Infertility, Miscarriage, Still Birth and Abortion Support

Infertility, miscarriage, still birth and abortion are hard topics with deep, unique wounds associated with each.

We have experienced infertility and miscarriage and those were difficult days. I had a miscarraige very early in a pregnancy that resulted from IVF. My Doctor explained early on that my HCG levels were not normal and that the pregnancy would end naturally. Instead my HCG levels kept rising after daily checks to the point that we had a valid 8 week ultrasound report. Two weeks later I miscarried. These were painful days.

I can’t begin to imagine the pain related to having a miscarriage later in a pregnancy, having a stillborn child or having an abortion.

By God’s grace in our personal situation of years of infertility we were surrounded by an incredibly loving family and church family. Both sets of our parents prayed for us, encouraged us and supported us in big decisions we had to make. In addition our church family prayed for us and supported us also. God also used his Word and the Holy Spirit to minister to us through this time in some of the most profound ways. This blog is based on a verse that God showed me during those years of pain – Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?” So while those years of infertility were so painful we survived without becoming bitter or resentful. We had hope in the painful process.

Recent stats tell us that infertility effects 1 in 7 couples. And 10-20% of women who know they are pregnant have a miscarriage.

This means that if you have any sphere of influence other than your own backyard then you most likely know a woman who is going through infertility, has had a miscarriage or had an abortion.

Maybe she’ll share her struggles with you or maybe you’ll stumble on them.

What will you say? How will you encourage her?

This is where we make things harder than they need to be all because we don’t know what to say.

And I get it. I’ve said untimely strange things to people in an attempt to express my love and concern during difficult times. If we’re honest we’ll admit we’ve all said stupid things before. But can we just put our big girl panties on and acknowledge it, apologize if necessary and do differently next time?

Refuse to let your past awkward words paralyze you in such a way that you decide it’s just better not to get involved at all for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Loving others will be flat out awkward at times. But it’s totally worth the risk. The more we do it the less awkward. Or perhaps the less afraid we become of being awkward in our loving of others.

The other side of this coin is extending grace to others when they say something to us that is well intended but wounded instead. It happens. The quicker we realize this the better we will love each other.

There’s a resource I’d like to tell you about that I have found to be helpful over the past 15 years in dealing with these topics. From receiving personal help to knowing what to say and what not to say to people during times of utter pain.

Caleb Ministries  is a Christ centered ministry that addresses what we’re talking about at LIABOW today. Rarely do you find a ministry that deals with all of these issues specifically and in such detail.

One of their many sweet resources is a P.A.T box – Providing A Treasure

It includes a handmade burial gown, knit booties, baby hat, and a baby blanket. Also included is a book called “Morning will Come” by Sandy Day, Founder of Caleb Ministries. It really is a beautiful treasure for a young Mom and Dad who have just lost their baby.

Maybe Caleb Ministries is a resource that could help you or a friend. Being aware of these resources is helpful because we never know when we or someone we know will walk through a journey that involves these painful things.

Have you walked through any of the things we talked about today? If so, how did God meet you in the midst of your pain? I’d love to hear. 

 

 

 

Live Full Walk Free Bible Study – a word from the Author & a giveaway!

I am so excited to introduce you to Cindy Bultema, a sweet friend and Bible teacher that I have grown to love over the years. I’m still not even sure how our paths first crossed but it had to do with Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds. I’ve read all of Cindy’s Bible Studies and I love her because she’s so very much like you and me and has an ability to teach God’s word and connect with women of all ages and seasons of life. Even hard seasons that include rock bottom. Not everyone is willing to talk about their “rock bottom” with the grace and balance that Cindy does. This is why I keep coming back to her studies. Her blog. Her resources. In fact I’ve just started her brand new study Live Full Walk Free! More on that later. First I want you to get a glimpse of Cindy’s heart by hearing her words in this post. 

Meet Cindy:

High school was not kind to me.

Although there are a few fun memories – cheering for the freshmen basketball team, attending a zany psychology class, passing drivers training – I’m glad I never have to return to those four agonizing years again. Ever.

