Pondering Infertility, Part 2 Friday, Jan 16 2009 

I realise it has been a long time since my last post (2 months, I think!). So, if there’s anyone still interested, I’m going to continue where I left off before… 🙂

At the present time, I am mostly unaware of my endo. Aside from a few scars on my tummy and the odd friend checking that everything has been fine since the hospital visit, I don’t think about it much. Blake and I still talk about our future family as if it’s a sure thing. Sometimes one of us will throw in the comment, “If we can have kids…”

Blake has been so incredibly supportive through the whole thing. We weren’t even engaged when I was diagnosed, so he had every reason to break up with me. He has always assured me that it didn’t change anything between us. And, most importantly, he has always encouraged me to trust God in this.

Facing the prospect of infertility really drives home that it is God who is in control of my reproductive system, not me. When you’re planning your marriage and your family, it’s easy to talk as if these things will happen because we say they will. I’m reminded of this passage:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

It’s total arrogance to think that we can decide when we will have children and how many we will have when we don’t know what the future holds (to clarify: I don’t think it’s arrogant to discuss these things and make plans. In fact, I think it’s wise to do so! What I’m getting at is expecting that we can say in certainty when these things will happen) . Similarly, it’s foolish to wallow in despair about possibilities of childlessness when it is God who plans out lives before they begin!

However, I think another result of facing possible infertility is that hearing about abortion cuts me more deeply. I have become so much more aware of the preciousness of human life. It hurts me that some are so willing to throw away what I am yearning for, and may not be able to have. Don’t they realise what a miracle it is when a child is created?

Having this condition has most certainly affected the way we plan to enter marriage. We have plans to wait for a few years before trying to have children. However, we are willing to be surprised 🙂 And we think it would be best to start our family by the time I am 25 in order to increase our medical chances of falling pregnant. In the meantime, I hope that this causes us to trust in God more and more as we learn to rest in his sovereignty.

Strength to Love Friday, Oct 24 2008 

God’s been teaching me the importance of relying on him, for everything, in prayer.

I’ve seen this clearly in my relationship with Blake (a tool that God has consistently used to sharpen me!).

Let me admit something to you: it’s not always easy to love Blake. And I’m not just talking about feeling in love with him. I mean loving him in my attitude, actions and words.

Sometimes I get the impression (from resources on marriage) that all engaged couples see each other with rose-coloured glasses and are blind to one another’s flaws. Well, it hasn’t really ever been that way with Blake and I. From the start, Blake has been insistent about the idea that one of God’s purposes for our relationship is to grow each other as Christians (iron sharpens iron). So we’ve never really been all that “lovey-dovey”.

(Okay, maybe sometimes.

Love you more times infinity plus one…)

Since engagement, I’ve realised a few things about love: it’s not loving to grit my teeth and say the right things while harbouring bitterness, it’s not loving to put on a “mood” just because I’ve been hurt and my hurt feelings/self-esteem are not the best judge of whether an issue is worth raising.

Thus it has become a lot harder to love Blake sometimes.

But God is faithful and always waiting to give his grace and strength to those who need it.

That’s me! I need it!

There have been so many times lately when I’ve run to God in desperation asking for more patience, more kindness, more tenderness of heart; asking him to flush the sin out of my heart with his cleansing water once more; begging him to give me another chance to do the right thing; asking him for forgiveness.

As I look forward to a lifetime with Blake, it’s such a relief to know that God will always be there. Indeed, that my relationship with him is above all others. It gives me the strength to love Blake knowing that I am loved perfectly by my father in heaven.

Great is Your faithfulness! Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

Blake asked me to marry him last night.

I’ve been looking forward to the time when I could do this post on my blog. Not so I can tell you all how excited I am (although I most certainly am!) but because now I get to share with you some of the ways God has been incredibly faithful to Blake and I on this whole journey.

From the start of our relationship, Blake has always been the committed one and a lot of the time it felt like his feelings for me were stronger than mine were for him. Over the December/January period my feelings changed a lot. I started to become a lot more attached to him. At about the same time, lots of people I knew were getting engaged or married and it made me long for that too (in an unhealthy way). In fact, I would say I was jealous of those people.

Blake and I had marriage as our goal, but we hadn’t talked about time frames and I was desperate for that security.

