Holding Onto Hope, Anticipating Joy

Julie Davis

One wife's journey on the road of infertility and missionary living. Real life ~from Small Town, Missouri to Prague, Czech Republic.

It Will Be Wonderful to See

Hello everyone, I wanted to share some recent thoughts on scripture with our desire for children. I grew up in a country church in Missouri. Many people who know my family’s church know exactly what I’m writing about. It is a great country church that my parents still pastor today. I grew up often hearing that every christian had a testimony. I guess growing up hearing that, we can get a picture in our minds on what a “testimony" may include, salvations, healing…or some other great miracle. I don’t think I ever really thought about how the painful parts of life, even while we are in the middle of them, can be powerful in communicating God’s love. Back in March I was reading in the book of Matthew. I was reading chapter 21. Towards the end of this chapter, a verse spoke to me in a way, that I know, God gave for me for this time. In Matthew, it is spoken by Jesus, and referred to from Psalms 118.

42 Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.
You see, it was during this time, that I started feeling led to share our story. I thought a blog would be the best way for me to communicate it. It is not an easy story for me to share…in fact, my story is not even finished. I also find that it’s hard for me to share things that are so personal. I know what you’re thinking, "Don’t you share about yourself all the time?" ...Sure, I can get up in front of strangers and share about God’s call to missions in our life, and the people He has asked us to minister to. Yes, that is personal…but, in a very different way. Sharing this…the long road of infertility, putting our hopes, desires and feelings out there for all to see (and be judged), being vulernable to what people may think, the questions they ask and the comments they make…that is not so easy. That is a level of intimacy I usually reserve for my husband and family.

...being vulernable to what people may think, the questions they ask and the comments they make…that is not so easy.

I'll do my best at sharing what the Holy Spirit dropped into my heart...
The first part of this verse reads, “the stone that the builder’s rejected, has become the cornerstone". This is talking about Jesus. He was here on earth for a period of time, to offer love, hope and mercy, but was rejected. It was through that rejection that He was crucified and died. His death did not last, as we know, He arose in 3 days and He became our cornerstone. Everything we do, we do because of the cross. It was because of His death and resurrection, He took the punishment for our sin, so we can be forgiven. He destroyed the curse of Adam, and He paid for our healing. That end result, even though it was a burden for Him to bear, painful and terrible to endure...it became something wonderful for us! It is the Good News for the disciples and us, who put their hope, trust and faith in Him.

This helps me to find the answer to the question, “why is this happening to us." I have asked that question many, many times. Why would God make something that we desire, be so difficult to have? Why would God allow us not to conceive? Or mostly, just, why? This verse reminded me that I can trust and have confidence in what God is allowing to happen. It also helped me to decide. Will this burden define my life? …or will I let God use this suffering to share His love?

We can trust that He will do what He has promised to us (Psalm 128:3). We believe He will answer when we call on Him. So, I trust that, “This is the Lord’s doing." and not some curse or a punishment. We can have confidence that in the end “It will be wonderful to see." whatever and however we see our miracle! If Christ suffered for me, maybe I can let His light shine through my pain. Even while we are still struggling, and we have not experienced what we are asking for, God is still God and our faith in Him speaks to hurting people. …I’ve already seen it touching others.

If Christ suffered for me, maybe I can let his light shine through my pain.

…that is when I realized…it WILL BE wonderful to see. It will be such an amazing testimony to share of what God has done! Who are we to know all the why’s and how’s of life? …but in the end; if it is to show someone that God loves us and cares about our desires, if it brings comfort and hope to someone struggling in the same way, …it could even bring someone to Christ because they saw our faith and hope through pain and turmoil...then, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see? That is why, I choose to take this burden, as by Jesus’ example, so that it will be a testimony of God’s love, hope and mercy. This burden is so much smaller than His cross, but it is not one that is easy to bear either. However, I want to carry it in a way that is pleasing to God and shows the faith we have in Him, what a testimony it will be to and for others to see.

Because of this, I have started sharing our story. I don’t know what paths our story will take. I don’t know if it will be over soon, or if it will continue a while longer…all I know, is, it will be wonderful to see.

…and because of that faith and promise, we continue to Hold onto Hope and Anticipate the Joy God has for our family!

-Julie


Aaron and I outside of Gennet, our Clinic here in Prague. Among the old and historical buildings, stands this modern shiny one, that we are thankful for.

