Your Infertility Encouragement Mix-tape

I have googled around for similar lists on more than one occasion, but haven’t found much (or much that I like). These songs have been featured on this blog, some more than once, but I thought it might be nice to have them all in one place. I am not a particularly musical person, but I find great comfort in having truths and encouragement sung to me.

In his wonderful book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Pastor Tim Keller talks about the value of being able to “talk yourself down” when in a hard trial. One way this comes is from building a foundation in your heart of truth, scripture, and song. You can also gather these things along the way, which is what I’d like to offer you today. It may seem silly and pointless, but you shouldn’t underestimate the value of repeating truth to your doubting, struggling heart and mind — even if it’s a song on repeat for the thousandth time. Maybe that thousandth time will be what finally convinces you and gives you peace. Or maybe that thousandth time will be the end and you’ll have made it through steadfastly.

It was really hard to make a short list — I kept thinking of more and more gems that blessed me! But in the end I chose ones that stuck the longest and touched the deepest. Perhaps in the future I’ll do a “Part 2.”

Please feel free to let us know which one/s speak to you the most right now, and add your own to the list to encourage the rest of us!

These are in no particular order, I think (except maybe the first one). I will add a favorite lyric with each.

1. “Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes

Even in the valley You are faithful, and You’re working for our good and for Your glory.

2. “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.

This song isn’t particularly meant for trials, but I love the idea of daily telling your soul to bless the Lord, no matter what comes.

3. “I Need You Now” by Matt Redman

In a dry and barren land I bow down; I need you now.

4. “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane, featuring John Piper

This is a great song, but I especially treasure it for the John Piper clip in the middle. His cry of “It’s not meaningless!” still rings in my heart. 

5. “We Are Blessed” by All Sons and Daughters

We are loved at the end of our rope. 

6. “The Lord our God” by Passion

From this darkness You will lead us, and forever we will say, “You’re the LORD our God.”

Thanks to Liana Berrus for sharing this one with me.

7. “God Moves,” Performed by Sovereign Grace Music

When tears are great,
And comforts few,
We hope in mercies ever new,
We trust in You.

(…and all of the lyrics, really!)

8. “How Firm a Foundation,” a classic hymn, I especially love the version by Chelsea Moon & the Franz Brothers

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

9. “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” another classic, I also love the Chelsea Moon version, but it’s hard to find online so I’ll go a totally different direction and share this Lauryn Hill version, because why not?

10. “Taste and See” by Shai Linne – yup, it’s Christian rap. My husband and I enjoyed rocking out to this song and album in the hardest parts of our trial while being on the road a lot.

God is good all the time – no intervals!

11. “Waiting Here for You” by Christy Nockels

If faith can move the mountains, then let the mountains move.

12. “Desert Song” by Hillsong

All of my life, in every season, You are still God and I have a reason to sing.

13. “The Silence of God” by Andrew Peterson

And the Man of All Sorrows, He never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that He bought;
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not.

14. “Hold on to What you Believe” by Mumford and Sons

Hold on to what you believed in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight. 

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More on peace

I thought it would be nice to share a song to compliment my last post on peace. Unfortunately, this was the best version I could find, so I apologize for the very corny pictures. But it has the song (“Perfect Peace” by Laura Story) with lyrics, so hopefully you can overlook the corniness to let it bless your heart today.

Also, I appreciated this list of verses, if you were wanting more: 25 Encouraging Bible Verses to Give you Peace

Encouragement from the Psalms

Some quiet words of encouragement from the book of Psalms. Click each picture to read the full Psalm.

psalm 2

psalm 3

psalm1

psalm4

When joy comes in the morning

And all during the day, as I wait to see if He has answered us yet, if it’s over yet, I’m forced to consider how much I’m willing to endure for God’s glory. How far would I go to be made into His image more and more? How much would I sacrifice, if He said it was for the better? How much do I mean it when I say, “Thy will be done?” And then “it” shows up, and I have to face my true self. There’s no fake “Take all of me, Lord” prayers when your period gets here. It’s all or nothing now. You either meant it or you didn’t.

