I’ve No Cause For Worry Or For Fear

Three weeks ago today, I found myself in my car, parked outside a medical building that I had not been to in over 10 years.  Although it was years ago, I remember sitting in my car in that same parking lot, crying about results from an exam I had just had.  I wrote about that in Joy-Tester.

I was unable to hold back my tears.  My emotions were right on the surface, only this time the tears were for a blood test I was about to take.  I tried to evaluate my response and wondered, “Why am I losing control this time?”  It was simply worry and fear.  Worry about the future.  Fear that the test might reveal results I didn’t want to accept, which led me to worry about what could happen after that.  As a young child, I trusted Christ as my Savior, yet didn’t my worry and fear translate that I couldn’t trust Him with my current or future circumstances – with whatever His will is for my life?

Fear is defined as a strong emotion caused by anticipation of danger or anxious concern.  Worry is similar, meaning mental distress resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated.  Yet as Carolina Sandell Berg penned in the song, Day By Day, “I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.”

Why?  Because faith’s sweet consolation is my comfort.  “God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him.  God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise.”  (Streams, September 26).  Faith alleviates my feelings and emotions.  Faith moves me forward to the next step.

Picture a little girl who is scared of the path ahead, but still, she looks up and takes her daddy’s hand and starts to walk with him.  She doesn’t have to be afraid.  She just needs to trust.  We must put our hand in the hand of God just like that and trust He will lead us, even if we don’t know where we are headed.

“The clinging hand of His child

makes a desperate situation a delight to Him.” 

Streams in the Desert, October 14

I have since gotten the results of my test, and although there are still unknowns, I can honestly say I have not worried or been fearful about the situation anymore.   I’ve been where you are: desperately wanting to have a baby, and now that I’m on the other side, it is easy for me to say, “have faith, rejoice, and trust.”  While that is true, this recent experience brought me back to a place where I could remember what it’s like to be IN that moment where you are right now.  I had to trust Him then and I have to trust Him now.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,

it only saps today of its joy.”

Leo Buscaglia in Zig Ziglar’s Something to Smile About

“God Is My Strength – Part One” by Amy

I’ll admit; this is probably the hardest thing for me to write about.  When it comes to my emotions, I like to bury them deep, especially when it comes to painful topics.  So, it has certainly taken me a while to get myself to a point to sit down and write this.  And still…it isn’t going to be easy.  I’ve really known all my life that I would never naturally have a baby.  I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did.  I had a lot of problems in my younger years with irregular cycles and as I got older, they got farther and farther apart.  I worried in silence, and the doctors never offered me any solution but to take birth control (which didn’t seem to make any sense to me).  So, I just ignored it for a long time.

I finally talked about it when my husband and I got engaged.  I sat him down and told him.  At the time, I don’t think he took it too seriously.  I think he believed I was over-thinking things and exaggerating.  We got married on Valentine’s Day 1999 and began our life together.  He was 27 and I was 28.  We went about our lives, working, buying a house, collecting stuff, and not thinking about it.  After about two and a half years, when I turned 30, I started thinking it was time we start thinking about a baby.  But we didn’t seek a doctor for quite some time.

Finally, we realized it was going to require some testing and help.  This is when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) from my doctor.  Syndrome?  What did that even mean?  But there was hope.  I was to take some meds, monitor my temperature every morning, do some ovulation tests, etc., and come back monthly to be monitored.  The first few months were hard because my charting was not turning out as expected.  So, the doctor increased the dosage.  I’m the first one to avoid any kind of medication because I am so sensitive to side effects.  Oh, I felt awful taking this, but I continued.  This time, my chart looked exactly how it was supposed to.  I was so excited to come back and get an ultrasound.  The disappointing news was I didn’t even ovulate.

I told myself I wasn’t going to be an emotional basket case.  I was just going to follow the doctor’s instructions without expectation.  That is impossible.  You spend too much time on this chart and temperatures and tests to not be very emotional throughout the process.  The doctor told me that I was a case that was going to require a fertility clinic.  But, as someone with PCOS herself, my doctor warned me that the drugs (daily shots) were going to be much worse than what I was already taking and told me how her own husband made her quit them after only one month because of how “crazy” they were making her.  Add to that the cost of $2500/month and I was just crushed.  I had to take a break from it for a little while.

