To The Woman Who Thought She Was Pregnant When She Wasn’t

thought she was pregnant
Maybe you thought your belly was starting to curve. Maybe you let out your gut in front of the mirror after your shower, and could swear it was protruding.

Maybe you felt a wave of nausea on the drive to work.

Maybe your bra felt tighter than usual.

Maybe you felt extra tired this month.

Maybe you had some major mood swings and your husband quipped, under his breath, “She must be pregnant.” And you pretended to roll your eyes, but inwardly you were rejoicing.

Hoping.

Dreaming.

And then you woke from that dream, two minutes after the pregnancy test. And you woke again, several days later when your period began without fail.

And maybe you scolded yourself for letting yourself believe, hope, wish that this month was different.

Maybe you vowed that you would never let yourself “expect”that you were expecting again.

Maybe your heart grew a little harder, and your dreams shrunk a little smaller. But I want to tell you something, and it might sound cliché, but it’s true:Don’t stop hoping. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop praying for a miracle.


Because when you stop, something dies in you. Something that very much needs to be alive if you are going to be a mom one day.

When we were trying to conceive, I wanted to give up. There were months I charted my cycles like a statistician, and other ones I picked up all those stupid charts and threw them into the garbage, along with my dreams.

And it happened on a Sunday, that a seed was planted in me. Not by my husband, not by IVF, but by a dear friend, named Stephanie. It was just a seed of hope. She knew we had been trying, and failing. And longing, and despairing.

It was such a simple thing. I was just standing alone in the church ladies’ bathroom, drying my hands on a paper towel, and she walked in and said, quite out of the blue, “Can I pray for your womb?” I kind of laughed, and then said, “Sure.” Even though, my first thought was, “What good would that do?” Even though, I had stopped praying for a baby months ago.  Even though, I already accepted this wasn’t God’s path for us. And I was trying to be okay with it. But I said, “Yes,” anyway. I told her she could pray for me.  And so, she laid her hands on my flat belly, and prayed that God would bring life there, to my womb.

That was it.

But it started something in me, like a smoldering wick that suddenly burst into flame. Like the reawakening of a dream. It was hope. And it fluttered awake in me.

And I know, it can hurt to hope. It can be dangerous to hope. But without hope, everything dies.

I knew I had already tried everything in my power to become pregnant. But the great thing about hope is that, it has nothing to do with the person who is hoping, and it has everything to do with the One who is being hoped in.

And so I felt free, because I wasn’t hoping me. I was hoping in God. The One in whom all things are possible.  

To the woman who thought she was pregnant and found out she wasn’t. To the woman who feels worn out with asking. To the woman who has stopped believing God hears,

He does hear you.

And to the woman who feels “past-due” for a miracle, I want to remind you of a woman who has felt this same way. Her name was Sarah, Abraham’s wife. And she could not have children. And she stopped hoping she ever could.

But when God has ordains something, it happens. And God had chosen Sarah to bear a son, even she was almost ninety years old.

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing.” But God told Abraham that his wife will bear a child, and when she heard it, “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’…” Genesis 18:11-13

Maybe you feel like Sarah. Maybe you feel too old, or too jaded to believe God could do this.

But be encouraged. He can. He still can.

And you are never beyond hope.

God still brings children into the arms of a mom who will love them, at all costs. And I don’t know how it will happen. But God still does miracles in orphanages across the ocean. And God still does miracles in the foster system and the court rooms of America. And God still does miracles in the wombs of barren women.

I see one every day. She’s blonde, and her eyes are blue like the ocean, and when she smiles, it’s like Heaven breaks through.

So don’t lose hope. You need it. And let this hope reawaken your dreams. And reawaken your prayers. Because God hears you.

Don’t stop praying for a baby.

Don’t stop praying for a miracle.

Because God still hears the cries of the barren.

And He answers them.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21


For more encouragement during infertility, check out these posts, About My Barrenness, How Far Is Too Far When Trying to Conceive, When the Barren Sing, Stop Waiting to be Happy, or any of the other posts in my Trying to Conceive Category. Please share these posts to encourage anyone struggling with this season.

When Motherhood Gets Messy


“Don’t touch Mommy when she’s on the potty.”

This is an actual rule in our house. One of those rules you never imagine making before entering motherhood, but makes total sense after the fact. My daughter is two, and when I’m on the toilet, she likes to stand right up next to me, with her hand on my thigh like a faithful midwife.

A midwife who won’t leave. Who screams and pounds on the door when I try to lock her out. It’s rather stressful…for all digestive purposes.

My daughter has a way of entering my space. Whether I want her to, or not. How I am disarmed by a two-year-old day after day, I am still trying to figure out.

We’re in the potty training stage right now. Which means…I currently spend most my free time sitting on the bathroom floor. Waiting for her to “finish.”

I never thought I’d be comfortable eating my breakfast cereal or drinking my coffee while she stinks up the place. But I am.

I am reaching new “lows” like a Limbo champ.

Public Bathroom or Wrestling Cage?

Public bathrooms are the worst.

My daughter is obsessed with them. Every time we’re in a new store, she wants to “go.” I’ll open the door of the stall, and she races in like she’s first in line at the gate of Disney World. And she always heads for the same place, that little one foot gap between the toilet and the wall. You know, the place where only two things—the plunger and toilet brush–should be? But alas. My girl makes three and picks them up and greets them like long lost relatives. That’s when I start screaming, “No! No!!! Yucky!! Put those down!! Yucky germs! No! No! Not in your mouth!!!” So much for peaceful parenting. Get me in a public restroom and I’m a fire-breathing dragon.

The whole experience is catastrophic. And as we take turns going potty, I’m not sure what’s worse: my turn, when she stands with her hand on the latch of the stall door, and smiles, knowing I am at her complete mercy, while I threaten her, “Don’t you DARE open that door!!” Or her turn, when she nearly takes a plunge into the enormous toilet while screaming, “I do it myself!” and then rummages her hand through the “feminine napkin” box like it’s a Happy Meal. Either way, it usually ends in a lot of screaming and scuffling and banging around. Sounding much like a wrestling cage-match to the person in the stall next to us.

(If you’re not a mom, imagine someone trying to sit on a toilet and wrestle an alligator at the same time. Because that’s much what’s going when Mommy and Toddler are in the next stall.)

