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. 

10 Things I Wish Someone had Told me about Infertility

This might seem kind of ironic for me to post, because I’m still in the midst of infertility. I guess a better title would be “Things I wish someone had told me from the beginning of my infertility so I didn’t have to learn them the hard way” … but that’s kind of long, so it is what it is. Plus, I know you people (I’m one of you), and if I had a baby you’d spend the whole post thinking, “That’s easy for her to say, she has her baby.” So no excuses now, my friends! 

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1. A lot of people have struggled with infertility.

Once you tell people about your struggle, women left and right begin to tell you about their previous struggles with trying to conceive. This is actually a big reason why you should tell people (see #8) – there is great comfort in knowing you aren’t alone. When we told my in-laws, my husband and I were both surprised to hear that his own mother struggled with infertility for 5 years between her third and fourth child. Besides gaining wisdom from people like this, it refreshes your hope to hear someone say, “I never thought I would finally get pregnant,” while her wild kids run around you.

2. It gets better.

As my months started to add up to a year, I began to sink. Specifically, from months 11-14, I was in a black pit of despair. I cried all the time and didn’t want to do anything. I was depressed and felt hopeless, in anguish at the reality that this fear was really coming true. I never could have imagined that the months ahead would hold light and peace, but they did. I wish so much I could go back, A-Christmas-Carol-style, and tell myself, crawled up and weeping, unable to pray, that it will be better. Of course, I can’t do that, so I’m telling you, dear weeper, instead: it will be better. Hang in there.

3. Bitterness, jealousy, anger, and fear are your biggest enemies, and they don’t get you anywhere.

When you enter infertility world (even if you enter kicking and screaming, like I did), you instantly discover that most people in this world are bitter. I hate to say it, but you can’t avoid it. Most people feel entitled to complain and are dead-set on being miserable until this is over. You need to rise above, or it’ll eat you alive and convince you (unbiblically) that you deserve that attitude as well.

4. It’s one step at a time.

You can’t plan from month 12 (or month 1, or month anything) every step you’re going to take in this. It’s one cycle at a time, one test at a time, one treatment at a time, one doctor’s visit at a time, maybe even one adoption application at a time. You will just fall apart if you try to think and plan much past that. Trust me.

5. It’s not a one-girl show.

One thing that really bugs me is when women retreat inward in their trial with barrenness. What about your husband? Yes, I know he probably doesn’t grieve like you, but he’s not a woman. He is human, so unless you were trying to force this baby without his agreement (which I sincerely hope you weren’t), he’s grieving too. This isn’t your trial alone, and you can’t push him out because his side of the trial looks different.

6. There are a million things to learn.

This is practical thing. I knew nothing about the world of trying to conceive, infertility, treatments, adoption, etc. I still don’t know a lot. When you get past the “denial” stage of this grief, the first thing you need to do is pray, then research and educate yourself. And following #5, don’t do it all alone – share what you learn with your husband. Make sure he’s at your appointments and consultations. Make decisions together. This isn’t 1952, girl; you aren’t trying to have your baby, you guys are in this together!

7. It’s complicated.

I guess this follows #4 and #6… if you’re at month 12, this isn’t a cut-and-dry, just do such-and-such and bam! you get a baby. If it was, you’d be pregnant already. Some people have success with the first treatment, but I wish from the start I was out of denial enough to accept that it probably wouldn’t be a let’s-just-do-this-and-get-it-other-with kind of thing. And enough of it not being fair because some people have it so easy. Everyone is on their own journey.

8. You should tell people.

It took a long time for my husband and me to start telling friends and family that we were having trouble getting pregnant. It was part denial, part pride, and part just being private people. But after we told some people – wow, what a relief! The Bible is spot on when it says to “bear one another’s burdens.” I can’t believe we tried to do all the praying ourselves! It made such a difference to have people pray, cry, hope, and wait with us. You don’t have to make a personal blog or status every step on Facebook, if that’s not your thing (it’s not ours); we’ve basically kept to sharing details with our closest friends and family, and when others take the time to ask about our situation, we say something simple like, “We haven’t been able to have children yet, but you can pray that we do soon.” Find what works for you, but don’t go it alone.

