The worst pains

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistance on our independence.” [page 51]

This was me, you guys! As those months started adding up and it was becoming clear that we were in the midst of a trial of infertility, I remember crying in agony to my husband, “I don’t want this to be our story!” My heart just kept thinking, No no no no no — this cannot be happening! 

I was so resistant to accept what was happening, it took months to start really growing from it. Looking back, I wish I could appear to myself back then. I can clearly see those times of lying on my bed weeping for the grief and dread of what was going on: we were meeting barrenness. We were not going to be pregnant “on time” (according to our plans, that is). The Lord was going to do something different. I wish I could put my own hand on my shoulder and say, “This is a good story! God is doing good things! Don’t miss it because you’re stubborn about the story you think you want!”

The quote is from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart.

Maybe this year

“Maybe this year will be the year of desire fulfilled. Perhaps, on the other hand, it will be the year of desire radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have perhaps not yet truly found, Christ to be the All-Sufficient One, Christ the ‘deep, sweet well of Love.’” [page 49]

I’ve been sharing some powerful quotes from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart. Let me know what you think!

The most dreaded thing

“What we judge to be ‘tragic – the most dreaded thing that could happen,’ I expect we’ll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life as a family.” [page 30]

I appreciate this thought so much. It was written to Elisabeth Elliot from a woman who was born disabled. She was offering some wisdom to a third woman who had a disabled baby. I have found we need to understand this wisdom before “the most dreaded thing” happens. When those thoughts of “What if…” and “I couldn’t handle it if that happened to me” pop up, as they are bound to do, we need to remind ourselves of the truth: If it happens, God would use it. If it happens, God will have ordained it. What great quietness of heart there is in that truth, if only we believed it fully!

This quote is from the book Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot.

Keep A Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot’s Blog

In the midst of some big changes and a season of many questions about many things, my husband and I decided to set aside a week of concentrated prayer and fasting a few weeks ago. Instead of fasting from food, we opted to fast from the internet. Being the 21st century drone that I can be, I realized pretty early into the first day that this left a regular little void – there were many small moments of the day that I casually filled with “phone checks.” Checking Facebook, checking the news, checking whatever. I decided to pull a new book off my shelf to at least fill these small pockets of 2 or 5 or 15 minutes (food is cooking, baby is nursing, whatever) with something more godward.

coverWell, it turns out I chose the perfect book for the task, and I am totally entranced! Elisabeth Elliot’s somehow overlooked (at least by me) masterpiece titled Keep a Quiet Heart reads like the blog she would’ve written if such a thing existed in her prime. It’s actually a large collection of brief (1-4 pages) essays and articles she composed for a regular newsletter she sent out over the course of years in her life. She writes on what God is teaching her through events, readings, her time in the word, and many other sources. The wisdom contained in these writings is priceless!

At first I planned to merely share a review, as the whole book seemed to focus on dealing with trials, life’s seasons of disquiet, and the like. However, tonight I realized that I had overlooked the divisions of sections on various subjects. As it turns out, that trove of rich reflections was just a drop in the bucket of this book!

Since I couldn’t keep myself from highlighting line after line of insight I didn’t want to forget on the subject of “keeping a quiet heart” as God directs your life, I’ve decided to dedicate the next several posts to some of the best quotes from the first section, titled Faith for the Unexplained. I hope the Lord uses Mrs. Elliot’s words to bless and encourage you in your season!

Here’s the first…

“Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us. ‘As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you’ is His promise [Is. 66:13]. The choice is ours. It depends on our willingness to see everything in God, receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude just the portion and the cup He offers. Shall I charge Him with a mistake in His measurements or with misjudging the sphere in which I can best learn to trust Him? Has He misplaced me? Is He ignorant of things or people which, in my view, hinder my doing His will? […] The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” [page 20]

In the end the sun will rise

This is a really beautiful song by JJ Heller that brought a tear to my eye the first time I heard it. I can really hear her experience with dark, hard trials when she sings the line,

“Sometimes it feels like forever when it’s dark outside.”

It really spoke truth to me when I heard it and I just had to share. I hope it encourages your spirit. The sun will rise… even if it feels like forever.

