Thursday, December 10, 2015

WAY Overdue Pregnancy Update and My Infertility Interview with The Amateur Nester

I'm so sorry to those of you who have been following along and were wondering where I have been! After my last post, some serious nausea set in, then I got the stomach flu on top of the regular nausea. I certainly don't want it to sound like I'm complaining because I was rejoicing in the symptoms, but they definitely knocked me off of my feet for a while.

I am 11 weeks today! We have seen the baby (no twins) and the heartbeat twice now. After our first ultrasound, we gave the news to Berkley and her reaction was anti climatic to say the least. I was entertained/disappointed at her lack of response after months of her praying for a brother and a sister, but my husband wasn't surprised. I guess that for an almost four year old, they need to see something to get excited about it and since the baby isn't here yet, there is little for her to get excited about. But she is slowly asking some really cute questions and keeps reminding me to tell her when the baby comes out as if we will somehow sneak the whole thing past her. Haha!

Here baby is at 8w5d:

The baby is measuring right on target, which gives me a due date of June 30th 2016, but the cesarean will likely be scheduled up to a week before that. I often get asked if I would consider a VBAC after having a cesarean and the truth is that I probably would except for three things:

  1.  I was led to believe that the problems I had during Berkley's birth would still be there the next time around, so why go back down that same road? 
  2. I LOVED going into labor, wondering when it was going to happen, but it really will be so much easier to have the cesarean scheduled so that my mom can plan ahead to be here to keep Berkley while we are in the hospital.
  3. I get two extra weeks of maternity leave when I have a cesarean

#3 is the hardest to argue for me! I needed those two extra weeks last time and was so grateful for them.

I have "graduated" from seeing my Reproductive Endocrinologist and will see my OB for the first time next week. With the holidays ahead, a trip planned for New Year's, and trying to pack some fun things into the all-wonderful second trimester, I think this is all going to fly by.

But I want to be honest. Sometimes my heart still feels infertile. Since God has conquered my infertility, the enemy is coming at me in other ways. He's invoking fear that I will lose this baby, that something is wrong with my baby, things that never even entered my mind with my first pregnancy. I've heard that if you've been infertile long enough, then you "know too much." I once had a friend tell me that she won't stop worrying until she's holding her baby in her arms. I remember thinking that was so sad, but part of me understands that now. I've heard so many stories of heart break and my eyes are wide open to this devastating world of infertility and infant loss. It is very difficult to keep those fears at bay.

But I'm fighting back with joy! Every time those fears set in, I fight back with all of the beautiful scriptures that I learned during these last few years just as Jesus did when He was rebuking the enemy in the desert for those 40 days. My joy comes from the Lord and I will hold onto it with all my might.

This is also way overdue, but I was interviewed over at the Amateur Nester here.

Also, I promise that I will not be only blogging about pregnancy!  I have some more ideas coming.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Shocked, Confused, and in AWE of His Faithfulness!

WARNING: This story is one of answered prayers and miracles. If you are still waiting for your prayers to be answered and your heart is broken and still pleading for your own miracle, I completely understand if you want to stop reading now. Please come back here when you have your own miracle to share with me. Keep praying! He hears you! I'm praying for you too!

It's been 8 days since I took that test and I'm still in shock and disbelief. But most of all, I'm in awe of His faithfulness.

Just in case you haven't been following along, we had been trying to conceive our second child for about a year and a half when we finally saw a specialist and were diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility. Since then, we had six IUIs with one resulting in an early loss. My impatient and longing heart was ready to move on to IVF, but at the suggestion of my doctor to try just a few more IUIs my husband and I agreed that we would give that a try.

But this month, we were on vacation for the first part of my cycle and I had a work trip scheduled right at my ovulation time.  So, not only would we be unable to pursue another treatment this cycle, we wouldn't even really be able to try on our own. Or so I thought...

I was excited to take a break from even thinking about it for a month and just enjoy our vacation.

Well, the vacation came and went. My work trip came and went. My brother-in-law moved in and his girlfriend was also here for two weeks. It's been a pretty crazy month.

Since I had little idea about when I actually ovulated, I wasn't sure when to expect my period. At the very latest, I was expecting my period on October 26th. I had been spotting on and off for a week which, for me,  is a sign that my period was coming.  But the spotting was much lighter than usual and on the 26th, the spotting went away which never happens, so I finally caved and took a test.

It was positive within a few seconds and I mean VERY positive! First, I laughed. Then, I asked God if this was for real? Then, I called my husband and hung up. I wanted to be excited when I told him, not confused and tentative. Then, I called my doctor, but they were out to lunch. Then, I called my BFF (who has been going through this EXACT same thing for EXACTLY the same amount of time) and we both laughed some more and freaked out and speculated about how this could have happened, then we praised Jesus!

