“I Choose” by Rodney Griffin

The message of this song goes straight to the heart of anyone who is hurting, no matter the trial.  I only recently heard it as my husband had been listening to it on YouTube and ordered the music to sing in church.  May the words of the talented songwriter, Rodney Griffin, encourage you today and may God smile down on you as you choose!

“I Choose”

by Rodney Griffin

Master, may I be so honest?  Could I admit the way I feel?
I’m hurting.  It seems that You’ve forsaken.
I wonder, is Your love for me still real?
Though my friends think I am happy, unaffected by this trial,
they can’t see the pain I’m hiding just underneath my smile.
Master, I can’t live this way anymore.  So, today, I make my choice.

I choose to believe that You are faithful, and my heart is in Your hands,
and this mystery that I face today is part of a greater plan.
I choose not to be discouraged when the sun will not break through.
I have the choice of trusting You.  So, Lord, this is what I choose.

I know the road will not be easy.  I know I’ll have my weaker days.
And Satan will tell me I don’t mean it when I say I’ll trust God all the way.
But that really doesn’t matter.  I refuse to hear him out.
With my faith, I’ll find the power that will overcome all doubt.
Lord, I’ve never felt so strong as when I’m resting in Your arms.

I choose to believe that You are faithful, and my heart is in Your hands,
and this mystery that I face today is part of a greater plan.
I choose not to be discouraged when the sun will not break through.
I have the choice of trusting You.  So, Lord, this is what I choose.

I choose to believe that You are faithful, and my heart is in Your hands,
and this mystery that I face today is part of a greater plan.
I choose not to be discouraged when the sun will not break through.
I have the choice of trusting You.  So, Lord, this is what I choose.
This is what I choose.  Gonna trust You, Lord.  I choose!

Here is a link to the song on YouTube:

“I Choose” sung by Ivan Parker

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I Prayed For You Today

One July morning, the Lord gave me a verse, a hope to cling to, a quiet confidence.  That day was July 23, 2000.  The 23rd day of every month will always be one of my favorite days.  You can call me sentimental.  I am.  Before God gave us our son, every day that I realized was the 23rd day of the month brought me hope and faith.  Now it brings me joy, and I praise Him.

I wrote about this in one of my earlier posts:  Psalm 113:9 God’s Promise.  If you read 5 Psalms a day each month, you will come to Psalms 111-115 on the 23rd day.   That particular day on July 23rd in 2000, I read Psalm 113:9 – “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord.”

Most months, the 23rd day passed without incident, but sometimes – a couple of times a year – that day proved to be very difficult regarding our infertility.  I would look to God for hope or encouragement or reassurance and realize it was the 23rd.  If I had missed reading Psalms that day, I would soon realize what verses I would be covering.  It would make me smile – or smile and cry at the same time.  I knew God was still in control, and my heart would be comforted.

I want you to know you can count on me to be praying for you on the 23rd day of every month until you have a baby.  I pray for the barren women I know by name and their particular situation or specific prayer request.  Even if I don’t know you by name, I pray for everyone who has subscribed to my blog or who might read this post and beg God to do the same for you and turn your hope and faith into joy and praise.

“The Changed Cross”

From The Changed Cross and Other Religious Poems

by Honourable Mrs. Charles Hobart, May 1873

‘Twas a time of sadness, and my heart,
Although it knew and loved the better part,
Felt wearied with the conflict and the strife.
And all the needful discipline of life.

And while I thought on these, as given to me –
My trial tests of faith and love to be –
It seemed as if I never could be sure
That faithful to the end I should endure.

And thus, no longer trusting to His might
Who says, “We walk by faith, and not by sight,”
Doubting, and almost yielding to despair.
The thought arose – My cross I cannot bear:

Far heavier its weight must surely be
Than those of others which I daily see.
Oh! If I might another burden choose,
Methinks I should not fear my crown to lose.

