Infertility, special forces and the love and faith to get through it all. Love. + Hope. + Faith. + Prayer. + Action. = Encouragement. The guest post below has it all!
I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Nina. We met many years ago in Texas, and our friendship has blossomed. Nina writes over at Millions of Peaches and her first book is out this month. I wanted her to tell you her story…
I should’ve known that saying “yes” to a man with baggage would lead to an interesting life. It wasn’t always easy, but we quickly found that supporting each other instead of blaming each other worked much better in finding resolutions to problems.
Because of his military career, my husband couldn’t always be present. As a matter of fact, he missed more holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries than I can count. While he was gone all things like finances, yard work, household chores, parenting, and more was on me. However, when he was around I always tried to include him in all tasks and make sure he had things to take care of, so that he would feel like he was part of our little family.
When he was deployed I always listened to what he had to say before I would go down a list of things I had in mind. Missing a phone call was detrimental and sad because I never knew when he could call again. SAT phones aren’t very reliable not to forget time differences and hazardous locations.
I picked up the slack when he couldn’t. Nevertheless we always supported each other’s wishes and dreams. It was my dream to travel the world, get a college degree, deliver babies and eventually have a child of my own. My husband made sure that we always had enough money to pay for all of these wishes and dreams.
In turn, it was his dream to become a U.S. Army Green Beret and later a Physician Assistant. I made sure he had time to train, study, and prepare for his chosen path. I supported and helped where I could through hidden notes, weekly goodie bags, home cooked meals, being present when there was a ceremony or promotion, watching him jump out of airplanes and helicopters, picking him up or dropping him off at the airport, sending care packages to let him know I miss him, keeping all added stresses away from him, and always making sure that our bank account was in better shape than when he left.
Yet, I can’t forget the times we spent praying together. Praying for his safe return, for guidance in co-parenting his children, and for a child – one that we could keep forever. At first, we chose days of the week when one of us would pray. But because his job required him to be away from me often, we prayed separately as well. We prayed with our rector from our church. We prayed while snuggling in bed, on our knees, in church, in the car, in airplanes, at airports, and our kitchen table. Praying is definitely something we take seriously as a married couple.
The Path Forward – with LOVE and FAITH through INFERTILITY
And it is because of our faith and the strong belief in prayers that we have come to this point in our life where I was lead to write down our path in “Love, Faith, and Infertility – A Story of Hope and Special Forces” – the struggles, the good and the bad, to show that our God is good and no matter what my life or yours entails with Him nothing is impossible.
Nina was born and raised in Germany, and is a medical assistant, doula, lactation counselor, and Reiki practitioner by trade. She has earned a baccalaureate degree in management studies from University of Maryland University College while she lived in Germany and the United States. Her husband served in the United States Army for 20 years before retiring and becoming a Physician Assistant (PA). He has two children from a previous marriage and together they have one rainbow baby and three angels in heaven. You can read more from Nina on her blog Millions of Peaches, Her View From Home, and Huffington Post Deutschland.
Opening Our Hearts
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Nina and I have known each other for a number of years. I had a small view into her life as a stepmom to children who didn’t (always) live with her. I knew she loved them with a mother’s self-less love, regardless where they resided. I also could only imagine how difficult it must be to see them come and go, with no control.
Then Gary and Nina’s little rainbow baby entered the picture. He’s the boy pictured on the front of Nina’s new book. I had a tiny, infinitesimal understanding of how difficult the journey was to holding this little son in their arms.
Yes. WE. All of us -those who have never experienced infertility, parenting step-children, living as a military spouse, and adjusting to a new country, have no idea the havoc (and joys) these events can play on a life – on a marriage.
Many people will not experience a miscarriage, infertility, a military marriage, step-parenting and relocation to another country. And yet we encounter people every day who do. We might think we understand… but we don’t. We do not have a clue.
Read this book for them. And yourself.
Read this book so you can have a kernel of understanding and to try not to say something to shoot an arrow into their hearts. (Unintentionally, of course.)
Maybe your daughter or daughter-in-love has experienced infertility and/or a miscarriage? You need a view into this grief, desire and fight for a child that is beyond what many can imagine. Nina’s story will give you insight and hope.
Is there a friend who is longing for a child? Read it for her. And him.
Do you know a military spouse? Read it for him or her.
Do you know women going through medical procedures to get pregnant? In-Vitro Fertilizations, Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injections, frozen embryo transfers and all the other physical aspects of trying to become pregnant?
Is someone you love grieving over a miscarriage. Read it for them.
Think of all the step-parents you know – read this book for them and their children.
Do you write to encourage? Then this book will open your heart in new ways.
Are you in ministry? Or do you know a pastor who seeks to understand step-parents, those longing for a baby, military spouses, and parents grieving over a miscarriage? This book is for you all.
