At This Time Last Year…

At this time last year, I had no idea.

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

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

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

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

Precious One. 

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

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

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

Inside me. 

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

But he was.

And God knew all along.

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

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

And He did. 

 

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

But it was. 

I write this for the Barren.

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

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

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

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

You might not understand the timing–but God does. 

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

Because He’s forming a masterpiece in the darkness. 

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

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

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

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

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

So don’t lose heart. 

Because David wrote,

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

Even the darkness is not dark to Him. 

And what does it say next?

It speaks of the womb. 

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

He works in secret. 

And His works are wonderful

My soul knows it very well. 

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

The darkness is not dark to Him. 

It shines as bright as day. 

 

The God of Empty Rooms

 

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

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

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

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

And it stayed empty. For months, even years.

(Read my infertility story here.)

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

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

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

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

For a baby.

For God to fill this empty room.

To fill my empty womb. 

 

And, finally, one day, He did.

I say this with tears,

He did. 

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

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

He came into my emptiness.

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

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

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

Dear Barren One,

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

God is there. 

Because He is the God of empty rooms. 

The God of empty wombs. 

And the God of empty tombs. 

Yes, He is God. The Giver of Life.

He is Jesus.

He defeated death. 

 

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

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

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

To Him.

Go in your empty room, and worship Him there.

Because He is worthy.

And He fills.

He fills the empty space in that room.

He fills the empty place in your womb.

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

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

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

He comes. At your cry.

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

And even before.

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

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

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

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

So I just want to pray:

God,

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

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

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

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

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

Full of You, God. 

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

Come fill the empty space, with grace. 

Come fill the empty place, with Jesus. 

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

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

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen. 

 

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

How I Found Joy During Infertility

infertility

I had heard about “infertility” before I got married. But to be honest, I always kind of shrugged it off. I was sure there were people “out there” who couldn’t get pregnant–but I never imagined I would be one of them.

Why, you ask?

Because I come from a very long line of  “fertile” women. I felt sure, if anything…it would be too easy to get pregnant.

That’s why I was so adamant about taking my “pill” each night. And making sure there were no “accidents.”

But after a few years…something changed.

And I wanted to have a baby. 

I remember how excited we were, that first fragile month that I chucked the disc of pills into the garbage can, and for the first time ever, we tried. 

A few weeks later, I took a pregnancy test before work in the morning. I couldn’t wait to announce to my husband as we both got dressed for work, that we were going to have a baby!

I never expected the test to read: negative.

I never expected the next month, and the next month, and the next to be negative, too.

And I never expected those months to turn into years, years full of “negative.” But…they did.

I was completely unprepared for the emotional journey that was “infertility.”

It felt like riding a rollercoaster every month. There was the hope that, “This month could be different!” The anticipation that comes with trying, and wondering if life has formed in you? The waiting to know. And then the dissapointment when your period returns. Again.

To go through this cycle every month, never knowing when, or if, it will end can be tiring.

Infertility wears on you.

It wears on your soul.

Everyone knows that labor hurts. But no one actually tells you that infertility hurts, too.

On the inside.

In this secret place that no one else can see. Like a locked garden.

Like a mystery.

It’s not a labor of the body, it’s a labor of the soul.

You wait and wonder. You cry and pray. You long and hope. And you try…to hold it all together. You try to hold eachother together, as husband and wife.

But sometimes, you start to sort of unravel inside.

Because you desire to be a mom with all your heart. You feel ready. You wish it could just happen the normal way (as it seems to with everyone else.)

You want love-making and baby-making to go hand-in-hand. But then…sometimes it’s not so simple.

I remember it was especially hard those months when I thought I was pregnant, only to find out I wasn’t. Because some months I really did feel different. 

I was more moody, and hungry, and tired. (How many times did I Google “pregnancy symptoms”—in hopes that I was?) But, then, my period would come.

So, it was several years of this wear and tear on my soul, before I realized: I had a choice to make. 

I didn’t even know I had a choice. (Other than to feel bummed out…pretty much all the time.)

I did know that every single month when my period came back. And every single day, in between.

I had a choice between joy and despair. 

Now let me tell you, I did’t read a self-help book to come this. I didn’t even read infertility blogs (if they existed, I didn’t know about them!)

