I Was Dreading My 30th Birthday Until My Daughter Said This…

“I can’t turn 30!” I was folding laundry in the living room and my 4-year-old daughter was sliding over the arm of the leather chair on her belly. She looked up at me and smiled. “Selah, I can’t turn 30!” I said again, half serious, and half joking.

She just giggled. (She continued pretending to be mermaid slipping down the front of the couch like it’s a water slide.) Meanwhile I began to panic inside.

I will turn 30 in just a few days. 

30? Really? 

Usually, I look forward to my birthday, but for the first time…I feel like that’s “old.”

I’m not a kid any more. 

Pretty soon, my knees will creak when I bend. My hair will gray and whiten. My eyes will wrinkle when I smile. And who knows what illness may be waiting for me in the years to come?

“I can’t turn 30…” I muttered again, this time dropping my face into my hands.

“Yes, you can Mom!” Selah said, coming over to me, smiling wide.

“I can’t turn 30!” I said again.

“Yes, you can Mom!” She said.

Then she came over to me and put her hands on my shoulders and got right in my face, just like a football coach.

“Mom,” she said, very matter-of-factly, “You have to turn 30!”

“Why?” I asked her. Honestly, wanting to know. But I didn’t expect what she said next…

“Because,” she said, getting right in my face, “God’s still growing you!”

God’s still growing you. 

And that’s when something caught in my spirit.

God

          is still

                       growing you. 

I pulled her close to me, and wrapped my arms around her, this little blonde girl, whose only four years old, but sometimes seems so much older. Who sometimes seems more like a little prophetess or angel, more like a messenger from God to me. Reminding me of wisdom from another world. Her words rang in my head.

God’s still growing you.”

And suddenly I realized, in that moment. It’s okay that I’m turning 30. It’s okay that my body might change, or will change, in the coming years. It’s okay that I get older. It’s okay I look older. And even feel older.

It’s okay that wrinkles eventually appear from all the years of laughing.

Because you know what?

God’s still growing me. 

And my body, may change, it may get weak and frail, and one day wear out. But even then,

God’s still growing me. 

And every year is a gift, to be celebrated. To look back on all God has done, to look ahead at all He will do.

And God is always, always growing us. Growing us up in Him. Growing us in Christ.

Every year He moves us a little more out of the kingdom of this world, and a little more into the kingdom of God–the kingdom we were born for.

And every birthday I turn a year older.

But that just means I’m one year closer to seeing Jesus,

face to face. 

 

And that is a reason to celebrate.

I don’t know what 30 will hold, or 50, or 70…or beyond.

But I know Who holds me.

And as long as He has me on this earth,

He is growing me. 

He is constantly growing me. 

And the only reason I breathe in and out each day is because

He fills me with His breath. 

And outwardly I may be wasting away…but inwardly, He is renewing me day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

And,  “My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

So, here’s to 30, I will embrace you with both arms. I won’t fear what the future holds. I won’t mourn my body. I won’t dread becoming older. Instead, I will smile at the future, and laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:26)

Because God is still growing me. 

“And besides Mom,” Selah says, “You have to turn 30, because you have to eat cake and blow out your candles!”

Yes, dear girl. I do. 

The Beauty Of Right Now

One day there won’t be anymore smudges on my windows. I won’t trip over toys in the hallway. Or in the shower. Everything will be in perfect order.

I know this because when I go visit my parents house, it’s clean. Freshly vacuumed, and furniture polished. Everything is as it should be.

And I think, “Someday, my house will be clean.”

But you know what? In that day, I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss them. Being little.

I will look out my unsmudged windows and cry for the fingerprints that once marked them. For the little girl who once stared out of them and dreamed.

For the baby boy who held me hostage to the couch, because he wanted to nurse 23 hours out of the day, and whose big blue eyes would lock with mine while he did, and nearly take my breath away.

And I will ache for a day…exactly like today. All messy and undone.

