Friday, April 24, 2009

Baby Steps toward Surrogacy

Last night was a big step forward. I have a friend, Andrea (same name as me ;)) who had tongue and cheek offered to be a surrogate for us! I later asked her how serious she was about it, and after talking with her man, she told me 100%. YAHOO! The only problem is, we know nothing about the process! I had done a little research and found out the info she has to find out about insurance, and how her significant other needs to agree to abstinence during certain periods of time (this is where he wavered ;) but still agreed).

Then we talked about heavier subjects - what if multiple fetuses take? What if they split? Would we down-select them? (The parts that are so hard to think about, nonetheless discuss) We appear to be on the same page there too! We talked about how our families need to spend more time together. We talked about how our girls (she has two girls, we have one) would feel about her carrying a baby and us taking it home! We talked about what would happen to the unborn baby if Chris and I passed away (or at least that we have to figure it out), which got them thinking about their own life and families. There's so many things to consider! So many things to do!

Lots of time in prayer are getting us through this time! God always seems to bless my steps when I step out in prayer and action. Having a goal is important, but remembering it's His ultimate plan and we have no idea what will happen helps thwart heartache and disappointment along the way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Just finally watched this Hallmark made-for-tv movie about Irena Sendler that aired last Sunday. She helped provide aid and moved more than 2500 children from the Polish Ghetto during WWII. At the end they showed a clip of her in 2005 (she died just last year at 98 years old!) and she was talking about Mother's day. She was asking for everyone to remember the Jewish mothers that had the bravery and courage to let their children go. Any mother would tell you that the decision to let your child go - to live in a world foreign to them, to likely be converted to Christianity and lose their Jewish background, to forget their families and risk never seeing them again - is not a decision most mother's could make. It makes my heart ache to think of having to send my child to the unknown, forcing her to forsake her identity for a new one, never speak her native language again, yet asking her to remember it all so that she can one day pray and hope to be reunited with family or provide help to others. I don't know if I could be so strong. I pray that I could.

In her interview she also asked for everyone to remember the brave Polish families that took in the Jewish children, risking their own lives every hour of the day from being discovered. And then again when the war ended and efforts were made to reunite these children with their Jewish families, the pain and anguish they must have felt to give up those children they loved for so many years.
We remember the past, yet I feel it is important to know that this is not a savage act that humanity will never repeat. It is happening today. China's "one child" policy has created an outrageous situation where babies are being aborted after the ultrasound can determine the gender (they prefer males for many reasons) and selling their children on the black market to avoid exorbanent fees. Also, kidnapping is on the rise as well. There are a shortage of women to marry, so some families are seeking females to raise to be wives to their sons.

Many other parents in Asian nations that see no hope for their children and they fall into traps of selling their children on the black market, thinking they will have a better life. The reality is many of these children are being sold into the sex trade and are forced to commit horrifying acts at a very young age.
In the Sudan of Africa, the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) is a militant rebel group trying to forcibly overthrow many governments in Africa. They rape and pilliage villages, and they steal and enslave the children to train them as guerilla fighters - they even send many back to their villages to kill their own parents! Many villages cannot rest peacefully at night for the threat the LRA poses. Many families send their children to walk, alone, over 5 miles to a city where they can more safely sleep and the children must walk back in the morning. Adults cannot go, as they must stay to protect their home.

I am a mom, and I cannot even imagine the heartache these mothers must endure every day! I do know that the suffering I feel from being unable to have another child is nothing compared to what these mothers of past and present are doing for their own children. There are desparate parents in the world that don't know what to do. They don't know who to trust. I know the heartache I feel is why the Lord has given our family the desire to look into international adoption. I don't know if I would be brave enough to do what Irena did, but I pray that God would use our family to make a difference.

International adoption may not be your calling, but there are practical things you can do. Samaritans Purse and other organizations have programs to which you can provide financial assistance, to help prevent human trafficing and rescue and rehabilitation of children in the sex trade. If you know a missionary or missionary organization, support them. Make sure you do your due dilligence and throroughly check out the organization you wish to support (we are called to be good stewards of what the Lord has provided). And pray that your gift would bless a child and their family.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Importance of community

I dedicate this post to my Friday Ladies! Love you girls, XOXO!

