How to Care for the Barren

The Great Getaway 2014

IMG_1413[2] copyDo you crave fellowship with other women who understand what it’s like to be childless or to lose a child? Do you have ethical questions about infertility medicine you’d like to ask a pro-life doctor? Would you enjoy eating decadent, gluten-free desserts prepared by a loving pastor’s wife who just wants to spoil you rotten? Do you need a retreat in a beautiful house near a scenic park in historic St. Louis?

Then, you might want to join us this summer for The Great Getaway 2014 on Friday, August 22nd through Sunday, August 24th.

 

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Who:  Any woman who suffers from barrenness, secondary infertility, or is grieving a recent miscarriage

What: The Great Getaway retreat agenda

When: Friday, August 22nd through Sunday, August 24th

Where: St. Louis, MO

Why: To get away for a bit and relax in the company of your sisters in Christ

 

IMG_1886 copyInterested in attending? Register online today and hightail it to St. Louis by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 22nd. We’ll take care of the rest.

If you would like to attend the retreat but have trouble meeting the financial requirements, we HRTB hosts have penned a letter that can be sent to your family and/or friends asking for their sponsorship of your retreat attendance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any help.

 

Refrigerator Love

Whenever I walk into my kitchen, I am reminded of something extraordinary:

Though God in His wisdom has not blessed me with the gift of children of my own, there are children out there who love me and need my love in return.

I am reminded of this fact every time I reach for the refrigerator door, for there, pieced together like a quilt of tender affection, hang colorful pictures, drawings, letters, cards, handprints, and crayon art created by beloved nieces, nephews, godchildren, tiny friends, and church family who remember me in my barrenness.

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Refrigerator love is a powerful forcefield which holds back the suffocating silence in a childless home.

So, if your children have a special auntie or uncle who struggles daily against the empty loneliness of barrenness, consider mailing some refrigerator love their way.

(And the kind of refrigerator love that goes behind the door – especially if it is of the chocolate variety – is also known to be effective.)

 

 

Infertility Ethics Symposium – Saturday, November 8th

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Calling all LCMS pastors, seminarians, commissioned ministers, deaconesses, and parish nurses!

We certainly live in a “brave new world,” especially when it comes to infertility medicine.

In vitro fertilization, embryo adoption and assisted reproductive technologies…What is the Church to do? How can the Church steer congregations through the ethically murky waters of infertility medicine? What comfort can we as the Church offer to those who suffer from infertility and miscarriages?

LCMS Life Ministry and the Concordia Seminary Life Team are helping start the conversation by sponsoring an Infertility Ethics Symposium for pastors, seminarians, commissioned ministers, deaconesses, and parish nurses on Saturday, November 8, at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Won’t you please join us?

Admittance is free.

Contact LCMS Life Ministry at 314-996-1711 or tracy.quaethem@lcms.org for more info as it becomes available.


Symposium Schedule:

8:30 a.m. – Opening Worship – Rev. William Weedon (Homily: Prof. John Pless)
9:00 a.m. – “Be Fruitful and Multiply: When It Doesn’t Work” – Rev. William Cwirla
10:00 a.m. – coffee break
10:30 a.m. – “Survey of Reproductive Counseling Practices in the Lutheran Church” – Rev. Dr. Kevin E. Voss
11:30 a.m. – “IVF: from Created to Creator” – Rev. Dr. James Lamb
12:30 p.m. – lunch
1:45 p.m. – “Embryo Adoption: Helping or Hurting My Neighbor?” – Rev. Dr. Robert W. Weise
2:45 p.m. – “Pastoral Care for Those Experiencing Infertility” – Rev. Christopher Esget
3:45 p.m. – break
4:00 p.m. – “The LCMS and Infertility Ethics” – Rev. Peter Brock
5:00 p.m. – Closing Worship – Rev. William Weedon (Homily: Dr. Jeff Gibbs)
5:30 p.m. – Gemütlichkeit

Real Comfort Food

A child prays.Heidi invited me to feast on the Word, specifically on this:

[T]he surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10 ESV).

