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 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.” 

God Did It Again: Our Second Miracle On the Way

miracle baby

Dear Friends, this is a post I never intended to write. But here I am writing it, with tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. And my hands feel shaky at these keys:

I’m pregnant again.

God did it.

This will be our second miracle. And I had no idea, it was even coming. But all of a sudden, it’s here. Seemingly, out of no where. The only way a miracle can come–when you know full well that you have offered nothing. When you have brought nothing to the table, and God has brought everything. God brings a feast.

And He asks you to dine with Him. And you do, because your soul is starving. 

If you don’t already know it, I encourage you to read my story of infertility. In it, you will find a very broken woman, angry and confused and barely tolerating God’s “plan.” You will find a woman who is so very barren, not only in her womb, but in her soul. And you will find how God rescues her out of that barrenness–by showing her Himself, His very beauty, and that He satisfies.

My daughter Selah is three now. She is beautiful, like music. Like her name. And she was worth every tear I cried for her. Every minute I waited for her.

The last few years have been so full–of her–just learning this other person, this other creature God has placed in my care. I’ve got to see her grow out of her tiny newborn clothes into a lengthy three year old girl that looks older every minute. She won’t hold still, or slow down enough to let me just hold her and breathe her in. Sometimes it seems like she is sprinting through childhood, and I’m chasing her, always a few steps back, yelling, “Slow down!”

I remember how I cried when we took down her crib. I cried into my husbands shirt, and sobbed, “I’m just afraid we’ll never get to put it up again.” I felt like I was saying good-bye to this baby part of her, that I wasn’t ready to part with. Or put into storage.

And I didn’t know if God would give us any more children.

We prayed God would give us more, if He wanted us to have more. Even though, we were already beyond blessed to have even one beautiful child. Many don’t even get that.

For the last few years we’ve “tried” to conceive again. (But what is “trying” when you already have a child?) Interrupting cries during the “moment”, and a BBT thermometer that keeps disappearing from your nightstand and reappearing in your daughter’s toy box, and “charting” which was once graphed lines and fluids and temperatures, was now simply figuring out which cycle day I was on–which I was usually totally off on. Or we missed “the window” completely. Oops.

At the beginning of 2016, I felt the Lord gave me a theme for the year. Which was simply to have Open Arms.  I drew a stick figure of myself, with my arms out wide. And wrote: Open Arms: Because the posture of surrender, and the posture of worship, and the posture of receiving, is the same.

All I knew, is that God wanted me to keep my arms open. Wide open. Surrendering. Worshiping. And receiving from Him.

So in February, my husband and I felt like we needed to open our arms to fostering. This was something we talked about for a long time–and had many conversations about. My biggest hang up was, “I just don’t know if I could give the baby back.” I think most people struggle with that part of fostering, (the part that you have no control, and that your heart will probably be crushed in the process.) But, I clearly remember one day as we drove down I-79, as I told my husband all the reasons why it would be so “emotionally difficult” to foster, he gently reminded me, “It’s not about you. This is one thing in your life you get to do, that’s not about you.” Tears began to run down my face. It was that moment that it clicked for me. It’s not about me. It’s about helping someone else. At the most fragile state in their life.

The more we thought and prayed about it, the more we felt led to get certified to be foster parents. In our state, it’s only a 90 day process, and is actually very simple to do. We decided we would foster babies anywhere from newborn to under a year old, and we were really excited about it.

So in mid-April, we were nearing the end of all of our paperwork, training, and inspections. I felt so excited to lavish this baby with love. I was going to love this baby with everything, just as if he, or she was my own child. I knew my heart would probably get ripped out, but I felt that this baby deserved to be treated like they were the most long awaited, and long anticipated baby ever to be born.

So, we took down the guest room and made it into a full-blown nursery. I was happy to see the pretty white crib up again. Along with the glider and changing table. Everything looked crisp and white against the gray walls. I would walk past and wonder who the baby was that we would receive. And as I prayed, I kept seeing the words, “Precious One,” over the crib. So I ordered a pretty custom-made wall-sticker from Etsy to place over the crib. “Precious One,” is something I wanted to speak over and over this child.

