Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Coming Clean: Infertility

Recently, the following announcement appeared on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages:


Many of my friends on social media know what this announcement means and what it pertains to, but many do not. I thought it would be appropriate to revive my old blog to come clean about what Jared and I have been enduring for the past three-and-a-half years in relative silence: infertility.

The word "infertility" may come as a surprise to many of you. Honestly, infertility came as a surprise to us as well. We wanted to start expanding our family in December 2014. It took about six months of no baby for me to realize that Jared and I were experiencing one of my worst nightmares. I have always been one of those little girls who wanted to be a mother. All of my toys growing up lived in family groups. I dreamed of baby names often, doodling those dreams in my diaries. I sang and cradled my baby dolls as if they had come from my own womb. So to become a member of the "one in eight couples who experience infertility" statistic was not just hard. It destroyed me from the inside out (read this previous blog post to understand what I mean by "destroyed"). It devastated my faith and made me question for almost two years whether I actually believed in a good God or not.

In the wake of this tragedy, Jared and I decided that we did not want to live our journey publicly on social media. Infertility is actually the reason why my blog fell to the wayside: the joy had been sucked out of my life, and I had no desire to talk about any of it. Also, Jared and I fell into silence because we were ashamed of our glaring brokenness. More recently though, our fertility journey has been more about preserving our privacy. As a childless couple our ages, Jared and I are quite conspicuous in everyday life. We enjoy just being the Megan and Jared you know and love on social media, rather than being defined by our current lack of children. With that being said, you will not see updates from us on social media regarding our personal fertility journey until that glorious day when we can announce our first child's arrival (and we believe that day is coming soon!). However, if you have questions for us about our journey or would like updates, please feel free to ask! We will never turn away an honest question.

Even though there are no children yet, Jared, Henry and I are a family!
But as I said, after the recent announcement on my social media pages, I wanted to share with you all the victory that has taken place in our lives. And while we have not yet experienced that final, tangible victory over infertility in the form of a first baby, we have experienced victory of another kind.

For me personally, this victory started manifesting in May 2017. My faith in a good God had been restored (someday, I would like to share the full story!). Jared and I were living in Jacksonville, Florida, during his residency and I was happily involved in Women's Ministry at our church. I also led a small group of preteen girls who filled my heart (and still do) with immeasurable joy. Even though God had given me these opportunities to use my maternal instincts in healthy, positive ways, I was looking for more. One day, I stumbled across a group called Moms in the Making on Facebook. Here was exactly what I needed: a group of faith-filled women who understood my fertility journey, with all its grief and joy. Here was a group of women who cared more about following God and seeking Jesus during this season than comparing test results or commiserating with one another.

One of my biggest blessings from Moms in the Making has been my prayer partner and sister in Christ, Katie!

At last, I could fully be myself. I did not have to hide my questions regarding what God wanted me to learn during infertility. I did not have to pretend to be okay on my sad days. I could relish in a true community. I joined Moms in the Making and have been an active member of it ever since. The founder, Caroline Harries, is one of my biggest heroes. Around this time, God started speaking to me about leading an infertility support group. I had been praying and talking to the Lord about infertility, telling Him that this journey would not be over until He (1) redeemed my suffering by allowing me to minister to others enduring infertility and (2) gave me a baby. I just had no idea how God would answer that prayer.

Earlier this year, when applications opened to lead a support group through Moms in the Making, I reluctantly turned in an interest form. I did not feel qualified to lead anybody, because I have gone through infertility very imperfectly. Still, I felt this calling on my life. You see, infertility opened my eyes to the silent suffering that so many of us endure and overlook in others as we focus on our own problems. I am no stranger to hiding in corners and weeping, and suddenly I saw others doing the same everywhere I turned. I could no longer shut out the suffering around me, and I did not want to. I wanted to do something about it and give people hope through the One who already paid for their victory and healing, Jesus Christ!

So here we are today, the official announcement of my support group. I went through the interview process and bared my soul. I did not lie and try to make myself sound like the perfect support group leader. Instead, I revealed the heart that God has given me for women enduring infertility. This group is the first part of my victory, one of the ways in which God has avenged me against the schemes of the devil. And I want you to know, even though my face is on the announcement, this victory belongs just as much to Jared. He has exhibited incredible courage in allowing me to share our story. He has given me his blessing for this support group and done so much already to make it happen.

Celebrating seven years of marriage with the love of my life. How am I so blessed???
Jared and I believe our total victory is coming soon. And even when our suffering is fully redeemed and we are holding our children (because we believe God has more than one in store for us!), we intend to continue on in this fertility ministry.

