Psalm 10:17 God will always hear our prayers.

“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:” Psalm 10:17

Encouragement from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

1) The Lord never said to a distressed suppliant, “Seek in vain.”

2) May we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?

He had heard and answered their prayers: “Lord, thou hast many a time heard the desire of the humble, and never saidst to a distressed suppliant, Seek in vain. Why may not we hope for the continuance and repetition of the wonders, the favours, which our father told us of?”

He pleads their expectations from God pursuant to their experience of him: “Thou hast heard, therefore thou will cause thy ear to hear, as, Psalms 6:9. Thou art the same, and thy power, and promise, and relation to thy people are the same, and the work and workings of grace are the same in them; why therefore may we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?”

But observe, (1.) In what method God hears prayer. He first prepares the heart of his people and then gives them an answer of peace; nor may we expect his gracious answer, but in this way; so that God’s working upon us is the best earnest of his working for us. He prepares the heart for prayer by kindling holy desires, and strengthening our most holy faith, fixing the thoughts and prayers, raising the affections, and then he graciously accepts the prayer; he prepares the heart for the mercy itself that is wanting and prayed for, makes us fit to receive it and use it well, and then gives it in to us. The preparation of the heart is from the Lord, and we must seek unto him for it (Proverbs 16:1) and take that as a leading favour.

While You Wait For Your Happy Mother’s Day

05-12-2014 10;59;46AM

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Mother’s Day 2014 has passed. Do you feel like a survivor, having endured another Mother’s Day? I remember how emotionally draining it was for me. Maybe that is why I haven’t even written about Mother’s Day but once.

My husband and I taught the newly married couples in our church for about five years and we loved it. We were childless, but at first our newly married couples were childless, too. After all, they were newly married! We had been teaching this class for a few years and one night at church (in 2002, I know because I journaled about this), I was helping in the nursery.  As usual, the topic of who the latest pregnant ladies were came up, and the three were ladies in my class.  Another worker said to me, “Boy, your class is really cranking out the babies.”  Then she declared,  “I think God is giving Greg and Joy big babies.” I remember answering, “Well, I guess He is giving us grandbabies, too.” That was probably a very tacky reply, but it seemed nicer than what I really wanted to say, which was, “If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working.”

My husband didn’t take any offense in what she said or see it as negative; maybe it isn’t as personal for a man. I let her steal my joy, but I also hoped she meant well, and maybe at the time I was so concerned about not having what I wanted that I didn’t fully realize or appreciate how God was using me then. You see – there was truth in what that woman said to me. We didn’t have children, so we devoted our time and energy to that class, to those couples. We really loved them and wanted to see them grow in the Lord.

The pictures at the top of this blog post are a card and a note I received for Mother’s Day in 2004 and in 2005 from two very young moms in our Adult Bible Class. In the card, this precious lady thanked me for what we had done for them, including giving baby showers, writing notes, being a friend. She said even though I was not her mother, she looked to me as a spiritual mom. I received the note a year later from another precious lady who, along with her husband, had been saved at our church. Her words were full of compassion and maturity, and she said they had been praying for a year and a half that the Lord would give us a child. She also said I was truly like the mother she never had.

Those words are more precious to me now even though I was very touched by them the day I first received them. Looking back, God really did give us big babies. I am thankful God chose to use us in that capacity, and I trust our investment in those couples made a difference in their lives. I know it was not in vain. My encouragement to you is to realize and appreciate how God wants to use you right now – while you wait for your baby – whether you teach a class of newly married couples or 4-year old boys, help in the nursery, work a bus route, or find a teenaged girl who needs a mentor.  The Lord may use you to impact someone’s life as a spiritual mom or a mom they never had.

My wish is someday you will have a Happy Mother’s Day – from your “big babies” and from the baby you are waiting for.