A solemn silence reigned on all around –
E’en Nature’s voices uttered not a sound;
The evening shadows seemed of peace to tell,
And sleep upon my weary spirit fell.

A moment’s pause – and then a heavenly light
Beamed full upon my wondering, raptured sight;
Angels on silvery wings seemed everywhere,
And angels’ music thrilled the balmy air.

Then One, more fair than all the rest to see –
One to whom all the others bowed the knee –
Came gently to me as I trembling lay,
And, “Follow me!” He said; “I am the Way.”

Then, speaking thus, He led me far above.
And there, beneath a canopy of love,
Crosses of divers shape and size were seen,
Larger and smaller than my own had been.

And one there was, most beauteous to behold,
A little one, with jewels sat in gold.
Ah! This methought, I can with comfort wear,
For it will be an easy one to bear:

And so the little cross I quickly took;
But, all at once, my frame beneath it shook.
The sparkling jewels, fair were they to see,
But far too heavy was their weight for me.

“This may not be,” I cried, and looked again,
To see if there was any here could ease my pain;
But, one by one, I passed them slowly by,
Till on a lovely one I cast my eye.

Fair flowers around its sculptured form entwined.
And grace and beauty seemed in it combined.
Wondering, I gazed; and still I wondered more
To think so many should have passed it o’er.

But oh! That form so beautiful to see
Soon made its hidden sorrows known to me;
Thorns lay beneath those flowers and colours fair!
Sorrowing, I said: “This cross I may not bear.”

And so it was with each and all around –
Not one to suit my need could there be found;
Weeping, I laid each heavy burden down,
As my Guide gently said: “No cross, no crown!”

At length, to Him I raised my saddened heart:
He knew its sorrows, bid its doubts depart.
“Be not afraid,” He said, “but trust in me –
My perfect love shall now be shown to thee.”

And then, with lightened eyes and willing feet,
Again I turned, my earthly cross to meet,
With forward footsteps, turning not aside.
For fear some hidden evil might betide:

And there – in the prepared, appointed way,
Listening to hear, and ready to obey –
A cross I quickly found of plainest form,
With only words of love inscribed thereon.

With thankfulness I raised it from the rest,
And joyfully acknowledged it the best –
The only one of all the many there.
That I could feel was good for me to bear.

And, while I thus my chosen one confessed,
I saw a heavenly brightness on it rest;
And, as I bent, my burden to sustain,
I recognized my own old cross again.

But oh! How different did it seem to be
Now I had learned its preciousness to see!
No longer could I unbelieving say.
Perhaps another is a better way.

Ah no! Henceforth my own desire shall be,
That He who knows me best should choose for me;
And so, whate’er His love seems good to send,
I’ll trust it’s best, because He knows the end.

Our Road To IVF – Money Issues

Our road leading to IVF seemed long.  From the first time IVF was recommended as our best chance at pregnancy, it took about 3 ½ years for us to eventually proceed with IVF, mostly because of concerns about the cost.  However, with pastoral and godly counsel and much prayer, we felt God’s hand upon us, even guiding us to the center He wanted us to use.

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”
(Elisabeth Elliot in “God’s Timing”, Faith That Does Not Falter.  )

This quote describes our road to IVF.  After surgery and treatment for Stage IV endometriosis, my doctor’s recommendation was that we try to get pregnant for a year, but if not, she said our best chance for pregnancy was IVF.  We were not initially inclined to do IVF.  At first, it seemed drastic.  If it was still possible to get pregnant within that year, why jump to IVF, when it would cost $10,000 (in 2001) for a 50% chance of pregnancy?  This was something we reasoned together but did not try really communicate with our doctor to find out more.  The $10,000 would be worth it if I got pregnant, but to spend that much money and not get pregnant with one chance and then be out $10,000 seemed like a huge risk to us.  It would have been both financially and emotionally devastating.

