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.

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

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/636/62057002/files/2014/12/img_0664.jpg
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.

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

Vgu1RUfKT3WN1ZYxSWaR_14672519443_13d8873062_k

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.)

P1030418

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.

P1030146

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.

Mother’s Day and the Barren Woman

Every mother at our church had a special glow about her. Perhaps she took 10 more minutes on her hair, or saved that special new Kohl’s outfit just for today. Maybe it was the scrambled breakfast platter that two shaky hands brought to her bedside this morning, or the half-dead flower her 5-year-old tried to “hide” behind his curtain all weekend–whatever it was, the moms were just slightly more “done up” than usual this morning. And it was the first time I noticed.

Because I was not. I was not gussied up, and I had no reason to be. I was not a mom. And at our rate, there was a good chance I might never be.

Mother’s Day can be an especially hard day for the woman who could never conceive, who lost a baby through miscarriage, or who is still awaiting the adoption process. And I personally know why many barren gals play hooky on Mother’s Day: It’s just easier. For me, drawing the curtains, and hiding cuddling with my husband in bed would have been Plan A. (If he wasn’t the worship leader.) But we did go to church. And I’m glad we did, because if we skipped, I wouldn’t be able to know the feeling that can come with it.

Mother’s Day can seem to draw a line in the sand between mothers and non-mothers. Kind of how Valentines Day can feel for the single person. When I was single, I made a point to wear black every V-Day, just to show my angst at the world, and all the lovers out there. (Even though probably no one ever even noticed. Or cared.)

It can feel good to do that. To wear black. But, I want to say: don’t wear black this Mother’s Day. What I mean is, don’t spend it bitter and mourning what you don’t have.  But instead, do this, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12b (Read that list slowly. Maybe when you get dressed, you will remember to ask God to “clothe” you with each one of these.)

So how can you spend this Mother’s Day?

1. “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Romans 12:15a) It would considered socially awkward to cross your arms and let out a loud “Boooo!” during a wedding ceremony (just because you’re still single.) As it would be to sulk in the corner at your friend’s 30th birthday party because they get to open presents, (and you don’t.) But there is more to this scripture than just social etiquette–it’s quite purposeful. When you “rejoice with those who rejoice” it fills you with joy as well. (You get some cake, too.) It truly is fun to celebrate what God has done in someone’s life.

2. “Honor your… [mother]” (Exodus 20:12) Thank God for her. And thank her directly. Make her a card, write her a note, tell her some memory you have you guys together, something that would bless her. And may the childlike excitement you had when you once clambered to your mother’s bedside with a crappy-looking craft in your hand all come rushing back. (If you don’t have a mother, consider thanking, or honoring a “spiritual mother” in your life.)

3. “…And Be Thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Thank God for what He has given you, who He has given you to love right now. And in His wisdom, who he will give you to love in the future. You are not forgotten.

And then say this: I serve a wise, loving God, who is jealous for all of my heart, all of my attention, and He has sovereignly arranged my life for a unique purpose, whether I understand it or not right now. “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me,”(Psalm 138:8) and whether my life looks full, or empty, my life will be full of God–and I will rejoice because of the steadfast love He has shown to me!

So, when you see the mother’s glowing around you, perhaps you can have a glow of your own. Indeed, you barren one, can have a ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ as well.

Why Barrenness Is So..(Lonely!)

Unless you are okay with your all your relatives picturing you naked, and in the bedroom, you are probably not going to “announce” to the gang at Thanksgiving dinner, “We’re trying to get pregnant!”

Therefore, aside from your husband and OBGYN…there’s a good chance your circle of trust is pretty small. Let’s face it, the inability to conceive is not something you bring up in the break room at work, or post on your Facebook.

Privacy Please!

In many regards, barrenness remains a personal matter because..it is. And there’s a good chance you feel like, and possibly even are, the only one in your circle of friends who can’t seem to get pregnant.

It’s hard not to get offended when people (like your dentist) ask that awful reoccurring question, “So…when are YOU TWO going to have some kids?” I always responded with a forced smile and mumbled, “I dunno!” (Cue: fake laugh). It was my attempt to suppress my anger from flaring up through my throat and choking that person and screaming, “I’m working on it!! Okay?!” Maybe I was slightly hostile. But I always felt as if some stranger just started rummaging through my underwear drawer and I couldn’t shoo them out fast enough! (Meanwhile, in their minds, they’re just talking about the weather. Eventually, I had to come to grips with the fact that these people (for the most part) mean well, and are just slightly out of touch with your daily/monthly/yearly reality. And that’s okay. People say stuff. Most are innocent.)

