Why Dishes Are Still In My Sink

I didn’t finish my dishes tonight. I love when they are finished. Because I can come down to clean kitchen the next morning, brew my coffee and start the day fresh.

But I didn’t finish them tonight. Half are still soaking in the sink. With food stuck to the plates. And BBQ sauce sticking to my crockpot.

Tomorrow I will go downstairs to a messy kitchen. I will have to stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the drain. (Something I hate doing.) And I will have to start my day doing the dishes I didn’t do tonight.

But do you know what I DID do tonight?

I popped popcorn on the stove with my daughter Selah, who is 4-years-old. Because she wanted to have a “fun” night. All week she kept saying she wanted to have a “fun” night where we popped popcorn and watched a movie and danced to music.

So I decided tonight was going to be the “fun” night.

And it really was.

She stood on the counter as the popcorn popped on the stove. And she laughed hysterically, the whole time, at every single kernel as it popped. It wasn’t really that funny, but it was “fun” night, so I joined her in forced laughter for five straight minutes.

We started the movie, “Because Of Win-Dixie,” and sat together on the floor holding our big bowl of popcorn.

And she fed me.

Every couple handfuls of popcorn that went into her mouth, she would pick up a piece and put it carefully to my mouth. But there was so much love in her eyes.

I obliged.

After all, it was the “fun” night.

So, we took turns feeding each other. The movie played on and there we were looking like two newlyweds at their wedding reception, but instead of feeding each other cake, it was popcorn. And we couldn’t stop laughing.

And she put her arm around me. And I didn’t want to leave her side.

The dishes were calling me.

But tonight, I just stayed. I just sat by her side, and watched the movie all the way through.

She put princess stickers on my shirt. Carefully, one by one.

And…

She told me she loved me.

And it felt good. To just fully give myself to her.

For once.

To breathe in her sweet scent. .

I remember the first time I smelled her. The snowy night she was born, when they laid her slippery little body on my chest. And I wrapped my frail, shaky arms around her. And all at once, I loved her. All of me, loved all of her.

And an avalanche happened in my heart.

Of love.

Baby girl. 

Come back. 

She’s not a baby anymore. She’s four.

But on nights like this. When we’re wrapped in eachother’s arms. She is mine, and I am hers.

And there’s nothing more sacred, more holy, then these moments with her. Getting low and laying on the carpet.

Feeding each other popcorn.

And laughing at all the funny parts.

Because it’s “fun” night.

And I love her.

And by some miracle, she loves me.

With a love more tender, and kind, and gentle, than I am worthy of.

With stickers.

And popcorn.

And her tiny arm tightly around me.

Because tonight, there was this moment when I looked over at her laughing, and I was laughing, and just for a moment she felt more like sister, than my daughter. Like my friend.

And I’m going to remember this, tomorrow morning. When I wake up and go downstairs. And stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the kitchen sink. Because I’ll be wondering why I didn’t choose the dishes.

 

And I know, moms, we can’t spend ALL our days playing with our kids. Our houses would eventually collapse in a pile of rubble.

But let’s be honest, how much time do we actually spend playing with our kids?

(Without our phone handy, so we can space out on Facebook…which is what I usually do.)

I don’t play with my daughter enough.

Tonight, though, for a change, I just needed to “clock-out” from being Susie Homemaker. Because there are always dishes in the sink. There’s always one more thing to do.

And it’s always something important.

(To me.)

 

But she’s important, too. And it’s more important to her, that I lay on the floor, and let her feed me popcorn, and cover my shirt with stickers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to trip over the pillows on the living room floor.

And I’ll be sure to find some stray popcorn kernals on the stove.

And yes, I’ll reach into that nasty cold sink water.

But she’s the reason my dishes are still in the sink. 

My daughter.

My sister. 

My friend. 

Kayla’s Testimony

My husband and I got married in August 2004. We turned our lives over to God in August 2006. After that we decided it was time to start a family.

After 6 months of trying to conceive, I was pregnant! We were over the moon excited. However, I sadly had a miscarriage at about 7 weeks. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why or how God would let this happen?

We went on to try several more months, then months turned to a year and I decided it was time to be checked by a doctor. My doctor suggested blood work–to which everything came back normal. We tried a few treatments, but nothing worked. We also did an exploratory surgery which showed everything was fine. We tried every treatment we could think of and spent lots of money in the process.

