Monday, November 26, 2012

Our months in the waiting: Baby Number 2

I have a blessing to share. I am currently 7.5 weeks pregnant with our second child. We are so excited to, Lord willing, hold a new little one sometime around July 10, 2013. I felt the need to write a blog post about it rather than just announcing it on facebook because I know that my news may cause pain to some friends or family who want so desperately to have news of their own to share.

God gave us this child, but it was not without walking through our own painful waiting period first. With Isaac, it took 4 months to get pregnant. I remember how long that felt, and the fear that it would never happen. But this time four months came and went, and we continued to wait. I had heard that it is often easier to get pregnant the second time, so I was hopeful that it would only take a couple of months and we would be set for a spring baby (what I really wanted!). But the months came and went. 6 months was a particularly difficult marker for me. I never, ever thought it would take me more than 6 months to conceive again.

Praise God, in our seven month of trying, He blessed us with a baby. When I saw the test, I cried for a good half hour or so. Honestly, I wept. I felt so much relief and joy that my body was completely unable to process it.

There are a couple things I learned during my process that I hope might be an encouragement to other women experiencing this or those walking alongside of these women:

1.     Anyone who has ever struggled to conceive will tell you that it’s the process that is the worst. That monthly cycle of trying and disappointment and crazy hormones. One thing that I felt God distinctly telling me as I waited was that it wasn’t patience if I wasn’t hoping for a child. So many months I wanted to just not hope, because if I wasn’t hoping, it wouldn’t be so painful when I didn’t get it. That was wrong: its not patience just to not hope for the gift deferred. If I lost hope, I would just gain a hard heart.

2.     This piece of encouragement came from a dear friend: there are no stories in the bible of women who were infertile who didn’t eventually end up mothers. God hears our hearts.

3.     If you have someone in your life that is struggling to get pregnant, please do not tell them, “it will happen soon.” This is all too common of a response. If you have been trying for some time and not gotten pregnant, you know that it is beyond our human abilities to cause it to happen. So to tell someone it will happen soon is saying you know the will of God. A better response is, “I will pray that God blesses you with a child soon.” (If anyone has a better response idea, feel free to share it in the comments.)
4.     Waiting is painful. I have a dear friend who has been waiting for a husband for many years. I used to just say to her, “you’re young; you have time. Don’t worry about it so much.” That was wrong. Her waiting is painful, no matter how young, no matter how short, her waiting was difficult. I know I only waited 7 months for something I longed for, but I have so many friends who have waited for longer and shorter periods of time for things they hoped for: husbands, babies, a move back to family, whatever. Don’t discount the pain of waiting.

5.     Nothing we do as humans can cause us to get pregnant one month or not get pregnant another. God holds life in his hands. Only when he creates life within us do we receive the blessing of pregnancy. Even if you do everything right or everything wrong according to the books, God bestows life. This concept was so frustrating to me. I wanted to be able to make it happen: me, me, me! I couldn’t. God did. Praise Him.

I feel God’s blessing and gift in this pregnancy so much more than I did with Isaac because I know that I was a passive participant. He created this life; it ultimately belongs to God, not Wes and I. Praise Him for his goodness and everlasting love.

And to anyone reading this who is in the waiting phase: I am praying for you. During my time of joy, I will not forget the hurting. And God has not forgotten you. Dear Lord, satisfy their hearts in you, and open their bodies to the children they long for. In Jesus’ powerful life-giving Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 reasons I can’t live without Women’s Bible Study

Let me state first that this isn’t about doing personal devotions. This is specifically about attending a weekly meeting that focuses on learning from the Bible. So here are my three reasons I can’t live without Women’s Bible Study:
  1.  I am a sinner: This is always where it all starts, isn’t it? That’s because sin is the root of the problem. Personal Bible study is our ultimate weapon against sin. Here lies my problem. When the Bible isn’t keeping me from sin, sin keeps me from the Bible. You know that renewed passion you have for God, his Word, the Gospel, and making much of Christ that you feel after attending a God-exalting Sunday worship service? For me, it seems like around mid-week that starts to fizzle a bit, and my personal devotion time gets shorter and less meaningful. Enter Bible study. It just so happens to fall on Wednesday for me, and the time spent in corporate study of God’s word is such a refresher. It refocuses my soul on the pleasures and wonder of our God and Savior. I’m sure some of you don’t have this problem, but I’m just admitting that I do. And I am also telling the other women out there who have the same issue that there is a solution: get refueled mid-week through Women’s Bible Study.
  2. I am a woman: I am not going to say that you can’t get great benefits through a couples’ Bible study. I’m just going to say that no one else gets your struggles like a group of women. When I enter Women’s Bible Study at Bethlehem, I feel safe. Safe to confess my sins, share my struggles, and be real. My favorite part about the Bible study that I attend is that it covers a range of ages and life experiences. We have young women who are finishing high school, women who are in or have just completed college, young mothers, seasoned mothers, and plenty of wise, Titus 2 kind of women. I happen to fall into that young mother category, and it is so refreshing to have wisdom of women who have been there and made it through to the other side! I also love listening to the younger women talk about their struggles. It is encouraging to see their reliance upon God and such a great reminder to me that a world exists beyond my home and my child. It is always a temptation to surround myself with women who are exactly like me: young, moms, stay-at-home, Christians-all-their-lives, kinds of women. I buy into the lie that only women like me can get what I am going through. Bethlehem Women’s Bible study has taught me that it is exactly the opposite. When every woman has the same struggle, they lack the wisdom and energy to encourage each other. Instead with great diversity in experience, we have great strength. I have received perspective and encouragements that I never imagined.
  3. I am a mother: This is my current soapbox, so if I have already beaten you over the head with this, I apologize. If you aren’t a mom, I’m sorry if this doesn’t apply to you, but I encourage you to think about what your own reasons might be. I can think of a few women in my Bible study that I would love to see write up their own three reasons they can’t live without Bible study (hint, hint)! Here comes one of my biggest frustrations…there is a lie going around the church these days (even at Bethlehem). It says that young moms don’t have time for Bible study, and that’s ok. I know I only have one child, and some of you with three, four, or five might roll your eyes at this, but I am just going to say that it’s a lie. There is always time for Bible Study. Pastor John puts it this way, “No Bible, no breakfast.” Through much of my adult life I took that literally and did my Bible study while eating my breakfast. As a mom, that’s not possible for me anymore because I eat with my child, but the essential point remains the same: make Bible study your FIRST priority. That means that the first moment I have free from Isaac, I do my Bible study. Sometimes it happens right when he wakes up, if he is in the mood to play alone for a while. Sometimes it doesn’t happen until he takes a nap, but it should always be the first thing I do. Yes, moms, are lives are very busy. We are always behind, but even if it means the dishes don’t get finished until all the kids are in bed, we do our Bible study. Even if it means taking it with us to the park, we do our Bible study. Even if it means waking up a half hour before our kids, we do our Bible study.

Why is it so essential? Because nothing else you do in the day will making you a better mom than having your heart transformed by God’s word. No parenting books, moms groups, early childhood education classes, or creative crafts will be more beneficial for you or your children in the long run. When raising children is a battle, I must not neglect to pick up my sword.

Yes, as moms we are so busy. It just makes joining a Women’s Bible Study group all the more essential. If I am not involved in a formal Bible study, my whirlwind life will keep me too busy to open God’s word. Get in a Bible study, and get yourself some accountability and guidance through God’s word, my fellow moms!

Fall is upon us. Women’s Bible studies are open for enrollment. I can’t live without one, and I bet if you join one, you’ll find that you can’t either.