So I guess, except by God’s undeserved and overwhelming mercy, today I’ll have to answer that question again. And in the meantime, I’m pretending to do other things while panicking inside over what my answer will be, if I have to give it again.

I wrote this in a post in January about my expected time-of-the-month and the emotions and prayers that come with it each time. I quickly removed it out of embarrassment that I would write so freely about my p-e-r-i-o-d. I’m such a prude about stuff like that. Always have been.

But I came across the now-private post a few weeks ago, and was brought to tears.

I have been battling for months about whether I should “come out” about this on the blog, but I’m going to, and then I’m going to explain why.

…The reason that post brought me to tears is because I actually did experience God’s undeserved and overwhelming mercy that day, and for the first time ever, my period didn’t come. Within a few days, we were dumbfoundedly staring at a positive pregnancy test, unsure if we were in reality or walking in a dream. It actually took a good several weeks for it to really set in, even after the doctor confirmed it. We were (and are) finally pregnant.faithful

Throughout the whole first trimester I debated sharing such a heavy thing. In the About section of this blog, I share how discouraging it often was to find an encouraging blog about infertility, only to have it end (or, usually, change) when the writer finally got pregnant. I mean, I was happy she was pregnant, but now I was alone again, searching for a kindred spirit. It’s been hard for me to imagine doing that to many of you, who have been reading this blog for encouragement for many months now.

But then I stumbled, once again, on this verse, which so many women cling to in their infertility…

Weeping may last for the night,
    but joy comes in the morning.

-Psalm 30:5b

And I thought: I have to tell them that joy really does come in the morning. What kind of encouragement would it be to keep from you such a message of joy and hope — we waited patiently (sometimes a little impatiently) on the Lord, after failed treatments and returning to our third-world home with no idea of what to do next. We begged again for mercy. For a few more months, He still said “No.” And it stung, badly. But still we put our hope in Him through the pain.

And then the morning came. And there was joy with it.

I always thought it would come roaring and screaming at the top of the mountain. Instead, it came as an unexpected whisper while we were deep in the valley.

Mercy.

And I don’t know how your joy will come. It may be a surprise pregnancy test like me. It may be after a few procedures, or several. It may be on a plane home from picking up your new child. It may come quietly, over years of growing in true peace over being childless. It may be something else entirely. But it will come. I am confident of that.

joyI also have to warn you from “this side”…there were initial, surprising, sinful responses that came out of nowhere. Things like, “What did we do right this time?” and “It must’ve been our extra faith this month.” But we quickly squelched that. It was God’s undeserved mercy and His perfect plan. His faithfulness. And that’s it.

The second, less sinful thought that overwhelmed me for a few days was, “______ months… that was the allotted time of our trial. I hope I spent it well.” And I want to leave these two thoughts with you. The first is not to waste your allotted time in this trial! Whether you’re given a few months or many years of barrenness, may you use every day for God’s glory and your sanctification.

And secondly –I hope you are only encouraged, and not cringing, to hear the truth: God is merciful, just as we were hoping. He is faithful, just as we’d expected. He is trustworthyThis really was the better plan. I used to write those things on this blog in faith, and now I write them from experience. I’m sitting here no longer barren, five months pregnant, and overwhelmed by that truth. He was trustworthy all along. And if He takes this baby today, I will still cling to that truth. I hope you can too, even today!

Encouragement from all over (Various Resources)

In the last several days I’ve encountered all sorts of encouragement on the web. I feel like I keep posting the same pastors and writers over and over, but it’s because I really respect them, and they’re biblical, and maybe a little because I live overseas and don’t have easy access to new people. But definitely more the first two.

