The Sacred Art of Remembering

Can I be honest? I’ve had a hard time engaging with God lately. Maybe it’s because I’m 3 weeks post-partum and I’m a little thrown off my rocker. Or, maybe it’s because it’s the dead of winter.  Either way, I finally made some time–just to meet with Him.

My husband and daughter were out at a basketball game. And my newborn son had just fallen asleep.

I brewed some coffee, and opened my Bible and journal. I was trying. But…the words in my Bible just seemed to blur. And I stared instead at my blank journal.

And felt…just that.

Blank.

My mind was tired from the day, and I had nothing.

I looked down at my newborn son sleeping in my lap. I studied his face. When so subtly, I heard the Lord say…

“Remember when I healed his brain?”

My heart wrenched. (To read that story click here.)

Tears filled my eyes.

I remembered.

And my spirit, which has felt asleep the last few weeks…suddenly awakened.

I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“Let’s play a game,” I felt God say, “It’s called…’Remember when I…”

My heart burned. And my hands trembled.

And I opened my journal, and began..

“Remember when I heard your cry to get pregnant?”

“Remember the day you found out you were pregnant in the upstairs bathroom, and fell on your knees by the sink?”

“Remember when I provided for you and your husband?”

“Remember when I showed you which house to rent?”

“Rembember when I provided the house you have now?”

“Remember when I…”

(I know these examples may seem flat as you read this…but to me, they are deeply meaningful experiences I had with God. And there are more. More than I could share. And some, too personal to share.)

But what I want to say is…I began to remember.

All of these specific moments where He came through. 

Where He showed Himself faithful.

Where He showed Himself kind.

Where He showed Himself.

Close. To me.

Presently involved in situations I didn’t know He cared about.

But He did.

And He does.

And He’s close. Closer than any of us dare to believe.

And as I wrote in my journal, as I took time to simply “remember,” a song called “Take A Moment” by Will Reagan came on. And no joke, the words were, “Take a moment to remember, who God is, and who I am…”

“Take a moment…to remember.”

I was pierced to the heart. God came through to me. Even in spite of my sleep deprivation. Even in spite of my many unspiritual thoughts lately. Even in spite of my lack of effort to draw near to Him.

He was simply inviting me…through some mysterious invitation from His Spirit, to “remember.”

Remember. 

We always want God to speak something new to us. We always want God to do something. To change something. And we should–after all, He is God. He invites His children to ask Him, to call upon Him day and night.

But there is something so sacred and so holy about just pausing to remember what He has already done. 

The more we remember, the more we can trust Him. The more we can rest in Him. The more we know how very near He is.

David wrote, “I shall remember the deeds of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.” Psalm 77: 11-12

Maybe you too have had a hard time engaging with Him lately. Maybe you aren’t sure what to read, or write, or do. And it’s okay.

Because maybe you just need to look behind you for a moment. Take a breath and see how far He has taken you. Where the road has curved and bent. Where it was dark and scary. And where He brought you through the pass. Where He met you and showed you how to walk.

Maybe you just need to sit a rock, and remember. That time. And that time. And that time.

Because He is so faithful. And the things He does…are worth remembering. This is the sacred art of remembering.

And maybe He’s whispering to your spirit tonight. Maybe He’s inviting you to play a holy game called,

“Remember when I…”

Remember. 

Baby Boy Is Here

After a very long and intense 30-hour labor–our baby boy arrived on December 14th at 10:39 p.m.

We named him Jesse Michael. Jesse which means “gift.” And we are so in love.

I never knew a boy could be so beautiful, but he is.

Oh, it was the hardest day of my life. Laboring with him. Everyone told me their second labor was faster and easier…but mine was longer…and so much harder. But the Lord was with me, and my husband, Brandon. Who again proved himself to be like an angel without wings. Soothing me with his gentle voice, and persistent spirit, he did not leave my side.

By the end, I literally felt like I was at the end of myself. Like I had nothing left. I felt like he would never come. Like I could never cross that finish line. Like he was still a million miles away. So far out of reach.

But he was right there, the whole time. Just waiting for the right moment.

And I listened to that song, “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger, and I wept in between contractions.

“Baby, you’re almost home now, 

Please don’t quit now,

Baby, you’re almost home now,

to me…”

And finally, he came. By some miracle, God opened the way. And delivered him. And me.

And when he finally came out, (facing up, so that our spines were against each other the whole time)…he was a whopping 9 lbs. 11 oz.! (Almost 3 pounds heavier than his big sister!)

And they threw him on my chest, and he wailed, and my husband and I, cried happy tears. And my fragile arms shook with this miracle, I couldn’t believe I was at last holding in my arms.

***

 

Sometimes, even when I am so beyond tired…I can’t close my eyes. I lay on the bed and just stare at him. The wonder of him.

