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

usa

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

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

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

There may even be rioting in some places.

So what will you do, dear Christian?

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

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

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

It matters so much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead it says, to hope in God. 

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

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

5. Jesus is our ONLY hope. 

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

And that person is: Jesus Christ. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. 

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

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

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

We aren’t called to hide from the darkness.

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

We are called to invade the darkness with light.

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

Who is coming back.

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

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

And He will come.

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

The Spirit of the Lord is on you.

For such a  time as this.

How I Found Joy During Infertility

infertility

I had heard about “infertility” before I got married. But to be honest, I always kind of shrugged it off. I was sure there were people “out there” who couldn’t get pregnant–but I never imagined I would be one of them.

Why, you ask?

Because I come from a very long line of  “fertile” women. I felt sure, if anything…it would be too easy to get pregnant.

That’s why I was so adamant about taking my “pill” each night. And making sure there were no “accidents.”

But after a few years…something changed.

And I wanted to have a baby. 

I remember how excited we were, that first fragile month that I chucked the disc of pills into the garbage can, and for the first time ever, we tried. 

A few weeks later, I took a pregnancy test before work in the morning. I couldn’t wait to announce to my husband as we both got dressed for work, that we were going to have a baby!

I never expected the test to read: negative.

I never expected the next month, and the next month, and the next to be negative, too.

And I never expected those months to turn into years, years full of “negative.” But…they did.

I was completely unprepared for the emotional journey that was “infertility.”

It felt like riding a rollercoaster every month. There was the hope that, “This month could be different!” The anticipation that comes with trying, and wondering if life has formed in you? The waiting to know. And then the dissapointment when your period returns. Again.

To go through this cycle every month, never knowing when, or if, it will end can be tiring.

Infertility wears on you.

It wears on your soul.

Everyone knows that labor hurts. But no one actually tells you that infertility hurts, too.

On the inside.

In this secret place that no one else can see. Like a locked garden.

Like a mystery.

It’s not a labor of the body, it’s a labor of the soul.

You wait and wonder. You cry and pray. You long and hope. And you try…to hold it all together. You try to hold eachother together, as husband and wife.

But sometimes, you start to sort of unravel inside.

Because you desire to be a mom with all your heart. You feel ready. You wish it could just happen the normal way (as it seems to with everyone else.)

You want love-making and baby-making to go hand-in-hand. But then…sometimes it’s not so simple.

I remember it was especially hard those months when I thought I was pregnant, only to find out I wasn’t. Because some months I really did feel different. 

I was more moody, and hungry, and tired. (How many times did I Google “pregnancy symptoms”—in hopes that I was?) But, then, my period would come.

So, it was several years of this wear and tear on my soul, before I realized: I had a choice to make. 

I didn’t even know I had a choice. (Other than to feel bummed out…pretty much all the time.)

I did know that every single month when my period came back. And every single day, in between.

I had a choice between joy and despair. 

Now let me tell you, I did’t read a self-help book to come this. I didn’t even read infertility blogs (if they existed, I didn’t know about them!)

All I did was pray. And read Scripture. And sometimes, the Holy Spirit would speak to me. When I was quiet enough to hear Him.

There were a few key things the Holy Spirit showed me during that time–and these changed me. They changed the way I saw everything.

If you have read my story about my barreness, or my second miracle pregnancy, you know that I didn’t stay barren forever.

Maybe the miracles of my pregnancies drew you to this blog, but I want to tell you about an earlier miracle. Perhaps, the most amazing of all.

This miracle happened in my soul–before I ever got pregnant.

Before I have had a child.

See, when you are barren, you often don’t simply have a barren womb. You also have a barren soul.

And I was truly barren, not just in my womb, but in my soul. I saw my life as this dry, barren wasteland. I saw only what I was lacking. I was thirsty, and I didn’t know how to be quenched.

I was angry and sad. I knew God had the power to heal me–but He wasn’t healing me.

I got to a point where I could “accept” or, “tolerate” the fact that I couldn’t get pregnant. I was able to “grit and bear it.” (And, I actually thought that I was doing pretty well–but I wasn’t.)

Because God didn’t want me to simply “tolerate” the life He was giving me.

He wanted me to embrace it.

He wanted me to enjoy it.