Mostly my adolescent days were filled with intense loneliness, rejection, and a bottomless longing for acceptance and love.

I’ll never forget the day I thought I finally was on my way to high school recognition. A fellow classmate shared she saw something written about me in the girls’ bathroom. Really? Me?!

I ran to the south side of the building as quickly as my clog-wearing feet would take me. I couldn’t wait to examine what someone had taken the time to reveal publicly about me!

I pulled open the heavy wooden door and scanned the chipped bathroom stall’s exterior. Then I spotted the six words that would shape my life for the next two decades…

“Cindy is a fat red cow.”

And on that dreadful day those six words attached to me like a sticky, descriptive name tag.

As the years went on, I may have appeared happy and self-confident. But beneath the cheery smile and bubbly personality, remained an injured and insecure young woman meticulously attempting to cover up the pain, and striving to protect herself from ever being hurt or teased…again.

I wonder if you can relate, sweet friend? What labels have attached to you over the years?

  • Not good enough
  • Stupid
  • Ugly
  • Fat
  • Not wanted.

Thankfully my story has a joyful ending. In 1996, in the midst of a drug and alcohol addiction, I was introduced to Jesus, and surrendered my life to Him. As I began to study the Bible, I quickly discovered God says I am….

  • Accepted (Romans 15:7).
  • Beautiful (Ephesians 1:3).
  • Chosen (1 Peter 2:9).
  • Dearly Loved (1 John 3:1).
  • Enough (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9).

My dear sister, you are too!

In Christ, we have been given new, Truth-filled, life-giving labels to wear. We all have.

Regardless of where we have been. Regardless of what we have done.

And in Christ, not only are the old labels erased, they have been replaced with power-filled words of Truth. Only God can do that!

What label are you wearing today? Did you put on “loved,” “significant,” “courageous” – or are your old labels trying to impact your new days?

May we say “no more” to not-nice nametags, lying labels, and sassy self-talk. Instead, may God infuse us with a fresh faith to “put on” Truth each day. His Words are always a perfect fit!

Be reminded of God’s power-filled words of truth with these free A-Z Scripture Cards available for download at http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/.

_________________________

With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss.

Cindy’s latest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/ was released in December 2016. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Visit Cindy at www.cindybultema.com.

You guys – the Bible Study is really really good and the A-Z Scripture Cards are Awesome. Do you even know how many packs I’ve given away to people? Even danger stranger giveaways. I’m serious. Get you some! 

Cindy is donating a copy of Live Full Walk Free and a pack of A-Z Scripture Cards to a reader today. Just leave a comment on my blog and I’ll have the kids draw a name out of the hat. Umm yes, I did say drawing out of a hat. Sometimes I defy the high tech way of doing things and go old school. Actually I just don’t know how to do it. Ha! Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you in the case YOU are the winner. 

 

The Voices you Choose to Listen To

Oh friends this post has been burning in my heart for a very long time.

We must be careful who we choose to listen to as Christ-followers. There are many Christian leaders who love God and have a genuine heart in loving others but they are dangerously missing the mark.

Missing the mark by adding human preferences and ideals to God’s words. Saying things like, “I just can’t imagine that a loving God would  ____________.”  or “God’s love would never allow him to _________.”

I read recently a Christian woman say, “If your theology is not changing and evolving then you are not paying attention.”

I’m not sure how I feel about that statement. I really resisted it at first.

Theology is the study of who God is. And God never changes -according to Himself. The fact that God never changes is a comfort and a wonderful truth we can hang on to forever.

We change and our understanding of God changes as we get to know him by reading the Bible. As we see and hear of him through solid teaching. As we see him in the faces of the needy and marginalized that we serve.

But sometimes our view of God changes based on our circumstances and we decide to impose human standards and characteristics on God. And therefore we come to wrong conclusions about the theology of God.

Friends, we don’t get to make up the theology of God. God tells us who he is in the Bible. And this is primarily where our understanding of God will come from. God doesn’t change. Theology doesn’t change.

