Happy New Year 2017!

Hello friends and happy new year! I cannot even believe 2016 is over and done with. Last year was certainly a whirlwind in so many ways.

I’m sorry to have dropped off of the face of the universe. I needed to take some time to reflect on living a more simple life and have been and I’m still currently seeking how much of my life I want to keep private vs how much I want to share with the world. By November, I¬†deleted Facebook and have since enjoyed the peaceful feeling of not having information and news at my finger tips that so often would still my joy. I never plan to delete my blog, but I am still actively praying about and considering how I should best spend my time.

Last year was pretty busy and it’s hard for me to even remember much of it because it all passed by too quickly. Some highlights from the year that I can remember:

  • I started a new job and worked hard on paying off debt and also worked hard to conquer issues I was having with anxiety. A small update on my anxiety: It’s still there in certain circumstances, but I’m feeling a million times better than I was a year ago. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m satisfied with how far I have come.
  • My husband and I finally after over 5 years of marriage, went on our honeymoon in July. After getting pregnant and having a miscarriage in June, we planned a spontaneous honeymoon adventure. It was a blast! We drove from Texas all the way to Washington state and visited some beautiful sites along the way. We spent way too much money and it was probably not the best idea while paying off debt, but it was so worth it. You only get to be young and stupid once, right?
  • I went to 3 baby showers last year and 1 gender reveal party. It would have been 4 baby showers, but 2 of the showers were on the same day. I was so thankful to God to be in a better place mentally to celebrate life with others. It’s not always easy, but I’m finding it more and more natural to enjoy life again with friends and family.
  • My mother and grandmother were able to come to my home to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Spending the holidays with them was such a gift and I’m so thankful for every moment I have with family.

Those are just a few of the highlights. We also had many great memories with friends, old and new. I especially enjoyed getting to practice hospitality by having many friends and family over at our house. It’s nice having extra bedrooms now that we live in a house. I don’t miss apartment living at all ūüôā

Some sad updates from 2016: we experienced 3 more miscarriages, bringing our total number of pregnancies and miscarriages to 9. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around¬†that number. It’s just too much.

In September, just a few days after writing this blog post, I found out I was pregnant for the 8th time. My excitement and fear was short lived as it ended in a very early loss, or chemical pregnancy.

In November, after Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant again and it was a very long month of waiting to see what would happen. I initially thought the pregnancy was over right at the beginning and expected to have a chemical pregnancy. Several days later, I found out that I was very much still pregnant and there was still hope. I can’t even describe the¬†shock and happiness I felt when I found out there was still a chance.¬†But I spotted the entire pregnancy and it was a very difficult time waiting to see if baby would live.

The week before Christmas, on December 20, we had an ultrasound that showed a sac but the baby never progressed like they should. My hcg levels were dropping and the next day, the miscarriage started full of contractions and about 4 hours of intense pain. The worst was that day and everything was much easier the following days. This Wednesday, December 28, I had a follow up ultrasound and the pregnancy “resolved” on its own and my hcg levels are now back to zero. My platelets are also at 220,000 which is a very nice high level. This is a very hard time, but I’m thankful that this did not require hospitalization or surgery, and I’m also incredibly thankful that this was not an ectopic pregnancy. With the daily spotting I had the entire pregnancy, it was hard waiting through blood work and ultrasounds and follow up ultrasounds. As hard as this experience has been, I know it could have been far worse than it was.

There’s a certain level of relief to have this passed me now, but at the same time, I have many moments where I struggle to understand how this happened. I’m trying to focus on being positive, but the thought of having 3 due dates next year is a bit difficult to wrap my head around. It’s difficult thinking about turning 30 this year with these due dates coming up, but I pray that God will give me the grace and strength to carry me through the harder times.

It’s also very difficult saying goodbye to this baby. I have a good set of really kind and supportive doctors that are confident they will be able to help me and find out what’s wrong (I go back on January 30th). Even though I’m incredibly thankful that God led me to a staff of doctors that I really believe are going to help us find some answers, it’s hard for me to imagine trying to get pregnant again or making all of these efforts to have a baby. I want this baby that’s supposed to be with me right now.

The only way I can push myself forward is by telling myself that this is about¬†self care. My body is sick and I’m doing this to take care of myself and be a good steward of my health. I’m not betraying my baby that died and it doesn’t even have to be about going on to have another baby, but simply about my health. When I go back on the 30th, I’ll be sure to discuss some of the anxiety I’m having about future pregnancies with my doctor. I’m sure they will be able to direct me or support me as we move forward.