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“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:4

“A Better Blessing” by Kristi

I remember worrying about my fertility long before I was ready to have children. I knew that I wanted to be a mom and that I would be good at it. But for some reason I had this nagging feeling that I might not be able to. For the most part I pushed it out of my mind. During our second year of marriage my husband was deployed to Kuwait. We had talked before he left about when we wanted to have kids and decided that when he returned from his deployment we would be ready. People who know me know that I am a researcher. When I enter a new phase of life, get a new pet, or plan a vacation I read everything I can get my hands on about that particular subject. I like to be as informed as possible about the things going on in my life.  So I immediately read everything I could find about getting pregnant.  I thought that somehow I could just plan it.

About seven months after we started trying to get pregnant I went to see my OB/GYN. I told her I was worried about not being pregnant yet and that I had a nagging feeling that something might be wrong. She chuckled a little bit and told me that everything looked fine and it was too soon to worry anyway. And yet just weeks later my fears were realized in a way I had never imagined. I learned that I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have emergency surgery in order to keep my fallopian tube from rupturing. There was nothing that could be done for the baby. I was devastated. I had not even known that I was pregnant. But I still felt a very real sense of loss.

Imagine my joy just six weeks later when I found out that I was expecting! I should have been nervous, or at least cautious, but I wasn’t. I was elated. Somehow I knew that I would hold this baby in my arms. And I did. I gave birth to the sweetest little girl in August of 2010. God had answered my prayers!

When my daughter was just nine months old, my husband and I decided that we were ready to give her a sibling. We knew that it could be many months before getting pregnant, so we didn’t want to wait too long. God had other plans. As our daughter grew older, we received the same well-meaning comment over and over. “When are you going to give her a baby brother or sister?” People were only trying to show interest in our family, but after over a year of trying, I was starting to worry. And the repeated questions brought me pain.

During the time we tried and failed to get pregnant, I struggled accepting my infertility. I can’t be infertile, I thought. I already have a child. This isn’t supposed to happen to me! I felt guilty for feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t think I was allowed to be sad about my fertility struggles when I had already known the blessing of having a child. But whether I thought I was allowed to feel that way or not, I was crushed. With every new announcement of a friend or acquaintance who was expecting a baby, I fought back tears. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to make my own announcement. And for the most part, I went through my struggle alone. I was embarrassed to talk about it.

After a year of trying, I called my doctor to schedule some tests. Due to my previous ectopic pregnancy, our first step was to look at my fallopian tubes. I found out that one of my tubes was completely blocked. Strangely enough, it was not the same tube in which my ectopic pregnancy had occurred. The doctor said that with the other tube in tact, it was still possible for me to get pregnant, but it would just take longer. She put me on Clomid, a fertility drug, so that I would be more likely to ovulate from both ovaries each cycle, which would increase my chances of getting an egg into my “good” tube. I was worried, but thankful that we were able to find a reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant and a solution that would likely increase my chances of conceiving soon. I felt hope.

When I found out I was pregnant just two months later, I was cautiously optimistic. I wanted to be excited, but I was nervous. And waiting for our sonogram confirmation was excruciating. Even though it was just a couple of weeks, it felt like months. When the day finally came, I could barely breathe. The technician started the ultrasound but was very quiet. I knew that meant bad news. The doctor came in and looked. She couldn’t find anything. Unfortunately, since the ultrasound was inconclusive, I was told to wait two weeks and then come back. But just a week later, I ended up in the emergency room with those familiar pains and another ectopic pregnancy. I felt like my life was on repeat. The loss was devastating. I had to say goodbye to a baby I had begged God for, a baby I had waited fifteen months for, a baby I already loved very deeply.

