Infertility Awareness and Three Tips to Support Others

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 19-25, with a theme of “You Are Not Alone.” This is a very appropriate theme given the fact that 1 in 8 couples experiences this painful phenomenon. Resolve, the National Infertility Association (started in 1974), had their first annual awareness week in 1989.

So, why have I not heard of this awareness week until just this year? Perhaps it is because I have a growing sensitivity to infertility due to opening up publicly about my own journey, and now want to help raise awareness.

I began sharing about our experiences right here on my blog around January 2014. A few short months later, on Mother’s Day, my husband and I announced that we were planning to adopt. The very next week, we found out that we could not naturally conceive…

I love how God placed the desire for adoption on our hearts before we knew we could not conceive. But, everyone who has experienced infertility has a different story. Some couples grieve significantly over not being able to conceive naturally or have biological children. Some couples decide to go forward with infertility treatment (everything from oral medication to in-vitro fertilization). Some couples decide to adopt, while others do not feel called to that.

Regardless of these variances, there are many ways you can support people who experience infertility. If you think you don’t know anyone who has or is experiencing this, you are mistaken. Not every couple chooses to share their story. Trust me, it is very difficult. As a woman, it is easy to feel something is “wrong” with me (other than the physical issues that have led to the infertility). We hear that children are a blessing from God, and may question what we have done that led to God not blessing us in this way. But, this is not healthy or rational thinking!

We may never know why some couples who long for a child are not able to conceive, but we do know that God is still good. He is still faithful. He can still bless us, and use us to bless others. Infertility can be a thorn in the flesh, but we know that suffering leads to hope, and hope never disappoints (Romans 5:3-5).

So, what do you need to know in order to support your friends who are dealing with infertility? Here are a few tips:

1) We are all different. Our reactions are all different. Some couples who experience infertility are emotionally impacted when a friend announces a pregnancy or when attending a baby shower. Some don’t enjoy attending children’s birthday parties or working in the church nursery. I personally rejoice over all of this, but we are all different. Be sensitive to your friends who are walking down this difficult path. Be understanding when someone has a difficult time celebrating your pregnancy or attending your baby shower or child’s birthday party. (And, I also encourage those who are experiencing infertility to try and find the joy in those precious moments, and to rejoice with those who rejoice!)

2) Be cautious with your questions. I have been asked all sorts of questions. Examples include: Are you going to have children?, When are you going to have children?, Have you considered adoption?, Are you trying to have children?, Are you doing anything to prevent pregnancy?, What about IVF? I am sure some of these questions are based simply on curiosity, while others are pretty personal. It is always surprising to me when someone asks questions that are actually related to my intimate life. To be quite frank, none of this is anyone’s business. It is very likely that if you are close enough with someone, they will share some of this with you. But, please be cautious with your questions and allow your friends to share with you what they want to share in their own time.

3) Don’t make assumptions. You may think you know someone’s story. You may think you know why someone doesn’t have any children. The fact is you may not know the whole story. I have had a number of friends who experienced secondary infertility. Since they already had one child, people would frequently question when they would have more children not knowing that they had either experienced miscarriages or that they were unable to conceive again. Infertility is not just experienced by childless couples.

God has a different plan for every couple. During this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week, please help raise awareness. Recognize that we are all different, be cautious with your questions, and don’t make assumptions. Instead, show God’s love, pray for your friends, and be there to support them.

Due to the high cost of adoption, we are fundraising for this great cause. Would you consider making a donation? If so, please go to https://www.purecharity.com/shaler-adoption to make a tax-deductible donation. Thank-you!

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How are you really doing today?

How are you doing today? No, I mean, how are you really? Are you concerned about work or home life? Stressed out over the number of items on your to-do list? Unsure of yourself? Well, I want to share with you about why none of this defines you.

Of course, whatever God has called you to, you should put your best effort into. He has a plan for you (see Jeremiah 29:11) and wants you to be successful both now and in the future. But, the fact is that your worth is not defined by how successful you are by the world’s standards. Instead, it is solely found in Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 139:14, which reads, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This verse doesn’t have any caveats. It doesn’t say, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I can be the top earner at my company.” It doesn’t say, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I am the best mom and wife ever.” It doesn’t say, I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I am perfect.” No, the Bible certainly does not say that.

You see, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and that makes you worthy. That alone makes you worthy. Listen, God wouldn’t have made you in the image of His own son if you weren’t. He would not have sent His only son to die for you if you weren’t. He wouldn’t want you to spend eternity with Him if you weren’t.

So, the next time you mess up, the next time you don’t live up to your own expectations, the next time you are up to your eyeballs in stress, instead of thinking and talking negatively about yourself, remind yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Period.

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Cheapening the Cross

There is no other time like Easter that leads us to focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people are fascinated by this, regardless of whether or not they are Christian or regular church attenders. In fact, Easter is a holiday that leads many of those individuals to church. That’s a great thing! The question is: What message will they hear?

Will they hear the truth of the Gospel? How Jesus lived? How he loved? What he expected from His followers? Will they hear about His radical grace, along with His radical expectations of His followers? Commands like:

“Take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24)

“Go and sin no more” (John 8:11)

“If your right eye offends you, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29)

Jesus said lots more…about loving one another (after all, loving God and loving others are the greatest commands), about forgiveness, about marriage.

Will they hear anything about any of this? About the reason Jesus died on the cross? Or will they hear a cheapening of the cross.

Anytime we make Jesus out to be someone who would promote the idea that “anything goes,” we cheapen the cross.

Anytime we make Jesus out to be someone who would engage in sin or support others in their sin, we cheapen the cross.

Anytime we make Jesus out to be someone who would not speak out against sin, we cheapen the cross.

Yes, we cheapen the cross when we don’t speak the entire truth about who Christ is. Why he died. Why he arose! People need to know the truth. The truth is that God so loved the world that He sent His only son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). What’s so amazing about this is it’s all-inclusive!

Yet, we can’t forget what being a follower of Christ looks like. Yes, we all sin and fall short (Romans 3:23), but we are still called by Jesus to deny ourselves. If we are true believers, we cannot continue to sin. We cannot twist the Bible into what we want it to say or mean. We cannot cheapen the cross.

How dare I cheapen the cross My Lord died on.
The heavy cross He carried before hanging on.
The cross stained with His sweat and blood.
The cross from which He forgave.
The cross from which He cried out.
The cross on which He died.
For me.

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