We eventually decided instead we would adopt through DHS.  It took several months of background checks, home studies, and classes before we were approved.  Then we waited and waited.   Finally after about a year (and by this time I’m 32), we were given the option to be placed with two boys, ages 4 and 6.  We said yes.  Within a month, we had the two boys in our home.  It was both a wonderful time and a very trying time.  We were unprepared.  As much as the classes try to teach you, it’s an experience no one understands until going through it.  We failed.  After a year, we decided not to adopt.

Looking back, we realize we made so many mistakes.  We both had so much guilt for failing, too.  Our thoughts have always been with those boys as we completely turned away from adoption, fertility, or any other talk of children for years after that.  My husband still carries their pictures in his wallet, and I have kept all the pictures and their life books for when I can get them to the boys.  It was another silent sadness we now carried with us into the present day.  (Recently, I was fortunate to find out that both boys were adopted when I made contact with the older one.  That has given us some peace all these years later.)

A few more years go by, and during this time, my husband gets saved.  Yes, he was an atheist (a nice one), but nevertheless, an atheist.  So, even though I got saved as a child, I had spent much of my life apart from God.  By my husband getting saved, it brought both of us to the Lord.  We both believe that our loss and failure with the boys set him on a journey that ultimately brought him to the cross.  What a blessing from such a tragedy.  As a result, we found a good church home and some great friends.  Even then, we didn’t talk with anyone about this.  There was more suffering in silence.  As far as anyone knew, we just happened to be a childless couple married six years by this time.  So, we dedicated ourselves to serving the Lord and helping others.

It was not longer after, we found out about a local ministry, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO), from another church member who had adopted through them.  It was 2006 by this time and we agreed to go with this friend to a meeting.  Many different people adopting were giving their testimonies, and one couple told of their failed adoption in which they were raising their baby and the bio father came back into the picture and ended up with custody after they had him for quite a while.  That completely terrified me and I left thinking I cannot endure any more losses.  I can’t do it.  By the way, I’ve heard so many people say that there are unknowns in a pregnancy (and there are) and unknowns in life (of course) and they equate it to the adoption process.  But, I don’t think it really compares.

This journey felt hopeless to me.  It was beyond me and out of my control.  And because of that, I avoided it.  Like I said, we dedicated ourselves to serving the Lord, but for me, I never trusted the Lord.  I did most everything in my own strength.  So, choosing to go through the adoption process now would mean I need to learn to trust the Lord in whatever happens including a potential loss.  It took another two years.

During this time, we got a phone call from my mother who heard about a lady about to have twins.  She had found an attorney to help her locate an adoptive family.  It was very short notice so I wrote a one page “life story” and sent it in.  She chose three families to interview and we happened to be one of them.  I was nervous, worried and excited.  We fasted and prayed for three days and I was certain that this was God’s answer to our prayer.  We could in one moment have our family complete.

We were the second couple to meet with her.  She seemed nice and things went well.  We had church friends praying for us during this meeting as well, so I just knew this was it.  We saw the third couple arrive as we left.  The next day we found out she had chosen the third couple.  Once again, I was crushed.  I was so sure about this.  I told the attorney I needed to know what was the deciding factor and he told me that she was leaning towards picking us after we left and he agreed that we were also the best fit, but then the wife of the third couple begged her and pleaded with her to pick them so she did.  It all seemed very unfair.  But, it was done and we were back again, facing this ever-so-vast emptiness in our hearts.

Why, I kept wondering,”was the Lord doing this?  To be honest, I was quite angry about it.  I remember so many Mother’s Days, thinking if children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord and a reward, then what was God saying to me?  I felt punished.  But, I never told anyone but my husband what I was thinking.  I knew it was wrong, but I had no way to feel differently about it.

Despite that, in 2008, married nine years and at age 37, I remember running into the church member, who now had two adopted children through CPO, and thinking to myself, “What am I waiting for?”  It finally dawned on me that by trying to protect my heart from another potential loss, I was also pushing away any potential blessing God might have in store.  So, while I was bitter and angry with God, I finally realized that I had a role to play, which I had been avoiding.  We almost immediately made a life book, got our application filled out, and went to the very next meeting turning it all in to CPO.  And the real test of faith began.