(Eccl 4:9-12) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I am considered by most to be pretty outgoing. I'm a say-what's-on-my-mind kind of person. (Yet still working on that whole running my thoughts through the filter of the Holy Spirit before they come flying out of my mouth thing!) But since I work and live in the world, I still had a lot of friends of the world, and didn't have a large Christian community to which to turn in the troubled times. I did a few women's bible studies, but I wasn't developing strong friendships. Of course, since I am the extrovert, my husband is the introvert, and he would practically run me out of church to the car to be the first out of the parking lot and avoid what he called the "F-word" - FELLOWSHIPPING!

We started to recognize that we did need a community of believers in our lives - to balance the time we spend in the world in our day to day lives. My husband and I made a concious decision to get involved with a small group at our church focused on marriage. We started meeting people, young and old, who could share their experiences and minister to the needs of our marriage. Out of that group, a friend and I started a women's group. This is a real ecclectic group of ladies where we can really get real together. We have experienced marriages thrive and marriages end. We have seen babies be born to ladies in the group and babies be taken from the womb. We have watched careers thrive and careers end in lay-offs. We have seen great health and we have seen extreme physical conditions and pain. We have met each other's moms and dads and had to deal with the problems of aging parents - physical ailments and mental ailments. We have survived natural disasters and are working together to get emergency kits in everyone's homes and cars. Our studies tend to go very slowly...but that's because there is a lot of bearing and sharing happening!

One time when I found out I was pregnant, I sent all the ladies a picture of my postitive home pregnancy test! My friend Sharyn said, "I can't belive I'm looking at your pee on my computer screen!" But we rejoiced together. I knew I was blessed to have a great group of ladies praying with me and for me. But it sure came to it's fullness when I lost that baby. I would email out updates - First happy news - "Ultrasound appointment today! Pray for great news!" to bad news "The technician and the Dr. can't find a heartbeat. Pray for a miracle." to no news. No news because I was too emotionally wrecked to write. Too emotionally wrecked to pray! All I could do was cry for days. They emailed encouragement. They sent cards. Their family members whom some I never met sent cards! They brought food. And they prayed and interceeded on my behalf when I couldn't!

You will still go through the valleys, but the difference is when you have a strong relationship with the Lord, and a supportive community, your stay is much shorter. Within a weeks time, I could praise God again. I thank God for those ladies, because their prayers were answered to bring me through it!

Make sure you aren't alone in your journey. Ecclesiastes talks about two being better than one and gives many practial expamples, but then it ends with the "three-fold cord". Wait, I thought two was better than is that three? Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. When you have a friend who's a believer, Jesus is the third-fold in the cord. And there lies the power to overcome any trial or adversity!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Watch out for those dogs

Paul writes, "Watch out for those dogs, those who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Sprirt of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh..." Paul is writing to the Philippians here (Phil 3:2-3) about letting legalists influence us. Jews commonly referred to Gentiles as "dogs". But here Paul is referring to those who live by rules for rules sake - not for the relationship in the Lord.

I never considered any other way to have a baby other than the "right" way. Intercourse with my husband. Until just recently I've been known to say things like, "At least I have one perfect child. If that's all I ever have, that's okay with me." I would have never considered adoption because for one, I wanted my "own" child, and two, I have seen some adoptions go awry, and I know I couldn't deal with that (or didn't want to deal with it). I never would have considered surrogacy, because I would not want to "play God" with all the embryo decisions.

Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord. That is for sure. But God also puts desires in your heart, and glimpses of what the blessings he has in store for you. I prayed for God to take the desire to have another baby away from me. And there are days I am ambivelent. (I thank the enemy for those days) But there are days when the desire is so strong, I could weap!

What I have learned since I became a Christian is that every blessing has at least two purposes. Every blessing has the purpose to, well bless you. But there is something we usually need to do, accept, challenge or lose along the way. And that is because every blessing also has the purpose to make us more like Christ. Usually, because we are human, we learn more in the painful times than we do in the blessed times. If everything were handed to us, how could God see our growth? How could we see our growth? It has been such a huge blessing to me alone to see how far I have come and changed since I became a believer.

All this to say that your infertility is an issue between you, your spouse and God. No one else. When well-meaning people in your life try to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn't seek a test or treatment to track your reasons for infertility/miscarriage or to become pregnant, you need to remember that it is not up to them. You need to do what you and your spouse together feel is right in the eyes of God in your situation. And God is so good! I think that when I was saying those things, the timing wasn't right for me. But now God is saying, "Pray, seek information and come back to Me so we can chat."