Really, the story of that loss is much longer. I had multiple appointments at the doctor’s office followed by a visit to the ER and medication, which didn’t work properly, although I didn’t know it right away. On our way to an out-of-town trip, my husband had to take me to the ER in a little town in eastern Oklahoma. And after a long day there, I was transported back to the Tulsa hospital by ambulance. Once in the hospital, they had to wheel me through an area very near to the maternity ward and we rolled right past a beautiful newborn baby in the hallway. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t breathe or talk. I was a mess. Ultimately, I had to make a decision about how to terminate my ectopic pregnancy. Did I want to try more medication or surgery? It was a decision I agonized over. (There is no way to save a baby who never made it to the uterus, but still, I struggled with knowing what was the right thing to do with this precious baby that could not survive.) I chose surgery, and when I woke up, I found out that I had not only lost the baby, but also my fallopian tube. By the time I made it home, I was a zombie.

My mother suggested a book called I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. It is the story of Angie’s own loss, the story of the baby she could not keep. I read it in one day. My pain was still very raw and it was difficult to read the book while I was still so deep in my grief. But I am so glad I did. As I read the book I knew that I wanted God to turn my loss into a blessing. I was not sure how He could do that, but I knew that He could. I reminded myself right then and there that God makes no mistakes and I told myself that I would not waste my pain but that I would use it to become a better person.

I know my story is going to sound redundant at this point, but this is really how it happened. Weeks after I lost my third child, I became pregnant again. I felt numb when I saw those two pink lines. More waiting, followed by an inconclusive ultrasound, multiple blood tests, more ultrasounds, fear. When it looked like it was probably another ectopic pregnancy, we were surprised to find something in the uterus. But it wasn’t a viable pregnancy. I miscarried the baby. Two months later, it all happened again. Another positive test. Another miscarriage.  Five pregnancies and only one living child. My pain was deep and my hope was fading.

I remember sitting quietly with the Lord. Day after day, words escaped me. I wanted to pray, but I didn’t even know what to say. God understood. He wrapped His arms around me and just held me. I was confused. When words finally did come, they were questions. Why are you letting this happen over and over? If I am not meant to have anymore children, then why are you letting me conceive? Is my family complete? What are you trying to show me? During the previous six months, with each pregnancy loss, I would hear doctors tell me that I should probably stop trying to have a baby. I started to believe them.

I struggled with the word “faith.” I used to think it meant believing that God would. Now I knew that it meant believing that God can and that if he doesn’t, it is because His plan is different from mine. I realized that perhaps His plan was for me to have only one child. Why did that have to be a bad plan? I tried to lay down my own plan, to give it to Him. But each time I set it at His feet, I would pick it back up almost immediately. I want to give this to you Lord! I want to trust You! But it’s hard to let go of my dream!

My husband and I decided that what we needed was a break. We stopped trying for a few months. We even went as far as preventing pregnancy. I knew I could not bear another loss at that point. I needed some time. Time to renew my relationship with my husband. Time to strengthen my relationship with God. During these months I was finally able to give my plans to Him. I was able to tell Him that I trusted Him, whether He was going to give me a baby or not, and really mean it. I don’t mean to say that I no longer desired another child, but that I was content with the amazing family God had already given me.

During all of this time I blogged about my experiences. I shared what I was going through even as it happened, even while the emotions were still so raw. I was clinging to this verse:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”           

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I knew that God wanted me to use my pain to reach out to others. He wanted me to use these difficulties to become a stronger and better person. He wanted me to draw closer to Him in a way I had never been able to before. I knew that something good can come from something bad. God showed me that in letting me experience this hurt, He was allowing me to comfort others in the same way He has been able to comfort me so many times before. I was learning to shift from an inward focus on my pain to an outward focus on others and an upward focus on God. It was a blessing I didn’t expect.

