Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Even One Thing

This year, DH and I made a goal together to memorize one Bible verse together each week. We’ve started with 24 verses from the book of John (as provided by Ann Voskamp on her blog A Holy Experience). 

We’ve memorized John 1:1,

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

And John 1:5,

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:14,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.

John 1:16,

Because he was full of grace and truth, from Him we all received one gift after another.

John 2:5,

Do whatever He tells you.

John 3:16,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

And this week, John 3:27,

A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

It’s been fun memorizing scripture together. We’ve been quizzing each other, which makes it easier to keep the verses memorized. And I know if we weren’t doing it together I would have given up, probably right around John 1:16 (that one was so tricky for some reason).

But this week’s verse has really opened my eyes to something that maybe should be obvious but which I had been missing.

A person CANNOT receive EVEN ONE THING unless it is given him from heaven.

This means the baby I’m hoping for will be from heaven–from God–whether it’s conceived miraculously without any help, or with the most help possible. If God wants to give us a baby, he will do it when he will and in whatever way he desires. And if, for some reason, this is not his will (or not his timing), he will prevent it.

I don’t have to worry if going forward with infertility treatments is God’s will or not. God has not given me any reason to question going forward with treatments, but if he desires our infertility to continue or to be resolved in a different way, he will make that happen, because we cannot receive a baby through ART (or any other means) unless it is given from heaven.

I find peace in this. It came at a time when I was really questioning: What is God calling me to do today? What is his will or desire for me right now? What’s plans can I make for tomorrow?

And the beautiful answer? I don’t need to know.

I choose to love God, to put him first, and trust that he will take care of the rest. He is for me–he has shown me this time and time and time again.

And besides, a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

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Thoughts on Mark 15:31-32

I am reading through the Bible this year and seeing things through the eyes of a woman dealing with infertility. And in that way, the scriptures are made so fresh and new. Occasionally, a thought strikes me and I’ll make a note of it. This one seemed worth sharing.

The verses (while Jesus is on the cross):

“The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!’ Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.” Mark 15:31-32

The people taunted and mocked Jesus on the cross. And they entreated him to come down from the cross to prove his power to them so they would believe. They were telling him what miracle to perform.

How often have I asked God to perform a specific miracle through which we could give him great glory? If we become pregnant before the medicines have possibly had time to work–or if we become pregnant before this or that treatment–what great glory we can give the name of the Lord! And I do believe it would glorify his name if we could tell of a miracle pregnancy, a miracle baby.

But what if Jesus had come down? Perhaps the mockers witnessing that act would have been muted. Perhaps they would have looked upon Jesus and known that he was beloved by God after all, that he did possess some extraordinary power. But if Jesus had come down from that cross, the penalty for our sins would not have been paid. We would not have been saved.

If he had come down from that cross, Jesus may have obtained glory for himself, but it would have been at the expense of God’s great plan for his children.

As a believer, I have to look at this story and be thankful that God does not seek to glorify himself by doing only what people think would give him glory. Instead, he knows the full story and he knows the best way to glory.

So I hope to glorify God in whatever comes through our infertility and through my life. What I think would glorify his name may not be what he knows will be for the greatest glory. But I should not lose heart. And I must continue to trust him. Because Jesus doesn’t come off the cross when the mockers tell him to. Instead, he lays down his life and the curtain separating man from God is torn in two. And what glory when Christ walks from the grave on the third day, showing us that he has conquered death and freed his children from the bondage of sin! Praise God.


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He Lives in Me

I go up and down a lot. And Christmas was tough. And the week after Christmas, full of decompressing and allowing my repressed emotions about all the baby talk of Christmas to come through, was really tough.

But then we started a new year.

Isn’t it beautiful how we can hope (or at least pretend) that a new year will be completely different than the old one? We can discard that old, worn out, used up year and trade it in for all the joys and excitements, for the hope and promise of a new, beautiful year.

And this is going to be my year of fruitfulness. So, what does that mean?

