When Everything Falls Apart | The Struggle and Journey of Infertility

When Everything Falls Apart | The Struggle and Journey of Infertility

When Everything Falls Apart | The Struggle and Journey of Infertility

For a hopeful couple, some of the hardest words to hear are “You can’t have a baby.”

In a moment, the future they’d hoped for of raising a family of their own flesh and blood dissolves. The possibility that comes along with not knowing is ripped from their hands.

And it hurts.

This news becomes a loss that must be grieved. And, as with any grieving process, this will look different for each individual and each couple.

I had a chance to ask Renee Umeda, one of the leaders for As We Wait, Mission Hills Church’s infertility support group, about infertility and how we as a whole can come together and support families journeying through infertility.

The first thing we wanted to stress is that infertility does not change a person’s identity in Christ. If you are going through this, you are no less of a woman/wife/man/husband because of infertility. You are not broken. You have not let anyone down. You are a child of God and he is in this journey with you. However, this truth can be difficult to hold on to in the midst of the struggle. I urge you to not believe the lies that say you are anything other than a beautifully and wonderfully made child of God.

If you are going through infertility, it is easy to feel shame and feel isolated. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help or to talk about your pain to safe people. You are not alone.

How can I support my spouse through this?

As you go through this, try to remember your spouse also lost the possibility and is also grieving. Renee said, “One of the best ways to support your spouse is regular communication. Each spouse deals with this struggle differently so it is important to understand where your spouse is coming from in their own process. Try to let go of your expectations of them and give them lots of grace. Allow them time to ‘not be okay’ and not have it all together. [Much] of infertility is unfortunately grieved silently but make sure you grieve alongside your spouse in the best way you can.” She also suggested that it may help to find another couple going through a similar struggle, as it can be helpful to “find someone else that ‘gets it.’ You feel alone in the journey, but there are many people who understand and would love to support you and your spouse.”

How can the church support couples going through infertility?

Acknowledging the difficulty can go a long way in serving couples. Infertility is a struggle and a lot of healing can happen by creating a space where it’s okay to be honest about how hard it is. “Some of the hardest times at church for a couple going through infertility are the Mother’s Day service and baby dedications,” Renee said. It would also be helpful to learn which phrases make the journey more difficult, phrases such as “you are still young,” “just adopt,” “you just need to relax,” or “it will happen once you stop trying.” These phrases can trigger pain for couples. Rather than offering a fix for their struggle, it’s often more helpful to be a listening ear and say something like, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m here for you and praying.”

As Renee put it, “Infertility is a process and each couple has to come to terms with how and when God is choosing to build their family.” Every journey will be unique. If you haven’t gone through infertility yourself, your attempts to help may not be what the person you’re trying to help needs. The first step of love is listening.

If you’re struggling through infertility, we want to listen to you. Please reach out to us to learn how you can get connected to our support group, As We Wait, led by Renee Umeda and Kelsey Brooks.

AS WE WAIT

National Infertility Awareness Week happens every April and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is October. These are national opportunities to help spread awareness and love to those going through infertility, but the work of spreading awareness and love is not only limited to those times.

April Family Challenge

April Family Challenge

It is estimated that parents have 3000 hours of intentional time with their kids each year. The Kids Team knows that those hours are vital in the social, emotional, physical and spiritual development of your kids. In 2019, we want to encourage and challenge you to find rhythms in your home that are engaging, creative, fun and allow for natural conversations about faith and Jesus. Every month a staff member from the Kids Ministry Team will share an idea from their family rhythm that will guide you in making those 3000 hours a year a little more intentional. Join us each month by sharing how you incorporated the month’s challenge in your home. Post your family experiences to social media using #mhcfamilychallenge for chances to win prizes and encourage other families to join the challenge!

MAKING THE MOST OF DRIVE TIME

Some seasons feel like they lack rhythm. In the often dizzying pace of work, school, weekend plans, after-school clubs, sports, church activities, birthday parties, dinner plans … it’s hard to find good solid time to really stop and talk with your children about the important things in life. You know, the things you really want them to get so they can grow to be a young man or woman of God. With electronics pining for more and more of our time (because let’s face it, our entire lives are on those little devices), we really must be intentional in finding pockets of time that we can dedicate to engaging our children.

Our pack’s family rhythm doesn’t beat to the same rhythm set by the Cleaver’s. In the morning, we’re barely able to all get out the door in a timely fashion with everything we need for our day. Family dinner doesn’t always come together with our various schedules and activities, and by the time bedtime rolls around we just aren’t awake enough to really engage in family conversation.