All I did was pray. And read Scripture. And sometimes, the Holy Spirit would speak to me. When I was quiet enough to hear Him.

There were a few key things the Holy Spirit showed me during that time–and these changed me. They changed the way I saw everything.

If you have read my story about my barreness, or my second miracle pregnancy, you know that I didn’t stay barren forever.

Maybe the miracles of my pregnancies drew you to this blog, but I want to tell you about an earlier miracle. Perhaps, the most amazing of all.

This miracle happened in my soul–before I ever got pregnant.

Before I have had a child.

See, when you are barren, you often don’t simply have a barren womb. You also have a barren soul.

And I was truly barren, not just in my womb, but in my soul. I saw my life as this dry, barren wasteland. I saw only what I was lacking. I was thirsty, and I didn’t know how to be quenched.

I was angry and sad. I knew God had the power to heal me–but He wasn’t healing me.

I got to a point where I could “accept” or, “tolerate” the fact that I couldn’t get pregnant. I was able to “grit and bear it.” (And, I actually thought that I was doing pretty well–but I wasn’t.)

Because God didn’t want me to simply “tolerate” the life He was giving me.

He wanted me to embrace it.

He wanted me to enjoy it.

To enjoy Him–in it.

(Because He never left. He was there all along, even in every moment of the infertility.)

For some reason I thought I couldn’t be happy or fulfilled until He gave me a baby.

But He wanted to show me that He was enough–before I ever got a baby. (And, even if He never gave me a baby.)

I was looking for a baby to satisfy what only God could. 

All that time, I was clenching my fists closed in anger at what God had allowed in my life, but He wanted me to open my hands.

He wanted me to surrender my plans to His. My desires to His. And He wanted me to embrace the life and calling He had for me–even if I didn’t understand it at the time.

When someone gives you a gift, you don’t “tolerate” it.

You thank them for it.

And I remember when I realized I needed to thank Him.  For inferitility. (I know how absolutely crazy this sounds.) But I realized that if God had chosen this for me, it must be good, and He must have a purpose in it–even if I couldn’t see it yet.

So, I literally thanked Him for everything I could think of that was “good” about not being pregnant. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to stop excercising, or go through morning sickness, or endure labor and delivery. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to put on baby wieght, or have a flabby stomach, or vericose veins. (Yes, I was vain. But honest, nonetheless.)

The more I thanked God for His plan, and His timing, the more good I saw in it. And the more I was able to truly surrender.

It’s not that I was “giving up.” It’s that I was “giving over.” I was giving it over to God. The only One who could do anything about it.

I literally did not know what God would do.

I didn’t know if I would ever have a baby.

But right there, right in that place, where my arms were empty, and my womb was barren–was the place He wanted me to lift my arms and worship Him.

To say and mean with all my heart, “Even if You don’t give me what I desperately want, You are still enough. You are still everything. And You still have all of my heart.”

And you know what?

Something changed.

Joy came RUSHING back into my life.

My eyes began to stop seeing all the “lack” in my life. And I started to see all the beauty in it.

I began to realize what God had already given me.

And I began to cherish my husband, and my friends. My students, and family. All the ones He had already placed before me, to love. 

I started to stand in the roles He had already placed me in. I embraced my role as a wife, and at my job, and other opportunities I had to serve people. And I started to enjoy them. 

I no longer saw myself as a victim of infertility. But instead, as a daughter of God who was chosen and set-apart for His unique purpose for me. Maybe God has some wild plan for us, I could never even imagine? Maybe He will send us oversees? Maybe there is some child waiting in an orphanage that is our baby to adopt? Maybe something is coming around the corner–we never expected?

I didn’t know what it was. But I clung to the Scripture, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

One day, as I was about to leave work, I felt God speak to me, in the form of a song. (I know, it sounds strange.) I didn’t hear the music, just the lyrics. But I remember writing them down on pink sticky notes that were on my desk. And this is what I heard,

“There’s Someone living inside you,

Though not a child tucked inside your womb,

But it’s my Holy Spirit, who conquered Jesus’ tomb.

He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive,

Hear Him roar?

And you’re alive, you’re alive,

More than ever before.”

My heart burned, and I went home and crashed down at my piano and stuck all the sticky notes to it. But as I began to play and sing, all I could hear, was Him singing them to me. And I say this with tears,

Something broke in me. 

