About Me

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Hi. Welcome to my "taboo" blog. My name is Steph, and when I first started this, I was still in my thirties. In 2017, I switch decades! I am a Christian, so underlying everything I do and say is the Word of God, and the foundational truths I have learnt over the years. This doesn't mean I'm perfect - I am human. It just means I recognise I need God's help to live this life and try to live out His way, as best I can. So that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog, I hope you draw strength, hope or encouragement from what you read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Opening Up The Infertility Converstion In Church!

The end of November was National Infertility Awareness Week. 
I had the honour of writing a guest post for the Premier Christianity Magazine blog about infertility in the Church, which was really good for highlighting the fact that 1in 6 couples struggle to conceive a baby.

It astounds me how little we talk about it in Church, and yet statistically, if one in six couples struggle to conceive, how many couples a suffering in silence in our own friendship circles or Churches?

Isn't it time to talk about it??

Read the article I wrote here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sacrificial Lemonade

"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade"
You must have heard that quote. It's a way of saying that no matter what life throws at you, there is a way to overcome it and to make something sweet out of our most bitter experiences. 

I have had the honour of hearing Sheridan Voysey (author of Resurrection Year, his new book, Resilient, will be reviewed here soon) speak three times. Twice within the last month. Sheridan took this concept of "using lemons to make lemonade" in a new, insightful and theologically provocative way. Far from being a glib attitude to "deal with whatever life hands you", this has come from years of walking through the wilderness. And from years of being used by God to minister to people in their brokenness, inspite of his own pain.

When Jesus was on the cross, this was undoubtedly His darkest moment. The heaviness of the burden of our sin laid on His shoulders, as God, His own Father, looked away from the scene of abject pain and misery. There could be no more bitter a lemon handed to anyone. And yet, in His darkest hour, Jesus ministered in the midst of His pain: To His mother and John, He made provision for after He would be gone. To the thief on the cross, He ministered to His soul for the after life. To the Roman Soldier who realised they had crucified the Son of God, Jesus ministered. To those watching, who mocked Him and taunted Him, Jesus extended love, mercy and forgiveness as He ministered. To us, He ministers.

What this demonstrates is that even in the worst situation we can ever face, even there, God can use us to minister hope and healing into someone else's life. The comfort we receive from God we are able to pass on to others. The pain we share, can bring assurance to someone else. Our vulnerability can be the light through which Jesus shines in our brokenness. We create the sweetest lemonade, when we somehow allow the Holy Spirit to use us when we want to hide away the most. This is sacrificial love. This is the impact of a life adventure with God. This is the truth of Jesus' words "don't hide your light under a bushel, a city on a hill can't be hidden."

May you find a way to make lemonade with the Lord, a sweetness beyond the bitterness of this journey of infertility. In Jesus name.

Monday, November 9, 2015

DiaryDolls Pants for Endo-Periods!

Oh my days! Oh my days! Oh my days!
I have found THE most incredibly simple, but highly effective thing EVER to be created for women who suffer the monthly embarrassment of endometriosis!

If you're of a nervous disposition, get squeamish, or feel awkward about discussing a woman's monthly cycle..... Or you know me..... You might want to just click on the link below and then never, ever return to read the rest of this post!! Hahah!

So here is the link: DiaryDoll waterproof pants.

I have written in a previous blog post about special Snowball Undies for the men; so it's nice to know there is finally something specifically for the ladies.

Anyway, I meant what I said before the link...... This is your final warning to stop reading!

Ok... So that might sound a bit weird. But the DiaryDoll waterproof pants were designed by women who have suffered the shame and embarrassment of heavy periods, for women who suffer the shame and embarrassment of heavy periods.

Not just any old women..... Nope! 
Tennis player - Annabel Croft, and TV presenter - Carole Smilie.
Yep..... These wonderful women are the designers of these wonderful invention.

Endometriosis is the bane of all heavy and painful periods suffered since I was a teenager!
And NOW.... Someone has created the perfect way for women like me to protect clothing, bedding, chairs.... In fact... I comepletely understand why God set the "rules" for menstruation back in Leviticus, because of the way I soon learned the most awful lesson, that neither the heaviest tampon, nor longest pad COMBINED could ever compete with the endo-period. Oh my days, so undignified! The "quick check" whenever you stand up, carried out like a professionally-trained, stealth-ninja, whenever you're in public. If you have Endo, you will understand exactly what I mean. 

