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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Fear, Small Things, and a Big God

One of the ways God reassures me is to say “do not despise the day of small things.”*  He uses the ordinary, and the overlooked, and the seemingly inconsequential.  And even the things He does with these can go overlooked.  Unnoticed.

I used to think that if it was “of God” it had to be big and bold and dramatic and flashy.  Like a super hero.  But then I learned that if he can use flour and oil, and widows, and dropouts, there’s hope for me.  I’m thankful for that, because my life is mostly a life of “small things”.

But lately I’ve been convicted that I’ve gone too far.  I’m settling for too little. I’m settling for a small god, instead of the real thing.   It’s not me who’s flashy and dramatic, but I can trust in God to do amazing things through me, beyond my ability.

Sometimes He wants to do big things.

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Mind the Gap


Ephesians 3:20 says, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory…”

This past weekend I experienced the joy of Ephesians 3:20 as our daughter, Maggie, married a young man who was more than I could ask for or imagine for her.

As a mom, I’ve prayed all her life for the man she might one day marry.  And it is a sign of my small faith that Austin surprised even me.  He is a godly partner who compliments her beautifully.

Once upon a time, I thought that was how God was  – always predictable in the way I thought He should be.  “Immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” was in my way (Read: fun, exciting, and comfortable) and in my time (Read: NOW).

Immeasurably more seems…well, fantastic!  A delightful combo of Candyland and a beach on Maui.

But what do we do when God doesn’t live up to our expectations?  What do we do when we’re disappointed in God?

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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?


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).


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?


A Conversation about Flour and Oil

Monday I wrote about how God has used the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath to teach me.  Did it sound like a piece of cake?

Not so much.

Here’s an honest conversation I had with the Lord recently.

Me: Lord, I’m ticked…really disappointed and discouraged.  I kind of want to throw my handful of flour back in your face and call it a day.

Honestly, Lord??  What I REALLY want is for You to take my flour and oil and make a ginormous fancy-shmancy cake worthy of the Cake Boss, that people will “ooh” and “aahh” over.

But instead it seems like my flour and oil concoction usually turns out looking more like an ordinary, boring tortilla.

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The Question that Fear Asks

Monday I wrote about fear (and btw have you seen those scary Orkin commercials about bed bugs??!!) and (more seriously) following a God who doesn’t fit our formulas.

As I’ve been facing my own fear at following Jesus I keep thinking about this story I heard a million years ago about a little boy trapped in the bedroom of his home which was on fire.

He was at the window, the home swallowed up in flames, no way out.  Smoke everywhere.

Below, a fireman called up to him, “Jump son!  I’ll catch you!  I’m here!”

The little boy screamed “No!  I can’t SEE you!!!”

“I know,” yelled the fireman, “but I can see YOU!  Jump!”

Cheesy story?  Maybe.  But it makes me think about the question fear asks of God.

The underlying question in the little boy’s heart was the question that fear asks:

What if…?

What if you don’t see me?

What if you miss?

What if you’re not strong enough?

What if I get hurt?

What if I look silly?

What if You catch me but it’s not a soft fall, or it isn’t the exact scenario I would like?

Sometimes I can’t see God.  And I’m afraid to jump.

Lord are You there?  Do You see me?  Are you big enough, strong enough…and do You love me enough to catch me?

(again, John, not me, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia)

What does Love ask of you today that’s scary?

To go someplace uncomfortable?  Talk to someone uncomfortable?  Serve in way that’s uncomfortable?

Quit a job, or stay in a job that’s hard?  Give something away?  Build a bridge, or shake the dust off your feet?

Are you afraid to jump?  I am.  And I’m thinking about the lyrics from this Nicole Nordeman song:

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What are you afraid of?

The Other “F Word”, Part 2

Friday I posted about the other “F word” in our family.

On reflection I think there’s more than one “other”.  There may be a whole slew of other “f words” that lurk around like stealth ninjas ready to take us down.

So here’s number 2.  Fear.

I don’t think I’m a particularly fearful person.  But I might have slept in the car instead of with the bats in a mountain cabin once upon a time.  And Maggie and I might have told the producers of the Amazing Race that snakes were a no-go for us when we were auditioning.

I’ll admit I AM afraid of heights, failure, suffering, looking foolish in public, and dying in an airplane crash to name a few.  But so is everyone, right?

(John, not me, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia)

If I’m honest, what I’m really afraid of is losing control.  At least the illusion of control.

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Steps, Stops, and Finding the Perfect Gift


We’re in that season.  You know, the celebration season.  Weddings, Graduations, Showers, Confirmations.  And in my family, a slew of birthdays.

That means trying to come up with great gifts ideas.  And I always struggle, because I want to find things that are meaningful, but also practical and, well, fun…

So with a bunch of graduations this week, I asked the experts (Katy and Maggie) what they and their friends thought were the very best graduation gifts.  They took a poll and got back to me.

The answer: Target gift cards.

Booooo-ring.  Practical, yes, but definitely not fun or meaningful.

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What are you Waiting For?

Last week I was down in the Chicago area because my mom was having surgery and I wanted to be there to help out and cheer her on.

Her last words as she was going in were “Isn’t he CUTE??” with a gleam in her eye as she pointed to her doctor.  Her first words out of surgery were “How does my hair look?”  Her doctor warned her not to sell her leftover Oxycodone on the street corner.

She’s scrappy and has a remarkable spirit and my dad is devoted and I wasn’t really needed, but it made me feel better to be there.