To enjoy Him–in it.

(Because He never left. He was there all along, even in every moment of the infertility.)

For some reason I thought I couldn’t be happy or fulfilled until He gave me a baby.

But He wanted to show me that He was enough–before I ever got a baby. (And, even if He never gave me a baby.)

I was looking for a baby to satisfy what only God could. 

All that time, I was clenching my fists closed in anger at what God had allowed in my life, but He wanted me to open my hands.

He wanted me to surrender my plans to His. My desires to His. And He wanted me to embrace the life and calling He had for me–even if I didn’t understand it at the time.

When someone gives you a gift, you don’t “tolerate” it.

You thank them for it.

And I remember when I realized I needed to thank Him.  For inferitility. (I know how absolutely crazy this sounds.) But I realized that if God had chosen this for me, it must be good, and He must have a purpose in it–even if I couldn’t see it yet.

So, I literally thanked Him for everything I could think of that was “good” about not being pregnant. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to stop excercising, or go through morning sickness, or endure labor and delivery. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to put on baby wieght, or have a flabby stomach, or vericose veins. (Yes, I was vain. But honest, nonetheless.)

The more I thanked God for His plan, and His timing, the more good I saw in it. And the more I was able to truly surrender.

It’s not that I was “giving up.” It’s that I was “giving over.” I was giving it over to God. The only One who could do anything about it.

I literally did not know what God would do.

I didn’t know if I would ever have a baby.

But right there, right in that place, where my arms were empty, and my womb was barren–was the place He wanted me to lift my arms and worship Him.

To say and mean with all my heart, “Even if You don’t give me what I desperately want, You are still enough. You are still everything. And You still have all of my heart.”

And you know what?

Something changed.

Joy came RUSHING back into my life.

My eyes began to stop seeing all the “lack” in my life. And I started to see all the beauty in it.

I began to realize what God had already given me.

And I began to cherish my husband, and my friends. My students, and family. All the ones He had already placed before me, to love. 

I started to stand in the roles He had already placed me in. I embraced my role as a wife, and at my job, and other opportunities I had to serve people. And I started to enjoy them. 

I no longer saw myself as a victim of infertility. But instead, as a daughter of God who was chosen and set-apart for His unique purpose for me. Maybe God has some wild plan for us, I could never even imagine? Maybe He will send us oversees? Maybe there is some child waiting in an orphanage that is our baby to adopt? Maybe something is coming around the corner–we never expected?

I didn’t know what it was. But I clung to the Scripture, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

One day, as I was about to leave work, I felt God speak to me, in the form of a song. (I know, it sounds strange.) I didn’t hear the music, just the lyrics. But I remember writing them down on pink sticky notes that were on my desk. And this is what I heard,

“There’s Someone living inside you,

Though not a child tucked inside your womb,

But it’s my Holy Spirit, who conquered Jesus’ tomb.

He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive,

Hear Him roar?

And you’re alive, you’re alive,

More than ever before.”

My heart burned, and I went home and crashed down at my piano and stuck all the sticky notes to it. But as I began to play and sing, all I could hear, was Him singing them to me. And I say this with tears,

Something broke in me. 

In that moment, hot tears rolled down my cheeks, and I was undone.

He was living in me. 

I was no longer barren.

He was alive in me, so I was alive. 

Sure, nothing changed in my womb–but my spirit came to life that day. His Spirit came to life in me.

And the presence of God surrounded me there. And He showed me that He was living in me. 

Therefore, I was alive. 

That was the day, I literally crossed from “barren to beautiful.”

I no longer saw the barreness in my life, all I could see was His beauty. And the beauty He had filled my life with.

God came, and took away my barreness.

And I had joy again. I could breathe again. And laugh again.

But most of all, live again.

Yes, I was still infertile.

But I was His. And He would not let me go.

Yes, I was still not pregnant. 

But I was exactly where He wanted me to be. And He would fulfill His beautiful purpose for me.

Yes, I still wanted to have a baby. 

But I knew He would satisfy me. Whether or not, I had a baby. And if He wanted to give me a baby, He would do it, in His time, and in His way.

Dear Barren or Infertile One,

If God has led you here, He wants to take your barreness away.

I don’t know what He will do in your physical womb. But I know what He will do in your soul, if you ask Him. 