And so, you will understand my excitement at finding this secret weapon in the monthly battle against leakage.

The DiaryDoll pants have a waterproof layer right through the middle section, all the way round from the front to the back. This layer works with our normal protection (it's not THAT kind of a miracle that we'd never have to wear sanitary products ever again, let's not get silly!), and simply creates a barrier designed to not allow leakage to burst through.

I'm curious to know how successful they will really be, so have just ordered a pair, and will let you know what they are like, probably a little while after Aunt Flo's next visit (Not sure I'm ready to actually share when she arrives.....there is such a thing as over-sharing, you know!).

I really hope they are good as the hype! 
It'll save the embarrassment of having to walk out of a service, or a meeting, carrying my bag, every hour!!!

Please note: For the sake of oversharing....this is NOT my order! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Recommended Reading - Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey

One of the most important books I have read this year, is "Resurrection Year" by Sheridan Voysey. In fact, it has been so important, I bought a copy for a friend in the same situation and recommend it to anyone who wants to understand what we #1in6 are going through.

Sheridan shares the journey he and his wife, Merryn, have travelled as they started out: hopeful at the family they would raise together; until they found themselves trudging toward huge barriers to their dream. As with all of us, they tried "every trick in the book", so to speak. 

But this is not a fairy tale, it is real life. Gritty. Passionate. Heartfelt. There's no guarantee of a happy ending, and this is what I love about what Sheridan shares, as he opens up about  the trauma, the pain and the humour of their experience in trying IVF as an option, as well as the heartache when they started adoption processes. Nothing seemed to work. Nothing seemed to help. All the healing prayers with or without anointing oil, by one or a group of people seemed as unfulfilled as the medical treatments.

What I really value about Ressurection Year is that Sheridan doesn't try to jazz up the story. He is authentic about the burden he and his wife carried, and as I read through it, I found the pain of my journey meant I could, to an extent, feel the rawness of his and Merryn's anguish. To the extent that I found it very difficult to read, except in small bursts. A chapter here, a few pages there. I started it in January and finished it in September (just in time to start reading Sheirdan's new book "Resilient" which was launched in October!).

I think Resurrection Year, will always be my "go-to" book, when I feel like I am alone in this walk. And I will always recommend it as an excellent resource to understand infertility & sub fertility. Hearing the testimony from a husband's perspective adds a new dimension to what this journey is all about. So often we can focus on what the women go through, but husbands feel it too. Their dreams are just as broken as ours. Don't forget about them.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Braver Than You Believe...

This being the National (In)Fertility Awareness week has led to some interesting conversations and experiences for me. The latest one at lunch time today, involves someone who doesn't know about my situation, but has probably worked it out. I mean - it's not difficult to work out, is it. I'm married, in my late 30s and childless!

So this guy is one of an army of volunteers who comes into the office where I work in order to help us accomplish the daily work we need to carry out. He will often pray for the team and arrive at the office with a word or encouragement he believes God has laid on his heart for each member of staff. I'm not always sure about the words of prophecy he gives, but the encouragement he brings is nice. 

Today, when there was a quiet moment and the rest of my colleagues were in various parts of the building, he spoke to me and said that he wasn't sure how relevant this was, but he felt God saying to him that I "was pregnant, or was to become pregnant."

I'm not. 

As #1in6, endometriosis has made what should be easy, a flippin difficult path. 
And as hubby and I are having problems - like, serious problems - the path is lonely and not even close to being productive. 

So, it doesn't even look likely to be a "soon-time" thing.

I try not to allow my "heart to harden" when I hear people saying these kinds of prophecy over me, because it is very easy to do. I would like to be as light-hearted as I once was, to freely accept when people tell me this. But pain and the long, hard, slog of this path have led me to be cautious. 

It's not because I don't have faith. 
It's become a matter of self-preservation. 

At least it will give me something to speak to my counsellor about later, when I meet for prayer ministry. Depression has led me to that place where self-preservation and faith have to somehow work themselves out in some kind of weird, harmonious, balance as I tread this path deeper into the unknown. Infertility - the path without a clear, definable end in sight. well there is, I guess... menopause. But I am a long way from that point. So for now, I have to try and find my way as best I can. 

Such is the journey of sub-fertility, as a woman after God's own heart. 

