Grace in the Infertility Community: When God Activates His Church In Ways We Don’t Normally See

At the beginning of my journey with infertility, I immediately felt alone. I looked around at our church and the women of God in my life, all with their children in tow, and I felt different. Sometimes, when you first enter into a hard season, you aren’t aware of what you’re walking into. At first you feel as if things are just a little off. But as time wears on, soon our hard seasons become just that…hard. We receive the diagnosis after years of testing, or we get the bad news we hoped we would never hear, or on the flip side we find that we might not ever receive answers for why things are the way they are and we feel all of the uncertainties of life come flooding over us.

I didn’t know I was going through infertility when our journey first started. I didn’t know what that meant. I knew things weren’t happening as quickly as I wanted them to. I knew that things were different for the other women in my church. But it wasn’t until over two years in that it was suggested that I was in fact experiencing infertility and it wasn’t until then that one of my doctor’s finally began to take it seriously.

But by then, the isolation had already set in. I felt alone not only in my circles of friends, but most heart breakingly within the walls of my church. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not as if I was singled out as infertile and was purposely left out. It was more so a natural reaction to being surrounded by so many women living out the purpose of motherhood which our pastor preached on almost weekly. Maybe I removed myself. I know my heart was growing more and more bitter, but it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the direct actions of anyone around me. It had to do with how my heart was facing God.

I couldn’t understand why infertility wasn’t addressed in the church. I couldn’t understand why such a devastating situation didn’t have a form of community in the very place I thought all community should stem from. Instead there was awkwardness. There was silence. There was unspoken blame. There was silent judgment.

“Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” 1 Samuel 1:13

If I could have seen then what I know now, it’s that God’s church is bigger than the walls we meet between on Sunday mornings. God activates parts of His church that we otherwise don’t see when we are in the midst of our deepest trials. For years, I was upset about how the church handled issues of infertility, how it seemed to forget the women who experienced it. But now I know, that I was simply unaware that God was in fact moving within in His church. His movement was just happening in places I didn’t know to look.

About two years into our journey, we switched churches. Within the walls of our new church I was connected with a couple who had gone through infertility and who grew their family through the beautiful gift of adoption…and I realized for the the first time that I wasn’t alone. Soon after, I began to open up about our journey through this blog and also over on Instagram. What I found in response was an entire community of believers who were walking this road too. They felt just as I did. They knew the isolation, the bitterness, the brokenness…and they also knew the God of Heaven who continued to hold them in the palm of His hand. They were the living, breathing, walking, members of God’s church that moved outside the walls that I knew.

The relationships I have made with the women in the infertility community and in the adoption community are deeper than I ever could have imagined. God had not forgotten me or left me alone in His church. No. Instead, He made sure that none of us who “were going it alone” were ever really alone. He activated and moved a part of the church for me, for us, that I would have never known existed if I had never walked this journey of infertility.

I am 21 weeks pregnant with our miracle baby this week. After four years, God opened my womb and He chose to do it in the single year we stepped away from infertility treatments and dedicated our hearts to adoption. I can’t explain the way or the timing in which God moves. I only know that He does, and that He does so with purpose and with Grace. I look around now at my sisters in the infertility community and I realize that they are the church. They are who God is using to build each other up and to pull from the depths of isolation.

I will always believe that infertility is one of the strongest tools the devil uses against women. He wields it so skillfully that it threatens to crush us. But it’s an illusion. Because God desires to bring community, where the devil sees he can isolate. God desires to heal, what the devil says is incurable. God desires to bring beauty, where the devil lies and tells us only ashes can be found.

So in light of National Infertility Awareness Week, I just want to bring to light the powerhouses which are the women in the infertility community who spend their days lifting each other up, encouraging each other in the Lord, and speaking boldly into the dark with the Light of their words and of the God who loves them.

God’s church doesn’t always look the way we think it does. It turns out there are these underground movements of people we don’t normally see up front at the pulpit. Instead, we find these incredibly strong factions of God’s church when we are deep in our hurt. It’s then that we find God opening doors and relationships and communities that we would never see otherwise.

The women I have battled infertility alongside are some of the strongest and faith filled women I know. God is using this community for great and mighty things. It is true that what we might first see as weakness, God sees as strength. And that’s what He is doing in the infertility community. He is raising up faith filled prayer warriors, who have hurt and been healed. Who have cried but seek His joy. Who have wanted to give up in defeat, but instead God is daily bringing their victory.

To the women who are just entering into this incredibly difficult season of life, I just want you to know that God has not left you alone. You are loved and valued and seen and heard. I encourage you to fight back against the isolation that wants to destroy you, and to find a way to connect with the incredibly healing community of believers that God has prepared to surround you and cry with you and pray over you…and understand you. God is good. He has not left you. And neither has His church.