[Click here to finish reading the rest of this post at Thriving Home Blog, where I have had the priviledge of being featured by Polly and Rachel.]

To The Woman Still Longing To Be A Mom

I am thinking of you tonight. Actually, I think of you often. I know how you feel when you walk through the Baby section at Target. Maybe with a gift registry in your hand, and wonder if you will ever own a tiny bathtub like the one you are buying. You wonder if you will ever own little onesies, or little shoes, or little anything. Because right now, the miracle seems so far away.

You will go to the baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little tiny gifts of your own to open? Will your stomach ever round with life? Will you ever hold a baby and whisper over him or her, the word you long to say, “Mine.

I know how your heart aches, and waits, and wonders at a life that seems so easy for others, even “accidental” for many, but so seemingly impossible and difficult for you.

Maybe tonight you hold out fragile hands to a God, that you have to believe, hope against hope, is a good Father. And gives good gifts to His children. And that He gives bread and not stones. Even when you can’t taste it yet.

For the woman who feels He is far tonight, I’m thinking of you. For the woman who is growing weary of waiting tonight, I’m thinking of you. And for the woman who has yet to hold her child lost in miscarriage, I’m thinking of you.

And maybe you never got see your baby’s face. Maybe you never even got to give your baby a name. But God knows your baby’s face. God knows your baby’s name. He knew from the moment He breathed him or her into existence. And though your arms ache to hold that child, He is holding him or her tonight. And though you’d give the world to sing them lullabies, He sings over them tonight. And I know you have to wonder, why aren’t they here? With me? And I do not know such a mystery. All I can wonder is, perhaps the world was not worthy of such a one.

They were too precious.

I’m not trying to make you grieve. I just want you to know that I love you tonight. And I think about you. And I want you to know God has filled me with compassion, and love, and hope for you.
Because you are the reason I started Barren to Beautiful. Your pain, and confusion, and your aching heart is the reason. And I know, we have never met. I wish we could. I wish I could hear your story. I wish I could hear your heart’s cry tonight. I wish I could console you.

And so, because I can’t, I just want to turn my gaze toward the One who can. The God who made you, and loves you, and has ordained your life with purpose. And so I’m just going to pray for you, if you want to join in:
Dear God,
I lift up my sister to You tonight. And though this is just a little blog post, You are a big God. And so I pray that You would break into the room where she is right now, by Your Spirit. And show her that You are real. And that You have the power, and that Your Spirit gives life.

Show her that You hear her cries in the night, even the quiet whispers of her heart. You know her dreams. You’ve seen them all. And before a word is on her tongue, O Lord, You know it completely.

You formed her together in her mother’s womb, Your eyes saw her unformed body. And all the days ordained for her were written in Your book, before one of them came to be.

And thank you that this is not the end. Thank you that endless and boundless life flows from You. Thank you that in You, death has lost it’s power. Death has lost it’s sting. And that the Day is coming when Death will be swallowed up in Life forever.

So bring comfort to her heart, and peace to her soul. And when her body is weak and gives out, be her strength. When her body fails her, month after month, let her say, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none on earth I desire besides You. Though my heart and my flesh may fail, You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26
God, come close to her tonight–because you say in Your Word to the barren woman,

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
    behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
    and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

I pray you would fill her with Your Holy Spirit, and that her heart and soul would overflow with Your life. And that though her womb may be barren, her spirit would not be barren any longer. Minister to her tonight. And let her rest in You, and to wake with perfect peace as she fixes her mind on You all night long.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S My husband recorded this beautiful song in our living room the other night. And he did it for a friend who is grieving right now, but I just wanted to share it with you as well. It’s a very old hymn called, “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right.” Click here to listen to it. Perhaps it will minister to you, as much as it does to me.

Much love. You are my heart. And feel free to connect on Facebook, or via email at barrentobeautifulblog.com . For more of my story or encouragement during infertility, check out the posts in the Trying To Conceive category on my blog.

Love,

Rebekah

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

When Your Child Comforts You


“You okay, Mommy?” she said, pressing herself onto the arm of the overstuffed leather chair. Through my tears, I could see her wild-blonde bedhead, blurring into her pink Disney Princess pajamas.

“No,” I said with perfect honesty. “Mommy is sad,” my voice cracked.

I had just got the news that morning: a dear friend’s brain cancer had returned. And my heart felt broken for him.  For his wife, and his girls. And I kept trying to pray—but all I could do was cry.

And I didn’t want to cry in front of my daughter. Because she is two. And I didn’t want to upset her. But sometimes you just can’t hide how you feel. And so, I sat in the big leather chair that morning, with my face in my hands and cried, while my coffee got cold.

But she kept pressing closer to me, pushing her whole body under my arm, climbing into my lap, and gently brushing my long hair away from my face, so I couldn’t hide behind it. And I wanted badly to be alone. I just wanted to think, and pray, and cry.  But when you’re a mom, you don’t always get the opportunity to “just cry.” Even when you feel it’s the only thing you are capable of doing.

“Maybe you could sing Mommy a song?” I offered, trying to brighten the mood. She looked at me eagerly. And I expected she would sing me her favorite song by default, “Happy Birthday.” But that morning, I was surprised by a different tune.

Instead, she sang me one of the lullabies I wrote for her, which goes:

“Don’t cry little Selah, 

Don’t cry little girl.

Don’t cry little Selah,

For you know, He holds the world.” 

But she didn’t sing those words; she changed the lyrics. And I didn’t even know she could do that. But she changed the words just for me, and instead sang:

“Don’t cry little Mommy,

Don’t cry little girl. 

Don’t cry little Mommy,

For you know, He holds the world.” 

I lay my face against her chest, sobbing into her soft cotton pajamas. Holding her closer than ever before. And as I felt her heart beating against my face, I just felt so…small.

Just a little Mommy.

Just a little girl.

I was holding her, but really, it was as if she was holding me. With her warmth. With her tight embrace. With her big blue eyes searching my brown ones.

“You feel better now?” she asked, eyes wide as saucers. “You feel happy?”

“Yes. Yes,” a smile breaking forth from my face, “Thank you.”

And I realized, at that moment, just how much I needed her. Just how much she comforted me. Not just then, but all the time. Her presence is a constant comfort to me, and I didn’t see it until now.