I’ve decided:

  • We will do everything in our power to conceive a child. That includes continuing and adding lifestyle changes that have some chance of helping us. And it includes trusting God to remember us. (Genesis 30: 22, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.”)
  • We will take advantage of the opportunities presented to us. That means we’ll be doing some traveling this year, which I’m really stoked about. DH has a crazy schedule that involves a lot of time off between his long shifts. So, we’ll be going to Southeast Asia in March, which I am really looking forward to.
  • I will read the Bible. I have been doing a daily plan on my phone. It’s a bit of Old Testament, a bit of New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day. I’ve read the Bible before, but it feels new and different in light of our current circumstances. And I’ve been highlighting passages that strike me about infertility.

In the past few days, I’ve had a realization that we’re not going through this without reason. I don’t believe that it is God’s will for his children to suffer, so I really don’t believe that we are dealing with infertility because it is what God would have chosen for us. Our infertility is a result of a fallen world. But, given that we are dealing with infertility, I do believe that “God works all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

And I believe this means that going through infertility is going to bring us to our right family. I don’t know what our family will look like, but I believe infertility will lead us there. Who knows, maybe we are simply supposed to have twins. Maybe God will use us to provide a home for another person’s child. Whatever path we end up taking to get to a complete family–whatever that may mean–I trust that God is going to lead us to the right end.

Maybe this is something obvious to everyone else. But it just finally sunk in.

And as I was driving down the road today, I heard a beautiful song. I keep singing to myself, “Hallelujah, he lives in me!” What a wonderful and necessary reminder!

If God lives in me, and I believe he does, what powerful work he can do through me and even within my own body. The God who conquers giants and tells the dead to breathe can surely heal our broken bodies. This God has already shown me miracles. He has loved me when I was most unlovable. And I believe he will keep showing me miracles.

I pray I’ll have the eyes to see them.


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For Such a Time as This

I haven’t talked much about anything but infertility and how that’s affecting us here, but here’s a little backstory about how life doesn’t go according to our plans–with a little admission that sometimes those deviations from our plans for ourselves turn out to be better than we expect.

DH and I met in college. We were both economics majors. And his goal was to be an economics professor. He didn’t feel that his BS had prepared him sufficiently for the PhD, so we headed to DC where DH got an amazing job at the Federal Reserve Board–about the best possible place to work if you want to go to graduate school in economics.

He took one to two math classes at night each semester until he had the equivalent of a bachelor’s in math, too.

Last fall, he sent out applications. And we waited.

Believe me when I tell you that DH is an incredibly intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated person. His resume for grad school was top-notch and his recommendations were from some wonderful people in his field. I’m sure his recommendations were stellar, too. The only person I’ve ever known not to like my husband is a girl at his office who has complained that their boss shows him favoritism. What she calls favoritism most people would call respect for a job well done. 

By all accounts, DH should have been accepted into a great program with funding.

That didn’t happen.

With the wisdom that comes with time, we’d both tell you right now that the way our lives got rerouted was for the best. DH will tell you it’s a miracle he didn’t get into grad school. God brought us to Texas (where we’d both said we’d never choose to live), and DH went to school to study math full-time at A&M for a semester before he ended up getting his current job here in Houston. The job pretty much fell into his lap, and he loves it.

I guess all that should be helping us trust God in our current situation. I think it is helping, when I think about it. God hasn’t taken us on any wrong turns yet; He’s never let us down. But how easily I forget that he is in control, that he is guiding us and has been guiding us all along.

The whole grad school thing was hard for us, and it was hard for DH’s parents. It was hard for them (as it was for me) to see their boy deal with all those rejection letters. When it came time for us to go to A&M, DH and I had a lot of peace about it. After months of anxiety about what we were going to do, the day DH sent his application in to A&M the anxiety was lifted. I don’t think his parents had that same peace at the time. It took them a few months–maybe until DH got the unexpected job offer–to really come to terms with the new direction our life was going.

