5 Questions About…Infertility

IMG_0002Happy 4th of July!  As you read this, chances are I’ll be with my friend Cathy Wood, watching the parade, or fireworks or laughing about how we both could have been great spies.  There is so much I admire about Cathy.  Her ability to forgive hard things.  Her indomitable positive spirit. Her kindness, and listening ear.  We’ve been in a couples small group for about 25 years and she’s also one of the “7” girls, so I’ve been privileged to walk through a lot of life with her!  All of us either know someone or are someone who has wrestled with a dream to have kids, but an inability to make it happen.  I always benefit from her wisdom, so I’m thankful she agreed to share today!

1. What has been your experience with infertility?
We struggled with infertility and trying to create a family over about a decade.  Although this time is in the rearview mirror of my life, I can readily recall the cycle of doctor appointments, shots, temperature taking and miscarriages…periods of great hope and equally great despair. Thankfully, by the grace of God He brought us thru it all.  He has graciously put our family together thru primary/secondary infertility, adoption and natural birth.

2. What was the hardest thing for you while you struggled with infertility?
I think for me the hardest thing was believing that God was trustworthy and that I could trust him with the outcome. I could pray “ah yes this is a light and momentary trouble” but my heart was breaking. My borders defining God needed to be blown wide open. What did it mean to follow him? My current view wasn’t holding up. I kept thinking that God wanted me to do that “one thing” and then I’d get pregnant. Not sure what that one thing was but I kept trying to guess.

I spent lots of time staring at what I thought was a road block with blinking lights, razor wire and a sign that said ”keep out”. I could see others beyond the gate with children but I couldn’t get there. A turn away from this road to another path was dark and unknown. I had no idea what it would mean or require. I DIDN’T WANT TO GO! The decision really became do I go alone or with God? Slowly and gently (as I am stubborn), God turned my heart towards Him and then the road He had for us.

3. You have had children now, but what would you say to women who maybe are never able to conceive?                                                                                                  “I am so sorry” feels like the only one for me because no feeble attempt by me could make sense this side of heaven. God needs to handle that one. My sincere hope for them would be that they come to know and believe that God loves them and has not lost sight of them.

4. What advice would you give to those who are walking alongside women experiencing infertility?                                                                                                   It is a privilege and holy ground to be let into a person’s life at any time but especially when it is a painful season. Being a safe place to share deep emotions and process is a gift to another. I think it’s a way God redeems our own experiences. Pray, trust God and show up. He’ll do the rest.

5. What did you learn about God and yourself during your season of infertility?
Ha!  Well I would love to say I never doubted… that I have the gift of unshakeable faith but I don’t want to be struck by lightning! I tend to be a bit more of a rebel. What I learned was that God is gracious and merciful. When I began to seek Him, stumble after him and look for Him in the everyday, not just answering this big prayer, I discovered He was there and had been there all the time with small surprises of Himself, the love of friends, reminders of His grace and answered prayer in his time.

Additional Resources Cathy found helpful:

Disappointment With God by Phillip Yancey

If you liked this post, you might also like The Spiritual Discipline of Plan B.

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Easter and a Lunch in Jerusalem

It’s Easter week and I do NOT have the gift of evangelism.  Easter delights me.  Evangelism…well, not so much.

Can you relate?

I was part of a Christian organization in college that taught us to “share our faith” (read: tell people how messed up they are and scare the Hell out of them.  Literally).  We had to go out and practice “sharing” the 4 Spiritual Laws with people (read: random, confused strangers).

It may have scarred me for life – not the tract, the way of “sharing”.

Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse.  I have nothing against the 4 Spiritual Laws as a resource.  Ironically it is how I came to faith in Jesus.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was sitting around a table in Jerusalem eating lunch with a very diverse group of people.

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There were other Jesus-followers like me (you know, kind, sensitive, careful to not offend).

And there was our host, who pastors a church of mostly Messianic Jews.  He is passionate about bringing Jews into a relationship with Jesus – accepting Him as their Messiah.

Lastly there was a Jewish couple at the table who do not buy the Jesus as Messiah line.

I sat in the middle of the table with the “Burdened pastor guy” at one end, and the Jewish couple at the other.

What if the Jewish couple felt offended, uncomfortable, or judged?

What if the pastor “preached” at them (or served pork?).

What if my friend Matt Moberg asked a question that stepped on someone’s toes somewhere at the table and they slammed down their fork and stormed out?

I know that the Gospel can be offensive even if we don’t make it offensive with our delivery. (1 Cor. 1:23, Romans 9:33)

But it didn’t happen.  What also didn’t happen was an honest conversation where real questions were asked respectfully from both ends of the table.