In that moment, hot tears rolled down my cheeks, and I was undone.

He was living in me. 

I was no longer barren.

He was alive in me, so I was alive. 

Sure, nothing changed in my womb–but my spirit came to life that day. His Spirit came to life in me.

And the presence of God surrounded me there. And He showed me that He was living in me. 

Therefore, I was alive. 

That was the day, I literally crossed from “barren to beautiful.”

I no longer saw the barreness in my life, all I could see was His beauty. And the beauty He had filled my life with.

God came, and took away my barreness.

And I had joy again. I could breathe again. And laugh again.

But most of all, live again.

Yes, I was still infertile.

But I was His. And He would not let me go.

Yes, I was still not pregnant. 

But I was exactly where He wanted me to be. And He would fulfill His beautiful purpose for me.

Yes, I still wanted to have a baby. 

But I knew He would satisfy me. Whether or not, I had a baby. And if He wanted to give me a baby, He would do it, in His time, and in His way.

Dear Barren or Infertile One,

If God has led you here, He wants to take your barreness away.

I don’t know what He will do in your physical womb. But I know what He will do in your soul, if you ask Him. 

And I believe He is about to birth something in you, more beautiful than you could ever, possibly imagine.

Maybe it’s not that you need to “pull up your bootstraps” and have more faith that you will get pregnant. 

Dear One, He already sees you and knows you. He already hears your cries. He sees your faith, and He sees where you lack faith, too. But He will fulfill His purpose for you.

He will. 

And instead of pulling up your bootstraps of faith…maybe it’s time to take off your boots. Kick them off.

And run barefoot with Him for a while.

Surrender. 

Knowing, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

Because He has an adventure waiting for you on the other side of your fears. And it’s wild, and free, and full of Him.

Chase Him, and He will take you where you never dared to go. And show you things you didn’t dream possible.

And one day, you will be running with Him, and suddenly realize you have crossed, from barren to beautiful.

And you will never go back. 

When You Want To Cry In Target

baby aisle target

I was at Target shopping for a birthday gift for a toddler’s Star Wars party, when I suddenly realized…I wasn’t looking for Darth Vader anymore.  I had mindlessly drifted through the Legos, and Barbies, and halloween costumes, when I looked up and suddenly found myself…

in the Baby section.

The baby section at Target always takes my breath away a little. And it always has.

I’m not sure why. I guess it feels like I’m in the forbidden garden, or something.

Because for so many years, I didn’t belong there.

I wanted to. I wanted to belong there.

Those were the days when all my friends were having babies–except me.

And my only ticket to the Baby department in those days, was with a printed blue registry in my hand, trying to match the codes for crib sheets and baby bathtubs.

I’m sure the veteran moms zooming past could tell I wasn’t a mom. And as they quickly grabbed their diapers and butt paste with a toddler in their cart, and an infant on their chest–I was carefully reading the fine print to Playtex bottle liners wondering if I was buying the right thing for the baby shower. And I felt like a 13-year-old in Victoria’s Secret.

I didn’t belong there. And everyone could tell.

At least, that’s how I felt.

Like I was on the outside. Looking through the window at this mysterious world I desperately longed to be a part of.

And that’s why…when I stumbled into the Baby department last weekend, ever so naturally, now with a 3-year-old toddler, and a big rounded pregnant belly, looking at little fuzzy bathrobes, and car-seat covers, and thinking I should probably start a registry for a couple items I still need for our baby boy on-the-way…I suddenly got a big lump in my throat.

Because all at once, I remembered, so vividly, all the years,

I wanted this so bad,

just this.

Just to be a mom.

Just to be here in this aisle, and do this very thing.

And now, I get to. 

I get to. 

Tears blurred my view of the receiving blankets and onesies on the shelves in front of me.

And I wanted to fall to my knees right there, and worship God.

Because He heard me.

Those years ago, from the floor of my bathroom, He heard me.

When the pregnancy tests that I had excitedly smuggled to the check-out earlier that day, sat negative in the trash can, He heard me.

And He is the God who hears. 

And I stood there in Target, and wanted to cry.

Because, I was barren once. 

And I used to stand in these aisles. 