A few months after we had decided to take a break from trying to conceive, I felt that it was time to get things settled once and for all. I needed to see a specialist and find out how realistic it was to hope for another baby. God led me to a wonderful doctor through a friend of mine who had been through her own journey of infertility and loss. He looked at every aspect of my fertility and discovered that not only did I have problems with my fallopian tubes, but I also had very tiny ovaries and poor ovarian reserve. Basically, although I was just thirty-one years old, my ovaries were acting more like those of a woman in her forties. Time was running out. My biological clock was ticking faster than I had known. The doctor was shocked that I had even managed to become pregnant as many times as I had. He said that considering my history and fertility issues, my chances of conceiving without intervention were less than 10% and that if I were to conceive again, there would be a 50% chance that it would be ectopic. He told me that IVF would be my best chance for a healthy pregnancy and even told me that I couldn’t wait very long to do that since my follicle count was so low. If I wanted another baby, I needed intervention and I needed it soon.

My husband and I talked about IVF. We prayed about it. Neither of us felt peace about it at that time. We decided to leave it in God’s hands. If we were meant to have another child, God would make it happen or He would direct us toward IVF. If we were not meant to have another child, we would trust the plans God had for our family of three. Either way, I wanted to start living instead of just waiting. I had wasted enough time waiting for the next child. I needed to enjoy my family as it was, without anticipating what would come next.

I feel like I’m supposed to say that I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant just weeks after being told it was nearly impossible, but I wasn’t. I was terrified. For me, it was the moment of truth. If I lost this baby, I knew I wouldn’t want to try again. When I was finally able to see my doctor for an ultrasound, I got bad news. It was another ectopic pregnancy, my third ectopic pregnancy. Furthermore, it was in my only remaining fallopian tube and would probably end my chances for ever conceiving again without intervention. I was numb. The doctor suggested methotrexate, the same drug I had used with my second ectopic pregnancy. But then he decided that he wanted to wait a couple of days to administer the drug. He told me that he wanted to give me a few days to feel comfortable with the decision and he knew that I would want some time to pray for a miracle. As far as I know, my doctor is not a born-again believer, so it was surprising to hear him say something like that. Three days later, I saw the doctor again. This time he saw a sac in the uterus! But he also still saw something in my tube. He now diagnosed me with a heterotopic pregnancy – one baby in the tube and one in the uterus. I would have to have surgery to remove the one in the tube, and the one in the uterus would have a good chance at staying healthy. Again, he wanted to wait a few days and be certain before scheduling the surgery.

I think you can guess where this is going. About two weeks after seeing those two pink lines, after multiple ultrasounds and plenty of scary news, the doctor was finally able to tell me that I had one healthy baby growing inside of my uterus and nothing in my fallopian tube. Despite everything he had seen during those ultrasounds, I did not actually have an ectopic pregnancy this time, nor did I miscarry. God protected this sweet little baby and allowed her to grow and be healthy! She was our miracle!

Our miracle baby arrived just eight weeks ago. As I close my eyes I can again feel that first moment when she was finally in my arms and the tears are flowing now just as they did then. I can honestly say that I am thankful for the difficult journey that led to her arrival. I know how to appreciate her in a way I didn’t know before. I know how to savor the moments with both of my children in a way I probably never would have had I not gone through the waiting and the loss. I have connected with people because of my journey. I am a very different person than the me from five or six years ago. I am a better person, a stronger person, because of what I have been though. And not just because of what I have been through, but also because of the way I was able to draw near to God during my journey.  And I am able to rejoice in a miracle, a true miracle from God!

BabyA

 

I suppose the most important thing I have learned during these last few years is that I can’t predict my future. Nor do I want to. If I were to plan out my own life, it would be easy, smooth, and comfortable. But if that were the case, I would never change or grow. God has a way of using the hard and messy times in my life to mold and shape me into something more beautiful. He is directing the steps of my path and He always has a better blessing in store for me than anything that I could plan for myself.

I can’t wait for the day when my girls are old enough for me to share this story with them. I want them to know that our God is great and mighty! I want them to know that he cares for every single one of His children. I want them to know that even though trusting Him is not always easy, it’s always right. I want them to know that God placed them here on this earth and even in our family for a reason. And my prayer is that they will “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way” (Colossians 1:10) and that I will too!