Lately, I’ve been trying to cultivate the habit of replacing thoughts-of-the-flesh with thoughts-of-the-Spirit (ahem, I’ve also been reading Galatians, if you can’t tell). This means, as a chronic worrier, when the “what ifs” move in and the anxiety starts to mount, instead of letting it build, I try to immediately put something else in my mind (“Whatever is true … think on these things”). For years my first line of combat has been prayer (“God, please stop these thoughts/calm my heart/make me sleep”); then reading or reciting scripture (“At times I am afraid, I trust in You)”. I’ve had to build up my arsenal in these really tough times, though, and one way I’m doing that is to always be reading at least one book of encouragement (though I may be reading a book for fun on the side, because sometimes reading books about suffering, etc. can bring me down, if I’m not in the right place for them). Anyway, it’s really been working, guys. I’ll be lying in bed, starting to worry, and will just get up and read my book until I’ve replaced the thoughts with truth.

Anyway, let me share with you some places I’ve found encouragement lately, and you can take your pick.

1.) Yup, you guessed it, I’m going to say it again… Tim Keller’s Walking with God though Pain and Suffering (specifically parts 2 +3). I actually just finished it tonight, and I practically highlighted the whole book. I’m glad I did, too, because now I can go back and reread some highlights when I need encouragement again (which will probably be in the next 10 minutes… or 30 seconds).

keller

2.) Tonight I found John Piper’s small book (under 100 pages) When the Darkness will not Lift for free (pdf) on the Desiring God website. It sounds like the perfect thing for right now, and I’ll probably finish it in one sitting. It’s about how to have joy while waiting for the Lord. Perfect, right?

darkness

3.) My husband and I watched this encouraging 9-minute video the other night before bed. Sometimes a brief encouragement, as opposed to an hour-long sermon or a 300-page book, is just what you need for that moment. It’s a casual conversation between Pastors John Piper, David Platt, and Matt Chandler on trials and suffering. It made me cry, of course. I was the most touched by Matt Chandler’s words on being “perplexed, but not in despair.” And I learned that David Platt has faced infertility in the past, which led to my next encouragement…

4.) This short interview with Heather Platt was used by God to speak to one of my biggest fears right now — how to rejoice (and not wilt) when my close friend, who is pregnant, gets back to town in a couple months. Sometimes (not all the time, I know), it’s also nice to hear a good post-infertility, God-came-through story, which the Platts have.

5.) I also want to read Charles Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters, which has great reviews. I heard CJ Mahaney read it daily to his daughter when she was in the hospital with childbirth complications. It sort of looks like you can get the pdf for free here, but so far I haven’t gotten it to work. Let me know if you do, because there isn’t a Kindle version for sale that I can find, unfortunately.

stillwaters

6.) I read that factoid about Mahaney in this little list of resources I randomly came across. It’s meant for pastors to prepare their congregations for suffering, but I breached the system and am bringing it straight to you, no middle man. It has a few more books you may want to look into.

What are some places you’ve found truth-filled encouragement (big or small) recently? Perhaps a video clip, a sermon, a book, an article, a devotional or a song? Please add to my list! 

“God never says ‘no'” (and other lies that disappoint)

About a year ago in my small group we were discussing God’s will and prayer. One very sweet woman, in sharing her thoughts, said this quote:

God never says, “No.” He only says, “Yes” or “Wait.”

When she said it, people made a contented sigh at the lovely idea, myself included. It wasn’t until later, while I was riding home on the subway and reflecting on our discussion, that I reconsidered it and had to confess to myself, “Um, wait a minute. That’s not true.”

truthI think similar refrigerator-magnet devotional thoughts get tossed to and fro at an especially high rate when someone is going through a hard time. It’s like people need to say something, and they figure it’s better to say anything that sounds nice — even if it’s not true in the slightest — than to say nothing at all. And people who are struggling without a solid foundation beneath them will take anything they can get.

