She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

This goes out to every woman whose heart aches to be a mother, but finds herself still in waiting. May these words soothe your soul if you are in this place, or otherwise break your heart for those who are. This guest post was originally published on MomLife Now by a beautiful writer named Sasha and I am honored to share it with you:

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

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Christmas can be the most joyous time of year. The pitter patter of little feet running out on Christmas morning. The squeals and shouts, the laughter and excitement. . .

Not everyone will feel such joy. For many this day is a sharp wound. Piercing deep in the mother who has yet to hear herself called by this name. She who has tried and tried again, only to see another negative stick, another baby lost in the womb. The adoption at a standstill–again.

To you, dear momma, I have been thinking about you. My heart unable to push you to the back of my mind. With every visit to Santa’s lap I have ached for you. I felt the hot tears fall onto my pillow last night, brushing your searing pain. The emptiness which tries to engulf you.

But what good are my tears to you? I tried to make them worth something. A prayer.

~~~~~~~~~~

God of the childless mother,

She may not have a little one who calls her “momma” just yet, but she is a mother still. Your definition of the word starts with the heart, and hers, tenderly longing, is tenderly felt by you.

I see her as she smiles lovingly on my own child, helping him pick up his cheerios just spilled across the floor. I see her as she acknowledges my shy little girl, telling her just how beautiful she looks this morning. What an incredible mommy she will be. I feel such joy for the soul who will be so blessed as to call her such.

Today though, her own soul, it’s so wounded. So desperate.

Meet her at her desperation. Give her the patience–the miraculous patience–she needs.

I see so many “mothers.” Mothers who leave their children, who neglect them, beat them, shame them. They keep on having more babies. Babies who will live through hurt and suffering. Then, I see her. She who would love her child more than life itself. God, why is she the one having difficulty? She who deserves so much to be a mother! If I struggle with this question then I know she does too. I know her hope fades thin.

Revive her hope. Hope for a day when she will find herself face to face with the child you have destined for her. Mothers come in all different shapes and sizes. Show her the path to take.

When all seems hopeless, bring your hope. When all falls dark, shine your light. When life slaps much too hard, bring your arms of comfort. Hold her God. For although a mother is her desire, your daughter she is first.

Christmas day, which could bring such pain to her tender heart. May it be a day of hope, of sweet longing for the future. A reminder that one day she too will hear the pitter patter of little feet–feet running straight to her.

Hold her tight this Christmas. She needs you.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” ~Deuteronomy 33:27


Sasha is a wife and mom of two who loves to open up about the realities of motherhood at her blog, MomLife Now. For more from Sasha, you can also follow her on Facebook.

Christmas is for Desperate People

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To My Daughter on Christmas,
I realize Christmas may seem a little confusing right now: This week you saw a glowing tree magically appear in our living room. (Then you were yelled at for touching it.) We went to the mall story-time and you got paper antlers and jingle bells to wear. Christmas music blared and as we strolled away, you saw a very long line of kids waiting to sit on an old man’s lap. Later that night, I dressed you in your new red and pink reindeer pajamas–but you kept calling them, “puppies.”

I know you are not yet two, but even at twenty-seven, this holiday can still make your head swirl. But someday, I hope you can see what Christmas is really about, and that is this: Christmas is for desperate people.

Last night, as you pulled all the ornaments within your reach off our Christmas tree, you kept pointing to one in particular you called, “baby.” We haven’t talked about this “baby” yet. But He is the reason we have Christmas at all.

See, a long time ago, the world was full of desperate people. And it was dark, and sad, and in need of a Rescuer. Remember how I told you I used to cry because I had to wait a very long time for you to be born? The earth was waiting for a baby too. But this was no ordinary baby. He was the Rescuer. He would rescue people from death, and despair, and darkness. Because the people loved darkness, they kept running further and further away from God. They didn’t know His love yet. What they needed to see, was a God who would run towards them. A God who would come close. At any cost.

God had been silent a very long time. But two thousand years ago, in a barn, in the starlight, in the straw, His teenage momma pushed out His warm, slippery, little body. And the moment this “baby” let out His first cry–the silence was broken forever. Between God and men.

And as His mom held Him on her chest and felt His skin against hers, she breathed out His name, “Jesus.” “Immanuel.” It means, “God is with us.”

And He was.

God had come. Skin to skin. Breath to breath. And soon, blood for blood. For the desperate. For the sinners. And that’s what that “baby” means. That was the beginning. Of God coming close to us. Of us being brought close to Him. Forever.

Sadly, some people don’t really know why we have Christmas. They try very hard to be happy and make it mean something, but they don’t know that the only reason to be happy is that the Rescuer made a way for us to be saved from going to a very bad place, and that we can be close to God now. Forever.

I’m telling you this because you are going to see big presents and flashing lights, and hear Christmas carols, and there will be cookies, and ugly sweaters, and people rushing around buying gifts. There will be little Santa’s and big inflatable ones, and reindeer, and movies, and ads for toys, and itchy dresses, and family photos. And I give you full permission to enjoy those things. But those are extra. They are not the main thing. Christmas is about Jesus.