I was able to go get a blood test at my doctor's office within an hour, but wouldn't have the results until the next day. I was really trying to wait until I had those results to tell my husband, but I just couldn't wait.

This is pretty much how that went:

Me: Hey, look what I got yesterday (shoving the positive test in his very sleepy face)

Husband: I don't know what that means
Me: It means that I'm pregnant
Husband: Huh?
Me: I'm pregnant
Husband: But how? I don't understand.
Me: Yeah, I don't know and I don't get it either, but it's true.
(some happy dancing and big hugs)
Husband: It's just SO weird!
Me: It's God!

He came back and ask more questions throughout the day and proceeded to get more and more excited. It was fun to watch him process this news as I had done the day before.

Then the nurse called with my lab results... I was going to be thrilled with a HCG over 100 and a Progesterone level over 10 (was expecting it to be a little low because of the spotting that I had).

This is how that conversation went:

Nurse: Nicole, congratulations, your HCG is 2,595.

Nurse: Yes
Nurse: Yes, and your progesterone is 49. Did you do an insemination this cycle?
Me: Nope
Nurse: Hmmm.  Well, Nicole, you are very, very pregnant.

My HCG 48 hours later was 6,118. These numbers are very high for 4w4d and 4w6d, respectively.  When I asked the nurse if there was anything to be worried about with such high numbers (I was slightly concerned about a molar pregnancy), she said "well, they are really high, which is typically an indicator of twins, but there are also plenty of pregnancies with high HCG, but only one baby. We just won't know until the ultrasound."

My numbers are in green. Sky. High.

My little girl has been praying for a brother AND a sister for months... could it be?

Now, we anxiously await the ultrasound which is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10th. Praying that we see a sweet little heartbeat (or two?).

I'm praying that I get to carry this little miracle (or miracles) for the full nine months, but even if it's only 9 days, I will rejoice in all the answered prayers. I will praise Him all of my days!

At every bump in the road, He has strengthened me and filled me with the hope, love, joy, and patience that I needed to make it through cycle after cycle. I'm not saying that I never had doubts and moments of despair. There were plenty of times that I wasn't sure if I trusted Him.


I don't deserve it and I'll never fully understand it, but thank you Jesus that you are faithful. Thank you that you keep your promises no matter how many times I fail to believe them. Thank you that you have answered so many of my prayers with this gift! And THANK YOU that you have used this season for my good and Your glory!

I pray that if you are still in a season of infertility that you are filled with hope. Our God is able and He has a plan. Of course I feel joy about this gift I have received, but my heart still hurts for those wonderful mommies-to-be out there who are waiting so patiently for their time.

If I already know your name, I'm praying for you by name. If I don't know you yet, I'm happy to pray for you by name if you contact me!

Monday, October 5, 2015

IUI #6 Outcome and ANSWERS!!

I'll just get right to it: IUI #6 was not successful, so I kept my consultation with my fertility specialist. If #6 was not successful, he wanted to review everything and discuss next steps - IVF.

Before even mentioning IVF he said that he noticed something about all of the data from the last 6 IUIs.  He confirmed what I had been rolling around in my head: Only 2 of the 6 IUIs were done when I ovulated on my right side - 1 of those 2 times, I got pregnant.  That, coupled with the fact that my HSG (dye test) from last year revealed that the dye VERY easily got through the right tube but took MUCH longer (like 15 minutes) to get through the left tube, leads him to believe that I may have a blockage in my left tube, making it more difficult to achieve pregnancy when I ovulate on the left side. Just to recap: 4 out of the 6 IUIs were ovulation on the left (bad side).

Since he affirmed my suspicion about the tube, I also mentioned that since giving birth to my daughter, I have had at least 3 nurses/doctors tell me that they had a very difficult time getting to my cervix because of my tilted uterus. My question was that if they were having a hard time finding it, was the sperm having a hard time too? Was this the reason why we might not be getting pregnant on our own? He told me that since a tilted uterus is not a problem for most, he can't confirm my suspicions but definitely wouldn't rule it out. So, there is a chance that the sperm is having a hard time getting to and through my cervix.

Sorry for saying "sperm" so much ;)

My doctor said that we could try a few more IUIs where they would treat me as if I had a blocked tube, so any cycles where ovulation is happening on my "bad" side, would be cancelled. The downside is that we obviously have no idea when I will ovulate on the right side again, so we may be waiting a while for another IUI attempt.

We also discussed all of the IVF options... regular/fresh cycle ($14k), freeze all/embryo transfer ($17k), and freeze all/genetic testing ($20k). Yikes!

I slept on all of this information and had decided that if it were my choice, we would just move forward with a regular/fresh cycle of IVF. I was tired of waiting. I had mentally prepared for IVF anyway. We have been saving for this...

