Peace & Grace For A Couple’s Pain & Void

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I wrote this article in 2011 for a Father’s Day cover-story at the request of a website that ministered to couples who experience the heartache of infertility.

Prayerfully, I hope it will again provide a measure of comfort and encouragement to heartbroken couples who are today experiencing the pain of loss and infertility.

God offers us Peace that is greater than our void, and Grace that ministers to our pain.

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“Dave, come quickly, by the time you arrive at the hospital, your wife will be in emergency surgery!”

What? Not exactly the opener to a phone conversation with our doctor and family friend, Dr. Chris, that I would ever have expected. He went on to explain briefly about my wife, Teresa’s medical emergency.

Three Early Trimester Miscarriages…

My wife and I had barely been married two years by this time, and while we had been hoping to build a family, we had already experienced the heartache of three miscarriages in their first trimesters. The second and the third losses were just as traumatic to our hearts and dreams as the first loss.

Now, my wife was pregnant a fourth time and had seemingly been progressing well. She began to experience some pain in her right side, so she made an appointment to see our doctor just to make sure everything else was fine with her health.

Ultrasound Scans…

Our doctor ordered an ultrasound to gain a perspective on the pregnancy and on her internal organs from where the pain seemed to emanate. The ultrasound technician did a fairly thorough exam of her abdomen and womb, and though the pregnancy tests had been positive some time earlier and again on that same day, he could not locate a pregnancy with the ultrasound scans.

Prior to releasing Teresa from the ultrasound lab, the technician called our doctor with his results. Nothing was found, wrong or otherwise. The scans were all normal, except no pregnancy was found.

Anticipating there was a problem, our doctor instructed the technician to keep looking, to keep scanning, and to not let her leave the lab until the pregnancy was located. He was certain she was pregnant, and he wasn’t going to release her until he could understand her symptoms and condition, pregnant or otherwise.

Forty minutes more of ultrasound scanning and probing and the technician said, “There it is!” He called the doctor with the results, both good and bad news.

The good news was that the doctor had been correct in his insistence for the ultrasound scan to continue until something was found. The bad news was that it was an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, very advanced, and on the verge of rupturing. A woman in that condition will almost always die of internal bleeding if the tubal pregnancy ruptures.

Emergency Surgery…

Upon reviewing the results, the doctor immediately ordered emergency surgery, and he picked up the phone and called me at my place of work. He informed me that he and another specialist were preparing for her surgery, and for me to hurry the approximate 30 miles from my location to the hospital in which she was already located.

My mind raced as I tried not to race my car to the hospital. To this day I hardly remember the drive, other than trying not to speed and be stopped for a ticket, thus making my arrival even later.

I arrived at the hospital and a nurse was waiting for me at the front door to guide me through the small maze of hallways to where my wife was being prepped for surgery. I arrived and had about ten minutes with her to talk, and pray, before they wheeled her out of the room.

Providential Timing…

Several hours of waiting followed. Finally Dr. Chris came into the waiting room where I was, and he said that Teresa’s surgery went very well. He said the timing of opening her abdomen was providential because just as they reached the ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, it began to rupture. They were able to tie off the bleeding with no time to spare.

Peace & Grace for Living with Infertility…

My wife and I have now been married almost 30 years, and we have four children in heaven awaiting our arrival. It has been difficult not being able to bear children. Though we have been involved in foster care, and at one time came very close to adopting a young girl at the specific request of the courts (a heartbreaking story of its own), we still carry a void in our lives.

Though the void of being childless remains, there is a Peace of our Heavenly Father that exceeds the emptiness of that void, and a Grace of His that mitigates our pain. Do we still feel the void? Oh, yes, we do! However, the Grace and Peace of our Father provides something that is greater than that painful void.

As for me personally, I thank the Lord so, so much and so, so often that He spared my wife, Teresa, on that fateful day when our doctor and family friend called and said, “Dave, come quickly…”.

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#PastorsTip #Marriage #Parenting #Pregnancy #Birth #Children #Ultrasound #TubalPregnancy #EctopicPregnancy #Miscarriage #PeaceOfGod #FosterCare #FosterKids #Adoption #Courts

Fabrications, Figures, And Furs

Let’s face it, in today’s society almost anybody can have their face refabricated with plastic surgery and enough makeup; their figure can be reformed to fit selected measurements; they can be clothed in the latest fashions; and they can be adorned with the softest of [fake, not real] furs. The only limit to recreating the outward beauty is the imagination.