I’m trying to focus on each day as it comes and not dwell too much on the future. There are certain plans in place for the future, but as for the things I cannot control, God will be with me as each new day comes. Part of conquering my anxiety has been to focus on the present moment and trust God with the future moments. Looking back on the past, I realized that so many of the things I have worried myself sick over, never came to pass. And even the worst of my worries that did come to pass, well, God gave me the grace and strength I needed through each trial. It didn’t help me one bit to worry about a single moment that was out of my control.

My husband has been a huge support system through this even in the midst of his own sadness. He’s such a strong man of faith and I loved how he never gave up on this baby, always praying and believing they would live. It gave me so much hope. Even when I first thought we lost the baby, he continued to pray for me and the baby. It’s hard to think about him not becoming a father. He is the most amazing, selfless husband and I know he would make the best dad. There just aren’t enough words in the English language to describe what a good man he is. I’m really fortunate to have him as my husband and best friend. It’s hard to be sad when I’m with him because he makes life so much sweeter, more fun, and care free. We are coming up on 6 years of marriage this year and I’m so very thankful to share every moment with him. When he proposed to me (way back in 2008), part of his proposal was “I want to share everything with you. The highs and lows of life.” We have certainly shared many highs and many lows together, but our marriage gets stronger and sweeter with each passing year. I love this man! My grandmother asked me at Thanksgiving if Jonathan is the same around me as he is around everyone else. She told me he is a jewel and to never stop appreciating him. I agree with her.

I have no idea what 2017 will bring. I have goals, plans, and hopes for the future, but mostly I plan to commit each day to the Lord and I trust that He will do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine. I know Jesus will carry me through the hard times and I look forward to the good times He has planned for me as well.

I’m not sure when I will blog again or what all I will share, but I wanted to stop in and wish you all a very happy new year and update anyone who is interested in my what’s happening with my infertility journey. I’m not sure if I will document our medical process and search for answers for why we have recurrent pregnancy losses, but I will be sure to update every so often for anyone who follows my story. I briefly mentioned it above, but I have a great staff of doctors that I’m working with and I’m feeling much more peaceful when I step into their office. We are also receiving a huge amount of support and love from family and friends and I know that we are going to be okay, no matter what happens.

I’m sending you all my love and prayers and wishing you a very happy new year. Cherish every moment my friends!

‚̧ Amber

 

To my sisters with broken hearts

Dear sisters in Christ with broken hearts,

To you who are struggling to get out of bed, to move forward with life as if nothing happened. I don’t know what struggle you are facing right now, but I’ve been where you are. I know what it’s like to feel like your world has completely collapsed around you. I know what it’s like to feel like a part of you died and may never come back to life. I know what it’s like to even wish for death to come because the misery is so great you don’t know how you’ll possibly survive another minute. I know what it’s like to question God and to even wonder if He is against you and not for you. I know what it’s like to feel intense pain every time someone says a hurtful word when all you want is someone to be there for you, someone you can lean on and trust. I know what it’s like to feel all alone in the world.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember exactly what it was like to live through those dark days when it felt like every moment was a struggle to survive. I don’t want to ever forget that pain. I want to always remember so that I can have compassion for those who are now suffering greatly.

In the last few days and in the coming days, I’m issuing a challenge or a call to action here on the blog. I want all of this to be an encouragement to my sisters in Christ, and even to those who don’t share my faith if they are interested in reading. But I don’t want to issue this challenge to those of you who are deep in your heartache and grief – just simply trying to survive. I don’t want my words to be an added burden to your already heavy load. I’m going to link back to this post so that if you are one suffering from a broken heart and every single day hurts, my challenge to you is to simply cry out to your heavenly father who loves you, comforts you, and is close to the brokenhearted. He mourns with you, and sister, He cries with you. He hates to see you cry. The bible says: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

If you are suffering deeply right now, the source of encouragement I can offer you is to share some of the ways I worked through my own set of heartache.