And I believe He is about to birth something in you, more beautiful than you could ever, possibly imagine.

Maybe it’s not that you need to “pull up your bootstraps” and have more faith that you will get pregnant. 

Dear One, He already sees you and knows you. He already hears your cries. He sees your faith, and He sees where you lack faith, too. But He will fulfill His purpose for you.

He will. 

And instead of pulling up your bootstraps of faith…maybe it’s time to take off your boots. Kick them off.

And run barefoot with Him for a while.

Surrender. 

Knowing, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

Because He has an adventure waiting for you on the other side of your fears. And it’s wild, and free, and full of Him.

Chase Him, and He will take you where you never dared to go. And show you things you didn’t dream possible.

And one day, you will be running with Him, and suddenly realize you have crossed, from barren to beautiful.

And you will never go back. 

To the Angels Without Wings

angels without wings

“We saw two abnormalities,” the doctor said, “On your son’s anatomy scan ultrasound.” I shifted on the white sanitary paper that I sat on, making it crinkle. “One is a shiny spot on the heart, which could be a soft marker for Downs Syndrome, or, another genetic disease. And the the other abnormality is an enlarged ventricle in the brain.”

My mind started to race.

“It could mean nothing, or…it could point to something more serious,” she said. “You need to get some genetic testing done, but it will take several weeks to come back. And then we will set you up with maternal fetal medicine, to do an ultrasound and see a specialist from out of town.”

I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me.

I wish I could say I walked out of there full of faith, with my head up, and shoulders back. But I didn’t.

I was deathly quiet until we got to the car in the parking garage, where I was flooded with emotions, and tears.

What did this mean?

Was he okay?

Would he live?

Did he have some deteroriating disease?

For the next few days, I felt like death. I was grieving. Grieving news I didn’t even have yet. Grieving results that didn’t even come back yet. I know I shouldn’t have been. I know other’s have recieved much worse news, and done better than me. But that’s what I did.

I usually try to be strong for the people in my life.  But during those weeks of waiting for results, I couldn’t hide how weak I actually was. It felt like my legs just gave out from under me. I didn’t know how to walk.

Or even stand.

But then God sent the angels…

To carry me.

I didn’t expect them to come.

I didn’t even know they existed.

But they came.

Not how you would think.

They didn’t have wings. Or halos. Or harps.

They didn’t appear with a bright light.

But they came. 

One sat on the edge of my bed, while I cried into my pillow the night after my appointment. He stroked my hair and whispered into my ears, the true things. The things that God says. He reminded me that the little one in my womb was God’s, and for God’s glory–no matter what that meant. He was a constant minister of strength to me. He held me against his chest and said through the dark, “Don’t be afraid.”

“You have to trust God now.”

And this angel was my husband. 

Then more angels came.  And they came like an army. Lifting me up, refusing to let me fall.

I didn’t call them with a heavenly trumpet…I called them with my old iPhone. And you know what? They answered.

They answered even though little ones were climbing up their legs, and the grilled cheese was burning in the pan–and they listened. To me.

They listened like I was the only one in the world…as I told them about my doctor’s appointment, and to please pray for my baby boy…and they listened when my voice cracked…and I fell silent on the other end, and couldn’t speak because the words got caught in my throat.

They didn’t speak to me in the tongues of angels. Instead they listened, and they reminded me of who God is. Some prayed for me—right then, on the phone, despite the chaos and noise going on in their kitches. And when they hung up, they cried for me. But they not only cried. They also cried out for me—with prayers and intercession to God.

They went to battle for me.

One drove hours to see me. And those who couldn’t come to me, sent text messages and voicemails, and Youtube songs (I would play on repeat)—and somehow, by the Spirit of God, they came close, just as if they were right there. And,

They lifted me up. 

They carried me.

And these angels were my friends, and sisters, and parents. 

Then more angels appeared in my church.

They weren’t dressed in white robes…but in business-casual Kohl’s outfits. Their eyes were wise and kind. Because they were moms who had already weathered these storms.

One sat next to me in the church lobby and laid her warm, healing hands on my belly. She didn’t care as people walked past that Sunday morning, and she prayed for me and my baby boy. She spoke life over him. And me.

