Connie’s Testimony

This is a real picture of our friend Connie. Isn’t she beautiful–inside and out? 🙂

 

For the past two years, I have been on a new type of rollercoaster ride with so many moving parts and this has definitely challenged me in my faith. I felt like if I’m special to God, why haven’t I been blessed with children?

For a while, I didn’t plan to share this until I have reached success, but I feel like I’m finding more of us who are in a similar situation. We get married later in life, work on our careers, get to know ourselves better inside out, and then when we finally think, now is a good time to bring children into the world, we find it’s not as easy to conceive as we could have as teenagers. When people would scare and warn you that you can get pregnant at a drop of a hat.

Recently, I saw a friend’s sister on Instagram share her IVF journey and this inspired me. I’m sure my story will encourage someone out there, struggling between trusting God and “infertility.”

Although it hasn’t been easy, it has challenged my faith and trust in God. I have to say though, in each of our stressful situations, God is trying to show Him who He is to you. It’s all about His relationship to you. It’s trying to show Him a deeper part of how He loves you.

In my quiet times, I know there is a purpose for this waiting period until I am able to conceive. People have prayed for me and I have several confirmations that I will have biological children. Some days, I’m confident and hopeful, while some days, I’m focused on how my period cycles have been increasing in length, then how could I get pregnant? If I can’t even find the right window?

You see, God gave me seeds of hope and expectation. My job is to stay faithful and patient. My action? To rest, worship, and rejoice for how God will work behind the scenes in His appointed time.

I’m starting to realize that the enemy loves to rob me of my hope. He likes to come in and just mess with my patience.

How does he do that? Well, he works in the natural-what we can see, while God works in the supernatural- the unseen.

So for a good six months in 2016, I let anxiety push me. I let voices from my family, peers, society tell me I’m getting old beyond my fertility age. They summarized, “It will be too late.” Now!!!!

I rushed into seeing fertility specialists, going to see acupuncturists, and doing whatever I can so that I can be as “fertile” as possible. Let me say, I had no peace. My mind was spinning and there was no joy. I felt like this was a performance show, meeting everybody’s expectations to prove that I can be fruitful by own might. Basically what I put in, I will reap.

Most recently, IVF was popping up around me in different avenues. I was curious but completely uncomfortable to my core about the process. I just knew that I physically didn’t feel good after trying several IUI’s and didn’t want to go through another intense process. I know God can work through doctors, but for us, He was clearly showing us not to go this route.

Recently, I read a book and it mentioned about how Sarah (Abraham’s wife in the Bible) took control of the situation when she and Abraham were promised a child and they didn’t conceive. She lost patience and a child was born out of their own will, not God’s plan. This decision affected the generations after.

You see, this was what I was doing. Knowing God’s promise personally for my situtation, yet I tried to conceive by my own control. I would surrender and then I take back my anxiety. I surrender and I take back again…and again…

Well today, I know that my blessing will come. It’s only a matter of time. I have to guard my heart to hold onto God’s promises and not waiver. I have to be deliberate about surrendering my anxious thoughts daily.

I appreciate any prayers and support. Thanks for all who have already been my cheerleaders. 

To be continued…

–Connie

Photo credit: Liz Franco Photography


Connie, I’m in tears as I read your journey through the past few years, your battle between desiring God’s work in your life and also wanting your desires to be met in some sort of time frame that is close. Thank you so much for sharing, as many women are currently in this place, and not many are as courageous, to share their raw emotions and bare their hearts. It is obvious how God is working in you. We’re cheering for you, and praying for you!

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me at [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Does Infertility Affect Friendships?

friendship

“So…do you guys think you might, I mean, someday, ever want to have kids?” My friend asks me as we play with her toddler on the floor. I see the curve of her belly, pregnant with their second. She doesn’t know we’ve actually been trying for over a year—with no success of conceiving. She doesn’t know I actually ache to be in her shoes. Swollen feet and all. “Oh, yeah,” I say, “We definitely want kids.” And I roll the ball to her toddler, trying to act as natural as possible.

Inside, I have no idea if I will be able to have kids. And I wonder if she knows, we’re trying. I wonder if she knows I would be a mom by now, if I could. And that as disheveled and chaotic as she feels, and as unattractive as she thinks she looks, with her postpartum curves—she actually looks incredibly beautiful to me. But I don’t know how to say this. Not today. 

My friend is sweet, and doesn’t press further. And I feel relieved when she doesn’t.