Boundaries

There are times when someone (often a family member) will press too far, because they feel like they are entitled to information. Know what you are comfortable with and make boundaries. You don’t have to share more than you want to. It’s okay just to say, “I’d rather not talk about it.” Or, “I’m not really comfortable talking about it.” (Maybe that sounds formal..but it’s better than spilling more than you want. You can say it in a way that is gentle and kind. True friends won’t make you feel guilty about not sharing more.)

On the Flip Side…Some women may feel extremely comfortable telling the clerk at Target or the barista at Starbucks all about her baby-making escapades. If this is you, be sure your spouse feels the same way. (And please reconsider, for their sakes!)

Getting Help and Healing 

In my own experience, the longer barrenness went on, the more people knew about it. The “outsiders” just eventually figured it out after constantly asking us if we wanted kids..and then never seeing that belly pop. And the”insiders”..because we actually started telling them. As the journey waned on, it began to wear on us. And as we were worn down, we became desperate for a few close friends we trusted to water our dry, dying ground of hope. And those were the who people prayed for us, revived us, kept us alive.

Friends

Be sure you and your spouse both feel comfortable about who knows what you’re going through, and how much detail you will share. This is out of basic respect to your husband. (He has feelings too, even if he doesn’t express them the way you do.) Search out friends who will pray with you and for you, and point you to the Lord; opposed to those who are likely to gossip.

My own advice (and this goes for any personal issue) is to share only with people who are a part of your healing process. Ask the Lord to guide you to people who will point you to Him. You may not have anyone like this in your life. Going to counseling is okay too (especially if the issues are “just too personal” to be helped by a friend or relative.) I highly recommend a biblical counselor who actually opens up the Word of God with you, and prays with you.

This Blog

This blog is a great place you are invited to for comfort and support on your journey. I am sharing things with you that no one shared with me–because I simply didn’t have anyone in my life that had ever gone through this! Know you are not alone.

God 

As always, the most important. He is the foundation upon which the rest of your house stands. Go to Him. Let me leave you with a few Scriptures to remind you that He is with you..even when it doesn’t feel like it:

“…He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Dear God,

Help this precious daughter to pour out her heart before You. And come swiftly to her. Surround her today with Your presence. Fill her heart with hope. Thank you that if she has been walking alone, she does not have to walk alone anymore. Remove all loneliness and despair and surround her with the sweet fellowship of your Holy Spirit! Reveal to her how intimately involved you are in her life, desiring her deepest good, even through this difficult time. Strengthen her heart now Lord, for You have promised, “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.” 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

5 Important Questions The Barren Woman Should Ask

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using Conception “Helping” Methods:

1. Could this hurt my body? This may seem obvious, but when you are desperate to “have a baby” you often forget to consider harm to your own body. Be sure to do your research and look into any not-so-nice side effects. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

2. How does my spouse feel about it? Considering your spouse’s feelings and convictions about fertility treatments is a big part of honoring (obeying, and submitting) to your husband. Not only that, but your husband is your protector, and it may be God who is warning him against something that could potentially hurt you..even if you don’t understand his logic.

3. What does my doctor think? Obviously, you want to consult with your doctor or OBYGN about your body and any medical /chemical treatments that could affect you. (Chances are, you need their approval, script, or referral anyway.) Consider any warnings, or concerns they may have.

4. Is there a more natural way? If the first or second month you don’t conceive, you rush out and beg your practitioner for fertility treatments, you may be jumping the gun. Aside from some good old patience and relaxation, there may be some better, more natural ways to try to conceive. In my own experience, my OBGYN actually knew very little about some of the more natural fertility methods I came in to ask about. This was discouraging a first, but in the long run, I did my homework and learned a lot through my own research.

5. What Does God say? Praying about what God wants you to do is the most important thing you can do. God is your maker, and He’s certainly the maker of that child you long for as well. Ask Him. He may not write it out for you on the wall, but He will give you the peace that surpasses understanding, and lead you in His way. He cares for you. And even more than giving you a child, He longs to give you Himself. Start right now by giving him your self, your whole self. And let Him fulfill your deepest desire. “In all your ways, submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

 

Knowing How Far Is Too Far When Trying To Conceive

Image

What do you DO when “it doesn’t happen” right away? (Yeah, pregnancy..)

Pick a door! Any door!

Door #1: You jump on Google searching frantically for fertility advice/treatment. Checking out books at the library (if you’re brave. And don’t live in a small town.) Or secretly order books from Amazon (if you’re like me.)