Another angel, like this, gave me a message before worship started.

It wasn’t on a gigantic scroll…but on a simple piece of loose leaf paper, written in black ink.  She handed it to me, and said, “I spent two hours praying for you last night.” Tears filled her eyes. “And I believe these Scriptures are for you.”

She hugged me and I cried. Who does that? Who spends two hours praying for someone else…and their baby? Who sits before the Lord for hours…on behalf of someone else? Not me. But, this woman had. And I could not ask for a gift more precious. 

As we embraced she told me, “God is still forming this baby boy in your womb. And he is going to be a mighty man of God.” Hot tears filled my eyes, and I was not able to find words to even thank her for what she had done–it was so precious.

And do you know what? That piece of loose leaf paper she gave me, with scriptures she wrote out for me…is almost see-through today.

Because every single morning, as we waited for results, and appointments, I would come downstairs while the house was still sleeping, and I would sit on the couch with my coffee and read those hand-written Scriptures, and cry. And I would speak them over my womb. Over my son.

All my life I have wanted to see an angel. But suddenly, during those weeks of waiting, and wondering, and praying I realized—they were all around me. 

These were the angels God sent to me.

Angels without wings. 

Right when I needed them most.

I was falling, and they caught me.

I was weak, and they carried me. 

They lifted me up in their hands. 

This week, I left the specialist’s office crying again–but this time it was tears of joy.

God healed everything.

Our baby boy’s genetic tests all came back normal. The shiny spot in his heart disappeared. And as for the enlarged ventricle in his brain,

“It actually got smaller,” the specialist told us this Monday, “It’s in totally normal range now. Your baby looks great.”

(I’d never openly cried in front of a doctor, until then.)

“That’s exactly what we, and all our friends were praying for,” I said through tears I couldn’t hold back.

“It worked,” he smiled. “Prayer works. Intercessory prayer works,” he said.

I know that God doesn’t always heal–and He is still worthy of our trust in those times. But this time, He did heal. And I know sometimes people (even Christian people) are skeptical and think that the results for our son would have been the same–no matter if anyone prayed or not.

But I couldn’t disagree more.

I believe that these people praying for him–changed something. Because prayer isn’t man’s idea. Prayer is God’s idea. 

God tells us to pray. To ask Him. To cry out.

And His word says, “Pray for each other, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

I don’t know what would have happened had these people not been praying. All I know, is what did happen because they had. And I am in awe of God because of it. So…

To My Angels Without Wings,

I don’t know why you came to me, but you came.

I don’t know why you prayed for me, but you prayed. 

I don’t know why you loved me so deeply, but you did. 

And because you did, something changed. 

I believe it’s because of you, that God has done a miracle in the secret places of my womb, where no eyes but God’s can truly see. 

And one day, I will tell my son about you.  I will tell him about the ones who went to battle for him, while he was yet being formed.

I will tell him, that while he was yet in the womb, he was surrounded by angels. 

Angels without wings. 

What Church Can’t Do For You

dead flower

“Mom, look!” she said in a panic.

“What?” I asked, to see what was the matter.

“My flower is DEAD!” she cried.

(It was.)

“Well…did you water it?” I asked.

“YES!” she cried. “I watered it at church!”

That part was true. She watered this flower. One time. At church. (Two months ago.)

She had planted this flower in a little pot at Sunday School, where they watered it. And then she brought it home.

The problem was: she hadn’t watered it since. 

This flower had lived (or died) next to my kitchen sink for the past few months, and never got any water–except from a few almost-empty water bottles that I happened to dump on it, before throwing them into the recycling bin.

“Honey,” I told her, “Flowers can only survive if you water them a  lot. Like…every day.”

She had a shocked look on her face. “But I watered it at church!”

“I know,” I said, “But you need to keep watering it, every day, if you want it to live.”

 

As we poured some water into the parched soil of  this half-dead flower, I suddenly realized:

I am no different than my daughter.

I do this all the time. 

My relationship with Christ is a lot like my daughter Selah’s flower.

It’s a daily thing that needs water.

It doesn’t matter that I watered it at church. 

It needs water today. Tomorrow. And every day after that.

Or, it starts to die.

This summer I had a group of friends over for 4 weeks. We got together for one purpose–it was to learn the simple art of meeting with Jesus.