  • I cried out to God. I told Him everything I felt – I even yelled at Him. I know that we should have a reverence for God, but He is also our friend – our companion. It’s okay to trust God with your very real emotions. He’s so much bigger than we can imagine. He can handle it. So be honest with God – He delights to meet you exactly where you are.
  • I kept a private journal, handwritten. Of course you can write in a blog, but sometimes it might be better to keep it just between you and God. There are words we can’t take back once we have spoken them and I really encourage you in those very dark days of grief to feel the comfort of a private journal where you can fully express yourself without fear of judgment or repercussions. You could also blog anonymously if you are looking to have a community of support.
  • I read the Psalms. When I was sitting in the hospital bed the day after finding out my baby Matthew died, all I wanted to do was call my mom to comfort me. But it was late and the sweet 95 year old woman sharing the room with me needed her rest. The Psalms were God speaking to my broken heart on that night of my desperate need.
  • I listened to songs for the broken hearted. I listened to hymns and worship music that spoke to my soul. Below I will share some really good songs that I would recommend listening to. When you can’t find the words to pray, let these songs be a prayer for you.
  • I put a chair in front of me and visualized Jesus sitting in that chair with me. I didn’t end up talking but just sobbing. I know He was with me.
  • I prayed for my future, that even when it was hard to believe, God was going to use this to build me up and be a testimony to His faithfulness.
  • I read books on grief, miscarriage, infertility, etc.
  • I read blogs about the above as well
  • I didn’t get on Facebook or subject myself to things that might trigger more grief. Sometimes you just need a break from the world. With the internet, a lot our peace that we would otherwise have sometimes goes right out the window.

I want you to know that I have prayed for you and I want you to know that while it’s hard to believe right now – God is going to carry you through this. For now, I encourage you to simply fall into His arms. You might think of this time as a wasted season of your life. You might think you’re not useful to God, but I can promise you that He is not going to waste one moment of this season of grief. He is going to use every single inch of it. Looking back now, I can see His hand was in everything. It’s hard to see that while you’re going through it, so I pray that you’ll trust in my words as someone who was walked through grief and survived. You will get through this sisters!

Here are some songs that I hope will minister to your heart. Let them be a prayer for you when it’s hard to pray.

I hope this post will be helpful to someone out there who is hurting. If you are in need of prayer, please comment below or send me an email at amberunderconstruction@yahoo.com.

With love in Christ,

Amber

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

 

The Blessings of Faithful Living

Recently I have shared two posts discussing the faithful living of Kayla Mueller with a follow up post on how we can live faithfully through our experiences with infertility.

Today, I’d like to follow up on those thoughts by sharing about God’s faithfulness in our obedience and the blessings we receive when we are living a life of faith. My first two posts on faithful living were a bit more focused on believers and our actions, but today I just really want to focus on the One who is always faithful! Everything we do is because of Him for, “We love because he first loved us.” The bible says this about our God: “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Since the beginning of time, man has turned away from God and has rejected him, turning instead to sin and living for ourselves. We think we can do this on our own and that we don’t need God. But the bible tells of a God, who although He is holy and cannot tolerate sin, chose and planned since the beginning of days, to come to earth to rescue sinners. Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, taking our punishment, and died and rose again to save all who come to Him through faith.

Our salvation is through faith in Christ alone – we can’t do anything to achieve it or to “earn heaven”. We are made completely new and will stand before God forgiven and free from sin, only because of what Jesus has done for us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

In the same way that we come to salvation through faith alone, we must live our lives through faith in Christ alone. We might fall into the trap of thinking we are strong enough to do this by ourselves and we can overcome our struggles or “save people”, but when we do that we are building off of a wrong foundation that is not through faith, but through our own selfish pride. Without Jesus, we can’t do anything for God. With Jesus however, all things are possible.

The bible calls believers to become a slave not to sin, but to righteousness and to live by faith as a servant for God. The bible also calls believers to join in suffering for the sake of the gospel. Suffering will take place in many different ways through a believer’s life. It might be suffering in overcoming temptation and sin. It could be suffering through broken family relationships that don’t support your faith in Christ. Suffering through insults when people don’t understand your beliefs and accuse you of wrong doing. Suffering through trials and sorrow.¬†Or, as many Christians in dangerous places live in the daily reality of this understand: suffering intense persecution for simply believing in Jesus.

While no one wants to suffer, God promises to use ALL things for our good and He tells us that He is working through all things that happen in this life. There is nothing we will face or go through that we can’t put our total trust in Him.

And for those who live by faith, the bible speaks over and over, in the old testament and new testament alike, that we will be blessed beyond our wildest dreams and imagination as we trust in God and believe He is faithful and loving and good to us.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Every single time in the bible that God calls his children to give something up or to suffer for His sake, He always follows it up with a promise of blessing. He promises to bless us in many different ways. It can be through the comfort of His Holy Spirit who is with us in all things. It can be through the comfort of our brothers and sisters in Christ who love us as family and help carry our burdens. It can be through an encouraging song or scripture at just the right moment. The beauty of a rainbow in the sky¬†on a hard day. The restoration of laughter after a season of grieving. The peace that can’t be explained when everything is going wrong.