Someday I won’t wake to crying in the night. I will have eight hours of glorious, undisturbed sleep, every night. (If I want it.)

But, I won’t want it then. I’ll somehow want this.

I’ll want the nights back when the baby woke me up with his cries, and my daughter crawled in between the safety of our warm bodies to forget her nightmares. And remember her dreams.

Someday I will have time. Time to write. Time to shop. Time to do whatever I want. Too much time. I won’t have a baby boy nursing at my breast, or a toddler trying to hug (and kiss) that baby boy while he is nursing at my breast, because, “He’s so cute, Mom,” she says over and over again. And we won’t be piled on top of each other, into that one spot on the couch. (Because everyone knows when you love someone, you should sit on top of them.)

Someday I will cook dinner in peace. I won’t be tripping over my 4-year-old who steps exactly where I step, right before I step there. And I won’t have a baby boy strapped to my chest while I try to do the dishes and bounce him to sleep at the same time.

Someday…they won’t be strapped to my chest. They’ll just be strapped to my heart. I will wash the dishes and stare out the window, hating how quiet it is. Hating how easy it is. Hating how clean it is.

And all I will have are these memories.

Of us all piled together. Of me not having an inch of personal space. Of not getting a chance to shower, and instead getting showered in spit-up, and high-arcing pee during diaper changes.

And I will miss it. I will miss them–just like this.

I will miss them being little. 

And I don’t know why my daughter pretends she’s a mermaid named Elsa in the bathtub, or why she drenches the floor with her splash-kicks–except that, she’s little. And this is her world right now.

And I don’t know why my baby boy wants me all the time, or why he screams when I put him in his car seat, or why he wakes up the moment anything remotely romantic happens between me and his dad. But he does. And he’s little. And this is our world right now.

And I’m going to miss it.

The other day my husband popped in for lunch. I was not expecting him, and the house was a disaster. Clothes were in heaps in the living room, the kitchen wasn’t tidied. My hair was in a giant messy bun, and I had no make-up on. My son was asleep in my arms (in our usual spot on the couch), and my daughter was laying on the floor looking at her books.

“Hi,” I said, with a smile.

I knew what it probably looked like. I knew it looked like I accomplished nothing. I knew it looked like I didn’t care. And…I was about to apologize to him. I was about to say, “I’m sorry…” For the house. For my hair.

But before the words came out, I noticed something.

Smudges on the windows.

Smudges because she had been standing there hoping he would come. Watching for his car. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: someday we won’t have smudges on the windows.

And in that moment, there was just something about the way her blonde hair fell into her face as she lay on the floor and looked at her books. And there was something about the way my son was laying, so comfortably in my arms, like he had melted into me–and suddenly the words, “I’m sorry,” didn’t seem to make sense any more.

And instead I said, “I have a beautiful, beautiful life.”

And I meant it.

Tears formed in my eyes. Because just for a second, I saw it. It was just a glimpse, but I saw it. The beauty of right now.

Right now.

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

And I’m writing this, so I remember.

And I’m writing this, so you remember. And so you don’t forget. Wherever you’re at today. Whatever you accomplished. Or didn’t accomplish. However clean or messy your house is, don’t let Satan steal this one glorious truth from you:

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

Right now. 

Today. 

And these days often feel long.

But someday, they will feel short.

So very short, the time that our kids were little.

And we will all long for it back. This time. With them.

It’s like a breeze. Like the wind.

You can’t take a picture of the wind. You can’t keep it. You can’t capture it. And you can’t take it with you.

You can only feel it while it is blowing.

And it’s blowing now. 

So turn towards it, and let it blow. Turn towards it and just…feel it. Let your hair fly and get tangled in it. Because someday, there won’t be any more smudges on the windows. And you’ll long just to feel it again, this wind,

their breath on your skin.

It’s blowing now. 

 


If you like this post, you may also like:

“Am I Enough?”

The Sacred Art of Remembering

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

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

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

And felt…just that.

Blank.