After several years of different doctors and procedures, we decided to take a break. My emotions couldn’t handle it anymore.

In the spring of 2010 we decided in the fall we would start treatments again and see where that took us. Well lo and behold God stepped in and on July 28th, 2010 we found out we were expecting again! And once again we were over the moon excited and in total shock since all the doctors had told us they were not sure what the problem was and we had spent thousands of dollars on treatments.

I successfully carried my beautiful 7lb 12oz baby boy who was born March 31, 2011. He is our miracle!

After he was born, I totally blocked out of my mind all we had went through. I thought, “Praise the Lord that part of our lives is over, and my body has healed itself.”  Well, little did I know, that was not going to be the case.

When our son turned 3, on March 31, 2014, we decided it was time to maybe try again. And just as quickly as they left–those feelings were back–and months passed, and months turned to a year.

I went to the doctor again, and we spent thousands again and no luck was to be found. In the fall of 2016, my doctor decided on a treatment course. We started it in August 2016 and finally in February 2017 is when I decided it was enough. I was blessed with one perfect boy and some people didn’t even have that, so I decided I would forever be thankful for him and cherish every single second I could and live the rest of our lives as a happy family of 3.

I decided to sell all of his baby items and just move on past that part of my life. Well, just a short month after that we had encountered a possible adoption. It didn’t work out but it did open our minds and hearts to adoption so we prayed about it and felt like we should at least check into it. So I researched and spoke with friends about different options and had my doctor give me some adoption agencies info and we filled out an adoption application! We knew it would be a long road and very expensive but we were ready. Then lo and behold God stepped in again… And on May 12, 2017 we found out God had did it again, and sent us a miracle. We were expecting.

Then at about 7 weeks the unthinkable happened…I had a miscarriage.

I don’t know what will be in store for us now. I have no idea where God will lead us–but I know I have to keep trusting him even when the path seems unsteady. Whether we adopt or have another baby, or if we are just to be the happy family of 3, I don’t know, but I have to keep the faith that whatever happens will be wonderful. I know that we have been blessed with the most amazing boy! Who will forever and always be our miracle straight from heaven.


Thank you Kayla for sharing your testimony with us–filled with both joys and sorrows. And isn’t that how life is? This ebb and flow of dark and light, but through it all He remains faithful. And we have to keep looking to Him. So, Kayla, we rejoice with you over your miracle, and grieve with you over your very recent loss. And pray comfort and healing over your womb and heart.

And dear ones, this is what this sisterhood is about. The joys and sorrows we bear, we bear together. And Jesus brings deeper healing as we share with one another.

I am so thankful for each one reading this blog. I know God has you here for a reason. And whether you have shared your story, or feel that you could never ever share the dark seasons you’ve been through–or are in–just know you are not alone.

If you do ever feel prompted to share your testimony here, please email me (Rebekah) at [email protected] ! To check out the writer’s guidelines see my page “Want To Share Your Testimony?”

Betsy’s Testimony: God’s Got It

 

As I write down my thoughts and dreams, my interactions of each day I can truly see myself as a whole person these days. But it wasn’t always this way …

I can look back into my “diary” and see the transaction from the last few years, last few months, mainly the last few weeks. Just recently I have become the person I had always led on to be.

The strong one. The one who is truly happy for you.

The one who is “OK” she is not carrying the child she has longed for, for years.

I find myself smiling at situations I once cried at.

I find myself dancing and singing in the front row at church.

I find myself carrying on more positive conversations with those who truly care.

I find myself when I look into the mirror – finally.

I once carried myself as a disappointment–rather a true daughter of the Lord. I was disappointing my husband–who wants to be a dad just as much as I want to be a mom.

Spending hours missing work to drive miles and miles because what that one doctor told me, I didn’t want to believe–and what the other doctor told me, I didn’t want to hear.

I thought maybe someone who didn’t know me from my past appointments would say something I hadn’t heard yet. But they all said the same, “We will just keep trying.” “Your next cycle will be different.” “ALL THINGS DOCTORS SAY.”

One day, I stopped listening to what those doctors were saying and listened to what my heart of hearts was saying.

It spoke so loud to me one day, and I knew what I had to do.

I had to cry and pray.

Pray and cry.

One day I woke up feeling not so sad, not so heavy hearted…I felt like me again. The person who I was before all this pressure of getting pregnant, providing my husband with a child, providing a grandchild to my parents.