So I found ways to bring it up and eventually we did talk about it openly.

But it didn’t go well. We both ended up with hurt feelings: I felt like Blake didn’t want to be with me and Blake felt pressured by my demands that he work out a time frame for marriage. We agreed not to discuss it anymore, at least for a while.

I turned to God in prayer, asking for patience for myself, for guidance and wisdom for Blake and that I would be able to trust God’s leading through Blake. Blake was also praying that he would know when would be a good time for us to get married.

I settled down. I was still praying about it, but it was becoming easier to trust God.

A few months ago, on a walk, Blake told me that he was thinking that mid-2009 would be a good time for us to get married and that’s what he would like to work towards.

Needless to say I was overjoyed and extremely thankful to God for answering both of our prayers for help. In reflection, I think it is an example of what’s described in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

What can I do but praise him?

And that’s only the first part of what I wanted to tell you…

Once we knew the time frame for marriage that we were planning for, a problem arose as to where I would live for the first half of 09. I currently live in a place called Flo Harris Lodge, run by my church, Petersham Baptist Church. They generally don’t like people to stay for only 6 months because it’s so hard to find replacements mid-year. So that was only going to be a last resort. I wanted to move out, but I also didn’t think it would be fair to move out with a bunch of people from Flo at the end of the year, because they would also have the difficulty of finding a replacement for me 6 months in.

I was talking to my Mum about it last time I was home and she had a few suggestions. The first was that I live with my cousins in the Western Suburbs and commute to uni. But I didn’t like that idea because it would mean seeing Blake a lot less and probably leaving my church. Her other idea was to live with a young family from church and pay board. That idea seemed okay, but I’d never really considered it.

The other idea I had was to find an already established share house in the church that would have a vacancy next year.

While I was thinking and praying over this issue, I thought that I probably wouldn’t go about seeking options seriously until we were engaged, or it might seem a bit weird to be talking definitely about wedding plans.

However, I started to get a little anxious. The share houses I had my eyes on seemed to already have filled their vacancies or would be dissolving at the start of 09. I kept praying that God would provide a place for me to live next year and that he would help me to trust him.

I was liking the sound of living with a family more and more. I would be able to learn lots about how families (other than my own) function and I would be able to cook and clean and mind kids (all things I love to do!). But I was still keen not to formally start looking until it was official.

A couple of weeks ago Fiona (the book-keeper for Flo and a young mother from church) called me into the office and asked if I had found somewhere to live next year (I had asked her months before about whether I would get my bond back if I stayed at Flo for only 6 months). I said I hadn’t yet, but I was thinking of living with a young family from church.

She said, “Oh, that’s really strange. We’re going to be looking for someone next year and I was just going to ask you.”

So after a few more logistical conversations, it was decided that I will be living with Fiona and her family next year.

And all this before I’m even engaged!

To me it was an amazing example of how God had it all under control to begin with. And how he leads us to pray for certain things so that he is all the more glorified when he brings them into being.
As we plan for the marriage ahead of us I am hopeful that I will see (and share!) many more examples of God’s amazing faithfulness.

Standing up for Jesus Friday, Aug 1 2008 

…can be tough, especially at uni.

I think something I struggle with is having humility and grace in my conversations with non-Christians (in or out of class).

But I’ve realised that I need to be daily spending time with God, reading the Bible and praying, if I’m going to be humble and gracious. Without that continued relationship with God, everything I say becomes dry and intellectual (or hypocritical and arrogant).

I want those around me to see the effect that a relationship with the Living God has on my life.

Hope Wednesday, Jul 30 2008 

Sin is a constant struggle; a plague on this life.

It ruins so much, and spoils innocent things.

Recently I’ve been so comforted in the knowledge that not only will it all come to an end one day, but that God is working in me now to remove my sinfulness and make me more like Christ.

It’s great to have hope that I am being renewed each day, that the sin is being drained out of my heart so I can enjoy God more fully.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Makes Me Smile Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

Due to the fact I’m on holidays, I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading. Glancing over my bookshelf, pulling out the unread material, I remember a funny conversation that occurred awhile ago with Blake.

Mum bought me a book this past Christmas called “500 Time-Saving Hints for Every Woman”.

Blake picked it up from my shelf one day and, after scanning the blurb, asked, “Why is it just for women?”.