And dream.

And now those dreams have come true.

Because of the God who hears. 

****

To those of you who can’t get pregnant right now…

Who only go into the Baby section to buy gifts for your friend’s baby showers..

Who feel a sharp pang in your heart when you see the baby announcement on Facebook…

Who feel like it’s so easy for everyone else to get pregnant…but you..

I want you to remember this moment.

I want you to remember how impossible it feels.

Right now.

To have a baby.

That this dream will ever come true.

Because one day, you will be standing in the Baby aisle of Target. And you won’t be shopping for someone else’s baby.

You will be shopping for your own baby.

And all of a sudden, you will want to cry.

Because of the God who hears. 

And God has heard you. 

 

I believe God is going to do a miracle in your womb, and speak His very life into you. So that you can conceive and birth a child.

Or,

He is going to do a miracle in your heart, and the womb of your heart will open–to take in an orphan baby. And He will deliver your baby to you in His own way. And this is just as miraculous. For that baby will be your very own. Just as if you had birthed them.

Either way, if God has planted the desire in you to be a mom, if it’s really of Him, then He will also be faithful to carry it to completion, in the perfect way He chooses. In the perfect time He chooses.

And when that time comes,  and you find yourself standing in Target, registering for your car seat, or crib, or bath tub. When you are picking out which onesies you want, or which itty-bitty socks…I hope you remember.

I hope you remember…that you were barren. 

And you used to walk through these aisles

and dream. 

And that dream has come true.

Because of the God who hears. 

I hope you will stand in the Baby section at Target, and suddenly want to cry. Not for sorrow. But because of all His goodness.

Because…

He is the God who hears. 

And He has heard you. 

Your every cry. 

When You Want To Give Your Child A Sibling, But You Can’t

selahonstreet

I heard her crying upstairs in her bed, and went up to check up on her.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

I thought she was going to say she had a bad dream.

Or that she needed a night-light on.

Or she had to go potty.

But what she said next, nearly took my breath away…

“I want a sister,” she said.

My heart felt a deep piercing.

“What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right.

“I want,” she said through sobs, “a sister,” she said.

My heart burned. I sat down on her bed and pulled her close to my chest. “Oh, honey,” I tried to comfort her cries. But now tears filled my eyes, too. Tears from this deep hidden place inside me, that I kept trying to bury down. But that night, they came.

We sat in the dark of her room, holding each other, and I watched December snow fall outside her window. And I wondered what she had seen in her dreams.

That made her wake like this.

We never talked about siblings. Though I guess she was old enough to notice, all her cousins had brothers, or sisters. And I didn’t know what to say.

It was a beautiful desire—that suddenly felt too real, and too sacred to dismiss with a simple drink of water and pat on the head.

My husband and I had already been trying for two years…to have another baby. To give her a sibling.

And we couldn’t.

But as I held her and felt her little heart beating against me, these words just came out:

“I can’t give you a sister,” I said, “But you can ask God.”

You can ask God.

I didn’t know what He would do. Or how He would answer. But under the glow of green stars shining on the ceiling from her pillow pet, she asked Him. For a sister.

Or a brother.

With more faith in her young, little heart, than I had mine.

She asked Him. So simply. And put it in His hands.

The only hands,

that can form life.

***

Sometimes you want to give your child a sibling…

But you can’t. 

Since my daughter was born, I have heard so many moms say that the “perfect” age gap between kids is “two years.” (That way they’ll grow up to be best friends, and you’ll get through the diaper stage all at once, and they won’t be spoiled, etc.)

But sometimes you can’t make “perfect” happen. Even though you want to. Even though you want to give this wonderful gift to your child.

And you can feel anxious as you “try,” because every day you are getting older. And your child is getting older. And that gap between your child and any future sibling is getting wider and wider.

People ask you, “Do you want more kids?”

Or, “When are you gonna have another one?”

And you are left fumbling for words.

Because how do you express in a sentence (and often to a stranger) that you don’t get to choose how many kids you have? Or the time in which you will have them? And that when you have a baby…it’s because, and only because, God has done an incredible, unexplainable miracle in you?

I don’t really know what you can do about it.

But…

You can ask God.

Because He will answer you. 

In His time. And in His way.