I didn’t get pregnant on my own that year, and after seeking treatment from a different specialist, we were again advised that IVF was our best chance for pregnancy.  At the time, we wanted to try IUI since it did not seem as “invasive” and was also less expensive, although the success rate was not as high as IVF.  When IUI didn’t produce a pregnancy, we sought to add to our family through adoption and also started to read a little more about IVF.

In the spring of 2004, my sister called me about an episode that aired on Dr. Phil.  It was about a shared-risk program for IVF in Washington, D.C.  I looked it up on the internet also and found out shared-risk costs more than one traditional IVF cycle, but some programs refund 70-100% of your money, if you do not go home with a live baby after a certain number of attempts.  It sounded like something feasible for us, maybe a financial risk worth taking.  It is more like a type of insurance, since we did not have insurance coverage for infertility nor live in a state that mandated coverage.

Summertime rolled around and my husband decided to ask our pastor’s counsel about IVF.  It was like a burden lifted off of us when he talked to him.  We had a green light!  I remember asking him, “Why did you ask him about this now?  Why not a year ago?!”  The doctors always said we had “a window of opportunity”.  All I can say is…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

That summer the show on Dr. Phil aired again and my mother-in-law taped it for us.  After my husband’s talk with Pastor, we watched the program.  I looked it up on the internet and tried to figure out how we could make it work.  It would be costly just for traveling and lodging.  A few days later, I did a web search on shared-risk IVF and a company came up called Integramed (now known as Attain IVF.  They did a similar shared-risk program with a handful of approved reproductive centers in the U.S.  At the time there were no centers in our state, but the closest one to us “just happened” to be only four hours’ driving distance from where we lived and 5 miles from my sister’s house!  That location definitely sounded more practical and feasible.

I prayed for peace about this center.  We also scheduled an IVF consult with our doctor locally to compare options.  I prayed Psalm 102:2b “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.”  And He did!  Praise the Lord!  By the end of October, in one day – the same day – the Lord answered my prayer by closing the door on our local doctor and opening the door to the center out-of-state.

Isaiah 30:21. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

We knew this is where the Lord was leading us.  Within two weeks, we had our first appointment.  Then we were accepted into the shared-risk program, and by January 2005, we did our first IVF.  This definitely turned out to be the best option for us because we I did not get pregnant on the first attempt, although if I had, it still would have been worth it to us.  It was God’s timing, and…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

Note: I am presenting our story of shared-risk as one of many financial options to have a baby.  We had our baby in 2006, and so I am sure there are now even more programs and ways to save money, raise money, get the most out of your money – all that will hopefully lead you on the road to having your baby.
Article on Affording the Cost of Infertility Treatments

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Terri

I had my life all scheduled out.  I would meet the man of my dreams in college, marry and work a few years on my career.  I would get pregnant on my schedule and have three kids.  None of which happened.

I met the man of my dreams several years after college.  We talked about having children, the first of which would be born three years after we got married.  Or so we planned.  We began trying to get pregnant a couple of years after we got married, thinking it would take a couple of months or maybe three.  I had it all planned around my work schedule.  Convenient, right?

After several months and many negative pregnancy tests later, I began to get concerned.  A year passed, and the concern turned to worry.  Would I be able to get pregnant at all?  We went to see my doctor and she did a laparoscopy early on.  She found some endometriosis and prescribed Clomid, with no success.  Then she sent me to a fertility specialist.  He gave us no answers, and by this time I was worried and frustrated.

All this time we had been praying that God would allow us to have a baby, and I couldn’t understand why, with all my planning, it just wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to.  I would pray and say I was giving this burden to the Lord, but then I would almost immediately take it back.   It became a daily struggle, and I became very depressed and discouraged.  The comments of “When are you ever going to have a baby?” from those unaware of our situation would bring me to tears.  I felt as though I were at the end of my rope.