My Sweet Child,

I know I am your Mom. And it is my job to take care of you, and keep you safe. To care for you. And I promise, I always will.

Long before you were born, I knew that you would cry, and I would soothe you. But I didn’t know that sometimes when I’d cry, you would soothe me, too. I didn’t know, when you were just in my womb, that the nights I’d hold you late into the night, you would be holding me, too. I knew I would hug and kiss you, but I never imagined how it would feel when you would hug and kiss me. I knew my hands would reach for yours, but I never imagined yours reaching for mine. I knew I’d sing you lullabies, but I didn’t know you’d sing them back to me.

I knew you would need me.

But I never imagined how much I would need you. 

How much I would need your nearness. Your embrace. Your voice. Even your lullabies.

Because at the end of the day, I’m really just a little Mommy. I’m just a little girl. And I forget, He holds the world.

And it wasn’t long ago, I was just your size, and saw the world through your eyes.

It still looks so very big to me. And I still get scared. And I still cry.

And the One who holds the world, also holds you, and holds me. And what’s amazing is that He also lets us hold one another. And it’s more precious than I thought.

I thought I knew what it would be like to be a mom—to be your mom. I thought I understood the gift, before I opened it. But I didn’t. Because you are a gift that seems to unfold into a thousand more, every day.

And I didn’t know until now, how much I needed you. But I do. I didn’t realize the comfort you bring me–and have always brought me since the day you were born. For so long, I thought you needed me close to you, but I really think, I need you close to me, too.

And for all the tears of yours I’ve dried, you have indeed dried mine, too.

And for all the happy tears I cried, I cried them all for you.

I will always be your Mom. But in case I don’t always let you see. I need you, just as much as you need me.

Love,

Mom

“So don’t cry little Mommy,

Don’t cry little girl,

Don’t cry little Mommy,

For you know, He holds the world.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And please pray for my friend with brain cancer. He needs God to hold him tonight. 

You Know He’s A Good Dad When…

good dad when

You know he’s a good dad when…she is crying in the night, and he gets out of bed and goes into her room to soothe her. And after a few minutes, you don’t hear her crying anymore…

You hear her laughing. In fact, you hear them both laughing. (And you roll your eyes and groan into your pillow.)

You know he’s a good dad when…he builds forts in the living room, and tells stories in the dark and at least once a week does something extremely impulsive, unpredictable or dangerous with your child. Something that makes you ask, “What were you thinking?!!” (This is part of what makes him a dad.)

You know he’s a good dad when…after you get home from your date to the movies, and the babysitter leaves, he goes into her room and carries her tired, sleeping body into your bed, just so he can hold her close, and ask her how she’s doing, and tell her how beautiful she is, even if this means she will just roll around and kick you both in the head for the next two hours. And somehow, he still falls asleep with a big smile on his face.

You know he’s a good dad when…everyday when he gets home from work, your daughter bolts through the house to greet him and screams hysterically like someone who has just won “The Price Is Right.” (And this is completely fitting, because you know he is worth more than all the money and treasure in the world.)

P1010146

You know he’s a good dad when…he sneaks her some kind of treat or dessert without you knowing. Right before bedtime. Right after you just brushed her teeth. And you find this out while she bursts into the room, shouting, “Dad gave me chocolate chips!!!” And though he is “shushing” her fiercely, you see a giant brown ring around her mouth. And he just grins.

You know he’s a good dad when…you catch him belting out “Let it Go” at the top of his lungs. When he’s by himself. (Even though he denies it, and tells you how much he hates that movie.)

dad and selah

You know he’s a good dad when…he sits with her and actually watches shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” And he watches intently, like this is isn’t a show about a tiger who doesn’t wear pants, but instead like it’s “the movie of the year” and and it’s won all kinds of awards. And like this is the most important thing he could ever be doing. (Because to her, it is.)

But above all…

You know he’s a good dad…when your daughter’s hair smells like Old Spice deodorant.

dad reading

Because he holds her that much. And that close.

And you pray he always does. You pray she always carries his scent on her.

Because every little girl needs to know she is loved. Like this.

In the way only her Dad can love her.

In the way only her Dad can make her feel.
Prized and precious.

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When God Calls Your Marriage Out Upon the Waters

Our wedding day, June 13, 2009

Our wedding day, June 13, 2009

It was a hot June day, when I glowed in white all the way down the aisle. And he beamed, he beamed brighter than the sun with love, and joy, and promise. It was so easy then, as I walked barefoot through the sand, holding my Dad’s hand–and saying ‘Yes’ to all God planned. And everyone watched, and clapped, and cheered.

But that was before we knew what it would cost. Before anything was ever lost.

I knew marriage would get hard, but to be honest, I thought ours would be just a little easier than the rest. After all, we had Christ in us. How hard could it be?

I stood there at the altar, like a freshman ready to ace her first final exam, a big wad of index cards in my hands. Knowing every chapter and verse, and all the things I had rehearsed. And all the great lines I neatly highlighted from all those marriage books.

But the wind came.

The wind came and blew all those index cards away, out of my hands. Because all those books, and all those index cards were strapped to my forehead like a Pharisee wearing the Law. And it covered my eyes so I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see a man, in need of grace, and tender affection, standing right in front of me.

It’s been six years since the day I married him. And his eyes are still the same steady green they were then, and he captivates me still, without even trying. His voice, still tender smooth. And I still like to sleep in his old t-shirts. Soft and threadbare, worn with love. And they get softer in time.

And so do we.

But there have been nights, where that shoreline where we made our promises has seemed a thousand miles away. When we stood in the kitchen, exchanging red-hot words, like swords. And getting stuck in sticky webs of complicated conflict. Unsure of how to sort it out—unsure if it was even possible. And no one is watching anymore. No one is clapping, or throwing petals, or cheering us on.

But God.

I am convinced He really likes marriage. It was His idea after all. And I think He actually likes when marriages get hard–because that is when He does some of His best work. In our hearts. The only places that really matter.

I used to think good marriages were always easy, and never hard. But I don’t think that anymore. I think good marriages are insanely hard–but when they get hard, you don’t see the struggle as a reason to quit, but as a reason to keep fighting for it. To keep fighting for each other.

