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Guest Post: A Barren Season is Not a Fruitless Season

At the end of last year I received a very kind email from a pastor asking me to consider reading a manuscript and providing an endorsement for his upcoming book. His name is Matt Appling. Matt, along with his wife, Cheri and two other couples have written the book, Plus or Minus One: Keeping Your Life, Faith and Love through Infertility.   I gladly accepted. The honor was all mine as I read through  journey’s of three couples struggling with infertility. How they wrestled with ethical questions and their feeling of isolation from family and friends. Most of all, how they viewed and wrestled with God in the midst of it all. Something we all feel, right?

Here’s my endorsement, my take-away from their book…

Three couples. Three different journey’s, yet with one common bond; infertility. Matt and Cheri Appling in their book, Plus or Minus are not only brave and authentic in sharing their own story, but offer a magnifying glass. They provide the reader an intimate look into the personal lives of the couples, clues on how to navigate childlessness in a modern world and for the Christian, they offer a thought provoking way to take a closer look at faith and fertility issues. Whether one is suffering with infertility or not, Plus or Minus is a Christ centered present-day resource for all.


In today’s guest post Matt is sharing A Barren Season is Not a Fruitless Season. Matt’s gift of writing offers a beautiful perspective to those of us who feel barren and seemingly fruitless in this season. Thank you, Matt!

I hope you’ll consider purchasing and supporting them through the purchase of their book.  If you are  a leader of a couples Christan Infertility Support Group I couldn’t think of a better resource than Matt and Cheri’s book.  

Make sure to subscribe and follow along with Matt on his blog HERE. 

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Matt and Cheri Appling are the authors of
Plus or Minus: Keeping Your Life, Faith and Love Together Through Infertility


A Barren Season is Not a Fruitless Season
by Matt Appling

Through years of infertility treatments, through painful decisions and misplaced questions, my wife, Cheri and I discovered that we really do not like the word “infertility.” As the years passed, the word had come to define more and more of us. It had reframed our marriage. It had dominated our dinner conversations.

We never got comfortable saying the word out loud, even after all this time. It seems to catch in our throats when we try to say it in front of people.

But…there is only one word we dislike even more than “infertility:”


“Barren” is the archaic word from the medieval Bibles and it just sounds like nails on a chalkboard to our ears. It is not the word itself that we hate. It is all of the connotations it carries. The word “barren” carries with it centuries upon centuries, layer upon layer of dust. Barren is all of the emotional baggage of infertility. Barren is all of the painful stigmas, all of the quiet accusations, all of the painful assumptions, all of the supposed divine curses, all of the inappropriate, probing questions, all of the misplaced pity, all of the shame, all of the guilt, and all of the tears of infertility.

Infertility is the medical condition.

Barren in our minds is all of the collateral damage that infertility has wreaked on our lives. There was a time when we believed that the damage was irreversible, when we believed that only a child would fix the damage. Only a child would make us whole. Only a child would make us happy.

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful.

And for a long time, we thought only a child would make us “fruitful.” It took us many prayers and tears to realize that it was just not true.

A “barren” season of life, be it one year, five years, or a lifetime, is not fruitless. Our fruitfulness in life is not dependent on the procreation of our bodies. The importance of our lives is not measured by the number of children we raise. The satisfaction we can find in our lifetimes is not dependent on the few years we are able to spend raising children.

Just because our bodies might be barren does not mean that we are fruitless. A barren life is not a fruitless life or a purposeless life or a meaningless life.

It is easy for us to imagine that the saddest thing in the world is a house without children. It was that thought of growing old without children that certainly motivated us. In our early days of infertility, we believed that children were our ticket to love, to fulfillment, to happiness, to fruitfulness.

But there are plenty of homes that have children but do not have love. Children are not a guarantee of any of the hopes we place on them. They are not a guarantee of our fruitfulness in life, our satisfaction, or our happiness. It is not fair for us to place these misguided hopes on our children. Do we really want to bring our children into homes in which they are responsible for our happiness? Does a child thrive in a home in which all of the parents’ hopes and dreams rest on their shoulders? How can a child learn to accept God’s grace if it is her performance that her parents are counting on to make them feel like good parents?

Of all the things that infertility taught us, perhaps the greatest was the sweet realization that we could be fruitful, we could be happy, we could lead satisfied, contented, meaningful lives even without children, if that should be what life handed us.

In fact, we not only could, but had to resolve that we would.

We would be okay, children or not. We will not die if we do not have children. Our hopes and dreams and faith would not rest on our children. Our homes would be happy. Our homes would be full of love.

The saddest thing is not a home without children. It is a home without love.

If you are in that place today where it seems that everything is barren, remember that it is not.

You are not your infertility.

You are not barren.

You are not fruitless.

You are whole. You are fruitful. You are fulfilled.


Will you support Matt and Cheri?

Follow his blog HERE.

Purchase PLUS or MINUS: Keeping Your Life, Faith and Love through Infertility HERE.




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