For some of us, this was a brand new concept. For others, it was a lost art we had to rediscover.

After some honest discussion, and tears, we all realized that when we don’t spend time with Jesus, we feel just like that flower by my kitchen sink.

Parched.

Dry.

Thirsty.

(And ready to die.)

So for four weeks and beyond, we practiced. Meeting with Jesus. 

And do you know what we learned? It’s so simple. You don’t need to read a book about how to do it.

All you have to do is:

Get alone. (All by yourself.)

Get a Bible.

Get a journal.

And be somewhere quiet (or with soft worship music.)

And here’s what you do…even if it’s only 15 or 30 minutes…

You talk to Jesus. Whether you write, or speak out loud is up to you. But you talk to Him, as honestly as you can. It’s not fancy. He just wants you. Cuss if you have to. And just tell Him what you actually think, and actually feel.

Then you open your Bible and read it. And something incredible happens…He talks back to you. Sometimes it’s so simple. But He is always profound. And you write down what He says. And let it pierce you. And somehow in this process, your spirit encounters His Spirit.

Yes, the Living God, meets with you. (In your car, or in your bathroom, or in your living room..wherever you are.)

And He waters you. He waters your thirsty soul.

And He makes you alive.

Because He is alive.

Jesus Himself, invites you to do this,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28

My friends and I confessed in my living room this summer…that it’s so easy to ignore Him. 

It’s so easy to just scroll Facebook, or look through Pinterest…or numb ourselves with a hundred different ways.

When really all we need is just to meet with Jesus. 

And be watered. By Him. 

Your church can’t do this for you.

Your husband can’t do this for you.

Your friends can’t do this for you.

And Facebook…(sigh) can’t do this for you.

It’s something only you can do. 

Only you can drink Him in for yourself. 

No one will force you to do it. You can let it go dry. And just dump the end of a water bottle into it, every now and then. Or hope church is really good when you go.

You might still survive.

But you will feel parched, and thirsty, and dry.

All the time. 

It’s such a basic principle, and I often fail to remember it. But…

If you want something to grow—water it. 

Meet with Jesus. By yourself.

Drink Him in.

Jesus–the One, the only One who waters you.

And brings you back to life.

When You Want To Cry In Target

baby aisle target

I was at Target shopping for a birthday gift for a toddler’s Star Wars party, when I suddenly realized…I wasn’t looking for Darth Vader anymore.  I had mindlessly drifted through the Legos, and Barbies, and halloween costumes, when I looked up and suddenly found myself…

in the Baby section.

The baby section at Target always takes my breath away a little. And it always has.

I’m not sure why. I guess it feels like I’m in the forbidden garden, or something.

Because for so many years, I didn’t belong there.

I wanted to. I wanted to belong there.

Those were the days when all my friends were having babies–except me.

And my only ticket to the Baby department in those days, was with a printed blue registry in my hand, trying to match the codes for crib sheets and baby bathtubs.

I’m sure the veteran moms zooming past could tell I wasn’t a mom. And as they quickly grabbed their diapers and butt paste with a toddler in their cart, and an infant on their chest–I was carefully reading the fine print to Playtex bottle liners wondering if I was buying the right thing for the baby shower. And I felt like a 13-year-old in Victoria’s Secret.

I didn’t belong there. And everyone could tell.

At least, that’s how I felt.

Like I was on the outside. Looking through the window at this mysterious world I desperately longed to be a part of.

And that’s why…when I stumbled into the Baby department last weekend, ever so naturally, now with a 3-year-old toddler, and a big rounded pregnant belly, looking at little fuzzy bathrobes, and car-seat covers, and thinking I should probably start a registry for a couple items I still need for our baby boy on-the-way…I suddenly got a big lump in my throat.

Because all at once, I remembered, so vividly, all the years,

I wanted this so bad,

just this.

Just to be a mom.

Just to be here in this aisle, and do this very thing.

And now, I get to. 

I get to. 

Tears blurred my view of the receiving blankets and onesies on the shelves in front of me.

And I wanted to fall to my knees right there, and worship God.

Because He heard me.

Those years ago, from the floor of my bathroom, He heard me.

When the pregnancy tests that I had excitedly smuggled to the check-out earlier that day, sat negative in the trash can, He heard me.