And He came to save people enslaved to sin. To free people from addiction. He came to cleanse sinners in His blood and clothe the naked in His righteousness. He came to take shame away. He came to feed the hungry with good things, to make rich the poor, to set captives free. He came to give Living Water to the thirsty, so they may not thirst any more. He came for brokeness and unhealable pain. He came for the lowly. And for those who thought they were really holy. He came for people who would break their marriage vows. And for all the people who would be wounded by it. He came for girls that would take off their clothes for attention, and men who would take off their rings for satisfaction. He came for people with cancer, who would be healed in the life to come. He came for abused people, and sexually confused people. He came for depressed and anxious people, and those paralyzed constantly by fear. And shame.

And He came for people like me. Because, though you don’t know yet, you will know soon that: I am desperate. And I say this with tears: I desperately need Jesus. I need Him. He is life to me.

Me and your dad: we are desperate people. We are weak and sinful. We get angry. We do bad things, we think bad things. But in Jesus, we find an invitation to come. Not because of who we are, or what we’ve done, but because of who He is, and what He’s done. Are you desperate? I pray one day you will be.

Because of this you can be sure—He is coming back again. Not as a Baby this time, but as King. And He’s coming for the desperate. And only for the desperate. “For all those who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8) And when He comes back He won’t appear as weak and lowly, but exalted and glorious. King of the earth. He will ride in on a great white horse, wearing many diadems, and He will be called: Faithful and True. On his robe and on his thigh will be written: King of kings and Lord of lords. And all the armies of heaven will ride in behind Him. And all nations and people will fall down before Him. And when He lifts His voice, the only ones who will rise will be, the desperate. Desperate for Jesus. And they shall enter the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and be satisfied forever. And nothing shall separate them from His love.

For God himself will be with them.

Immanuel.

So if you want to celebrate Christmas, my dear, we shall. We will celebrate the only way we truly can: as desperate people. As those who long for His appearing.

Love,
Mom

Photo Credit/Teamaskins

When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You

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This Christmas season my almost-2-year-old daughter will “help” decorate: She will yank on the Christmas lights, and break ornaments, and stick her fingers in the cookie dough.

But it hasn’t always been this way. There were many quieter Christmases at our house.

I remember just a few years ago, my husband and I were putting up the tree. And as I pulled out lights and ornaments from the red and green storage bins—I found our stockings.

I guess it’s just instinct to reach my hand inside. Maybe a stray Snickers bar? Some leftover Christmas candy? I immediately felt something in mine.

But what I pulled out of my stocking was not candy. It was a another little stocking. Almost like a…baby stocking. I’m not sure where it came from or how it got in there. But as I held it in my hand, a pang of sorrow filled my heart. I couldn’t help but think of the little baby I had desired for so long. As I touched the fabric gently in my fingers, warm tears rolled down my cheeks and the Christmas lights blurred around me.

I longed for the little one I could one day hang this stocking for. The patter of little feet. And the sound of laughter.

My husband sat down on the couch next to me and pulled me into his chest, holding me in his arms. More tears came then.
“I just thought,” I said, as tears streaked slowly down my cheeks, “We would have a baby by now.”

“I know,” he whispered and stroked my hair with his fingers. “I know.”

It seemed like forever then, the waiting. The not knowing. The trusting. The wondering if God would answer. And when.

Tonight, that little stocking hangs on our mantle. For two years it’s hung. And the one for whom it hangs sits with me here on the couch and lays her sleepy head on my lap. And as I slowly stroke her blonde hair with my fingers, hot tears run again. And Christmas lights blur. Selah.

My Precious Selah,
Our nights aren’t silent any more. They are loud with screams, and cries, and laughter. But when you go to sleep, and me and Daddy are left alone, sometimes I sit and remember the time before you. And I grow silent once more, in awe and reverence…because of what God has done. And I think about the way He came close to me during the years of silent nights, and my silent cries for you. When your name was but a whispered prayer. A dream in the night.
Selah.

You were worth every minute I waited for you.

Mom, Interrupted

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Sometimes I try to find some privacy in the bathroom. But then the door bursts open like a saloon and my daughter stands there like the Texas Outlaw about to put the rectal thermometer in her mouth. “Noooooo!!!” I leap off the commode.

I get interrupted. A lot. It’s the reason my hair is never quite straightened in the back. And why the laundry sits around the house in baskets. And why I have far more drafted posts than published ones. (I can’t finish a post, let alone a TEXT message without getting interrupted!)

No one told me about this before I became a mom. That your life will be full of interruptions from now to forever. I had this crazy notion that “staying home” that my house could look like the pages of an Ikea catalogue and I’d be structured and disciplined and have these great routines for cleaning, and cooking, and writing and working out. But as it turns out: I’m a mess.

This sweet and fiesty almost-2-year-old is able to completely disarm me. Disarm my agenda. With whining, and crying, and throwing her food on the floor, and taking all the Kleenexes out of the box…and coloring on the leather couch and throw cushions with a permanent Sharpie. (Seriously?!)

