Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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It’s a Ping-Pong Ball Season

Lately I’ve been feeling like the ball in a ping pong game. I’ve been vacillating between so many things: trust and self-reliance, optimism and pessimism, excitement and fear . . .

For the most part, I’m doing much (so much!) better today than I was 6 months ago. But since the school year started, bringing with it the renewal of my responsibilities in my Bible study and other activities, I’ve been having a difficult time making my schedule work. And I’m just so tired. I think this tiredness opens a door to let the peace I held so securely all summer just drift away. I know I can take it back: it’s been offered to me and I just need to re-acknowledge it. But I am too tired to reach out and grab it. Or that’s how I feel.

Instead of feeling secure and patient in our waiting, I’ve been starting to feel overwhelmed. I’m excited to start treatment–and eager to fast forward through to December/January when we’ll begin significant medical interventions. But I’m also okay with waiting, not wanting to have to do all the things I need to do between now and actually getting started. Things like finding a new doctor or getting our finances in order. And I don’t want to be caught up in all of it again and lose sight of today, of the crispness in the air right now or even enjoying dinner and my favorite TV shows–not to mention post-season Cardinals baseball!–with my dear and wonderful husband.

And then I find that I can’t even imagine myself pregnant. What will it be like? I used to picture a round belly growing under my shirt, but now when I try I just see me. I’ve begun to look forward to things other than parenting–to the possibility of seminary or even to writing more. I’ve entertained notions I never entertained, like being actually employed somewhere full-time as a teacher or even in an office and enjoying it. Like having a career. Stuff I never really thought about wanting. It’s weird. So weird.

And then I have complete opposite moments. Moments of denial. How is that still coming up? But yesterday I was sitting and thinking that maybe this whole IF thing was a dream. Or maybe it’s just temporary and I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get pregnant like a normal person from now on. Other moments spent daydreaming decorating a nursery, maybe for two.

And then pinching myself, reminding myself to be present, to be here and to do what God wants me to do today.

We got some disappointing news last week. DH’s company isn’t actually going to cover our infertility treatments. It’s okay. I mean, we are blessed to have savings that we can use. Praise God. We are so grateful that this doesn’t mean we aren’t able to move forward. But it is a disappointment. Apparently insurance premiums are going up 8 percent just to keep the coverage we already have and adding infertility would cost an additional 10 percent on top of that for DH’s company. When they ran the numbers they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t afford it. I was more worried, but DH–who has a better handle on our financial situation anyway–reassured me last night. We can afford our treatments. And it’s okay. And God already knew this would happen. But, well, like the other people in his office who probably could also benefit from IF coverage (if 1 in 8 couples are affected, I’m sure we’re not the only ones), I think I’d just prefer not to have been told we’d be receiving coverage only to find out we aren’t.

I made appointments on Monday for us to check out two different REs in Houston. We’ll meet with the first one this Monday. The second one isn’t until November–and I may cancel that if we like the first doctor. So, we’re making concrete steps.

And I’m mostly optimistic, mostly trusting, and mostly excited–but still feeling a bit tossed from one end of the table to the other.

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Hannah Took It to the Lord

Today happens to be the first anniversary of my blog. When I started this blog, I am sure I expected to have a child by now. Instead, we are still waiting for our miracle pregnancy. But while our outward circumstances have not changed, we have grown and matured in our trial. We have felt God’s peace. We have wavered but not fallen. We have waited expectantly and waited reluctantly. And we are learning to trust, to relinquish fear and worry in favor of reliance on God and faith in his goodness.

So it seems fitting that today is the day I said I would write about Hannah’s calling.

One of the things that strikes me about Hannah is that her calling was more than she probably thought or ever realized. God uses her story to give hope to so many others who know the pain of infertility, the pain of longing for an answered prayer. Surely the example she sets is one part of her calling from the Lord. Being a role model, having “fame” in this way, is not something she would have expected or asked for, but her life has been used by God for our good and his glory over and over.

What we see as our calling may be only a small part of what God has truly called us to do. 

But I’m jumping ahead.

Hannah’s husband was a man who loved her. Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not. Each year, Elkanah would take his family to make sacrifices at the temple. Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion of meat because he loved her, but Peninah mocked Hannah because Hannah was barren. [Mocked? And to think I get so upset at “just adopt” and “just relax” from well-meaning, albeit ignorant, fertile folks.]

We never see Hannah retaliate. But she does grieve. She grieves and she refuses to eat. In an effort to comfort her, Elkanah asks, “Aren’t I worth more to you than ten sons?” Ah, but the pain of infertility is so great. [Thank you, God that DH understands and is struggling with me.] Hannah, though loved, is really alone in her grief.

I wonder what she thinks about. Does she wonder, as I have wondered, why God would give her the desire to be a mother without the children to bear that out? Does she feel a lack of purpose, a lack of meaning without children? Did she dream of motherhood as a girl? Was raising children something she looked forward to?

