Hardship & Healing

If you have ever struggled with infertility (or anything really), there’s someone I would like you to meet. This woman struggled with bleeding for 12 years. Twelve! She was considered to have less value than others and did everything within her power to resolve her issues. But regardless of her efforts she only found her condition growing worse with each passing year. I imagine she was exhausted, frustrated, heartbroken and weary. Let’s take a look at her story…

“A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse – after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” Mark 5:25-34 (NASB)

So this story is about a woman desperate and at the end of her rope. She had nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. Then she hears about Jesus and thinks this is it. I have to get to Him. As she made her way through the crowd, I can imagine them looking down on her in disgust. People with her condition would have been known, loathed, considered unclean, and would have been shunned rather than loved. But she knew, if she just made her way to Jesus, she would be healed.

Her healing was a miracle. No doubt. But what I love most about it is what happened after she was healed. Jesus knew what was happening. He knew she had touched Him and that she was immediately healed of her bleeding. But He still asked who touched Him. I believe He did this for many reasons, but here are two I can’t help but highlight.

First, it made everyone stop in their tracks. I imagine Jesus stopping this huge crowd around Him, turning, looking around, and pretending He doesn’t see her. He was making his actions known, and caused the crowd to wonder what was going on. It’s clear His disciples were totally confused as you can read the sarcasm in their voice, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?” ‘ And as all of this was happening, the woman that was healed is terrified knowing exactly what she had done and realizing she was being called out for it by Jesus himself.

Another reason I think He stopped and addressed what happened was to allow this woman the opportunity to publicly announce her faith and healing. She could have remained hidden in the crowd, but by acknowledging what happened it solidified her faith, served as a testimony to Christ’s power and healing, and restored her in the eyes of the crowd. Her healing was an example of how Christ loves all, including those that people feel are unlovable or of less worth. He knew by publicly commending her faith He would be healing her heart, exalting her in front of the crowd and allowing her the opportunity to serve as an example of His power, goodness and love to those that had previously shamed her.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, I think it’s safe to say we all encounter hardship. Either something has happened in our life that hurt use deep and just won’t heal, we feel God has forgotten us in some way, life hasn’t gone the way we think it should, we feel we deserve more than what we have, or we have found that life is simply harder than we think it should be. We don’t know why we have to deal with something that’s happened out of our control, and feel we’re stuck in the mud without the energy or ability to get out.

But like the woman that was healed, we have to have faith. I’m sure she wondered why she had to endure bleeding for 12 years and all the pain and ridicule that came with it. But I think if she hadn’t, God wouldn’t have been able to use the moment of her healing and testimony without that hardship first happening. It wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable if she had only been bleeding for a little while, but by having this condition for 12 years and countless physicians trying to make her well with no success, it allowed all glory and credit to go to Jesus Christ, not just on that day, but every day since. He healed her and there was nothing anyone could say to her to dispute that fact.

So I share this to say as we go through life and have hardship, I pray that we learn to trust God in the midst of our chaotic world. It’s not always easy and we probably won’t receive healing like the woman did, but when we trust God and have faith like she did, I know He can heal our hearts and use our pain for something good. He can use us and our testimonies in ways we never dreamed were possible. He can increase our faith as we release our lives to Him. And no matter the trial or hardship before us, He can heal our souls, provide a peace unlike anything before, and provide us with a testimony that lasts beyond our lifetime.

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Actions Speak Louder than Words

If there is one thing parenting has taught me (and continues to teach me), it is that our actions speak so much louder than any words ever will. We can tell our kids to do something, but if we’re not a living example of how we hope they will behave as they grow, than our words will fall on deaf ears. We can say we’re a good parent, but if we don’t make the most of the time we get with our kids than we need to reevaluate our priorities. If we don’t model our faith, hard work, discipline, friendship, honesty, loyalty, strength, integrity, perseverance, forgiveness, kindness, etc. it will be much harder for our children to understand the importance of these virtues. We are the biggest example our children will learn from, and I’m so thankful my daughter has such an amazing man in her life.

My husband is incredible. He works long hours, but always makes sure our daughter and I know that we come first. He rushes home each night, often turning down important networking opportunities, in order to get as much family time in as possible before our daughter heads to bed. If there’s something he can’t get out of, he still manages to get home, and then sneaks out once our daughter’s gone to bed. He wakes up early to get his workouts in while she eats breakfast so he can model the importance of being healthy while still allowing us to have family time before he leaves for work.  He plans, prepares, and cooks all of our meals to make sure we are all eating well, and so that I have one less thing to worry about.