When I suffered my miscarriage at 10 weeks I recieved some great advice from a prayer-warrior friend of mine. She said, "You must have a lot of grace with people, especially Christians. They are going to say some things to you that will sound really stupid. But they don't mean to hurt you. Have a lot of grace with them." This is my advice to you - Seek the Lord continually in your situation, and have a lot of grace with those well meaning "dogs" in your life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Day

Today is the day we celebrate Jesus being risen from the dead. Praise God for our Great resurrector! At church this morning, Nicol Sponberg was a guest singer. She shared her story about a recent baby death. Last Easter she could not sing becuase she was pregnant with her second child. She had a normal birth, and her baby, Luke, was healthy. At 11 weeks old, she put him down to sleep and checked on him an hour and a half later. He was already gone. By this time I was already weeping from her story. But she had the strength to be up there and performing and singing a song about how God can take all the broken pieces of our life and create something beautiful.

I had three miscarriages in the past year. Two were very early, and I had one at 10 weeks of pregnancy. We had already told my daughter and she was very involved tracking the pregnancy every day. We took her out of school for the first ultrasound, and the technician couldn't find a heartbeat. It made no sense because the baby's measurements all measured to be exactly the right age - to the day! We prayed for a miracle! Jesus had brought the little girl back to life. He had raised Lazarus from the dead. He could make that baby's heart start beating! But He didn't. 5 days later I miscarried. This week would have been my 37th week of pregnancy with that baby.

I should have been at Easter service very fat and very uncomfortable! But God is reaffirming in me that he has a plan for me to prosper and a plan to deliver the desires of my heart. What He expects from me is my devotion, and time with Him. God wants our time. He is more than the God of good parking spaces. He is a jealous God and he doesn't need us to only come to Him with petty requests. He wants to weep with me, laugh with me, stand with me when I'm strong and carry me when I'm weak.

I was working so hard at having a baby and a few weeks ago I was reading about Abraham. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac. So many things...Abraham and Sarah were OLD! His seed was to be passed down through Issac! Issac's decendents were to outnumber the stars in the sky! But Abraham was asked to sacrifice him and he obeyed. God did not require him to actually go through with it, but God was able to see Abraham's heart. The angel came and stopped him. God asked the same of me a few weeks ago. He asked me to sacrifice my child. Not my physical child, but the child I was so desprate to have. He made it clear to me that I may or may not have a role in the "creation" of our next child! He has placed a few alternatives in our path - adoption and surrogacy. He wanted to prompt me to pray over these things and help me to recognize how my pride may be getting in the way of His blessings! Ouch! He clearly spoke to me, "I may be creating your child right now, and you don't have anything to do with it." Clomid, temperatures, cervical fluid tracking, ovulation predictor kits and all the rest will not in themselves make a baby. Ultimately it's God that makes the life.

Easter is the holdiay where we can rejoice that we have a Savior, a Great Resurrector and a Lover of our souls! He loves us more than we love our children. More than our earthly parents love us! When the Marys arrived at the tomb on the original Easter, the Angel said, "Do not be afraid!" Becuase Jesus is alive and headed to Galillee just like he had promised! So don't be afraid of anything! God wants to delight us! We are His children. Have hope in Him today that he can heal you, and that he wants to bless you! Everyone's journey is different and He has different blessings for everyone. Be encouraged and set aside time for Him to tell you what he has in store for you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Women will prophesy...

About 5 years ago, not long after the birth of my little girl, the Lord gave me a dream. I am not new to vivid dreams. I have dreams that I can remember since I was very young. This dream I knew was special. Life after the baby was stressful. Not because of the baby, but because of how things changed after the baby. My mother-in-law was living with us because I work full-time and she cared for the baby. Both my husband and I had an hour-long commute each way to work. Also my job was requiring a lot of coast-to-coast travel too. I was missing out on the best part of my life!

I had a dream that involved my kidnapping and the murder of my betrothed. Due to the help of sympathetic servants, I was able to escape from my kidnapper and a spectacular city to a barren land. All I was able to leave with was a small bag that contained a bible and a journal.

Just yesterday, the Lord opened my eyes to the significance of the barren land. It was my barren life! My womb was closed, and I was to be praying, seeking God's word and writing about it. I don't know if it was closed by God (like Hannah) or closed by the enemy and allowed by God (like Job), but God was forwarning me that it had come. At the time I had the dream, we weren't yet seeking another child, so I did not understand the significance.

I had recently decided that I don't want to miss out on any more of the Lord's blessings, and that I need to be in obedience to him. As I recant the past years of infertility and miscarriage and our current journeys of exploration I pray that you are encouraged and find the longing to rely on the Lord for your fulfilllment!