I felt free.

Yes, there are some days that are easier than others. Yes, there will be days harder to come…but I know where to go on those days – and that makes it all the easier.

I prayed for comfort, for a solution, for something to change my life and the whole time it was inside right there inside of me.

This gift given to us from God, this gift to “The Grinders.”

The gift of peace.

The gift of peace that He has it.

God’s got it.


Thank you Betsy for sharing how God’s gift of peace is restoring life to your spirit and soul as you trust Him! God is surely able to saturate the thirsty soul with Himself, and He longs for each of us, whether we face infertility or some other struggle, to rest, to surrender, and to believe with all our heart: God’s got it. Because He does. 

If you have a testimony you would like to share here on Testimony Tuesdays at Barren to Beautiful, email me at [email protected] ! To check out the writer’s guidelines see my page, “Want To Share Your Testimony?”

I Love How God Made You

I was standing in my black bathrobe with sopping wet, just-showered hair hanging down my back, waiting for my coffee to finish brewing, when my 4-year-old daughter said out of no where, “Mom! You’re the cutest one in our family!”

She was gazing at me starry-eyed. Like I was a Disney princess. (And not a Disney villain like Cruella DeVille, which is really who I am sure I looked like.)

“What did you say?” I asked, unsure my un-caffeinated brain heard her right.

“I said, ‘Mom, you’re the CUTEST one in our family!!'” She said with even more passion this time.

And I laughed!

I couldn’t help but think about how ugly I have felt lately. How I turned 30 this year, and am still trying to love my post-partum body (that got stretched pretty good by my 9 pound, 11 ounce baby boy born in December.) And I thought about how I always wear make-up. To cover the dark circles under my eyes, and the acne that’s been there since high-school. And how I often don’t feel very beautiful at all. I’ve even been tempted lately to stop at the local tanning joint, “Sun Your Buns,” to tan this skin, I don’t always feel pretty in.

But before I could think through any more of my many insecurities, she interrupted:

“I love how God made you,” she said.

I love how God made you. 

I looked at her. Her big, blue eyes looking deeply into my brown ones. Her blonde bedhead spilling into her beautiful face. Her gaze, not leaving me.

“I love how God made you.”

Her words echoed. In my thirsty heart.

And, I knew she meant it. With all of her little heart.

Her heart that is often bigger than I realize. 

I bent down, all undone. In my bathrobe and wet, tangled hair and held her little body against mine.

“Thank you,” I whispered, with our foreheads touching.

“But,” I assured her, “I think YOU are the cutest one in our family!” Then I tickled her and she giggled. And I said, “I love how God made you!” She smiled and wrapped her little body around mine. And we stayed like that for a moment. Wrapped in love.

Wrapped by full acceptance. Wrapped with our beautiful bodies God gave us, around each other.

Both feeling a little more loved. A little more beautiful. Than before.

Do you want to know something?

Selah’s words stayed with me.

I felt “cuter-than-usual” that day.

Because when a 4-year-old boldly declares (when you have no make-up on and look like a drowned rat) that, “You are the cutest one in ourfamily!!”– you just have to choose to believe her.

And it ministers to the deeper parts of you. The ones you try to shove down. And cover up.

And maybe we are all a little more insecure than we like to admit.

Maybe we all feel a little “ugly” sometimes.

And maybe, sometimes, we just need someone, anyone, (even if they’re 4 years old) to say:

“Hey.”

“You’re cute.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“I love how God made you.”

Because beauty comes from Him. You know?

Beauty isn’t something we achieve by working out, or wearing trendy clothes, or dabbing on more make-up.

Beauty is part of our make-up.

It’s a part of us. It’s instilled in us. By the fingerprints of God. When He made us. When He formed us in the womb. In the secret place.

Beauty…is what God makes.

And He made you. Remember?

 

God created you exactly how He wanted you to be. 

For His glory. And He delights in you.

And you are made in His image. To reflect Him, and His beauty. 

And maybe no one will tell you today, but, I think…

You’re pretty cute.

And,

I love how God made you.


Now, it’s your turn to spread the beauty. So, pass it on. Stop and tell someone how cute they are. And, “I love how God made you.” And see if, (even if they laugh), if their face does not brighten a bit. And they don’t become a little more beautiful as a result.

