Thursday, May 29, 2008

Freedom with Gratitude

What will it be like to be free of this? Not emotional freedom or spiritual freedom which we can have while on the journey...but complete freedom though then receiving of the promise. I see the freedom my friend now experiences and I wonder what that feels like. It must be amazing.

I was reading this morning in Luke 8:26-39 about a demon possessed man who is freed by Jesus. The relief at being freed just jumps off the pages at me. He sites at Jesus' feet after being freed, not even wanting to go home and tell his loved ones. He just sits there, relishing his freedom. He must have felt light headed and almost giddy. I bet the world was brighter, colours more vivid and sounds clearer. And he could look up into the face of his Saviour. This was his Jubilee.

And I love his heart. It overflowed with gratitude. He begged to be allowed to go with Jesus and be near him. And when Jesus told him to go back and tell his family what had happened, he told his whole city. That's gratitude!

I can imagine him walking the streets of his city with dignity and calm. It seems that the demons denied him dignity and pulled him here and there so I think he would never have rushed anywhere. I know I would have always walked- because now I could. And everywhere whenever he got an opportunity, whenever he someone did a double take and recognised him, he would have poured out the amazing story of his salvation. I want a heart like that!

Too often I see people forget the passion they had for God when their prayers are answered. It scares me to think that I would do the same. This man did not forget God and I pray that I would be the same.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Purpose-full burden

A friend of mine has had breakthrough in the journey of childlessness. God has come through in an amazing way and given her far more than she could ever have hoped or dreamed of. We truly celebrate with her in every possible way. As I was watching her this morning I could see that an immense burden has been lifted off her shoulders. She looks like she's been lit from the inside and light and joy just bubble out of her. It's the most beautiful thing to see.

We know that this journey, and in fact any major trial, is a burden. Yes, Jesus says He will take our burdens and I honestly believe that He does, but you do carry something when walk through a huge trial. When I see miraculous and sudden breakthrough like in my friend, you can see what it's like to live free of the burden of the trial.

So I started thinking about how to live well with the trial. Not to deny the reality of it but how to embrace the testing and building. I want to be like my friend who always did it well, with dignity and trust, even when I could see that she was dying inside.

God spoke to me a while back saying that the miracle of this journey for us is not the end result but what happens along the way. This was confirmed this morning at church when Ps. Neil Smith talked about purpose and how everything has a God-created and ordained purpose. He said that our journey is created for us by God to develop us for our purpose. That's so encouraging as it means that this has meaning. Even if I can't see it, it still does. That helps me carry this load and makes it feel a lot lighter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My God song

Life took another turn last night when we heard that someone very close to us has to have chemo after surgery for colon cancer. This is a person who we love dearly and has featured heavily in our lives. He is going to be an important person to our children so the fact that he is sick and there's no sign of kiddies yet is not great.

Last night I was resolved not to cry and I firmly to set my face towards Jesus . This morning in Starbucks even looking at Jesus made me cry. I sniffled loudly and tried not to sob into my mocha. I know that God is in control and I am very loved, but life is still hard at times. In fact sometimes it's really sucky.

I opened my bible to hide my sniffles and keep my face down and a verse I have never even read before leapt out at me:
"See God has come to save me.
I will trust in Him and not be afraid.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation." Isaiah 12: 2

Just what I needed, I will not be afraid to lose this person, I will trust in God. He can do a miracle and I have faith to believe for one. God is my song and by faith I choose a hopeful happy song of Jubilee.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Yesterday during worship we sang a song which has a line saying''Only Your love defines who I am". And I thought "Who am I, if God defines me?". And God answered me saying that I am honoured and loved. Two of my favourite verses came to mind (Isaiah 49: 16 and Daniel 10:19) which talk about how we are deeply loved. And with love comes honour.