And as two different friends have reminded me, in a card and a wall-plaque they bought separately for me:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hope Deferred: Depression

One of the hardest things I find about this journey of infertility, is the depression.

It crept up on me.

I didn't even recognise it for what it was, I just kept plodding through life as best I could, till suddenly I couldn't plod any further.  

The understanding of depression, which is caused by our circumstances (as opposed to people who have a chemical imbalance which impacts every aspect of their life) is best described by the writer of Proverbs as:
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (13:12)
Depression which is as a result of infertility is most definitely the result of hope deferred. The hope for a baby. The hope for a family. The hope for a future family life. All those dreams of watching your children play, your daughter trying to walk in your shoes, the paintings on the fridge, the home-made cards and letters, and the joy you can share in days out, complete with the frustrations of the car journey. 

The dream which is so long in happening.
The dream which looks as though it will never happen.
The dream which has gripped your heart for so long, it's long bony fingers squeezing ever tighter, squeezing out hope, squeezing out the dream and slowly replacing it with the stone, cold dread that it will never be so. 

And so the heart becomes sick. 

Sickness of the heart. 
Sickness of the mind.
Leading to a sense of disconnect with the life that is happening around you as you wrestle with the desire which should have been so easy, so natural, but which has become so elusive. 

And so the grief of infertility swamps you. 
Grief overwhelms you. 
Depression takes hold of you. 
Till life takes on a different hue - a different tone. 
The vibrancy you once knew now has a subtle grey, dark overtone. 

Hope deferred.

The worst part is that there is no end in sight. 
No light at the end of the tunnel.
No sense of knowing when the "desire fulfilled" will become my "tree of life"
But holding on... believing... hoping... one day...

Father God, I praise You for upholding me on the darkest days, and holding my head up when I just want to hide away. I thank You for Your love and strength, and the promise You gave to never leave my side. I thank You because even though my heart grieves for what has not yet arrived, that I can trust You for my future life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This Is One Reason Why Infertility Awareness Is Important

As I mentioned in my previous post, this week is National (In)Fertility Awareness Week. After my latest experience on Saturday night, it reminds me more and more, how much we need society to be aware of the #1in6 on this crappy #Infertility journey.

Saturday night I went to a farewell "do" for a couple who are making Aaliyah (they're Jewish and are finally making the move to live in Israel.....in their 60s!). On the way, I realised I needed to put fuel in the car, or I'd be spending my night sitting on the A38!

So after filling up my car, I went in to pay for my fuel, when the "nice, old lady" behind the counter decided to insult me AND break my heart, making sure I had the most awful Saturday night one could ever have wished for.... Highly ironic for "Halloween"!

"When are you due?"
"Your baby? When is it due?"
"Ermm it's not...I'm not...errr"
"Oh. Sorry. I just thought."

And then....THEN....I start making excuses in order to not cause her offence and to make her feel better!! Whaaat??!!?
"It's OK, it's the coat. There's a lot of space for winter jumpers."
"Ohh... Oh yeah. The coat."

I just wanted to pay for my fuel and enjoy an evening with friends before they leave the UK! I went to the dinner, but my mask had cracking and people noticed something wasn't right. I left early, after arriving late anyway, and sobbed all the way home, before collapsing on the stairs just inside my front door and wished life was very different. So so different.

Even watching Strictly when I'd calmed down didn't help.

People need to be aware of the high number of couple who struggle to conceive. 
1 in 6 couples!
Would you ask a single women paying for fuel when she was getting married? Awareness should hopefully lead to less ambushes on those of us walking the road of infertility whenever we choose to wear a big, baggy, warm coat on a cold autumn evening!

National (In)Fertility Awareness Week

The National Ferility Awareness Week started on Monday and runs until Sunday. This is an excellent campaign to try and raise awareness of the plight of #1in6 couples who struggle to conceive.

One of the things the organisers, Infertility Network are asking people who feel able to do it, is to take a selfie while holding something saying #1in6.

It's a brave step!
It's a vulnerable step!
It's a difficult step!
But I do see that it is an important step!

So here is mine.

If you are able, join the #nfawuk campaign by uploading your own picture with #1in6 on it. 

Obviously it is better if it's a picture of you as a couple journeying together, but this is not always possible. We don't have to feel ashamed of the journey we're on. It's just the particular train God led us to. Who know what we will enjoy on the way, or where our journey will take us, but God is right there with us, and He is in the driving seat.