On the day of her surgery my dad and I spent pretty much all day in the waiting room.  I’m not a good wait-er.  At all.  As a wait-er

You’re not in control (When are you ever, really?  But it feels worse when you’re waiting).

It feels like you can’t DO anything constructive.

It feels like everyone else is going on with their life and you’re on hold.

Most of us are waiting for something.

I have friends who are waiting for a husband.  Or a wife.

Friends who are waiting for a prodigal to return.

For an acceptance letter.  Or a baby.

Waiting for a diagnosis.  Or a cure.

Waiting for a job.  Or someone to need them.  Or a place where they feel like they’d be missed if they were gone.

Recently, I heard Holly Furtick speak on waiting, and something she said has been rolling around in my brain ever since.

She said, “What seems like a pointless or painful waiting room can be God’s most productive workroom.”

I thought “Aha!!  I love being productive!  She’s going to talk about what we can DO to CHANGE things and get out of the waiting room!”  Not so much.

The work that we do while waiting is most often soul work.  Inside stuff that requires patience (Does anyone like that word?), obedience, discernment and cooperation with God.

In the waiting room of the hospital where Dad and I were they had this nifty flat screen and on it were listed all the patients in surgery for the day.  It tracked their progress, from pre-op, to surgery, to recovery room, to permanent room.  In addition, if the surgery was long, they’d send word out with a nurse as to how it was going.

When I’m waiting I could really use a spiritual progress monitor showing exactly how I’m doing and when it’s all gonna be over.

But instead of even enduring in the comfortable, clean lounge of a hospital, waiting often seems a lot more like we’re survivors of the Titanic, clinging to God among the wreckage in cold, dark water.  Disoriented and desperate to do something.

Every once in awhile we’ll flail our arms and try to swim to shore deluded into thinking we can swim the hundreds of miles on our own.  But we realize we can’t and we go back to clinging.

Clinging is the work of the waiting room.

We cling and we say “Lord, help me to see you. Somehow.  Today. Even for a second.  Help me to focus on Your purpose rather than my problem.”

And slowly, ever so slowly, the wait results in just a little bit more of the weight of His glory being formed in us.  Maybe the moment when we get the job or the baby or the whatever, isn’t the big deal, but rather the thousands of moments you choose courage and hope as you cling to the One who loves you.

One more thing…With my dad in the waiting room, it was easier because we had the company of each other.  So, today, if you’re waiting and you’re reading this, know that you’re not alone.

What’s your experience of waiting?

Just Going in Circles?

Last fall I shared some thoughts from a new book by our friend, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker.  This weekend we had the privilege of having him speak at our church.

In the book, one story Mark uses is that of the Israelites who have been wandering in the desert for 40 years and come to Jericho at the edge of the Promised Land.  Imposing.  Six-foot wide lower wall.  50 foot tall upper wall.  Impenetrable.  Overwhelming.  Like many of the problems and dreams we face today.

God tells them to march around the city once a day for 6 days and then on the 7th day, to circle the city 7 times.  He promised after they circled the wall 13 times the wall would fall.  On the 7th day God delivered on a 400-year-old promise.  Mark writes,

Jericho is spelled many different ways…  If your child is far from God it’s spelled salvation.  If your marriage is falling apart, it’s spelled reconciliation.  If you have a vision beyond your resources, it’s spelled provision.  But whatever it is, you have to spell it out.”

For my friend Heather, her Jericho was spelled healing.  All her life she has struggled with a hereditary condition that affects her digestion.  It became more and more complicated, resulting in the necessity for 8 operations and an ileostomy (not something exciting for a beautiful twenty-something woman)

The bottom line was that she landed back in the hospital for both Christmas and her birthday last year with more complications after her 7th surgery.

Confused, grieving, trying to cling to God, the 7th floor of  the U of M Medical Center became the site of her Jericho.  Barely able to hobble, dragging her IV pole she made it her goal to walk around the unit one time each day, and finally, 7 times.

Heather focused on Hebrews 11:1, trusting that God was doing in her body what she didn’t see or feel, and that her faith in Him would carry her if the healing wasn’t physical.

When she walked out of the hospital on March 27th 2011 it was for the last time.  Physically healed.

This was not magic.  This was not a formula.  And I don’t know why Heather was healed and others are not.  We’re in a relationship with the God of the universe and His ways are not our ways, His timing is often not our timing.

Heather would probably tell you that what she learned over the years of waiting, walking and clinging, was as important as her healing.  She is a different woman.  A more peace-filled, confident woman because of her walk in circles.

But I am convicted by this, “When you live by faith it often feels like you are risking your reputation.  You’re not.  Your risking God’s reputation .  It’s not your faith that’s on the line.  It’s His faithfulness…The battle doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God and because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory.”  

We need to look to God’s promises.  Ask, and then listen for Him to whisper the dreams and goals He wants us to trust Him for.  We need to pray for discernment.  And listen.  And do our part in making wise and healthy choices.

But here’s where I also get in trouble.  Often I think I (we?) ere on the side of not naming our Jericho out of fear and uncertainty.  Maybe we can start circling our Jericho with an openness to God’s correction.  An ear to heaven and an eye on eternity…

So today, What’s your Jericho?  Maybe we can circle together.

If you want to hear Mark’s fantastic message from this weekend on Acts 10, and additional study of the topic with Message Gear go here.  (Should be available by Tuesday latest)