My husband always says, “Theology is precise.” And he’s not a grace slayer with a capital T- truth sword ready to whack people but he understands and has helped me understand the importance of communicating clearly the whole truth of God’s word while loving and extending grace. Both can happen. Both need to happen.

We won’t always get it right. We learn as we go. Sometimes we’re heavy on truth and not enough love. Enter the term Christian-jerks. The arrogant desire to prove rightness for the sake of being right ends up hurting so many people. It’s why wounded people leave the church. Who can blame them.

Other times we extend mounds of grace and love so much that we end up enabling someone in their own sin by never sharing the truth of God’s love. The more we build a relationship with a person the more we love them. And then the closer we become to them the less we want to hurt their feelings by speaking truth to them. Truth that will ultimately set them free and lovingly release them from captivity.

Beth Moore recently said these powerful words of caution at Passion 2017:

You will watch a generation of Christians — OF CHRISTIANS — set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE? -Beth Moore

I want to live in that tension don’t you? It’s not easy but let’s pray and ask God to help us with this. Let’s pray for each other. And then I believe with all my heart we can wait in expectation to see what God will do through the power and love of his message for all people.

The back story of my Family Dollar car incident

So we got ourselves a brand spankin’ new Family Dollar in town. And the kids and I went the first day they opened and were so excited to drop in. BUT we couldn’t find a parking space so we had to circle around and leave.

Well there was a car in front of us and she was waiting to pull out. So we just waited behind her. With all the time we had I decided to roll down my window, hang my head out and proceed the tell the 5 managers that were all circled up slightly behind our van talking that I was so excited they were opened but they could use more parking.

I was pretty sure they hadn’t thought about this and I was just trying to help out. As if they could just address the issue of adding more parking places so easily. Not sure what I was thinking. So I’m in the middle of sharing my feelings – yes, with perfect strangers – when all of a sudden I hear every single one of them start yelling very loud. They’re shouting and pointing, “Hey, NO, STOP!! STOP!”

I immediately felt bad and it shut me up on the parking advice for sure. Apparently I had crossed a line and offended them by my words.

And then we felt it.

And heard it.

*Crash. Bang. Crunch.

The car in front of us – that I never saw coming because my head was literally hanging out the window and looking back – was unknowingly in reverse and gunned it and rammed into our van.

And then took off and left.

Thankfully all 5 of the people saw everything. In detail. As in wrote down the description of the car and tag number. So when I called the police they got all the important information – down to the side of the car the donut was on.

I really didn’t know what to do at that point.

Do I apologize for talking about the lack of parking?

Or do I thank them for getting all the information to hopefully catch the chic that hit us?

So what did I do?

Well, I just verbally threw up and rehashed the entire story that THEY had just lived through right back to them like a pyscho-nut-job.

They just stared at me.

And this is how we roll in this family.

This is why we’re so messed up.

This. Right here.

 

 

Seductive Senior Pictures

I’ve started this post a million times not wanting to tread on sensitive ground yet want to talk about something that has been concerning to me.

I’ll just get it out there.

I’m concerned about all the seductive senior pictures I’m seeing in facebook land.

Girlzzzzzz…….some of you are pulling off sexy really well but what you’re doing is dangerous. You’re setting yourself up for harm later on.

Before your eyes roll all the way in the back of your head just listen for a few more paragraphs please. I care about you. Enough to say this stuff because we both know it’s kind of awkward to talk about.

There are some way cool trends in Senior pictures lately. The possibilities are endless. You can choose a location that makes you feel most in your element – an urban setting, a park or beach, sports field, or performing arts center. Really cool stuff.

And while there are some amazingly creative options in photography there will be choices you need to make.

I know this seems like a peripheral issue compared to the big things in your life right now like boyfriends, getting your license and making college plans. But this little issue can set you up for some bigger issues down the road.

I want to encourage you to make wise choices in how you pose and what outfits you wear for your Senior pictures. Your countenance and facial expressions – you know what I mean. All these things have a part in the message you’re sending in your picture. Even if you feel that your photo session is not something that represents you typically – it is still you in those pictures. You are sending a message whether you realize it or not.