Door #2: You start a super-strict mandatory “schedule” with your spouse. (And take turns hurting each other’s feelings!) (ie. “You don’t think I’m attractive any more!” “Well, I have a headache and I’m not really in the mood.” “Do you even CARE about having a baby?” “Do you even care about ME?”)

Door #3: You rush out to Whole Foods and drop $300 on all the best “fertility increasing” foods. Or run to pharmacy and grab a fist-full of ovulation tests.

Ugh. None of these are really that fun, cheap, or promise anything.

What about pray?

Often turning to the Lord is the last thing we do when we really want something (like a baby). And (in the back of our minds) we know that God probably isn’t going to help us conceive the way the he did for the Virgin Mary. So that means finding some more “practical” options. I believe that the reason Scripture gives so little directives about this area is that God wants us to go to him. Waiting times are for intimacy with God. To really get to know Him.

The reason prayer is so vital is because:

1. It helps you to keep your perspective on the reality of God and His power. (You remember He is in control and sovereign over your life, and your womb.) The Lord opens and closes the womb.

2. It keeps unity with your spouse. (After the Lord, your spouse is your “first love.” If you are opposing your husband by using means of TTC he has a clear conviction against, you are sinning against him, and the Lord.) But to pursue this together, with a pure heart and a clear conscience can bring a sweetness and intimacy between the two of you, as you experience waiting on the Lord together.

3. It keeps you from idols (and becoming a crazy person.) Putting your focus on the Lord prevents you from becoming consumed with your desire to conceive. Like I said, desire is powerful and can drive you places you didn’t intend to go. So, when you continually surrender yourself and your desires to the Lord, you let Him become most important again.

Okay, I poke fun (now) at the three doors I listed above…but there was a time when they were my only reality. And I walked through each one, (and more!) But what is so important is that whatever “method” or “treatment” or “book” you try…be sure You have a clear conscience before the Lord and that is the route He wants you to take. (See Hebrews 13:18)

I realize the Lord may call you to “do something.” Faith and deeds can and do often work together. He will be faithful to show you what His will is for you.

In my own experience, there were times where I felt the Lord say, “Do not pursue this road,” and other times felt He said to pursue that very same road. He may lead you to completely throw out all literature on TTC, and just trust Him. He may want you to go to the doctor and begin fertility treatments.  I don’t know what the Lord will call you to do. This is a personal journey for you and your spouse. God sees you, He loves you, and He cares about this. So go to Him. And I believe the Lord will reveal what His will is for you and your spouse. Stay in the Word, stay in God’s presence, stay connected with your spouse. Whatever you do, do not depart from the Lord and deprive yourself of the deepest blessings God wants to give you, when you go about it His way. May whatever road He has for you, be walked with conviction and confidence and joy.

About My Barrenness

Discovering Barrenness

“At least 2 years!” Is what I begged of my husband. At least two years where we could have sanity. Build our relationship. Discover who we were as a couple. Then the little munchkins could come. When I was ready.

So…we did the infamous Pill. No dreaded “honeymoon baby” for us. That’s what happened to people who didn’t think. Who didn’t plan. And I was determined that would not be us.

Two years came…and I started to “feel ready.” Something just changed in me. I knew I wanted to be a mom. I didn’t want life to be all about me, or my husband. I wanted a baby to love too.

“Trust me, we won’t have any trouble!” I assured my husband with a wink, as I threw that final round disk of 28 pills like a frisbee into the trash can. My mom and older sister both got pregnant in their first year of marriage, and I was sure I would be of the “Fertile Myrtle,” just-look-my-way and I’ll be pregnant “type.”

But that first month “we tried,” I remember so vividly, so naively (looking back), taking that first pregnancy test. Waiting those two minutes. And the shock when it read: NEGATIVE.

If you have experienced this, at least once, you will know the strange sorrow that subtly fills your heart. I cried before I left for work, and my husband hugged me, and assured me everything was alright. It might just take a few months.

Months Waning On & Why God?

The next month came, and so did my period. And the next, and the next. It was just taking a little “longer than expected.”

I charted my periods, fluids, temperature, and anger. I went to the doctor. My husband went to the doctor. I read books, and blogs. And cried. A lot.

Most of my friends were on baby #2 or #3. But I was barren. And no one knew why. It seemed so easy for everyone else. (Especially those teenage girls pushing their strollers down the street.) But not for me, not for us. It felt as if we stood still; frozen, and the whole world kept rushing past us.