And it was that week, that everything was set up in the nursery. The car seat was ready to go. And I had washed all the baby blankets in sweet-smelling Dreft–since that is what I would do for my own child–that our world would change: again.

My husband had picked up a pregnancy test on his way home from work, and I rolled my eyes when he handed it to me. “Why take a test?” I asked, “It just makes it harder!” I didn’t like taking pregnancy tests because they just played with emotions, I’d rather keep stuffed down.

And so, as he was tightening up the baby gates for the final home-inspection the next day, I went and took the test. I locked the door so that no one disturbed me. And that’s when I saw a very faint blue line cross the other: pregnant.

I fell to my knees right there on the bathroom floor.  And the lines blurred with my tears. And I thanked God, and gasped.

My husband came up, and I showed him the test, “Bekah!!” he exclaimed, hugging me, and we laughed. We could not believe it.

I was pregnant.

And in shock.

And in awe, of our very great God.

Today I am 9 weeks pregnant. So, it’s still early. I know we’re not guaranteed anything. I am not guaranteed even one more breath. But with all the breath in me, I will thank God for this miracle. And I will tell of His works.

And I will celebrate this life within me every day I have him, or her. For God knows this son or daughter. And He has already breathed out their name. His eyes see their unformed body, being knit together in the secret places of my womb. And all the days ordained for them have been written in His book, before one of them will come to be.

Dear friends, I had no idea that the child I was preparing for, was one in my womb. I had no idea the “Precious One” I had been praying for, would be living inside me. Can you fathom what God has done?

Surely, He is God. There is no one like Him. He alone can do wonders and miracles. He can even open the womb.

Lately, I am so tired. Can you pray for me, that I can keep my arms open? My heart open? I want to stay in the posture of surrender, and worship, and receiving as I carry this child. I haven’t  felt physically well, so we have decided to wait to take in a foster baby until sometime after our baby is born. However, this is something we pray we get to do in the future, because the need is so very great and urgent.

I want you to know, I will pray for you as well.

If you are barren, and even if you are not, my prayer is that you can open your arms. Wide. Ready to embrace whatever and whoever God has for you. I don’t know where it will lead. But it will be wild, and free, and full of God.

If you are still waiting and praying to get pregnant, please don’t let the news of my miracle discourage you. I know, it can feel defeating when you hear of other people’s pregnancies. Especially when they seem to come so easily.

But this miracle God has done in me should give you hope. Not despair.

Because if God can do a miracle in me, who has not even the faith, but rolls her eyes at the pregnancy test, He can surely do one in you as well.

I don’t know what it will look like. Or when. Or how.

But that’s what a miracle is. It’s a mystery. 

It’s a gift. It’s something of God. 

When you find yourself with nothing to offer. 

You are in the perfect place. 

Open your empty arms. To Him.

And say,

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:25-26

For surely He will satisfy. Surely, He will be your portion.

To The Woman Still Longing To Be A Mom

I am thinking of you tonight. Actually, I think of you often. I know how you feel when you walk through the Baby section at Target. Maybe with a gift registry in your hand, and wonder if you will ever own a tiny bathtub like the one you are buying. You wonder if you will ever own little onesies, or little shoes, or little anything. Because right now, the miracle seems so far away.

You will go to the baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little tiny gifts of your own to open? Will your stomach ever round with life? Will you ever hold a baby and whisper over him or her, the word you long to say, “Mine.

I know how your heart aches, and waits, and wonders at a life that seems so easy for others, even “accidental” for many, but so seemingly impossible and difficult for you.

Maybe tonight you hold out fragile hands to a God, that you have to believe, hope against hope, is a good Father. And gives good gifts to His children. And that He gives bread and not stones. Even when you can’t taste it yet.

For the woman who feels He is far tonight, I’m thinking of you. For the woman who is growing weary of waiting tonight, I’m thinking of you. And for the woman who has yet to hold her child lost in miscarriage, I’m thinking of you.

