Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Fear: An Enemy to Keep Fighting

**This post is very much pregnancy related.***

Fear.

Never a friend.

But always sneaking up on you, no matter how many times you say, no thanks. You’re not welcome here.

Recognizing and fighting fear became a big lesson for me as we were going through infertility treatments and prayers and whys and what-ifs. I learned a lot about this enemy and I wanted it out of my life for good. But it somehow keeps sneaking back in.

Yesterday, when the baby wasn’t moving like normal, I let it in a little. I knew it was better not to be afraid, but it was a fight to push fear back. Have you been there?

I know I still have a lot of growing to do in eliminating fear and its control in my life. But I’ve learned a little, and I tried to put what I have learned into practice. I prayed. I worried and feared that something may be terribly wrong with the baby, but I prayed.

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18a)

That verse continues: “For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

God doesn’t punish us. Right?

But bad things happen. They do. I’ve seen plenty. I’m sure we all have. I’ve experienced more than enough, but I’m sure I will experience still more. So how do we go from there to trusting that the bad things that happen can be used for good? Or that the terrible things in our lives can be part of God’s perfect will for us?

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21: any wonder why we praise this man’s faith?)

And I thought about it. What if the Lord was taking away this prayed for baby? I know it sounds terrible and gruesome and now, in the light of day and on the other side of this, it’s harder to imagine than it was yesterday morning. But what if? What if the Lord wanted this child to bypass the evils of this world? What if the Lord wanted to postpone our meeting until we might be reunited in heaven? What if he did? Could I face it?

Could I trust that it was to be used for my good?

Could I trust God in the face of that kind of loss?

I prayed that I would be able to. I prayed for trust and faith in him. And I prayed that our baby was okay. And I prayed that if he did in fact call our baby to himself right then that I would keep praying.

I can’t imagine what that would have been like or what that would have looked like. And I thank God that this is not where things are right now. Our baby is fine. Hours at the hospital yesterday hooked up to fetal monitors have determined that the baby is fine. But there was that moment. And in that moment, I let fear sneak in a little more than I should have, but a little less than I would have in the past.

I am growing. But still not completely perfected in love. And still with much to learn.

And I am praising God for the miracle of life that is still alive in me. I am overwhelmed by his mercy toward us and thankful for his grace.

And praying that these next few weeks will go smoothly, that we’ll meet our child soon and on this side of heaven. And that God will continue to grow us in wisdom and to perfect us in love. Because if we let the fear in–it’s too much. There are too many ways this could all go wrong. Yesterday was such a poignant reminder. And a good reminder, also, that this baby is not mine, but the Lord’s. May the Lord use our child for his purposes and to do his perfect will.

I John 4:18

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When God Says No

Do you know, we prayed a specific prayer. And it didn’t happen.

God said No.

It’s not the first time God has answered my prayers with a no.

I’ve heard before that God doesn’t say no. That the answer from God is always yes or not yet. But sometimes the not yets run out. Sometimes death claims a life. Sometimes sickness gets worse, not better. Sometimes you don’t get into a Ph.D. program. Sometimes that monthly reminder that I’m not pregnant shows up even when I’ve prayed it won’t.

So instead of wondering if God says no, I’ve started asking why he does.

From God’s word, we know that he knows what is best for us and that he gives us only good gifts. And we have this:

Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking him!
(Matthew 7:9-11, AMP)

Here’s the thing–sometimes the loving Father knows that when you ask for the serpent what you really need is a fish. And when you ask for a stone, what you really need is bread.

God knows better than I do what is right for me and for my life. It’s hard to surrender that. It’s hard to admit that I’m not the best person to determine what I need–because it seems like I should be. But God, who is outside of time, who declared the end from the beginning, who knows all things: he knows. And he knows when it is best to say no.

I don’t understand. I don’t know if I ever will. But when God says no? I need to trust him. Because he knows what I don’t know. And his ways are not my ways–they are better ways. And because, if I’m honest, I know that it will be better in the end to have what God wants for me than to get exactly what I think I want.

Then Jesus went with them [the disciples] to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with me.’ And going a little farther, he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.‘” (Matthew 26:36-39)

That cup? It didn’t pass from Jesus. And we praise God it didn’t.

So we trust. And we keep praying. And we include in our prayers, “not my will but yours, Father.” Because we trust. And because he knows better.

And we say thank you. Because even though it seemed better to us that things should go a particular way, we know, from God’s no, that the plan we had in mind was not the right one. And we say thanks that God would protect us from ourselves and from our own desires and instead give us what is best and prepare us for what we need. And we keep on praying.


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Modern Miracles?

I’ve been a negligent blogger lately. I guess if I want to over-analyze, it’s probably not a bad thing. I started the blog because I needed a space to write and air my grievances, a space to heal. And I needed to know I wasn’t the only person out here on this messed up ride called infertility. So the fact that I haven’t felt as compelled lately to post–well, I think it may indicate that my attitude has improved. And it has. The peace I mentioned in my last post apparently wasn’t just a momentary fluke, because I’m still feeling it.

My circumstances haven’t changed. We’re still waiting. And honestly, hoping and praying we’ll end up avoiding actually doing inferitlity treatments. It’s a long shot, for sure, but wouldn’t that be amazing? And I know nothing is too difficult for the LORD.