It was about two years of this. It doesn’t seem that long now..but it did then. The climax of every 28 days waiting to find out if “this month is different.” Only to be disappointed by the regular flow of blood, or a negative pregnancy test (that doesn’t magically turn to positive after it’s tossed in the trash can.) Trust me..I always checked. Just in case.

Some months I was full of faith. “In faith..” I’d declare, “I am NOT buying tampons..because I am trusting this month I won’t need them!” (Only later to go out and have to buy the overpriced ones at the gas station down the road.) Darn.

The Day I Stopped Being Barren

Then it happened. All this time God was trying to lasso my heart, and I remember the day He did. Sometimes that happens. You’re not even looking for it, like swimming with your eyes closed and smacking your forehead off the side of the swimming pool.

I was listening to an online episode of “Adventures in Odyssey” with my 5th grade students. While they finished coloring their homemade storybooks, I sat and listened to a story about a woman who had become blind by an accident. She said for years she “tolerated” what God had allowed in her life, but she never was thankful for it. But over the years, she learned how to actually thank God for what He allowed in her life. This is what He determined was for her greatest good. So she embraced it with both arms, and thanked Him.

For so long “tolerating,” but never “thanking” God for what He was doing. At last, so convicted. Cut to the heart. If God decided it was not time, who was I to say His plan was not good? I ducked behind my monitor and wiped away tears and bitterness. Who was I to quarrel with my Maker?

That was the day, this very small seed began to grow in me. Instead of fighting Him tooth and nail over his plan, I began to thank Him. Begrudgingly at first, but then genuinely. Praying things like: Thank You that You know my body better than I do, and maybe you’re protecting me from something my body cannot handle. Thank you I don’t have to go through morning sickness. Or weight gain. Or (the dreaded) labor. Thank You for no stretch marks. Or a flabby stomach. Or flabby arms. (Ok..maybe my list was slightly vain and trivial..but it was sincere.)

I began to realize maybe God had a different purpose for me, for my husband. Began to think of the extra time we would have together. What this might allow us to do. It was the working of a real miracle in me: I stopped envying all my friends who were moms. Stopped wanting other women’s lives. And I started thanking God that He had a unique calling on me. I kept my focus on the few things He had entrusted me with, (like loving my husband, and taking care of our home, and my job) and tried to do those well.

That seed was growing in me. Life was beginning to fill me.  I stopped seeing all the EMPTY in my life. Started seeing how full it was. Overflowing. Joyful. Unique. And God became close, intimate, and sovereign over this. For the first time: I stopped demanding with clenched fists–and started worshiping with open hands.

As I was leaving my job one day, this song came into my mind. I remember jotting it down on pink post-it notes…and finishing it the moment I walked in the door and crashed down at my piano. It was like this cry coming out of me, that I had to get out on paper, had to sing:

Barren, barren for all to see

Barren, but He’s still beautiful to me

 

I prayed for a baby

For the start of new life

Though I barely know how to be a good wife

 

The doctor’s say

They don’t know what to do

I know in Your sovereign will You’ll choose

To give me life

 

And You say,

“There’s Someone living inside you,

Though not a child, tucked inside your womb,

But 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.

 

Do you trust me, Honey?

In My time, In My way

When your womb is barren,

And your hands are empty?”

 

Tears fell over the keys. And a new chord was struck that day, within me. One that had not been played before. I was waiting for a baby to fulfill what only God could. The Life I was longing for.

And I was no longer barren. My soul was full, brimming, overflowing with joy. Gratitude. I was thankful, fruitful. Surrendered. Connected to the Vine. No longer dying..but living. And for the first time…in a very long time: content.

The Baby Blessing

We had rented “The Shadowlands,” and I was scarfing down a bowl of Oreo Birthday Cake ice cream, when I realized I finally had to pee. I had picked up a pregnancy test like I had many other times, and this was nothing new. My period was late..but that didn’t mean anything. This had happened before..to no avail. “Do you want me to pause it?” My husband called as I darted up the stairs. “Noo!” I shouted down. I wasn’t going to let myself be excited. I was just going to be content to “not be pregnant.” No expectations. I peed on the stick and waited, refusing to look at it. Furiously praying as I always did, “Lord. Please let me be at peace with whatever the result is!” (I don’t think there’s ever been a girl in history whose heart hasn’t skipped a beat while waiting those FOREVER two minutes.) I took a deep breath.