***

I was completely blindsided by it: infertility. I remember so naively waiting those two minutes for that first pregnancy test, feeling so sure it would be positive. I envisioned us jumping up and down in celebration. But instead, we just stood there. “Maybe it will just take a little while,” my husband said. “Yeah,” I tried to shrug off the disappointment, “Maybe.”

But month after month of trying to conceive, my period came back. And months turned into years of waiting. And crying. And praying. And wondering…

What was wrong with us?

All of our friends were on babies #2 and #3, but we could not get pregnant with one. As our friends’ families grew with new babies—it was just still just the two of us. As our friends traded in their cars for SUV’s and minivans, and turned offices into nurseries—we would walk by our extra bedrooms and pray God would fill them someday. Somehow.

Sometimes it felt like the world kept rushing past us, while we just stayed still, frozen in time. Waiting for God to move.

Now looking back on those years of waiting, I see God was moving the whole time. In fact, He did some of His best work in us during those years. And He did it, before I ever got pregnant. He opened my eyes to see. And instead of seeing my life as a barren wasteland of disappointment, I saw Him. I saw His beauty–and that though my womb was barren, my soul didn’t have to be. He began to make me alive in Him and began to birth something in me that would change the way I see forever.  (You can read more about my infertility story here.)

But what about in the meantime? How does infertility affect friendships between women? And if you are already a mom, how should you approach a friend who is possibly unable to conceive?

I can’t speak for other women—I only know my own experience with infertility—but here are a few ways women who are already mothers can honor their “childless” friends, whether they are “childless” by choice, singleness, or infertility.

1. Realize the Mommy Club can be slightly exclusive. Being a mom now for two and a half years, I have grown to love the Mommy Club. I love swapping labor stories, poop stories, and tantrum stories with other other moms, just to know I’m not alone in this. Motherhood is an incredible bond between women (even women who are just passing by in the grocery store!) But the “Mommy Club,” as wonderful as it is, can be a little exclusive at times to non-mothers, especially in the Church. And this often happens quite innocently. All the moms are laughing and going on and on, swapping war-stories from the mommy trenches, and raving about the best butt paste, and the non-mother has nothing to contribute except, “I babysat in high school once.” (Cricket, cricket.)

Now, this doesn’t mean you should drop your mom fellowship time. (Not at all!)  It’s just something to be aware of, so that you can love, and include, and value the woman who is not a mother, just as much as the one who is. And in order to do this, we as moms have to, “Look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

2. Include Your Non-Mom Friends. I think many moms assume that “non-moms” would never want to come to a play date, or meet up at the mall when your kids are present.  But I loved when my friends would include me in things like this, without the prerequisite of being a mom. I’m so thankful for friends that invited me into their daily life at home with kids because this helped me see what it was like to be a mom, and made me desire to be a mom.

Although motherhood is a strong bond, it’s not the only bond women can have. For Christians hopefully there is a bond even stronger than motherhood, and that is being a part of God’s kingdom together. Being a daughter of God connects me to every other female in the body of Christ—whether she’s two, or twenty-two, or sixty-two. It’s a sisterhood that began long before I ever conceived my daughter. And it’s one that will need to exist while I raise my daughter, and long after she has a family of her own.

3. Be Sensitive In Approaching The Topic Of Infertility. If you are already a mom and curiously wondering if, or when your childless friend will ever have children, try to be patient. I never minded at all if someone asked, “Do you think you ever want to have kids?” It was what happened beyond that question. The moment you ask, “Well, are you trying?” You are pawing at a box she might not want opened—or hasn’t initiated opening, anyway. For your friend who is battling infertility, it might feel to her like you are going through her underwear drawer. It might feel like you are saying, “So..when are you gonna have kids? Are you having sex, or what? What birth control are you using? How long have you been off of it? Is he still wearing a condom? How’s your man’s sperm count? Is everything working down there with you two? Are you guys having enough sex?” (Whoa.) No, thanks.

Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you. Or your friendship. You may get the information you want, but you’ll damage the friendship. I think that the woman that is comfortable talking about her infertility, will talk about it. So let her bring it up.

And if she does share intimate details with you, honor her in that. Be very careful not to gossip about anything she shares with you. (That means not telling anybody she hasn’t specifically told you to tell.) This comes down to simply loving your infertile friends, being patient with them, and learning how to honor them and uphold their privacy through the process.