When your time comes to dress and pose for Senior pictures think about this – if someone had to describe your picture at first glance in one word what would it be? And do you really want it to be “sultry, provocative and sexy”? Because that’s the word I would use to describe quite a few of the Senior portraits I’ve seen.

Of course people may interpret things differently than we intend. And we can’t be all about what others think of us. But we do need to be responsible in the message we send by how we conduct ourselves. And this includes how we dress.

There’s a time and place to look and feel sexy. And I promise you it’s not in your Senior pictures or on Prom night. There’s unique treasure and delight in saving all the sexy for one special person in the future. Your husband.

If you know me at all then you know I’m not suggesting you throw on a pair of polyester culottes with a  turtleneck and wrap your hair tight in a granny bun and sport some white reeboks & tube socks for your photo shoot. No, please don’t even. We’d all throw up.

Know this about yourself – God made you beautiful. You’re already chosen and accepted by Him. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to one up your friends. It’s not necessary to dress a certain way to impress your boyfriend. You can trade in provocative and sultry for confident in Christ and already accepted.

Don’t get sucked into current trends of our culture that block out who you really are. Some girls don’t know who they are in Christ. But some do know and they are falling into an easy trap that we must all guard ourselves against.

As Christ followers we are different. We will look different – even in the little-big things like Senior pictures.

Sometimes we do things and look back on them and realize we’d do it differently next time. Our God gives us grace and we need to give grace to others as well. So if you’re one who has learned or is learning the hard way – don’t walk in shame. Don’t feel condemned. But be encouraged to do differently now and to encourage others on a right track. This is what the body of Christ does for each other.

Good luck girls to finishing out your school year. May you radiate Jesus Christ, your creator. May He fill you with a satisfaction in Him alone so that when you go to pose for Senior pictures it’s really not a big deal. It’s just someone snapping a pic of who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Moving forward in looking back.

As I look back on 2016 in effort to move forward in 2017 I used this method from Emily P. Freeman that helped me a lot.

This process makes me realize things that I wouldn’t without working through the categories and thinking back on the last year. And it helps me in looking forward to the new year.

Let’s all make 2017 a year of purpose and intentionality. A great start is by looking back.

Happy New Year friends!

 

 

Christmas Happenings 2016

Christmas in pictures and a few words…..

Chess, movies, chilling, special dinner at home, opening stockings were all part of Christmas Eve at home in NC.

Christmas morning we read the account of Jesus’s birth and tried real hard to remember that it’s not about the presents and gifts but about our King Jesus being born into this world to rescue us from ourselves. And we did dig into some presents too.

I opened a cozy blanket from my sweet girl and a pillow from my man-child. The pillow has background meaning because this conversation always goes down at night at his bunkbeds.

Me:  Love you Mitchell.

Mitchell:  Love you more.

Mom: Not possible.

Mitchell: Well it’s happening.

Then we went to church to celebrate with our church family. I loved our service this year. It was actually really neat being ON Christmas this year. And I love how Randy addressed in his message the fact that it was kind of inconvenient because let’s be honest we’ve probably all thought it but not said it out loud. Christmas on Sunday morning means some people just don’t come to church at all because of Christmas traditions but other people move things around and it’s kind of inconvenient. But what a beautiful reminder to use that  tension of inconvenience to remember that God interrupted our world with the devastatingly beautiful plan of sending his son Jesus to save us from our sin. This is Christmas.

And then we drove to GA to celebrate with our families. The first few days at my Mom’s house with my side of the family and then we’ll go to Randy’s parents for the other half of our time with his family.

And so Mitchell got a big ole airsoft gun and Sophie got a wardrobe organizer for her American Girl Doll accessories and some American Girl doll pajama’s.