And He is the God who hears. 

And I stood there in Target, and wanted to cry.

Because, I was barren once. 

And I used to stand in these aisles. 

And dream.

And now those dreams have come true.

Because of the God who hears. 

****

To those of you who can’t get pregnant right now…

Who only go into the Baby section to buy gifts for your friend’s baby showers..

Who feel a sharp pang in your heart when you see the baby announcement on Facebook…

Who feel like it’s so easy for everyone else to get pregnant…but you..

I want you to remember this moment.

I want you to remember how impossible it feels.

Right now.

To have a baby.

That this dream will ever come true.

Because one day, you will be standing in the Baby aisle of Target. And you won’t be shopping for someone else’s baby.

You will be shopping for your own baby.

And all of a sudden, you will want to cry.

Because of the God who hears. 

And God has heard you. 

 

I believe God is going to do a miracle in your womb, and speak His very life into you. So that you can conceive and birth a child.

Or,

He is going to do a miracle in your heart, and the womb of your heart will open–to take in an orphan baby. And He will deliver your baby to you in His own way. And this is just as miraculous. For that baby will be your very own. Just as if you had birthed them.

Either way, if God has planted the desire in you to be a mom, if it’s really of Him, then He will also be faithful to carry it to completion, in the perfect way He chooses. In the perfect time He chooses.

And when that time comes,  and you find yourself standing in Target, registering for your car seat, or crib, or bath tub. When you are picking out which onesies you want, or which itty-bitty socks…I hope you remember.

I hope you remember…that you were barren. 

And you used to walk through these aisles

and dream. 

And that dream has come true.

Because of the God who hears. 

I hope you will stand in the Baby section at Target, and suddenly want to cry. Not for sorrow. But because of all His goodness.

Because…

He is the God who hears. 

And He has heard you. 

Your every cry. 

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

When God Surprises You, Big Time

gender reveal boyI had no idea what was coming. I had no idea I would be feeling baby kicks while I write this. I thought I knew the plan–and I thought it was different. Than this.

Last January, we were experiencing our second round of infertility. We had been “trying” since my daughter turned one and I stopped breast-feeding. So we were going on another two years of trying–without success.

As I prayed about the year ahead, seeing only thick fog before me, I heard God speak to my spirit. “Open your arms.” That’s all I heard.

Okay, I thought. I will open my arms. It became my mantra for the year 2016.

I didn’t know what it meant.

I was in a season of darkness. Not bad, spooky, or sinful darkness.

Just the kind of darkness that night brings–the darkness that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Just dark in the sense that you can’t see the path nicely lit ahead of you.

But you keep walking, trusting God is leading you. Trusting He knows the way, even when you don’t.

Open arms. It became the cry inside me. And the more I opened my arms, in the season of darkness, the more I realized what “open arms” meant.

To have open arms is the posture of surrender.

And the posture of worship.

And the posture of receiving.

All at the same time.

In February, my husband and I felt God was moving our hearts to get certified as foster parents. So we started the process. (Which is only a 90-day process in our county. Crazy! Right?)

I kept praying that God would break my heart for foster children if He wanted us to do it. And He did.

He broke it into a hundred pieces.

Soon, I could not wait to take in these children that desperately needed love. That needed a mama to kiss their faces. That needed a dad, whose arms they felt safe in. Even just for a time.

You know how every ministry is always asking that you give a donation or offering? I always feel torn because, while the causes are always great causes, I am a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t have money that I am making to give. (We do tithe, and I think it’s important to tithe obediently. But for me, tithing is something my husband does, because he makes our families income. I don’t even see it.)

I never feel like I can give out of something that is mine to give.

So when the opportunity to foster came up, I finally felt like there was something I could give. Out of my heart. It wasn’t part of my paycheck. (Because, I don’t have one.) Instead, I could give my most precious treasure–my family. I could share my family, my home, my time. Those were things I did abundantly have right now, that I could share.

And I could welcome the child who needed these things– with open arms, and an open door.

But God surprised me, big time. And He surprised me just one week before we finished our foster certification.

Sometimes you are walking that path in the dark, just trying to faithfully plot along, not knowing where you are going, when suddenly you run right into Him. God. You literally trip over Him. You didn’t even see Him waiting there for you. And He says, “Okay, come with Me. I have something else to show you.”