9. It’s worth it.

I know you don’t want to hear it, but you have to. This is worth it, my friend. Oh dear myself a year ago, this unending nightmare is worth far more than a child. “This light and momentary affliction” – that I know does not feel at all light or momentary – is “producing in us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all.” The sanctification that will come from this would never have been obtained in any other way. The glory that God will get from this will far exceed the glory He would’ve gotten in any other scenario. Don’t forget that. Don’t lose sight of that. Tell yourself every day, every period, every miscarriage, every dollar sent to an adoption agency. This is worth it. This is the better plan.

10. There is always hope.

It’s weird for me to be saying this, because I haven’t been pregnant yet. However, I’ve gradually become convinced of this, and I wish I could tell it to every broken, barren woman. There is always hope! You serve The Omnipotent God, Who loves you so much and has a great plan for your life! There is always hope for real peace and joy – and, I have to say it – there is always hope for a baby!  I don’t care what the doctors or tests say, or how long the adoption is taking. If you really believe God made a virgin pregnant, surely He can leap over the fact that you guys accidently got your days messed up and “did it” a day after ovulation. Surely He can work around your “advanced age.” Surely He can use your husband’s low sperm count. If you believe the Bible is true (and it is!), you must believe that what He did for Sarah, and Hannah, and Elizabeth, He is able to do for you. I just want you, in your hopelessness, to join me in repeating as much as you need – There is always hope. There is always hope. There is always hope.

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).

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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?

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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.

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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! 

Three Books About Suffering

If you’re looking for a book that will encourage you in your trial, here are three that I am personally considering at the moment. I’ve said before, I’m not personally interested in books about infertility for encouragement, because, to be honest, for me this trial has not really been about the infertility but rather about God’s work in my heart and life. Also, if it’s specifically about infertility, it’ll open the door for obsessing for me. So I’m currently thinking about reading a book focusing on trials in general to teach and encourage me. If you have another recommendation, please share! 


kellerWalking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller

My husband and I were super-excited about this brand-new book. We are huge fans of Tim Keller’s writing and preaching, because it is 100% biblical, it’s deep, and it’s relevant and practical every time. We are currently reading it, and I LOVE it! I highly recommend you buy it and start it now. I also suggest possibly skipping the first section and reading the last two sections first (Keller also recommends this in his Intro, as the second and third sections are written to people who are currently walking through trial). I was really thinking of writing a post just about how much I am appreciating this book, but I lumped the recommendation in with these others and will post later on some great quotes from it instead.

Continue reading “Three Books About Suffering”

Reblog – What Nobody Tells You About Miscarriages

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When miscarriage strikes, nobody hands you a fact-sheet with what to expect in the aftermath.   It certainly would have helped.

When I miscarried last year, I was astonished to later find out that so many women I knew had miscarried as well. It’s a personal matter – and rightly so – but, in a lot of ways, it would have been so helpful if women talked about it more! I know it would have helped me.

This is the topic of my second blog post published over at Fertility Authority: What Nobody Tells You About Miscarriages (Because Nobody Talks About It).  If you have struggled with a miscarriage, are living in the aftermath, or have ever wondered if what you are going through is normal – here’s my ‘fact-sheet’ for you: my version of ‘What I Wish I Had Known.’

It won’t necessarily heal the pain, but for…

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The Refiner’s Fire

I wanted to write a post about the biblical concept of the refiner’s fire. I started to do some research and I found this awesome article from DesiringGod.org, so I decided to just share that with you instead. It says everything just as well as I could, if not much better. The transcript below is the introduction. Please follow the link under it to finish reading. You will also find a 30-minute message from Pastor John Piper on this subject and passage. To add to your reflection, I included a worship song below it, about the refiner’s fire.

He Is Like a Refiner’s Fire

November 29, 1987 | by John Piper | Scripture: Malachi 2:17–3:6 | Topic: Sanctification & Growth

Malachi 2:17–3:6

You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty. “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” (NIV)

It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, “I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed—you are not destroyed.”

A Word of Warning and a Word of Hope

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

Four Questions About This Text

Now, to unfold this text, let me ask four questions, and point you to their answers in the Scripture in the time we have.

  1. Who is like a refiner’s fire?
  2. Why must he be like a refiner’s fire?
  3. How can we experience his fire as refining and not consuming?
  4. What is life like in the refiner’s fire?

…To continue reading, please click here: He is Like a Refiner’s Fire

On Patience

Cringe.

Yes, I know, patience is the best virtue to have but the worst to grow. We’ve all heard the old joke, “Don’t pray for patience.” If you ask for it, you’ll have to face a situation that is not easy to be patient in. Enter infertility.