So when am I supposed to mold this young mind God’s entrusted me with?

There is only one time where we are all off our devices (for the most part) and have a captive audience away from life’s distractions and constant clamoring for our attention. This amazing utopia is in our car during our drive times. Whether we are on the way to or from one of our several destinations, our “grocery getter” is a hallowed space where we do life together.

Living 20 minutes from many of our destinations gives us ample time to listen to a devotional over the speakers in the car and gives us time to unpack what God is teaching each one of us in our own personal walk with Jesus. Travel time also allows us the intentional time needed to check in and hear about each other’s day or week. Our son is always up for any short conversation about just about anything while riding along the highways and byways. We have found our car to be a sacred safe place to unpack life and walk through difficult situations. It’s the pause and the confined space that allows us time to really be present in a way that no other time or space does.

We are a family of music lovers, but sometimes the best thing we can do is turn down the tunes and tune in to conversation that will help us all be more on point with each other, with life and with God. I hope the next time you are in the car with your kids, that you will take the opportunity to connect and point them to God.

Check out the Parent Cue App for personalized ways to connect to YOUR kids while you drive. Find it in your App store or via the button below (you can also click on the picture above to take you there). 

TRACY ADAMS
KIDS MINISTRY COORDINATOR – RAHAPLACE

March Family Challenge

March Family Challenge

It is estimated that parents have 3000 hours of intentional time with their kids each year. The Kids Team knows that those hours are vital in the social, emotional, physical and spiritual development of your kids. In 2019, we want to encourage and challenge you to find rhythms in your home that are engaging, creative, fun and allow for natural conversations about faith and Jesus. Every month a staff member from the Kids Ministry Team will share an idea from their family rhythm that will guide you in making those 3000 hours a year a little more intentional. Join us each month by sharing how you incorporated the month’s challenge in your home. Post your family experiences to social media using #mhcfamilychallenge for chances to win prizes and encourage other families to join the challenge!

Marching to a different drum

Walking with Jesus is “Marching to a different drum!” My husband Tim and I chose that drum beat as first-generation Christians. We both had great values & morals displayed in our families, such as great love, generosity, and more, but we both sensed something was missing. It was in our twenties that God captured our hearts and we gravitated toward a personal relationship with Jesus. Fast forward now as parents, our prayers and desire of our hearts has been to have our kids know and love the Lord. But what does that look like? Where do you go to see that lived out? How do you know that you’re doing it right? All these questions have swirled in our heads. Luckily, we found an incredible church body.

For us, the church community displayed a heartbeat for providing parents with resources to walk authentically with our kids. Sometimes an activity would really connect for our family, like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube, trying to race to get it back in to win the $20 cash prize Tim placed in the center of the table! But the real prize was the life lesson that our words can’t be taken back, only forgiven and that we need to use our words wisely. One of my favorite moments was “steps to a good day,” which I made up! I placed a small, “SHORT” devotional on the stairs, and I would read it to the kids as they put their shoes on before they walked out the door for school (man, how I miss those elementary days). In the whirlwind seasons that came later, we struggled to be consistent with the devotionals. Today our parent posture is that of thanks; we are thankful for the small group leaders, family, and friends that influence our kids in their faith as they walk through middle and high school. They are a vital part of our family marching to a different drum. Remember, no matter the phase your kids are in, I think God just smiles when we attempt to “March to a Different Drum!” by placing him in our daily rhythm. And if you get off beat, try a new rhythm, just keep marching toward Jesus.

Check out our parent resource page for some great ideas to authentically connect and march to a different drum with your kids. Parent Cue is an amazing place to start. 
*Check out the links (via button) below. 

First beats, (aka- getting started) initiate a great conversation about what it means to choose Jesus!

Tricia Stefaniak
Kids Director

The Struggles and Blessings of Adoption

The Struggles and Blessings of Adoption

THE STRUGGLES AND BLESSINGS OF ADOPTION

Family is one of the most important parts of a person’s life. There are nuclear families, extended families, close families, and distant families. And then there are the members of our family who aren’t related to us by blood at all—close friends, parent’s friends, and the people we share life with on a regular basis.

Those friends have been adopted into our lives, grafted into our perspective of family.

For some of us, the nuclear family we grew up with or the family we’re growing for ourselves involves adoption.

For some, adoption has always been part of how they anticipated growing their family. For others, it comes about as an alternative to biological children.