***

Just four months after Selah prayed for a sibling in her room last December–God did yet another miracle in me. Even though I was faithless; He proved Himself faithful.  And as surely as I write this, I feel the kicks of a baby boy inside me, who I had no idea was coming to us all along. This December.

And I’m in awe of a God who gives life. In His own perfect time. And His own perfect way.

To an outsider, it may not look “perfect.” Selah and her sibling won’t have a perfect 2-year age gap. They’ll be four years apart.

And Selah’s not getting a sister, she’s getting a brother.

It’s not the tidy advice I read in the baby magazines…

But somehow…it’s still perfect.

Perfect for one reason only: it’s God’s plan for us.

***

Dear One, trying to conceive another child…

Who decides what is “perfect?”

Who decides how old you should be when you have a baby? Or adopt a baby? Or foster a baby?

Who decides, how many months or years they are apart? Or what genders they should be?

Who decides if you will have one, or two, or more?

Is it not God?

Is it not the Maker and Giver of all life?

The Holy One…who is perfect in all of His ways?

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

His way is perfect.

***

I just want to say that while I was missing all the deadlines for “perfectly” spaced children…while I was failing to conceive…and while my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed” to…

Something beautiful was happening.

With this beautiful gift we named “Selah.”

God was giving me time with her.

And time is a very precious thing, when you get to spend it with a long-awaited miracle.

I was given time–to spend holding her on my chest, and breathing in her scent, and slow dancing in the moonlight to lullabies. I was given time to build forts, and bake cookies, and fall asleep with her for her nap.

And these were some of the best years of my life.

And I say this with tears…

I would not trade them for anything.

And perhaps “secondary infertility” wasn’t a curse, but was instead a wonderful blessing?

***

I don’t know what God has planned for you and your family. I don’t know if He will give you more babies, or not. I don’t know if they will be 18 months apart…or 18 years apart. Or if they will come through your womb, or through adoption, or foster care.

But one thing you can be sure of, whatever it is…

It will be perfect.

It may not feel perfect at the time. It may not look perfect to anyone around you.

But I assure you: it will be perfect.

Not because it’s your way. Or anyone else’s way.

But because it’s God’s way. 

And His way is perfect. 

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30


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The Words We Whisper Over The Wombs Of Our Friends

 

wordswewhisper

You have that friend that miscarried her baby.  And she doesn’t know, your heart aches for her all the time.

She doesn’t see your eyes well with tears, when you think of her.

She doesn’t hear you, when you whisper a prayer for her.

“God, heal her womb. 

Heal her

heart.”

Your whispers are so quiet, she can’t hear them.

But God hears.

And they matter.

***

You have that friend that can’t conceive. The one that is trying.

To smile.

To wait.

Expectantly.

And doctor’s don’t know why–she can’t. Or how long it will be.

And you think of her in her waiting. You think of her months that feel like years, and her years that feel like centuries. Because just as the Proverb says, “A hope deferred, makes the heart sick.” And you feel like if anyone on earth should have this blessing–it would be her. And she would be the most amazing mom. And if only you could give her the miracle her heart longs for–you would. But you can’t.

So you give her what you can: your whispers. Your prayers. 

“God, open her womb.

Open her arms. 

Open her

heart.

Please bring Your life there.”

***

You have that friend with the high-risk pregnancy. The one that has been prescribed bedrest. And you go and visit her while she in in “couch prison.” You go to make sure–she’s okay. You go to make sure that in her stillness–she doesn’t stagnate. You go to play with her toddler, and to make sure she doesn’t make her own peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. (Even though she wants to.) You go to paint her nails, and bring her flowers, and life. Because she needs it. And you know she would do the same for you. In a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, a fragile heartbeat is beating within her.

And as you drive home, you think of him, the one she is carrying. Of the tiny person, who God is forming in her. Needing her stillness and warmth.

And you let out a whisper,

“God, let this baby live.

And thrive. 

And grow.”

 

(And months later, when you meet her baby boy, alive, and well, and with chubby cheeks and legs, you just can’t stop smiling and wiping away the tears. The answer to your whispered prayers.)

***

They are just whispers.

They are prayers so quiet, no one ever hears.

Except God. 

And we sometimes forget that: the words we whisper over the wombs of our friends matter.