I Choose to Smile

As we walked out of the parking garage, we passed all the shoppers on their way to the mall above us, we started our walk down Na Porici street to our Infertility Clinic. It started to rain. Not just a light rain, but a downpour. As the sky let loose everything it had, Aaron and I ran down the street, dodging other people, trams and busses. His legs are longer than mine, and I am always playing catch-up. I almost rolled an ankle. I thought to myself…this is not a good sign to how our appointment is going to go.

This week, we started making very specific decisions on our next steps in our Infertility process. We started visiting this clinic with the goal of having an IVF procedure. I am anxious and excited to start this part of our journey. We are being reminded that my American mind set of, get-as-many-things-accomplished-or-discussed-in-one-setting, is not going to be the norm here. Our first appointment was a few weeks ago, and based upon the ultrasound (cyst!...on my left ovary! …nobody freak out!…it’s normal…at least normally abnormal…if that makes any sense), they wanted to do another one before we moved on in the process. So, the follow-up happened on a Monday. My doctor was not in, so one of her colleagues performed the ultrasound. …oh and she couldn’t find my right ovary…I guess it didn’t get the memo, today was another ultrasound at 11:00.

Here in the Czech Republic, I have learned (thanks to some good advice from a fellow missionary lady) that you wear a dress anytime you have an appointment with a gynecologist. You know those little gowns you get at the doctor’s office in the US? Those apparently, don’t exist here. So, basically that environment of privacy disappears. It’s amazing, how we know the doctor is going to see it all, but that security blanket (or gown in this case) still makes a difference, no matter how thin or flimsy it feels.

Today, we had the follow-up to the follow-up with our doctor and our IVF Coordinator (she is supposedly a different type of coordinator from the two other coordinators we have already met with). As we entered the office to sit and discuss our plan of action, I heard the doctor mention doing another ultrasound. What? I was wearing PANTS! When I was getting ready this morning, I thought, oh maybe I should wear a dress just in case. Then, my American mind thought, oh you had one yesterday you won’t have another one today…WRONG! …I’m up to three ultrasounds in less than a week. …I’m pretty sure more are on their way! So, as she pulled the curtain to divide the office part from the examination portion of the room, I looked at Aaron, smiled and went behind the curtain. She motioned me to the corner, to undress (I say corner, because that is what it was, no screen or second curtain). Then, she motioned me to walk to the table. Thankfully, I had on a somewhat longer shirt, but still…I will never really get used to that. The results…were…hopeful. …at least both ovaries were in attendance.

I have found that going through these appointments is being put on an emotional rollercoaster ride. After our appointment Monday, and not hearing the greatest, but not the worst news, I was still sad. …Aaron too… Apparently between the two of us, a tray of cupcakes went missing. (It’s okay, we both are still losing weight.) I am sure the gray and rainy skies did not help.

It didn’t help either that we are in this land that is familiar, but unfamiliar. The fact, that we can’t just hop in our car and have an easy drive home, we fight the entire city of Prague. If you have ever driven here, you understand, it’s like an action movie every time you go to the store. Each step, each appointment, each discussion is emotionally draining and exhausting. When we got home, we both collapsed and quickly fell into a sugar coma. However it’s a paradox, I remember thinking at the same time, today I will choose to smile. I choose to rest in knowing that our God is with us and working in us. Then, today, we left with the feeling of hope and excitement of what is to come in the following weeks. So, as we continue on this journey, will you please pray for us. Pray that our emotions can somewhat be stable, and I don’t snap at some poor lady who’s checking me out at the grocery store. …I don’t know what I could actually say in Czech that would be insulting…I’m pretty sure I can say, “See you later." and make it sound pretty bad. Joking aside, Pray that this path that God has lead us to with IVF, will be the tool He uses to make our miracle happen.

~Julie

This week I received my “olive branch" necklace. I wear it and remember I am holding on to hope, and anticipating joy.

The Week After Mother’s Day

It seems a little less impactful this year, and I know it is because it is not so “in your face" here in Europe. In fact, Aaron and I were traveling on Sunday, and didn’t see much mention of it…that is, of course, until you check Facebook and see all the well wishes.
However, this year, I noticed more people were writing statuses to include all women. Women who are mothers, women who have adopted children, women who are fostering children, even women who are striving to be mothers.
Last Mother’s Day, I was in church in the US. It is one of the hardest holidays for me. There is this feeling of dread when you wake up, and think how am I going to face this day? How am I going to walk into church and smile and act like everything is fine? How will I smile and nod through the questions people will ask, “Do you want kids?" or “When will you become a mother?"