I thought about what that meant and I realised that love and honour drive out shame and reproach. Shame and reproach are issues that come knocking during the journey of infertility. I mean, who hasn't felt less of a woman for not being able to have a baby? Shame has washed over me so often in social settings leading to reproach for not being able to fulfil what seems like the most basic of tasks- give my husband a child and heir. So it was a good reminder that I am beyond shame and reproach through His love and honour defining who I am.

God is quite gracious to me and often speaks to me during worship about the sermon topic giving me time to respond, either give me strength and encouragement or a good old challenge. Yesterday was the same as Ps. Sam Monk talked about living in the light without shame (Matt : 13-16). I loved the sermon and the encouragement to love publicly.

This journey is so often lived in the dark due to embarrassment and shame. It is a hard private journey and I pull away from people, especially people we haven't seen in ages to avoid the question "So.... do you have kids yet?". But God said that I (and you) are loved and honoured and there is no shame in that at all! And if I live in the light and talk and share about this, it gives others permission to do the same. This journey is my salt flavour and when I share it has tremendous power, who I am I keep God's work and glory and power a secret?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

IVF Survival Tips

We have done three cycles and have learnt the hard way what works (and what doesn't!):

  1. Don't stop the quiet/ devotional times with God. Sounds like Christianity 101 but when you are under the weather from the drugs, there's a temptation to skip them. I made them a treat time in a cafe with a mocha. Actually I continued that habit and still do it(hehe!)
  2. Take it easy when starting injections. Gonal F throws your body completely and we didn't realise how much. On our first cycle, I did a half marathon on the first day of Gonal F injections. Ummm..stupid! On the first day of Gonal F injections in the second cycle we flew to Australia. The time difference and drugs knocked me for a couple of days. Third cycle... I took it easy. Yes, I take a while to learn!
  3. Try not to look at it one result at a time. The results go up and down, good and bad in the space of a day. All you need is one healthy fertilised non-fragmented embryo. Full stop. It's such a roller coaster- try not to get on it emotionally. Breathe and then allow yourself to react...
  4. Take some time off work/ time out after retrieval. The first cycle I went back to work the next day. You will be bruised inside and hurt and the body needs time to recover for the replacement later that week. Likewise after replacement, have some R&R time on the couch.
  5. Laugh lots! We rented all our favourite DVDs and we lay around laughing.
    Get prayer support. We did the first cycle solo and it wasn't much fun at all. We opened up gradually and by the third cycle we had close people praying.
  6. Build treats into the process. Do things for you and then do things as a couple. When I looked forward to those things, the IVF tended to face to the background.

Last, again...let God in! Refer back to point 1. You won't feel like spending time with God and will naturally tend towards panic and paranoia but honestly, He's the only one who can help you. He will lift you up and beyond the craziness of the drugs and stress and help you see the bigger picture. He did that for me and I am Queen of Stress!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Jesus knows

I love catching glimpses of the humanity of Jesus as I read about His life. As He was 100% God He was 100% human and He truly knows what it's like to be me.

This of such comfort after I miscarried on Christmas Day 2005. I was reading the account of the crucifixion and I saw that Jesus cried out to God in the middle of His suffering.
At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 46

Even Jesus, the amazing and incredible Jesus, cried out as he suffered. He cried out to His father and asked "Why?" I love Jesus for that, for being human, for knowing what it's like to feel abandoned. For knowing with His head that God the Father is Sovereign and in control but crying out from the heart "Why? Why am I suffering? Why is this pain so bad?".

How incredible it is to have a Saviour who understands what it's like to walk the road of humanity. To understand that we long to serve God well, yet have human hearts that experience pain and falter at inopportune times! Jesus knows, Jesus understands truly what it's like to be me....thank you Jesus xxx

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mothers Day ouch

Warning, Mother's Day is coming this weekend! There's been lots of discussion on the Hannah's Prayer forum about it. What should we do and what does God expect us to do? One poor lady is the pastor (or preacher as she says) and as no-one knows about her infertility journey, she's facing preaching on Mother's Day morning...again...ouch. It seems as if Mothers Day is incredibly tough for mothers -to-be (in faith!) and it's harder than any other holiday/ celebration for me.