There are many reasons why this book will be a journey of discovery – of yourself and what you believe. You’ll probably cringe when you remember some of the phrases that have come out of your mouth. (Yeah. We’ll be together in that.)
What if you have experienced any of these life-altering experiences? Why should you read this book?
Read this book because it will fill you with hope.
(I just want to say thank you to Nina for gifting me a copy of her book! Yes. Even though we don’t collect many physical books because of space issues in our little-house-on-wheels, I’m so thankful to have a physical copy!) 😉
While you’re waiting for that vision – that purpose in your life… while you’re building that meaningful life as husband and wife, do you have restraint?
Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].
Proverbs 29:19 Amplified Bible
In our fourth mid-marriage video, we talked about vision, mission and values. All these could be seen as human endeavors, and almost useless unless God has revealed where He needs us to focus.
Asking God to reveal…
Sometimes it takes years of prayer – asking, seeking and knocking – to understand why God has set the two of you together, and what He wants from you.
Have restraint as you wait… but…
What to do in the waiting?
I think the secret of what to do in the waiting for that Divine revelation (in whatever form it’s given) is found in the second part of this proverb: “But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]”
How well do we, as husband and wife, follow God’s laws?
Jesus has summed up His Father’s laws into this:
and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’
This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30,31 Amplified
Restrain Yourself. Love God.
Do you demonstrate your love for God?
If your children or adult siblings, friends, co-workers, or parents were asked, “How does this couple demonstrate their love for God?” how would they respond?
Does your behavior as husband and wife bring glory to God? We’re not talking about grand gestures. Every day – how does your behavior as husband and wife glorify God?
and the second part:
Restrain Yourself. Unselfishly love your neighbor.
Do you begin this loving unselfishly — with your spouse?
Encouraging your spouse when everything is too much – how do you do that?
Too much? What’s too much? Do you ever feel like your life is filled with white-water rivers, mine fields, lava flows, rising flood water, hurricane winds, rotted floorboards, bottomless pits, shark-infested seas… Everything is beyond what you or your spouse can control.
Where do you go from that spot?
Unity matters when everything is too much.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
~ Genesis 2:24 NIV
Remember – you’re not alone. Husband & Wife. Together. As husband and wife – “one flesh” – you can leave everything else behind to be united against an outside threat . Individual control no longer matters or makes sense.
There’s strength in unity. Are you tapping into that strength?
Encouraging your spouse when everything is too much starts with focusing on unity between you and he/she, and inviting your loving Heavenly Father – who wants what’s good for you both – to take control.
Invite God to take over. (Yes. We know how difficult letting go of control is…)
Remind your spouse that he or she doesn’t need all the answers.
Have faith in God when everything is too much.
Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God – Faith puts God between us and our circumstances
During the greatest trials and most trying circumstances is when we’ll see the power of God working for and in us -provided we look at our circumstances with the perspective of faith.
3 Actions – Encouraging your spouse when everything is too much:
1 – Listen to each other. Be attentive when your spouse speaks.
Two ears. One mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk. And if your spouse isn’t one to chat easily, perhaps it’s time to cultivate some meaningful questions? Try this Pinterest board for ideas on questions to ask.
… be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
~ 1Timothy 4:4
We know – it’s hard to be thankful when everything feels like it’s too much. But try. Begin small. Start with the easy stuff:
you have each other, even if neither of you are perfect
Jesus knew the pain He’d endure, and He still decided you and your spouse were worth it.
God loves you, even when it’s all too much. He’ll never leave you. He’s always with you.
3 – Pray together. Invite God into your “too much”.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
What if you don’t know where to start to pray?
Prayer can be a simple “thank you”. The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples (and us) is found here. If you want to go deeper, listen as other people pray and develop your own prayer life. Sometimes resources can help…
Rob and I have been reading and putting into practice what’s in the book The Hour the Changes the World. It’s a prayer plan that divides an hour into twelve 5-minute sections. Each section focuses on a different point of prayer. If an hour seems like too much, you can use the idea for 12 minutes – focusing on each of the 12 sections for one minute at a time.
Here are 31 videos if you want to go deeper into exploring prayer with your spouse. They’re less than 5 minutes each. They’re hosted by Dick Eastman, President of Every Home for Christ. and author of the above book. Watch them together with your spouse and do one a day for a month… It’s something to unite the two of you and most days it’ll take less than 5 minutes…
Everything for a time.
Nothing is so constant as change. This “too much” time will shift and change. Encouraging your spouse when everything is too much will only be for a time… Learn to work together through it all and leverage the blessing the Lord has given you both: each other!
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Take action to encourage. Why? Encouraging your spouse, especially in a time of uncertainty and overwhelm, has more of an impact than praise after a success. But sometimes you don’t know where to start.