It’s hard for me to even get into the blessings fully, because there are just so many unique and special ways that God delights to give us good gifts and shower us with His love and affection.

Jesus says that, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”

God promises us blessing in this life and in the age to come!

There’s even talk of rewards in heaven for faithful living – but I can’t even begin to imagine what that looks like. I mean, I’m just excited about heaven! I try to imagine what rewards in heaven could possibly mean and I must not be very imaginative because I’m at a loss for what that looks like. I’m curious to hear any of your thoughts though ūüôā

I hope that this post will be an encouragement to you today to live by faith and trust in the One who is always faithful towards His promises. We can surrender our lives to Him because we know that He is always with us and always working for our good and the good of others.

With love in Christ,

Amber

 

Faithful Living and Infertility

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

“..The time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Whenever I would previously read verses such as the above found in Luke 9:23, I would think more of serving Christ in mission work where I’m going somewhere and doing something big and exciting with God.

I have had some really awesome times in my life serving God through mission work, but what I’ve come to find is that those experiences are more “mountain-top” experiences and not the daily reality of life in the valley. Surely we can serve God and honor Him in every day of our lives, in the little things and the big things. In fact, God says that those who are faithful with a little will be faithful with greater things.

I’ll talk more later about faithful living in the little everyday things, the service that no one but God sees, but today, I want to talk about glorifying God through your struggles with infertility. If your infertility journey has been anything like mine, there are little every day moments that you struggle through and really, really big moments that drain every ounce of strength you have.

I have always tried to live through this experience with infertility with a “mission focus” by choosing to believe that God is allowing these bad things to happen to me only because there is a greater eternal perspective that only He can see and that I will someday¬†come to fully understand. But I’ll be honest, it has been really hard at times to stay focused. I often become distracted by the things of this world and I’ve often allowed my sorrow to be greater than my desire to see God glorified. I’ve allowed my sorrow and suffering to be greater than the suffering and sorrow of those who don’t know Jesus. I’ve allowed my temporary comforts and pleasures to be greater than the joy of seeing a wounded soul come to Christ for redemption and healing.

Even though I am unworthy, God is¬†always calling me back to the gospel. Repent of my former way of doing things and live for Him. It’s the call that every Christian receives.

In July after coming back from vacation, I came back to Christ once again after walking away from him. This verse in Luke 9:23 where Jesus tells anyone who wants to follow him to deny themselves really took on an entire new meaning for me. What does it look like in my life to deny myself?

Of course infertility is not the only area of my life where I can apply this verse. Infertility is however one of the bigger struggles in my life and there are practical steps I can take to apply this verse to faithful living with infertility.

For me personally, denying myself with infertility looks a little like:

  • Denying my grief and choosing to rejoice with those who rejoice, even in the midst of my own mourning
  • Denying my bitterness and choosing to confess that to God and close friends who can be in prayer for me and support my healing towards peace. Choosing to believe instead of God being against me, that God is for me and He is using my story in a beautiful way that corresponds with his gospel message of redemption.
  • Denying my jealousy and choosing to celebrate other’s happiness and celebrate the gift of life from God.
  • Denying my pride when someone says something hurtful or puts their foot in their mouth and choosing to forgive and offer them the same grace that I know I don’t deserve for the many times I have said wrong things.
  • Denying my first reactions to turn away from God when I’m grieving and instead turn towards Him to “cast my cares upon Him” and trust that He is going to supply all I need to make it through this struggle.
  • Denying my unbelief that the only way I can be happy is to have children. Turning to God instead and finding that true joy comes from knowing Him and His great love for me and this world!
  • Denying that I am not strong enough to go through something difficult and instead turning to Christ for my strength and trusting that He will carry me through every battle I face.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Our infertility doesn’t have to be a wasted season of our lives where we feel left behind and wonder how anything good could come from this. I feel that, perhaps maybe, this might even be the best season of our lives – the season where our faith shines and God is glorified in big and beautiful ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

God is giving each of us an invitation to join in His work. We have been given this incredible freedom through what Christ has done for us, yet we are called not to use our freedom for evil desires, but for good. We are called to rise above our pain, sorrow, and grief that this world so often brings and instead live with passionate love for God and for His people that He deeply loves. God wants to show a hurting world His love. We are His hands and feet – how can we not move when He calls us to do so?