I try to wake up early…but then she gets up earlier that day. I try to make dinner…but she wants to “help.” I try to write…but there she is…on my lap again, pushing buttons, touching the screen, and making me the slowest blogger in history. She needs playtime and stories, and kisses, and cuddles, and me. All of me. So dinner is late again, the grocery trip gets postponed, the workout gets shortened or nixed, the post goes unpublished another day. And I get frustrated because: I want to do more. I want to be more.

Sometimes I marvel as I scroll through Pinterest and click on the pretty ideals that could only ever happen in a galaxy, far, far away. Who has time to make this? I read blogs so much better than mine, and cringe that it’s been..16?..Really? 16 days since I last posted? There go all my followers.

I feel the crumbs under my feet on the kitchen floor, and see the diaper pail overflowing, and that there are still dishes in the sink, and there will probably always be.

I look around and see that my life…is not a high-resolution photo. It is a blur. Because nothing holds still enough. Or comes into focus. Everything just seems to be slipping, falling through my hands. And spilling onto the already sticky floor.

And just when that whisper comes back into my ears that I need to, “Do more. Be more,” and I’m determined to really buckle down and start being more militant about my time and schedule and accomplishments—I stop and remember:

Jesus was interrupted.

Constantly.

He could not walk through a town without beggars calling out to him, women tugging on his coat, crowds pressing in on Him, and even…little kids climbing onto his lap.

But what did He do? Did He brush off their hands? Give them something to go occupy themselves with? Lock Himself in the bathroom saying, “I just need a break!”

No. Because Jesus never saw interruptions as “interruptions.” He just saw moments. He just saw God-directed opportunities. And He just saw people. In need of love.

And it seems, the moments of “interruption,” were Jesus’ deepest moments of ministry, the moment God came through. “Let the little children come,” He said. And when he looked at them, and pulled them close, I wonder if He might have whispered in their ears, so quiet that no one else could hear, “You. You are the I’m here.”

They were not keeping Jesus (the King of the World) from accomplishing some superior goal: they were the goal. They were the mission.

He gave himself—freely. Not begrudgingly. Consider the interruption of the woman who wept at His feet and dried them with her hair, and the father that plead that his daughter was going to die, and the centurion whose servant was sick, and the blind man who so desperately wanted to see. They all “interrupted.” And they all found grace.

Real hearts were healed. Real tears were dried. Real skin was touched. The moment of interruption…became the moment for ministry.

Is it any different as a mom?

What if I saw the biggest accomplishment as my time interacting with her while she is awake? And not as the psycho cleaning lady, while she is asleep? What if I lived embracing the “interruptions?” Instead of despising them? What if I saw the interruptions as an opportunity to show love? To show God? A God who is not too busy to be interrupted.

Because that’s what Jesus did.

Is this not the reason I was sent? Is this not the mission? My ambition?

This morning, there’s a little girl in pink monkey pajamas, with wild blonde bed head, and oatmeal on her cheeks just waiting to burst onto the scene with all her interruptions.

And maybe, just maybe, the “interruptions,” aren’t really interruptions.

Maybe the interruptions are the most important moments of all.

The moments God comes through.

The moment I pull her onto my lap and whisper in her ear, “You. You are the reason I’m home. The reason I’m here.”

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How to Love Your Friends

Selah and Friends

Selah loves her friends. (Both living and non.) And anytime my husband or I try to pray before a meal, she interjects with a long list of her every friend, cousin, neighbor, uncle, and inanimate object within eyeshot. It’s cute at first, and then we kind of look at each other and try to get her to a good stopping point. She simply can’t help herself.

The other night, when I was rocking her in my arms before bed and praying out loud for her to be safe, and strong, and the angels to protect her, she just kept whispering the names of others:  Rory.  Blakely.  Grandma.  Pap Pap.  Baby Ben.  Baby Bo.

I stopped mid-prayer and was moved with wonder: She just keeps naming everyone she loves. That’s what prayer is for her. 

For me…prayer is often a long list of my wants, my needs, my goals. How often do I really pray for my friends?

The next night, before I could even verbalize this to my husband, we got into bed and shut out the light and he said, there in the dark, “Let’s pray for our friends.”

And he started doing just that: praying for our friends, and their needs. And as we prayed, their heartaches became our heartaches. And their cries, became our cries. And the more we prayed, the more I loved them. Every single one. Our friends. The people God has planted in our lives. And by the time we were finished, I felt like a root in my soul was extended out further. Like arms reaching. In friendship, toward them. Because I loved them, and I loved their cries. And they were all precious to me.