4. Be Exceedingly Thankful To Be A Mom.  It’s especially difficult for women who could never conceive, or lost every child in miscarriage to hear women gripe and complain about being a mom. It’s true that motherhood has intense challenges, sleepless nights, and can at times make you feel like you are totally losing it. But, for the Christian, we are called to battle back with joy and gratitude and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Complaining and grumbling not only steals your joy and darkens your perspective, but it can make the hearts of others ache, too. So be joyful in your mothering, knowing that others are watching and listening. You might be afraid that if you “enjoy” your motherhood too much in front of “childless” women, you will cause them pain. However, I think the opposite is true. Your grumbling causes them pain, not your joy. So be exceedingly joyful in your motherhood, and if, or when they get to enter motherhood they will be more likely to be joyful in it, too.

5. Be Available For Your Infertile Friends.  The longer a woman, or couple experiences infertility, the more likely they will be to open up about it. And if they open up to you, give them the encouragement they need. Pray for them, comfort them with Scripture, and remind them that God is lovingly leading their life together. We were very private about our struggle with infertility, but the few people we did open up to provided such a source of comfort and strength to us during the process.

Infertility Doesn’t Have To Break A Friendship
As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to love each other. The seasons of our lives don’t always line up perfectly with each other. And although some friendships may drift while others thrive, let’s let it be because of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And not because of the anger, bitterness, and jealousy of an infertile couple. Let’s not let friendships be broken by prying questions, or gossip, or because we were too selfish to look past ourselves.

I think something really beautiful happens when people from different seasons of life are both vulnerable and strengthening to each other. Titus 2 talks about how within the body of Christ we all need each other.  So, wherever you are at, whether you are in a house filled with the cries and screams of little children, or you are praying desperately for a miracle in your womb, or you are a grandmother, or you are a single person who is traveling the globe, let’s love each other. Because before any of us were mothers, we were daughters. We were sisters. We were children, born into the Kingdom of God and saved by the blood and mercy of Jesus Christ. The One whom we love, and live for.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).


This post was first published on Loving My Lot as a guest post I wrote for author/blogger Jeanne Harrison. Be sure to check out Jeanne’s other posts, like Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming, and her new blog turned book, “Loving My Lot”, which you can purchase by clicking on the picture link below!

 

Photo Credit: D’Attoma Studios

To The Woman Still Longing To Be A Mom

I am thinking of you tonight. Actually, I think of you often. I know how you feel when you walk through the Baby section at Target. Maybe with a gift registry in your hand, and wonder if you will ever own a tiny bathtub like the one you are buying. You wonder if you will ever own little onesies, or little shoes, or little anything. Because right now, the miracle seems so far away.

You will go to the baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little tiny gifts of your own to open? Will your stomach ever round with life? Will you ever hold a baby and whisper over him or her, the word you long to say, “Mine.

I know how your heart aches, and waits, and wonders at a life that seems so easy for others, even “accidental” for many, but so seemingly impossible and difficult for you.

Maybe tonight you hold out fragile hands to a God, that you have to believe, hope against hope, is a good Father. And gives good gifts to His children. And that He gives bread and not stones. Even when you can’t taste it yet.

For the woman who feels He is far tonight, I’m thinking of you. For the woman who is growing weary of waiting tonight, I’m thinking of you. And for the woman who has yet to hold her child lost in miscarriage, I’m thinking of you.

And maybe you never got see your baby’s face. Maybe you never even got to give your baby a name. But God knows your baby’s face. God knows your baby’s name. He knew from the moment He breathed him or her into existence. And though your arms ache to hold that child, He is holding him or her tonight. And though you’d give the world to sing them lullabies, He sings over them tonight. And I know you have to wonder, why aren’t they here? With me? And I do not know such a mystery. All I can wonder is, perhaps the world was not worthy of such a one.

They were too precious.

I’m not trying to make you grieve. I just want you to know that I love you tonight. And I think about you. And I want you to know God has filled me with compassion, and love, and hope for you.
Because you are the reason I started Barren to Beautiful. Your pain, and confusion, and your aching heart is the reason. And I know, we have never met. I wish we could. I wish I could hear your story. I wish I could hear your heart’s cry tonight. I wish I could console you.

And so, because I can’t, I just want to turn my gaze toward the One who can. The God who made you, and loves you, and has ordained your life with purpose. And so I’m just going to pray for you, if you want to join in:
Dear God,
I lift up my sister to You tonight. And though this is just a little blog post, You are a big God. And so I pray that You would break into the room where she is right now, by Your Spirit. And show her that You are real. And that You have the power, and that Your Spirit gives life.