Each year, I sit through the service where all the mother’s are recognized…with a lump in my throat and on the verge of tears. Hoping and telling myself, next year I won’t feel this way, because I will be a mother…believing that.

1 in 8 couple suffer from infertility. That means, if you have a group of about 20 couples/people, 2-3 of them may be struggling. Normally, we are the ones who are smiling and answer questions (that are sometimes too personal to be asked) about having children, with a slight nod and whisper of a yes. We may be silent, we may even have a tear or two fall, but on the inside we are crying out desperately, to be what you are.

We pray, we cry, we don’t understand, BUT…we have faith, we have hope and we believe.



1 Samuel 1: 9-19

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house.10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine."

15 “Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him."



So, on this week after Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you to all the wonderful mothers out there who work so hard to make their children’s lives great. I appreciate you setting the bar high, as to what a mother should be…I look forward to applying a lot of things I have seen you do one day soon.

And to the ones who, like me, are trying so hard to become a mother…thank you for making it through one of the hardest days of the year, with a smile on your face. Even if it is not what you felt, you still smiled through your sadness. I am praying for you. Praying, that as we wait for our moment, that we all can have faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, to hold onto in believing for our miracles.

Praying together with you, as we are holding onto hope and anticipating joy!

-Julie

Holding onto Hope, Anticipating Joy...for our little olive shoots

When my husband was a young man, around 17, he begin praying for his wife. First of all, how blessed am I, that my now husband was praying for me before he even knew me.

During his prayer time, God gave him a chapter that he held on to, and now as a married couple, we continue to hold onto it.

Psalm 128

A song of ascents.

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.


5 May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6 May you live to see your children’s children—
peace be on Israel.

Little did he know, that this scripture he was holding onto as the promise of God for me, would be the same one we would hold onto for the promise for our children.

Verse 3 says,
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

The exciting part of this verse, is that God blessed Aaron with a wife…and He will bless us with olive shoots around our table! Notice that there is more than one olive shoot!

For me, as I continued to read the rest of the chapter, verse 4 reminded me again of His promise to us.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.

The word “THIS" in the verse is very significant to me. THIS encapsulates this entire promise…for us. We are walking in obedience and THIS represents the promise God gave to us that we will have little olive shoots around our table. THIS is a blessing, THIS is a promise, THIS is the hope in knowing that God will indeed bless us!
*Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement and private messages you have sent. Some from friends, some from complete strangers and some from other women/couples struggling on this journey as well. We are traveling this week, so my thoughts and feelings are a bit short, but know that we are encouraged and excited about what God has promised us.

~Julie
(Here’s a photo from our city!)

Waiting Eight Years, for Nine Months. How we arrived on Na Porici Street.


14 years ago, I walked into a rented hall for a celebration for my parents ministry anniversary. In that hall was a young man, who had just returned from his term as a Missionary Associate in Belgium, along with his parents who were long time friends of the family. In fact, they attended my parent’s church when Aaron and I were just babies…Aaron and I were in the nursery together, his parents moved for work, and I never saw him again…until this day. His reasoning for attending was that his mom told him, “They have a pretty daughter, you should come!" I would say at this point, the rest is history; but for two slow moving, unsure of ourselves, and in-college-young-people…it took a whole 6-7 months for the history to begin. 😃 It did, and we were married on March 20, 2004. We have been married for 12 years! They have been some of the most wonderful times of my life. I am so thankful that God brought this man into my life. We love being together, laughing and enjoying life, we are with each other pretty much 24 hours a day, and love it!

White Picket Fences are Overrated
When we were first married we were youth pastors in a small town. It was really a great opportunity for us to learn how each other worked in ministry, and learn how we work together as a team. I was a school teacher in the town and Aaron was finishing his Illustration Degree and working at a T-Shirt Print Shop. Eventually, we moved into Springfield; Aaron’s job was there, my new job was there, we bought a house there. We had this thought, this is our time to live the dream of who we are. This will be the life we always wanted! I started to pursue my Masters of Education Administrations Degree, Aaron was working full time as a Graphic Designer for a major store, we were attending a great church and helping on the Mission’s Committee. Yes, it was a great place to be in and a great time in our lives, we were however feeling this unsettlement, not feeling fulfilled in what we had studied and trained to be. We often talked about it, and would try to figure out what we could do to make that feeling go away. What steps were there left to take? Then, one Sunday, our church was celebrating the new missionary candidates that were being appointed that year with our organization. There were about 30 couples/families/singles. During the Sunday School hour, each class had 3-4 of these missionaries sharing about the call God has placed on their life, to some place overseas somewhere. As they were speaking with the sincerest passion, the unsettledness that our hearts had been feeling started to stir again. I didn’t look at Aaron, I didn’t nudge him, I just sat there. As we were leaving the class for the main service, we stopped in the stairway, and Aaron said, what are we doing with our lives? Well, I knew then he had felt the same thing I had. At that spot, we felt God call us to the mission field. That was in 2008. We would go through interviews, applications, blood work, doctor’s appointments…then, once accepted, we had to travel all over MO to raise the funds that we needed to live and do ministry. In January 2011, we finally arrived to where God has called us, the Czech Republic.