It seems so fitting now, that we got married by the water. Because all along, God would call us into it. We had no idea, as we exchanged our vows, and rings, and promises, and the waves collapsed innocently behind us—that God was going to call us into them. But that’s in fact, what marriage is.

It’s going into the water together. And there is nothing safe about it.

So that moment we were pronounced “husband and wife,” and we turned and walked down the aisle, and everyone congratulated us and cheered, we should have actually headed the other direction. Into the water, and not away from it.

When God calls you into marriage, He calls you out into the water. First, it’s just ankle deep, and you tightly hold hands, and smile. And you walk a little further, until you’re knee deep. But as you go further out, the water starts to go up to your waist. And the waves begin to break around you. And sometimes, it doesn’t matter how tightly you are holding hands, a big wave comes, and knocks you over, making you lose your grip on each other. And you try to find each other, but sometimes you can’t, because those big waves keep coming. And you aren’t strong enough to withstand them. The current gets strong, and threatens to pull you under, and you’re just fighting to stay afloat.

The waves just keep coming to knock you down, again and again. And you can’t swim any further out, you’re just stuck right there, getting tossed to and fro in the waves. I think every marriage comes to this place where you get stuck in the rough surf. And it feels hopeless and humiliating. Why can’t you just do this? Why aren’t you strong enough? And everything is telling you, “Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!” And you want to, because it would be so easy to just go back and lay on the shore and just cry, with your face against the sand, and think about how awful and scary those big waves were. And what a big mistake it was, to ever try to get past them. And just when you are about to turn back. Just when you decide it isn’t fun anymore, and you can’t take one more wave to knock you over, and are about to just swim back to shore—for good. You keep swimming.

You link hands with your spouse and you keep swimming. Sink or swim, but you refuse to go back to shore—because you know, deep down, that there is some mystery waiting for you out there. In that place just beyond the surf…is this place of deeper waters. Where you learn to tread. Where you learn to swim. And that’s where the adventure is. In that place where you finally learn to love.

A love that pushes past all the waves.

Because in the midst of those waves, you hear a Voice, that sounds like a thousand rushing rivers, that screams,

“Come out here! Keep coming! Further out! Keep swimming toward My love!”

“I have something out here for you!”

“This wasn’t a mistake! This is my plan!”

“I have ordained you together in this marriage! For My purpose! For My pleasure! For My glory!”

And when you have kept going–you suddenly get to this place of calm, in this place past the surf. And your treading together, stronger now, and having learned to swim. Having learned to follow the Voice. You realize He enabled you to withstand the storm. And you clasp each other, both looking like you’ve nearly drowned. And you laugh and kiss and you cry because you are so happy you didn’t swim back to shore, and because you can’t even behold the beauty all around you. The beauty waiting for you all along.

And then you see Him out there, walking on the waters, like nothing happened at all, like you didn’t just survive a hurricane, like swimming out there was the easiest thing in all the world. And when He sees you bobbing together in the water, He just smiles and says, “You of little faith. Why did you ever doubt?”

And we see, in that moment, we can trust Him. Not only for ourselves, but for our marriage. For the One who called us out to sea, surely will not let us drown in it.

So we don’t have to be afraid of the deeper waters. We don’t have to fear when the waves come. Or stormy skies. Or strong currents threaten to take us under. “For the One who called us, is faithful, and He will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

So let’s keep swimming.

Because He’s out there waiting for us. Ready plunge us into the depths of His mercy and grace—and into a love so deep, your feet could never, ever touch the ground.

A Morning Prayer: “Conform Me To Jesus”

morning sun chair

I’m going to let you inside for a moment. My journal. Just for this. Because I started praying something last week, and it started to change me. It started to set me free and open up joy in me. And I want to share it with you–so that you can be free. And so that you can have joy. And so that you can be full of Jesus.

When I was little, Jesus was just this little flannel-graph cartoon. He was a name I heard a lot. I saw pictures and porcelain figures of Him as a little baby at Christmas time and always wondered what He really looked like.

But that little cartoon version of Jesus you see in the little kid’s Bibles—is so false. It may be good for toddlers, but as you get older and the weight of sin and gravity of world begin to pull on you. You need more than a cartoon to save you.

And it took me about twenty-five years to stop thinking of Him that way. Like that little cartoon face with a white tunic and a blue sash. And to start actually thinking of Him as a person. Who thinks. Who breathes. Who crushes snakes under His heels. Who laughs. Who cries with loud sobs. (Hebrews 5:7)

But this Person, in the last three years, has meant more to me, has become more real to me than He ever has. And it’s not because I’m so “spiritual.” Or I have enlightened understanding. It’s not because I’ve really mastered the spiritual disciplines or pull myself up by my bootstraps each morning. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s because I’m beginning to see my desperate need for Him.

See, for a while I thought I was strong. But trusting in my strength never brought me closer to Jesus, it only propelled me further and further away. And it only made my heart grow colder. (Much like the Pharisees.) But lately, what has brought me nearest to Jesus is my own realization of how very weak I am. It’s not about “trying harder,” it’s about complete and total surrender. It’s instead about praying, “God, have mercy on me. I’m a sinner.” And it’s been about the surrendering of my will, my methods, my dreams, my control. Or the illusion of it. It’s about letting Him carry the burden for me, morning by morning. It’s about wanting Him to come as He is, and not just who I want Him to be.

If you’re reading this and still feel like you have that “hollow” Jesus in your head. I’m going to pray for you. Because He is more than capable to show Himself–in a way that is real. And in a way that is close. And in such a way that will just make you weep and long for Him. And in a way that makes you feel like your insides are on fire and you could run a thousand miles and scale a hundred walls. And in such a way where you might burst out into singing or laughing hysterically. Even in public…Because suddenly you see Him everywhere, and you can feel Him seeing you. All of you. And loving all of you at the same time. And this gives you strength and joy and peace. Even when you shouldn’t have it–by the world’s standards.

And morning by morning He waits. He waits to explode into the atmosphere at my simple invitation. He rushes in, at my first cry. But He waits for it. He waits for me to want Him.

And on a day last weak, after much battling for joy the days prior–the Holy Spirit led me in a simple prayer: Conform me to Jesus. And it may be one of the most powerful things I have ever prayed.