And then a surprise gift showed up for Sophie from a woman she’s never met before but that Randy and I know very well from our GA church days. And this is what she gave her:

A reborn baby doll. Sophie named her Hope Bella. And she was shocked and thrilled to receive such a nice gift. She looks so real – incredible. I won’t even go into how Randy and Mitchell make fun of the doll because it’s just so wrong on all accounts. But Sophie can hold her own and it doesn’t bother her one bit. And actually I warned the boys before hand because…..well, because I just know them….and told them NOT to make fun of the doll in any way shape or form. Did it do any good? No, it didn’t. But oh well. She’s a girl who knows what she’s likes and it hasn’t bothered her.

For 30 plus years we headed downtown Atlanta to eat dinner at the Varsity and sit on Santa’s lap and ride the Pink Pig on top of the old Macy’s. But we lost that tradition over the years due to different things – like Macy’s closing and the Pink Pig moving to a different location, etc. So now we just go to the Varsity and it’s still a lot of fun.

This year we saw an artist selling his sketches of downtown Atlanta and other key places around the South and we bought some to frame up and put in our den. So fun. The Fox theatre picture, The Varsity and Helen, GA since many of our years were spent in the North GA mountains.

And we wore this little girl slap out!

Today we go dress shopping with Sophie’s Grandmother and then we head over to Randy’s parents for family celebrations there. We are looking forward to it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!

 

Celebration of Influence

A ladies event I participated in years ago called “Celebration of Influence” has impacted me every year since. The luncheon was a special day where the ladies in our church invited someone who had influenced our lives in some way. We treated them to lunch and did everything we could to make them feel special and appreciated.

We chose a gorgeous log cabin in the mountains that hosted weddings and other events as our venue. It was beautiful.

Each lady in our group had taken time to write a letter telling the person we invited how they had influenced our lives personally. Letters were placed at each place setting with their names inscribed on a place holder.

After we shared lunch together we gathered in a circle and heard brief snippets of how our friends and guests had influenced our lives. It was so neat hearing from each other and how their guest had influenced them over time. We had a special speaker as well and she spoke on friendship and sharpening each other.

Ever since this time together I have taken on the practice of listing the people of influence in my life each year. Not an exhaustive list but I pray and ask God to help me see the people he put in my path the past year who had influence on me in some way. And then I pull out the old fashion paper and pen and I write a letter to that person. Stick an address and stamp and I just threw a Celebration of Influence party. It’s that easy.

So maybe you’d be encouraged through this to think of just a few people in 2016 who have influenced you. They might know already but chances are they don’t know the extent. Why don’t you tell them? And as you’re thinking about who has influenced you offer a prayer to the Lord asking Him to help you be an influence in somebody’s life in 2017.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Church People Can Have Fun Too!

Church People can have fun too!

And my church is proof.

This year our church gathered once again for an open house in our home and we had a blast. Some really funny things happened this year. Some planned and some not so much.

Like the coat rack crashing and all the coats being left in a pile on the floor. As people left they had to dig through a pile of coats to find theirs. I noticed that the people who floated in after the coat rack catastrophe just decided to wear their coats. Of course that could also be because of how cold we keep the house. It’s not good for the hostess to have a hot flash with church people in her home. She’s able to shed some clothes faster than grease lightening.

The food was so good – lots of great meat dishes came this year which was wonderful. The desserts and appetizers were stellar as well.

I’m not sure Sophie’s friend knew what she was getting into when she home with us after church Sunday. Bless her heart. We put her to work as much as the rest of us. She and Sophie cleaned, cooked and served punch! I hope she’ll want to come back over sometime.

Okay but ya’ll the best part of this year’s Open House?

Oh my goodness.

In response to this church announcement shown a few weeks ago we had a special guest show up unbeknownst to me or anyone else except two people. Randy didn’t even know about it.

https://vimeo.com/193242530

Rowanda Mcsomething-something showed up as “Bonita Beehive’s” sister. And because I was just serving punch at the Open House as “Melody” and wasn’t expecting said sister to show up I had to go and get my Bonita Beehive on and come back downstairs.