I encouraged him to flick through and take a look.

He opened a page and read aloud:

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Wrapping Paper.

Don’t: use ribbon and paper with clashing colours.

Do: try to mix things up a little – try using polkadots with stripes.”

Upon reading this excerpt, he looked over at me, and said, “Oh, I see now”, and put the book back on my shelf.

We both laughed hysterically.

Now I can’t look at that book without chuckling to myself.

No close-ups please! Friday, Apr 11 2008 

The other day I became shockingly aware of how critical I am when it comes to photos of myself.

My boyfriend is quite the photographer and, after a recent camping trip, he had distributed a few copies of photo dvd’s to some of those who went along. Looking over the pictures with a friend, I was embarrassed to see how many of the pictures were of me.

“Oh no,” I thought. “Everyone is going to be looking at these…”

Honestly, I don’t really like having my photo taken, and when I must, I dismiss most of the results as “hideous”.

“No, that one’s awful.”

“No.”

“No.”

“Oh, delete that one.”

“Do I really look like that?”

Those are the things you’re likely to hear me say as I sort through pictures people have taken of me.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I think you’ll here most young women pick through images of themselves in this way.

But really, I’m not normally a vain person – I don’t really wear make-up, I take a reasonable time to get ready and, most days, my hair and I aren’t even on speaking terms…

So why do I care so much about photos?

I think it has a little to do with the fact that a photo is forever. If I look terrible, that moment is there, frozen in time, for everyone to see over and over again.

But I think the real reason is deeper than that.

I think it’s about our culture’s perception of beauty.

I think that, from a very young age, women have a set image of what is beautiful heavily impressed upon them.

When we sort through our photos, we’re not making sure they’re “okay”, we’re making sure they fit the description of beauty that our society holds to.

It’s really hard to escape something that is slowly and steadily drilled into your brain, like this idea of beauty.

How do you get rid of that?

I think there’s two important things to think about…

1. God made us the way we are, and he NEVER does dodgy work.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

We have no reason to be so picky with the way we look in photos.

Instead of sorting through photos on the basis of what our culture says is beautiful, let’s keep the ones that look like US…

And…

2. Eternity, and where we will be spending it, matters more than looks.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This ol’ bag of flesh and bones isn’t made to last forever.

Let’s concentrate on the more important things.

What would it mean for you to fix your eyes on what is “unseen” each day?

Jesus is Lord Monday, Apr 7 2008 

This is a concept I’ve been coming to grips with lately.

It’s one of those Christian catch phrases that has easily fallen from my lips many times without facing much scrutiny.

Why am I only coming to fully understand what this means now?

Well, it’s taken me long enough to fully realise what it means to call Jesus my Saviour.

When I was baptised at the end of February this year, I told how 2007 was a year in which God convicted me of my sinful behaviour and nature. I came to see that I could not save myself.

In this way, calling Jesus my Saviour is an admission of my own inadequacy to deal with my sins and position before God.

So how is this different from calling him Lord? And why is it important that he is both?

Giving Jesus the role of Lord over my life means that I can’t just do things my own way anymore.

I can’t disobey God and continually come back seeking forgiveness (well, I can….but that’s not letting Jesus be Lord). Calling him Lord means submitting my will to his. It means choosing to do what I know pleases God, not myself. It means saying “no” to the things I know are wrong.

On one level, this is a lot harder than calling Jesus Saviour. When he is Saviour, I can admit I’m inadequate, and stop there. But when he’s Lord, I actually have to live the way he says.

And on another level, it is so liberating.

I don’t have to be destroyed by the weight of every moral choice – I can choose to do God’s will. I must choose to do God’s will.

This doesn’t negate the fact that I still make choices, in fact, it makes my choices all the more important.

Christ’s Lordship means that I’m not just living for little old me anymore. It means that my desires are not primarily what matters.

I find it so freeing, when faced with a tough choice, to be able to defer to God’s will.

Even so, this is still something I haven’t got down pat. It’s a daily struggle to submit myself to God’s will and Christ’s Lordship. But it’s a joy when I do.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.

1 Peter 3:15a

46 Questions Tuesday, Feb 5 2008 

Nicole has tagged me to answer these questions on my blog. 

I’ve never been “tagged” before, so this is a new blogging experience for me. It does sound fun!