 

TBT: The fruit that grew when I was barren

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This is probably going to read like a summary of this whole blog, but it is what it is. My baby boy turns 12 weeks on Monday [ETA: He turned 15 months last week. To God be the glory!], and every.single.day. I still look at him and can’t believe he is here and he is my baby. I can’t believe that happened to us — which is ironic, because in our years of infertility I would so often think, I can’t believe this is happening to us. But he’s here. A living and breathing testament of the hardest season in our life so far, and of the faithfulness of God in mercifully bringing us through it.

I once thought after all of this was over, I would just put it behind me and finally move forward with our life. I’ll get over it and move on. Surprisingly (or not), I can’t really get over it. I mean, I’m not obsessed with it. I’m not always talking about it. I’m not about to become the Infertility Awareness spokeswoman. But there’s no denying that it’s a part of me. How can it not be? I’ve written over and over about how this is a sanctifying work. If it changed me so much (and boy, did it!), how could I ever just forget about it? It’s so clear to me now how much this trial reshaped me.

If for nothing else than my own reflection, I’d like to share with you some of the biggest lessons I learned in my infertility. 

1. This isn’t my baby. When I was about 9 weeks pregnant, my husband and I were casually preparing to go out to dinner with some friends. Out of nowhere, I discovered I was bleeding pretty heavily. Panic washed over me like never in my life. I screamed for my husband and broke down sobbing. We prayed hard, pleading with God not to take this baby yet. I remembered calling out, Father, you may ask a miscarriage of me some day with some baby, but please don’t make it today or this baby. I ended up on bed rest for a month, and, obviously, God was merciful and our baby was fine.Quote1

Now that he’s here, like all mothers, I spend a silly amount of time sneaking in to check on him while he sleeps. Our first few nights home, he slept like a rock, but we lost tons of sleep jumping up every 10 minutes to make sure he was ok. I still pop up a few times a night just to peek over and see his chest moving. The scary thought has crossed my mind a few times: What if I come in one day and he’s not breathing? 

The lesson from both of these stories, and every other worry my new-mom mind conjures up about his life, is the same lesson I learned when I was waiting for him. This is not my baby. We are daily Abraham standing with his long-awaited Isaac, ready to give him back to the Lord whenever He may require it. Of course we could stand here close-fisted, in constant terror that we could lose this dear treasure at any moment. But instead we’ve learned (and continue to learn) to hold him up, hands open and arms lifted, an offering to the Lord. There is so much more peace in this. This is the Lord’s baby, and we trust Him to do with him as he wishes.

2. Compassion. I’m a little embarrassed to say I used to be a pretty compassionless person. I think I had compassion on the really poor and needy, but with the everyday person like me, I just didn’t care that much about their problems. I probably cared about my friends’ troubles, but if I was honest, I didn’t care that deeply. But now that I’ve had true troubles of my own, He has transformed the way I think about what others may be going through. I’m less quick to judge. I cry more easily at their pain. I’m more patient with their struggles. I’ve stopped gauging how serious I think someone’s trial is — if it’s really that bad. If it’s that bad to them, then it’s that bad. It was that bad to me. I regret that this wasn’t my heart sooner, but I’m grateful the Lord has brought me here.

3. God is trustworthy. This is one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when we saw that surprise positive pregnancy test. Wow, He actually did it! All that time I was hoping He would — I was trusting He would — but there was no way to be sure He would. Having that confirmation has totally changed the way I pray and how I see Him. I thought I had faith in prayer before, but now it is no longer blind faith — I know that He can do it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I remember thinking that morning that, even if He took the baby the very next day, this would change everything. It was no longer praying and getting back silence. He had heard and acted for us. And now I know He could do that again, about anything else we ask of Him. This has changed our relationship with Him so much.

Quote24. Nothing is hopeless & impossible things can happen. Like many of you, l bet, last summer we sat in a fertility clinic across from a doctor who calculated the percent likelihood we had of conceiving a child on our own. I kind of forget now (it’s not the kind of thing you store up in your heart), but I think it was something like 9%. Now, my husband is in economics, so he’s a little more knowledgable about statistics — in fact, him not liking the way the doctor “tweaked” his math to come up with that number was a big reason we changed clinics. Nevertheless, we knew our odds were looking grim. It only looked worse when our treatments later failed. But then one day, we were pregnant. It happened. By all calculations, it wasn’t likely. But it did. Since then whenever we’re asked to pray for seemingly impossible things, I am so much more optimistic (read: faith-filled) — I was there when it wasn’t supposed to happen, and I was there when it did. So why couldn’t it happen again?