When we told his parents about our infertility struggles, I know they were wondering why God would put us through something so devastating so soon after the last difficult test. We were wondering too, honestly.

Yesterday I got this e-mail from my MIL. I’m glad she’s feeling better about things, and I found her words encouraging. Her e-mail is a good reminder that God is sovereign and he’ll see us through this.

I have just got to tell you guys that my whole thinking on the [infertility] matter has taken a turn. . . . Now, instead of questioning God, I am thanking him for orchestrating the moments and details of your lives to get you here into Houston for this time in your lives. The whole time we were wondering WHY? about the grad school business and the econ professor path . . . He knew that you needed to be here; in Houston; . . . a location that is monetarily beneficial, in a good-paying job. God didn’t wish this [infertility] stuff on you, but knew about it (since he knew all about you before you were born), and he has orchestrated your life with perfect precision to get you right where you need to be . . . for such a time as this!

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (I know this was so she could free her people, but I do think it applies here too).

Lately I’ve been feeling better about our infertility. I’m glad DH’s mom is feeling better, too. I tend to forget that this IF thing affects our families, too. It’s such a deep personal issue that it’s hard to see how other people we care about are also hurting and questioning why we’re going through this.

I still have some really terrible days, but on the whole I feel more at peace with what we’re dealing with. I’d still like that miracle healing, and I am so hopeful that we will be able ot have biological kids. But I’m okay with where we are right now. Ask me tomorrow and I might scream and yell and cry, but today I’m doing well.


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Praise Him in This Storm

There’s a song I’ve sung along with countless times on the Christian station and in church. It’s “Praise You in This Storm,” by Casting Crowns. As you might have guessed, a major theme of the song is praising God even when everything in life seems to be going wrong. Before we were officially infertile, I sang this song and I believed I meant it. I thought, you know, I haven’t had many storms in this life, but I would absolutely praise God through any difficulty and hardship. No question.

Well, turns out theory isn’t always carried out in practice.

When we first found out what our issue was, we were (of course) devastated. But we thought surely it was fixable. When we found out it wasn’t fixable, I got angry. And I was angry with God. I’ve been faithful, haven’t I? I mean, intellectually, I know I don’t deserve anything, I’m not owed anything, but why would God do this to us?

Did God not say, “Be fruitful and multiply”? Did he not create man and woman in such a way as to be able to bear children? And did not God give me the desire to be a mother–give us the desire to be parents? Infertility feels like such a cruel punishment because it is like we are less than. We have been deprived of something that naturally belongs to each person. It is a dysfunction in the body that by all accounts should not happen.

And so when we pray for this miracle, for the healing we need to conceive naturally, I have a tendency to think: we are standing on firm ground here. We don’t deserve special treatment, but surely we do deserve to be whole in body, right? Like I am making my case to God.  (There is a precedent for this: Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”)

But here I find I have no ground to stand on at all. I can’t argue that I deserve anything from a God who already has given me something I absolutely did not deserve and never could earn. And if he has decided that we should deal with infertility, than I hope we will survive it in a way that glorifies him. That’s intellectual, though. I’m not sure I’ve internalized it.

I teach a Bible study to home-schooled elementary students, and I have the blessing of working with several other godly women in that venture. One of them, Ann, lost her husband four years ago. We were talking (I don’t remember the context) and she said, “I never asked God for the gift of widowhood. In fact, I didn’t want it. But it is a gift from God.” I can’t really wrap my mind around it, but I know it applies here. I know that infertility is, in some way yet unknown to me, a gift from God. I don’t want it. I’d like him to take it back today.

I do hope for a miracle. DH and I pray every night for complete healing–supernaturally or by the scientific advancements with which God has blessed us. We pray that we would be able to conceive naturally. But I also pray for contentment. I pray that infertility is something that came into our lives for a reason. I pray our infertility will glorify God.

I pray for the strength to praise him in this storm.