Thank you and appointment update

Hello friends! Thank you so much to anyone who read my post from last night and thought of me and/or prayed for me.

My appointment went well this morning and I’m feeling very proud of myself for going.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” -John Wayne (according to the internet. LOL. I read this quote in college in a planer I had and have always loved it).

Today I talked with my doctor about a plan of action for the next few months, had some blood work done, and have instructions to meet with my primary care physician for some additional blood work.

My doctor found an interesting detail looking back through my blood work history (back from November 2011). At that time I was having my 2nd miscarriage and was in the hospital with low platelets. I was eventually diagnosed with ITP but my platelet levels rose over the course of two months with a treatment of prednisone and have been in remission since January 2012. Honestly, I wonder if I actually have ITP or if the low platelets were just related to that pregnancy. I know some people with ITP have said they had a one time issue with low platelets, then went years in remission before having a problem with low platelets again. It’s always in the back of my head wondering if it will someday become a problem.

Anyways, back to the interesting detail my doctor noticed today. I had a positive ana blood test during my week in the hospital. I was never told about this and my doctor thinks they dropped the ball in not doing follow up blood work. I’m really surprised that the hematologist did not continue to follow up on the ana blood work. I do remember the doctor’s specifically telling me that I did not have lupus (it’s common for people with low platelets to have lupus). I’m confused by why they would rule out lupus when I had a positive ana test. Also, from what I’ve read online, lupus is something they test for over a period of time. A negative result does not necessarily rule out the disease nor does a positive result indicate you have the disease.

I’m frustrated by all of this, but I suppose looking back and being angry doesn’t change anything. Onward we go, and from now on, I need to be more proactive in my health care. Thankfully, my health care system now has an online medical chart where they post all of my blood work results, exam results, and so on. That should make it significantly easier to understand what’s happening with my treatment. And they have a cool feature where you can send messages and questions to your doctor so I love that I can look through all of my blood work results and be able to message my doctor with questions.

I’m going to my primary care physician to have them check out the ana situation. She said it’s something that really has to be tested over time, with history of symptoms and so on. Not a one time test without a follow up. She said my doctor will either go ahead with that testing or just refer me to rheumatology.

Sigh.

My doctor thinks that autoimmune disease might be contributing to my recurrent miscarriages. We will work through some more blood testing and then she’ll discuss what we can do for treatment if we find that to be the case.

I’m going back next week for an ultrasound to look at the lining of my uterus. In late February or March, I’m having a HSG done. I had the option to do the HSG after our first 3 miscarriages, but it was so darn expensive (our insurance did not cover it at all) and I really didn’t think there was a need for that test. I still think it’s going to be a waste of money, but, because I want to cover all my bases, we will go forward with it now to be 100% sure.

It feels good to be taking these next steps after our miscarriage in December. I didn’t think I would be ready to talk about pregnancy related issues, but it feels good to know I’m taking care of my health. I really, really feel like God opened doors for me to lead me to answers. There’s anxiety with moving forward, but I also have so much hope that I’m not walking forward without purpose.

With all of that said, thank you so much to all of you for your thoughts and prayers and love. I know that I previously said I wasn’t sure how much blogging I would do going forward, but over the last month, with much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I have determined that I want to continue blogging and sharing about our journey.

I love this community of support and so appreciate all of you for reading and sharing your own stories of trials, loss, hope, and victory.

With love,

Amber

P.S. I hope this post makes some kind of sense. I didn’t sleep very well last night and I’m thinking it’s about time for a nap 🙂

 

 

 

 

Will you pray for me?

Hi precious internet friends! I hope you are all doing well and enjoyed a nice weekend.

Tomorrow, Monday morning, I have my first follow up doctor’s appointment after my miscarriage in December.

I have been incredibly nervous over the last two weeks leading up to the appointment. Praise God, yesterday and today I have been able to mostly put it out of my mind.

This last month has been a really challenging time. In some ways, I feel really strong, much stronger than 5 years ago (after our first few miscarriages). In other ways, I’m exhausted from fighting a battle in my mind every day. I also really feel like there is a spiritual battle going on here, and man, I have had a target on my back. The shame that I have been feeling over the last month has been intense, and that is not a feeling that ever, ever comes from our merciful, gracious, loving God. There has been a battle to believe the truths of Jesus Christ over the lies of satan.

This is a truth that I’m now reminding myself of every single day:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Some of you might be wondering where shame and condemnation come into the conversation concerning miscarriage. It’s honestly a long topic for another day. One I’m praying about writing soon. It’s a post I’m afraid to write and share with the world, but one I’m feeling increasingly more and more the need to share.

Part of my fear of meeting with my doctor’s tomorrow has to deal with the shame I have been feeling. There’s this strong desire to hide away from the world and deal with my problems on my own. There’s pride in not wanting to share my burdens with others and receive the help I desperately need to be made well.

But over and over, I feel God’s gentle leading urging me to be brave. To take the next step forward. To ask for help and to humbly receive help.

So tomorrow, I’m going to be brave. I’m going to put on my faith in Jesus Christ and walk forward in faith, knowing He is going to be with me every single step of the way.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

And my precious sisters, I ask that you please lift me up in prayer. I know so many of you hate to hear of me suffering through more losses and wish you could do something to help. Praying will be the greatest gift you can give me.

Sending love to you all,

Amber

 

 

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 steal 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 🙂

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 🙂

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 – I 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