In March of 2001, we were having revival services at our church. During that week, the fertility doctor’s nurse called and asked if I wanted to start back on the Clomid for another three months.  I told her I was thinking about it and would let them know.  That night, I can’t even remember what the evangelist preached on, but God spoke to me and showed me that I had to give this over to Him.  I realized that conception is not something you plan; it is truly a miracle of God.  Only He has the power to create and sustain life.  I went to the altar with my husband and my mom, and I felt that I finally surrendered to God’s will in my life concerning having a baby.

In just a couple of weeks, I had a positive pregnancy test.  It was a direct answer to prayer, and we praised the Lord that our miracle was on the way.  He was born the day after Christmas 2001, a true gift from God.  Our second son was born in November 2003.  Everything went smoothly with both births.  But when we decided to have a third, things didn’t go so well.  Six days before Christmas 2005, when I was ten weeks pregnant with our third child, I miscarried.  I was heartbroken.  This happened to other ladies, but I could not imagine losing my own baby.  I never questioned why, but I cried for weeks, even months after I lost our baby.  I wanted another child so badly, and losing one was very painful.  In September 2006 I became pregnant again.  My doctor was watching me closely, and she said this pregnancy was not going well either.  Day after day we prayed and I went for blood work, but then my doctor told me I was going to miscarry again.  After a very complicated set of circumstances, I was diagnosed with a tubal pregnancy.  But the Lord intervened, and I did not have to be treated for it or have it removed.

Fear again took hold of my heart.  God had worked miraculously in my body and allowed me to live through some very life-threatening circumstances, yet I wondered if I could have any more children.  My faith in God had been strengthened through the trials I had faced.  God had answered so many prayers and had divinely intervened on my behalf.  I was just afraid that maybe it was not His will for us to have any more children.  Again, I had to give my desires over to His desires for my life.  I had two beautiful boys and realized I needed to enjoy this precious time with them instead of living in remorse over what I had lost.

In early summer of 2007, I discovered I was again pregnant.  With some apprehension, I went for an ultrasound at seven weeks, and there was a heartbeat, the most wonderful sound I had ever heard!  In February 2008, we had our third son.  The birth of this child was such a comfort to my heart after the loss of two precious babies.

We recently had our fourth son in December 2009.  God has truly blessed our family, and even with the emotions that fill my mind over our two children who are in heaven, I wouldn’t trade the trials we experienced for anything.  Many times I have read Psalm 34 and have found comfort in all of the promises of God there.  I can see God’s faithfulness to us, and I have so much to be thankful for.  God truly is good, and “great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).

Scenic Route – The Road Life Was Made For

My husband and I have a book called The Most Scenic Drives in America and when we have the opportunity to travel, we try to plan part of our trip driving along the scenic routes recommended in the book.  In October 2005 we were able to take a short trip to New England, and fortunately for us, the fall foliage was late that particular year.  After flying in to New York, we took scenic drives through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  The drive routes in the book showed different points of interest, the background behind it, and the best season to go.  This definitely helped us plan our trip better and enjoy the drive.

What did we enjoy most about the scenic routes?  Taking in the colorful and breathtaking views, learning more about America’s history, traveling at the right time – the fall foliage season, making memories – an unforgettable trip with its wonder, splendor, and marvels.

Our route back to catch our flight was completely different.  We were in Maine and had to be in New York that afternoon!  We didn’t take any scenic drives; we needed to get to the airport as fast as possible.  The most direct route was the expressway.

The only reason I can think of taking the expressway is to get to our destination quicker.  On the path of infertility, we’re not thinking about enjoying the views along the way.  We want the quickest way to a baby.

Many times along our journey of infertility I stopped to realize God wanted us to take the scenic route instead of the expressway.  After changing OB-GYNs and reproductive endocrinologists several times, not to mention the waiting as well as the weighing of decisions – are we supposed to move forward with treatments, adopt, or both – I would find myself thinking, “Why didn’t I go to this doctor three years ago?” or “Why didn’t we know about this option sooner?” or “We could have tried this treatment last year!”