You know you need to be patient, so rather than go on and on about the necessity, desirability, and benefits of patience, I’ll just offer some Bible verses and wise quotes on the subject.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22-23

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” -Romans 8:25

phil 1.6“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” -Colossians 1:10-12

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” -Colossians 3:12

“Patience can be formed only in the crucible of frustration.” –Gary Thomas

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” -Augustine

“A blessed spirit is a mould ever more and more patient of the bright metal poured into it, a body ever more completely uncovered to the meridian blaze of the spiritual sun.” -C.S. Lewis

“What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.” -A. W. Tozer

He cares for you

If you don’t already, I highly recommend you keep a personal journal through your infertility adventure. One reason I do is to jot down all the encouragements, especially from scripture, that the Lord sends me along the way. It’s really a blessing to look back on these, especially if I find myself in a dry patch when I don’t feel Him speaking or moving.

Several months back in just my normal daily Bible reading, I came across this passage. Have you ever just been innocently reading your Bible and stumbled upon a verse or passage and just felt, “Oh, this is to me!” I mean, yes, I know, it’s all to me, but sometimes you just find something and know it was given for you especially at that moment in your life. Well, this passage was that for me that day. I burst into tears and read it ten more times before writing it in my journal. It fed my soul with encouragement for weeks.

It was 1 Peter 5:6-11

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I was spoken to, not only by the reminder (and that’s actually a command to cast your cares upon Him) that God cares for me, but the encouragement to keep myself strong so that the enemy does not get a foothold in my heart through this trial, because he is waiting for a chance. I know Peter wrote this to brethren being persecuted, but I even appreciated the reminder that “brothers and sisters around the world” are going through this and other sufferings, too. I also rested in the promise that God Himself will surely restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish me — all things I was (and am) really needing. He has the power forever, and there is great confidence in that!

By the way, since I mentioned it today, if you don’t read the Bible every day, you have to. Just a few verses, a section, or a chapter a day is easier than you think, feeds you more than you can imagine, and is the best way I can think of to let God speak to you. After all, you are probably always talking to Him — how are you letting Him respond? If you don’t know where to start, I recommend 1 Peter, mostly just because I talked about it now, and because it deals with suffering a bit. I also love the book of Luke, if you want to start with more stories (it starts with the Christmas story, that’s easy enough!). If you don’t own a Bible or if you own one in old English you hate to read, you can download the English Standard Version of the Bible for free on Kindle, as an App, or read it for free online. If you know of an organization that will mail a free hardcopy of the Bible to you, would you leave a note in the comments for fellow readers who would be interested? 

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Book – “He Remembers the Barren”

This post is taken from this excellent blog: He Remembers the Barren. It was not written for or by me, I’m just sharing it with you.

The Book | He Remembers the Barren

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

Available on Lulu or Amazon or Kindle.

He Remembers the Barren by Katie Schuermann is a tender conversation with women in the church who wrestle with the issue of barrenness in marriage. Addressing questions frequently asked by those struggling with infertility, the author walks alongside the reader, relaying personal stories to both encourage and support those who are suffering. Issues such as thebookcontrol of our bodies, family planning, and the source of conception are examined through a theological lens, reminding the reader of her clear vocation in Christ and pointing her to the ultimate source of fruitfulness, vitality, and comfort, our Triune God.

With Psalm readings, beloved hymn texts, and collects penned by Dcs. Melissa A. Degroot, each chapter of He Remembers the Barren resonates on a devotional level that is pitch perfect for women struggling with the grief and shame which often accompany barrenness. This book also serves as a valuable resource for pastors, family members, and friends seeking to better understand the barren experience of a loved one.

Continue reading “Book – “He Remembers the Barren””

He will not grow tried or weary

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I love this passage lately. I used to think it was over-quoted, but lately it is what I really need to know. Being in the valley makes you so weary and tired. It is so easy to feel that you may stumble. But take rest in this: the LORD [His name is YAHWEH] absolutely NEVER EVER gets tired or weary. And not only that, but He makes others strong. Think about that: He never loses strength, and He increases the strength of everyone else. I barely have enough strength for myself a lot of days, let alone someone else, let alone everyone else. But if you hope in the Lord, you get new strength. And you will not be weary or tired, no matter how long this “run” keeps going. You will not faint, no matter how far you walk. He increases your power, and He understands every single thing. Don’t you know? Have you not heard?