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Not Another Period

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A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a mom’s group. We were sharing difficult circumstances that God had used in our lives for good. One mother of teenagers remembered two and a half years of trying for a baby and how she would have a good cry whenever she got her period.

After all, when you’re trying to have a baby, there’s one thing that always makes your heart sink. Having another period.

I remember those days too. My husband James and I had been happily married for a few years. We were in our thirties so that biological clock was ticking. We decided it was the right time for children. But we didn’t factor infertility into the equation!

After trying for a year without success, it was time to seek medical help. I remember walking into a packed room for a free seminar about infertility. I had no idea that so many couples struggled with having kids until that day. I was literally surrounded by couples who were facing the same set of circumstances. We all wanted a child but our bodies were not cooperating with the plan.

I was not only getting periods every month. I was getting periods that lasted for two weeks at a time with heavy bleeding. It took months to diagnose, but the fertility specialist rightly concluded I had a fibroid in my uterus that was causing the heavy bleeding and infertility. We scheduled surgery to remove the fibroid but the date I was supposed to have surgery, I was still bleeding. I couldn’t be on my period during the surgery, but my periods were so long and unpredictable that it was very difficult to determine a good date in advance. This happened twice! If you’ve ever had to schedule surgery, you know how frustrating it is to wait for a surgery date only to have it postponed.

After several months, I finally had the surgery! I wrote in my journal:

September 2003: Daddy got me a balloon with a bear on it. The bear had a band aid over its “uterus.” As I sit on this side of the surgery, my prayer is for healing of my uterus, no more long periods, and children. I feel the joy of the Lord with the newness and hope of becoming a parent.

That Christmas, my husband and I vacationed in Austria. We figured as long as we didn’t have children, we better make the most of it! I had been feeling very emotional and tired, but maybe it was just the travel.

During the trip, we toured the world famous Vienna Opera House. During the tour which took us backstage, out of nowhere I had to vomit. I turned to run away from the tour group but only made it to the hallway before I lost it. Thank God it was just a hallway and the staff was so gracious. Was it just the flu?

My period didn’t come so when we returned home, the first thing we did was get a pregnancy test. My heart was beating wildly as I walked away from that little pregnancy test stick. I went back in the bathroom a few minutes later. Two lines! What joy! What relief. We were going to be parents!

Nine months later, I had a seven pound miracle from heaven named Ethan. When you’re not sure you’ll ever be able to have your own children, and then you hold a little one in your arms, it’s an amazing feeling. I am extremely grateful for the privilege of being a mother.

Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t automatically able to have a baby. Waiting to have Ethan taught me two lessons I would have missed otherwise. First, I learned about the importance of hope. Hope makes all the difference in the world. Without it, I might have given up and thought getting pregnant was just for other women.

Second, I learned about patience. Like many other women, I have a plan in my brain about my life. I wanted to get married shortly after college but that didn’t happen. I had to wait a few years. I wanted to have children and that didn’t happen instantly either. God’s timing isn’t mine and that’s not only OK, it’s better! Father truly knows best.

Today Ethan is four and his sister Noelle is two. I am so grateful for two beautiful children on earth and two children in heaven who I lost through miscarriages. All of these babies have made my life rich.

But what about if your baby hasn’t arrived yet and you’re still waiting? May I suggest this simple exercise in faith and prayer? Every day say out loud, “God, I know You are the author of life. I believe You will give me a healthy baby. Thank you for this incredible blessing!” Remember hope is important! As you pray this to God, He will be faithful to hear you. Meditate on verses like I Samuel 1:27 where Hannah said to the Lord, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

And if you have a friend who is struggling with infertility, you may wonder what to say and what not to say. Here are a few things that encouraged me:

  • Pray for your friend and ask God to bless her with a child. Let your friend know you are praying for her. Write a note, send an email, or talk to her in person.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your own children. You don’t have to pretend you don’t have kids just to protect the feelings of your childless friend. Just avoid comments like “Wow, there’s nothing like being a mom!” or “You haven’t really lived until having kids!”
  • Bring over a meal or flowers when you know your friend is especially discouraged or in need of help. After my surgery to remove my fibroid, we had meals delivered to our home and that was such a huge blessing.
  • Ask your friend if she has a good fertility specialist. When I met my fertility specialist, that’s when things started happening. My fibroid was diagnosed and we were able to move forward to a solution.
  • Be an advocate for your friend and keep believing God for good results. And when that dreaded period rolls around, just remind her that next month could be the month! We serve a God who puts the sun, moon, and stars on a schedule and He can command our periods and pregnancies as well.

“For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and earth, in the seas and in all deep places.” Psalm 135:5-6

Arlene Pellicane is the author of 31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery. No Diets. No Kidding (Harvest House Publishers). Before becoming a stay home mom and author, Arlene worked as a features reporter for The 700 Club and an associate television producer for Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. As fun as those jobs were, nothing compares to parenting her three young children. Visit Arlene’s website for tips on looking and feeling younger (without botox or diet pills!).

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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on The Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Not Another Period

by Arlene Pellicane time to read: 5 min
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