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

selahonstreet

I heard her crying upstairs in her bed, and went up to check up on her.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

I thought she was going to say she had a bad dream.

Or that she needed a night-light on.

Or she had to go potty.

But what she said next, nearly took my breath away…

“I want a sister,” she said.

My heart felt a deep piercing.

“What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right.

“I want,” she said through sobs, “a sister,” she said.

My heart burned. I sat down on her bed and pulled her close to my chest. “Oh, honey,” I tried to comfort her cries. But now tears filled my eyes, too. Tears from this deep hidden place inside me, that I kept trying to bury down. But that night, they came.

We sat in the dark of her room, holding each other, and I watched December snow fall outside her window. And I wondered what she had seen in her dreams.

That made her wake like this.

We never talked about siblings. Though I guess she was old enough to notice, all her cousins had brothers, or sisters. And I didn’t know what to say.

It was a beautiful desire—that suddenly felt too real, and too sacred to dismiss with a simple drink of water and pat on the head.

My husband and I had already been trying for two years…to have another baby. To give her a sibling.

And we couldn’t.

But as I held her and felt her little heart beating against me, these words just came out:

“I can’t give you a sister,” I said, “But you can ask God.”

You can ask God.

I didn’t know what He would do. Or how He would answer. But under the glow of green stars shining on the ceiling from her pillow pet, she asked Him. For a sister.

Or a brother.

With more faith in her young, little heart, than I had mine.

She asked Him. So simply. And put it in His hands.

The only hands,

that can form life.

***

Sometimes you want to give your child a sibling…

But you can’t. 

Since my daughter was born, I have heard so many moms say that the “perfect” age gap between kids is “two years.” (That way they’ll grow up to be best friends, and you’ll get through the diaper stage all at once, and they won’t be spoiled, etc.)

But sometimes you can’t make “perfect” happen. Even though you want to. Even though you want to give this wonderful gift to your child.

And you can feel anxious as you “try,” because every day you are getting older. And your child is getting older. And that gap between your child and any future sibling is getting wider and wider.

People ask you, “Do you want more kids?”

Or, “When are you gonna have another one?”

And you are left fumbling for words.

Because how do you express in a sentence (and often to a stranger) that you don’t get to choose how many kids you have? Or the time in which you will have them? And that when you have a baby…it’s because, and only because, God has done an incredible, unexplainable miracle in you?

I don’t really know what you can do about it.

But…

You can ask God.

Because He will answer you. 

In His time. And in His way.

***

Just four months after Selah prayed for a sibling in her room last December–God did yet another miracle in me. Even though I was faithless; He proved Himself faithful.  And as surely as I write this, I feel the kicks of a baby boy inside me, who I had no idea was coming to us all along. This December.

And I’m in awe of a God who gives life. In His own perfect time. And His own perfect way.

To an outsider, it may not look “perfect.” Selah and her sibling won’t have a perfect 2-year age gap. They’ll be four years apart.

And Selah’s not getting a sister, she’s getting a brother.

It’s not the tidy advice I read in the baby magazines…

But somehow…it’s still perfect.

Perfect for one reason only: it’s God’s plan for us.

***

Dear One, trying to conceive another child…

Who decides what is “perfect?”

Who decides how old you should be when you have a baby? Or adopt a baby? Or foster a baby?

Who decides, how many months or years they are apart? Or what genders they should be?

Who decides if you will have one, or two, or more?

Is it not God?

Is it not the Maker and Giver of all life?

The Holy One…who is perfect in all of His ways?

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

His way is perfect.

***

I just want to say that while I was missing all the deadlines for “perfectly” spaced children…while I was failing to conceive…and while my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed” to…

Something beautiful was happening.

With this beautiful gift we named “Selah.”

God was giving me time with her.

And time is a very precious thing, when you get to spend it with a long-awaited miracle.

I was given time–to spend holding her on my chest, and breathing in her scent, and slow dancing in the moonlight to lullabies. I was given time to build forts, and bake cookies, and fall asleep with her for her nap.

And these were some of the best years of my life.

And I say this with tears…

I would not trade them for anything.

And perhaps “secondary infertility” wasn’t a curse, but was instead a wonderful blessing?

***

I don’t know what God has planned for you and your family. I don’t know if He will give you more babies, or not. I don’t know if they will be 18 months apart…or 18 years apart. Or if they will come through your womb, or through adoption, or foster care.

But one thing you can be sure of, whatever it is…

It will be perfect.

It may not feel perfect at the time. It may not look perfect to anyone around you.

But I assure you: it will be perfect.

Not because it’s your way. Or anyone else’s way.

But because it’s God’s way. 

And His way is perfect. 