Scripture tells us that it is God’s will to conform us to Jesus. Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” We ask God for a lot of decision-making wisdom of where to live, who to marry, what to study, what to buy…and He leads us each in a thousand different ways. But the bottom line is, whatever He says, and wherever He leads us, the goal is the same: that we will be conformed to the image of His Son. Jesus Christ.

For some, this is a great path of pain and heartache, for others it’s filled with sweet symphonies of joy. And for many a big mix of both. But God determines that, and He determines what is best for us, by steering us in the way that will most conform us to Jesus. And He does this, (Vs. 28 says) “for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” So He does this for our greatest good, and our greatest joy, and His greatest glory–all at once. Because being conformed to Jesus Christ is exactly what we all desperately need. Every day. We all need to be violently rescued from ourselves, from our flesh, from our selfish ambition, from our pride, and dependency on ourselves. Those things all lead to death and the grave and kill our spirit–no matter how pretty they look on the outside.

Instead what we need, is to be like Jesus. And I know how cliche that sounds. I’ve heard it my whole life–but when I understand who Jesus really is, and what He is really like–it doesn’t sound cliche anymore. It sounds like being parched and dying of thirst, with my throat burning and then being led to the only stream in the world, from which the purest, and coldest water flows, and lapping it up like a thirsty dog.

I began writing this prayer out in my journal one morning, and as I prayed it, I felt such intimacy with Christ. I felt loneliness flee away from me, as I invited Him in. And gave God full permission to conform my heart, my will, my desires to His. I’ve been praying this every day since, because it changes the way I see everything. I hope it does the same for you.

journal

Conform Me To Jesus Prayer:

God,

What I really need, as I open up Your Word to seek You, is really just for You to conform me to Jesus.

Conform me to His Heart.

His tender mercy.
His hell-binding compassion.

His argument-bucking grace.

The way He NEVER falls for Satan’s schemes, or tricks, or offenses. Not once.

Conform me to His Wisdom.

Conform me to His TRUST in the Father. The way He held the Father’s Word higher than any other. Even as Satan breathed out threats against him. Even as people persecuted Him.

Conform me to His power to “throw down” arguments, instead of trying to “win” them.

Conform me to His discernment and patience.

Conform me to His Love. 

His love that “suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

That is not “irritable or resentful.” (13:5)

That “believes the best.” (13:7)

That “always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.” (13:13) Always, always, always. The love that always wins. A love so true and powerful that it can do more than wisdom, it can do even more than faith. A love that can move mountains, loose strongholds, and cover over a multitude of sins.

Oh God, I can read and study and pray. I can evaluate my heart and interrogate others.

But without love, the love of Jesus–it is nothing.

Clanging gongs and cymbals.

I can read long, I can read short. I can wax poetic, or write for hours trying to find it. Trying to find You.

But if I don’t walk away from this time with my heart a little more conformed to Jesus…

What is the point?

I would be better off a pagan.

It would be better for me not to know Your grace, or to have tasted Your salvation—than to have tasted it, and turned and used as as some sort of ruler to measure others and cast judgement.

So conform me to Jesus.

Conform me to His Joy.

To the “joy set before Him.” Joy that enabled Him to endure shame. Joy that the Father would always come through. Joy that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him. Joy that the victory was sure. And that one day sin and darkness and perversity will be blotted out from the earth forever. And that sorrow and sighing will be no more.

Conform me to His joy. His humility. His pleasure in getting low. In the way He came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:28)

Because whatever happens today, whether my worst nightmare, or greatest pleasure. You have ordained it to conform me to Jesus. Whether my family, and friends, and spouse are pleasant and easy to love, or stubborn, arrogant, and rude–conform me to Jesus.

Whether things go my way, or absolutely nothing goes my way–conform me to Jesus. Whether my body thrives with energy, or dies away with disease–conform me to Jesus.

Because this world, and my family, and my friends, and my spouse desperately need more of Him, not more of me. So let my will, my ambitions be crucified again this morning, so that I may be rendered dead, and Christ can live in me. (Galatians 2:20) And so that I can know You. So that I can glorify You, by enjoying You forever.

I need You to break into the atmosphere this morning. Conform me to You. That there may be less of me, and more of You. More of your joy, your peace, your wisdom, your mercy and compassion. More of your power, and more of your purity. And all the things I’m not–You are. So conform me to You. The One whom I live and long for.

Why Our Kids Need Us To Make More Messes 

mess photo

It was just the two of us last weekend. While “Daddy” was seven hours away, camping and climbing in the mountains, my two-year-old daughter and I stayed home with the mountains of laundry in the living room. On Saturday night, we were having a rather lame evening and were both feeling a little restless and bored and irritated with one another,  when suddenly: I had an idea. (It was what I like to call a “Fun Mommy” idea. You know, one of those ideas that matches the impulsiveness of a 13-year-old boy.) The moment I thought of it, I blurted it right out, “Hey! I know! Let’s set up the tent, and have a camp-out in your bedroom!”  

Yay!! Yay!!! Yay!!” My daughter Selah cheered and jumped up and down. And then…I immediately regretted that decision. 

I suddenly envisioned the huge mess it was going to make. The pain of setting it up, and tearing it down. Not to mention the stiff back I’d have in the morning. 

“Wait,” I kept asking her, trying to undo what I’d just done,  “Are you SURE you want to sleep in the tent tonight?” (I don’t know why I thought she might change her mind, because the more I asked her if she was “sure,” the more excited she got, and the higher she jumped up and down.)

We were definitely setting up the tent. 

After I set it up, (and almost took out her eye with one of the tent poles, and nearly smashed the light on her ceiling while dodging her eye), I spread a few blankets and pillows in the tent and went to the kitchen to finish the dishes. And when I came back…every single stuffed animal and toy my daughter owns was in the tent. I mean we were at “FULL OCCUPANCY.” Her toy box was totally bare.  


“Come in Mama! Come in Mama!” she screamed. My jaw dropped. My eyebrows raised. “Wow,” I kept repeating, “Wow.” I didn’t know how to react. But then I saw her face…smiling with such intensity over what she had done. Convinced I would join in her pleasure.

And something just came over me. Maybe I do have the impulsiveness of a teenage boy, but I jumped in like it was the ball-pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s. And as I lay there, looking quite like Gulliver surrounded by the little village people, she squealed with delight. And then I did something I don’t often do: I actually played with her. I gave her stuffed animals names and characters and voices. I don’t often take the time to think up dialogue between a Cabbage Patch doll and a plush fox—but that night I did. And I think if she smiled any wider, her face would have cracked open.