And to my friends, I have not loved you nearly enough, nor cherished you as I ought. And Selah has taught me this. To love deeply. To hug tightly. And to name out before God the people you love. She has shown me quite simply that, “A friend loves at all times.” Even meal times. Even bed time. For, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

It just looks different than I thought. It’s not always a bloody martyr walk. Sometimes it’s just making their cries your own, through a simple prayer. And opening your heart to love them, the way God does. And I know that loving people isn’t about “just” praying for them. (I know that it’s meeting actual needs like making meals, and helping out, and physically doing things for them.) But…I think when it comes down to how to love our friends—it’s a good place to start. To simply: start praying for them. Truly. Sincerely. Because something mystical happens when we pray for people, we just supernaturally…love them more. And if we can love them more when we’re not with them, how much more when we are together, will we be prepared to listen well, and love well, and lay down life, the way Christ did for us.

Because He is our example in all things, even friendship. And He really loved, and really liked His disciples, His friends. And not only did he feed them, and wash their feet, and break His body for them…but He prayed for them. (John 17) And in doing so, He loved them.

Is There Ebola On My Shopping Cart?

P1010542Whose sweaty hands might have pushed this shopping cart before me? Someone with Ebola?  This was me: the face of normal suburban woman. With the mind of a panic-stricken psycho. That’s why I passed up the shopping carts that day, with my child on my hip, determined to carry all my groceries in my arms.

Hello. I’m one of “those” people with what’s been called “fear-bola.” And this is the very reason I was at the grocery store. I was  preparing for what my husband likes to call “the Zombie Apocalypse.” And by preparing I mean storing away some non-perishables and bottled water. Shampoo. Supplies. Etc. And by “Zombie Apocalypse,” I mean…well, use your imagination.

I’ve seen the movies people! I’ve seen Outbreak, and Contagion, and World War Z.  And if Ebola catches fire in America, the next thing you know is that everyone will start freaking out and looting grocery stores, and there won’t be anything left on the shelf, but a bottle of ketchup. My family can’t live on a bottle of ketchup.

This is why I was at the store: in case we have to bunker down. But because I was too freaked out about Ebola to even use a shopping cart this is what happened: I was carrying Selah on my hip, and stockpiling containers of oatmeal in my arms, like a real lunatic. But as she squirmed in my one arm, and I tried to load the oatmeal in the other—one by one, the oatmeal containers kept slipping out of my arms, and dropping onto the floor, and rolling down the aisle, picking up [I’m sure] even more viruses. Ugh!!

That’s when I realized: I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold both my daughter and my fear—without dropping something.

So…I abandoned my “plan” and marched to the front of the store. And I should have left right then, but I didn’t. I stopped at the front of the store and stared at the carts. This is crazy. You are acting like a crazy person, I told myself. But in my jumbled reasoning, I kept quoting from Proverb’s, “Look to the ant.” I needed to be smart. I needed to be ready. I needed to get food for my family. So, after a giant leap of faith, and a fist full of sanitary wipes, I wiped down a cart, snapped Selah in and reverted to my mission with more Mama Bear zeal than ever. ROAR!

Now with a cart, I could carry more. So, instead of going back to the oatmeal, I went for the “dog food” size bag of rice instead. More efficient, I told myself. Then I went to the water aisle. But as I’m plopping jug after jug of water into my cart, I see that Selah is licking the cart handle. Licking it, ya’ll! 

Ahh!!!??? “What are you thinking???!!!  

“Selah!” I looked in her eyes. Blue and wild with wonder. “Selah, don’t do that! Okay!?”

And at this point, I’m mad. I’m mad because I can’t control it. I can’t control her. I can’t protect her from anything..really. And there is no sanitizer for tongues. Yet.

When I got to the register, all that filled my cart was: rice and water. I awkwardly loaded my giant bag of rice and tried not to make eye contact with the cashier, or anyone around us.

Once we arrived home, I carried Selah’s tired little body in my arms and laid her down in her crib for her nap. And, just like that, she fell asleep. So peaceful. Without a care in the world.

And the memory came back then, of them both slipping out of my arms. Her and the oatmeal. And the oatmeal dropping on the floor and rolling. And of not physically being able to do it. Of not being what I wanted to be for her. As her protector. As her mom.

And I felt angry and sad and helpless. Because she licks shopping carts. And because I can’t protect her. And if it’s not Ebola, it’s terrorists, or school shootings, or a rare disease, or a car accident, or bacteria in baby wipes.

And I’m wrestling with all these fears, and all these emotions, and all these questions. And I feel pushed down by them all.  I just want her to be safe. I just want her fragile little girl life to be beautiful and safe and not interrupted or broken by the evil in this world. Is that so much to ask?

And suddenly I’m not just wrestling with fear. I’m wrestling with God.

Himself.

I’m wrestling, and wrangling, and sweating. God, I hate it here. Why is it like this? Why is it so dangerous and ugly and risky?

And why can’t I just be her savior? 

And I’m pushing all my force, and all my anger, and all my questions into Him. Where? Where God? Where can I go to get a life that is just…safe? And without pain? Or heartache? Just give me that life God! Just give her that life! Because I don’t want her to bruise, or bleed, or die..

And after too many words, and tears, I hear Him say in a voice so still and quiet, that it hushes me completely:

“Who do you say that I am?”

And it’s moments like these where I feel like Christ comes and presses my squirming, fighting body up against the wall, like a lover would, and whispers gently in my ear.