Every gentlemen wants to marry a beautiful lady, but it should be first and foremost a beauty that radiates from a God-loving heart. Don’t get me wrong, beauty in youth is wonderful, and God’s original design for ladies was a natural, beautiful body.

Beauty though, as the saying goes, is only skin deep. Relationships are not (and should not be) just a physique-based attraction between the body-handsome and the body-beautiful. Instead they are to be a heart-based attraction with a soul-to-soul connection.

David married King Saul’s youngest daughter, Michal as a prize for killing Goliath. As a princess, she no doubt had access to every “modern” beauty aide of that day, and she likely made good use of them. From attendants gifted in designing fashion, applying makeup, and creating [real, not fake] furs, she received the best of the best. From a purely physical point of view, David was a very blessed man to marry such a beautiful princess of prominence and prestige.

But, the joy her fabricated beauty brought to him could not counter balance the sadness and pain that came into his God-loving heart from her self-centered, ugly heart.

“As the ark of the Lord was entering the City… Michal (David’s wife)… watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.”

~ 2 Samuel 6:16

The beauty of a wife that is enjoyed by a husband for a lifetime is a beauty that continuously radiates from a God-loving heart. If you are considering a marriage proposal, pray and ask God to show you the beauty of your potential future mate’s heart. Measure their beauty using God’s standards, and not by mankind’s standards. He will guide your path to the right lady, one of His own princesses.

One thing I have noticed in scripture, godly men who were led by God in the selection of their wife almost always had a wife that is described as having both kinds of beauty, physique-beauty and heart-beauty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with “worldclass” physique-beauty, as long as the heart-beauty is absolutely “heavenclass!”

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#PastorsTip #2Samuel6 #David #Michal #Beauty #PlasticSurgery #MakeUp #Fur #Physique #Heart #GodLoving

Like Heavenly Father, Like Earthly Father

Parenting a child isn’t a single event of creation between two married people, nor an outcome of an illicit one night stand. It’s a lifelong mission of love which provides consistent training and discipline in their youth, and coaching and consulting in their adulthood.

The majority of parents who are brought great joy by their children are adults who have been parenting their children since their day of birth. Certainly there are exceptions to this general rule, and in today’s society those exceptions are far too many. However, the general rule still stands for the majority of parents who are raising and relating to their children well.

“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.”

‭‭~ Proverbs‬ ‭23:24‬

In this Proverb, the “father” and “son” terminology was not used to exclude mothers and daughters, it was simply a style of writing that King Solomon used that makes a direct point from which the reader then draws the big picture of the truth. This verse is about both parents and both genders of children.

Good parenting begins even before conception; it starts in being a good couple who builds their own marriage relationship. Every parenting couple that wants to have their children bring them “great joy” so they can “rejoice” in them throughout their childhood, youth, and adulthood will ‘stack the odds’ (my term, not scripture’s term) in their favor if they will be completely, lovingly, and thoughtfully engaged in providing consistent training, discipline, coaching, and consulting.

Our Heavenly Father provides Divine parenting for us too. In our early years in the faith He consistently trains us and disciplines us, then as we mature in wisdom and holiness He transitions to coaching and consulting us, all without distancing Himself from us in loving relationship.

Today, the term “Family Planning” refers to a couple (married or unmarried) having sex while taking steps to keep conception of a baby from taking place during their encounter. “Planned Parenthood” is an organization that specializes in the abortion of a baby that somehow bypassed the the couple’s attempts at “Family Planning.”

God’s idea of REAL “Family Planning” is when a married couple has a God-designed “Planned Parenthood” that conceives, births, and raises a child with the kind of love, devotion, and involvement that our Heavenly Father has for us throughout our lifetime.

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#PastorsTip #Proverbs23 #FamilyPlanning #PlannedParenthood #Conceive #Birth #Parenting #Fatherhood #Motherhood #OneNightStand #Marriage

Spousal Appreciation Renewal

A couple may be dependable, faithful, and loving to one another, and yet it is within this context that Appreciation can still deteriorate to mere Expectation.

Appreciation is a positive feeling of gratitude that we experience when our spouse does something for us that we do not [secretly or openly] demand of them in our relationship. Even the smallest of things can result in a sizable positive feeling of gratitude.