Show her that You hear her cries in the night, even the quiet whispers of her heart. You know her dreams. You’ve seen them all. And before a word is on her tongue, O Lord, You know it completely.

You formed her together in her mother’s womb, Your eyes saw her unformed body. And all the days ordained for her were written in Your book, before one of them came to be.

And thank you that this is not the end. Thank you that endless and boundless life flows from You. Thank you that in You, death has lost it’s power. Death has lost it’s sting. And that the Day is coming when Death will be swallowed up in Life forever.

So bring comfort to her heart, and peace to her soul. And when her body is weak and gives out, be her strength. When her body fails her, month after month, let her say, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none on earth I desire besides You. Though my heart and my flesh may fail, You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26
God, come close to her tonight–because you say in Your Word to the barren woman,

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
    behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
    and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

I pray you would fill her with Your Holy Spirit, and that her heart and soul would overflow with Your life. And that though her womb may be barren, her spirit would not be barren any longer. Minister to her tonight. And let her rest in You, and to wake with perfect peace as she fixes her mind on You all night long.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S My husband recorded this beautiful song in our living room the other night. And he did it for a friend who is grieving right now, but I just wanted to share it with you as well. It’s a very old hymn called, “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right.” Click here to listen to it. Perhaps it will minister to you, as much as it does to me.

Much love. You are my heart. And feel free to connect on Facebook, or via email at barrentobeautifulblog.com . For more of my story or encouragement during infertility, check out the posts in the Trying To Conceive category on my blog.

Love,

Rebekah

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

When Waiting Weakens You

 

 Have you ever thought you were finally almost out of a difficult season in your life only to find–it’s not over yet? Or, it ended briefly, only to return with more full vengence? Have you ever thought things were finally changing, or finally “good,” and then find they are even worse than before?

I was looking out the window this morning and it was just so dark and dreary. There are still remains of snow and unmelted ice. And the yard, and ground, and earth are all muddy and brown. It’s really quite ugly. There’s just so much mud and dirt and yuck outside. And the thermostat is only topping off at 40 degrees. Which means we’re all still trudging around in boots and coats. 

It’s supposed to be Spring. My calendar says so.

We’ve gotten a few tastes of it, but for the most part we’re still stuck in this winter. This awful winter, that has landed us yet again in the top 5 snowiest cities. We thought it was finally over. We thought we were finally out of it.

And then it snows again. Isn’t this supposed to be over? Isn’t this supposed to be different…by now?

That’s how it feels sometimes, when we are waiting on God to deliver us. Or deliver someone we love. Or to free us from a certain situtation. Or heal us from a certain disease. Or to restore a broken relationship. To rebuild shattered trust. To rebuild our finances. To cut us loose from a horrible job, and give us a new one. To give us the thing that we’ve been so desperately asking for. 

Sometimes the waiting feels so long. Sometimes the nights feel so desperate. Sometimes the days feel so alone. And sometimes we’re just left wondering: 

Will Spring ever come?

I’m not talking about weather. I’m talking about whatever “Spring” is for you. The “Spring” of your soul, the season of warmth, and ease, and pleasure. The comfort for your afflicted soul. 

I want to encourage you this morning. It’s coming. He is coming. For you.

As I looked today at all the mud, and yuck, I realized something today:

Sometimes things look worse, when they are actually getting better. Like the earth, it is undergoing a change right now, to transition into the next season. And while it looks ugly, and dirty, and dark outside–underneath it all–God is doing something. He’s watering the earth. He is preparing it for the next season. New life is just about to break forth.  Spring is coming.

So, don’t throw away your hope. If things in your life suddenly look worse than they ever have, perhaps it’s because God is preparing you for new life. There has to be mud, before grass. Think about how during childbirth, the last phase of labor is the most difficult. The moments of the most intense pain come right before the baby is delivered. The moments of feeling like “I cannot take this anymore,” come right before the deliverance. 

Maybe it feels like your hope has been deferred just one too many times. Maybe you aren’t sure if God is hearing you. Maybe you don’t know if God can sort through such a complicated situation. Maybe you wonder if He has any grace left for you. Maybe you wonder if God still heals. Maybe you can’t remember a time when things were good. Maybe you are so sick of the “same problem.” Maybe you haven’t seen grass in a very long time. Or new life. 