“Who do you say that I am?”

“Do you trust Me?”

“Do you know Me?”

And I’m held like this, in breathless stillness. No longer wrangling. But still. And small. And I feel His strength locking my weak frame in his arms and all I can do is weep…because I want to be held like this forever. 

And here in the weakest place, He wants the places of my heart that I most fiercely protect. And I just…let Him hold me. And I let Him hold her. My sweet girl. For her life is in His hands. For she was always His first, and mine second. And I can entrust her to Him, the very One who made her, and calls her His own, to watch over her soul. The part of her that will live forever.

Our world is full of risk at every turn. John Piper says, “We cannot avoid risk even if we want to..whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways. You don’t know if your heart will stop before you finish reading this page. You don’t know if some oncoming driver will swerve out of his lane and hit you head-on in the next week, or if the food in the restaurant may have some deadly virus in it, or if some man with a rifle will shoot you at the shopping center. We are not God. We do not know about tomorrow.” —Don’t Waste Your Life, pg. 80-81

I do not say this trouble you, but to give you hope. To help you see that God holds the power of life and death. And He may not always do what is best for our physical bodies (which are temporary), but He will always do what is best for our souls (which are eternal). Whether by life, or by death. He will care for us…forever. With perfect love. In this life and the life to come.

So we don’t have to be afraid, and we can say, “Even if the earth quakes and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea; I shall not fear. (Psalm 46) And if an army besiege me, even then I shall be confident. (Psalm 27) And I will not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness. (Psalm 91) And if I perish, I perish with hope…in the Lord.”

But no matter what happens, nothing, I say this with tears, nothing shall separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. Not angels or demons. Not the present or the future. Not hunger or famine. Not ISIS or Ebola. Not fatal car accidents or cancer. Not heart failure or anthrax. Not bombs or bullets. (Romans 8) Nothing shall separate us from His love.

And whether by living, or dying, I want to know Christ. I want to proclaim Christ, for He is the treasure in this life, and the life to come. I want to say, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord is my strength, and my song, and He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

For soon, and very soon,

I will stand before Him. Face to face. My own eyes will see Him. I and not another.

And He shall ask me one simple question:

 

Who do you say that I am?

5 Permissions (and Commissions) for the New Mom

2013 January-Selah Paige Fox 147New Mom’s or Mom’s-to-be: Here is a bit of “sisterly” advice I gave to my own sister at her baby shower a few weeks ago. I gave her five “permissions” and five “commissions” as she embarks on the journey of motherhood. Enjoy!

5 Permissions for the New Mom
1. Permission to wear sweatpants. Every day. I always vowed I would not do this. But then I realized something: I can not be fully happy…until I am in my sweatpants. (Don’t worry, you will totally rock them.) (P.S. You can always change real quick into that cute [ahem: socially acceptable] outfit once your husband pulls into the driveway.)

2. Permission for Imperfection (in your house and appearance). Your house does not need to look like the pages of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. And don’t think because you are not “working” you must be the Super-Organized-Clean-Freak you have always fantasized about being. It’s harder than it looks. I once saw a wall sticker that said, “Please excuse our mess, we’re busy making memories.” If you hold to this mantra, you will be happier. (P.S. If your house is making you scream, call your Mother or Mother-in-Law to come clean it for you. There’s nothing sweeter than falling asleep to the sound of her vacuuming downstairs while you nap.) And as for your appearance. Don’t expect to wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital. Freaks of nature do that. Once you are a new mom, you have limited time and energy to put into how good you look. So what if you only put mascara on one eye before leaving the house, and have spit up down the back of your black shirt? (Of course, you will be horrified when you later discover this in the bathroom mirror at Target.) But just remember, people won’t be looking at you as much as they will be drooling over your baby. Get used to having him/her steal the show. On some days, you will be truly grateful for it!

3. Permission to be late. No matter how timely you are (and any female blood relation to me is not very)–but no matter how timely you “were” you can just throw that out the window. No matter how hard you try, chances are, when you are loading Baby into his carseat, you will notice liquid poo has seeped through his pants. After about 37 baby wipes, and three peed/pooped on diapers, you will dress him in Outfit B, and run down stairs. He will spit up on you. You will run back upstairs and change your shirt. Once in the drive way, you will realize you forgot some “highly valuable” object (like the binky, cell phone, or for goodness’ sakes, the diaper bag!) and sprint back into your house to get it. This dash from your car to your house will happen about 3 times before you actually pull out and drive away. (Of course your neighbors will think you are psychotic, but maybe they already do.) Get used to this routine each time you try to leave your house. (And note: the more important the event (ie. weddings) expect even more delays. Your baby will want to show up fashionably late.)

4. Permission to open food at the store, (before you buy it!) You are a Mom now–go for it! Open the Teddy Grahams, the Goldfish, the Puffs! And don’t feel a drop of shame when you hand the cashier an almost empty bag as you check out. (So what if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and is only a month old?) Just look down at him, pat his back and say, “Hungry little guy!” Look straight ahead, smile confidently, and march that cart straight out of the store. (You gotta do, what you gotta do.)