Kristi

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 To read more posts from Kristi, follow her blog, A Better Blessing.

 

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)” by Mike Adkins

I have shared two of the three songs I loved hearing the Hicks sing at a Southern Gospel Jubilee years ago.  The first two were “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “In His Time.”  The third is what I call a fighting song.  I love the words.  Fighting songs keep you going when things look bleak and the results don’t seem very promising.     

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)”

By Mike Adkins

 

Satan would have you look

at the trials of life that surround you,

And he tries to appear, and he brings

doubt and fear all around you.

Don’t look with your eye or listen with your ear.

Just cry out to God; He is always near,

And in your darkest hour, your miracle is here.

 

Oh, the devil is a thief

and he sends these troubles to confound you.

And he lies and he says,

“This time there’s no way you’ll make it through.”

But you remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s.

Don’t give in to fear; Think on things that are pure.

And praise the Lord, you’re miracle is here.

 

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; God is still on His throne.

Oh, don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; Remember you’re not alone.

 

On February 2nd of 2005, we had our first IVF-ICSI attempt.  I woke up feeling like something good was about to happen – our embryo transfer was at 10:45 am.  I was staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and my sweet, five-year old nephew gave me two roses, one a melon color and the other yellow.  How special he (and my sister) made me feel!

The embryologist had called the day before and said we would have a transfer in the morning; one morula was ready, and he thought the 10-cell would be ready so we could transfer two.  The other two embryos had slowed down, but we were hoping they would be able to freeze them if they reached blastocyst by day 6 – the day after transfer.

At the procedure, I saw my embryos on a TV screen.  For some reason, I wrote in my journal that it was neat but not as exciting as I thought it would be.  My doctor mentioned that they were morulas, not blastocysts (optimum maturity) and that probably had to do with the condition of my eggs.  The other two embryos did not continue to develop.  This really discouraged me, and after we were alone, I cried.  I woke up at 4 am the next morning to use the bathroom and cried some more.  I sang to myself the songs I heard the Hicks sing – “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “Don’t Give Up On The Brink Of A Miracle,” as well as Guy Penrod singing “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen.”  I quoted Psalm 113 and my poem of faith, rejoicing, and trust, and then I remembered the words of a friend, “Stay encouraged, stay in His Word, and praise Him.”  God brought to mind our pastor’s most recent sermon from James.  I didn’t want my faith to be like the wind, driven by circumstances.  Faith and tears of doubt don’t go together.  I was encouraged in the Lord.

Yet, eight days later, my results were negative.  It was hard to hear.  My husband’s words were that he was still confident I would get pregnant, so we would just sail on.  We didn’t give up.

The Joy Of Encouragement by David Jeremiah

 What is a wounded soul but one aching for hope?

Redirect a life.

 Unlock the Power of Building Others Up

You wield the power to heal the hurting. 

You hold the words to affirm the doubting.

Several years ago, my husband recommended I listen to a series about encouragement on Dr. David Jeremiah’s radio broadcast.  It was such a blessing to me, that I promptly ordered his book, The Joy Of Encouragement.  Since I recently shared some thoughts on becoming a self- encourager, I want to recommend my main source – this book and its study guide.  Dr. Jeremiah will share how to encourage and how not to encourage anyone you know – your husband, your children, your friends, your fellow church members, and a world that needs to know about the love of Jesus.

You may request a copy of the book by giving a donation in any amount by clicking on this link:  The Joy Of Encouragement by David Jeremiah.  You can also order a study guide through Amazon.com or other places online.  Be sure to find out whether you are ordering the actual book or study guide.  I ordered a book on Amazon thinking I would give it to a friend, but instead it was the study guide, so I kept it for myself!  I recommend this book to anyone who is hurting or to anyone who wants to learn how better to encourage someone who is going through a difficult time.

The Joy of Encouragement is an uplift in itself. 

You’ll find yourself basking in God’s love while giving it away.