“I’m going to take you somewhere else, now.”

Well, I ran smack into Him when my husband brought home a pregnancy test, and told me to pee on it.

“What? Why?!” (When you take so many negative tests.. it’s not that fun to keep taking them. It’s not that fun to have 2 minutes where your heart is going to beat out of your chest, then feel it sink like a rock when you read: negative.)

But I did it any way.

And in two minutes, my world changed. I found out: I was pregnant.

My hand shook with the test. And I collapsed to my knees on my bathroom floor. And cried.

I could not believe it.

The thing about surprises is, you never see them coming.

But God always does.

Because He plans them.

(If you want to read more about this story read it my post called, “God Did It Again:Our Second Miracle On the Way.” And if you want to read about the first time God opened my womb out of a long season of barreness and infertility, read, “About My Barrenness.“)

After we found out I was pregnant, our plans changed a little bit. We finished our foster certification–but said we didn’t know when we could accept placements. (Our foster agency is awesome, and they said we could take all the time we needed. Even though, the need in our county is urgent. It was hard because they are literally running out of families who will take in these babies.)

For the first 15 weeks I was feeling pretty sick. But around week 20 I really started to feel better. So we opened our arms again, and got to do some respite care (which is babysitting for foster families.)

So, we got to break in the nursery a little early, as we took in a little 3 month old baby boy for a few weekends. We all fell in love with him. There’s something about having a baby sleep over, and getting to soothe them through the night, that just bonds you. Even if it is only for a weekend.

I didn’t know at the time–what God was preparing us for.

Now, I am a mother of 3-year-old daughter. And I know how to do girls. I know how to love on girls. I know how to play with girls. I know how to change the diapers of girls.

Changing a boy’s diaper kind of scares me.

(And when I changed our foster baby boy’s first poopy diaper, I think I used about 37 baby wipes. Then I got peed on.)

Little did I know, what God’s next surprise was going to be.

The week after we had our foster buddy with us, we had our anatomy scan. We didn’t want to find out the gender in the office, so, the tech put it in an envelope for us. We had planned a gender reveal party for the next day, and invited our families, so we could all find out together.

Now let me tell you, I felt 99% sure I was having a girl.

Selah, my daughter, was 200% sure we were having a girl.

My husband, said he hoped we were having a girl–because Selah was dying for a sister. And praying every night for one. She was hardcore “naming and claiming” a sister.

I even felt like God had given me a girl name for this baby. I couldn’t even think of a boy name. Not one.

So, we were all thinking: girl.

To do the “reveal” we made the same powder they use for the Color Run. We made two batches, one pink and one blue. Although, I kept joking to my husband that we don’t really even need to the blue–because we wouldn’t be needing it.

So, I had NO idea.

That as we tossed the powder in the air–it would be….

gender reveal

BLUE.

This picture completely captures everyone’s true feelings.

My husband is crazy (TOUCHDOWN!!) happy.

I am in shock. (I think my jaw dropped so far it touched our lawn.)

And my 3-year-old girls is in disbelief.

(We are still coaching her to say “brother”, not “sister” when she talks to the baby.)

I know that everyone has a 50/50 chance about the whole gender thing. But, for some reason, when I saw that blue powder falling–I just could not believe it.

I just thought, I was cut out for girls. I am all about girls. And I feel called to minister to girls, and women. Not, boys.

But in that moment, when blue powder covered me: I was surprised again.

By God.

A God who knew all along.

He had a son for me. Not, at least for now, another daughter.

But that’s the thing about God, He is full of surprises.

But the surprise isn’t so much about the change of course in the path, it’s about the One leading you on the path.

He is the surprise. He is the One waiting for you.

It’s not just about opening these little unexpected packages.

He is the One that was unexpected.

And His ways are higher than ours.

When you are walking in a season of “darkness” it’s not about just where you are going. It’s about who is leading you through it. And you just keep walking until you run right into Him.

He is the best surprise.

So, friends, I don’t know what is ahead.

I hope that my son is full term, and healthy, and perfect.

But I don’t know what it will be like. 

I hope we get to love on foster babies, or even adopt at some point.

But I don’t know what God has planned for us. 

