It’s Not Your Fault He’s Not A Dad

You saw the way he was beaming at her–as she carried his baby carefully against her chest. She didn’t even catch his glance, her husband’s proud gaze. But you did.

And something shifted in your heart.

And you wish you could give this gift to your husband. The gift of children.

The gift of being a dad.

Because you’ve seen the way he makes kids laugh. You’ve seen the the boyish grin on his face, and the delight in his eyes.

And you know, he’d be good at it.

But there’s a chasm. It feels as wide as the ocean. Between what you want to give him–and what you can give him.

You wish you could give him the world.

Or just, one child.

“He deserves to be a dad,” your heart whispers.

“If it wasn’t for me..”

“If he had married someone else…”

“If my body could carry a child…”

“If I were different…”

Maybe he would be a dad.

Oh, sweet sister. These whispers are not from God. They are not from the Holy One. Who formed you and created you in your mother’s womb.

These whispers are from Satan.

Know this.

It’s not your fault he’s not a dad. 

It’s not. Okay?

You can’t give your husband children. 

Do you know why? Because…

Only God can. 

The pressure is not on you sweet girl. It is not your burden to carry.

It never was.

God is the giver of life.

He gives life.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.

The world and all its people belong to him.

For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas

and built it on the ocean depths.” Psalm 24:1-2 NLT

Your friend with the kids–she didn’t give those kids to her husband.

God did.

No one has the power to give children anyone. We are not given this ability.

Every baby born is only born because God has created this life. And anyone who has the incredible gift of children, the incredible gift of being a mom, or a dad, is only because God has given it.

I know, because I have been there. Where you are. I have cried into my husband’s chest. I have said those words through tears, “I’m sorry I can’t give you children.”

But I see now, that I never could.

Today, we have two beautiful children. Selah, who is 4, and Jesse, who is 6 months. They are precious, precious gifts. And my husband is a tremendous father today.

But I didn’t give him those babies.

God did.

He is the Giver. The only one.

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

So look to Him. And cry out to Him. And wait on Him.

And as you wait, dear one, don’t apologize to your husband for something that isn’t your fault. Because it isn’t.

The pressure is not on you. This is not your burden to carry. Nor your husband’s.

It’s God’s. He is the burden-bearer.

And He is the giver of life. The only one.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.

The world and all it’s people belong to Him. ” Psalm 24:1

Even you. And even him. 

At This Time Last Year…

At this time last year, I had no idea.

At this time last year, I was washing crib sheets in Dreft for a foster-baby we were making room for. For a foster-baby we were prepping our home for. Our daughter for. Our hearts for.

I was having my husband set up the crib. We were just about done turning the guest room into a nursery.

At this time last year, I was praying for a baby I never met. And I saw the words over the crib as I prayed for him or her, “Precious One.”

I didn’t know who the “Precious One” was, just that whoever would fill that crib–would be precious to us. And precious to God. And I wanted to speak that over this abandoned, neglected foster-baby.

Precious One. 

At this time last year, we were just days away from getting our Foster Parent certification. We only had one day of training left…

When my husband came home with a pregnancy test. And I rolled my eyes at him.

At this time last year, I had no idea. God was working a masterpiece in the darkness. In the shadows of the unknown.

Inside me. 

At this time last year, I didn’t know the “Precious One” would be my very own son. 

But he was.

And God knew all along.

He knew all along who this nursery was being prepared for.

We didn’t. We just prepared it–trusting God would fill it with whomever He wanted to fill it.

And He did. 

 

I had no idea a miracle was right around the corner.

But it was. 

I write this for the Barren.

Not to cause you pain–or heartache. Not to remind you of a longing not yet filled.

But to remind you of something—God knows what He’s doing.

You (and me) we don’t always know what we’re doing, but God always knows what He’s doing.

You might not know where you’re going–but God does. 

You might not understand the timing–but God does. 

You might not know what’s taking so long–but God does. 

Because He’s forming a masterpiece in the darkness. 

I don’t know His plan for you. If you will have a child through your womb, or through another way. Or, at all.

But just because you don’t know something is coming, doesn’t mean it’s not coming.

And just because you can’t see Him working, doesn’t mean He’s not working.

Faith is trusting Him even when you don’t know what He’s doing.

And I am convinced He is always doing more than we could imagine or understand. In the darkness of the unknown. 

So don’t lose heart. 

Because David wrote,

“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.” (Psalm 139:11-12)

Even the darkness is not dark to Him. 

And what does it say next?

It speaks of the womb. 

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

He works in secret. 

And His works are wonderful

My soul knows it very well. 

I am praying for you tonight. That you would not be overwhelmed by the darkness of the unknown. At this time last year, I had no idea. And at this time this year, maybe you have no idea. What He’s doing. But don’t be afraid of the dark. Because though it may look dark to you, and the night seems to cover you. Remember this,

The darkness is not dark to Him. 

It shines as bright as day. 

