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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Rejoicing with Those Who Rejoice

Joseph, favorite son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. The motive? That boy was daddy’s favorite, and they were jealous. Murderously jealous. In fact, if a tribe of Ishmaelites hadn’t shown up at just the right time, the original plan was to kill the boy, their brother, the favorite son of their father.

It’s really a sad story. I can’t imagine being so totally rejected by my own brothers and sister. It would be heartbreaking.

But this story has a truly remarkable ending. Joseph is raised up among the Egyptians. He becomes the number two guy in all of Egypt and prevents the people from starving during a severe, seven-year famine.

He also finds himself in a position to make an important choice.

When Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery appear before him wanting to purchase food for their families, he could have repaid their evil with evil. He could have sent them away empty-handed, or sold them as slaves, or even had them killed. But he doesn’t.

Joseph forgives his brothers. Yes, he makes them jump through a couple of hoops and pass a few well-designed “tests” before he reconciles with them, but we don’t see him taking vengence or holding any kind of grudge against the men who kept him from his beloved father and baby brother for over twenty years.

***

So, one of the tests Joseph gives his brothers is to see if they continue in their jealousy. He has a feast prepared for his brothers, and he feeds them all more than enough food, but he gives to Benjamin–his full  brother, the baby of the family, and his father’s new favorite–portions five times bigger than he gives all the other brothers.

And the brothers don’t complain. If they are jealous or begredging Benjamin this bonus serving, they keep it to themselves this time. The difference in treatment brings out no apparent ill-will. Instead, the Bible says, the brothers drank and were merry.

***

As we discussed this story this morning at my Bible study, someone mentioned Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” And I found it so very intereting when she said, “It seems easy to find people who weep with us when we’re weeping–but how often do we actually rejoice with others who are rejoicing?”

There’s a funny thing with infertility and the infertility community that’s been bothering meI don’t want to be insensitive, but I feel this needs to be said. As people dealing with infertility–people who want to be pregnant or have children more than most–we have a tendency to complain about other people’s pregnancies. We whine and mope about seeing pregnant bellies while we’re in the grocery store or out to dinner. We cry about pregnancy announcements and pictures of babies and bumps on facebook. We talk about how hard it is to be around people who have what we want the most.

I wish I could claim innocence here, but I know I’ve been guilty too.

And we can sugar coat it all we want. One book I read said pregnant bellies were “grief triggers.” This book–with a Christian perspective–was arguing that it is perfectly fine to foster those feelings of disappointment and sadness when we see pregnant women or new babies.

But I think we go beyond “grief trigger” and quickly end up at jealousy. And it’s not fine. We shouldn’t be okay with those emotional responses.

Maybe we can’t help it. Our emotions sneak up on us and we aren’t really ever in control, right?

But maybe we should try.

Because you know what? I’m going to be one excited lady when I’m pregnant. I’m going to be praising God and smiling and joyful–even if I’m sick and tired and feeling bloated. And I’m going to hope that people will want to rejoice with me.

And I’m not a fan of double standards.

So I’m rejoicing with you while you rejoice, dear mama-to-be.

And I’m weeping with you while you weep, dear friend still waiting.

And I’m starting now.


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2013: The Year of Fruitfulness

I didn’t send a Christmas letter this year. How could I when the main theme of 2012 has been that we can’t get pregnant? The year 2012 is best summarized by what we said about TCU football all season: better luck next year.

We enter 2013 full of hope. Hope that this year we will get pregnant. Hope that we’ll move forward with treatments and that they will work for us on the first try. We can still hope for these things because they haven’t let us down yet. I hope they don’t.

But we also enter 2013 differently than we entered 2012. We’ve changed, and our expectations of life have changed. In the beginning of 2012, DH had just started a new job (which, thankfully, he still loves), we’d been TTC for four months and had no reason to think anything was wrong, and we were going house hunting.

In February we got a puppy (Melville) in the hope that he and our other dog (Cutter) would become good friends so Cutter wouldn’t feel too left out when we had a baby. He’s a doll, and I’m glad we have him. But he still represents a decision we made based on the expectations we had for our family.

In June we moved into a house that we got to build. It’s semi-custom, so we picked a floorplan and then chose things like the tile and granite and cabinets. It’s lovely. It’s also in a suburb of Houston known for family-friendliness and excellent schools. We built our house right behind the elementary school so our kids would be able to walk to school.

And in July, in the midst of the unpacking and getting settled, we found out our diagnosis. I figured all was fine and suspected the reason we’d been unsuccessful was because we’d moved three times in less than a year and we had a lot of stress associated with that. When we found out how dire our fertility outlook really was, I couldn’t believe it.

So we spent the rest of 2012 adjusting to our new reality, or trying to anyway. And wondering why we put ourselves in the suburbs with two dogs and excellent schools just in time to find out we won’t be having children naturally, and likely not the 4 to 6 kids we’d always planned to have.

This past year has been a difficult one and a lonely one. We have struggled to make friends as a couple married 5 years (which is apparently a long time in Texas to not have children) because we fall between social circles: we’re not new marrieds anymore and we don’t have a family. I think this would have been hard but not so lonely in DC, where our friendships were already established. It may also have been easier if we lived in downtown Houston instead of living in a far suburb.

Lately we’ve been asking God a lot about why we are here. We believed we were stepping out in faith for our family when we moved to a good school district early so we would be able to join a church for the long run. We thought we were stepping out in faith for our family when I left my office job to start my own business so that I could stay home and work if I wanted. We have made so many decisions–big and small–based on the expectation that we would center our lives around raising children. And now we don’t really know where we are.

I hope 2013 will bring clarity about God’s purpose for us. I hope it will bring us children, or at least closer to having children. And I hope we can serve God even in the midst of our heartbreak, our fears, and our pain.

One of the bloggers I follow wrote that she likes to christen each new year with one word. I really liked that idea. And I’ve been praying that God would make 2013 a year of fruitfulness for us. I hope we will have a fruitful year in the “be fruitful and multiply” way, but also in serving the Lord, in bearing fruit where we are planted, and in doing God’s will throughout the year.

Happy New Year. I wish you all prosperity, a renewing of your hope, and fruitfulness in 2013 wherever you are planted.  I wish for you that your trials will lead to perseverance. Blessings and peace to you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27