I hope I can learn some wrestling moves, and how to to wrangle with boys, and how to enter the world of trucks, and dirt, and crazy boy impulses I can’t even begin to comprehend.

But I don’t know what it will be like. 

I hope we get to love on foster babies, or even adopt at some point.

But I don’t know what God has planned for us.

As much as I want to confidently act like some sort of prophetess.

I am not a prophetess. I am just a person. 

Surprised again, and again, by a loving God.

And isn’t that what we all are?

We are all just people, who don’t really know what is ahead.

All I do know is that God is calling me to have open arms.

And to be honest, it scares me at times. To keep these arms open. Not knowing what it means. Not knowing what I will have to surrender. Or what I will receive.

How I hope it’s full of peace, and joy, and ease.

But I’m not promised that.

I’m only promised, that no matter what happens, God will be there.

God will be here, okay? Right here, in the midst of it.

I need to keep my arms open to Him. To all that He has for me.

And even when I am walking blind, He will surprise me with Himself.

With His very presence.

With the fact that: He’s been waiting for me the whole time.

 

So, to the one walking in the dark. Keep walking.

You will eventually walk straight into Him.

And you might be surprised when you do.

Right now, you might not know where you are going–but God does. You might not know where the path leads–but God does. And whatever surprises that may await you–nothing compares with the One who creates them.

He is the best surprise.

And He is full of surprises.

Because He is God.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So..

Keep your arms open.

Keep your heart open.

Keep your door open.

You don’t know when He may just show up–unexpectedly.

and surprise you.

Big time.

When Did We Stop Taking Kissing Pictures?

when did we stop taking kissing pictures?I was walking on our treadmill last night, or rather waddling, at 20 weeks pregnant. And since I had no music or book to occupy me, as I usually do, I just stared at the wall.

And on that wall, was a shelf. And on that shelf, were three framed pictures. And one of them caught my eye, and I couldn’t help staring at it for those 20 minutes of cardio. It’s a picture of my husband and I…kissing.

I mean, really smooching.

He wasn’t my husband at the time the picture was taken, he was my boyfriend. And I remember when we took the picture, with my digital camera (yes, it was before cell phone selfies), that we were celebrating our one-year dating anniversary. (For us, it was a big deal.)

He had surprised me and took me on a private sail-boat ride on the lake. It was just the two of us, and a man who introduced himself as “Captain Dan,” who sailed us around for hours after he scarfed down a can of sun-dried tomato tuna and Snack Pack in front of us. He was nice enough to be our captain.

He sailed us around for hours, as we sat in the back of the boat,  so close, we looked like one person. The sky was orange and pink and the lake looked like glass.

And we kissed.

As I stared at the picture, above my treadmill, with no where else to look, I couldn’t help but wonder, “When did we stop taking kissing pictures?”

It must have been at least 7 years ago, when we got married. I think those were the last kissing pictures we have–on the beach, at our wedding ceremony. That our photographer took.

Hmm. I started to think. What made us stop?

Did we lose our wonder…of a simple kiss?

Now, he sleeps inches away from me. Every night. And sometimes I forget the wonder, that I once felt when he would brush against me. When he would lean in for a kiss. When his Jeep’s ignition would shut off, and we’d sit there in the dark.

And kiss.

We’ve been married seven years. And…

We still kiss. And he still tells me, with my pregnant body, and hormonal break-outs, that I’m beautiful–even though I don’t believe him. And I still think he’s so cute. Even though he just rolls his eyes when I tell him that.

I guess we both feel not-as-beautiful as we once did…

But I want to remember–what we felt then. I don’t want to let those two kids on the sail boat drift away as a memory. I would like to keep them right here, in front of me, kissing.

Kissing not just like he is leaving for work,

but kissing like he is leaving for war.

Because we’re not guaranteed one more day together. You know? And why do we treat each other like we are?

We don’t know when our last day together will be. We don’t.

And I don’t want to waste it, on stupid arguments that don’t matter. I don’t want to waste it rushing around, rushing past each other.

I want to remember the boy on the boat.

And not let him drift away. 

And kiss him again. Simply kiss him.

Like he’s just killed the ignition in his Jeep.

And we’re sitting in the dark.

Feeling our way through.

To each other.