So what do you do? Go to church or not? Well, to be honest, I didn't go to morning church last year and am not planning to go this year either. I have sat in church with a smile nailed to my face as the mothers are invited to stand for a round of applause. Don't get me wrong, Mothers are incredible and more than deserve the moment of honour, it's recognition for the hard work and love they sow into their children. But for someone like me, it's like I have a giant red "L" for loser painted on my forehead at that moment. I want to crawl in a hole and die quietly.

So after much prayer, we are going to wake up on Mothers Day, have an incredible time with God and thank Him for our Mothers, snuggle up and watch DVDs on the couch and go into the afternoon services with bells on, celebrating God and His goodness to us.

Being me, I worry about what God thinks about not going to church. But I know that God understands me and loves me and weeps for my pain. And we just can't do this Sunday morning and you know what? That's ok. So I pray that you have a wonderful blessed day this Sunday however you choose to spend it xxxx

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Carrying Hope

I have often heard a simple story line from well meaning people, about someone they knew who reached the end of the road with infertility, gave up (sometimes they went away on holiday) and BOOM! they fell pregnant. The implication is that I just have to give up hoping and it will happen. By the way statistics show that the chances of this happening are very low.
So in November last year after our third failed IVF attempt and after the news that IVF was no longer an option, I decided that I couldn't carry hope any more. I was no longer going to hope each month. Initially it was great and I lived in the greyness of hopelessness for a while. It was safe and grey and calm. But hope started to sneak up on me and I found that I coudn't avoid it. It was back and lurked around corners, in the periphery of my vision. I realised that hope was part of who I believed in. Jesus is Hope. To give up on hope is to give up on the Hope. Hope leads to faith and without faith we have nothing. So what was I to do? Carrying hope without a result for a long time is extremely tiring and wears you down. Also this journey is different. You carry hope each and every month. It's not like hoping for something with a single outcome, like hoping for a job. It's a hope that is raised and dies every single month, 12 times a year. This has been described as an unresolved grief- you never get to move on and heal.
So I discovered two things about hope: the first is that it's easier to carry hope when I manage my expectations. So I do hope each month but also try not to expect God to come through this time in this way. I know He will (by faith) and if it's not this time, then maybe the next or the the next. The second thing is that when we can't carry hope, God will carry and build it in us. I wasn't carrying any kind of hope last November. I felt incapable of hoping after my hopes had been utterly smashed. But I found that God helped me and a little germ of hope started to grow. I believe that God is tremedously merciful to us in this journey and realises that there are times when we are incapable of hoping or praying or standing. All we need to do is wait. He will come through for us. I waited and He grew hope in me and now I can carry it. Unfortunately it wasn't this month for my breakthrough, maybe it will be next month. I hope!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The grace I long for

More than anything I long for grace. The grace that is a gift from God Himself. The grace that I see on Todd and Angie Smith as they talk about the loss of their daughter less than a month after her death. It's a grace that doesn't deny the reality of what they face or the daily choice to trust God over their circumstance, but an incredible overflow of God's grace in the middle of their situation. God's grace enables us to face situations that are naturally so hard and lifts us above the emotion that try to drown us.
In the last two weeks both my sisters and one of my closest friends has given birth. Not one of those situation has allowed me to withdraw and protect myself emotionally. They are too close to me and deserve undiluted joy from me as they celebrate the births of their children. It's only God's grace that has given me the ability to walk into those situations with an open heart and celebrate. But I long for more grace, more of Him. I long for the grace I see on Todd and Angie and I pray God pours Himself out us.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Audrey Caroline

No words...

The story of Audrey Caroline, daughter of Todd and Angie Smith. Todd is a member of Selah.
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