The pastor shared his prayer – that the Jews would come to know Jesus as their savior.

The Jews at the table did not fall to their knees and “pray the prayer of salvation”.  Everyone was respectful and no blood was shed.

Afterwards it prompted several conversations in our group about our posture towards non-believers in Jesus, or explorers, or people of other faiths.

Augustine said “Preach the gospel everywhere. If necessary use words.”  Most of us, I think, have decided that words are really never necessary.

Are we actually denying our faith by our uber-sensitive silence?

I’ve been thinking…What if we, as Christians, saw ourselves as hosts at a luncheon, around a table with guests of varying experiences, just like the one I attended in Jerusalem?  Maybe we’d prioritize

  • People over projects.  If you’re getting to know someone, you want to KNOW about them and have them know about you…authentically.  Build on what you have in common, but be honest about where you have different perspectives or experience.
  • Love language over foreign language.  Genuinely care for the other.  Ask yourself  if you’re speaking a “language” they’ll relate to.
  • Conversation over conversion (which means more asking than telling)
  • Appetizers over All-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet. Offer tiny bites (like those mini desserts in shot glasses they have now).  Don’t try to cram a whole meal down someone’s throat.

Like I said, I’m really not good at this, so I’m trying to learn.  Are there experiences or thoughts you can share?

“But in your hears revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect…”  1 Peter 3:15

 

 

Learning the Language of Peace

Ok, so here’s the thing.  Two years ago when I traveled back to the Holy Land, I didn’t know where the West Bank was.  West Bank of what?   And if the West Bank is so important, what’s up with the East Bank?  Anything?

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I didn’t know what, where, or why the settlements were so controversial.  The Nakba? Is that a type of falafel?  It was all Greek, (or, more accurately, Hebrew) to me.

I didn’t know the mean things Muslims had done to Christians, or Christians had done to Jews, or Israelis had done to Palestinians.  Or what everyone had done to everyone else. Continue reading

No More Bozos For Jesus?

This morning I was praying for some twenty-somethings I know who have kind of wandered away from God.  They’re really enjoying the partying hard thing, the sex without strings thing, and carpe without commitment.  I was praying that God might draw them back to Himself – remind them of the grace and meaning and joy to be found in dependence on Him.

But I have a Confession:  I don’t have the gift of “evangelism” and I often think I don’t care as much as I should about the souls of those far from God.  The culture of “live and let live” has immunized me.  Plus there’s the risk of making anyone feel like a “project” or being labeled one of “those” Christians with pat answers and tracts in place of candy at Halloween that scares me.  Unknown-1

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When We Were On Fire and Got Soaked

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I read very few blogs, but Addie Zierman‘s is one I love.  She is an incredibly talented writer whose new memoir, When We Were on Fire is her story about growing up in an evangelical church, in the “strange us-versus-them world of the 90′s Christian subculture, where your faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets you wore and whether or not you’d “kissed dating goodbye.”  I can’t wait to read this account of her journey in and out of the evangelical church.  Today she’s hosting a synchroblog, inviting others to write of their experience of being on fire for Jesus.  Mine, growing up a suburb of Chicago, was quite different from hers…

I was in high school in the 70’s before “WWJD”, but when “Jesus Freaks” were still a thing.

We weren’t cool enough to earn that title, but not clueless enough to be weird. A friend of mine wrote in the cover of his Bible, “No more Bozo’s for Jesus.”  We just tried not to be “them”.  We fell somewhere between Freaks and Bozos.

The extent of our Jesus freakout was that our youth group went to the downtown Chicago theater productions of Godspell and (subversively) Jesus Christ Superstar.  And we carried our The Way Living Translations of the Bible to school on mornings when we had Bible study.

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With the awe and fervor of new found faith, like a scientist discovering a new planet, we wanted to run up to others, shake them and yell “Have you heard??!!! Isn’t it amazing??!!” and “Do you know about this earth-shattering-stinkin’-awesome grace stuff?”, but we tried not to pounce.

We lurched forward, fell down, and stumbled our way towards owning our faith and finding authentic ways to express ourselves.

Then one day, we were on a Young Life ski trip heading north to Whitecap, Wisconsin.  A jumble of hormonal teens, all arms and legs and acne, some new to faith, some desperately confused, all self-conscious and insecure. Continue reading

When God’s Good Work Doesn’t Seem Good

Tuesday morning at 2:11 a.m. our friends’ baby took one last breath and slipped into the hands of Jesus.  Gentle, healing hands much bigger than ours.

