. Have you ever been to a counselor? Uh, yes..... Anyway, I was very grateful for his guidance and input. We were able to answer together as to why we want to adopt which I think was very important to be able to do. I am so excited to be finally taking a step forward. I was also able to order extra copies of our birth certificates and marriage license so we have them ready when we need them. Our next step is an informal interview and then I believe we start assembling our packet - physicals, child protective services clearance, motor vehicle records, etc. I continue to feel less anxious and overwhelmed by the adoption process. I have not yet reached the point where I can picture it happening, being a mom that is, but I continue to hope and trust in the Lord.

"We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you" Psalm 33: 20-22.

Back Online!

We ended up losing our old computer, but thankfully the computer store was able to retrieve everything from our hard drive. I was so upset thinking we may have lost all our pictures. The last 3 years of our life in pictures could have been gone. Lesson learned - don't be complacent about backing up! We ordered a new computer which arrived on Friday so I am back online catching up on all I have missed.

Speaking of all I have missed, several of you have had some very exciting changes recently and I am rejoicing with all of you. Because of the changes in so many of your lives, I am planning on reorganizing my blog list into several categories - infertility, parenting after infertility, etc and I am going to add the adoption blogs I have been lurking around on. In doing this, I am probably going to remove my decorating blog list which is why I am mentioning this. I am finding I really don't have the time to keep up with these blogs now that I am working. I think I tend to read these blogs more when I know we have to move. It helps me get excited about moving as I think of how I will decorate our next house. So if anyone is clicking over to these blogs from my blog, I thought I would give you a heads up so that you can save the links before I delete them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Computer problems

Our home computer is having major problems - it is currently at Geek Squad for diagnostics. Please pray for it to be fixed and for us to recover our pictures, music, and John's school stuff. John needs to use the laptop for school so I may not be blogging until we get our computer back. I am hoping it will be this week. So please forgive me, I will be catching up and commenting on all of your blogs as soon as I can. I will answer emails as soon as I can as well.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Psalm 127 - Part 2

If you are familiar with Psalm 127, you may know what comes after the verse I quoted in my previous post.

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127: 3-5

These verses have troubled me throughout my struggle with infertility. I could never wrap my head around them. I have thought about them a great deal, especially recently. I asked the Lord to please give me insight into them and help me to understand.

"...children a reward from Him" I have struggled most with this part. Children are a reward it says. So am I being punished? If I had led a better life, been more righteous, more deserving would I have children? I have been taught that you must interpret scripture with scripture. Do any of us "deserve" children? No. God's word is clear: "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 and the "wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23. Elsewhere it says, "all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" Isaiah 64:6 and "God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." Psalm 53:3. There is no one worthy, no one who is righteous on their own, no one who "deserves" anything other than death from God. If it was up to us to be worthy of having children, no one would have any. Our righteousness is from Christ. In Him, I am found "not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes through God and is by faith" Phil 3:9 So I can't earn God's reward, favor, or blessing. It is God's grace. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" James 1:17. The Lord causes "his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous" Matthew 5:45. We don't do anything to deserve it or not deserve it. The account of Zechariah and Elizabeth even more clearly speaks to this. It says, "Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years" Luke 1:6-7. They were "blameless" and yet they were not rewarded, experiencing years of barrenness. But as many of you know that is not the end of their story. In time, Elizabeth did become pregnant and gave birth to the forerunner of our Messiah. They were direct participants in a miracle, in their own personal lives and in God's plan for the world. As I thought about this, it finally hit me. It is about timing. God's perfect timing. Right now I wonder why I am not receiving this "reward," gift, blessing, whatever you want to call it. I wonder if I am being punished, and believe me, I have done much to warrant that punishment. But when I look at the whole story, I don't question why Elizabeth was barren or think she was less rewarded or blessed. In fact, I think she was incredibly blessed by her years of waiting. God knit together a miracle in her womb - John the Baptist - who prepared the way for Jesus as he went throughout the land preaching repentance. As I look at other accounts of infertility in the Bible, do I think Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, or Hannah were less blessed, less rewarded. No I do not. Each of them experienced years of barrenness and each of them saw God perform a miracle in their lives. They knew it was God, everyone else knew it was God, and He received all the glory. But it happened in God's way and timing. Perhaps they too questioned why God was withholding this blessing from their lives. But in time, God's perfect plan was revealed and they witnessed God doing a mighty work in their lives. They received their heritage from the Lord.