And that’s when I realized: she loves this. 

She would not rather be doing anything in the world right now, than playing with me. Than burying me in toys. Than listening to me make stuffed animals talk. Because this is her world.

And she wants me to enter it.

She wants me on her level. To see the world the way she does. With excitement, and wonder, and possibility. But I’m 28 and she’s 2. And we don’t enjoy the same things. We don’t see the world the same way.

And she can’t understand why I like to sit still and read a book. Or type on the computer. Or clean the house. We enjoy totally different things. It’s like, my language is different than hers right now. And she can’t learn mine. I have to learn hers. I have to know how to speak to her. Because that’s the only way she will hear me. 

And right now, as much as I want to believe it, she doesn’t actually feel loved by a clean house. (I do.) She doesn’t feel happier when I’m tossing all her toys in the correct bins. (I do.) She wants the dogpile. And she wants the mess—if it means that I come with it.

I’m sure there are plenty of mom’s out there that can manage it differently, but for me and my house, I cannot show my daughter love right now unless a huge mess is involved. 

When My Biggest Messes Become Her Best Memories

My daughter loves tea-parties, and painting, and “helping” me cook. (Yikes!) She likes giant forts, and tents in her room, and going to the beach so that she’s covered from head to toe in sand by the time we leave. (Including every crack and crevice.) But these are moments we will look back and remember.

So, sometimes, what will mean a big mess for me to clean up, will mean a big memory for her someday.

When I was growing up, I’m sure my mother did a great job with our house…but quite frankly, I don’t remember. And when I think back to my happiest memories with my mom, or during my childhood, none of them involve anything “clean” or “tidy.” In fact, quite the opposite.

So maybe I need to stop. I need to stop trying to make it look a two-year old DOESN’T live in my house. Because she most certainly DOES. And so do all her toys.

And I need to stop avoiding fun activities, just because they are going to be messy. I need to embrace the messy activities, because those are the ones she’s going to remember and enjoy.

I’m not saying we don’t ever need to clean our houses…because we do. But, I know for me, it just somehow takes over. The desire for cleanliness, and order. I only have one child, but sometimes I feel like I have two. And my house is like this spoiled “firstborn.” I spoil her and fuss over her, and drop everything to make sure she’s “happy” (or organized.)

Meanwhile, my daughter begs for my attention. And I keep sending her away, because I feel I need to tend to my “firstborn.” I say, “Go play with your toys.” “Go to your room.” “Go read your books.”

Meanwhile, she waits.

And sometimes I forget that: I didn’t quit my job so I could stay home and take care of my precious house. 

I quit my job so I could stay home and take care of my precious child. 

She matters. What I do with her here every day–it matters. What I whisper in her ears as she falls asleep, the songs I sing to soothe her cries, all my made up lullabies. They matter. What she remembers about me, the way I made her feel—all matter so very much. Because my house could be bulldozed next week. But my daughter, will live for eternity. And the imprints I leave on her soul matter forever.

There are moments no one sees when I’m alone with her—but God sees them. And she sees them, and feels them all. And they all shape her and who she is becoming. I want to be a good “steward” of my house, but I want to be a better “steward” of this little girl. Who will grow up to be a woman, who will have her own thoughts and questions about God, who will have to choose between wanting a treasure that can be seen and praised by men, or hidden away in heaven with God. Who will have to choose someday between her house and her child. She will live in a world who cares only about outward appearances, and cares nothing for inward ones.

My daughter needs me. She needs to me to look her in the face, she needs my arms around her, and sometimes she just needs me to lay with her and be totally enefficent. And sometimes, she needs me to make a big mess with her—just to feel my love.

That night I slept in the tent on her bedroom floor, we did make a huge mess. And my back was sore the next day. But as we lay in the dark with the glow of Pillow Pets and flashlights and giggled and kissed and held each other close–a memory was made.

Someday she won’t be two anymore. She will be seventeen. And I will need to learn her language all over again. And when that day comes, she will need to know: I’m not afraid of her messes. And showing her my love might look different then. I doubt she’ll want a camp-out on her bedroom floor. I might even have to sleep outside her bedroom door, until she’s willing to open it. I might have to lay on her bed and listen to her music, long enough to learn all the lyrics. I might need to sit with her in her messy room, and listen to her cry. I might need to pull her close and tell her I made a lot of messes growing up, too.

But she was never one of them.

And I don’t see her just as this “mess-maker.” But as this beautiful “memory.” I will need to show her, whether she’s two or a teenager, that Love makes messes. And Love stays to clean up messes.

Some will spend their whole lives trying to avoid messes. But as for me and my house…we’re choosing to make messes. To love making messes. Messes so big, you can’t help but remember them.

The Day She Stopped Hearing His Lies

  
It was just an ordinary day, she stood in the kitchen, at the sink…when he came in. The Voice of Despair. She didn’t notice at first, but soon could feel his darkness enter the room. It started with a thought, as small as a seed, he planted in her mind. And the seed took root into fear. Vivid pictures flashed through her mind, her worst nightmares playing like movie screens. It wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet, and she already felt it. The panic. The despair. The horrible feeling that things would never, could never…change. Her hope had already fallen down around her ankles. 

It was like she couldn’t take her mind off it. The fear. It just kept playing in her head over and over–like she was strapped in a chair of the movie theater. These awful images. Some real, some imagined. He kept taunting and tormenting, “You know it will never change,” he said. She tried to shake her head. “You know I will always be able to find you here.” She began to hang her head in defeat. “I know your weakness. I know I can always paralyze you…with this, however far you go, however high you climb, however much you heal…I know how to get to you. Sorry, darling, you’re mine.” 

She squinted her eyes closed, as the theater played on, trying hard not to watch, her chin tucked to her chest. And as the tears streamed down, and the mascara ran, she suddenly thought of Him: Jesus. The One who could rescue her. The dark voice tried to shake her, “Stay with me, I’m talking to you!” He threatened. “If you don’t listen to me, I will make sure it happens! Your nightmares–I’ll make them come true if you ignore me! You know if you don’t contemplate your fears–they will happen. And you won’t even see it coming. You won’t be prepared for them when they do!”