#Spreadthebeauty

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

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

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

I will turn 30 in just a few days. 

30? Really? 

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

I’m not a kid any more. 

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

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

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

“I can’t turn 30!” I said again.

“Yes, you can Mom!” She said.

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

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

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

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

God’s still growing you. 

And that’s when something caught in my spirit.

God

          is still

                       growing you. 

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

God’s still growing you.”

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

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

Because you know what?

God’s still growing me. 

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

God’s still growing me. 

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

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

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

And every birthday I turn a year older.

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

face to face. 

 

And that is a reason to celebrate.

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

But I know Who holds me.

And as long as He has me on this earth,

He is growing me. 

He is constantly growing me. 

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

He fills me with His breath. 

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

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

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

Because God is still growing me. 

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

Yes, dear girl. I do. 

The Beauty Of Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all I will have are these memories.

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

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

I will miss them being little. 

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

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

And I’m going to miss it.

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

“Hi,” I said, with a smile.

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

But before the words came out, I noticed something.

Smudges on the windows.

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

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

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

And I meant it.

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

Right now.

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

And I’m writing this, so I remember.

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

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

Right now. 

Today. 

And these days often feel long.

But someday, they will feel short.

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

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

It’s like a breeze. Like the wind.

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

You can only feel it while it is blowing.

And it’s blowing now. 

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

their breath on your skin.

It’s blowing now. 

 


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“Am I Enough?”

To The Woman Who Saw Me At ALDI Today

I was feverishly chucking my groceries onto the conveyor belt today at ALDI, while my one-month-old son was screaming in-stereo. (If you are an ALDI shopper, you know how insanely fast the cashiers scan your items.) I felt everyone’s eyes behind me as I was holding the binky in my son’s mouth with one hand, and grasping at my groceries with the other.

My 4-year-old daughter was trying to “help” me by reaching into the shopping cart (except that she’s too short to reach the groceries, but so fiercely determined, that she was balancing on the edge of the cart on her stomach, and almost falling head first into the cart.) “Let Mommy do it!” I kept saying as she was grabbing all the glass jars of salsa and marinara sauce, and nearly dropping them onto the floor.

Meanwhile, my son continued screaming. I kept telling myself to just keep calm. This was my first grocery shopping trip with two children. And it was everything I pictured in my nightmares.

Until she saw me.

I don’t know where she came from. But she came.

I had just pulled our massive parade-float of a shopping cart over to the counter, and I was trying to bag my groceries with one hand and jamming the binky in my son’s mouth with the other. Neither was effective.

He kept on wailing. And I felt I was beginning to perspire as I was saying, “Shhhh,” and wiggling the binky into his mouth. The entire store could hear us.

As the soundtrack of baby screams continued, my daughter was upset and whining because I wasn’t letting her “beep” all the groceries before putting them into the bags. (She likes to pretend she’s the cashier. Even at the worst times.)

I looked up out the window into the parking lot to see that it was snowing…sideways. The wind was blowing hard, and it was nasty out.

But then she came. This woman.

I didn’t see her, but…

She saw me.

She saw me flustered, trying to be under control, and visibly struggling. (Audibly struggling…as the wailing continued.)

She came over to me and said, “What can I do to help you?” And something about the way she said it, I knew she meant it. 

I recognized her as the friend of one of my friend’s. I didn’t know her name, but I had seen her before maybe at a cookie exchange, or birthday party.

“I can do anything,” she said.

She quickly came over and helped me bag up the rest of my groceries. She talked sweetly to my daughter. And she said, “What else can I do?”

“Thanks so much. We’re okay,” I told her. Trying to convince myself we were, as I looked out into the parking lot and blowing snow.  And I almost left right then, but hesitated. There was something I saw in her face, something you don’t see every day:

kindness.

And I knew, I could let her help me. That she actually wanted to help me.

And I knew I could trust her. (Because she was my friend’s friend…and at that moment, it was enough.)

So I said, “Can you stay with my daughter and cart while I pull my car up?”

“Of course,” she said with a smile.

She knelt down and smiled at my daughter, and began showing her pictures of her kids on her phone. (Because she was a Mommy, too.) And I’m not sure, but I wonder if she may have had a day like this once.

I left the store carrying my son out to the car in this impromptu blizzard and pulled up as quickly as I could. Part me felt crazy, I couldn’t believe I was doing this. But I was desperate.