A while back, I was watching a show called Parenthood and during one of the episodes I was very moved by the words of one of the fathers on the show. His daughter was deeply hurt by something her cousin had done to her and she was going to avoid going to a special walk for autism in support of her younger brother. She didn’t want to have to deal with the added grief of seeing her cousin who wounded her. Her mother wanted to let her stay in bed and be sad, but her dad challenged her with a beautiful invitation to be strong. I’ll share the speech below and I hope it will encourage you in the same way it did me:

Father: “I know this is hard and I know how hurt you must feel.”

Daughter: “Then why aren’t you on my side?”

Father: “I am on your side. I know that you’re going to roll your eyes, but asking you to do this is being on your side in a bigger way. Haddie, you can’t go through life allowing your pain to dictate how you behave. It’s easy to sit here in your bedroom and wallow in your hurt feelings. It’s hard to rise above it. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about Amber (the cousin). This is about Max (her younger brother with autism). I’m not going to force you to go but I’m asking you to do this for me. What do you say?”

I can just see God giving us the same challenge and the same invitation.

So friends, what do you say?

With love,

Amber

P.S. To my sisters with broken hearts who are grieving deeply right now: I have a special message for you. Check it out by clicking here.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy:1:7

 

 

 

The Faithfulness of Kayla Mueller: Where was Jesus?

Kayla Mueller was an American citizen who was a humanitarian aid worker for the Doctors Without Borders hospital. She was captured by ISIS and held as a prisoner until her death. From what I’ve read, ISIS claimed that she was killed in airstrikes, but American authorities regard that as false information. Today, I want to focus not on her death, but on¬†how she lived.

Seeing the name Kayla Mueller on the news pages has been a bit odd for me. I share her last name and I share her Christian faith. My husband who usually ignores news headlines even brought it up. Seeing her last name showing up under headlines that talk of her intense persecution, abuse, and death has me wondering, “What if that was me? What if my family was the one suffering through this great loss?”

There are countless unnamed people who suffer in the world РI might never know their names and struggle to identify with their suffering. But for this special woman, she shares my last name and her life has me reflecting on her example of faith and love.

From the accounts I’ve read of this amazing woman, she had a heart for God and a heart for people. Long before she suffered persecution for her faith, she lived out God’s calling on her life to help others. Her heart led her to a very dangerous place in the world. I have no doubt in my mind that she knew full well the risks she faced going there, yet she went anyways. Some will accuse her of being foolish to go and will say things like, “What did she expect?” I respect their opinions, but I disagree with them strongly. I’m glad that there are people in the world who are willing to suffer to help others. Throughout history, people have gone to great lengths to sacrifice their lives for future generations. Just look at our own nation’s history and the great sacrifices by men and women and children that have led to our freedom. Civilization would have died long ago if not for great people laying down their lives for others.

Something I very much look forward to in heaven is hearing the stories from God and from those who have gone before me that led to my salvation and faith in Jesus. I want to know all about my lineage in Christ and be able to thank those who sacrificed greatly so that I could be saved.

I can only imagine, as I think about history, how much has been sacrificed so that we can be here today and eternally how much has been sacrificed for the hope that we will be with God forever in heaven. I cannot begin to express how thankful to God I am that He was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live and also how thankful I am to everyone throughout the time since then, who considered that their sufferings weren’t worthy to be compared to the glory to come.

Kayla Mueller joined with Christ in the legacy of suffering for a greater cause. She brought the¬†hope and love of Jesus to everyone around her. I’m willing to bet good money, she even had an impact on her enemies who attacked her. Those who were persecuted along with her and who now live in freedom, testify to her love, strength, faith and¬†peace in the midst of horror. Their testimonies speak to how she cared for those around her more than for her own welfare. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, she continued to honor God by loving others deeply.

I was pleasantly surprised to see many great comments in the article I read about Kayla. She is deeply admired and for good reason. One comment really stuck out to me that said while they respected her strength, where was her Jesus in the midst of her suffering? Why didn’t He come to the rescue?

The first thought that popped in my head: Jesus was on the cross. In the book of Acts, we see Saul before his named changed to Paul, persecuting believers. In the moment of conversion for Paul, Jesus confronted him saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul asked who he was and the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Here in scripture, we see the great truth: when a believer is persecuted, Jesus is persecuted.