The wonder that he is here.

How did he come to us?

How did God form this masterpiece?

This masterpiece we had no idea would be coming to us at this time last year.

But he came. 

Not because we did anything to deserve him. Not because we proved our faith to God.

But because of God.

God gives good and perfect gifts.

He came like a gift. Undeserved. Unearned.

But gladly received with great joy.

Received with open arms. And hot and happy tears. And hearts exploding with joy. Our arms and our hearts stretch to wrap around you.

Welcome to the world, Jesse. You are a perfect gift.

And we thank God for giving you to us.

For you are from Him.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17


For more on the story behind our second miracle, Jesse, read these posts:

God Did It Again: Our Second Miracle, On the Way

When God Surprises You Big Time

To the Angels Without Wings

When You Want To Give Your Child A Sibling, But You Can’t

Dear Baby Boy,

baby boy

Dear Baby Boy,

I should be sleeping now, but I can’t. It’s 5:04 a.m. and I’m wide awake–dreaming of you, here in the dark, as your Daddy sleeps next to me.

I look through our door and see your room. Your crib ready…for you.  And I miss you baby boy.

I don’t know how I can miss someone I’ve never met?

But my heart longs for you, as I lay here.

I want to see your face. I want to touch your skin.

I want to hold you in my arms, that ache for you now.

Warm tears sting my eyes as I imagine holding you. As I lay here in waiting and wonder…

How much longer, till you come?

I move from my bed to the living room couch. And it’s still dark out through the windows. And I wait for you, like a watchman waits for dawn. For those first pierces of light.

How can you be so close, and yet feel so far away?

How can you be right here, inside me–and still not close enough?

I am ready to hold you. And let you hold,

all of my heart. 

Baby Boy, what is your name?

You are like a secret wrapped within me. A mystery, yet to be unfolded. A sacred gift, still in paper.

No eye has ever truly seen you.

Except God.

God, who spoke your name while I was in the barren place.

God, who formed you inside me.

God, who breathed His life into your lungs.

God, who has done this wonder, in the secret  place.

I long to hear what He hears. When you cry.

I long to see what He sees.

To see this masterpiece He has made.

The masterpiece of you. 

Come soon, baby boy.

I’m saving you a spot, right here in my arms. Right here,

in my heart.

And I hear this song in my spirit, and I think of you,

“Baby, you’re almost home now. Please don’t quit now.

Baby, you’re almost home now, to me.”

It’s still dark out, and I wait to hold you on my chest. To feel your heart, beat against mine. To rub your smooth back with my hands, as you rest on me.

And I’ll take in, as my own oxygen, the rising and falling of your each and every breath.

Baby, you’re almost home now. Please don’t quit now.

Baby you’re almost home now, to me.

Come, be with us.

We are all waiting and longing for you.

Until you come…

I will wait here in the dark for you.

I will wait for the sun.

For my son. 

To rise. 

 

Love,

           Mom

 


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Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

The whole house smelled like the sharp scent of Windex and furniture polish, mixed with something delicious baking in the oven, and the vacuum was always running. Mom gave us all a job to do, to get ready for their arrival. My grandparents.

As soon as I finished my chores, I would stand at the door and wait. I stood so close, my breath would appear on the cold glass. And I would draw smooth lines with my finger. And my heart would rise and fall with the passing of each car. Until finally, it came.

Their big cream colored Cadillac stopped in front of our house. And my heart leaped.

When you’re eight years old–you don’t wait for people to ring the doorbell. (Especially when you’ve been watching out the window for a half an hour.) And you don’t give them “courtesy time” get out the car. No. You run. You race down to greet them in your socks.

You nearly climb into their car before they can even climb out. And you cover them in hugs and kisses, and cling to them like a starfish, so they can barely walk.

Have you ever had that feeling of longing? Of waiting so long…it physically hurts?

(Click here to read about infertility and longing for a baby at Christmas.)

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m expecting a baby a boy in less than four weeks. And I’m longing to meet him and touch his skin, and look into his face.

Or, maybe it’s because we just finished a very a ugly political season. And I’m watching rioting in the streets on my TV. And the world seems dark. And in need of a Savior.

Either way…I’m feeling this longing. This expectation. This need for Jesus. To be here.

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

(Please on’t think I’m super spiritual…because I didn’t even know what “Advent” meant until a couple of weeks ago. I thought an Advent calendar was a paper calendar with chocolates inside.) (And it is, in many grocery stores.)

But I didn’t know Advent is so much more.

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

And I just found out that people celebrate the “season of Advent.”

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

You  know how the sky grows darkest before dawn? How it seems so black, and then slowly it turns blue, like that deep, glowing blue, that gradually turns pale blue…and then the dawn breaks through? The light pierces the dark?