When I went back in the store she was still knelt down with my daughter showing her pictures on her phone. I thanked her as best as I could, and we left.

I had managed to keep my composure in the grocery store, and even when I was putting away my cart back to get my quarter back. But as I drove home, the tears came.

I began the ugly cry. Partly because of all the pent-up frustration I had felt in the store, but mostly because of what this woman  had done for me. That she just jumped in, all hands on deck, ready to do anything for me. I remembered her words,

“What can I do to help you?”

“I can do anything.”

There is an African Zulu greeting I have heard of, “Sawubona.”

It means, “I see you.”

I see you. 

She was just one woman, but she saw me. She saw me frantically juggling my groceries, and the binky bouncing out of my hand, the crying newborn, and the daughter trying to “beep” all the groceries, and nearly breaking them.

She could have closed her eyes.

But she opened them.

She could have walked on by. But she stopped.

She saw me.

She could have smiled, and said, “Been there!” (Which would have still been nice.)

But she went the extra mile. She got low, to show me kindness.

And there is a huge difference between being nice.

And being kind.

Niceness is safe, but real kindness is risky.

Kindess isn’t just a smile. But it’s words, and it’s heart, and it’s hands–when you need them.

And she was kind.

She didn’t just say it. She showed it.

She simply saw a very messy situation, and turned it into a beautiful one. With kindness.

I think she did exactly what Jesus would have done if He were standing in ALDI’s today. And the more I think about it, the more I realize He was there. In her.

She literally lived out, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

I think here in the midst of suburbia, we sometimes don’t know how to be kind. We are afraid to ask someone if we can help because we are afraid of offending someone. We are afraid of creating an awkward situation.

But I don’t think Jesus intended it to be as hard as we make it.

Maybe it’s as simple as saying:

Sawubona.

I see you. 

Or, in other words:

“What can I do to help you?”

“I can do anything.”

Dear Baby Boy,

baby boy

Dear Baby Boy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much longer, till you come?

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

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

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

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

all of my heart. 

Baby Boy, what is your name?

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

No eye has ever truly seen you.

Except God.

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

God, who formed you inside me.

God, who breathed His life into your lungs.

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

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

I long to see what He sees.

To see this masterpiece He has made.

The masterpiece of you. 

Come soon, baby boy.

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

in my heart.

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

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

Baby, you’re almost home now, to me.”

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

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

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

Baby you’re almost home now, to me.

Come, be with us.

We are all waiting and longing for you.

Until you come…

I will wait here in the dark for you.

I will wait for the sun.

For my son. 

To rise. 

 

Love,

           Mom

 


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When God Surprises You, Big Time

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

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

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

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

I didn’t know what it meant.

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

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

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

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

To have open arms is the posture of surrender.

And the posture of worship.

And the posture of receiving.

All at the same time.

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

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

He broke it into a hundred pieces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I did it any way.

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

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

I could not believe it.

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

But God always does.

Because He plans them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing a boy’s diaper kind of scares me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, we were all thinking: girl.

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

So, I had NO idea.

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

gender reveal

BLUE.

This picture completely captures everyone’s true feelings.

My husband is crazy (TOUCHDOWN!!) happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By God.

A God who knew all along.

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

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

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

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

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

He is the One that was unexpected.

And His ways are higher than ours.

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

He is the best surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surprised again, and again, by a loving God.

And isn’t that what we all are?

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

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

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

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

But I’m not promised that.

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

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

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

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

With His very presence.

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

 

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

You will eventually walk straight into Him.

And you might be surprised when you do.

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

He is the best surprise.

And He is full of surprises.

Because He is God.

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

So..

Keep your arms open.

Keep your heart open.

Keep your door open.

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

and surprise you.

Big time.

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight

mama

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

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

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

Soaked really.

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

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

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

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

She fell instantly to sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It just means no one is talking about them.

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

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

Their homes have been invaded and destroyed.

Their husbands have been killed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She has nothing.

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

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight,

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

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

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

Where are you tonight?

And what are feeling right now?

I just want you to know, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I forget about you.

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

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

I know this isn’t much.

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

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

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

But I can’t.

But this is what I can do:

I can remember you.

I can pray for you.

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

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

And something else I can do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are called to pray for each other.

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

But we have the same blood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where I will find you.

In the place of His rescue.

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

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