Thank you, Heidi.

Control Issues

Father Watching His Infant SleepOne of the most terrifying things about adoption is handling everyone else’s expectations. They come on so heavy from the start.

“You should adopt. Why haven’t you adopted, yet? Is it the money? Is it that you only want a child from your own womb, because there are so many orphaned children out there who need a home.”

“How can you have been married for so long and not have adopted a child, yet? If you just started the process, you’d have a child in just a couple of years.”

“You don’t need to have the money up front. God will provide it if you, in good faith, go ahead and start the process. He helps those who help themselves.”

“It’s selfish whenever people adopt from overseas. Don’t they know there are children right here in America who need our help?”

“If you start the adoption process, you’ll get pregnant in, like, a year. I know a ton of people who’ve had that happen.”

All of the questions and projections and insinuations that surround the issue of adoption in our society are not unlike those which surround infertility. Our world – and, in some cases, even the Church – really does believe a barren woman can and should be able to control such things, but a barren woman knows the truth that there is not a single thing she can do to give herself the gift of a child through conception or adoption. Oh, how she knows it! Believe me, if she could control such things, she would have a child, already.

I think it’s worth reflecting a bit on what kinds of answers we’re expecting the barren to give in response to the questions listed above. Most certainly, their answers would be personal (too personal for general conversation in my humble opinion), and the barren most likely won’t engage us with a list of self-justifications for why they’ve not yet been given a child through adoption. The reasons are often too painful: the rejections from birth mothers and agencies, the ethical dilemmas, the meager pocketbook, the pre-existing medical conditions already in the family, the income level which can’t support the medical needs of a special-needs child, an unsupportive extended family, racism in grandparents and church bodies, an unsure spouse, and so much more.

I recently talked with a woman who was denied the opportunity to adopt because the agency rules of her generation required that both she and her husband have college degrees. It didn’t matter that they had plenty of home and heart and income to support the needs of a child.

We just have no idea why God in His wisdom has not given the gift of children through adoption to some barren couples, and we would be wise to respect His giving.

Remember, children are a gift from the LORD – even adopted children – and “His will is just and holy.”

White Knights

knightThere are some men, particularly protective brothers in Christ, who look at me with understanding in their eyes but say nothing. They simply act.

They put their baby in my arms before I can say no.

They walk into the kitchen at their child’s birthday party to silently check on me.

They hug me hard after church on Christmas Eve before I drive home to my own, childless house.

They hand me a gift bag of homemade candy on Mother’s Day.

They drive me to far-away presentations.

They stand at my side and put a comforting hand on my shoulder when IVF death statistics are read aloud at conferences.

They travel across state borders to attend a roundtable discussion on IVF and embryo adoption.

They buy a copy of He Remembers the Barren and read it.

They pray for me.

Truth be told, these men are princely, white knights to this barren damsel in distress, and I am so grateful. Thank you, silent men, for everything you do.

When God Hides Himself from Us

Truly, you are a God who hides yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior. Isaiah 45:15

“We’re called to leave the hidden things hidden. We should not try to figure them out. There might not be a satisfying answer in God’s Word to every question that is raised by hardship and cross-bearing. Jesus directs us to turn our eyes away from what we cannot fathom to the blessings that are ours by faith in the Gospel, even in the midst of tantalizing why-questions. Our many unanswered questions concerning God in this world might go unanswered–but God in Jesus Christ is there in the Gospel.” (Holger Sonntag, “Our Cross with God” [CPH], 38)

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Navel-Gazing

Grief is different than self-pity, I think, though the line between them can get a bit hazy.

Grief happens, while self-pity is manifested.

Grief comes to a person, while self-pity comes from a person.

Grief is born out of suffering, while self-pity is born of our own sin.

Grief is endured, while self-pity is relished.

Grief moves us to call upon the LORD, while self-pity looks to our own navel for comfort.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), dear sisters, not our navels.

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