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Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Wasn't my hubby a cute baby?

Happy birthday, my dear husband. You are my love and my laughter. You are my encourager and comforter. You are "more to me than ten sons" (1 Sam. 1:8). What could be better than getting to share every day of life with you? I can't imagine where I would be without your friendship, your leadership, your help, your humor, and your affection. With you I know that "God's best gifts put man's best dreams to shame." So on your birthday, I celebrate you and look forward to enjoying every moment together.

With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.

Your devoted wife,


Round 4, Day 4

Well, my last cycle decided to break records and last for 29 days - maybe normal for the majority of women, but 4 days longer than my average and 3 days longer than the longest cycle I have had over the past 2 years. To some, a late period might indicate pregnancy, but as my husband was unfortunately out of town during the crucial days last month, I wasn't fooled - just impatient to start a new cycle already! If I had been one day later, we probably would have had to take yet another month off, because we're both traveling Oct. 4-10 (a trip we were sure would not interfere because my cycles have been so predictably 25 days long). Another lesson that God is in control and I am not...

So I went in yesterday for my day 3 ultrasound and bloodwork. All levels normal, all systems go. Nurse Answers was not in yesterday or today, so I didn't get to ask her if we'll still be able to do an IUI before we head out of town. I'll call her tomorrow to ask. In the meantime, I swallowed the first of five Clomid pills yesterday and I've ordered my trigger shot. Monday is my next appointment, an ultrasound to check my follicles and lining. I'm praying that we will be all set at that point for triggering and doing an IUI next Wednesday morning before we head to the airport. Even if my lining or follicles aren't quite ready yet, I'll probably still beg for a Wednesday morning IUI. After all the recent delays, I'm ready to grovel. But again, God is in control and I am not.


Uncertain Riches

I did not have time last week to post on the message given at church on 9/10 - it was an excellent one on evangelism and you can listen to it here.

Last Sunday, Tab began a new series on true riches with a message on "Uncertain Riches." His text was 1 Timothy 6:17 - "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy." Most of us in America are among the top 5-15% of the world's wealthy, so this verse applies to us. Tab gave us 2 charges: 1) don't be proud about your wealth; 2) don't trust in your wealth. When it comes to money, we are tempted to believe two lies. First, we are tempted to believe that we are better than others because of what we have. Second, we are tempted to believe that riches provide us with security. In reality, anything we have has been provided by God (who caused us to be born in this time and place, who gave us minds to be educated, who opened jobs for us, who sustains our bodies so that we can enjoy our food and our belongings). And material blessings are temporal and uncertain, but God is our Eternal Rock!

Ultimately, we need to believe and be satisfied in Jesus Christ, the richest provision ever given. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). This is a promise I need to apply to our saving and spending, to my pursuit of spiritual growth, and to all of my desires. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.


Spurgeon Excerpt

I was recently encouraged by this excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon in "Beside Still Waters":

I believe that God, who has appointed it, has also measured your trouble, set its bounds, and will bring it to an end. His gracious design is in all your difficulties. Do not think that God deals roughly with His children and gives them needless pain. "He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men" (Lam. 3:33). "He has torn, but He will heal" (Hosea 6:1).

Has not God helped you out of one trouble after another? Do you suppose that He will leave you in this trouble? "He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you" (Job 5:19).

This particular water, in which you are now struggling, is intended and included in this promise, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you" (Is. 43:2).

It is, I must confess, sometimes difficult to apply the promises to a particular case. Sometimes unbelief fights hard. But remember, unless the promise is applied it is like medicine that is not taken. It may be powerful, but it is worthless unless applied.

Ask for grace, that you may believe while you are still under the cloud. Regardless of how dark the cloud, it contains blessings. "If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth" (Eccl. 11:3).


Good Words from My Husband

My husband is very funny; that's one of the reasons I fell in love with him. Recently, his humor has begun to extend into the world of fertility. Here are a couple wisecracks he made this weekend:

I was experiencing some pretty sharp ovulation pangs (which I never had before taking Clomid, but have had each month since). Imagine a side cramp from running, but the pain is located about 3 inches below and to the side of your bellybutton. Anyway, I was joking with Aaron about how it is pretty inconvenient to have cramps that make a girl want to avoid intimacy around ovulation time when trying to conceive. "I mean," I said, "it's fairly counterproductive." Without missing a beat, he turned to me and said, "Counter-REproductive!" (That may only be funny to you if you're as immersed in all things reproductive as we are, but I thought it was pretty clever!)

Later this weekend, we were talking about baby names. Tongue in cheek, Aaron asked, "Do you think it would be presumptuous to give a child the first name 'Saint'?"

His words often make me laugh. His words also often remind me of the truth I need to hear. After he picked me up from a baby shower this weekend, I cried to him in the car about how hard it is that what should be a special occasion to rejoice brings up so many feelings of hurt. I want to ooh and aah over all the cute baby clothes, but instead every outfit is a stabbing reminder of what I do not have. I want to laugh at the funny stories of breastfeeding, but instead I ache to wonder if I will ever experience that with a child of mine. Before we started trying to conceive, I could enjoy all of those things because I assumed they would be part of my life, too, someday. Now, I just don't know if that will be the case. I ended by wailing to Aaron, "If only I knew for sure that we would conceive, and when, it would be so much easier!" He wisely and kindly responded, "It's true that you don't know what will happen, if you'll ever be pregnant or not, but you do know one thing about your future. You know that one day you will be in heaven with our Savior." Ah, what good words. I don't know how my story will unfold in the years to come, but I do know the end of my story. And knowing that I have been redeemed so that I can be with my Lord in eternity, where every tear will be wiped away, makes everything easier to bear.