 

The God of Empty Rooms

 

Our first apartment was the size of a postage stamp. And I didn’t think about it so much then. Empty rooms. Because we didn’t have any.

But when we bought our first house. There was this one room. It was painted a beautiful shade of pink and had the name “Hannah” on the wall. It was a nursery when the realtor had showed us the house.

And I hoped one day…it would be a nursery for us, too.

But after we moved in, it was just…empty.

And it stayed empty. For months, even years.

(Read my infertility story here.)

We wanted it to be filled. We prayed for a baby, we did.

Every time I would walk past that room, I would ache for a baby. Sometimes, I would keep the door shut, so I wouldn’t have to think about it. And other times, I would leave it wide open.

Sometimes I would throw junk in there when company was coming over. And other times, I would go in and clean it up. Really for no reason at all.

And then, sometimes, I would just go sit in there, by myself, and pray.

For a baby.

For God to fill this empty room.

To fill my empty womb. 

 

And, finally, one day, He did.

I say this with tears,

He did. 

(And the picture at the top of this post was taken in that empty room, after she came.)

But before she came, before she ever was breathed into my womb. God came.

He came into my emptiness.

He came like a flood. He came and saturated my barren soul with Himself.

And He showed me my womb was not empty. I was not empty. But full. Full of Him. Full of His Spirit. And therefore, I was alive.

I didn’t have a baby in my womb. But I had the Holy Spirit–who conquered Jesus’ tomb–living inside of me.

Dear Barren One,

You know that empty room in your house? The one you walk past and dream? The one you wish wasn’t an office, or a guest room, or a storage room full of junk, and so badly wish it was a nursery? You know that room?

God is there. 

Because He is the God of empty rooms. 

The God of empty wombs. 

And the God of empty tombs. 

Yes, He is God. The Giver of Life.

He is Jesus.

He defeated death. 

 

And is full of resurrection power. And life, life, life. 

So don’t stop asking. Don’t stop crying out.

Because He sees you. And He hears you. Cry.

To Him.

Go in your empty room, and worship Him there.

Because He is worthy.

And He fills.

He fills the empty space in that room.

He fills the empty place in your womb.

And your womb, dear one, may be empty, but don’t forget this one very important thing: the Spirit lives in you. The Spirit of God lives in you. He lives in you and makes you alive.

And of this you can be certain: He will fill your emptiness—with Himself.

Because He satisfies in the deepest places, and most empty spaces.

He comes. At your cry.

He comes rushing in, at the sound of your voice.

And even before.

“Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

Before you even ask Him, He hears you. Before the word is even on your tongue, He knows it completely. He hems you in, behind and before. And He knit you together in the secret place of your mother’s womb. (Psalm 39)

And He is God over your secret places. Your empty spaces.

And, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear…” (Isaiah 59:1)

So I just want to pray:

God,

You see her who is reading this. You know her. You formed her for Yourself and Your glory. And You are relentlessly pursuing her even now. You want all of her heart. All of it. Even this. And I pray that You come fill her. With Your Spirit. Come and fill the empty. With Yourself. 

We declare that You are God of the empty tomb, Jesus. You defeated death and sin. You made us new within. And the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead–is living inside of her. (Romans 8:11)

So let her not walk in death, but in life. Glorious life. Come make her alive in You. By Your Spirit. 

It is her desire that You fill her empty womb. And that you fill her empty room. 

Thank You that you are there now. Even now you are working in those empty places, and making them full. 

Full of You, God. 

Fill her room (or rooms) with whom You desire. In the time that You desire. For Your will is perfect. Whether they come from her womb, or from somewhere else. Whether it’s a baby, or a toddler. Whether this child comes from her state foster system, or from an orphanage across the ocean. Wherever this child comes from, we know he or she comes from You. And maybe it’s not a child, maybe it’s a teenager, or adult. Maybe it’s a whole family, coming to stay for a while. I don’t know, but you know. Either way…

Come fill the empty space, with grace. 

Come fill the empty place, with Jesus. 

And I pray that when she sees that empty room, she will not feel sad anymore. But feel hopeful. Because You are there.

You make the empty full. And You are the God of her empty room. Her empty womb. And the empty tomb. And You will fill her with Yourself and Your everlasting life. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen. 

 

[P.S. I was just about to publish this post and this song just came on my Spotify. I didn’t even know this song–but I don’t think it’s coincidence. The first lyrics are, “Before I call, before I ever cry, You answer me from where the thunder hides…” (the Scripture I was just referencing from Isaiah 65:24!) I literally have chills. Oh girls, God is in this. I really believe He is pursuing you. Right now. You are on the brink of something beautiful opening up inside you. So, I want to dare you to do something. Play this song in your “empty room” wherever it may be. Worship Him in that space. (Then play more songs, if you want to.) Let yourself go, and worship Him. He is totally there with you. The song is called “Fierce” by Jesus Culture, and you can play the youtube link by clicking here. ]

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. 

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.