But the more she thought of Jesus, the more the dark voice began to fade into the background, and the more her strength began to return to her. She thought only of Jesus riding on His white horse, His fire in His eyes, His sword at His side, her name on His lips. The taunting continued. “No!” she said to the dark voice, “This won’t work on me anymore.” He started to laugh, a deep, terrible, patronizing laugh. “I don’t belong to you,” she said in a firm quiet voice. The dark voice continued, “I think you and I both know about the past…why would the future be any…”

But something changed in her, right then, in that moment. Because she started singing. She started singing so loud in worship to the One who would save her that she could no longer hear the taunting voice, the torment, the pain. Because she was singing too loud. She was singing so loud, and worshiping so passionately, so desperately–she drowned out every other sound. The darkness spoke on, but she could no longer hear it.  

And when she opened her eyes, those horrible, taunting images were no longer on the movie screens. They had all gone white. And now instead, they showed: the One who would rescue her. The One who would shout in the end, when at last He saw her, “Mine! Mine! Mine! This one is mine!” The One who would take her to the place where there would be no more sickness, and pain, and sin. No more heartache, and taunting fears, and betrayal, and wounds. No more perversity or darkness. But all would be right and new and holy. And this place would be the place she had been longing to go her entire life, but didn’t know it. And this place was Home. 

And there He, her Savior, would wash her with His blood, and cleanse her with pure water, and clothe her with His righteousness. And then He would sit with her, for a very long time, and with a slow and gentle hand, brush away every single tear from her eyes that she ever cried. And kiss away her pain. He would become the balm for every wound. And she would fall at His feet in worship. And she would cry out, “Worthy!” She would cry out, “Jesus!” as hot and happy tears fall. “You are so much better than they said you’d be!” And she would cry, “You are worth it! You were so worth it! You were worth every hardship I endured! You were worth every heartache I lived through. And just to see Your face is enough. Just to feel your touch has healed every wound a thousand times over, so I am like new, I’m like a child. And just to feel your embrace, and at last, to hear your laugh. You’re real, actual laugh, has reached down and warmed and thawed every part of my heart, for there is no one like You. In all the earth. And for every tear of pain I cried on earth, now flow a thousand happy tears. And laughter. For You are the Beauty I always longed for, the Voice that was always calling, the One whom I have hungered and thirsted after, and I did not know you loved me…like this.” 

Dear Daughters (& Sons) of God,

It’s time to push back the darkness. We were not meant to live bound, but free. And we were not given a spirit of fear. But a spirit of love, and of power, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) It is so easy to tremble at the darkness. It is easy to let it’s whispers take us over. It is easy to let our minds spiral down. For anxiety to come. For panic to ensue. But we were made for more.

Chances are you know by now, what Satan whispers that disarms you every time. What he says that torments your mind, and destroys your peace. But whatever that fear, however heinous or grievous, I want to tell you something: Jesus isn’t afraid of it. 

Not at all. Not even a little bit. He’s not in heaven wringing his hands, or furrowing His brow thinking, “I hope that never happens!” Because nothing happens without His permission. And nothing happens that is not for His greatest glory, and our greatest joy. And He’s got you. 

Right now, today, at this moment, the God of the universe is at total peace. Do you know why? Because He is in charge. He calls the shots. He holds the power. He holds the power to life and to death—and nothing, I mean NOTHING, can separate us from Him, and His love. (Romans 8:38-39)

Let today be the day that His perfect love CASTS OUT your fear. (1 John 4:18) Whatever it is. However big, or monstrous. Let today be the day you STOP LISTENING to Satan’s lies. Because that’s what they are, lies. He wants to steal your peace, and destroy your hope.

But I am here to tell you: Jesus Christ is your hope. You have hope and He is alive, He is powerful, He is coming, and He is a force that cannot be reckoned with. 

So trust Him.

Let His Word, and His promises play on the screens of your mind. Only think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” (Phil. 4:8) And sing to Him, worship Him, not just for what He has done, but for what He is going to do. Because you can’t hear the lies if you’re singing too loud, and you can’t feel the torment if you are lost in the joy of His Presence. 

I believe that someone reading this has forgotten they have hope. Someone feels afraid. Terrified even. Paralyzed by the same fear, again and again. Who feels like things will never change. Like God cannot push through. Like God is able to redeem every situation…except theirs. 

I want you to know: you have hope. He is coming to redeem your situation. You have the Light of the World fighting for you. And the battle isn’t over yet. Satan will be defeated underneath your feet. 

We have the power to decide what plays on the movie theaters of our minds, because we have the power to “Destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

As John Piper says, we need to “sever the root of sin’s promise, by the power of a superior promise.” And that promise is the promise of the Living God. Who fights for us. Who lives in us. Who gives us peace. Who overcomes the world. And every stronghold. And every temptation. So that in the end you can say, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and have not turned aside.” Job 23:10-11 

Because the power of God is greater than the power of sin. And He trembles at nothing. He only ever triumphs. “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15

He is coming to rescue you. He is coming to drench you with His grace like a summer downpour. He is coming to plunge you into His oceans of mercy. He is coming to silence those whispers. He is coming like a tiny spark in the darkness, growing steadier and brighter, like the breaking forth of dawn, who is coming to save you with the armies of Heaven riding behind Him. And nothing in all creation will stop Him. 

That Moment You Decide You Want to be a Mom

That moment mom

I was terrified of getting pregnant too soon. I heard horror stories of honeymoon babies. And I made sure we would not let that happen. We needed a few years to build our relationship. To grow as a couple. Just. As. A. Couple. Plus, I wanted my body to be remotely attractive for a couple more years. From the sounds of it…pregnancy was the beginning of the end. Of your body. Of your sanity. Of yourself.
But you know that moment, when you decide you want to be a mom? Maybe it happens slowly, or all at once. Either way, it just happens.

You don’t always see it coming.

I remember when it happened for me. It was after a ten-day-long babysitting stint for our three nieces while their mom and dad were on an out-of-the-country trip.

“Are they sure they want us to watch them?” I asked my husband before the girls arrived. We lived in a tiny upstairs apartment, full of breakable glass things that only newly-weds would decorate with. Nothing was for kids. Our kitchen table was one of those tall ones with metal swivel stools. We had not one plastic cup in the whole house. And the closest thing to a “toy” we owned, was a big exercise ball. Poor girls. 