Then, I presented all of the options to my husband and he was not comfortable moving forward with IVF without giving IUI on the "good side" another shot.

I was a little shocked by his preference (I thought he would let me decide. ha!), but it immediately felt like the right thing to do.  I really was counting on his voice of reason as this is a much more emotional decision for me.

Now that the decision has been made, I have been able to process the discussion with my doctor and am feeling so much relief.  Even though these are just theories about why we haven't been able to get pregnant since tests can't really confirm that these are the actual barriers to our success, I feel like I FINALLY have some answers. I have researched and guessed about some physical reason as to why this has been such a struggle for us and am so relieved to finally have SOMETHING to blame, but more importantly, something specific to pray about!

The coolest part about any of this is that I was telling my sister about the doctor appointment and the first thing that she said is that she has been praying that I would get some answers!  I LOVE answered prayers!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lord, Help Me Overcome My Unbelief

In Mark chapter 9, a demonic spirit had been torturing a man's son since childhood. The man had tried everything to help his son and was hoping that Jesus WAS the Messiah and that He could do what no one else could do. The man said "... if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe”… pause… Jesus gives him that “knowing” look… then “help me overcome my unbelief!"

Like the man with the demon possessed son, of course I believe in God and that Jesus is His Son. I also believe that He CAN do absolutely anything. I know He is ABLE but is He WILLING?

Sometimes I feel like miracles are for “other people,” and I wonder if God has one for me. I wonder if I have too much sin for Him to care about my requests. While my head knows that He loves me, my heart feels like He’s forgotten me. This gets me all confused about what He says in His Word. For instance, how are we supposed to pray over and over again, pleading with God to give us another baby in the name of Jesus and NOT doubt that He will come through for us? We all know of times when we have prayed for a miracle or a healing and God’s answer was “no”. Even Paul, the greatest missionary in history, prayed that God would remove his physical pain, and His answer was "no". Sometimes His sovereign answer is "no". And yet, we are commanded to ask and believe that we have received... BUT, GOD, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT! HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!

And He did… after months of praying with so much doubt and unbelief, He has helped me believe Him. I’m sure that I still have a lot to learn, but I am finally feeling freedom from the stronghold of unbelief. He is so faithful.

This is how He led me…  

I don't know about y'all, but I am surrounded by His Word... I have my quiet time in the morning with my Bible, I have Bible and devotion apps on my phone, I subscribe to several faith-based blogs, I'm always reading Bible based books, I follow Christian figures on Facebook and Instagram, several of my friends share verses on Facebook or send me texts, and I attend church. Aren't I such a good girl? Just kidding... my point is that when you are this submersed in His Word, you are opened up to the opportunity for God to speak to you in "themes" (and countless other ways). And for WEEKS I saw verse after verse, devotion after devotion, and sermon after sermon on the topic of unbelief. It was a bit ridiculous. OK, God, I get it. I receive the confirmation that I have a problem with unbelief, thank you for trying to help, but none of this is helping me overcome this stronghold of unbelief. My faith still feels crippled. What now? 

It's a good thing He knows me so well because He led me to a book (my main love language ;)) that has helped in a BIG way. I love that He knows EXACTLY what I need and how I need things explained so that I fully understand. You guys! If the doubts and questions that I mentioned above sound anything like the chatter that goes on in your head too, you MUST READ Believing God by Beth Moore immediately. This is my first Beth Moore experience. That woman has a GIFT for teaching. In just the first 80 pages or so, I felt like my unbelief was gone, and I feel like I have received the keys to the kingdom! My faith and trust in the Almighty has been restored and the best part is that it was an answer to my prayer… you know, the ones I felt like He wasn’t even hearing. His mercy is astounding.

Because I am confident that others struggling with infertility might feel the way I was feeling with unbelief, I wanted to share a few excerpts from this book that might also speak to you: 

1.    In the Gospels, Christ called those without faith to believe in miracles an "unbelieving and perverse generation" (Luke 9:41). On the other hand, He called those who focused entirely on miracles a "wicked and adulterous generation" (Matt. 16:4). Either extreme can be wildly offensive to God. The reason Christ could dub miracle cravers as adulterous is because they worshipped God's wonders more than God Himself. Equally idolatrous, sensationalism suggests we can believe God as long as He does what we tell Him to do, as if we were the potter and God the clay. (page 60) 

We may not get exactly what we are asking for every time. I may not get a baby from this final IUI. Maybe IVF is God’s plan to give me the miracle I’ve been asking for. Maybe it’s not and He has a miracle baby planned for me next year or when I finally give up on trying or maybe His miracle is adopting a baby from China. But how can I not believe Him just because His plan (to prosper me, by the way) looks different than my prayer? Who am I to tell the God of the Universe what kind of miracles He can do to win my belief? For me, something clicked when I read that last part. I don’t want to be the child who stops trusting her Father just because she’s not getting exactly what she wants when she wants it.