That’s Advent. Like watching the dark sky, and waiting for those first gentle rays of light.

Because the world is dark. And we are all waiting, quietly, desperately for Him. For Jesus. To come.

In years past, I guess I have “tried” to celebrate Advent. I tried to print something off Pinterest and force my 18 month old daughter to do the readings with me each night, while she screamed and ripped up the papers. I tried to force my husband to do this “tradition” with us, that I read was supposed to be so meaningful.

But since everyone hated it. (Including me.) It only lasted about a day.

(Maybe someday, we will figure out some wonderful Advent tradition that works for our family… )

But for now, I’m realizing: I need it.

Instead of trying to drag the family to do something I want to be “meaningful,” maybe I’m the one who needs to find something meaningful in this season.

I’m thirsty for it. For Him to show me who He is.

I feel Him prompting me to “behold” Him. I don’t really know how, but I feel like you can’t “behold” someone, or something in a two-minute rush (like I usually do). It takes some time.

So, I’m trying to learn how to behold Him, And His coming. And I’m celebrating the season of Advent this year. The season of darkness before the light, the season of waiting, and expectation, and longing so bad, it hurts.

And I’m celebrating by myself. Because I realize: I need Him. And until I am able to “behold” Him—I can’t help anyone else to do the same.

So I bought a book on Amazon, called “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. And It’s a book all about Advent. A book about “His coming.”

I know Christmas will come either way. All the Black Friday Ads are coming in the mail, and the hustle and bustle will start us all racing to December 25. We will do gift exchanges, and parties, and try to make our homes warm and beautiful, and full of light.

But what if the preparations don’t need to be done so much outwardly?

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

Because there is something about preparing a place. Inside. Like the Christmas carol says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

When we would prepare our house for our grandparents to come, it wasn’t just about work. It was about anticipation. We could all feel it in the air. It was in the expectation of standing at the window, and watching for them.

I feel that Jesus is calling me to prepare a place for Him. Maybe I’m not the only one who is desperate for His light to pierce through?

Maybe He is calling you to prepare a place for Him this Christmas, too.

Maybe you will stand at the cold glass door, and wait for Him. And watch for Him, to come.

And when He comes…

When He comes…you won’t wait for Him to ring the door bell. Or to get out of the car.

You will run out in your socks to greet Him. You will run wildly, like the father ran to meet His prodigal son while he was still coming up the road. You will cling to him like a starfish, so he can barely walk.

When you see His light appear, you will fall down and weep before Him. You will behold Him.

And He will hold you, and He will not let you go.

And this “beholding” is what Christmas is all about.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1-2

If you feel the night is black right now, hold on. Christmas is coming.

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


For more encouragment about infertility, motherhood, or marriage follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the box on the right of this website. Or, “like” the Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, by clicking here. For more Christmas posts read “When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You,” or “Christmas Is For Desperate People.” 

10 Things Every Christian Will Be Tempted To Forget After The Election

usa

We will all wake up on November 9th and realize: it’s done. We will have a new president. (No matter how loved or hated.)

People will go around at night and yank up either all the Trump or Hillary signs from the cold wet dirt.

And people will freak out on Facebook. Either way. There will be rants, and memes, and hoards of nasty comments.

There may even be rioting in some places.

So what will you do, dear Christian?

The world will respond how the world will respond. But what about you?

You may not think that your response matters. You may think that the election is over, so you can wait four more years to try again.

But what you do after the election, and every day in between now and the next election—matters. 

It matters so much.

What matters now, is not who you voted for–what matters now is how you will live. 

As Christians, here are some things we will be tempted to forget. In fact, I think Satan would love us all to forget these 10 things. But they are the truth, and we can stand on them in the days and years to come:

1. God is not surprised (at all) about who “won” this election.

No one gets elected into office without permission from God. He holds the final authority over the authorities of our land.

Romans 13:1 “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

2. God is not anxious, worried, or depressed about who won this election. 

He isn’t in heaven wringing his hands, and neither should we. He knew before the foundations of the earth, who would govern our country at this time in history. And He’s not afraid of it. Why? Because He is God. And His purpose will stand. 

“He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.” Isaiah 42:4

He will not fail nor be discouraged. God has a plan, and He will carry it out. 

3. God’s Kingdom is not of this world. 

It would have been nice if when Jesus came to earth, He set up a perfect, flawless government system to keep us all in perfect peace–but He didn’t. That’s not why He came. He didn’t come to be a political figure. The Jews would have loved to see a Messiah that looked like a king, and brought a kingdom, and enforced it here on the earth. But that is not at all what Jesus did. When Jesus was arrested and brought to Pilate, he answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36

He didn’t come up to set up a political power. But to unveil His Spiritual power. And to rescue us from our sin.