Her parents have known for six months as she fought to grow in her mama’s tummy, that short of a miracle, her breaths would be few, if at all.

Every time the doctors asked if they wanted to abort, they gently said “No”, grateful when the question stopped coming.  They are strong.  They cling to Jesus.

With a good idea of what was ahead, they read with faith and heartache, “I knit you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  But she was. Continue reading

The Story God’s Given You on Fearless Friday

I had a great phone conversation recently with a high capacity leader on the other side of the country.  She is confident, bold, and faithful in using the gifts God has given her.  She inspired me, and challenged me. I walked away from our conversation encouraged…with renewed passion.

Usually I love to read how God is at work in the lives of others!  I love to ask people where they’re noticing the work of God.  Love to hear stories of big faith and audacious prayers.

Conversations like I had with my leader friend are an important part of living into community.  But if that’s all I’ve got, that’s not enough.  We can’t just live off of someone else’s story.  We each need a first-hand experience of God.  I love the way Mark Batterson says this.  “God’s dream for you is bigger than a second-hand faith.”

Sometimes, though, we’re tempted to settle for second-hand.  Easier to cheer from the sidelines than get in the race because…you know…

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The Opposite of Fear on Fearless Friday

My husband John is ridiculously wise and is my biggest cheerleader, praying with and for me regarding this blog.  He’s also extremely gracious, so when I asked him to write this guest post while we’re on vacation, he said “Yes.” 🙂  

It was a crash course in Fear, the single scariest moment in my adult life.  Suspended over the Zambezi River with its crocodiles and the roar of Victoria Falls, my pudgy almost-60 year-old body connected to the bridge by a rope that seemed thinner than yarn. 1-2-3 Jump!  Are you crazy?

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Bungee jumping was terror for a moment, but there are other fears, fears I’ve gotten so used to that they shape my life.  I believe we’re all afraid, experts in fear. While we’re afraid of different things, Fear is not only universal, it has a common impact: Fear STOPS us.

Fear Stops us from:

  • Seeking help for a relationship, instead of running away or living in denial or blame
  • Sharing our dreams, because then someone else would know of our dissatisfaction AND the insecurity that paralyzes us
  • Reaching out to forgive, or asking forgiveness instead of avoiding
  • Crying out to God for help, because our fear of change is even bigger than the status quo, and God might actually DO something

Instead of acting, we live with our fear, we live In fear.

I love Henri Nouwen’s image: “we live in  the House of Fear, and our fears have power over us, even as we long to live in the House of Love.”  I see how we are trapped in the House of Fear, and the lock is on the inside.  How to leave the house of fear?  Will we ever feel Safe?

But the opposite of Fear is not safety, it’s Trust, another word for Faith. Trusting something stronger than fear that paralyzes.  Trust frees us to be vulnerable instead of faking, encourages us to act (even if only a baby step off the ledge).  Only Trust can move us toward the House of Love, where Jesus shows that ‘love casts out fear’.

So a young couple share how they are facing their fear to trust God, and uproot their young family to follow a dream.  A young man faces his fear of disappointing me, and takes a step in trust to a new future.

And, finally, I jumped (though it may have taken a little push).

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If we were sitting over coffee (non-fat white mocha, lite whip) and I shared one of my fears, what would be on the tip of your tongue?  What fear do you yearn to be free of, and how long has it been since you’ve cried out, asking God to free you to the House of Love?  What might be your first little step?

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Second-hand Faith

I’m taking a little August Sabbath, so here’s a short repost I edited from last year that I’m still thinking about…
I had a great phone conversation last night with a high capacity leader on the other side of the country.  She is confident, bold, and faithful in using the gifts God has given her.  She inspired me, and challenged me. I walked away from our conversation encouraged…with renewed passion.
I LOVE to read how God is at work in the lives of others!  I love to ask people where they’re noticing the work of God.  Love to hear stories of big faith and audacious prayers.
Conversations like I had last night are an important part of living into community.  But if that’s all I’ve got, that’s not enough.  We can’t just live off of someone else’s story.
 We each need a first-hand experience of God.  I love the way Mark Batterson says this.  “God’s dream for you is bigger than a second-hand faith.”
Yep, God appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:5), but he also showed up and spoke to Joshua (Joshua 5:14,15).  And Hagar!  He showed up for Hagar!  An outcast in the desert!  Similar situation, different God-story.  He walked with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, whispered to Elijah, argued with Job, and struck Paul blind to get his attention.
As I think about what marked these people with first-hand faith, I think of two important qualities that characterized their lives.