My husband delights in our daughter, always lighting up when she runs into his arms yelling “Daddy!”. He makes her stuffed animals come to life until she falls over in delight full of giggles. He loves, laughs, wrestles, reads, colors, plays games, has dance parties, snuggles, kisses, disciplines, and simply makes the most of every moment he gets with our precious girl.

My husband is also my best friend, and partner in life. He is a man of strength, and a man of God. He’s handsome, smart, talented, powerful, funny, honest, trustworthy, loyal, and the only man I would ever want leading my family or to grow old with. We’ve been together for almost 15 years, and I still feel like I’m continuing to fall in love with him more and more. He knows me better even than I know myself, and always supports my dreams. When I needed to have a career he was my biggest cheerleader. When I wanted to stay home to raise our daughter he made it happen. He has and continues to teach me how to love, laugh, have confidence in myself, trust God in all things, how to let go, and how to live. He loves me, challenges me, comforts me, believes in me, and is the most important person in my life. He makes me a better person, and he always makes sure I know I’m the only woman in the world that matters to him.

My husband models what it means to live out your faith, to love and cherish your family, to work hard, follow your dreams, to be disciplined, and to set priorities in your life. She doesn’t know it now, but everything he does is showing her love, building her confidence, instilling her values, setting the foundation for their relationship as she grows, and serving as a living example of what a real man, husband, and father is. He’s the kind of man I pray our daughter finds when she’s older (much older), and through him she can see the blessings that come when you marry a man that leads your family in faith, is your best friend, your life partner, reminds you of your value, and is a man that you know will always love, honor and support you throughout life.

When Dreams Come True — My Infertility Miracle

In 2007 my husband and I began our journey into parenthood with no idea what we were in for. Like most couples, we didn’t expect it would lead us down the road of infertility. After I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), we went through years of fertility treatments until my body finally gave out in 2010, and we were told conceiving a child of our own just wasn’t possible. The news was devastating, but eventually we accepted it and moved on. We began exploring our options for adoption, but after almost two years of research and prayer, we simply didn’t have peace in knowing that was God’s ultimate plan for our family. Read more

The Calling of Adoption

My husband and I began exploring adoption a few years ago. We had gone through fertility treatments, and had been told the only way we would become parents was through adoption. I remember being amazed at how my once closed mind to adoption had quickly opened, and I began to imagine an exciting journey to find our child.  Read more

The Battle of Infertility

You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it again, infertility is a battle.  Everyday is a fight of choice. Will you throw in the towel and let your emotions take over, or will you find strength to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given?  I recently posted on Facebook the statement, “It’s not about the blessings that haven’t arrived; it’s making the most of the blessings you’ve been given this day.”  It came to me as I was heading into work, and taking a moment to pause before reading my Bible.  I wish I could say I do this every day, but I’m human, and unfortunately I don’t.  But I can’t help but think God gave me this thought as I was beginning just another day of life with infertility.

To me, infertility is battle.  It’s fierce.  It breaks you physically and emotionally. It drains the life out of you, and just when you think you have things under control it gains power out of nowhere and knocks you down again.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about being a mom, or how wonderful of a father my husband would be.  Infertility tests you, and quite honestly if I didn’t have faith in knowing God’s plan is ultimately best, I don’t know where I’d be today.  It’s hard to trust God when you don’t like what He’s allowing you to go through and all you can do is walk through life blindly, but I think that’s the ultimate lesson in faith.

Trusting God regardless of the outcome is one thing life has taught me.  I can plan and plan, but in the end His plan is always much better than my own.  It is hard looking at it on this end without knowing how things will end up, but He’s shown me time and time again that His plan is always best and He can use each trial that comes along as a way of growing my relationship with Him, reaching others I couldn’t have without going through that trial, and when His plan is finally revealed I can see how each step along the way was preparing me for a greater purpose.