Where was Jesus when Kayla suffered for her faith and where is He when we suffer?

Jesus is there in Gethsemane, overwhelmed with deep sorrow to the point of death praying to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Where is Jesus when we cry out to Him?

Jesus is there nailed to the cross and dying in our place crying out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Where is Jesus when we feel alone in the world?

Jesus is there, risen from the dead and proclaiming to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We can have confidence that God is in control because all authority has been granted to Christ and He promises throughout scripture that He will “never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone!

Where is Jesus when the world is falling apart and there is no hope for tomorrow?

Jesus is there making all things new: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Those who were in captivity with Kayla spoke of her strength and peace with awe. I believe with confidence that her strength came from the Lord because He was with her.

I know it can be very difficult for us to wrap our minds around the suffering this world brings. I don’t want to minimize the agony and full weight of pain that people face in the world. There has to be justice and we have to fight against evil. It’s easy for me to sit in the safety and comfort of my home where I’m not facing persecution and quote scripture. But I have to believe that if the time ever comes and I am facing horrible circumstances, I will not be alone and it will not be in my own strength that I will survive. It will be that of Jesus, giving me His strength and power and love to endure to the end.

I’m thankful for the example of Kayla Mueller and the stories of her faithful living. It prompts me to examine my own life and faith and gives me hope that, the battle we face is worth the fight when we are fighting with love.

Finally, I would like to conclude that I am not encouraging people to become a martyr and put themselves into harms way with the idea of dying for your faith. I promote faithful living for Christ and showing love to those in need of the hope that Jesus brings. That hope can look like many things: feeding the hungry, caring for orphans, sharing the gospel, and so on. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and it would be unwise to purposefully seek persecution. Jesus even instructs us in this way saying: “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” We might not have a choice to flee, but if we do, we need to listen to God’s warning and go. We have a purpose in this world and until God calls us home, we should use wisdom to keep ourselves safe and protected.

God might call us on a dangerous mission, but we aren’t going so that we can die for Him, but so that we can LIVE for Him!

I hope that everyone has a great weekend and I thank you so much for taking the time to visit and read. Come back on Monday when I will be discussing some practical ways we can apply this message of faithful living to our struggle with infertility.

-Amber

 

Finally ready for this big step forward

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you might know that I have really struggled in the past with the decision to see an infertility specialist.

My husband and I were 24 when we had our first miscarriage (we are now 29- same birthday month, how cute are we). With us being so young and dealing with infertility, we obviously didn’t have the same kind of pressure that an older couple might face with limited time to conceive.

I wanted answers for why we have recurrent miscarriages but struggled with anxiety over taking the steps forward to get help. In my mind, I wanted everything to be perfect on our end before we saw a specialist. I wanted to be completely financially stable, be in good health, and feel mentally strong.

I know I went through that season of anxiety for a reason, but I wish I could go back and tell myself: “You are sick. It’s okay to get help while you are in the process of getting your life in order.” Thinking about it now, I want to compare my reasoning for not seeing a specialist to someone who thinks they can’t come to God for a relationship until everything is perfect in their life. You can’t do it alone – you need God’s help. In the same way, I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m really in need of a specialist to help me with my medical issues. And infertility is definitely a medical issue – although our culture has a good way of making infertile couples feel like we just need to “relax” and “go on a vacation”.

Last year, I didn’t feel ready to see a specialist, but I made the phone call anyways after getting a referral from my doctor following my 6th miscarriage (last July). The secretary at the infertility clinic never returned my phone call and I never got around to calling back because of many obstacles that came up with unrelated health issues. In November, I told myself that my goal was to work through some of our problems and be able to start seeing the specialist by the summer and devote our time to trying to find answers for our miscarriages. In May, I had a strong feeling that I really needed to make that phone call but I kept procrastinating and putting it off. And then I got pregnant again and all I could think was, “Why didn’t I make that call?” My ob/gyn is a very nice woman, but I don’t ever feel supported when I contact her staff. It takes so long just to get a note to my doctor for a request of blood work. And of course, that pregnancy ended in another miscarriage causing me a deep sense of regret for not pushing myself to see a specialist sooner.

While I’m hopeful that a specialist will be able to find a reason for our miscarriages and infertility, my biggest desire is to just simply have a support system in the event that I get pregnant again. Those early weeks are so hard to go through and I just need a team of people on my side to make it a little bit easier.