One year, while they are in Jerusalem to make their sacrifices to the Lord, Hannah goes to the temple and prays. In her prayer, she shows that God is gracious to hear us. He listens to our needs. And we are right and justified to ask him for that which we long for. The Bible says, “And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor shall ever be used on his head.” (I Samuel 1:11)

Eli, the priest, who watches her as she prays, wrongly assumes she is drunk and confronts her. Upon finding that she is praying, he says, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1:17)

Hannah does go in peace: “Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” (1:18b)

So, Hannah feels called to be a mother. Year after year goes by and she remains childless. Her husband’s other wife (who Melanie has [sweetly] speculated he may have married only because Hannah was barren–I encourage you to read her post) not only has children but regularly mocks Hannah for her barrenness. Her husband loves her but doesn’t understand her pain and, essentially, urges her to just be happy with what she has. Hannah doesn’t give up. She places her hopes before the Lord, seeking his help because he alone can provide what she longs for. After pouring her heart out to God, she leaves with peace. Even while her circumstances are unchanged, her countenance is different.

Oh how I praise the Lord for providing us with peace–however tenuous it may sometimes seem–in the midst of this heartache. I look back at the past year and see that I am different than I was at the beginning of this journey. I am changed for the better–though my circumstances remain largely unchanged.

This isn’t the end of the story for Hannah. She does bear a son. She calls him Samuel. And she fulfills her vow. After Samuel is weaned, she takes him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. She leaves him there.

I cannot even imagine! Hannah receives the blessing of a son, but she is with him for only a very short time. She will now see him just once a year when Elkanah brings his family to the temple. Upon leaving Samuel at the temple this first time, Hannah lifts up praises to God for the answered prayer.

Samuel becomes the final judge of Israel. He is a prophet and God speaks to him. He anoints the first two kings of Israel under God’s direction. Hannah’s faithfulness and prayer were key to God’s story for his people Israel.

And God is gracious to Hannah in her faithfulness. She goes on to have three more sons and two daughters (I Samuel 1:21).

Hannah: Called to be a mother. And called to set an example for us in prayer and praise, in being genuine before the Lord. She waited years to be able to fulfill her calling.  Without that wait, the pain, and heartache, would Samuel have been dedicated to the Lord? Would we know that we can pour out our hearts in agony and grief to God while asking for specific requests? God had a plan and a purpose in giving Hannah her deep-seated desire to be a mother. And I trust he has a plan and a purpose for each of us in the midst of our difficulties, our trials, our insecurities.

So we keep turning to him.

This is episode 3 of my “They Were Called” series. To see episode 2, about Moses and the calling he didn’t want, click here. To see episode 1, about David and his calling, click here. For the introduction to the series, click here. Join me next Monday for episode 4.


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Thoughts of Adopting

I’m back. We did our two weeks in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. We did some really fun things and saw some beautiful things. And I’m so glad to be back and able to sleep in my own bed.

For some reason the trip brought up thoughts of adoption. I don’t know if it’s because Angelina Jolie’s first child, Maddox, was adopted from Cambodia (I didn’t know that until we were there), or because the children we saw were so adorable, or something else. DH and I had always talked about adoption, you know, before we found out we couldn’t procreate naturally, in the naive, after we’re done having pregnancies, maybe we’ll adopt some more kids kind of way. And I looked into it briefly when we first found out we were dealing with infertility. But when I really think about adopting, I find it frightens me. What if our kids never feel like they’re ours? Does adoption mean I’ll always feel infertile?

We had the opportunity a while ago to see Mark Schultz in concert in our neighborhood. I enjoy his music and we stood in the rain to watch him play. It was great, until he started talking about his life. He was adopted. And he clearly loves his adoptive parents. But he was talking about how he had always wanted to meet a blood relative. He always wanted to meet someone who was physically related to him. And then he and his wife had their first child. And when that child smiled for the first time, it was his smile. And he was so excited because he had finally met a blood relative.

It’s supposed to be a happy story. And I think I may have been able to share his joy a little better if I heard it today, or last week. But I was very weak then. We were in so much pain and it was all right there on the surface. Just the mention of a baby would make me feel sad and small and not whole. That feeling isn’t totally gone, of course. It still resurfaces from time to time. But I’m a little less sensitive to it today than I was a few months ago.

All I could think of when he was telling this story was that if we adopted we would always be infertile. And that our children would always feel like they missed out on something.

Of course, the case for adopting isn’t helped when you look at the uncertainty and the expense compared with doing IVF. And I still don’t really feel like adoption is a way to replace having children naturally or even through ART. I think some people are called to adopt. And some people have a heart for orphans and will adopt and thereby add to their families. And I think it’s wonderful to adopt a child. A truly wonderful calling. But I wouldn’t want that to be a second-choice plan–I wouldn’t want my children to feel like they were a second-choice plan.

Our hearts could change tomorrow; we could find one day that adopting is the right step for us, the first choice. And maybe a seed has been planted for adoption in our hearts, though it has not yet matured. Right now, choosing adoption would be some kind of compromise. It wouldn’t be right for the child or for us. And I know that.

But I looked at the children around us on our trip and started to wonder . . .