If you are a woman who is suffering and feeling hopeless during infertility, please know you are not alone. There is a group of women waiting to lift you up. I encourage you to check out the Moms in the Making Web site. Join us also on Facebook! If you are in the San Marcos, Texas, area and would like to attend my support group, please email me at meganwalker(at)momsinthemakinggroup.com.

Infertility is not the end. Jesus paid it all!




Friday, May 5, 2017

Chapter Two: Life After Medical Training


Jared, Henry and I would like to announce the location of our Chapter Two: Life After Medical Training...Texas! We will be moving back to Texas the last week of June. Jared will be working in a hospital in Seguin, Texas, near San Antonio, and we will be living about 30 minutes away in San Marcos. Announcing this move officially is beyond surreal. After 11 (yes 11!) years of schooling and training, it feels surreal that our family will finally live with no deadlines looming over our heads.

It has taken me awhile to settle upon some words that will adequately describe how Jared and I are feeling at the end of our training journey. The one sentence that sums it up is, we did it! And yes, we did do it. Together we tackled benchmark tests, long periods of time apart and tight finances to reach this point. We sacrificed more than I care to write about in order to reach this dream, all so my incredibly compassionate, intelligent and gifted husband can heal others in the time of their greatest need. One of the thoughts that has given me the greatest comfort during Chapter One: Medical Training is knowing that whenever Jared leaves me, he is going to the aide of someone else who needs him more at that time.

I think a sentence that sums up this journey better than we did it! is WE did it! And by WE, I mean the countless people who have come alongside us during this journey in support of the dream.  WE includes our families who sacrificed so we could even get started on this journey, who have loved us from afar and always made sure we had everything we needed. WE includes the friends here in Jacksonville who included us in their holiday celebrations when we had no where else to go and who helped us during our times of need. WE includes the other resident families who checked on us and understood when we wanted to give up, but served as a reminder of the ultimate goal. If nothing else, medical training teaches you to have a long-term perspective on your life!

But the most important WE in this equation is none other than God Himself. Looking back now, I see the hand of God guiding us along the path and making a way when there was none. One of my favorite stories of God's provision during Chapter One is when Jared needed to find away rotations before he started applying for emergency medicine residency programs. Jared applied just like he should have, and then we waited for invitations to arrive. One week, two weeks, three weeks and nothing! Jared started to get worried and wondered if he would have to change specialities or give up altogether. 

But I had this great feeling of peace in my heart that no, emergency medicine was Jared's calling and God would provide. Sure enough, not long after, Jared got two invitations for away rotations. We were also able to find good friends and family to house Jared during those weeks away, which was a tremendous blessing for us poor medical school folk. Not only did God open the door, but He provided a way. And that is just ONE example during Chapter One of God's provision.

Chapter Two still feels far away even though it is so near. More than anything, I am excited for the TIME Jared and I will have together. We have spent at least half, if not more, of our marriage apart, so having this time now with him feels like I won the lottery many, many times over. When I think of leaving Jacksonville though, my heart hurts. So many of the people in our WE are here, these people who have loved us like their own families. God made a way for us in Jacksonville, and I know He will again in Texas.

Here's to Chapter Two: Life After Medical Training!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Trusting God in the Midst of Trials, Part Two

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Recently I have been giving a dose of practical spirituality to the often difficult task of trusting God in the midst of trials. In Part One, I laid the foundation of what you must believe about God in order to trust Him. Now in Part Two, we will discuss the practical action you can take in order to grow your trust in God: thankfulness, otherwise known in the Bible as thanksgiving or gratitude.

About a year ago, I did Priscilla Shirer's study "The Armor of God". This study forever changed my perspective on broad Biblical topics like spiritual warfare, prayer and thankfulness. My discussion today uses and expands upon what I learned from Priscilla's work. In "The Armor of God", Priscilla teaches that thankfulness to God encourages trust and ultimately activates His peace. Today, I am going to focus on the trust part of the cycle.

Two Types of Thankfulness

Did you know there are two types of thankfulness in the Bible?

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Psalm 107:8-9 encompasses them both:

"(8) Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, (9) for He satisfied the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV).

I'm going to flip the verses and talk about the first type of thankfulness with verse 9, Thankfulness for Blessings. As the name suggests, this type basically lists the blessings we have been given by God and thanks Him for them. While this process is extremely important, it does not tend to activate trust in God. Why? Because in our minds, I think we can disassociate God from blessings and attribute them to circumstances or our own hard work.

