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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A simple prayer for you…

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But a true friend would also pray that, if it’s the best thing for you — if it makes you holier and brings God more glory in your life — may He also grant you waiting, and sorrow, and maybe a little pain, and some heartbreak. May you know mercy and grace to the fullest extent, if He sees fit, and may it bring you closer to Christ and make you more like Him.

 

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!

The bud may have a bitter taste but sweet will be the flower

We sang this song in small group this morning, and I’ve been thinking of it all day. My husband and I have always liked it, but it wasn’t until we sang it today that I really focused on the weight of the words. It’s another perfect trial song. I invite you to read the words and listen to the sweet hymn.

Also, my husband was leading worship and shared about how the original writer of the words had a hard life and went insane, and what saved him was finding Christ. What an amazing testimony, and it only adds to the richness of the words. The man’s name is William Cowper, and he was alive in the 1700s. You might want to read more about him.

Here are the lyrics, followed by the song… I bolded the words that really touched my heart.

God Moves

VERSE 1
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in His dark and hidden mines
With never-failing skill
He fashions all His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

CHORUS 1
So God we trust in You 
O God we trust in You 

VERSE 2
O fearful saints new courage take 
The clouds that you now dread 
Are big with mercy and will break 
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

CHORUS 2
So God we trust in You 
O God we trust in You 
When tears are great 
And comforts few 
We hope in mercies ever new;
We trust in You. 

VERSE 3
God’s purposes will ripen fast 
Unfolding every hour; 
The bud may have a bitter taste 
But sweet will be the flower. 
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain.

*You can buy this song and album here: Sovereign Grace Music

I want to be content, but I don’t (Or, On “Jinxing It”)

…I shared the other day about my realization that this trial isn’t going to end with a baby. It could end later, if I let it, or it could end sooner. It’s all about my heart and what God is doing there.

So if that’s true, what is God doing there? Where do I need to be to feel like we’re past this?

God has surely done a lot in these years of barrenness… many lessons have come and gone, but some deep ones always press. For me, it’s peace with God’s plan for my life, even if I don’t always like it. It’s being content with not having kids and “the dream.” It’s in the What if He always says “No”? It’s resting in the chance to have a spiritual legacy, even if I don’t get an earthly one. It’s the chance to be spiritually fruitful for the Kingdom, even if we can’t be physically fruitful on earth (blog post to come!). I haven’t decided yet, but it may be about accepting God’s will for us to grow our family through adoption instead.

Your things may be different, and my list may keep growing. But right now, I know I can generally answer the question of, “What could I do to end this trial?” with the things I just said. So the real question is: Why don’t I end it?

And the awful answer I keep discovering in my heart is a solid mixture of I just don’t want to (aka… I haven’t in fact learned those things yet), and, much worse, an invented idea that if I do find that peace and accept those plans, I will surely be “giving in” and God will see that I’m content without a baby and I’ll lose all hope of getting one.

If I keep kicking and screaming, He won’t forget me. He’ll see how bad I want it.

But if He thinks I’m content, He’ll leave me this way.

This is the cousin of “jinxing it” … an animistic idea that we’ve invented, that if we do or think or say certain things, it will spoil our chance at something else. As if those words or actions or thoughts have any real power, let alone more power than God.

So we don’t Pin baby things on Pinterest. And we don’t daydream about baby names. And we don’t let ourselves talk in the definite about having kids in the future. And we don’t get our hopes up.

And we don’t let ourselves learn or accept contentment.

Because what if we lose our chance?

But those are complete lies. Why do I know that, but struggle to let it go? Doesn’t God know my heart? (Yes.) Doesn’t He know my deepest longings? (Yes.) Doesn’t He care? (Yes.) Don’t I trust Him? (Yes.) Don’t I want to be more like Him? (Yes.) Don’t I want to learn that contentment?

Not really. But I want to want to. I think I want to, until times like this when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. “Didn’t you say you want to be more like Christ?” I hear myself say. Yes, but I didn’t consider the cost. Sometimes it hurts, really badly.

And I don’t know how this blog post ends. It’s one of the questions that keeps me up at night. This is where I always land. I should let my heart move forward, still hopeful, yet content. Content to be childless forever, if God wills. Content to adopt, if God wills. Content to whatever, if God wills. I should, and I want to be willing, but I’m still holding out just a little bit for the best of both worlds. And I know it’s the recipe for disaster that you see in a movie and start yelling at the screen. And I’ll kick myself later. But today, I land here again, waiting for God to keep working in my heart and my life. Grateful that at least His mercies are new every morning, and I get to try again tomorrow at this sanctification thing. 

Psalm 40 – He set my feet upon a rock

Psalm 40 (ESV)

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie! Continue reading “Psalm 40 – He set my feet upon a rock”

Through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy

This is another song that is really special to my heart, “The Valley Song” by Jars of Clay. It’s part of the inspiration for the subtitle of this blog, as it carries the biblical symbolism in calling this trial of infertility (or any trial — cancer, job loss, persecution, whatever) “the valley.” But the great thing about the valley is that, if you keep walking, it will end and you will be standing on the mountains again and rejoicing at the river.

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One of my most prayed prayers is that God will have mercy on us (Luke 18, anyone?). I’ve never before felt like I needed to pray for mercy, but at my lowest point, it was what naturally flowed out of my mouth when praying one day. Obviously, a baby would be the greatest form of mercy that I can imagine right now, but I encourage you not to miss the daily mercies He gives you (anything from a kind nurse to deep peace) because you’re looking so hard for that big one. We’ve already rested in the truth that His mercies are new every morning don’t miss them!

By the way, my very favorite line in this song is:

Though the pain is an ocean tossing us around and round,

You have calmed greater waters,

and higher mountains have come down. 

Oh yes, Lord, and we praise You for that truth!