New Job, New Experiences, …& A New Addition?
It is around this time, When (and where) we started thinking about starting a family. We are taking new steps in life, shouldn’t babies be a part of that too? As a young married wife, who had never lived outside of the US or MO, I couldn’t imagine having a baby overseas in some place I had never been. So, we thought, we will try and conceive while we are itinerating (knowing it would take about 1.5-2 years to raise or budget), that way we could deliver in a US hospital and have family and friends around. It’s that easy right?...just stop taking that pill, and watch it happen in a couple of months. At this time, we did not realize that this may be harder than we thought…we were traveling every weekend and sometimes during the week, speaking everywhere about only one half of the dream that was on our heart.

So, we moved to the Czech Republic. After about 2 years living here, we thought we should go to the doctor and mention that we have not been able to conceive. During my yearly exam, I mentioned to our doctor that we had been trying to conceive for several years, and had not been able to. Her head jerked up, and she started rattling off in Czech to her nurse…To this day, I don’t know what she said. The doctor’s office is in an old house. There are two doors to go through to get into the exam room. Kinda like an outer door and an inner door from Hallway to office. …Except those doors are about a foot apart. It may seem a bit, odd, but there is always this terrible clacking sound as the doors crash into each other whenever people pass through them. I grew to HATE that sound… It was a reminder, every time I heard it, I have problems, I’m the exception, I’m not normal. All we wanted is a baby, how hard is this supposed to be? ...following ultrasounds and blood tests, I started on some medication. My body reacted very well, all signs positive, but still…no baby. After months of repeating the pills and Aaron giving me medical injections, the doctor mentioned that it may be time to refer me to a fertility clinic. We were about 2 months from returning to the US. We would have to wait for our transition back to the United States. She hoped for us, “All the the best…", as she handed a folder of medical notes in trade for our efforts.

We were in the Czech Republic for 3 years. At this point, it had been almost 5 years of not being able to conceive, without any reason medically. That is the frustrating part. When you read blogs from other infertility women, I always see that they have been diagnosed with this or that, and that is what makes it hard…for me, there is nothing. It is just hard.

Old Neighborhoods, New Avenues
We retuned to the US. I was pretty insistant about not going to a fertility clinic. In my mind, if I went there, it was saying there was indeed a problem…I was infertile. It is a hard thing to process and understand, unless you have went through it. That’s not to say, that we don’t need support from our family and friends who haven’t experienced it…we do, it is just complex emotionally…I still haven’t found the right words.

Since I wasn’t ready to accept this, we looked at another option, Adoption. Aaron and I have always talked about wanting to adopt. In our minds, it would be after we had a baby of our own. We thought maybe this was the path we needed to take. We started the process with a great agency (One my parents adopted my older sister from), and were working through the process. We got to a point, where we were going to need to pay a substantial amount of money for a home study. The home study would be good for one year, and then we would need to do it again….except as missionaries…even that gets complicated. We are only “home" temporarily. In speaking with our representative from the agency, she mentioned we could go ahead with the home study, but that at this time they didn’t have any children up for adoption, and there was a list of other couples in front of us for when they might. It was kind of a big heavy slam of the door for us. We never expected there could be a “shortage" of adoptable babies. One thing we have learned in our married life, is that God is pretty obvious with us. The doors usually swing wide open or get slammed in our face. This was one of those slam in our face moments. We took a step back, and just waited and prayed.

We saw a door open when I was invited to do a long term substitute teaching job. It was the same school I worked before, in the same grade I worked before, with some of the same teachers too. It was some disposable income. We decided to do it. It would be for about 3 months, just during the week, which is important for missionaries traveling on weekends sharing their purpose in life. During this time, God started to open my heart to that stinking fertility clinic. 😃 Did I mention, the long term sub was for someone who just had a baby? Going to a fertility clinic in the US, can be very expensive. It’s not covered by insurance. We are taken care of financially by our organization, but this kind of “extra" money is hard to come by. This teaching money income coming in, could mean the difference between baby or no baby. We decided to take the gamble, we would try it. After all, we only experienced tests in the Czech Republic, we thought, maybe they may have another approach or another option.