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30


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Why God Took So Long To Give Me A Baby

God gave me you

I was painting in the garage, and she was drawing a rainbow on the cement floor with chalk when she said, “I’m glad God gave you to me as my Mommy.”

I wasn’t ready for it. “What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right. She tried to say it again, but her words came out a little more awkward this time, and she said something like, “I’m happy your’e my mommy from God.”

Tears filled my eyes.

Then she prayed, “God, thank you for giving my mommy to me. And thank you (I couldn’t understand this part.) And thank you, she makes me breakfast. And thank you we’re going to make pumpkin spagotti (biscotti). I hope it tastes good. Do you think it will taste good, God?”

Then she opened her eyes, and went back to drawing her chalk mural–while my eyes blurred with tears, and a huge lump came to my throat. Where did that come from?

She’s three…and I didn’t know her little heart could hold such gratitude. Or that it would just burst out of her, during this subtle moment in the garage. Or that she would thank God, outloud, for me, right then.

Usually, she doesn’t even want to pray out loud–even with me encouraging her.  But today she felt something inside her.

Something beautiful.

Her little heart can hold more love than I often know.

Her little mind…is not so little as I think it is. She thinks far beyond what I would expect.

“Thank you, Selah,” I said, smiling. “I’m so glad God gave me you as my daughter.”

I would have hugged her right then, if my hands didn’t have white paint on them, and if there wasn’t so much junk between us on the floor. The drawers I was painting, and an old wooden chair.

“Did you have to wait a long time for me Mom?” she asked. (I have told her the story many times, but she wanted to hear it again.)

I stepped across the junk on the floor and came a little closer to her. “Yes,” I said. “I asked God for a baby over and over again. But He didn’t give me one for a long time.”

“And when me and Daddy found out you were in my tummy, we were so happy!” I told her.

“Do you know why God took so long to give you a baby?” she said.

“No, honey,” I said. “I don’t know.”

“I know why,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…He was making me,” she said.

He was making me.

I looked into her deep blue eyes, that seemed to know something from another world, and her blonde tossled hair russled in the breeze. And in that moment, she seemed a thousand years old.

He was making me. 

And that answer was enough. And my heart resounded with the truth of it, “Of course He was. Of course, that’s exactly what He was doing, Dear One.”

Because now that I know her, and know how special she is–it only makes sense, that it took so long. I don’t know what God was doing with her up there. There is just something about her, that seems as if she spent a long time on God’s chest before coming to mine. Almost as if heaven didn’t want to give her up.

Selah. 

And I say this with tears, to you, barren ones…

Who are waiting for your baby prayers to be answered.

Who are praying every day for God to give you a baby. To give you life.

I don’t know why it’s taking so long. 

I don’t know if He will give you a child through your womb, or through foster care, or adoption.

But either way…if you are waiting right now, and you don’t know why it’s taking so long.

Maybe it’s because God, the Maker and Giver of Life and every living thing…is still in the process of making your baby.

We can’t even begin to comprehend what is happening in the heavenlies, in the unseen, and what, or who He is forming. 

His ways are not like ours. His timing is not like ours.

And perhaps if He’s moving so slowly, and He’s taking so long… It’s because He’s forming something so breathtaking and beautiful…it cannot be rushed.

He is in the process of forming a masterpiece. 

And maybe one day, a little masterpiece will stand before you and say, “I know why God took so long to give you a baby.”

And you will say, “Why?”

And they will say,

“Because…

He was making me.” 

What If The Mountains You Face Aren’t Mountains At All?

A photo by Karsten Würth. unsplash.com/photos/b_8eErngWm4

I still remember the breathtaking view as we mounted the summit of the Continental Divide in Colorado. I had never seen real mountains before. (Just the kind we have in the East.) And my husband wanted to show me real mountains. I still remember, how massive they were, or how small I was in comparison. My head spun with the vertigo.

When my daughter Selah was just 2-years-old, I realized she didn’t know what a mountain was. Not a clue, actually. So, trying to be educational mommy, I googled some mountains and sat her up on my lap, “See these, these are mountains,” I told her. We looked at as many high-resolution photos online as we could. And I whispered, “Someday honey, I’ll show you real mountains.”

Later that week, as we drove to the grocery story, Selah began shouting from the backseat, “Look Mommy! Mountains! Mountains!”

“Where??” I asked, looking around.

She pointed stiffly out her window, “Right there, Mom!! Mountains!”

Then I saw what she was seeing…

It was a gravel yard.

Assorted types of gravel sat in big heaping piles, 20 or 30 feet off the ground.

“Mountains!” she shouted, raging with excitement.

I could not help but laugh.

“Oh honey,” I said. “Those aren’t mountains.”