6. Really terrible things can happen to me. I guess this is kind of a strange thing to call “fruit,” but I see it as part of a sober mindset. Knowing how to “number my days” and have an accurate estimation of my life as a vapor. We always think it won’t be us. God wouldn’t do that to us. I wouldn’t be the one whose baby dies from SIDS. My husband wouldn’t be the one who becomes a paraplegic. My mom wouldn’t be the one who gets horrible cancer. “God forbid,” we say. But God may not forbid, if it’s for our better. For the sake of making me more like Christ, nothing is off limits. The first step in handling it well is not living in denial of its likelihood.

7. My treasure is in Christ. Oh, the blog posts I could write about this! I wrestled so much with the desire to have children as my inheritance from the Lord. There were many days when there was nothing else I desired. How much I needed to learn that Christ is my inheritance. Christ is my treasure. In Christ we have everything we could ever want or need. I used to claim I believed that, but it wasn’t until I wasn’t going to have children — an idol I didn’t know I had; the thing deep down I really wanted and needed — that I learned it was really true. It wasn’t until Christ was all I had, that I truly knew He is all I need. I’ve been wanting a post about this image I always see on Pinterest, which I have come to, well, kind of despise:

first
I hate this.

A thousand times NO! We have long had everything, because we had Christ.

First we had nothing.

Then we had everything in Christ.

Then everything else was undeserved mercy.

Including you.  

…But I guess that doesn’t look as cute in a nursery.

Reposted from November 29, 2014.

TBT: All your hopes and fears are met in Him tonight

Reposted from December 13, 2014

I know Christmastime can be a really challenging time for couples who are waiting for their baby. It’s a family time, a time for keeping traditions and making memories. For many people it’s a time for seeing relatives who may ask prying questions or tease too much. It’s a time of year when we often reflect on the last twelve months and how much things have changed. For those whose lives feel like they are measured by the month, that can be a truly painful thing. And even if we managed not to think too much about it all year, it becomes glaringly obvious that, once again, “this time next year” didn’t happen, and who knows if it will “this time next year.”

This original Christmas song by Sara Groves points to the meaning of Christmas that should give us more comfort than hurt this holiday. Christ came to calm our fears and bring true hope — hope for now and the time to come. He offers true peace, even in the worst times, and, most importantly, for eternal times.

Perhaps you will want to hide it in your heart for those evenings when you’re sitting with your family watching little kids run around and your heart is aching. Perhaps you’ll want to hold on to it for when you’re around the dinner table and aunt so-an-so asks when you two are finally going to start your family. Perhaps you’ll just want to treasure it today as a reminder of the Source of your true peace.

Ok so I really want to share this song but I can’t find the original online! The only version available is this sweet girl performing it (and it sounds great)! But I HAVE to share it with you… so I’m including this video, and a LINK to go buy the song, and the lyrics under the video. I’m sorry for this kind of anti-climatic ending! Go treat yourself for Christmas and buy the single, if not the whole beautiful album

Peace, peace, it’s hard to find
Trouble comes like wrecking ball
To your peace of mind
And all that worry you can’t leave behind you

All your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

Peace, peace, it’s hard to find
Doubt comes like a tiny voice that’s so unkind
And all your fears
They conspire to unwind you

And all your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him

And in your dark street shines
An everlasting light
And all your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

And all your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

Peace, peace
Peace, peace
Peace, peace

Click to buy this beautiful Christmas album from Amazon. I get no compensation -- I just love the album!
Click to buy this beautiful Christmas album from Amazon.

This day is better

Better is this day in the Lord’s plan — even a painful, brokenhearted plan — than a 1,000 days in any plan different than this — even a picture-perfect, no troubles, all-I-ever-wanted plan.

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Morning Mercies

A friend recently posted about this book on facebook. I know she’s struggled with fertility-related issues in the past, and I think she referenced them in her post. Regardless, even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I’ll pass her recommendation on to you! She said she’s been reading this devotional each morning for about a year now, and recommends it,

For anyone who has experienced hardship and wants a devotional that isn’t full of sappy Christianese… This book is a great option. Tripp’s ability to point us to Gospel truth in light of living in a broken world is phenomenal.

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

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