Just like every battle, blessings can be found as the dust settles.  There are highs and lows, but through each battle you learn what you’re made of, and I’ve learned a lot through infertility.  When my husband and I got married almost 8 years ago, I never imagined anything would come between us.  Life was wonderful and we got excited about starting a family. But when things didn’t go as planned, it tested us and showed us what true love is.  In all honesty, I had hard time processing my emotions.  I didn’t know what to feel, and when I did feel something, it was a range of emotion from excitement, to frustration, to guilt, to fear, to anger, to bitterness, to jealousy, and I just couldn’t decipher it all.  But by not knowing how to process my emotions, I became distant, distracted, and left my husband in the dark as to how I was feeling until I really just needed to explode and get it out.  It was through infertility that we had to fight for each other, get in the trenches, and love each other even when we didn’t like each other very much.  But through this battle, we are now stronger, closer, more honest, and have both said our marriage and life is even better now than it’s probably ever been.  It’s sad to see how marriage is not taken seriously these days, but for us, no matter what comes our way, we know we will always get through it together.

Another blessing that has appeared through this battle has been helping friends going through similar struggles.  When we went through our infertility treatments we really felt alone.  We let friends know we had been trying and were going through treatment, but without going through it yourself, it’s nearly impossible to understand.  As time has passed though, some of our friends have had to venture into their own battle with infertility.  Some have gotten their happy ending, and others continue down the road of the unknown.  Now I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone, but it’s really been a blessing to be able to support friends going through similar struggles which in turn has grown our friendship.

You could say that I started this blog as a way of conquering my battle with infertility.  I can now take a step back and recount my emotions without being as clouded by them.  I can share my story with others as a way of combatting the silence around the subject while reaching out to others and letting them know they’re not alone.  And finally, I can find peace about the past and look forward to the future.  It’s amazing to see how much more at ease I feel these days about not knowing what the future holds, and how I know now that if I have to continue waiting another year, two or even three years before I learn what will happen that’s ok because I’ve come this far and I know God will continue to prepare me for whatever His outcome is.  Through my years of waiting I’ve learned He can bring along peace in uncertainty, and by having that it allows me to enjoy my husband more and the blessings we’ve been given today. So even though the battle of infertility may pick up speed on some days, for the most part, and by the grace of God, I’m able to keep the battle far off in the distance.

2011: Remembering the Past and Trusting God with the Future

Happy New Year, and thanks for sticking around even after the long breaks in writing.  It’s now 2011 which seems so hard to believe.  I hope the holidays were good to you, and you are looking forward to the new year.  Many people look at the new year, and think about all they want to accomplish.  Some of you are probably hoping for a pregnancy, others for a baby through adoption, and others may just be trying to move on.  For me, I’m just wanting to enjoy whatever comes this year without any expectations.

Since my husband and I started trying, each year I looked at the holidays as our last one just the two of us.  I would think about how there was a good chance we’d be adding a baby to our family, and how I couldn’t wait to celebrate the next Thanksgiving or Christmas with a little one in my arms.  In a way, I think I robbed myself of those holidays by fixating on what was missing, or dreaming of what may be rather than enjoying the life I had been given.  This year I had a different approach.  Maybe it’s because we’ve stopped trying, and are still uncertain about adoption, but this year I truly enjoyed Christmas for what it was…a time to reflect on all Christ has done for us, and a time to enjoy what’s really important in life.  My husband and I had almost two weeks off of work together, and I truly treasured every second.  2010 was a very busy and demanding year for us, so having some time to ourselves was simply wonderful.

If there’s anything 2010 has taught me, it would have to be that life is full of uncertainty, and the only joy we can find is by embracing the life we’ve been given.  I’ve learned that barren is the term that defines me now more than infertile, and as hard as it was to admit it, it has helped me to move on.  Coming to grips with reality is hard.  I see a lot of posts from infertiles on Facebook refusing to admit that they are infertile.  Many women go through years of failed infertility treatments and failed adoptions all while refusing to give up.  They allow their struggles to define them and take pride in the difficutlies they find in life.  For me, I was very much like them so by writing this now I’m not telling anyone how to feel… but the truth is facing reality and admitting defeat has felt more like claiming victory than throwing in the towel.  It’s like I finally have my life back.  I know I won’t get pregnant, and I will never give birth to my child, but that doesn’t mean my life can’t go on and God doesn’t have a plan for it.  God can use our strengths and weaknesses to grow us, and by opening my heart to His plans, I can move on from my own.  Adoption may become my reality one day, and if it does, I will love our baby with every breath that I have.  I think that we will be better parents for the time and struggles we’ve been through, and our marriage will be stronger by going through our infertility battle together.  But the urgency to adopt seems to have faded.  Adoption is no longer about me, what I want, or my timing, but it’s more about what God’s plan is for us as a couple and family.  I’ve learned that when I take things into my own hands before it’s time, things usually end up a mess.  But if I wait to see where God leads then the path brings more peace than I could have ever brought about myself.