The key to activating trust in God with gratitude is to thank God for doing what only He can do. This type of thankfulness written about in verse 8 is Thankfulness for Provision. According to verse 8, Thankfulness for Provision means thanking God for His "unfailing love" and "wonderful deeds". For the blessings that could have only occurred because God intervened.
I have known for awhile how important it is for me to thank God for His provision, so I added a category on my blog to remember it in my own life. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
Some people may argue these things would have happened without God, but I know better. We all know the way our world works: injustice, nothing for free, fulfillment always just out of reach. These situations, despite how hopeless they initially felt, would never have worked out without the loving provision of God.

God is Good At All Times

In the midst of my current trials, I remember these past experiences and how God worked them for my good. And if God was working for my good when I didn't even know it, I can trust that He will work things for my good in the future. Even if I can't see it. Even if the situation seems hopeless. THAT is the point where trust begins. A good God is good all the time: past, present and future.


"[I]f we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself" 2 Timothy 2:13 (HCSB).

From this verse in 2 Timothy, we learn God cannot be unfaithful. He cannot act with a different character in the future than He did the past, because He would be denying Himself. God cannot be good to you in the past and not good in the future.

So the next time you find yourself struggling to trust God in the midst of trials, remember those provisions God gave you in the past. Remember He was good then, and He is still good now. I think you will find trusting God a little easier.

Reference: Shirer, Priscilla (2015). The Armor of God. LifeWay Press: Nashville, TN.



Monday, August 29, 2016

Trusting God in the Midst of Trials, Part One

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Not long ago, I introduced the topic of practical spirituality.

One of the key questions I believe needs a strong dose of practical spirituality is how to trust God, particularly in the midst of a trial. It amazes me how many secret struggles people carry with them every day. What a relief it would be to serve a God we can trust with our circumstances, our fears, our dreams. As Christians, we know intellectually we should trust God, but convincing our heart is sometimes another matter.

As someone who just experienced the most heart-wrenching, soul-shaking year of my life, trusting God in the midst of trials has been of particular interest to me. In the course of praying and reading the Bible, God taught me that trusting Him is like trusting anyone else: we must get to know Him! How we do this is where practical spirituality comes into play, by spending time with God.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start preaching about personal devotional time, even though I do think that is a critically important step of learning the character of God. In this discussion, however, I would like to ask you a question: who do you believe God is?

Who Do You Believe God Is?

"'But what about you?' [Jesus] asked. 'Who do you say I am?'" Matthew 16:15 (NIV).

This question lays the foundation of whether or not you trust God. 

At one time in my life, I would have given you some pretty convincing Sunday School answers about who I believed God was. I would tell you Jesus is my Savior and I worship God. But deep down, I thought God was withholding good things from me in order to punish me. I thought God considered me unworthy, and my lackluster relationship with Him reflected those beliefs. I unsurprisingly had zero trust in God. Who would trust someone like that? I realized I believed quite a few lies about the God I claimed to serve, and that motivated me to investigate His true character.

So no Sunday School answers here! Deep down, what do you believe about God? If you are not sure, your attitudes about the things of God are a good indicator. Are you generally happy to go to church and be in the assembly of believers? Are you hungry for the teachings of God? Do you apply those teachings as best you can to your life? If not and you find yourself struggling to trust God, you may need to examine your beliefs. Let's look at what we should believe about God in order to trust Him.

God Exists & He is Good

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" Hebrews 11:6 (NIV, emphasis added).

This verse lays the foundation for our trust in God. First, we must believe He exists. We cannot trust God if He isn't real. 

Second, we must believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. This is really the key to unlocking your trust in God. You must believe God has your best interests at heart, that He is good. Because if God exists and He is good, it completely changes the purpose of trials in our lives. A good God does not allow trials without a bringing good from it (Romans 8:28). A good God does not withhold any good thing from His children (Matthew 7:7-11). A good God can be a Father rather than a punisher (Isaiah 63:16). A good God is worth trusting, even if we don't understand our circumstances, because we know He is in control (Isaiah 55:8-11).

The Challenge

Answer Jesus' question, "who do you say I am?"

If you can answer honestly "God is good", you have the seed of trust already planted in your heart. If not, we have some work to do! But no worries, because we serve a good God. And with practical spirituality, we can learn the practical steps to increasing our trust in Him.

In Part Two, I will share one of the concepts that has made the biggest difference in how I trust God.
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