We can only do as Hannah did, "I was pouring out my soul to the LORD" 1 Sam 1:15 and continue to pour our hearts out to God, depending on Him to build our houses and give us the gift of children.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Psalm 127 - Part 1

You may have noticed the new verse at the top right of my blog. "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain." I have always loved this verse and have wanted to get it on a plaque to place in our home. It represents my belief that the Lord is the only One who can build our house. I believe He placed John and I together in marriage and I believe it is up to Him to add to our family. It is very easy for me to fall into sin and try to depend upon myself rather than the Lord. Infertility has shown me my need to depend on the Lord, for strength to face the trial of infertility and to bring a child into our family. Time has not made this trial any easier. But it has grown me in compassion, love, humility, and trust in the Lord. Daily, I find myself taking my desire to the LORD, surrendering it to Him anew, and asking Him to fulfill it. Every pregnancy announcement, every pregnant belly, every child I see that brings this pain back to my heart and mind is an opportunity to once again take it to the Lord. He is the only one who can do anything about it. He is the creator of all life. He alone knows the child(ren) He has chosen for John and I to parent. Of course, the question most of us can barely stand to even think comes up - what if God doesn't plan for us to have a child and intends for us to live child-free? This has been a great fear of mine since the beginning of this journey. I can't pretend to know God's plans and thoughts on this, but I personally believe child-free living is not God's will for most of us. I believe if God calls us to such a life it is for a specific purpose and He will give us the peace and even joy to live it. Why don't I think it is God's will for most of us? Because of His Word. This is all I have to go on. There are many instances of infertility in the Bible and in every one of them in His perfect timing and way, God brought a child. In each of these cases it was through pregnancy, but I believe God also answers our prayers through adoption. Throughout the Bible, God's heart for the fatherless is clear (Deut 10:18, Psalm 68:5, and Psalm 82:3 just to name a few places). In verse 6 of Psalm 68, it says the Lord sets the lonely in families. Psalm 113:9 says the Lord "settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children." I have always been hesitant to believe and trust that the Lord will bless us with children, but the other day (September 9 I think) I made a conscious decision. I was walking through the parking garage on my way into work crying out to God, asking for His grace for the day, and once again bringing my desire for children to Him, and I decided then and there that I was going to believe God is who He says He is. His word says He has a heart for the fatherless and commands us to have one as well, it says He settles the lonely in families, and it says He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. This is who God says He is and I choose to believe Him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Going with Bethany

Just a quick update on our adoption process - it looks like we are going to go with Bethany Christian Services. In many ways it doesn't make sense for us to go with Bethany given the time line and wait time, but we sense God leading us in this direction despite these things. Every time I start thinking about going in another direction, I have no peace about it and I find the Lord points me back to Bethany. Initially, as I prayed about what we should do the only answer I got was "wait." At that point I was wondering if we were even supposed to be moving forward with adoption. But I think this was the Lord preparing me for how He was going to lead. At that point I was not yet ready to surrender to a longer time period. But as I continued to hear "wait," I began to surrender to God's timing and became willing to wait upon Him. I believe His ways and timing are perfect. He is our all-knowing, loving, faithful Father and we can trust in the plans He has for us. As I continued to pray about it, I sensed a pull toward Bethany and a peace about it. I then talked it over with John who told me that he had also been praying about it and felt led toward Bethany. I believe this time can be a time of preparation. I have really enjoyed learning about adoption over this last month or so, but I still have much more to learn. Based on what I have learned so far, I am confident I want an open adoption. I am actually surprised at how passionate I am about this.

In other news, I am a little behind on my blog reading and commenting. I am hoping I can catch up soon so my apologies for my lack of support recently. Between work, being out of town, my new exercise classes, and it being the week before my period I have just been exhausted. Even after all this time, it is still such a hard time of the month. I still find myself hoping.