When I got downstairs Rowanda starting showing me some of her purse contents which included a small mason jar of “special punch”. I’m still in shock at all this going down and a crowd is gathering. Suddenly I hear, “Sing if the ocean were whiskey.” I knew the song but small kids were there and I just really couldn’t sing it the right way with them there. So I made a church version which replaced “rye whiskey” with “punch” and it just didn’t sound right at all. In more ways than one. It was just flat out wrong funny. But we were laughing so hard. This man from our church who dressed up as ……wait for it……HIS MOM……wore everything of his Moms. Down to her hair. I’m not kidding. Everything he had on was hers. I wish I had gotten a picture of his boots because he had ten rings on his boot laces. And ya’ll he’s really not crazy. He’s legit normal with a wife and son and leads mission trips and loves Jesus. Promise. Don’t judge.

What I love about this picture above is my hubs lol-ing so hard in the background. This is my ticket out of trouble. If he gets called in before the deacon board to ‘splain hisself and he says, “But it was my wife.” I’m gonna whip this picture out to gently remind him just how funny he thought this was all by hims own self. Bonita ain’t no dummy.

So this is the part where I always fail at pretty much every hostess type event I do. You will see beautiful lights and unnecessary but fun details such as garnished platters and pretty flower arrangements and such but then you might notice there ARE NO FORKS or that DEAD PLANT to greet you as you walk up the front steps. This is so me. I can never pull it all the way off you know what I mean? But I think if I were to be able to pull it all the way off I’d soon take credit for it and think I’m good at it. When in actuality it’s about people gathering and being together.

I love my church family and I love that we can laugh together and play and have fun. I love that we can work hard together and let our hair down together. That we can learn together, have hard conversations together and keep showing up even if when we’re not all pulled together. This is what I love.

When Jesus wants us to act like a three year old.

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What a tender picture of these preschoolers laying a hand on their Operation Christmas Child box and praying for the child who will receive it.

One little girl chose to give her very first baby doll. An adorable doll with a yellow gingham dress with lace trim. Like cutey patootey put-in-the-cedar-box-and-save-for-your-great-Granddaughter cuteness. Mama was struggling about this one because it’s a bit of a keepsake (you know how we Mama’s are about the firsts). It would be easier and less heavy on the heart to just go buy a brand new one like all the other items being boxed up. But the three year old wanted another little girl to have her favorite baby doll.

I love that this Mama’s heart was trumped by her heart for God. She wanted her little girl to walk in that love and give selflessly. Who are we to mess with what God is doing in our kids hearts?

Have you been there before? We talk to our kids about loving God and others and how we should pray for the homeless man we see out our window and then our kids come back with, “Oh, I know what we should do Mama. We should invite him to come home with us!”

Errrr, well……and a slight laugh of “bless him he doesn’t know any better.”

My good friend had that conversation with her son last week. The three year old wanted the homeless man to come over to their house. The Mama’s heart has been burdened for this man for a long time. They see him on the streets all the time.

What do you even do with that?

I’m the first to say that fear would keep me from having a complete stranger in my home. I’m more street wise than that.

I regret not letting Sophie give ALL her money one time as a gift to someone. She was so little and didn’t understand the value of money but her heart is so very generous and I snuffed out her desired act of radical generosity because it didn’t make sense to me.  You don’t give ALL of it. Be generous but with limits. Be a wise steward which means it needs to make sense on paper and always leaving money left over.

You give a baby doll but not the one that means a lot to you. That’s too special to give to someone you don’t even know.

Sadly this is my thinking at times and when I say it out loud it makes me cringe and sick to my stomach because I know it’s not the perspective our God has on things. I don’t want this to be my earthly vision of things.  I want to have a three year old’s perspective when it comes to loving others. Perhaps this is what  Jesus was talking about when he tells his followers to become like a child.

I don’t know what it always looks like and I don’t always do it well but I’m learning and watching the radical generosity and love of our God through the Bible. And I love it. I want to extend this kind of love to others.

So the next time someone accuses you of acting childish – don’t necessarily take offense to it. Unless you like stuck your tongue out at someone or fell down on the ground and threw a temper tantrum in the church aisle because they didn’t use the hymnal or something. Yeah that’s not cool childish behavior.

Well, I’m off to go play in the sandbox.

Ya’ll have a great weekend!