I had the chance to ask Coletta Smith and a few members of our Adoption Group, Jessica Nutting and Alicia Osborne, about adoption and how that process can go.

There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through when a family is trying to adopt, and there are a few conversations families should have with each other when thinking about adoption.

“Just like any other life-altering decision, adoption should be pursued after research, serious prayer and maybe even after receiving godly wisdom from someone you trust who is strong in their faith,” Alicia said. “If you are married, both of you should be in agreement. But once you know that you know that you know you are supposed to adopt…GO FOR IT!”

Adoption is a beautiful image of the love God has for us. Over and over throughout scripture, we’re told that we are adopted sons and daughters of God (John 12:1, Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 8:14-17, Ephesians 1:5). If God has called you to adopt children into your family, take the encouragement that God will be with you in the process and in the welcoming of another person into your family.

However, given the intensity of the process, Alicia suggests some ways that the church can come alongside families as they both jump through the legal hoops and even after the child has been home for a few years.

“Families need support,” Alicia said. “They need prayer and a judgement free listener who won’t offer solutions because what works with some kids might not work with all kids, especially kids from hard places who have complex developmental trauma. They need connection with other families who look like them and have similar experiences as them—they need community. They also need practical support. For example, a dinner when things are hard, a qualified respite provider, or just a patient babysitter for the evening so they can have an evening out with their spouse.”

 

“Get others around you who either have run this marathon before or who are just great cheerleaders along the way,” Jessica added. “Make playlists of encouraging music. Let yourself dream. Let yourself cry. Give yourself rewards for each milestone you reach (classes completed, etc.). And invest in your current relationships.”

Lastly, Alicia pointed out that no two kids are the same or respond in the same way. What works for one may not work for another. Plus, there’s no way to know what kind of trauma the kid may or may not have experienced.

“Children who were adopted at birth can have significant trauma,” Alicia said. “And there are kids who were adopted as older children who are very resilient and well adapted. Don’t assume that an infant adoption equals a child with no loss or trauma.”

Whether you’re thinking about adopting, in the process of adopting, or have adopted and just want support, we’d love to connect with you. We have an Adoption Meet + Greet this coming weekend and we would love to connect with you!

 

ADOPTION MEET + GREET

February Family Challenge

February Family Challenge

It is estimated that parents have 3000 hours of intentional time with their kids each year. The Kids Team knows that those hours are vital in the social, emotional, physical and spiritual development of your kids. In 2019, we want to encourage and challenge you to find rhythms in your home that are engaging, creative, fun and allow for natural conversations about faith and Jesus. Every month a staff member from the Kids Ministry Team will share an idea from their family rhythm that will guide you in making those 3000 hours a year a little more intentional. Join us each month by sharing how you incorporated the month’s challenge in your home. Post your family experiences to social media using #mhcfamilychallenge for chances to win prizes and encourage other families to join the challenge!

Walking is a part of my weekly rhythm

Often I walk with my husband as it is the best time for us to catch up and it gives us a little alone time (our kids are now old enough that we can make this happen…if you aren’t there yet, just blink and your time will come). Sometimes my walk is just me and the dog. But my favorite walks include my kids. Walking with my kids has given me a window into their lives. I realized when my kids were younger, as we walked along sidewalks or trails, their imaginations would explode and I was hooked to many of their make believe stories. As they have gotten older their willingness to share what is on their mind or heart is elevated when we are walking. They ask really good questions and are more willing to engage in conversation.

Let’s be honest, there are times I invite my kids to walk and you would think that I asked them to cut off their arm, but I keep inviting and may even force their participation. Sometimes our walks become an arguing match between them or a contest to see who can annoy the other the most, and I can’t wait for the walk to end, but I keep inviting and may even force their participation. Sometimes we walk and not much conversation is had, but I keep inviting. Why? Because of the potential. The potential for engaging, witty, rewarding, life giving conversation with my kids. Walks remove distractions from home and allows me to be present, to know about their friends, to hear about their day at school, to understand how they are processing a current event, etc. Walking is a rhythm in our family.

Get outside and take a walk!

Some walks can be with one kid and some with all of your kids. If your kids are young, ask them what they see and hear that God has created or have them make up a story that may continue on future walks. If your kids are older, you can have an open ended question ready to ask or just walk and wait for them to begin talking. Don’t force conversation, it will happen naturally. Take a walk and be present with your kids.

Take a picture of you and your kids on a walk before the end of the month and post to social media using #mhcfamilychallenge.

Some of our favorite trails:

Kim Hanson
Kids Director