2 – Search for a mentor/role model to take action to encourage.
What you’re going through is not new – someone else has had these moments/hours/days/years of trial and anguish. There is nothing new under the sun. You’re not the first person to be overwhelmed and overcome…
Maybe the “someone” you find for inspiration and consolation isn’t close – or even alive. You don’t need to intimately know a particular person – it’s possible to use a stranger as a role model.
Dig into this person’s life to understand their values, their strengths (and weaknesses), what actions they take when under pressure, who they admire and from where they get their encouragement.
Don’t forget to look at Biblical role models as an example.
Those people in the Bible were real people – like you and me. Their stresses and discouragements might not have been outwardly shaped like yours or mine, but they had the same root – and the same liar tried to tear them down and separate them from their Hope – their God. How did they react when faced with disaster? From where did their help come? Who surrounded them?
Who are you most like – behavior wise – as a Biblical persona? What about your spouse? How can you know? (Robert and I are exploring this concept right now using this tool. The exploration has prompted some interesting discussions.)
How do you find ways to remember to pray? Do you start every morning in prayer and end every day in prayer? Have you set aside a specific quiet time for prayer? Is prayer a focus on Sundays when you go to church?
Or is your desire to pray greater than your actual time spent in prayer?
I’m guessing your life is like mine. You’re busy. Time is chewed up by all the “to-dos” on your list. (Maybe prayer isn’t even on your list?)
It’s not that you don’t want to pray for your spouse and loved ones. You do. But you need ways to remember to pray. Yeah. Me too.
23 Easy Ways to Remember to Pray
To help all of us, I’ve divided these 23 easy ways to remember to pray into 2 sections: Cues to Pray, and Read, Write, Color and Pray Together.
Cues to Pray
Put a sticky note on your beside lamp. You’ll be reminded to pray when you see the note. Keep these at your bedside and decide which shape corresponds to what you want to pray for,… it’s fun to change them out and nobody needs to know except you. In fact, you could place them near the light switches around your house, on the dashboard of your car, or at your computer. Lots of ways to remember to pray!
Set up daily reminders on your smart phone. Use the alarm option on your smart phone as a cue. Consider a special tone to pray for your spouse and sync the times to pray to know you’re both praying for each other at the same time. Years ago I knew families who stopped what they were doing at 10PM and prayed. If they were driving, they’d pull over and pray. Hmmm. Maybe we can renew that idea…
Use these to write a big “PRAY” on your microwave. We often waste the seconds when microwaving our food by watching it go in circles inside the microwave. Instead use those 30 seconds to pray. And if you don’t want to write the word “pray”, then just do a big, decorative “P”! Let visitors inquire what the “P” means and you can talk about your faith and all the ways to remember to pray.
Pray for your spouse when you see the make/model of the vehicle they drive. If you’re on the road use the cue of other cars as your reminder to pray. Know your loved ones’ make or model of vehicle and the opportunities become a regular reminder.
Colors can be a reminder to pray. What’s your spouse’s favorite color or print? When you see that color, it will be a reminder to pray for her or him. If your spouse doesn’t have a favorite color, then use the color of their eyes. You can do the same for your children. (Whenever I see lime green I think of Alex, our son. A deep royal blue is my reminder of Sarah, our daughter. And yellow triggers prayers for Alisane, our daughter-in-love.)
Link social media and prayer. Each time you open the Facebook app on your phone and see the first post, pray for that person. (If you don’t want to pray for that person, then why are you “friends” on Facebook?) Or you could discipline yourself to pray for your spouse before you open Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have time for social media, then you have time to pray! 😉
Use your television (or computer monitor) to remind you to pray. Use your digital photos, wifi and Chromecast to stream them to your television. Pray for each person in the photo. Our son and daughter-in-love have this set up on their television. Here’s a lnk to learn how to do it for yourself. You can configure your computer screen saver to do the same for many ways to remember to pray.
A shower of prayer. Use your time in the shower to pray. Write prayer prompts on these note pads for the shower or write on your shower walls with these to remind yourself.Moms and Dads of small children have very few moments of “alone time”. We see our daughter-in-love and son grasping at finding the energy and time to do anything other than the essentials. (I understand because after grandparenting for the day, I go to bed early!) However, we all still shower. And a few moments alone can be the perfect time to pray.
Pray as your loved ones leave. Rob and I try to pray together before we leave our little house-on-wheels. (We’re not always successful.) But I ask God silently to be with him in his day as I hear the truck start. I silently pray for my adult children and the grandboy as I leave their house. Even if your spouse leaves your home before you’re awake, as soon as you wake up you can pray for him or her.
Pour your coffee and pray. It only takes a few moments to make your coffee (or wait as the barista makes your coffee 😉 ) You can use those seconds before you take your first sip of that exilar of energy to pray.