Also, my ob/gyn is fired. As much as I like her as a person, the staff is rude and insensitive and if we finally have a pregnancy going to full term, there is no way I want to deal with care providers who will not be there to support me as a pregnancy after loss mom. I don’t want to have anxiety about calling anytime I have a worry or concern. I need a doctor’s office that will care about my history and be compassionate with any fears I have during pregnancy. So on top of finding an infertility specialist, I’m now searching for a new ob/gyn. I might have to visit a few before I find someone that I feel will understand my situation. I’m definitely not looking forward to it, but I know my future self will thank me for going through the trouble now.

So Monday afternoon, I have my first appointment with an infertility specialist, but it’s only speaking with the financial counselor. They are going to go over my insurance coverage and I guess some estimated financial costs and programs available. After my appointment with the financial counselor, my husband and I will have our first consultation with the doctor. If we for some reason do not like this clinic, we can also drive a little bit further to Austin (TX). There are like a bazillion infertility clinics in Austin. Sigh. I wish we lived closer, but the drive is not too bad as long as we avoid traffic.

Now let’s be real here: my anxiety surrounding dealing with doctors is definitely still in full throttle. But I’ve been working hard this year to push through my anxiety by taking baby steps in the different struggles¬†in my life. Instead of looking at the big picture and seeing all of the obstacles and all of the things that can go wrong (and all of the money that can possibly be poured down the drain), I’m taking things one tiny step at a time and reminding myself that my husband and I are in control here and we can move at the pace we feel comfortable with.

Here are some of the fears I’ve had in the past and some of the ways I’ve been able to address it in my head:

  • Fear #1: We are going to end up going into debt trying to have a baby and it will all be for nothing.
  • Resolution: We can take our time with this. If it takes a long time to go through this process that is okay. We can save up and pay cash. There’s no reason we have to put ourselves into debt to seek treatment. We can take this one test at a time and one treatment at a time. If we run out of money, we stop and take a break, enjoy life a little bit, and get back in the game when we have saved up the cash again. And ultimately, we can trust God with our finances and know that as we make wise decisions, He will be faithful to provide for us.
  • Fear # 2:What if we spend thousands of dollars and invest so much of ourselves into this process only to end up with empty arms at the end?
  • Resolution: Regardless of the outcome, we need to try to find answers. We don’t want to live with regret and wonder if things would have been different years down the road when it’s too late. Even if the outcome is not what we hope for, it’s still part of a resolution to move forward with our lives and will ultimately help us.
  • Fear #3: What if we are supposed to adopt or do foster parenting? There are orphans in the world that need a home. Is it selfish to spend this money on our reproductive health when it could instead go to funding an adoption?
  • Resolution: This is a hard one for me. I have a strong desire to adopt children. I can’t stand to see children in the world without a mom and dad. It breaks my heart! For me personally, my resolution has been prayer. If God’s will for us is to adopt children he would move in my husband’s heart to change his opinion on adoption. For now, my husband doesn’t want to adopt (he says that he does someday when we are older). My husband does want to see an infertility specialist, however. So I’m just trusting that for now, this is God’s will for our life, and if that changes at anytime, I will change plans willingly (and with joy – I don’t care how we have a family. Adopting a child would be a dream come true). I’m also telling myself that I’m not a savior – JESUS IS! I’m not the answered prayer to an orphan in need – my God is! I get so caught up in trusting in what I can see and I need to have more faith to believe in the God of miracles. I might look at my pocketbook and see limited funds, but God is able.
  • Fear #4: We have other life goals right now that I don’t want to get pushed aside.
  • Resolution: There is no reason we can’t continue to live out our goals and plans for the future as we walk this path. As addressed in my earlier resolution, we can do this on our timeline – not a doctor’s timeline. The control is in our hands (with God’s blessing of course) and we can decide for ourselves what we are comfortable doing and when we are comfortable doing it.

Those are all of the big fears I’ve struggled with over the years and the way I’ve been able to make resolutions to move beyond my anxiety. For me, it’s all about taking little baby steps and trusting that God will be with us every step along the way.

I’m not sure if any other women in the history of infertility have struggled the way I have with what should be a simple step forward (make me feel less crazy if you have and share please!), but I’m going to share this anyways in the hopes that how I addressed my fears with realistic resolutions will be helpful to someone else going through this.

Be brave, sisters – God is with us!