Opened my eyes. And to my shock read, “Pregnant.” I shook my head as if to clear it. “Pregnant?” Pregnant. My mind started racing a million miles per hour. “Brandon!!!” I shouted for my husband to come upstairs. I had no words. I just shoved the pee soaked stick into his hands. And he read it. Speechless. Our eyes met. Locked. And we started laughing. “What?!” Hugging. Staring at it.  “Do you think it’s right?!” We’re crying. Collapsing on the bed. Locking onto one another. Could this be real?

And suddenly, the realization, the rush of warmth—God. He did this. In His time, in His way. 

About This Blog

100_3289

The goal of this blog: is that you won’t be barren anymore.

What is barrenness?

Barrenness: (adj.) – an emptiness of the soul. A thirst not quenched.

A longing for something not yet received. A place of waiting. Wondering. An awareness of the “lack” of something desired. And the inability to produce it.

Let me explain.

1. Barrenness is powerful. 

It can change you. Drive you. Make you take on a new identity. For better. .Or for worse.

When I so desperately wanted a baby. I thought about it all the time. Every sermon I listened to somehow applied to it. Every song..somehow became about it. The books I was checking out of the library had it as a theme. I was aware of every baby bump that seemed to pop up out of no where all around me. Friends on baby #2 and #3..while I waited.. Brooded. And cried.

But barrenness is so much deeper than the woman who finds she cannot conceive. Barrenness, I am convinced, can appear in any area of life. Man or woman.

What do you do when you can’t have what you want? Who do you become?

Never underestimate the power of your desires.

Barrenness (a desire for fulfillment) can lead you to a desert. To a thirsty place. And like all deserts…there are mirages. Your eyes can play tricks on you. You begin to go places you never planned on going. Because you are driven by your thirst.

2. Barrenness can form a lie in your heart.

And here is the lie: If you had “this” you would be satisfied. (ie. if you had a baby) Your life would be full.

But here is the truth: There is only One Person who can fill your emptiness and make your life full. Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

When you start becoming acutely aware of your “desire” you believe that once you get what you want, that the empty feeling will stop. Like dumping water on a fire and hearing it sizzle.

But it’s more like dumping gasoline on a fire and watching it blaze even harder.

Because desire spawns more desire. Not contentment.

It’s like getting a tattoo. It’s addicting. When you get one..you want another one. Then another. Next thing you know you are covered.

Desire is like this.

3. God Loves Barren Women (Your hope!)

If you are barren, in any form. God intimately knows and actually validates through His Word, your pain. Your thirst. Much more than the sympathetic look on your OBGYN’s face.

In Scripture we see barrenness in Proverbs 30:

“Three things are never satisfied; four never say “Enough”; Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.”  Proverbs 30:15b-16

Okay, you have the “barren” womb sharing a bed with: Sheol (Hell), the parched desert, and an unquenchable fire. (SIde note: if “barrenness” has brought any agony into your life, your marriage, your heart…do you feel slightly more validated now??)

Although God feels your pain, He doesn’t want you living in it. He doesn’t want you to make an identity out of it. Scripture calls barrenness is one of three things “never satisfied.” So is that the end for you?

No. God does something totally unprecedented. He says, (to you!)

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
 For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 54:1

Okay, we will discuss this much more later on. But God basically just wheeled in the DJ stand to the funeral going on in your heart. God is saying, “Rejoice! I have something for you! Even better. Even more than what you want!”

But do you really believe that?

The Waiting

Here you are. I don’t care if you’ve been barren for a month, or eighteen years. What will you do in this waiting place? Will you estrange yourself from God? Distance yourself from anyone who has what you so desperately want? Become consumed in thinking about, reading about, dreaming about your longing?

Or. Do you surrender?

What I’ve learned in my own experience through barrenness is this:  Barrenness is a catalyst for finding real beauty. Barrenness puts you in a position to be surrendered fully to God. To trust fully in Him. And to rest in His plan for your life.

That’s what this blog is about. The waiting. And how to spend it. I hope we can spend it together. Because the waiting room is so valuable. God has you right here for a reason. Nothing is outside His control. And He is more intimately involved than you can see right now. He wants to form something beautiful out of your ashes. The pain is real. And he knows it. But so is the power. So is the beauty. He will open your eyes to see Him. You may be on the brink of the deepest intimacy with God you have ever experienced.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
 be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
 for you will forget the shame of your youth,
 and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.” Isaiah 54:4

He says: You will not be ashamed. You will not be disgraced. You will not be embarrassed. I may or may not give you the thing the fire in your soul rages after…but I will give you Myself. And You will not walk away from here empty, barren, or thirsty.