If you are feeling alone in your journey with infertility, I’ve included a list of communities below who can lift you up. Find your girls, and go with God. I can say with all honesty that it was the women inside the infertility community who were able to give me the strength to daily fight this battle. God is using this community. I pray you will find His healing and power and strength within this beautifully woven together part of God’s church as well. Please follow any of the links below or look up the Instagram accounts I’ve listed. They will rock and heal your world.

Websites, Blogs, Events

Click on the links above each photo to get to each site. For example, below click the small heading which reads Love Multiplies:

Love Multiplies 

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Faith Like Hannah

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Its Positive

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The Adventures of Baby K

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Sarah’s Laughter

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Choose Joy Event

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HeartandHarvestCo

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Instagram Communities:

notpregnantbook

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its_positive

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faithlikehannah

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choosejoyevent

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flhmagazine

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growingjoyfully

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theadventuresofbabyk

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alexcongelliere

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ttc.weidmanbabies

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There are so many more sites and pages I could direct you to as well! These are just a handful of communities and pages that have really stood out for me.

 

 

 

 

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Grace In Empty Spaces

I’ve needed to be emptied in order to be able to soak in the Joy of a new season. There is clutter in my heart and in my home and even in my soul that seems to hold me back from delving deeper into gratitude and Joy in my Father. I’ve asked for forgiveness from those I’ve felt all kinds of bitterness towards…and received it. I’ve packed up boxes and things I’ve simply held onto for no reason and dropped them off to be donated. I’ve cleaned and I’ve cleared and I’ve prayed. Like these jars from my kitchen, I’m in a season of preparation to be filled. Stepping out of a dark season is more difficult than it seems. This most recent Lenten season has willed me to see that more clearly. While Easter was so incredibly joyful, it is hard to erase the weight of pain which took place in the days leading up to it. Infertility is hard to erase from the mind, even after you’ve been healed. It causes doubt and fear even after you’ve overcome it. But just as Jesus left behind Him an empty tomb in order to take up the full glory He was meant for…we have permission to leave empty those spaces in our hearts which seemed dead but now have the Hope of being very much alive. What is it that’s holding you back? What can you empty yourself of? Is there forgiveness you’ve been withholding or not receiving? Is there pain, or guilt, or shame?

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come see the place where He lay.” – [Matthew 28:5-6]

Our stories can read the same way because of Jesus. Mine can read: “I know you are looking for her who suffered infertility. She is not here. She has risen. Just as Jesus said she would.” The same can read for those of you who suffer from depression, alcoholism, grief, disappointment, shame, illness, shattered dreams. Because Jesus rose from the darkness which tried to hold us, He forever shattered its grip over us. You are free to walk away from your empty tombs. You are free to empty your heart of its dark days and let in the light. You are free to live again in healing, in hope, in resurrection. Jesus has opened the way.

Grace in Forgiveness

In this week after Easter Sunday, after Holy Week, what has changed? For me the answer is in how I seek forgiveness and how I give it. Not everyone encounters the Father or the Son in the same way as we do. Some of us feel closest to Christ in our homes when we read scripture, or through worship, or through intimate prayer. Some of us encounter Christ deeper as we evangelize or reach out to our communities. God actually designed us that way, to be different in how we serve and to connect with Him in our own personal ways. Jesus showed us this as He died and as He rose. To Thomas who doubted, He gave physical proof. To the women who discovered the empty tomb, He spoke first through reassurance and second through His presence. To the thief on the cross, He gave the hope of a future with Him. To His mother as He died, He offered provision through His people. Sometimes it’s not about getting everything perfect, it’s about reaching people where they are. Infertility and at times broken community opened some wide wounds for me within the church as a whole, a place where I had hoped to find healing. There are many others who have felt wounded by church too. But this is what we learn from Easter, Jesus died for the hurting and for the hurtful, the peacemakers and the peace breakers just the same. In knowing this, how are we seeking unity and communion under the banner of Christ’s love for all of us? For me, it means asking for more forgiveness from the people I’ve hurt and been hurt by…and maybe not expecting it in return. Jesus died for those who were at that moment killing Him. He’s called us to love people who at the moment maybe don’t love us. He’s called us to ask for forgiveness from those who maybe won’t forgive or to freely forgive even those who don’t ask for it from us. Basically, Jesus just loved and forgave and covered over everyone, whether they deserved it or not. Whether we deserve it or not. That’s the entirety of Grace. That God became man to Love us no matter what we did, or will do. That He reaches for us, even when we aren’t ready to reach back. Christ laid it all out for us over Holy Week. We have our whole lives to lay it all out for Him.