The Fertility Clinic
So, I made the appointment…at a fertility clinic. As we pulled up to the clinic, there was this flood of emotion. We walked in, we were handed papers attached to clipboards that we must fill out. Our information. …our name, address, how we fail at making babies...

Every once in a while, a woman would come out and pay and leave…she would have the look on her face that I was feeling on the inside. The waiting room had one other woman, and at the moment I realized how lucky I was that I wasn’t sitting there alone…next to me was my wonderfully loving and caring husband, holding my hand as I was fighting back tears. Why tears, who knows..I pretty much cry each time I go to a fertility clinic.

We did a couple of tests that were more specific to infertility. They were painful at times, inside and out. The people were so kind and caring. The care rooms were always dimly lit, there was a nice blanket to cover up with. If they could see that I needed a moment, they would step out and give it to us. When a procedure or test was happening they would talk in low tones and try to keep things light. All the while, Aaron was there, holding my hand or sitting in the corner. So, thankful that I don’t have to walk this journey alone. We have some great family and friends, who are praying with us that makes these steps a bit easier. After a few months of testing and one IUI procedure, our money was gone, several thousand dollars and all my emotions, spent.

Expanding Our Circle
We asked a couple of prayer warriors, to pray with us, and we continued to travel and raise funds to return to the Czech Republic. During these 2 years of being in the US, we started to share a bit more of this story and request prayer. First with family, then few close friends, then our prayer warriors, then our home church and recently our support team (which is about 300-400 people). Our thoughts were, we need a miracle, who better to ask for help in praying for us than people who already love and support us and our ministry. We are so thankful for people, some we know, some we don’t, but all of whom believe with us!

Now, back in the Czech Republic. We are settling in, living life and pouring ourselves into ministry. Even with people around the world praying with us, It’s hard not to feel alone.

Na Porici Street
And here, we find ourselves walking into a new clinic and some renewed hope. The major barrier for us is finances. Frankly I don’t know how other couples do it and how many others realize HOW expensive the bill can be. In doing some research, we found that the price of some procedures are 2/3 less than they are in the US. We have started our journey again. This time, It’s not such a soothing environment. No blankets, tea or cookies. The room we had our first consultation in was white and bright lights, very sterile. (Thank God at least it’s sterile) There was English and Czech spoken, a lot of repeated words, questions and concerns. Concerns we had not heard before, but know that it will all be okay. I will write about that later, when I have drier eyes and more will-power to do so. It’s enough to say for now, that we have decided that we are going to move forward with an IVF procedure. Apparently with my age, my reserve egg supply…this is our only option (said a bit sarcastically, is 35 that old?).

We are nervous. We are anxious. We are excited. We are praying. We are holding onto hope, as we are anticipating joy!

This journey has lead us to Na Porici Street. Please pray with us, for us, for the doctors who work there. That God can use them to bless our family. Please pray that we are able to be a light to the lost doctors and nurses that we will get to meet and work with.

~Julie

Below, Na Porici, Prague, Czech Republic.

The First One…its always the hardest


The First One…its always the hardest

I wouldn’t say he has been pushy…but, lately, my husband has been wanting to me to share my experiences. I'm pretty sure, God uses my husband to motivate me. To attempt the stuff i’m scared to start. I have had the desire to start sharing our journey, but have been timid to take the first step in that direction. With a few of the recent events that have been happening in our lives, it seems that time is now.

This week happens to be National Infertility Awareness Week. Ugh, there, I said it…infertility. Yep, that is the stage of life we are in right now. Somehow, we have found ourselves on this sometimes terrible and heart wrenching journey. Trying to become parents. Even during these times, we find joy and feel hopeful that God will indeed bless us!

So, this. My first blog post…ever, is just a little note, to let you know…that I will share some great things here. Great things about life in the Czech Republic. Great things about life as a missionary. Great things about what God is doing in my own life…however, it will also be a place where I will (trying my very best) to be real. That means sharing the not-so-fun side of life or the heartaches we face…all that, hand in hand with the knowledge, God is with us.

I hope you follow our story, watch it unfold and rejoice with us, as we are Holding Onto Hope, and Anticipating Joy! ~Julie