Not So Long and Dull After All

Psalm 119 is infamous for its 176 verses extolling the law of God. I used to be daunted by its length and considered it rather dry and boring. I am currently following a Bible reading plan that includes going through the psalms twice in one year, and when I first got to Psalm 119 about six months ago I gave an inward groan and geared myself up for anticipated arduousness. I expected dullness; instead, I found richness that called out to me in my suffering. Reading this psalm in the midst of the most severe trial of my life, the words of this psalm leapt out to me in a way they never had before. No longer filtering into my brain as a drone of "law, blah, blah, law, blah," I heard precious promises of the unspeakable comfort to be found in God's word during times of senseless sorrow. Here are some favorite selections:

"My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!" (v. 28)

"This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life." (v. 50)

"You are good and do good; teach me your statutes." (v. 68)

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." (v. 71)

"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant." (v. 73-76)

"My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your work. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" (v. 81-82)

"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction." (v. 92)

"I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!" (v. 107)

"Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!" (v. 116)

"Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight." (v. 143)

"Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word." (v. 170)

When I recently read Psalm 119 for the second time this year, I approached it with eager delight. I knew I would find the sweet balm of comfort, the antidote to my despairing feelings in the face of affliction. These words don't make suffering vanish, they don't explain why hardships happen, but they consistently remind me that my troubles are not in vain in the hands of the God who defines good. His promises are precious because they lead me to know my Savior better, and they are truer than any earthly experience. I want, like the psalmist, to embrace my suffering as a means of drawing closer to the God who has afflicted me in faithfulness and love, for my good.

Psalm 119 now ranks high on my list of recommended reading for anyone enduring a trial. It has become one of my favorite passages in the Bible, a storehouse of wisdom and comfort written by a fellow sufferer who knew anguish but knew God better.


A Heart for the Lost

Sunday's message on Jonah 4 was given by our swell "junior pastor," Josh. The main point was that God does not just want us to bring his message to the lost, but he wants us to bring his attitude of mercy to the lost. Two main hindrances to sharing God's heart for the lost are self-righteousness and self-centeredness. Tab suggested that we cultivate a Christ-like compassion for the lost by praying daily this week for one unbeliever in our lives. I want to pray this week for my ultrasound tech at the fertility clinic. (Yes, this is the same lady who I called by the wrong name for months! I called her Wendy, which is not her name, but I'll call her that on my blog. Wendy the Wander...) When I am in a treatment cycle, I see Wendy on a weekly basis, and we usually have plenty of time to chat while I lay on the examining table. I've already heard some of her story, and she obviously knows a big part of mine. I hope to be able to get to know her better and to share my faith with her over the coming months. In the meantime, I'll be praying for God to give me his love for her.

On a side note, as Josh spoke about self-righteousness, he mentioned that we can often have this same attitude toward fellow believers, saying in our hearts that others don't deserve the blessings they receive. I have often been guilty of that in the area of fertility. In my pride, I think that I deserve a child more than others who are pregnant or who have babies. Thankfully, as God has shown me my sin more clearly, I am less prone to think that I merit the gift of children at all, let alone more than others. However, a more subtle form of the same attitude has cropped up lately. I look at those who have been pregnant during the time we have been trying to conceive, and I wonder, "What spiritual quality do they have that I don't yet? What lessons have they learned from God that I still need to learn? If only I can find out, I can finally get to the point where God is willing to give me a child." Even though I am not elevating myself above others by those thoughts, I am still basically trying to earn a blessing from God - and it is the height of pride to think that I could ever be worthy of God's favor! But my merciful Savior freely pursues me and lavishly blesses me, not as a reward for anything I do, but as the lover of my sinful soul. He did not wait for me to obey before he saved me, and he is not waiting for me to attain some degree of spiritual maturity before he gives me children. He is fulfilling all his good purposes for me in his good time.


Judgment, Repentance, and Mercy

Last Sunday, Josh preached from Jonah 3 on "Judgment, Repentance, and Mercy." During the message, he described genuine repentance as having the following characteristics:

1) Genuine repentance involves faith.
2) Genuine repentance involves changed behavior.
3) Genuine repentance involves everything in life.
4) Genuine repentance involves a recognition of guilt.
5) Genuine repentance involves looking to God for mercy.

He then asked the following questions for application. Where in my life is God calling me to repent? An area of unbelief? A behavior that hasn't noticeably changed? An area of life that I won't surrender to God?

I can think of many areas where I need to repent these days. Lack of faith that God is working all things for my good. Anxiety about the future - about how many more hurdles we'll have to jump before having a child, about how many more other babies I will see born before I conceive. A proud posture that thinks my will for my life is better than God's. Infertility is proving to be an area of life that I must surrender to God over and over again. I easily get overwhelmed, despairing that I will ever grow Christ-like enough to humbly accept this trial from the hand of God. The problem when I reach this point is that I get paralyzed; I need to repent of so many things, where do I begin? In those times, I need to ask for help. I need to ask my husband if he sees one area I can focus on (this has helped me so much in the past). The input of close friends helps, too. Above all, I need to believe that God intends to show mercy. He will give his Holy Spirit to guide me. He gives everything that I need for life and godliness through Jesus Christ. So I can repent, not with fear, but with faith.