About Me

My photo
Hi. Welcome to my "taboo" blog. My name is Steph, and when I first started this, I was still in my thirties. In 2017, I switch decades! I am a Christian, so underlying everything I do and say is the Word of God, and the foundational truths I have learnt over the years. This doesn't mean I'm perfect - I am human. It just means I recognise I need God's help to live this life and try to live out His way, as best I can. So that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog, I hope you draw strength, hope or encouragement from what you read.

Monday, July 27, 2015

God Does Care....

There comes a point in every Christian woman's life when you realise you've being doing it alone for so long, you've actually been doing it alone.

Without God, I mean.

When circumstances: choices you made, choices made by other people, even the stuff we believe "God controls" which are beyond our comprehension, weighs heavily on our hearts, our minds, our basic understanding of life, I am convinced this can create a new kind of burn-out.

I have literally just finished watching a really cheesy 80's chick flick about Romy and Michelle's high school reunion. These two twenty-something women were so desperate for the old school "AGroup" to like them, they were prepared to hide who they really are, just to fit their perception of what the cool girls would see as "successful".

And yet, here I am, with my own idea of "success" so heavily damaged and on the precipice of never happening, that I have been trying to hide it from myself, and others, for so long, I have recently experienced emotional "crash and burn". Not because I was desperate for others to like me or anything.... But because the whole journey of infertility is not one I should be constantly "banging on about", I should just "deal with it" and carry on with whatever life God has set out for me. Oh this is the bit no one wants to talk about when we discuss the failure of the dream for children, for a family. The constantness of it. The fact that it never goes away. The fact that there are times it can still be so incredibly overwhelming, even after all this time. 

A couple of weekends ago it was the annual conference for work. On the last day, two women who are old enough to know better, made parting remarks to me like, "Hope it all goes well!" While smiling encouragingly, hand on their own bellies while looking across at mine. The curse of having problems like endometriosis and gluten intolerance creating a beautiful little balloon bump at the most inopportune moments, which falsifies the look you actually want and gives a very wrong impression!

That week, was the beginning of the crash. Not because of the things they said. No.... In a sad way within Church, this becomes the norm and one of the first things you learn to deal with. No, it was a culmination of the OTHER problems which rarely get discussed, including the toll infertility takes on your relationships. With yourself. With Hubby. With God.

And so now, two weeks later, while listening to Christy Nockles, I realise that I have been forced into carrying myself through this as a result of Hubby's withdrawal, and my subsequent withdrawal from God. By carrying myself, I actually mean dragging myself along the floor! 

Not only can infertility kill your dreams, it kills your sense of identity, your hope, your trust and faith in a God who genuinely cares, hears and has a future lined-up for you; and the relationship with a Hubby who has a son, and so can't relate to the pain of having no child of your own. And so the cycle spins round and round, loneliness, emptiness, broken dreams, broken promises, wondering what will be, wandering further away. 

And all this in secret!
No one must know! 

No one must see beyond the mask and appearance that we are doing ok, that we are trusting God, that our marriages are intact and our future is secure. 

The secret life we live in our heart and mind to which we stop inviting God to sit in with us, at least, we thought we had. There's only so much we can hide from God. There's only so much weight we can bear. There's only so much of a load we can carry in our own strength, until we break.

And then in His gentleness and mercy, He bends down His face to ours, wetting His cheek with our tears, scoops us up in His arms, and pours out His healing balm into the depths of our wounds, pouring His shalom into our anxious, troubled hearts, and lifts us out of the pit of despair, raising us up to stand once again in His strength, rather than our own, reminding us that we are not alone, He has never left us, and the battle is not ours to fight by ourselves. Even though it feels like it at times. Keep your eyes on Jesus.... He turns His face to yours, gazing into your pain and emptiness and will remain there with you for as long as it will take. He cares. He knows. He loves you. He is with you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Swap Mornings

The other night, I was texting a friend of mine about a convenient time for us to call and speak to each other the next day about a project we are both involved in. When I say friend, he's not someone I know locally or meet up regularly, more as a result of Church projects we have both been involved in over the years; but he did buy a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and so was the start of our new beautiful friendship! 

So, the conversation went a bit like this:
Him: "You could call around 8:45am."
Me: "Hahahahaha!!! Seriously? No later slot??? #OffWork"
Him: "lightweight! I have 3 kids.... That's not early! 😅😅"
Me: " I don't have any excuses for losing out on a late start!!! Hahaha!!!"
Him: "So jealous!! ☺️"

I know he wouldn't change his situation just for the sake of a lie-in, he absolutely adores his kids, and even when he's doing stuff on stage, he will show off pictures and tell stories about them within his presentation. 

I, on the other-hand, would give up all the lie-ins for the joy of having a family....and I am, genuinely, "so jealous!!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Infertilty Gets Included!

I started reading a book by Carrie Lloyd who I could really identify with when she spoke recently at a youth workers conference I attended. I mean... This woman rocks! Anyone who wears heels to do her talk when everyone else is in trainers and flip flops is my kind of gal!

Her book, "The Virgin Monologues" is for women! Unashamedly so! And where most authors writing about the issues many women deal with can forget about those of us who can't have children, Carrie address it squarely among the rest of the "stuff" women deal with which can be thrown in our direction...allegedly to make us stronger!

Anyway, I want to share what she says with anyone and everyone!

"To the women who can't have children; to the women who've not yet met their Adam; to the women who 'had it all' and 'lost it all' too: please take your place in the world because we need you. There is something in you that no one else can do and you will be attacked by lies of inadequacy, lies of worthlessness to unremittingly ensure you don't go out and fight the good fight. Build up a fortress of love around yourself and towards others, stabbing the spirit of comparison as you walk upright.

Don't begrudge mothers of motherhood; and mothers, don't begrudge some who are destined for a purpose outside of children."

Carrie Lloyd, The Virgin Monologues; page 30-31

Encouragement In Random Places

A couple of months ago, I was invited to be interviewed for the Salvation Army's War Cry about my journey with infertility. I met with the girl conducting the interview and we had a good old chat.... I even somehow managed to not cry, although I think this is more to do the fact that I'd brought a packet of tissues with me. If I hadn't, guaranteed I would have burst into waterfalls while telling the story of my struggle.

Needless to say that once the article had been printed and sent to me, I completely forgot about it, kinda assuming that only Salvationists would read it... And I didn't think I knew any.

But then!
In my paid job, one of the roles I have is to organise the annual international conference. This year's event just finished on Sunday. So I was completely taken aback when a couple stopped me in my tracks, enroute to sorting out some minor crises, and told me that they had accidentally bought a copy of that ONE issue of War Cry which contained my interview....and they knew me because they happened to support and pray for the organisation I work with.

Small world!

They were really encouraging actually. She had married him late in life, after his first wife had died (they were in their 70s) and so she had never had children of her own. She could relate to an extent with what I had shared, and thought it was a brave thing to have done, but so necessary as there are too many people who are going through the stuff of infertility but it NEVER gets spoken about.

They left me with the assurance that they would be praying for me, and had been since reading the interview.

So yeah, you never know how God is going to use the most random of situations to impact, enourage or inspire any of us! :-)

Father God, I thank You and praise You because although I may never know how the interview was received, I know from the one conversations have had about it, that people who have read it are being challenged, encouraged and may gain some insight into the life of a friend or loved one who is struggling to conceive. Father, I pray that if it is Your will for me to speak out about this more, I would never shy away from the vulnerability of being so open, so You can comfort and help someone else. In Jesus name.