-Amber

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

Christ gives us hope to battle fear

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Recently, my Facebook page reminded me of a memorable life experience: my surgery in 2009 to remove a large ovarian cyst that had wrapped around my ovary and was causing me a great deal of pain. During the surgery, it was discovered that I had endometriosis and later confirmed through a biopsy of tissue. It was a diagnosis that I expected to receive but hoped against. My grandmother had endometriosis that led to her having an ectopic pregnancy and later a complete hysterectomy by age 30. I had all of the classic symptoms for endometriosis and figured it skipped a generation (lucky mom – she also skipped the arthritis that I’m now dealing with) and went to me.

When I received the diagnosis of endometriosis, I was heartbroken with fear for the future. I just knew in my heart that I was going to struggle with infertility and I gave into that fear and struggled with depression. I didn’t know how I was possibly going to be able to handle not being able to have children. The doctor tried to reassure me that I would be able to go on to have children, but I just couldn’t believe it.

Now 7 years later, I know that not only did my worst fears come to life – they were worse than I could have ever imagined.

And yet, I feel an unexplainable joy and peace after walking through these last 5 years of infertility and loss. I am able to grieve with hope and move forward with my life knowing that God is with me in everything I do.

In June, I miscarried for a 7th time. It was very hard and I was angry with God. But I’ve come to know God very well along this journey of loss and heartache and I’m confident enough in my relationship with him to know that I can tell him the brutally honest truth: “I’m angry with you. You broke my heart when you didn’t come to the rescue.” I’ve walked away from God on a few occasions during my infertility battle, but God has always been faithful to bring me back to Him and to lavish me with His love and mercy. My circumstances would tell me otherwise, but Jesus makes me feel like I’m his beloved princess. He doesn’t hold my sin against me, but instead, welcomes me back like a prodigal daughter.

Over the last year, a certain fear has started to creep into my mind. This fear comes from my childhood experiences and the experiences of people in my life recently that have suffered from a particular loss. I don’t want to go into details here, but I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking, “What if this happens to me?” I’ve allowed the fear of my past and the fear of what could possibly happen to take away from my peace. I’ve taken my eyes off of Jesus and placed my faith in people and circumstances instead.

On Sunday in church, I was reflecting on these fears as I listened to the sermon and reminded myself of the truths found in scripture and the truths that I’ve come to see in my life as God has continued to provide for me in every way.

God has been my everything throughout my infertility journey. He is my security. He is my hope. He is my comfort. He is my grace when sin is great within me. He is my peace when anxiety is great within me. He is my salvation. He is my great reward.

There were many different fears throughout this journey as I’ve faced the idea of “What if I never have children” but one fear that sticks out the most is the fear I had during my first two miscarriages. I feared that I would walk away from God and that I would no longer believe and trust in Him because of my circumstances. As I mentioned earlier, I did walk away from Christ, but praise be to God, my faith is a gift from Him and I’m forever safe and secure in His hands. Satan might try to sift me as wheat, but my faith will not fail because Jesus has already defeated sin and death on the cross.

Jesus promises in scripture:

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”¬† John 10:28-29

Tonight I was speaking with a precious family member who was sharing her fears with me about the future. I think there is a lot of fear going around in our nation right now. It’s election season and our culture is screaming with what seems like a constant message of fear.

Perhaps you are living in a place of fear right now as you look at circumstances around the world or in your own life or the lives of those you love and care about. I want to encourage you to take your eyes off of these circumstances and place your eyes on Jesus. Look to the beauty of the cross, that old rugged cross where Jesus died. For the disciples and all of those who loved and followed Jesus, that is where hope died. But three days later, we know that’s not how the story ended. Jesus defeated sin and death when he rose again that beautiful Sunday morning, what we now celebrate each year as Resurrection Sunday.

In the same way that the story wasn’t over the day that Jesus died on the cross, my story isn’t over yet either, and sisters, your story isn’t over yet either.

Jesus doesn’t promise that we will have a life free of sorrow or pain, but He does promise to give his Holy Spirit to those who believe and trust in Him for salvation. As we follow Jesus, we can put our trust in Him knowing that we have the hope of God with us everywhere we go and we have the hope of eternal life.

I’m going to highlight several of my favorite passages of scripture found in Romans chapter 8 to show you the depth of this truth that I have come to know in my own life, but I encourage you to read the entire chapter for yourself and better yet, the entire book of Romans. It’s one of my favorite books in scripture.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…”No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35, 37

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

If you need pray today, I hope you will leave me a comment or send me an email to amberunderconstruction@yahoo.com. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and I pray you will have a blessed week as you turn your eyes upon Jesus and His wonderful beauty and grace.

-Amber