Expectation is when we [secretly or openly] demand something to be done for us because of the relationship. Unfulfilled expectations are a bitter feeling that we experience when our spouse does not fulfill our [secret or open] demands. Completely fulfilled Expectations never produce the same feelings as Appreciation, at best they trigger a neutral bland feeling, which makes the relationship feel blah.

As for my use of the term “demand,” some would resist the thought that they demand anything in their relationship. Well, let them tell themselves that the next Valentines Day, Birthday, and Christmas when their spouse suggests that no “gifts” be given to each other on those occasions.

Some might say that gifts on those special days are tradition and not their “demand” of the relationship. Again, if they did not receive gifts on those special days, would their feelings be neutral, or that of bitterly unfulfilled and slighted?

My point here is simple, and it’s not to point the finger. It is however to shine a flashlight so that we can see ourselves in the dark mirror and be genuinely honest with what we see in ourselves. If we are feeling gratitude as a direct result of our relationship, we are likely people of Appreciation and our spouse is free of our [secret or open] demands called Expectations.

I have looked in the mirror and have seen a change within me that I want to make. I want to starve, uproot, and burn my tree of Expectation; I want to plant, nurture, and be blessed by a tree of Appreciation. If we are cultivating two trees in our heart at the same time, both Appreciation and Expectation, the Expectation tree will soon overpower the Appreciation tree. We must eradicate (with extreme prejudice!) our own trees of Expectations.

The Book of Proverbs speaks directly to many matters of the heart, including those of married couples. Here is a passage that speaks to us directly as couples; it isn’t only referring to physical intimacy, but to the big picture of keeping the relationship fresh throughout the years of living life together:

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”

~ Proverbs‬ ‭5:18-19‬

In nature, most trees absorb carbon dioxide and other potentially harmful gasses from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

In our analogy, the trees of Appreciation absorb potentially harmful feelings such as unfulfilled expectations, and release gratitude into the atmosphere of the marriage. If in nature one tree can provide oxygen for four people, think of how rich the atmosphere of a home will be if there are two trees of Appreciation for just two people!

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#PastorsTip #Proverbs5 #Appreciation #Expectation #Gratitude #Unfulfilled #Fulfilled #Marriage #Relationships

The Adrenaline of Relational Conflict

Do you have a loved one who seems to always be in the midst of a relational crisis with some or all of those around them? (Or, maybe you are that person that is in constant crisis?)

It is possible that your loved one is an “Adrenaline Junkie,” someone who is in constant search of situations (consciously or subconsciously) that will trigger their own brain and body to release adrenaline into their system.

More commonly the Adrenaline Junkies we might hear about are those who go skydiving, bungee jumping, or engage in other risky activities. The videos of their adventures that are broadcast in the media are quite often very popular because their audience members themselves (like me) often have some adrenaline release triggered in their own bodies just by viewing their risky activities.

Adrenaline is a powerful body-produced hormone that has great benefits and pleasurable effects. It’s release into our system should be managed by each person through living in godliness and wisdom. However, as with most anything in life, it can become highly abused and become an addiction to which we can become enslaved.

Many of the “works of the flesh” listed in the scriptures involves the abuse of our body’s ability to trigger the release of adrenaline into our system. Adrenaline in and of itself is a very good God-designed and God-given hormone for our body’s functions and enjoyment, but when we mismanage its use we can become addicted and enslaved by it. It is this ungodly mismanagement and abuse of adrenaline that can be referred to as “works of the flesh.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

… The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

‭~ Galatians‬ ‭5:16-21‬

As for conflicts in relationships, most everyone does not consciously create conflict for the purpose of an adrenaline rush. While other factors are often involved too, things like an illicit romantic affair, being intensely argumentative, secretive gambling, and other vices that are relationship stressors that one “falls into” usually has at its core a desire to “feel alive again,” which usually translates to a subconscious craving for an “adrenaline fix.”

A marriage relationship where a couple does not “feel alive” basically comes down to the lack of either spouse triggering any adrenaline release in the other, like they did early in their relationship. Let’s remember, adrenaline is good for a marriage, if it is triggered in agreement with scriptural wisdom, and not by means of conflict.

We would be wise to consciously discern the true reason behind any conflict that arises in our own life, or the life of a loved-one. A heart that is sincerely surrendered to Christ will be willing to see the truth, regardless of what it might truly be… even if He reveals a “relational conflict adrenaline junkie.”

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#PastorsTip #Galatians5 #Relationship #Conflict #Adrenaline #Junkie #Marriage #FeelAliveAgain