Last spring I Skyped in to a conference at my church on infertility, miscarriage and child loss. At one point they had a panel of women who had experienced such tragedies, and they were asked a variety of questions. One question was, “What is the least comforting thing someone said to you in your affliction?” There were a few unkind things to mention, but the responses that stuck out to me were non-truths like the one above. One woman, a friend of mine who lost one baby in a car accident and another in stillbirth, said the thing that bothers her the most is when people try to comfort her by saying her babies are now angels. While she knows they mean well, it irks her to hear things like that that just aren’t true, and therefore aren’t comforting to someone who knows truth.

So let me address the fallacy about prayer mentioned above. Let me say that yes, we always have hope in prayer. God can do anything, and He makes lots of promises about prayer in scripture. I can’t explain it, but at the same time, it is true that God sometimes just says “no” to our requests. There are biblical examples of this. Continue reading ““God never says ‘no’” (and other lies that disappoint)”

No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame

This song is based on Psalm 25. I personally find the melody a little dorky (to each her own though, if you love it!), but the lyrics are strong. Be blessed by it!

Remember all the way the Lord brought you

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

-Philippians 4:8

It might sound kind cheesy, but one way I try to practice this verse is by imagining, every so often, what it will be like when this has all passed. One of my favorite ways to do this is to imagine how it will really feel to have a positive pregnancy test, and how we will react, and how it will really feel to be pregnant, and how it will be to really have a one-year-old and looking back on this time as something in the past. At first I didn’t like doing this, I guess because I was afraid of getting my hopes up and being let down, but now that I actually do it (and not like, every moment, mind you) I feel it leads to more feelings of healthy hope and optimism. Also, if any of you doesn’t do this because you’re afraid of “jinxing it,” you need to drop that lie right now, my friend. It’s just not truth, so quit it!

phil48The song I want to share today Continue reading “Remember all the way the Lord brought you”

You’ll get through this

I know some of you are in your darkest hour. I remember what it was like to be in the deepest depths of the pit of despair. I remember walking around my house and spontaneously bursting into tears, even surprising myself with the level of sorrow inside of me. I remember lying in bed, inconsolable and broken, literally crying out to the Lord in my weariest, tear-soaked voice, “Where are You? Where are You?” I remember thinking it was never going to get better.

ps40The Lord has not yet given me a child, but He did answer many of my prayers to make it better. Little by little, He dug me out of the pit and provided the joy and strength I needed. It’s not always totally better, but it’s better than it was.

And in remembering this, I think of so many of you who may be reading this, aching inside, dying inside, lying broken at the bottom of the valley. And you don’t need a lesson, a rebuke or even a Bible verse. You just need to be reminded: You’ll get through this. It’ll get better. You can do this. I know it seems unthinkable, relentless, unbearable and hopeless. But you can do this. This is not the end of your journey. There is hope — there is always hope. It’s bad now, but it will not always be like this.

If no one else has told you yet, let me be the first: you’re going to get through this.

You’re in good company. Before His death, Jesus pleaded with God to spare Him from the coming agony. God didn’t. On the cross, I believe, He had His time in the pit, as He was crying out, like you and me, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” But God came through for Him, and He will for you.

joy comes

If you are seeking advice, the best I can say for today is to start praying earnestly that God will give you what you lack inside. For me, it was real strength, joy, peace, and hope. And He will be faithful and give you those things. It may take a few days, weeks, even months. But He will not leave you in this pit. He will come for you.

It’s going to be ok.

I’ll learn to get by on little victories

I’ve hesitated to post this song because it’s sad, secular and may seem less appropriate for this site. However, it has been a song on my infertility “soundtrack” from time to time. I feel like it goes with the theme of my post Moment by Moment, in that it emphasizes looking at each individual mercy and grace (in our case, from the Lord) as a victory, no matter how small, instead of drowning in what otherwise feels like months of defeat. So I’m finally posting it, but if it doesn’t resonate with you, I understand and you can skip it.

It’s “Little Victories” by Matt Nathanson.

By the way, I would love to hear about some of the songs on your “soundtrack” these days. Please share in the comments!