The Grace of His Resurrection

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

And do we believe it? That the same Jesus who Himself rose from the very grave that should have held us, will raise us to Life again too? Do we believe that all of our dead parts can be resurrected again in His name? Do we believe that He has conquered all darkness in being the Light of Life? Do we believe that He is alive? He is capable of creating and reviving Life in every form. Jesus was born a physical birth and died a physical death, that God might become man and save us in every physical and spiritual way. If you are looking for new life in the physical sense this Easter, know that God can do it. If you are looking for new life in the spiritual sense, know that Jesus has done it. There is no part of you that cannot be touched by the resurrection power of Easter morning and by the saving Love of Christ. When Jesus declared, “It is finished” He meant all of it. All of the darkness, all of the brokenness, all of it lost its power because Christ had the last word over death and He has the first word in the creation and restoration of our new Life in Him. O death where is your sting? O sin where is your victory? We know that the victory belongs to Christ. And because of that, we too walk forth from our tombs today and believe. He didn’t die for part of you, He died for all of you. That means Easter is for your spiritual, physical, personal, and emotional Life. He proved that as He hung on the cross, as He cared for His weeping mother as He Himself hung on a tree, as He healed the soul of a thief as he hung next to Him, as He physically healed the ear of one who sought to take Him captive in the Garden. Whatever dead part of your life is holding you captive, whether it be a relationship, an illness, infertility or loss, know that Jesus can restore your Life personally. Know that He came to save the whole world, but He also came specifically for you. So what about you, friend? He has Risen. Do you believe it? Will you let that truth Resurrect your Life?

A Long Awaited Spring

Spring is going to arrive here in Wisconsin soon and it’s the longest awaited spring I can remember. For years I’ve prayed that with spring would come hope. That one day Mother’s Day wouldn’t break me. That on Easter morning all of the sweet kiddos with their Easter dresses and excitement wouldn’t make me tear up. That one of those spring baby showers would be mine. And God has answered my prayers and I feel as though I’ve almost been stunned into silence over here. Most of my prayer sessions used to revolve around asking God to grow our family, healing my heart, setting me free from bitterness, and embracing whatever plans He had for me. And now I know that His plans were always good. There was a time I used to be afraid to ask for healing, because what if God didn’t heal me. Not because He couldn’t, but because He might choose not to. I believed He could, but knew that sometimes that’s not what happened. Here is what God taught me through that: We can always continue to ask our Heavenly Father for anything. He will always hear us. He will always answer us. Sometimes those answers don’t look like what we planned. Sometimes the answer is “wait”. Sometimes the answer is “trust me”. But whether He gives us the things we so desperately ache for or not, He is still carrying us and still writing beautiful life stories for us. I thought this day of healing would never come and I had accepted that God could heal me in other ways. But I couldn’t see the whole picture clearly. I didn’t have His vantage point. I only saw the up close muddled mess of everything. As long as you cling to Him your story will be redemptive, healing, life giving, and grace filled. Living out a testimony in the making is hard. But getting to glorify God for what He has done at the end of it, is incredibly worth it. I’m praying for your stories and all of your yet to be answered prayers. God is at work. Trust Him and fight for your Joy. Keep praying. Don’t lose hope. Stand firm in faith. Believe in His miracles.

Grace in Transition

My days have been slow and long over here since finding out we are expecting. Stepping into new roles and slower paced life has me wondering how I should spend my time in these next couple of months before long awaited motherhood arrives. While we were going through infertility God had shown to me that He wanted my life to be intentional, even in the waiting and in the in between moments. I believe He is calling me to live intentionally now as well, as we wait for our lives to change yet again. No moment, or time frame, or period of waiting is too small or too big to be used by God. How are you intentionally living out your in between moments? I used to spend my time wishing away those moments that I thought were meaningless, those moments in which I felt nothing was happening or I was stuck in between transitions. But every moment is a gift from Him. Every moment can be lived with Grace. Even the slow and quiet moments have significant purpose.

The Certainty of Grace in Serving Jesus Only

The last four years I’ve been in constant wonder of what lays ahead for us. It’s been a fog of uncertainty, and even now with huge things finally being revealed to us after so much time spent in prayer, there are even more unknowns we still will face. But one thing is certain: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is surreal to be on the receiving end of an answered prayer, a prayer you knew full well only God could answer. I believed in Him before, and I saw the wonders of His hand many times. But this most recent miracle for us, finally carrying a child we never thought we could, has me held captive in certainty that my God Lives and that He Loves and that He is for us. I believe my faith would have remained firm in Him even without this, but my understanding of how He truly listens to our every word and How He genuinely loves us so deeply is now engraved and cemented in my heart. Maybe you don’t know what comes next in your life. Maybe you feel wrapped up in uncertainties and you’re wondering if God can even hear you. I assure you that He does hear you and that He is loving you and moving for you in ways that may feel completely invisible but are actually world changing and life altering. Trust His timing. Know His heart. Serve Him always and only.