And maybe you never got see your baby’s face. Maybe you never even got to give your baby a name. But God knows your baby’s face. God knows your baby’s name. He knew from the moment He breathed him or her into existence. And though your arms ache to hold that child, He is holding him or her tonight. And though you’d give the world to sing them lullabies, He sings over them tonight. And I know you have to wonder, why aren’t they here? With me? And I do not know such a mystery. All I can wonder is, perhaps the world was not worthy of such a one.

They were too precious.

I’m not trying to make you grieve. I just want you to know that I love you tonight. And I think about you. And I want you to know God has filled me with compassion, and love, and hope for you.
Because you are the reason I started Barren to Beautiful. Your pain, and confusion, and your aching heart is the reason. And I know, we have never met. I wish we could. I wish I could hear your story. I wish I could hear your heart’s cry tonight. I wish I could console you.

And so, because I can’t, I just want to turn my gaze toward the One who can. The God who made you, and loves you, and has ordained your life with purpose. And so I’m just going to pray for you, if you want to join in:
Dear God,
I lift up my sister to You tonight. And though this is just a little blog post, You are a big God. And so I pray that You would break into the room where she is right now, by Your Spirit. And show her that You are real. And that You have the power, and that Your Spirit gives life.

Show her that You hear her cries in the night, even the quiet whispers of her heart. You know her dreams. You’ve seen them all. And before a word is on her tongue, O Lord, You know it completely.

You formed her together in her mother’s womb, Your eyes saw her unformed body. And all the days ordained for her were written in Your book, before one of them came to be.

And thank you that this is not the end. Thank you that endless and boundless life flows from You. Thank you that in You, death has lost it’s power. Death has lost it’s sting. And that the Day is coming when Death will be swallowed up in Life forever.

So bring comfort to her heart, and peace to her soul. And when her body is weak and gives out, be her strength. When her body fails her, month after month, let her say, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none on earth I desire besides You. Though my heart and my flesh may fail, You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26
God, come close to her tonight–because you say in Your Word to the barren woman,

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
    behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
    and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

I pray you would fill her with Your Holy Spirit, and that her heart and soul would overflow with Your life. And that though her womb may be barren, her spirit would not be barren any longer. Minister to her tonight. And let her rest in You, and to wake with perfect peace as she fixes her mind on You all night long.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S My husband recorded this beautiful song in our living room the other night. And he did it for a friend who is grieving right now, but I just wanted to share it with you as well. It’s a very old hymn called, “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right.” Click here to listen to it. Perhaps it will minister to you, as much as it does to me.

Much love. You are my heart. And feel free to connect on Facebook, or via email at barrentobeautifulblog.com . For more of my story or encouragement during infertility, check out the posts in the Trying To Conceive category on my blog.

Love,

Rebekah

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

When the Barren Sing

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I was looking for a parking space in a very crowded lot, when suddenly, near the front, a car pulled out in front of me. I quickly turned on my turn signal, eager to pull in, and whispered a prayer of thanks. But as I began to pull in, I read the sign nailed in front of that space: “Parking For Expectant Mothers ONLY.”

I hit the breaks. And just sat there for a moment, before shifting into reverse.

For Expectant Mothers ONLY.

Who knew a parking lot could be so cruel?

It was like I just got rejected from the Mommy Club. “No barren women allowed.”

The sign could have said: For women whose bodies work right. For women who have had their prayers answered. For women who have something to look forward to.

For women with something to expect.

I still remember it so well. That longing. That wanting to “expect” something. Or someone.

I used to walk through Barnes & Noble and see that giant “Parenting” section near the Children’s Books Department. And the rows and rows of “What To Expect” books.

And I remember the feeling that I had nothing to expect. 

“Because, I expected to be pregnant by now. I expected a lot of things. By now.”

But if you are barren today, I want you to know you have something to expect.

You have Someone to expect.

And He is Almighty God. And He’s coming for you.

My prayer for you today is that you would know His love, and know His nearness, and know His mercy. Because He just wants to pour it out on you like never before.

I know Mother’s Day is just around the corner. And the sting of infertility can become sharper than ever. But God has a message for you this Mother’s Day. He says:

“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:4

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isaiah 54:13

“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

First He tells you to sing. And then, He gives you the reasons to sing.

