Jenni's Journals - Hannah's Hope Book

Entries here at "Jenni's Journal" are designed to be "infertility-friendly" with an intentional avoidance of many pregnancy/baby/child-related references. If you are looking for personal updates including motherhood after infertility, you are welcome to visit my InfertilityMom blog as well.

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Friday, August 31, 2007


2 Hearts Beating As 1...Sometimes

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here's the 7th in this series.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Two Hearts Beating As One...Sometimes," chapter seven of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.

Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" - 1 Samuel 1:8 (NIV)

Unlike my husband, I found that infertility defined me. Someone would ask, "What do you do?" and Rick would answer with a description about his job, while I hoped no one would aim the same question my direction. "Stay-at-home-mom" was a socially acceptable answer. "Stay-at-home non-mom" never went over as well...
Infertility can feel like being caught in a burning house. The two of you run in different directions, tripping into and over each other, trying to escape the terror. As the suffocating heat closes around you, part of the panic comes from the lack of assurance that you are still together in this darkness.

While their barrenness was beyond the control of either Elkanah or Hannah, God ordained Elkanah to guide his family through the process. The apostle Paul give this admonition: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:22-24).

I know submission can be an unsettling concept. Since sin first entered the world with Adam and Eve, it's been hard for women to let men lead. As a direct result of our sin nature, we have an impulsive drive to run the show. While my desires often conflict with Rick's God set him in authority over our family... When my doctor presents a medical course that offers me hope, it is hard to hold back when Rick gives a flat-out no, or even when he wants to just take time to prayerfully seek more answers. But my marriage vows are to my husband, not to my doctor or anyone else!

Does this mean that my husband's decisions are always the "correct" ones? Not necessarily. But I am called to trust God by allowing my husband to lead me, even in the face of his very human fallibility. I callenge you to allow your husband to take the leadership role in your fertility joureny. In the struggle to "have a family," it can be so easy to forget that as husband and wife we already are a family. It is important never to lose sight of this fact. While the desperation might make it feel otherwise, our marriage relationships truly must remain higher priorities than having babies.

Thoughts to Ponder:
What most attracted you to your spouse in the beginning? Why did you marry? What do you most desire about your partner? What joint activities bring you the most shared pleasure? If these answers don't readily spring to mind, it has been too long since you shared a common heartbeat. Sit down and list your answers on paper, then pursue ways to add to your list of joys together.

For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham... You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear - 1 Peter 3:5-6 (NIV)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the man you have given me to share my life with. While there are times I just feel like he doesn't "get it" or can't understand my depth of grief, thank you for the checks and ballances of emotions and rational thinking between us. Thank you that even though he is not perfect (nor am I!) I can trust you to guide us through him when I step aside and allow him to lead. Thank you for the times I can lean on his strength to take the next step in our journey and his sanity to hold back when I might blindly rush ahead of your plan.
Help me to remember to keep our marriage a priority when this baby quest becomes too all-consuming. And thank you for your grace to bring our hearts back together at seasons we seem far apart. For my sisters without their husbands, due to divorce, widowhood, emotional/spiritual disconnection, or even seperations such as military deployment, I pray your extra strength, comfort and grace upon their hearts tonight. You promise to be a father to the fatherless and a husband to women alone. Please be all of that to my hurting friends tonight.
And daily, Lord, please be preparing me more and more to be your Bride, ready to stand before you, spotless and blameless because of the blood of your Son, in whose name we pray, Amen!

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Monday, June 04, 2007


Because He Loved Her

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here's the 4th in this series.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Because He Loved Her," chapter four of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.

But to Hannah [her husband] gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.
- 1 Samuel 1:5 (NIV)

I once heard that infertility is like a roller coaster where the wife is struggling to hold on during the wild ride while her husband is frantically trying to find the brake. In this month of June, where fatherhood is widely celebrated, let's remember that infertility is not just a "woman's issue". Little frustrates a man more than feeling inadequate to prevent his wife's pain.

Remember Leah, who felt she needed to earn her husband's love (Gen. 29-30)? With each pregnancy she announced sentiments like "Surely my husband will love me now... At last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons... This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."

While I am repulsed at the very thought of polygamy, this was the reality for many Biblical women, including our beloved Hannah. You see, some early religious leaders had twisted God's command to Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" to the point of actually advising that a man should divorce a wife after 10 years of barrenness. [For more about Jewish traditions surrounding infertility, see "And Hannah Wept" (Philadelphia, New York, Jerusalem: The Jewish Publication Society, 1988), pp. 47-48.] So, when Elkanah took Peninnah as an additional wife, not as a replacement, this was an act of great mercy. He was affirming his love for Hannah, with or without children. What a contrast between Jacob's attitude toward Leah and the loving grace Elkanah showered on Hannah!

For the first few years of our infertility journey, I struggled greatly with the idea that if only Rick would have married the "right" woman, he could have been a father already. One of the most loving gifts Rick ever gave me was his ongoing assurance that infertility was our battle, not my humiliation to bear alone. God knew from the start that it would take ten years and giving our hearts to a dozen children before we would bring two safely home. While it was my body that complicated our efforts, Rick frequently reminded me that as one flesh before God, there was non his or hers. God's plan for us as a couple included wrestling to build our family.

Point of Action:
- Make a list of some specific ways your husband has treated you with grace in the midst of grief and use this list as a guide to help you pray for him with thanksgiving.

My Loving Heavenly Father,
Thank you that I can always run to you when I myself am in need of a Daddy's strong arms. Thank you that nothing in our lives catches you by surprise. There is no path that you allow my husband and I to walk through where you have not already prepared the way.
For the loving husband you have blessed me with, thank you for his faithfulness and grace toward me, even in the seasons where my grief makes me rather unlovable. Let me never take him for grated and help me to be the life-partner he deserves, that you have called me to be. Help me to see our shared journey a bit more through his eyes so that I can support and encourage and pray for him in meaningful ways.
And for my friends who are struggling alone, having lost their husbands in the midst of this painful journey, please give them your special grace and protection in this double grief.

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