Click on this link to read Part Two

 

Be A Self-Encourager: Encouraging Yourself Through Song – “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford

We have learned to encourage ourselves through solitude with God and through Scripture, particularly the Psalms.  Lastly, we can encourage ourselves through song.

Ephesians 5:19 shows us how to be filled with the Spirit, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

“God’s people have reason to rejoice, and to sing for joy.  They are to sing and to make melody in their hearts; not only with their voices, but with inward affection, and then their doing this will be as delightful and acceptable to God as music is to us: and it must be with a design to please Him, and to promote His glory, that we do this; and then it will be done to the Lord.”  Matthew Henry

I enjoy current gospel music.  Many songs have encouraged me and lifted my spirits, but my favorites are the enduring hymns.  They are classic and they don’t sound dated.  Two hymns in particular ministered to me the most during my journey of infertility.  I wrote about it many times in my journal.  One of them is “It Is Well With My Soul”.

The story behind the writing of “It Is Well With My Soul” is perhaps a familiar one.  Elisabeth Elliot’s Secure in the Everlasting Arms presents it in more detail than I have ever heard in the past.

The great Chicago fire of the 1870s caused Horatio Spafford, a wealthy businessman, to take stock in his life.  Wanting to know Jesus better, he decided to sell everything and move to the land where He had walked.  Shortly before the ship sailed, he was delayed by business, but took the family to New York.  For some reason he was unable to explain, he had the purser change their cabin, moving them closer to the bow.  He returned to Chicago to finish his business.  Then came a telegram: SAVED ALONE.  The ship had sunk.  Mrs. Spafford had survived.  Their four daughters had perished.  Had they been in the cabin originally reserved amidships, all five would have drowned, for it was there that the steamer had been struck by another vessel.

Mrs. Spafford described that terrible black night when she and her four little girls were flung into the cold sea.  Frantically, she had tried to save them.  Barely, she had been able to touch with her fingertips the hem of the little gown of one, but could not grasp it.  She herself had been miraculously rescued as she floated unconscious on a piece of flotsam.

During Mr. Spafford’s voyage to join his wife in France, the captain summoned him one day to the bridge.  Pointing to his charts he explained that it was just here, where they were at that moment, that the other ship had gone down.  Spafford returned to his cabin and wrote the hymn, which has comforted countless thousands.  Mrs. Bertha Spafford Vester, the fifth daughter of Horatio and Mrs. Spafford, who was not born until after the tragedy, told this story to Mrs. Elliot.  What a joy to know God blessed them with another daughter!

 ~

 It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. 

It is well with my soul.  It is well, it is well with my soul. 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul. 

It is well with my soul.  It is well, it is well with my soul. 

My sin – O the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul.  It is well, it is well with my soul. 

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll: The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, “Even so” – it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul.  It is well, it is well with my soul. 

 ~

“It Is Well With My Soul” performed by Chris Rice

~

Piano by Greg Howlett

Early in 2003, I had my final attempt at ovulation induction with IUI.  It didn’t work.  I was still struggling to accept it might not be God’s will for me to get pregnant.  Adoption was next, and IVF was not yet in the picture.

This is what I wrote in my journal on March 12, 2003 – “Weepy day.  I cried at work a little and then at home.  Greg told me not to go to church tonight, but I showered and felt better so I went.  Greg wanted to pray with me.  He told me a lot of things the Lord had laid on my heart this very day.  I had to face reality that I thought God let me down.  Greg said it was the first time he sensed from me that I doubted God.  That hurts, and I’m ashamed of feeling that way.  Janice talked to me afterward because she saw me bawling.  Teri asked Greg about me.  Greg and Janice both said I was going through the grieving of my loss and that was natural.  I want to be at peace and say, ‘It is well with my soul.’ ”

“To love God is to love His will.  That which He gives we receive.  That which He takes away we relinquish.  He unfailingly allots grace in the measure needed.  It is for us to choose to receive or refuse it.  Our joy or our misery will depend on that choice.”  Elisabeth Elliot from “Whatever My Lot”, Secure in the Everlasting Arms