5. Permission to Rest. Please. For the sake of everyone around you. Take. A. Nap. (If possible!) New mom’s feel SO GUILTY taking naps. Once the baby is sleeping…you do not need to remodel the living room, complete an Iron Man, bake a few pies, whip up a gourmet dinner, and appear helplessly gorgeous the moment your husband walks in the door. Get the rest you need. You will feel so much better, and be able to tackle your goals with more energy after that. (It’s amazing what soup sleep can do.) I assure you, your husband would rather have a sweet, well-rested, slightly messy house, than a Pinterest Perfect “Princess” who accidentally singes his eyebrows off the moment he walks in the door with dragon fire.

5 Commissions for the New Mom

On a slightly more serious note, I want to send you out into Motherhood with these five commissions: 

1. The Commission To Be A Kid Again. All of those things you miss from childhood, (you finally get to do again!) Building forts, crawling around on your hands and knees, snow angels, finger painting, wrestling, Play-dough, Disney movies, laying in the dark with a flashlight. A big part of becoming a Mom, is learning to have fun with your child. (And you don’t need to wait until your child is 4-years-old to start doing fun things–even babies like to have fun in their own way.) Be the kind of mom who gets down and plays, takes adventures, uses imagination, laughs out loud and dances wildly. You will impress upon this little heart more than you think. And your child (as all children) can always tell if you enjoy and embrace your life, or merely drudge along each day. Fill your home and atmosphere with life and adventure and joy.

2. The Commission To Not Fear Your Weaknesses. There will be moments you have no clue what you are doing. There are things that the “What To Expect Books” just don’t cover. And there will be days you aren’t sure if you, or your baby cried more. But where we are weak, God has promised to be strong. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He gently leads those that have young.” And He will give you everything you need to be a Mom.

3. The Commission To Enjoy Your Baby. Any mom can tell you how fast the time goes. It really happens before your eyes. Like a flash. The days coming may be tired, but they are so very happy, in a new kind of way I doubt you’ve ever experienced. Enjoy this little person in front of you. At the end of your life, you won’t care if you finished the dishes every night, or had a floor you could eat off of; you won’t care about the clothes you wore, or how many projects you completed, (or even how great your blog was;): you will be glad you cherished time with the ones you loved. They are the ones entrusted to you, they are the ones that matter. And this baby, who stares into your face with wonder, you have so little time to enjoy, before he or she grows up, and flies away.

4. The Commission To Know Your Worth. Our world doesn’t make much of “just being a mom.” But God does. Realize you are shaping another human soul, and no one can replace you, or substitute for you. You are his mother. The only one. You are completely unique, and God knew exactly who this little boy would need for his mother. He chose you. It doesn’t matter how unqualified or weak you think you are. He will give you everything you need to be his mom.

5. The Commission To Trust God. Thanks to the Internet, there are a billion things to fear, and you can look them all up on Google and WebMD. But before you do that, know: He loves you and loves your baby. And you are about meet your baby for the first time, but God has known him by name from before the foundations of the world. And whatever happens in this life, God loves him even more than you ever could, and will hold him long after you are able. He will care for him forever. His eyes saw him in the secret places of the womb, and spoke his being into existence. Therefore, God is stronger than any threat, wiser than any doctor, and more loving than any person. Every day, keep placing your trust in the God who made this child and will love him forever, and never stop loving him, even in the world to come.

 

 

[Readers, what other permissions or commissions would you give to a new mom? Or which permissions or commissions did you find helpful when you began motherhood? Please share in the comment section!:)]

The Man Who Sleeps Beside Me

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It’s early morning, when I wake and feel him next to me. I lie as still as possible, careful not to wake him. I look over through the pale blue morning light, the quiet prelude before dawn. The beeping will sound soon, and he will wake and rush with the rest of the world. But for these few quiet minutes I lay here, hearing nothing but the sound of his breath.

This man.

How did he come to me?

I remember the day I met him, I remember the way his hand greeted mine. The touch of his skin. The only skin I would ever touch or be touched by, again. I had no idea then, that we’d be lying here together, eight years later, like this.

I remember the way his fingers moved with careful fretwork up the neck of his guitar. And the way his voice soothed a part of me I never knew needed soothing.

I remember the first time he kissed me. The gentle flush in his cheeks. The steady green in his eyes, like the sea after it’s rained.

What happened to the wonder? The wonder of…

Of…him?

How did I get like…this? Love-less. And demanding. And more interested in making dinner than making…

Love?

Could I be still enough,
to take him in?
To drink deep and long of love again?

Too many words are spoken, broken, spilled. There are expectations and disappointments, and flaws and failures, and real sin, and real pain, and real…

Grace.

That word, that thing that Jesus came to show us. And poured out His blood for. So we would know what real love looks like. That it sweats, and cries, and bleeds. That it gives up self. And makes itself low.

And is gentle. And is kind.

And is not rude.

Do I see him the way God sees him?

Because: God sees him as precious.