I remember stashing our freezer with dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and Popsicles, and furiously taking down notes as I drilled their mother with questions over the phone about how much formula, and what baby food went with what, and allergies, and car seats, and any “worst-case-scenario” I could come up with.

Our friends kept joking that this would be good “birth control” for us. “Yeah, after this, you guys won’t want kids for years!” They said.

But somehow, a week full of car seats, and bed time stories, and outings to the zoo…actually did the opposite.
Our house was wrecked, we were in high-gear-stress-mode just making sure we kept everyone alive, and we all went to bed dog-tired every night. And…

We loved it.

During our ride home from the zoo, I remember suddenly hearing a sound I hadn’t heard all week: silence. I peered back and found all three girls conked out in their car seats in the backseat. And then my husband and I broke out into this crazy spontaneous “silent cheer” like we just won “The Price is Right.” (As if we actually did something to make them all nap at the same time.) But as we drove we couldn’t help peeking back at them sleeping sweetly. And we couldn’t help smiling at each other. As we rode in the warm breezy silence, our hands found each other and clasped.

It happened so subtly, this knot loosening in my heart. Beginning to come undone in the quiet moments, as I held their toddler hands, and rocked their little, sleepy bodies, and opened up bedtime stories, and covered their bare summer skin with the softest blankets I could find. Sometimes, in those moments, I’d catch my husbands gaze on me. His smiling eyes, that would say without any words at all, “You’d be good at this.”

You were made for this.

This moment suddenly comes when you just know you want to be a mom. You want to start the adventure. You want to take care of, and think about, and love someone else beyond yourself. You want to have a child. To love a child.

I want to be a mom. 

It’s not often spoken out loud. It’s more a whisper of the heart. A daydream. A wooing. Calling you somewhere wild you have never been. A place you’ve always been afraid of, but now you want to go.

Just like when you were a kid and that big roller coaster you were always terrified of riding, begins calling you. You suddenly see it in a way you never have. What once looked like terror, now looks like a wild adventure. Like the best thing you could ever think of doing. To get on. To let go. Not knowing what it will feel like…

Just knowing it’s right. 

It’s like the opening of a door. A door that has never been opened before. A door in your heart. It’s opening wide your arms to the undoing, to the surrender of love, the laying down of self, to love someone smaller, and weaker, and a thousand times more needy, than you.
It’s the beginning of losing yourself.

And the beginning of finding yourself.

All at once.

I used to fear it so much. The undoing. The undoing of my dreams, of my plans, of our marriage. I feared the surrender of my mind, my body, my appearance. I wanted to fiercely guard it all. I wanted us to live on our little island for two for a very long time, where we could talk late into the night, and sleep in on Saturdays, and make love freely. Without interrupting cries. Without interrupting chaos.

I wanted to keep us frozen in time like those two people in our wedding photos. Tanned, and toned, and smooth. And, I wanted it to stay warm, and easy, like in the picture, there on the beach, with our hands clasped forever. No little ones prying them apart.

But I said “yes” to the undoing.

I didn’t know what it meant, or where it would lead. I just knew it was right. I didn’t know it would mean infertility, and waiting, and wrestling with God.
I just knew it was right.

To try.

And you can’t always know what will happen next. It’s just reaching a trembling hand on a door you have never tried before, and seeing where it will lead. Seeing where God will lead.

It may mean joyful celebration of a life in your womb, and new baby in nine months. It may mean doctor visits, and questions you thought you’d never have to ask. It may mean miscarriage. It may mean long nights in the NICU, roaming the hospital halls. It may mean a rescue mission of adoption for kids from an orphanage across the ocean. It may mean a rescue mission for kids across your state. You can’t know what it will mean, but it’s still the beginning of something. 

I believe Motherhood begins, not only in your womb. But long before, in your heart. In that first fragile moment you realize you want to be a mom. The moment that door, that was bolted shut for so long, quietly creaks open. And the wind blows in and a whisper, you hear from the Spirit, echo the words of Jesus,
“Let 
       the 
            little 
                  children 
                          come.”
For the opening of that door…is opening of your heart. To the possibility of life. To the surrender. To the beauty. To the undoing.

And in the undoing of your life, your plans, and your dreams—is also the undoing of your heart. And the undoing of your chains. And in the undoing, you are set free. From yourself. And in the undoing, you find Him doing more than you ever asked, or dreamed, or imagined He could.

Because sometimes it turns out, that the thing you feared the most, is the thing that you love the most. And the thing that you were made to do. 

It’s becoming wild. Not wild as in rebellious, but wild as in untamed, and natural like a wild flower. Not seeking attention, and yet blooming with beauty, before the eyes of God and no one else in secret and remote places. Motherhood is like this.

Because there are different kinds of beauty. There’s the beauty you tried to achieve when you got ready for the high school prom, when you wore your hair in this giant intricate up-do. All pinned up and perfect. With lots of hairspray. And all your friends kept telling you how beautiful you looked. And you kept checking your compact mirror to see if it was true.

And then there’s the kind of beauty you just know is true, and you don’t need a mirror to prove it. This beauty you just kind of surrender to in motherhood.  Where these gentle hands begin to slowly pull out all the bobby pins, pin by pin. And you feel the soft tendrils of of hair start to fall, slowly across your back. Piece by piece. And you just stand there, like you did on your wedding night, when you are finally out of your dress, all undone, and wild, and beautiful.

And free.

This is the undoing.The place this other kind of beauty begins to awake for the first time.

And it all begins that first fragile moment you decide: I want to be a mom.

And then it keeps happening. It happens the first time you hear a heartbeat. And you cry. It happens when your belly starts to take shape. It happens when you meet your adoptive child for the first time, and know at once they are yours. It happens the moment you first touch your baby, and an avalanche of love gives way in your heart. It happens in the first moments of just gazing at their beauty while they sleep. It happens as you slow dance to lullabies in the dark each night. It happens as you collapse into your bed exhausted. It happens as you fill your days with Play-dough and tea-parties, and your big, important agenda gets scribbled over in Crayola crayons. And somehow, you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Somehow you cry harder than before, but you also laugh harder than before. Because you see, the best moments in life are not the ones of pinned up perfection, but the ones where all you can say is, “Woe is me, for I am undone!…For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5