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

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

“Remember when I healed his brain?”

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

Tears filled my eyes.

I remembered.

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

I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

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

My heart burned. And my hands trembled.

And I opened my journal, and began..

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

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

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

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

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

“Remember when I…”

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

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

All of these specific moments where He came through. 

Where He showed Himself faithful.

Where He showed Himself kind.

Where He showed Himself.

Close. To me.

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

But He did.

And He does.

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

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

“Take a moment…to remember.”

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

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

Remember. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Remember when I…”

Remember. 

Dear Baby Boy,

baby boy

Dear Baby Boy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much longer, till you come?

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

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

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

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

all of my heart. 

Baby Boy, what is your name?

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

No eye has ever truly seen you.

Except God.

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

God, who formed you inside me.

God, who breathed His life into your lungs.

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

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

I long to see what He sees.

To see this masterpiece He has made.

The masterpiece of you. 

Come soon, baby boy.

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

in my heart.

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

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

Baby, you’re almost home now, to me.”

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

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

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

Baby you’re almost home now, to me.

Come, be with us.

We are all waiting and longing for you.

Until you come…

I will wait here in the dark for you.

I will wait for the sun.

For my son. 

To rise. 

 

Love,

           Mom

 


“Like” Barren to Beautiful’s Facebook page to stay updated on new posts and encouragement during infertility, motherhood, and marriage. Or, Follow this Blog on the right side of this page by entering your email address in the box and get every  new post delivered to your inbox!

Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

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

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

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

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

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

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

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

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

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

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

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

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

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

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

And when He comes…

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

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

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

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

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

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

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

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

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


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

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. 

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


Follow Barren to Beautiful on Facebook, or subscribe to this blog via email. Photo credit: Dattoma Studios

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.

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight

mama

We were sleeping over at my parents. All three of us in the little guest room. My husband and I were in the full-size bed, and my daughter, age 3, was in the Pack n’ Play close beside.

I woke up to her crying in her sleep. I reached down and rubbed her back, hoping she wouldn’t wake the whole house, until she fell back asleep.

But a few hours later, she was crying again. Frustrated, I tried to quiet her. But this time when I reached down to touch her, I felt she was wet.

Soaked really.

I felt around, and realized: she had wet the bed. And it must have been hours ago–because it was cold.

“Oh, baby, come here,” I whispered in the dark.

I lifted her out, she wimpered. I laid her down on our bed. Peeled her wet underwear off from her body. And went to the hall closet to grab towels.

I dried her off. Found some clean, dry Minnie-Mouse underwear in her bag. And laid her on a towel between Brandon and I.

She fell instantly to sleep.

And after I did my best (3:30 A.M.) job of cleaning up the Pack n’ Play, and carrying all the pee-soaked blankets, towels, and undies to the wash–I finally crawled back in beside her.

As I lay there, all three of us cramped in this little bed–my mind began to wander. I’m not even sure why, but I began to think of  the mamas in the world fleeing terror tonight.

Just two summers ago, I wrote a post about Christians fleeing from ISIS in the Middle East. The husbands and children were being beheaded in parks. The wives and daughters were being raped and murdered.

And I remember how my heart wrenched each time I thought about their reality.

And what happened? Do I think it just stopped? Do I think it’s all better now?

Just because I don’t hear about it on the news, or see it on TV doesn’t mean this horrific reality of my sisters in Christ across the ocean has gone away.

Just because all my T.V. shows me is stupid clips of Donald Trump, and the Cavs winning the Finals, and the World Cup, and a thousand other forms of entertainment–doesn’t mean that my sisters across the ocean are suddenly okay.

It just means no one is talking about them.

But just lean in for one moment with me. And remember the least of these that no one is talking about…

Our sisters across the ocean, are running for their lives tonight.

Their homes have been invaded and destroyed.

Their husbands have been killed.

Don’t just think of the masses. Picture one woman.

Picture her olive skin. Her dark hair. Her deep brown eyes.