2.    Beloved, no one, no matter how brilliant, persuasive, or credentialed, should have the right to take away our hope. The God we serve is able (Dan 3:17). Everything is possible (Mark 9:23). Nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle. If, in God's sovereignty, He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2) or that we have not because we believed not (Matt. 9:29). Second Corinthians 1:20 tells us that "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ." Christ gave His life so God could say yes to the fulfillment of His promises in the lives of believing mortals. Therefore, I am utterly convinced that any NO an earnestly seeking child of God receives from the Throne is for the sake of a greater yes, whether realized on earth or in heaven. (Page 61)

Christ gave His life so God could say YES.  God WANTS to say yes. The very first words that God ever says in the Bible are “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” His plan is to build His kingdom of believers; to bless His children with offspring. If, in the rare case that His answer is “no” I am now more confident than ever that it is not because God forgot about me, or I haven’t been “good” enough to receive a miracle, or He’s not in the mood (yes, that one has crossed my mind), or that I’m not significant enough, or that I’m low on His list of priorities… it’s because He has a purpose and a plan that is far better than anything we could fathom. When I pray for all of you who are going through infertility, one of the things I ask for is that if His answer is “no” for any of you (and myself) that He would strengthen you and guide you to the “greater yes” that He has planned for you. That He would heal your broken hearts so that you would be open to the miracle He had in mind all along. The plan that will prosper you, not harm you.

3.    Beth Moore also says:

If I'm convinced that God really loves me and has certain priorities for me that may take precedence at times, then I am "safe" to walk by faith. I am freed to know that my God is huge and my God is able and that if I don't get what I asked, if I'll cooperate, I'll get something bigger. I'm going to believe Him to do anything His Word says He can, then if He chooses not to, I don't have to assume...

·       He doesn't like me

·       He doesn't answer my prayers like He does others'

·       He hardly knows I'm alive

·       He can't do it

·       He's never willing to do it

·       I didn't have enough faith

·       I wavered for a split second

·       I have that sin in my past

·       I'm a failure

·       I've made a fool of myself

Instead, I get to know that a greater yes is in progress, and I can count on the bigger miracle. We are safe with God. We are safe to believe Him for miracles. (page 80-81)

Can I get an AMEN?! I am positive that I’m not the only one who has assumed at least one of the above when I received my monthly BFN. I am so comforted to know that that momentary “no” not only means “not yet”, but it means “I have something even better!” Now THAT is something I can ask for and believe that I have received without any doubt.
To summarize another of Beth's points in Believing God: she discusses how the "old" covenant from the Old Testament was based on big signs and wonders (burning bush, splitting the sea, manna in the desert, etc) and the Word written on tablets, but after the resurrection in the New Testament (new covenant), the miracles and wonders (even better than burning bushes) are done in and through each of us by the Holy Spirit as the Word is now written on our hearts. Not that He doesn't still perform miracles and wonders for us, it's just that His priority is the miraculous work that He does in our spirit. 

I KNOW I’m not alone when I tell you that I have like a hundred scenarios in my head of how God might deliver my miracle. Like, maybe He will give me a baby the cycle before we plan to do IVF, or maybe it will be THIS month so that I would be due on my birthday, or maybe He’s going to give us TWINS, or maybe I’ll get my BFP on Christmas morning- what a great gift to give my family on Christmas! Sound familiar? Throughout this journey, I’ve always been looking for the external miracle. As long as we continue to worship God, not the impending miracle, I don’t see anything wrong with looking for ways to give Him glory. The world is full of beautiful stories where a family was blessed with a baby at the “perfect time” or in the “nick of time”. I love those stories. But God loves us. His priority is His relationship with us. And He cares a lot more about the work He is doing in us through infertility than about our version of the perfect time to bless us with a baby.

With IVF being a very real possibility for us in the near future, I have been praying about it a lot. The whole thing is terrifying. The cost, all the decisions, all the appointments, the crazy hormones, the NEEDLES! I will need the strength and the courage and the joy of the Lord more than ever. I will likely experience a dependence on Him that I never have before. And you know what? I kind of like the idea of relying on Him completely. I like the idea of walking so closely with Him. And maybe that’s the reason why IVF was part of the plan all along? I have no idea, but I’m letting go of my idea of the miracle and trusting Him for the “greater yes”.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for not always recognizing the miracles that you perform in me. Forgive me for trying to be the potter and You the clay. Thank you for the assurance that there is purpose in my pain and that however you choose to answer my prayers is for the "greater yes" in Christ. Thank you for helping me overcome my unbelief. Thank you for freeing me from my version of what Your miracle should look like and giving me the freedom to see what Your version of a miracle looks like. Thank you that you prioritize Your work in me over performing signs and wonders. I trust You. I love You. Amen!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

IUI #5 Update

I don't have any big plans for this post.  I will simply speak from the heart.  I am 12 days past IUI #5 today and just received my 25th big fat negative.  In 26 cycles, I have never been so sure that I was pregnant. I really let myself get excited this time.