Let what you hear be your cue. A specific song could be your cue to pray for your loved ones. The sound of a train whistle, helicopters or planes could be a cue to pray. We hear many sounds during a day, and we could make use of those noises. When I hear the bubbling of a boiling tea kettle I think of my parents-in-law and pray for them. (They love their afternoon tea.) Are there specific television theme songs that remind you of your loved ones?
Sing and pray. Use your Praise and Worship CDs/MP3s to tune your heart to pray. Or use an old-fashioned hymnal. The words in our traditional Christian hymns are deep and comforting. Many of them are taken directly from scripture. I have memories of my grandmother sitting with her hymnal, reading the words of the hymns. Keep a hymnal near a comfortable chair, and when your eyes fall on it, sit down and pray a while, using the hymns as your starting point.
Active prayer. Do you run or swim laps? Discipline yourself to use that time to pray. Even a simple evening walk around the block with your spouse can include a time of prayer.
When you wash your hands look at your wedding ring and pray for your spouse. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” 3 times, use the time to pray for your husband or wife. Those wedding bands are a promise and a symbol of your vows. Bring honor to your role as husband and wife by praying for each other.
Let your hand provide a cue. We take our hands everywhere we go… “Your fingers can be used to bring to mind different things to pray for. Your thumb is the strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life, like home and family, relationships that support and sustain you. Your index finger is the pointing finger. Pray for all those people and things in your life who guide and help you. Friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on. Your middle fingerthis is the tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who have power in the world, like world leaders and their governments. Your ring fingerthis is the weakest finger on your hand. It can not do much by itself. Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill and the bereaved. Your little finger is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.” I found this prompt here on the Church of England’s website and adapted it for this post.
Make prayer an act of service for one person. (Do for one what you’d do for everyone… if you could.) Is there a widow or widower in your neighborhood that you could help? Perhaps take them for groceries, or mow their lawn. What about a single mother/father who needs some time for themselves? Could you take care of their children so they could go get a coffee? Perhaps it’s as simple as delivering Meals-on-Wheels once a week or volunteering at a soup kitchen. During that time when you’re serving, spend some time praying. You could even pray with them.
Read, Write, Color and Pray Together
Sometimes a book will remind you to pray. If your attention is on a subject, there’s a greater chance to take action. Here are 6 opportunities to surround yourself with books and apps that encourage you to pray.
Maybe words escape you and you need a different way to pray… As a visual or kinesthetic learner, a distractable or impatient soul, or enjoying the adventure of trying new things, this book will answer your needs. Why not use color instead of words to pray?
This book has made a huge difference in how I pray. It includes a12 step prayer plan for an hour in prayer or 12 minutes…. There’s an introduction by Joni Erickson Tada and how this plan changed this physically challenged woman’s view of needing to go to bed early every evening because of her paralysis. Every time I deepen my understanding of prayer, it becomes easier to remember to pray.
The Power of a Praying…
This book, The Power of a Praying Grandparent is just one of the series of books by Stormie Omartian about making prayer specific. I received a free copy from NetGalley, and read it right away. This book deepened what and how I prayed for our grandboy, even though we’ve been praying for him since before he was born.
I first become aware of the Omartians through their books, the Power of a Praying Wife and the Power of a Praying Husband. Robert and I recommend these books to every couple. Just by looking at the table of contents of each book, you’ll see how much you haven’t thought of… I go back to my copy of praying for husbands regularly. It keeps prayer top of mind when I start to get lazy.
This is a free app for your iPhone specifically designed to remind you to pray and I’ve been adding in reminders to pray for specific things (things from the Praying for books above) for our grandboy, our adult children and Rob. My phone is usually with me, and the reminders are a way to keep my prayer life active.
Your surroundings show what you value. If you value prayer, then let your environment demonstrate that focus.
We live in a little house-on-wheels, so our decor and possessions are minimal. After researching this post, I’ll be adding a pillow to my couch with a reminder to pray. (Hey- a pillow is both decorative and functional, right? 😉 )
Last, but not least… join a group and/or find a prayer partner.
One of our favorite Bible chapters is John 17 – where Jesus was praying with and for his disciples and those who would follow Him in the future – that’s us! (John 17:20)
Want to remember to pray? Don’t pray alone! Your spouse is an ideal prayer partner. If you’ve never prayed together, or haven’t prayed for a while, then just start in a simple way. Here’s a post that’ll give you ideas.
Or you could join a prayer group at a local church. Or begin one yourself. How deeply do you feel the calling to pray?
I started out compiling the best list I could for ways to remember to pray, but this post has gotten quite long. To help you remember all your options, here’s a free 1-page PDF to download. It should make this easier for you.
Remember to pray for your spouse.
This is a general list all pointing to prayer. However, the person you first need to pray for is your spouse.