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. 

 

To the Angels Without Wings

angels without wings

“We saw two abnormalities,” the doctor said, “On your son’s anatomy scan ultrasound.” I shifted on the white sanitary paper that I sat on, making it crinkle. “One is a shiny spot on the heart, which could be a soft marker for Downs Syndrome, or, another genetic disease. And the the other abnormality is an enlarged ventricle in the brain.”

My mind started to race.

“It could mean nothing, or…it could point to something more serious,” she said. “You need to get some genetic testing done, but it will take several weeks to come back. And then we will set you up with maternal fetal medicine, to do an ultrasound and see a specialist from out of town.”

I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me.

I wish I could say I walked out of there full of faith, with my head up, and shoulders back. But I didn’t.

I was deathly quiet until we got to the car in the parking garage, where I was flooded with emotions, and tears.

What did this mean?

Was he okay?

Would he live?

Did he have some deteroriating disease?

For the next few days, I felt like death. I was grieving. Grieving news I didn’t even have yet. Grieving results that didn’t even come back yet. I know I shouldn’t have been. I know other’s have recieved much worse news, and done better than me. But that’s what I did.

I usually try to be strong for the people in my life.  But during those weeks of waiting for results, I couldn’t hide how weak I actually was. It felt like my legs just gave out from under me. I didn’t know how to walk.

Or even stand.

But then God sent the angels…

To carry me.

I didn’t expect them to come.

I didn’t even know they existed.

But they came.

Not how you would think.

They didn’t have wings. Or halos. Or harps.

They didn’t appear with a bright light.

But they came. 

One sat on the edge of my bed, while I cried into my pillow the night after my appointment. He stroked my hair and whispered into my ears, the true things. The things that God says. He reminded me that the little one in my womb was God’s, and for God’s glory–no matter what that meant. He was a constant minister of strength to me. He held me against his chest and said through the dark, “Don’t be afraid.”

“You have to trust God now.”

And this angel was my husband. 

Then more angels came.  And they came like an army. Lifting me up, refusing to let me fall.

I didn’t call them with a heavenly trumpet…I called them with my old iPhone. And you know what? They answered.

They answered even though little ones were climbing up their legs, and the grilled cheese was burning in the pan–and they listened. To me.

They listened like I was the only one in the world…as I told them about my doctor’s appointment, and to please pray for my baby boy…and they listened when my voice cracked…and I fell silent on the other end, and couldn’t speak because the words got caught in my throat.

They didn’t speak to me in the tongues of angels. Instead they listened, and they reminded me of who God is. Some prayed for me—right then, on the phone, despite the chaos and noise going on in their kitches. And when they hung up, they cried for me. But they not only cried. They also cried out for me—with prayers and intercession to God.

They went to battle for me.

One drove hours to see me. And those who couldn’t come to me, sent text messages and voicemails, and Youtube songs (I would play on repeat)—and somehow, by the Spirit of God, they came close, just as if they were right there. And,

They lifted me up. 

They carried me.

And these angels were my friends, and sisters, and parents. 

Then more angels appeared in my church.

They weren’t dressed in white robes…but in business-casual Kohl’s outfits. Their eyes were wise and kind. Because they were moms who had already weathered these storms.

One sat next to me in the church lobby and laid her warm, healing hands on my belly. She didn’t care as people walked past that Sunday morning, and she prayed for me and my baby boy. She spoke life over him. And me.

Another angel, like this, gave me a message before worship started.

It wasn’t on a gigantic scroll…but on a simple piece of loose leaf paper, written in black ink.  She handed it to me, and said, “I spent two hours praying for you last night.” Tears filled her eyes. “And I believe these Scriptures are for you.”

She hugged me and I cried. Who does that? Who spends two hours praying for someone else…and their baby? Who sits before the Lord for hours…on behalf of someone else? Not me. But, this woman had. And I could not ask for a gift more precious. 

As we embraced she told me, “God is still forming this baby boy in your womb. And he is going to be a mighty man of God.” Hot tears filled my eyes, and I was not able to find words to even thank her for what she had done–it was so precious.

And do you know what? That piece of loose leaf paper she gave me, with scriptures she wrote out for me…is almost see-through today.

Because every single morning, as we waited for results, and appointments, I would come downstairs while the house was still sleeping, and I would sit on the couch with my coffee and read those hand-written Scriptures, and cry. And I would speak them over my womb. Over my son.

All my life I have wanted to see an angel. But suddenly, during those weeks of waiting, and wondering, and praying I realized—they were all around me. 

These were the angels God sent to me.

Angels without wings. 

Right when I needed them most.

I was falling, and they caught me.

I was weak, and they carried me. 

They lifted me up in their hands. 

This week, I left the specialist’s office crying again–but this time it was tears of joy.

God healed everything.

Our baby boy’s genetic tests all came back normal. The shiny spot in his heart disappeared. And as for the enlarged ventricle in his brain,

“It actually got smaller,” the specialist told us this Monday, “It’s in totally normal range now. Your baby looks great.”

(I’d never openly cried in front of a doctor, until then.)

“That’s exactly what we, and all our friends were praying for,” I said through tears I couldn’t hold back.

“It worked,” he smiled. “Prayer works. Intercessory prayer works,” he said.

I know that God doesn’t always heal–and He is still worthy of our trust in those times. But this time, He did heal. And I know sometimes people (even Christian people) are skeptical and think that the results for our son would have been the same–no matter if anyone prayed or not.

But I couldn’t disagree more.

I believe that these people praying for him–changed something. Because prayer isn’t man’s idea. Prayer is God’s idea. 

God tells us to pray. To ask Him. To cry out.

And His word says, “Pray for each other, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

I don’t know what would have happened had these people not been praying. All I know, is what did happen because they had. And I am in awe of God because of it. So…

To My Angels Without Wings,

I don’t know why you came to me, but you came.

I don’t know why you prayed for me, but you prayed. 

I don’t know why you loved me so deeply, but you did. 

And because you did, something changed. 

I believe it’s because of you, that God has done a miracle in the secret places of my womb, where no eyes but God’s can truly see. 

And one day, I will tell my son about you.  I will tell him about the ones who went to battle for him, while he was yet being formed.

I will tell him, that while he was yet in the womb, he was surrounded by angels. 

Angels without wings. 

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

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