And I don't regret that.  It turns out that it's more fun to get excited and have it end in disappointment than it is to not expect the miracle and still be disappointed.

In these harder days, I try to focus on gratitude. I'm beyond grateful for my precious, spunky, 3 year old sidekick. I'm grateful for phenomenal friends- those who are going through this, who have been through this, and those who haven't, but always send me love. I'm grateful for the quiet hug from my husband this morning. I'm grateful for my hope in Jesus and that He always picks me right back up.

Some of you who read this don't have any children yet. Some of you have much worse medical diagnoses than unexplained secondary infertility. I want you to know that I acknowledge that daily... and not in a way to make myself feel better. I want you to know that I pray for you all who are in my same situation and for those whose circumstances are worse. I pray for your marriages, I pray for peace, love, and comfort, I pray for you to seek Jesus in the darkness, and I pray that you all have the support of those in your circle of family and friends. All of you, dealing with any form of this, will always hold a special place in my heart and in my prayers. I wish nothing but arms full of babies for all of you!  I wish I could be the Oprah of baby miracles. "YOU get a baby and YOU get a baby and YOU get a baby!!"

Moving forward, the plan is to do one more IUI before bringing out the big guns (IVF).  I pray this last IUI gives us our miracle, but I am not putting any more pressure on it than any of the previous IUIs. The only thing I'll be doing any differently is leaning on Him more than I ever have before. I feel like I need Him more than ever. I am craving His presence, His peace, and His comfort.

Thank you for visiting here where I can share my heart with you. Read more great stuff over at the Amateur Nester!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Child-like Faith

While I have been praying for a baby for almost two years now, only recently did I feel prompted to invite my little girl (now 3 and a half) to pray with me. A little over a month ago, we started praying together- morning and night- that Jesus would give her a brother or a sister.

After about a week, Berkley stopped me right after we made our request and said "no, mommy, ask Jesus for a brother AND a sister."  I smiled wide at her precious, bold, child-like faith. Her heart so whole and hopeful that she believes anything is possible. Unlike my slightly broken, heart that has let fear and disappointment cloud the vision of my spirit. I was so proud of her faith that Jesus could give us not just one, but TWO babies, that her prayer became my prayer. Of COURSE I would be over the moon if God gave us a single baby, but how wonderful if the Lord gave us what Berkley so boldly asked. It would be a miracle that our family would be reminding each other of for the rest of our lives.

At the very least, her request for such a miracle was a reminder to me of how God wants us to view him from the awe-struck, excited eyes of a child.  Every time we pray for "a brother and a sister", I'm reminded to pray expectantly and try to hold on to that child-like faith in other areas of my life.

Matthew 18:2-4

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I have a student's spirit. Always looking for knowledge and new things to learn. Constantly reading and soaking up information on whatever I can get my hands on. I want to teach Berkley everything I know, especially everything I know and am learning about the Lord. But it was such a beautiful moment that I got to learn a lesson from her.  And I'm sure it won't be the last.

Fast forward about three more weeks and, once again, she interrupts our prayer and says, "Mommy, why hasn't Jesus given me a brother or sister?" It was difficult not to laugh about the fact that after about four short weeks of praying for a baby, she was asking the same question I have been asking for over a year. I explained that sometimes we have to wait on Jesus, but to keep on praying and asking, I kissed her goodnight, closed her door and thought about how she must have just made Jesus smile.

I can't wait for the day that I get to tell her Jesus has answered our prayers!  In the meantime, I realize that patience isn't really a virtue in this family :)

QUICK UPDATE! IUI #5 was last week and went very well... now, the waiting...


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Holding on Tight

My mom stayed home with me and my sister throughout our entire childhood.  She was a wonderful mother.  She made us laugh a lot with her silly songs and goofy dance moves.  She always let us know that she loved us and that she loved being with us. Some of my best memories were spent in the car, going from place to place.  That's where she taught me to be slow to anger.  If someone mistreated me or my sister or even my mom, we would discuss why that person might have behaved the way that they did. She taught me how to identify if someone was jealous or unhappy or insecure. We sure did have a lot of deep conversations in that car! For my mom, it was important to find the reason why someone had inflicted pain so that she could forgive and move on. This skill has been very valuable to me as it taught me to take a step back, gather my thoughts, sort out my feelings, put myself in other's shoes, and figure out how I should respond before doing so.