 

Sometimes the ugliest moments come before the most beautiful ones. And God is bigger than your pain, bigger than your dispair, bigger than your confusion. 

So don’t lose heart—if things just suddenly “got worse.” Don’t be afraid. God is in your midst. The ground looks the ugliest before new grass comes, before flowers can grow. You are not forgotten, your way is not lost. Your life is ever before Him. And He knows, He sees you. He hears you. 

“O you afflicted one, 

Tossed with tempest and not comforted,

Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,

And lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

Here’s a prayer to pray if you can’t find the words:

Oh God, I thought it would be better by now. I thought we were done dealing with this. I thought we wouldn’t have to go through this again. And Lord, I confess, I feel I can’t go on anymore. I feel I can’t see anything. It’s so dark sometimes. I can’t see You, I can’t see the light, I can’t see anything but this awful “thing.” My hope is so fragile, and weak. But here, right here in this mess. Right here in this chaos. Right here in this death. I lift my hands to you. Like a child needing to be carried. Like someone needing to be rescued. Come, rescue me. “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me…” (Habakkuk 2:1) I will wait for You, like the watchman waits for the morning. I won’t fear the night. This long season of darkness. Because in the darkness, You speak. In the mud, you plant seeds of new life, that will spring up. 

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off fom the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls–Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

He is the hope for the one whose feet fail. If you are at a point where your feet cannot go any futher, and you have no more strength–good news! He gives you new feet. Right at the place you can’t walk anymore. He makes your feet like the feet of a deer, so that you can. Praise God, because you don’t have to pull up your boot straps. You can just take off your shoes. And say, “God, I need new feet.” And He will give you new feet. He will enable you to walk in a way you never have before. He will enable you to walk upon the heights. And  you will be able to say,

“The LORD God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.” Habakkuk 3:19

My Deliverer is coming, my Deliverer is standing by. –Rich Mullins

Spring is coming. Your God is coming. For You. And all who hope in Him,

will never be put to shame. 

He makes all things new. He makes all things grow. He leads you beside quiet waters. He makes you lie down in green pastures. And however long this winter, the day is coming when you will walk in the new grass, with bare feet. 

So don’t despise the mud, life is about to break forth from it. 

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When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You

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This Christmas season my almost-4-year-old daughter will “help” decorate: She will yank on the Christmas lights, and break ornaments, and stick her fingers in the cookie dough.

But it hasn’t always been this way. There were many quieter Christmases at our house.

I remember just a few years ago, my husband and I were putting up the tree. And as I pulled out lights and ornaments from the red and green storage bins—I found our stockings.

I guess it’s just instinct to reach my hand inside. Maybe a stray Snickers bar? Some leftover Christmas candy? I immediately felt something in mine.

But what I pulled out of my stocking was not candy.

It was a another little stocking.

Almost like a…baby stocking.

I’m not sure where it came from or how it got in there. But as I held the tiny stocking in my hand, a pang of sorrow filled my heart. I couldn’t help but think of the little baby I had desired for so long. As I touched the fabric gently in my fingers, warm tears rolled down my cheeks and the Christmas lights blurred around me.

I longed for the little one I could one day hang this stocking for. The patter of little feet. And the sound of laughter.

I held the tiny stocking up to  my husband, and tried to force a smile, with tears coming down my cheeks. He came and sat down on the couch next to me and pulled me into his chest, holding me in his arms. More tears came then.
“I just thought,” I said, as tears streaked slowly down my face, “We would have a baby by now.”

“I know,” he whispered and stroked my hair with his fingers. “I know.”

It seemed like forever then, the waiting. The not knowing. The trusting. The wondering if God would answer. And when.

Tonight, that little stocking hangs on our mantle. For two years it’s hung. And the one for whom it hangs sits with me here on the couch and lays her sleepy head on my lap. And as I slowly stroke her blonde hair with my fingers, hot tears run again. And Christmas lights blur. Selah.

My Precious Selah,
Our nights aren’t silent any more. They are loud with screams, and cries, and laughter. But when you go to sleep, and me and Daddy are left alone, sometimes I sit and remember the time before you. And I grow silent once more, in awe and reverence…because of what God has done. And I think about the way He came close to me during the years of silent nights, and my silent cries for you. When your name was but a whispered prayer. A dream in the night.
Selah.

You were worth every minute I waited for you.