4. Our Savior is not (and never will be) from this world. 

No person in political power can save us. Even the best candidate will be sinful and flawed, and should not be seen as a “savior.” God’s Word specifically tells us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3)

Instead it says, to hope in God. 

“Blessed are those whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.” (Psalm 146:5-6)

No prince or president can save us from the wrath to come, only Jesus can do that.

5. Jesus is our ONLY hope. 

I don’t care who you voted for. One day, you will sit before the judgement seat of God. And in that day, only one person can stand at your defense. Only one person can cleanse you of every sin. Only one person can cover your nakedness and shame, and clothe you with His righteousness. Only one person can stand before God the Father in your defense, and and shout at the top of His lungs, “She is covered by my blood!” “She is mine!”

And that person is: Jesus Christ. 

Hope in Him. Hope only in Him. In this life, and the life to come.

6. God has specifically purposed you to be alive at this EXACT time in History. 

There is a reason you were not born a hundred years earlier, or a hundred years later. God specifically put you here on the earth, at this time in history, for His divine purpose. 

His Word says,  “All the days ordained for me have been written in His book, before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

He chose you to be alive at this time in America, under this president, with these laws (or lack thereof), and these people. Why? Because He has a purpose for you right here, and right now. You can complain about our culture, or you can step into it. Because you are here for such a time as this.

7. Real “religious freedom” comes from God, not governments. 

Many Christians are terrified of losing our “religious freedom.” And I know it can be a scary thing, but when Jesus set up His Church on the earth, He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

So whether we are meeting freely in the public square, or secretly in a dark corner of someone’s basement…God’s kingdom will prevail. Let’s not forget that when God’s people were prisoners in Egypt–He sent plagues and split the sea to rescue them. When Paul and Silas were bound in prison–He sent an earthquake to set them free. And how many times did He send angel armies to war on His behalf?

Has God ever been bound by the laws or threats of man?

Perilous times may come. But not our government, nor ISIS, nor even the gates of hell will prevail against His Church, His Bride.

8. Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans. The Holy Spirit is alive and active on the earth. 

The world cannot see Him or recieve Him, but “you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you.” (See John 14:16-18) Jesus promised He would not leave us as orphans, but that He would come to us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here to guide us, comfort us, convict us, and fill us with supernatural power to bring glory to God.

9. Laws don’t change people’s hearts. Only Jesus does. 

I wish we had laws that kept everyone peaceful and kind. But we don’t. We can get really upset when laws change. But more laws and better laws don’t actually change people. That was what the Pharisees wanted. They kept dragging out these “sinners” in front of Jesus and wanted Jesus to tell them what the “law says.” (Like the woman caught in adultery.) They wanted Jesus to condemn these “law-breaking” sinners. But Jesus knew the law couldn’t save anyone. That’s why He always spoke to the heart of a person.

As Christians, we can wish the “laws” of our land took care of people’s morals or prevented sin. (And I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight for laws that will prevent evil or innocent lives. But we have to realize that there’s more to it than that. )

Personally, I wish we had more laws against abortion. But I can’t just hope the “law” takes care of it. If I really love babies, then I need to get involved in the lives of broken women. I can see women in difficult situations and have compassion on them. I can get involved with counseling at the Women’s Care center. I can become friends with teen girls. I can do foster care, and take in a baby whose mom decided not to abort, even when it got really hard. I can rejoice with pregnant teens, and throw them baby showers, and financially support them.

There are a thousand things we can do as Christians in between elections to make a real difference in the issues we claim to care about.

It’s easier when checking a box on a ballot takes care of it. But sometimes, most times, it doesn’t.

So, this is our moment to wake up. And step up. Which leads me to the last point..

10. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. 

The world sees Christ not in our angry political banter on Facebook. But in the loving, gentle, compassion of Christians who are willing to get low, to get dirty, to become completely humble, and listen to a world that is very much hurting.

This is so convicting for me. Because the call to love people and really see people the way Christ loves and sees people–is one of the most risky and wild businesses I could ever get involved in.

Because it means we get low with people caught in adultery, and draw in the dirt, like Jesus. And we share meals with thieves, and touch people who no one else will touch.

We aren’t called to hide from the darkness.

We are called to live in it, and be the light.

We are called to invade the darkness with light.

We are called to stand with Jesus. The One true King.

Who is coming back.

For, in just a little while, He will come. He will stand upon the earth, and all the armies of heaven will come riding in behind Him.

And when He comes, I pray He finds us bringing good news to the poor, and binding up the brokenhearted, and comforting those who mourn. I pray He finds us giving beauty, instead of ashes, to a burning world. For we are all in need of His rescue.

And He will come.

In this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. So don’t grow weary, or lose heart.

The Spirit of the Lord is on you.

For such a  time as this.