The Lord simply didn’t lead that way.  He didn’t want me to take the expressway.  He gave me the scenic route.  The route was definitely more colorful and dramatic with its twists and turns, mountaintops and valleys, and stops and starts.  I also learned more by taking the longer way – more about faith, patience, trust, joy – just to name a few.  I wouldn’t go back and change it either.  This was God’s timing; therefore it was the perfect time.  This is the path He chose for me – the scenic route – the road life was made for!

Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”

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But If Not

With the passing of another Mother’s Day, I was reminded of people for whom this day is difficult – not only women who desperately want to be mothers, but also mothers who have lost babies or older children who were supposed to outlive them, as well as others whose mothers have passed away.  Most of all, I couldn’t stop thinking about a friend who has experienced infertility herself but encouraged me during my trial of infertility.  You see, she never did get pregnant.  I don’t know all of her circumstances and decisions that were made, but for whatever reason, she and her husband either weren’t called to adopt or perhaps those plans fell through also.  I don’t understand why God didn’t open her womb.

I wondered how could my blog help someone like her?  Maybe it’s not supposed to be able to help everyone.  But if you are in her shoes and you have stumbled upon this blog, I hope my words don’t ring hollow because God did open my womb, but He hasn’t done that for you.  You might say I can praise Him because He did give me the desire of my heart – a baby.  I can only say the thoughts I am sharing came before I knew what He would actually do in my own life.  I do praise Him for my outcome.  But if not, I would hope I could still trust Him, praise Him and keep serving Him.

In the Book of Daniel, the Bible teaches the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged they would not serve his gods and worship the golden image he had made.  They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down.  I remember their words of trust and faith in their God (who is my God!).  In Daniel 3:17-18 they said, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up.”

We need to recognize these three men did not look to God for physical deliverance during their moment of trial.  Instead, they placed their faith in the God who is able, not necessarily the God who will, though we might hope for it.  Their public faith didn’t force God’s hand, but instead their faith that God is still God stood strong, whatever the outcome.  I borrowed these words for my own fiery trial and remember praying, “I know you are able to deliver me from my barrenness, oh God, but if not, by God’s grace, I will still trust, serve and praise you.”

Our son was 1 ½ when we decided to attempt IVF again.  We wanted another baby!  Another friend of mine had one miracle son, and since it was taking much longer the second time around, she also went to see a fertility specialist.  My news wasn’t what we had hoped; the doctor actually cancelled my cycle because I didn’t produce enough follicles to proceed, and that was using the protocol with the highest dosage.  I was only 38.  My friend also didn’t have good news – the doctor told her it was a miracle she got pregnant the first time and didn’t even recommend IVF for her.  She was even younger than I.  We both found out about the other’s results the same day at church, and I’ll never forget that day when we hugged and I said, in thankfulness and in tears, “At least God gave us both one son!”  Then she told me to stop before I made her cry.  I remember my nurse saying it wasn’t impossible for either of us to get pregnant, but it wasn’t worth paying that much for IVF for a 2% chance.  A little over a year later, my friend called to tell me she was pregnant – 7 weeks along!  I was thrilled for her, and her news also gave me hope that God could do the same for me.  It just seemed destined to turn out that way.  Her baby is now almost 6 months old, and no, I haven’t gotten pregnant.  Most say I would be hoping against hope.  True.  Against hope, I am still believing in hope.  (Romans 4:18-25)  God is able.  But if not, I will be ok.  By God’s grace, I will still trust, praise, and serve Him.  God is still good.

If you are childless, perhaps not by your choice, then you can even identify with the sufferings of Christ greater than my own experience.  I wonder if there is anyone who would give a word of encouragement by sharing how you have coped with this.  How have you viewed God in the difficult times or when He didn’t deliver what you wanted?  It may never get easy – the barren womb is never satisfied (Proverbs 30:15-16) – but if you can say God is still good, I would love to hear from you.

*Excerpts from AIA Devotional on Daniel 3

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