Precious.

Fearfully and wonderfully made…by God Himself.

I have him for only such a short time. I do not even know how short. And I wasn’t chosen just to be his housemaid, or his business partner…but his wife. His bride. His friend.

To have and to…

hold. 

I look over this morning. His chestnut hair falls across his forehead. He is so still. So quiet. So handsome. It all seems so simple here…before the beeping.

But it’s a choice: Who will I rise to be today?

Today, could I bend a little lower,

speak a little softer,

wait a little longer

kiss a little slower?

To fall in love. To fall like leaves, in surrender. To fall to my knees, becoming tender.

For I am his, and he is mine. And the banner over us is Love.
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[Your turn! I am challenging you to participate in the”Fall In Love” challenge. All you have to do is to share in the comment section one thing you love about your spouse. Or, if you are blogger, you are doubly challenged to write a post endearing to your spouse and leave a link to it in the comment section.]

Don’t Waste Your Barrenness: 10 Things to Do While You Wait

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It can feel isolating. It can feel like everyone notices that your belly is flat. It can feel like everyone reads “Not Pregant” like a tattoo across your forehead. At the baby shower, questions start to surface: Why her, and not me?  Is there something wrong with me? Has God forgotten me?

The answer is:

                        No,

                                    Dear One,

                                                  He hasn’t.

Barrenness, in some ways, is like singleness. For many, it is a season, not a lifetime. For those who have a God-given desire to parent a child, whether through natural, or adoptive processes–will most likely be doing just that one day. The problem is, you don’t know when, or how long you will be waiting to do it.

You don’t know if your “infertility” will last another month, year, or decade. God knows. But He often keeps those secrets to Himself. And I think the reason He does that, is because He wants to give us something even better in the process. He wants to give us Himself.

However long the wait is, you don’t have to spend it with the posture of your head in your hands. This is the time God has given you (before parenting) to live awake, and alive. If you spend this time like you would in a doctor’s office waiting room, you will just..well, sit there. And maybe leaf through magazines waiting for your name to be called. But that is not a good use of your time. If you haven’t yet, start seeing this “waiting room” time as season of incredible adventure, possibility, and purpose.

Here are some practical things to do while you wait:

1. Recognize God May Have a Special Calling On Your Life. Instead of feeling overlooked by God, start realizing the truth: God has chosen you for a special purpose. Maybe you aren’t like everyone else. He has a unique calling on your life. He may have appointed you to do something or minister to people you couldn’t reach if you had children right now. Perhaps, through this “waiting”, He is wooing you, calling you, to step out of the norm and find Him. He may be about to show you something incredible, you would not otherwise be able to see.

2. Live Radically. Is there anything “dangerous” or “risky” you’d like to do? This could be something like going oversees for a mission trip, traveling somewhere foreign/awesome, or sky-diving. Pray about doing it now, and not then. Once you become a parent, you see everything differently. (Not that you can’t ever do anything crazy or fun ever again.) But life is a little more fluid now, and you have the capability. Don’t break your bank account, but consider that this might be a season God is calling you to adventure. (Plus, any future kids will love to hear your wild stories at bedtime.)

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I even got to climb a mountain with this stud.

3. Buddy Up with Your Husband. A chief complaint of couples who got pregnant before they married, or very shortly after is: we didn’t have enough time together! This “time” God has given you is a blessing, not a curse. Get to really be best friends with your husband. Really get intentional about listening to him, learning to love him more, and laugh with him. The stronger your relationship before you have kids, the more likely you two will be able to grow and communicate after having kids. Don’t make an idol out of him, but learn what he loves. And even be willing to participate in his hobbies that have never appealed to you. (This might mean doing things you never imagined, like: going hunting with him, watching (and cheering louder than him during) football games, go golfing, skiing, or yes…even PLAYING Fantasy Football. Whatever it is. I dare you.)

4. Develop a Hobby or Skill. So..I took violin lessons with a man I swear was Gandalf’s twin brother. It was awesome. (Can’t say I’m the fiddler on the roof, since my violin is stuffed in the storage closet right now. But it was a lot of fun to learn!) Right now you have time to learn to do something you have always wanted to do. This might be a hobby you will enjoy (like a musical instrument, or knitting) or it might be a skill you can later turn into profit (ie. learning photography, or graphic design.) Learning a marketable skill may be more useful than you think, and may help to keep you at home with your babies once God gives them to you.

5. Exercise. When I was not able to conceive, I remember thinking, “Hey, at least I still get to exercise! Some pregnant women are not allowed!” I loved spending that time going on long two mile runs outside (it’s long for me, okay?), lap swimming, or jumping into a volleyball match. I’m not saying that becoming a mom is a death sentence for working out…it can just change it. A lot.

6. Career Time. If you want to realistically stay home with your child(ren), this time God has given you to work a job is a great time to clear away debt. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Really pray about making big purchases now, that you could be paying for later (ie. houses, cars, exotic vacations etc.) Sock away that money into bank! Private/and international adoptions are expensive, if the Lord should lead you to do that. And if not, it never hurts to be a good steward of the finances God has given you, trusting He will teach you how and where to use them.