And her babies are hungry, and there is no consoling them.

She doesn’t have the luxury of scrolling Pinterest, and pinning ideas for DIY projects in her home. She has no home. She has no nursery for her babies. She is running every day, from place to place.

She doesn’t have the stress of a busy summer schedule, or checking things off a fun bucket list, or packing for vacation. She is living on the run–to survive.

She isn’t worried about her clothes being trendy–all she has is the clothes on her back.

She doesn’t complain about making a meal plan or grocery shopping–how she would love that luxury! She is thankful to even find any food at all. Any clean water, that will sustain her and her babies another day.

And when her child wets the bed in the night–she has no clean, dry clothes to put her in. She has no linen closet full of white, fluffy towels.

She has nothing.

She peels off the wet underwear, and hangs them to dry. She takes off her own clothes to wrap her child in. And waits for morning to come.

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight,

I never think about you. But tonight when my daughter woke up soaked in pee, I did think about you.

I thought about you tonight, as I lay next to her, until a hot tear rolled into my pillow.

I thought about you as I looked over and saw my daughter and husband, sweetly sleeping in safety. Without threats, or danger, or gunshots, or bombs in the distance.

Where are you tonight?

And what are feeling right now?

I just want you to know, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I forget about you.

I’m sorry that I don’t pray for you, or even think of you.

I’m sorry that I complain. In all my luxury, I complain. And grumble. When my internet doesn’t work. And when I have to grocery shop. And when I say, “I have nothing to wear.” I speak like a fool when I say that.

I know this isn’t much.

But here in America, I am dreaming of you tonight.

Because you are one of “the least of these,” that Jesus loved so dearly.

I wish you were here. That I could share my clothes, and my blankets, and my house, and my food. I wish I could wash your little girls pee-soaked underwear for you. And you dry clean clothes for her.

But I can’t.

But this is what I can do:

I can remember you.

I can pray for you.

I don’t know your name tonight, but God does. And He sees you running.

And I can ask Him, to show me, and convict me, and lead me in real, practical ways–that one day I can help you.

And something else I can do.

I can stop complaining and acting like I deserve all the luxuries I have. And next time I want to complain about something so “First World”, even as the words form in my mouth–may the Holy Spirit convict me, and remind me of you.

May all my foolish grumbling, over Pinterest, and Target, and H&M, be replaced with prayers for you, in your suffering, my sweet sister in Christ.

My sister, I love you tonight. Here in my safe bed.

I am praying for you. I have to believe that it effects you somehow. That it protects your babies. And helps you sleep tonight.

I don’t know if I will ever be in your shoes. But I hope if I ever am. That my sisters across the ocean, will think of me. And pray for me. And my babies.

After all, this is what God tells us to do.

“Resist him, [the devil] standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9

We are called to pray for each other.

Your language my be different than mine. Your skin may be different than mine.

But we have the same blood.

The precious blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That washes us. Restores us. And makes us whole.

And one day, we will sit down together at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. As true sisters.

I am praying the angels surround you tonight. And the Spirit comes and speaks into your ears, all the words you need to hear. Because you are a beautiful, precious jewel.

You don’t deserve to live in a dump, you deserve a palace, and right now, at this moment, Jesus is preparing one for you.

You don’t deserve to wear stiff, dirty, thread-bare clothes–and one day Jesus will clothe you in robes of white.

You don’t deserve not to shower or bathe–but one day Jesus will wash you, and cleanse you, and heal you.

And on that day, when you finally get to go “home,” the real “home” you have longed for so badly and with tears, Jesus will bind up your every wound, and kiss away every tear. Until the memory of anything painful, is completely vanished.

And His face will shine like the sun. And never will you see anything so bright, or feel anything so warm–as His face smiling into yours.

And for every painful tear, will flow a thousand happy ones.

That’s where I will find you.

In the place of His rescue.

But until then, stay strong sister. Do not lose heart. Do not lose hope.

For “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11