They matter more than we will ever know on this side of heaven.

You know that friend of yours?

She needs your whispers today. 

Even if she never hears them.

God hears them. And acts on behalf of them.

Prayer is His idea. He tells us to pray.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Powerful and effective.

Maybe your whispers do more than you think they do. 

Maybe your prayers do more than you could ever possibly imagine.

Maybe if you could see (with your own eyes) the effects of your prayers–you would be praying all the time, and for everyone. 

But often we can’t see–that’s the essence of faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Moses couldn’t see ahead of time how the Red Sea would part when an enemy army was right behind him–he just saw that he couldn’t go any further–so he prayed. 

It was God’s job to make a way.

And He did.

We can’t always see how God is going to answer. 

But He does answer. It’s not our job to figure out how, or when He is going to answer.

It’s our job to cry out to Him–like the Father He is.

And it’s our job to cry out for our friends–especially when they are too weary, and broken, and tired to cry out for themselves.

So…

Don’t stop praying for her. She needs you.

And she needs your whispers.

They are powerful and effective.

Though she may never hear them,

God hears them. 

And He is able

to do exceedingly and immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.

 


Photo Credit: D’Attoma Studios

God Did It Again: Our Second Miracle On the Way

miracle baby

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

I’m pregnant again.

God did it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was pregnant.

And in shock.

And in awe, of our very great God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a gift. It’s something of God. 

When you find yourself with nothing to offer. 

You are in the perfect place. 

Open your empty arms. To Him.

And say,

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

Psalm 73:25-26

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

To The Woman Who Miscarried, Or Never Conceived

spring

To The Woman Who Miscarried, Or Never Conceived,
I’m thinking of you today. I see you every time I look out my window, I can’t help it. There is a daffodil covered in ice. There are tree buds covered in snow. And I’m thinking of you, dear one.

Last weekend, it was warm and breezy. All the earth was coming to life. It was the celebration of resurrection, and life, it was Spring. At last. We finally started opening the windows, and breathing easier. And letting the sun hit our naked skin, hidden under sweaters and coats all winter.

We started to thaw. And feel warm again. And let laughter in.
And we cheered when we saw the daffodils push through the dirt. And my heart lept when I saw the trees finally budding through my kitchen window. For all the life bursting forth.

And one week later (that is today) it snowed.

The winds changed. The north winds blew, and the cold fronts came back unexpectedly.

And the windows slammed shut. And the young daffodils are covered with ice, and fallen low to the ground. And when I see them, I cry for you.

For the fragile beauty, fighting to survive the frost.

I cry for the life in you, that wants to survive. And the way you bend low, like the daffodil, covered with ice.

I see you in these budding trees, that were just coming alive–and are now covered with snow.

I want to tell you something:
I know you feel like this winter will never end.
That there will only ever be death, and cold.
And any life will always be choked out by unexpected northern winds.

But that’s not true.

Today is the day your Faith, becomes bigger than your feelings.

Spring will come.

However long it might take.

The frost is powerful–but it is not the most powerful thing.

Life is powerful.

Life is more powerful than death.

And Jesus is Life–and He is powerful. And I am praying He comes to life in you today. Because even when Jesus was killed–He rose from the dead.

And “The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is living in you. And will also give life to your mortal bodies.” Romans 8:11

The death-defying power of the Spirit of God–lives in you.
I know what you might be thinking: Where was that power when I miscarried?

Where was the power when I tried to conceive?

Dear one, I don’t understand it. But it wasn’t your fault.

God is the giver of life. And He will give you life in Him.
I am praying that He raises you back to life today. That though you be like that fallen daffodil in the ice–that day will come and is coming that the sun will warm you again, and raise you up, and bring you to life.

You will stand tall and radiant in the sun.

And though your budding trees are covered with snow–
they will thaw, and live, and in time, flourish again.

And you will not be shaken. For God is with you.
So don’t fear the frost. This winter WILL end.

Spring is coming, Jesus is on the move, can you feel it?
And Summer will come. But as long as this winter lasts–do not lose heart. Direct your heart to the Lord, that you may say with great confidence,

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk 3:17-18

To The Woman Still Longing To Be A Mom

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were too precious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Rebekah

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

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

Where-is-God-when-you-cant-get-pregnant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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