“They just kind of look like mountains.”

I couldn’t help but think as I passed them on the way home, how they really did look like mountains.

To her.

Because she was so small, they looked big.

***

How many times in my life have I seen the mountains in front of me and been overcome with fear? Drained of courage–to face them. To cross them.

Sometimes the mountains just seem so big. So terrifying. And so solid.

But what if, when I am seeing mountains—God is seeing little piles of gravel?

What if He’s whispering, “Oh honey, that’s not a mountain.”

“Not for Me.”

What are the mountains that you face today?

 

Often the mountains (for me) are health-related. Is that lump cancerous? Does my blood count point to something life threatening?

Is the baby’s sonogram normal? What if he has a disease?

And we wait holding our breath for test results to come back.

Maybe you are waiting to hear about the diagnosis of someone you love.

Or maybe you are facing a mountain because of an illness or injury they are going through right now.

Our mountains can be financial.

Or relational. Maybe you just don’t know if your marriage, or your own flaws, or spouses flaws can ever change–or if God can redeem your brokenness into something beautiful again.

Mountains. Sometimes everywhere we look, we feel we are surrounded by mountains.

And the mountains we face seem big.

Solid.

And unmovable. 

But what if, just what if…that mountain that you face is not a mountain at all?

What if, it’s just a heap of gravel?

Because to God, that’s what it is.

Maybe, it looks like a mountain from where you are standing.

Maybe it looks impossible to face.

Impossible to cross.

But it’s not impossible for God–nothing is impossible for God. God is ABLE.

I love this story in Mark 9 where a father comes to Jesus and is distressed over his sick son–who has a demon, and convulses, and is harmed because of it.

This son has had this problem since he was a “small boy” the story says.

And it’s still happening as he’s getting older. He’s not “out-growing” it. He’s still convulsing, foaming at the mouth, and rigid. I can’t imagine how heart-wrenching it would be as a parent to watch your own son or daughter go through this. And not be able to do anything to help.

When this desperate father meets Jesus, he is already defeated. He already feels like this “mountain” will never go away. After all, he already went to Jesus’ disciples and they could not drive the demon out.

And when Jesus sees this, he says, “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” (Mark 9:19)

The boy’s father says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:22-23)

Some versions say, “If you are able?” Some have exclamation points, “If you can!”

Do you hear the shock in Jesus’ voice here??

If I “can”?!

If I am “able”?!

The poor boys father, probably with tears in his eyes, exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:24)

And He does. Jesus drives out the demon, and restores the boy.

I love this story–because it’s so honest. On both sides.

The despair and agony of the father that his son cannot be healed.

And the unfiltered shock of Jesus, at their unbelief. As if He is saying, “Have you no clue Who I AM?”

But then, this loving exchange–where the father cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

And the way Jesus just crushes the mountain in front of them. So they can walk through it, like a pile of rubble.

Sometimes as we tremble, terrified of the mountains, we forget:

God is the maker of the mountains.

And He can form them.

And He can crush them.

Like gravel.

(“‘If I can’?” replied Jesus.”)

He is not like us.

We are small. And afraid.

But He. He is big. And strong.

And mighty.

He can do things no one else can do. 

He can heal things no one else can heal. 

He can change things no one else can change. 

If you are trembling, and afraid, like I so often am, I want you to listen to what God says about Himself,

“Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?

Or have I no power to deliver?” Isaiah 50:2

 

Oh dear one, have you forgotten who God is?

Have you forgotten what God can do?

What are the mountains that you face?

I don’t doubt they look and feel impossible.

And maybe they are. For you.

But they are not for God.

 

His word says  what is impossible with men, is possible with God.

Because all things are possible with God.

Even that mountain you face today.

 

Sometimes we see mountains, and God sees little mounds of gravel.

“Oh honey, those aren’t mountains.”

“Not for Me.”

For Him it is a small thing. It is easy.

And I pray He demolishes those things you called “mountains” and shows us they were just piles of gravel.

Not because they weren’t difficult, or hard, or scary. But because He is so much bigger than those things that terrify us. So much stronger. And He is more solid than they are.

And maybe He’s asking today,

“Do you see Me as bigger than the mountains you face? Or smaller?”

“Do you see Me bigger than your fears? Or smaller?”

The answer to this question, defines the size of your mountains.

The answer to this question, either makes them appear like Everest, or like a gravel pile.

He is God. Hope in Him today.

The God who says, “‘If I can?'”

And, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

And we cry with tears, and trembling, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

May He turn our mountains to rubble, and victoriously walk us through them. Because He is God. And He is able. And what is impossible for men, is possible with God. Who says…

image

“Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?

Or have I no power to deliver?” Isaiah 50:2