Another thing I remember from those car rides was my mom throwing her arm in front of whoever was in the passenger seat, saying "hold on tight!"  We were usually making a last minute turn or pulling out in front of another car. We would usually laugh at how she used her arm to try to protect us as if it would really do much good in the event of an actual accident.  She would laugh with us and say that she couldn't help it, "it's just a mother's instinct."

This journey of infertility has been like one, crazy, car ride!  I have felt like that little girl, talking with my mom about how much this hurts and what I could do to fix the problem.  I've analyzed every emotion, every fear, every possible cause.  I've thought of every possible reason why God has allowed this in my life.  I've looked for and found the good in this trial.  I've searched my heart for idols and anything unpleasing to the Lord. I've worked on being a better mom, a better wife.  I've tried surrendering and guessing the will of God. 

It's been a LONG ride.  I'm exhausted from all the charting, the dieting, the emotional roller coaster, the thinking, the guessing, questioning God, my faith, my marriage... And I have no idea if it's almost over.  But I know it WILL end.  Every mile is one mile closer to the end of the ride.

As of a few days ago, IUI #4 is a confirmed failure. I used to be pretty devastated over news like that every month.  But now, I feel like that little girl in the passenger seat. All conversation- the questioning, the analyzing, the guessing stops, and God throws His arm out to protect my heart and says "Hold on tight! Don't let go of that joy!  Don't take your eyes off of Me for one second! We will be there soon. I promise."

He promised.

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. Exodus 23:25-26

Instead of feeling the cyclical disappointment and despair of another failed cycle, I just feel like worshipping Him and thanking Him that I am one step closer to the fulfilled promise.

I read further:

I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

I have met the enemy in his many forms.  He came to steal, kill, and destroy. And sometimes he did.  You see, all of that analyzing and questioning and doing this or that to gain more favor in His eyes was just me trying to fight a battle that He has already won. He will make the enemy turn his back and run. He will defeat each obstacle, one by one, but not all at once because my faith needed time to increase before I take possession of what He has promised me.

This is His battle to fight, His victory to be had. I need only worship Him and hold on tight to His promise. And rest in His loving arms.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Digging for Treasure

There are some seasons in life where the gifts and the treasures are so bright and shiny that they blind you at every turn.  Everything is going right.  You have everything you have ever wanted.  Even your relationship with the Lord is stronger than ever.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), these seasons don't last.  We are eventually tested.  The bright and shiny gifts in our lives lose their luster or become hidden.

In these times of trials, it's so important that we don't sit back and wait for it to pass or wallow in some pity party.  The truth is that these are the times that count the most.  And these are the times that we might have to dig for those treasures and fight for joy and our faith.

As radical as it may sound, I've often thought of infertility as a gift because of all the good that the Lord is doing in my life that might otherwise not be done if it weren't for this trial, this season.  But all good things come from the Lord and infertility is not a good gift.  It's actually contradictory to God's commandment to "go forth and multiply" (among others).  It's not God's will for my life.  Don't get me wrong - I am SO looking forward to this season ending.  Isn't that the BEST news?  This season WILL end.  In one way or another, it will end and we will move onto another season. Hopefully, that season will be one where I am always holding at least one, precious newborn baby.  But if it's not the season that I'm praying for, I trust the Lord enough to know that it will be something good.  When He closes a door, He opens another.

God PROMISES that He will work all things for our good and for His glory.  When I look back on this season, I will always see that.  I'll be able to see a time where I was able to work on my marriage, grow closer to the Lord, cultivate godly friendships, study the Word, focus on my precious little girl and not miss a moment of her precious early years.  

While this is the way that I feel right now, I want you to know that there were times that I was having a pity party.  There were times that I couldn't see any bright and shiny gifts.  But Jesus never left me, and He alone shined His beautiful light on all the work He was doing.  He gives good gifts to His children.  Sometimes we just have to look for them, like digging for buried treasure.  And to me, those are the best gifts because they are the little reminders that He keeps His promises, that He loves me, that He is for me, and that He's with me.

Dear Jesus, thank you that you are always working things for our good and Your glory.  Thank you that you have conquered infertility and that it does not define my life.  Thank you that you have written a beautiful story, just for me, and that this is just a short chapter. Please help me to see all of the gifts that you give me.  I don't want to miss a single one.  Lord, I lift up every woman, every family that is in a season of infertility.  I pray that they are seeking you in this dark time and that they find rest in You. Thank you that you are working infertility for their good and Your glory.  Thank you that you are by their side, showing them in many ways that You are for them, that you are with them, and You will never leave. Today, and every day, I ask that you give us our hearts' desire.  Please bless our wombs with precious babies.  We give you all the glory.  In Jesus' precious name, Amen!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Joy of the Lord

I'm a few days away from finding out if our fourth IUI attempt was successful.  There's a peace about the fact that it is all in God's hands.  It's funny because after my angry post a few weeks ago, I wrote down all of these great verses to memorize... verses about trampling the enemy (Luke 10:19) and verses about God's power, but you know the verse that kept showing up on my heart?

Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is my strength.

I had a few conversations with the enemy about how I belong to the Creator of the Universe, I am a daughter of the King, and with my authority in Jesus, I commanded him to leave and take infertility with him.

But then I was just so done giving Satan the attention that he had gotten for so long.

Jesus died for my healing and just because I may not see the results of that healing this week, it doesn't mean I'm not healed.  So, the enemy can tell me what ever lies he wants to this week, when I'm at my most vulnerable, but I'm just not listening anymore because the joy of the Lord is my strength and I've sent Satan on his way.

That means that the minute I feel the doubts or the anxiousness creep up on me, I think about what would make the Lord joyful.  Instead of getting down (what the enemy wants), I think about what Jesus would want for me in that moment and it gives me strength.  So, sometimes I'll pray, sometimes I'll put music on and dance with my daughter, sometimes I'll think of all of the friendships that have been strengthened in this season of my life, sometimes I'll just picture my family with our new baby (or babies)... I picture the joy on our faces and the excitement in my daughter's voice to have a new brother and/or sister (she's been praying for both).

For anyone else who is still waiting, I thought I would share the conception prayer that I memorized to pray daily. This prayer comes from the book God's Plan for Pregnancy, by Nerida Walker which I'll discuss in another post.

Conception Prayer

Thank you, Father, that your Son Jesus Christ bore all my sickness and disease and carried all my pain and sin on the Cross and that by His stripes I am healed.

This means that I am healed of infertility and of all sickness and disease that causes it.  Therefore, body, I command you in the name of Jesus to conceive and be pregnant!  Every part of you is to come in line with the Word of God.  You are to function efficiently, the way you were created to, because you were fearfully and wonderfully made.

Father, I also pray that my baby (or babies) will attach perfectly to the uterine wall (not the felopian tubes).  I ask that my baby (or babies) would be protected from all harm, sickness, and disease, and that I would carry my baby (or babies) for the full nine months.

I give You all the glory for my healing and for my baby (or babies).  Please let it be done to me according to Your will.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Setting Life-Giving Boundaries

Today is one of those days where I am in awe of our mighty God.  A few days ago, I was so hopeless in my marriage.  There was so much hurt, anger, and frustration building up that I didn't know what to do.  I felt that I had explored so many different options on how to handle not one, but multiple situations, but all were failing.  I was brought to my knees and through tears, I cried out to my friend Jesus.  I was so desperate to hear from Him.

I'm currently in a "spiritually unequal marriage".  Yes, that's a thing.  In a lot of cases, this means that a believer is married to a non-believer.  In my case, my husband has been saved, and will even go to church sometimes, but he does not walk in His faith.  He is not the spiritual leader of our family.  I believe wholeheartedly that this will not always be the case.  I can so clearly see God pursuing my husband, it's just a matter of time before the Holy Spirit changes his heart.

But in the meantime, I get overwhelmed with what I'm supposed to do when he sins against our family.  I've tried being passive.  I've tried showing more love and no judgement.  I've tried having the hard conversations. I've tried threats and screaming matches.  I'm not proud of that.  But when you feel like you've tried everything to get someone to hear you, respect you, and honor you, the enemy will lie and tell you that you have to fight sin with more sin.

None of these ways worked.  I was feeling like nothing could restore my marriage.  I was crying out to the Lord, begging Him to tell me what to do, and all I kept hearing was the word "boundaries".  OK, fine.  So, I need to establish boundaries, but what in the HECK does that look like?

My gut was telling me that if this situation gets worse, I need to remove myself and my daughter from it.  But is that the right thing to do?  Is that the godly thing to do?  Is that best for me, her, and my husband?  I don't believe in divorce.  I believe that the Lord can breathe life into my marriage, but I just didn't know what I was supposed to do to cultivate that.

I considered speaking with a Christian counselor.  I thought that maybe they could tell me what appropriate boundaries are and help me decide what to do to move forward.

I still might meet with a counselor, but I remembered a book called "Boundaries" that I thought might help.  When I began searching for it, I came across a book, by the same authors, called "Boundaries in Marriage."  I read a few of the reviews.  Several of them sounded like women who were in the exact same situation and the book had helped them tremendously.  I decided to give it a try.

I was two chapters into this book and it was already VERY clear to me what I must do.  Thank you Holy Spirit for your perfect guidance!!  I'm positive that this is where He wanted to guide me when He spoke the word "boundaries."

In "Boundaries in Marriage", I learned that we shouldn't try to control our spouse by acting certain ways or saying certain things.  We should both have freedom to make our own choices.  In everything I had tried so far, I was trying to exert some control or nothing at all.  I hadn't presented choices, I had made demands. I had also failed to protect my heart by not being clear about what I would and would not tolerate.