7. Invest in Other People’s Lives. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Wasting time on other people, is not a waste. Seek out ways to serve in the lives of your friends and families and church and develop the gift of nurturing people. (I had the privilege of mentoring junior high girls during my waiting time, and loved it!) But if you seek out practical ways to help or invest in people who need it for the glory of God, you will never be wasting your time. I remember telling God I was ready to have a baby because I had so much love in me, I was overflowing. I remember sensing the Spirit’s reply, “How well are you loving the people I have already given you?”

8. Turn Your Waiting into Worship. When we bought our first house, there were like three extra bedrooms. One of them was even decorated as a nursery when we moved in. Of course every time I walked past that room, a pang of longing came. When will we have a little person to fill that room? Months and months went by. And those bedrooms, though they began to fill up with odds and ends, seemed only emptier and emptier. One day, I decided to make the “nursery” a room for worship. I cleared out some of the junk and would go in there and just worship God, often on my knees, or on my face. And you know what? After worshiping my God in that empty room, He would come and fill that space with His presence. He would come fill my empty heart, as a dwelling place for His Spirit. The “waiting room” became the “worship room.” It was a time to seek the Lord like I never had before. Not so that He would give me what a I wanted (a baby), but so that He would give me Himself.

And He always did.

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Our first apartment getting wrecked by Brandon’s nieces. It was worth it.

9. Cultivate a Heart for Children. Jesus loved children. And so should we. Look for opportunities to get to know some kids. It will only soften your heart, and prepare you to love whatever children God should give you more. Baby-sit for your friends with kids, or your nieces and nephews. Their parents will really appreciate it, and though it may seem like a stretch, you will probably love it. We did this quite a bit during our waiting time. And it was a blast. Of course we had NO toys at our house, and not one plastic cup…but we got creative and made it work. It also opened our heart further for adoption (something we were seriously considering at the time) and made us willing to love and care for any child, any age, or race, that needed a home.

10. Seek His Face. I can’t say this enough. God is what makes life full and alive, whether your womb or household is empty or full. The best moments in life, are the ones that are full of God. The very title of this blog “Barren to Beautiful” is not about going from infertility to motherhood. It’s about seeing. Do you see your life as a barren wasteland, or a beautiful masterpiece? Children don’t change that perspective, God does. Because if you are stuck seeing all the “lack” around you, even if you should have a child, or ten, you will just find more reasons to be unsatisfied. Nothing and no one else but God can satisfy and transform you. Don’t let yourself be a stagnant pond, open your hands, open your arms to God, and to the people and things He has placed before you right now–then the streams of Living Water will flow to and through and from you, and pour from your soul. That is how the barren become beautiful.  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

This post was inspired by John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” For more info on my barrenness read my post About My Barrenness or any of the posts under the TTC (Trying To Conceive) category.

I’m praying for you this morning.

Missing Rock Concerts

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Right now, Kari Jobe is less than a mile away from my house. (I could literally put on my running shoes, and be at her hotel. Not that I’ve thought about it or anything.) But she might as well be across the country. Tonight thousands will flock to our city’s arena and hear her sing and lead tremendous worship
–but not me.

Why, you ask? Because of barking.

Last night around midnight, I heard barking across the hall.
It was my daughter, it was Croup.

When I pulled out last year’s humidifier from our hall closet…it looked like it was hit with the Black Plague. (That was disappointing.) In a flash, my husband was gone to buy a new one. Meanwhile, I lay with her next to me in our bed, pulling her warm, feverish body close to mine. “Shhh,” I whispered. “It’s okay.”

My husband must have bought an industrial grade model. Because let me tell you, it felt like a SWAMP in our bedroom last night. I swear I felt raindrops at one point as the whole water cycle was happening in our bedroom. I mean, it was thick in there.

But she could breathe.
And that’s all that mattered.

This morning, as she and I stayed home from church, I popped in a live DVD performance of Bethel Music’s, “You Make Me Brave.” And who should appear on the stage, but Kari Jobe. “Ah!” I thought, “I could be seeing her tonight!”

But alas. Here we were. Her in her pajamas, and I in my sweats. In a steamy house. Steamy like the fog that was wafting on the stage where Kari Jobe was singing on the TV screen, steamy like the arena where she would be singing tonight.

But as we watched…Selah, my daughter, got up and started dancing. And I started dancing, too. Together, in our steamy house, we started dancing, and singing, and jumping, and laughing, and I held her hands swung her around in wild, dizzying circles, while she let out a high-pitch squeal at the top of her lungs. And Kari Jobe was belting it out from the TV, and so was I. And no one was watching.

But God.

And here in this place, here my sweatpants, I suddenly didn’t mind missing the rock show tonight. The glory of God came down, right in our living room. Selah laughed, and I cried–because God is good, and God is here, and God is enough. And just to be here, in his presence, together, like this–is enough. More than enough.

Being a mom: I may miss out on some of the glamour, but none of the glory.

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16

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