Grace in Every Season

At the beginning of every new season here in Wisconsin, I declare that it’s my favorite. I seem to fall in love every time the trees start to bud, and the sun shines hot, and the leaves begin to turn to gold, and again when the first snowflakes begin to fall. But about half way through each season I discover that I’m ready for it to be over. There are simultaneously both beautiful and ugly moments in every change in life. There are bittersweet goodbyes and joyful new beginnings. I keep reflecting over our life these last four years and all the heartbreak they brought, but also the closeness that came of it. The nights I cried myself to sleep because they were hard endings to hard days and yet I found myself wrapped up in the strong steady arms of my husband who never left my side and in the heart of my Father God who was holding my heart close the whole time. I will forever remember those moments, both for their hardness and also their gentleness. I can choose to look back at those days with bitterness and resentment or I can see the truth that even in my darkest seasons God still allowed the light to shine in. We are walking into a new season over here filled with joy and reflection but I’m not naive to the difficulties which will also lay ahead for us as we navigate new parenthood and probably new challenges. But I won’t forget that there is beauty in both, and that every moment in this life is laced with God’s grace. Every single moment. Even the hardest ones. I’m praying that your life be filled with more Joyful seasons than Dark seasons, but I’m also praying that even in your hardest seasons God’s beauty, grace, and light give you moments to be incredibly thankful for.

Grace in Frozen Seasons

It’s the last day of February and the sun is still miraculously shining warm and bright here in Wisconsin. Tomorrow the snow returns and we will be reminded that it’s not quite spring yet in the Midwest and that these last few days have just been a brief moment of grace in a frozen season. They have been just enough warmth to remind us that soon the sun will return again and that winter won’t last forever. I find myself reveling in that last statement. In my season of infertility I most definitely felt frozen and often times without hope. But I also had bright and shining days even in the midst of all of that, where I felt God speaking purpose into my life that I never would have found otherwise. I felt the closeness of God on days when I told Him I felt all alone. I heard His voice clearer because I found myself pressing into Him deeper. Maybe you’re in a frozen season right now too. Just because those days feel long and hard doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a little bit of light. Infertility brought many of my hardest days, days I never want to relive. But if I’m being honest, they also brought some of my most beautiful moments of faith in my Father God. He shows up for us. He brings light when all we see is darkness. This last year when we weren’t doing any fertility treatments and we were focused on adopting, I felt God often challenging me to see beauty in the small moments, in those moments when it seemed nothing was happening and none of my dreams were coming true. It was hard. God knew the deep desires of my heart for a family. He knew so much about me and my heart, yet I found that I had often neglected the deep and beautiful desires of His heart because I couldn’t look away from my hurt. There were moments of beauty and warmth I know I missed out on because of that. I know there are still unknowns up ahead for me, even now that God has answered my deepest prayers for a child. I still want to know Him better. I’ve spent so much time pouring my heart out to Him, and I’m finding that I have a desire to be more deeply connected to how He has always been pouring His heart out for me. Whatever darkness you find yourself in, look for His light.

Hope Fulfilled: A Miracle

In October I threw open my Bible and closed my eyes and stuck my finger down on any verse it would land on. I do that sometimes, in moments of desperation when I don’t know what the right thing to do is. I landed on Luke 2:10 “and the angel said to them: Do not be afraid! I bring you good tidings of great joy!” The truth was that I was very afraid. We had just said yes to being matched with an expectant Mom at our agency and the uncertainties of what would happen over the next 4 months terrified me. But there it was, “Do not be afraid.” So I decided I wouldn’t be, but I didn’t know what that would mean. I didn’t know that two weeks ago our adoption would fall through…and I didn’t know that God would finally answer our prayers and allow me to become pregnant with our first child. For over 4 years I have prayed that my husband would be a daddy before he turned 30…our baby’s due date is exactly on his 30th Birthday, September 6th! I have been quiet here because I’ve been trying to process everything God has called us to, including being part of a failed adoption. But the truth is, it was a blessing to love on that expectant mama and pray for her sweet baby and to watch their story end in the arms of each other. God is Good. He still does the miraculous. We stopped infertility treatments over a year ago and yet here we are. Only God. I know many of you are still in the waiting. Please know that my heart will always ache because I have known infertility so deeply. I had accepted my future as never having a baby. The truth is, I know God can and wants to heal us. I have felt His heart for us firsthand. I will always be in prayer for you, and I will always hope for your miracle. These nights I find myself remembering every night I cried myself to sleep thinking God had forgotten me, and knowing now that He held me the whole time. He was in my corner. He was fighting for me. And He is fighting for you too. Miracles still happen every single day, I can hardly believe that I have become part of one firsthand. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.