Today, I was honest with my husband about how his actions and words had made me feel. According to the book, keeping these feelings hidden is a form of dishonesty and only strains the marriage.  I can take responsibility for that and change it.  Then, I clearly stated what my values are and how he has been violating them.  I told him that he is free to continue dishonoring my wishes, but I am also free to leave the room, the house, and eventually the state if this behavior continues.

It's very important to mean what you say, and I can honestly say that I meant every word.  He could see that.  And you know what?  I got to witness the floodgates of repentance, restoration, change, and hope.

Not only did I receive an apology for recent events, but Jesus used all of this to convict my husband to acknowledge a problem that he has had for a long time.  My house feels lighter and we both feel more free.  Chains were broken today because I leaned on the Lord in my time of trouble.

I wanted to give up and walk away, but I cried out to the Lord and trusted His voice.  I'm so grateful for the immediately answered prayer.

Speaking of answered prayers, my daughter is 3.  I believe she is old enough to be affected by what has been an unhealthy environment for a few weeks.  I have LONG prayed that the Lord would make her deaf and blind to our failures as parents.  I've pleaded for His grace in protecting her while we figure all of this out.  I am most grateful that when things were at their worst in my house, my daughter seemed to not even see or hear any of it. The Lord heard my prayer.

My marriage might have a long way to go, but I know what to do now.  I know what my responsibilities are in protecting my heart and my marriage.  I'm believing and following Him for the answers.  He has already proven what can happen when I trust Him.  I can't wait to see what else He has for me and my marriage.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Speaking to Mountains

In the last (almost) two years, during this struggle to get pregnant, I've done a lot of talking about infertility... I've talked to my family, I've talked to most of my friends, I've talked to my husband, I've talked to doctors, and I've done even more talking with God.  I've begged and pleaded with the One who can give me the baby that my heart desires.

In addition to all the talking, praying, and begging, I have done hours and hours of research about this problem. I've tried every trick, supplement, method you can think of.  Or at least I thought I had...

A few nights ago, I had a dream that I was in some water and there were snakes swimming around me.  Sounds terrifying right?  But I wasn't scared in the dream.  Whenever a snake approached me, I grabbed it just below its head and popped its head off with my thumbs.  I know that's gross!  It wasn't as gory, in the dream, as it sounds.  And I should add that this was not the first dream I've had in the last couple of months that included snakes approaching me and me killing them in some form or fashion.  I've been reading a great book on Biblical dream interpretation, and it says that a snake (or serpent) represents Satan.  I don't think it takes a gifted dream interpreter to figure out what these dreams mean, but I didn't think much of it until I came across this verse:

Mark 11:22-24

And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.  Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you..."

Did you catch that?  Whoever SAYS to this mountain.

Two years in, and I can say that infertility is the "mountain". But I don't think I've said anything to the "mountain" itself in all this time.

God didn't give me infertility.  He created us to be whole and fruitful.  The first thing He said to man was "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1:28). He also said that no one would miscarry or be barren in His land (Ex 23:26).  All good gifts come from the Lord and THIS "MOUNTAIN" is not a good gift.  I'm getting hot just typing this because I'm JUST. SO. DONE. with this mountain.

I've done a LOT of talking with Jesus these last two years, but not a whole lot of exercising my authority over the enemy.

Instead of trampling the enemy (Luke 10:19) with my God given authority in Jesus, I've let him trample ME.  

What would I do to an actual person who steals my joy, hurts my family, and violates my body? Would I grab him by the neck and pop his head off?  (OK, maybe that's a little much, but you see where I'm going with this).  More importantly, what would Jesus do?  I have the four Gospels as my proof and my truth that Jesus would cast out the enemy, heal me, and restore what was lost.  But when Jesus died on the Cross, he took barrenness, sickness, disease, sorrow, and sin with Him and left an inheritance of fruitfulness, health, joy, and righteousness (Isa 53:5, Matthew 8:16-17).

Jesus already fought the enemy and won.  In my dream with the snakes, I believe He was showing me that it's up to me to use my God-given authority in Jesus Christ to send Satan and this mountain on their way.

How will I do that?  I have some ideas, but I'm going to let the Holy Spirit guide me.  This was His idea, spoken to me in that dream, and revealed to me in the Word.  I do plan on writing about it so that I can praise Him for what He has already done and give Him glory when He gives the good gift I am praying for!

But I want to make it clear that this isn't just "something else I'm trying to get pregnant and I hope it works".  The Holy Spirit has spoken via a dream and I am just being obedient and answering His call to write about it.

No matter what kind of sickness or infertility or diagnosis that you are facing right now, please know that it is NOT from God.  I hope you are now as angry as I am at the enemy and that it gives you the strength to fight him with your faith that Jesus has already defeated him.  


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