So this year for me is all about enjoying life.  Doing things I’ve always wanted to do, loving life for the blessings I’ve been given, and allowing God to mold my hopes and dreams however He chooses.  I’m giving each day to Him to reveal His plan, and to make the desires of my heart a better reflection of Him.

The Healing Process – Part 3

To finish off my series on the Healing Process, I figured I would write about “Time”.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a year and a half since we found out we wouldn’t be conceiving a child.  As I’ve mentioned before, we immediately began looking into adoption, but after not knowing which country to choose, we decided to wait.  During this waiting period we have bought a home, I started this blog and have changed jobs.

I think in some ways God has used each of these items as a great distraction, and as a way of continuing my growth.  My days of sadness are much more rare, and these past activities have allowed me to stay busy.  Our move was a huge help to me as it allowed me to let go of many painful memories made in our old home that I didn’t even realize were there.  Though I loved it, I honestly had a hard time going into our guest bedroom.  To me, I only saw the baby’s room that never was.  The move allowed me to leave the bathroom that I read so many negative test results in,  leave the kitchen where I injected so many medications into my body, and leave the home that was filled with so many unfulfilled dreams.  The move was honestly very refreshing.  It was like a clean break, and a new beginning in a new home.

Another big help that came with the move was giving my husband his “we’re pregnant” gift.  When we first started trying, I had gotten his old baby clothes, blanket, and rattle from his parents’ house and placed them in a baby themed gift bag.  I covered the clothes with tissue paper, and had ribbons closing the bag which read “It’s a boy” and “It’s a girl”.  I had also gotten a blank yellow card that said “Baby” on the front, and inside planned to place a picture of the positive pregnancy test which would then turn into the first picture of our baby’s book.  I had this present hidden in my closet for years, but as we were packing up our room I decided it was time to let go of it and give it to my husband. I knew our pregnant moment would never come, and the moment we shared as I gave him his gift is one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.  My husband has been a great source of strength through everything.  He’s always been honest (even when I didn’t want to hear it), and has allowed me to handle things however I needed to handle them.  He let me yell at him when I couldn’t hold things in any longer, cry when I needed to just let it all out, and has loved me even when I wasn’t a very lovable person.  I seriously couldn’t be blessed with a more wonderful man which leads me onto this next point… this blog.

This blog has also brought me a lot of peace about not becoming pregnant, and I’ve been amazed at how many people have told me they’ve been touched by it.  What started out as a way to record my thoughts has turned into a ministry opportunity.  It was scary in the beginning, but my husband said if it was something I thought I should do then I should just do it well.  That additional support was just what I needed to hear.  It’s has been through this blog that I realized my previous prayers and questions of why God would allow me to have such a strong desire if it was never going to be fulfilled has been answered.  He’s shown me that He allowed me to have this desire so that He could use it to speak and reach others going through similar life events.  It honestly seems insane to think He would use me, my situation, and the road I’ve traveled to reach others, but as He continues to bring strangers across my path I have learned that this was all part of His plan.  He’s shown me that He can give us a desire so that He can use it in a way we never imagined, and even if it goes unfulfilled, it can still have a purpose.  I’ve learned that He is always God, and can use absolutely anything, even our fears, to bring glory to Him.

So my healing process has been just that… a process.  I’m finally at peace about never becoming pregnant, and excited to see what the future holds. What that is still remains a mystery, but I’m excited to travel whatever road God decides to take us down.  I look forward to still possibly adopting, but I can even see us just remaining a couple… which shows me how much God has taken ahold of me and my dreams.  I’ve learned that letting go of my dreams is much harder than trying to hold onto them, but at the end of the day I just want to be wherever God wants me to be.  I know that no matter what happens, I will still be thankful to have gone through this journey, and will continue living happily ever after with the man of my dreams.  My love for my husband has grown through all of these ups and downs.  We’ve been in the trenches together, fought for each other, and loved each other each step of this journey.  I’ve learned that love isn’t always easy, but it’s after experiencing each other’s highs and lows, that the journey of going through each of these moments is what builds an even stronger bond as you continue the journey together.  He has, is, and will always be the love of my life and the only man for me. So whatever we decide is best, I know we’re going to be just fine… as our current family of two…or even if we end up as the longed for family of three.