All this has had me thinking lately about miracles and answered prayers. How many miracles do we ignore completely? How many answers to prayer do we miss because we’re too caught up in the day to day? This season of infertility has called our attention more and more toward how God is moving in our lives all the time, in ways we maybe wouldn’t have called out or mentioned before.

It has been amazing to grow through this difficulty with my best friend. I’ve watched his faith deepen throughout the past several months. He’s thanking God for things I don’t think he would have seen God’s hand in even six months ago. He’s taking more leadership for our family as the spiritual head of our household. I have a tendency to step in and take over, infringing on his leadership, but I’ve been praying that would change, and that DH would really be the spiritual leader of our house. Another answer to prayer?

And little tiny things–like how DH’s car passed its inspection this weekend despite having an indicator light on that best estimates suggest will require a $1000 fix we just can’t afford right now. And how our first two rounds of medicine were free because the insurance company and/or the pharmacy messed up and told us they were covered 100 percent, and they actually went by what they told us despite the fact that it should have cost $500+ each time. And how they billed our most recent round of meds as a $20 copay (by the grace of God!).

There are everyday little things that may seem insignificant, but it is so nice to be reminded that God has not forgotten us. He hears us and he cares about us. He’s in it with us and he knows how he will resolve things for us. What an incredible relief!

Ultimately, it’s a reminder that I’m a benefactor of the ultimate miracle: that God loved me enough to find a way to pay the cost of my sin. Forgiveness: What a miracle.

Miracles really do happen all the time. I pray that I won’t be blind to them in my life. And that seeing miracles–both those that affect me directly and others’ answers to prayer–will strengthen my faith that God is, absolutely, beyond any doubt, able to work the miracle of children in my life should he choose. And if not, it’s not because of any lack on his part. It’s because he has something better planned.

Praise God. The God who heals and hears and IS.  


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A Slight Detour

I promised in my last post that I would write about David as the first in my “They Were Called” series. And I will. But right now I need to take a slight detour. I started studying David and am a little overwhelmed by the amount of reading I need to do. And I am hosting a Christmas party on Friday. I hope I can post about David next week.

Now on to the detour:

Today we celebrated a Christmas brunch with the ladies in leadership for my Bible study. We’re studying Hebrews, and this week’s lesson mentions Abraham and how patient he had to be while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would be a father of many. So our homework asked how long we’d ever had to wait for something for which we had earnestly prayed.

Of course, the first thing that came to mind is our continuing daily prayer for complete healing and for a healthy pregnancy that leads to a healthy baby. We’ve been actively, earnestly praying that prayer since we started trying to conceive about 15 months ago. We’ve been hoping to be parents, as a couple, for nearly 5 years of married life, and we have been talking about being parents for close to 8. I’ve been planning and expecting to fulfill my calling to be a mother for most of my life, and I would say explicitly for at least the past 10 years. I know that is not a long time. Fifteen months of actively trying and daily praying is especially short compared to the 25 years (I think that’s right) Abraham and Sarah waited for their son. (In my defense, I don’t expect to live nearly as long as Abraham and Sarah; Abraham died at 175 and Sarah lived to be 127.) But it is still painful. It is still something we are waiting for. And, unlike Abraham, we wait without having received from God any promise that we ever will have children.

Another thing I’ve been praying for in the past few months is a person I could meet with in person and talk to about infertility treatments and all the pain and grief and the many challenges that go along with infertility. I love having a blogging community, but I was missing the personal contact that only face-to-face encounters can provide. Of course, we have been really picky in who we have informed about our infertility. How would I find anyone if I wasn’t willing to open up?

And God is so great. Today he brought someone to me.

D is in my Bible study leadership group. Today this is what she shared (paraphrased):

I was up this morning at 4:00 because I couldn’t sleep. And I turned to look through and go over my Bible study questions. And when I got to this question [the how long have you waited question], I felt as though God was telling me I needed to share something. We normally don’t share that we really struggled to get pregnant. . . .

After three years of TTC, she and her husband were fortunate to be able to participate in a study for a new drug. They ended up becoming pregnant in the last month of the study with their son. He is now 19. They had wanted to have many children. A year after their son was born, they started TTC again, ultimately with IVF. It didn’t work for them. And she said she has always struggled on the one hand with why they only had one child while also being so grateful to have one child. She said it is especially difficult now as their son is away at school and really leaving the nest.

When the meeting and the brunch were over, I sought her out, away from everyone else. And I told her what we are going through and how I had prayed for her. And I cannot tell you how much her hug meant to me. We both wiped away tears as we talked about how difficult it is to walk this road. She talked about how no one understands what we’re going through unless they’ve been there or are there. I know she’s right.

And I realized something. I have the great fortune of going through infertility in an Internet age with a great blogging community (thank you all for writing!) and people I am connected with who can understand what we’re going through. People who can lift us up in prayer and who we lift up in prayer. Real people who need this community as much as I do.

She didn’t have that.

I hope I can be community for her–albeit a little late–as I know she will be for me.

Praise God for 4 a.m. meetings and answers to prayer. Praise God.