1. Were you named after anyone? Yes, Jessica from ‘The Man From Snowy River”.
2. When was the last time you cried? Last night…
3. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, when I make an effort.
4. What is your favourite lunch meat? Ham
5. Do you have kids? No
6. If you were another person would you be friends with you? I’d like to say yes, but I think I would annoy me too much 🙂
7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Not really, when I do no one seems to laugh.
8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes
9. Would you bungee jump? No, I value my spinal cord, thank you!
10. What is your favourite cereal? Crispix – original
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes…thanks to my shoe connoisseur father!

12. Do you think you are strong? For a girl…
13. What is your favourite icecream? Mint choc-chip
14. What is the first thing you notice about people? The way they hold their hands.
15. Red or pink? Red.
16. What is the thing that you like least about yourself? How I so easily slip into selfishness.
17. Who do you miss the most? My Mum….she’s not dead, she just lives 6 hours away.
19. What colour pants and shoes are you wearing? Khaki green shorts and no shoes.
20. Have you ever re-gifted? Possibly.
21. What are you listening to right now? Airplanes and my fan.
22. If you were a crayon what colour would you be? Orange
23. Favourite smells? Old books and cinnamon toast.
24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My boyfriend, Blake.
25. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes.
26. Favourite sports to watch? Nothing really, but if you strapped me to a chair and made me, figure skating.
27. Hair colour? Blonde
28. Eye colour? Blue
29. Do you wear contacts? Nope
30. Favourite food? Meatlovers pizza with BBQ sauce
31. Scary movies or happy endings? Scary movies – but no gore!
32. Last movie you watched? The Number 23
33. What colour shirt are you wearing? Brown
34. Summer or winter? Winter – it’s so cosy!
35. Hugs or kisses? Hugs
36. Favourite dessert? Apple crumble
39. What book are you reading now? 8 Choices That Will Change a Woman’s Life
40. What is on your mousepad? Um, I don’t have one…
41. What did you watch on tv last night? Home and Away…(hiding my face in shame now) Just so you know, it’s not a regular thing.
42. Favourite sound? Leaves crunching under my feet.
43. Rolling stones or Beatles? Beatles
44. What is the furthest you have been from home? Vanuatu.
45. Do you have a special talent? I don’t think so….although, I do manage to carry on conversations in my sleep with people who are awake.
46. Where born? Blacktown, NSW

I now pass on the questions to Joh.

Self-centred? Me? Saturday, Feb 2 2008 

Have you ever had one of those moments of bitter revelation, where you’re talking or thinking about a person who really annoys you and you realise… you are that person?

Well, I had one of those moments the other day.

I was reading an article where the author complained of girls who seem to turn every conversation into something about them. You’ll be describing the activties of your weekend, when she pipes up that “the same thing happened to me…“. And then you’re hearing all about her weekend.

Really annoying, right? I mean, we all know people who do that… the sort of people we try to avoid talking to because you know it’s never just a “short chat”.

I am that girl.

I realised that I have a (bad) habit of turning every conversation back to myself.

It even seems natural. I don’t think my motives are particularly bad or selfish, but sometimes when people speak, my own experiences immediately spring to mind, dying to get out.

But you know what? It really is selfish.

What it means, even if I don’t acknowledge it, is that I think what I have to say is more important than what someone else is saying. I think it’s more important for them to listen to me than for me to listen to them.

A while ago, I used to be really into online forums. I used to frequent a few and post regularly. I was genuinely interested in the issues coming forth and interacting with the other people.

I remember a conversation I had with a good friend. She said she really liked them too, but she was realising that her opinion is not always the best one and sometimes it was better to just let others cover things.

That thought was quite revolutionary for me. But it had an effect. I started thinking more carefully about how I would respond to things, if at all. I began to see that there were actually a lot of people more wise than me out there. I began to post a lot less as I discovered how little I actually knew.

Similarly, I’m beginning to see now that people seem to cope just fine without my anecdote-filled conversations, and it’s actually much more interesting to ask other people questions about themselves.

In his letter, James says:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

(James 1:19)

So, I’m thinking that’s good advice, and from now on, I’m trying to do a bit less talking and a bit more listening.

And when I do talk, it should be stuff that’s going to draw attention to God, not me.

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