And they are:

1. Because you will not be ashamed.

2. You will not be disgraced.

3. You will forget the shame of your youth.

4. My kindness will not depart from you.

5. My covenant of peace will not be removed from you.

6. I’m going to comfort you and lay a foundation for you. In precious stones.

He’s saying everything you have grieved, all your sorrow, all your disappointment, all your despair—I’m going to remove it. And I’m going to redeem you. I’m going to redeem your life. I’m going to be a Husband to you. I’m going to pour out my mercy on you, and show you everlasting kindness.

Now that is something to expect.

See, God knows better than anyone, exactly how you feel in this moment. Can you hear His tender love here? “O you afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

He’s saying: I am with you! I am for you! And as long as you put your trust in Me, you will NEVER be disappointed!

So, sing barren one! Break forth into singing and cry aloud!

You were not meant to be silent. You were not called to pine away in despair. You were made to sing, lift up your voice, because of God. And because of His mercy and everlasting kindness He pours out on you.

I hope that there is this sound across the land, the song of the barren women, lifting up their voices. Shouting for joy. And singing louder than anyone in their churches this Mother’s Day. And when they think of Him, when they think of His love, tears fill their eyes. Because He is closer now than ever before.

Because when the barren sing, something powerful happens. When the barren sing, the darkness trembles. When barren sing, Satan shudders. When the barren sing, the silence is broken. Despair and heaviness leave. Emptiness becomes full. Dead places become alive. Hardened hearts turn to flesh. Clenched fists, open wide in surrender with joy, joy, joy.

Laughter is restored. Like the sun warming your skin. And hope. And peace. And rest in the Holy Spirit.
When the barren sing, heaven breaks through.

So sing. 

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

And He’s coming to take all your shame, and fear, and sadness, and sighing, and make it flee away. Forever.

[If you need a place to start, listen to this song (it will open in YouTube in a new window): Reason to Sing

For more reading on worship during infertility, or heartache of any kind, here are some other posts that may be helpful: Singing in the Dark, Where Is God When You Can’t Get Pregnant?, About My Barrenness.]

Infertility: Where Is God When You Can’t Get Pregnant?

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We all know that labor hurts. But what most people don’t know is: infertility hurts too. It’s not the loud, screaming kind of pain. It’s long, and slow, and quiet. It’s a different kind of labor altogether. A labor of the soul.

It happens when you toss another negative pregnancy test in the trash can and sit on your bathroom floor and cry.

It happens when you lay in your bed at night, and your husband holds you as you stare into the darkness, while silent tears fall into your pillow.

It happens when you sit at a baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little, tiny gifts of your own to open?

It happens when you look in the mirror at your flat stomach, and put your hand over it, and pray for life to grow. And try to imagine what it would look like, what it would feel like, if it did?

It happens when you see teenagers pushing strollers past your house. And when the minivan full of children opens it’s doors. And when a friend says they had another “oopsies” pregnancy. And you wonder: Why is this so easy for everyone else? Except us?

Continue reading

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

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

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~

God of the childless mother,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hold her tight this Christmas. She needs you.

~~~~~~~~~~

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


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

When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You

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This Christmas season my almost-4-year-old daughter will “help” decorate: She will yank on the Christmas lights, and break ornaments, and stick her fingers in the cookie dough.

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

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

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

But what I pulled out of my stocking was not candy.

It was a another little stocking.

Almost like a…baby stocking.

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

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

I held the tiny stocking up to  my husband, and tried to force a smile, with tears coming down my cheeks. He came and sat down on the couch next to me and pulled me into his chest, holding me in his arms. More tears came then.
“I just thought,” I said, as tears streaked slowly down my face, “We would have a baby by now.”

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

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

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

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

You were worth every minute I waited for you.

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

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

The answer is:

                        No,

                                    Dear One,

                                                  He hasn’t.

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

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

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

Here are some practical things to do while you wait:

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

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

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I even got to climb a mountain with this stud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And He always did.

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

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

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

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

I’m praying for you this morning.