“Isn’t it about time for you two to start having kids?” came the question. I looked up from fixing my coffee at church, while the man waited for a response. I forced a smile, as hard as I could, “Oh, I don’t know!” I tried to let out a little laugh, like the thought had never even occurred to me. Like I hadn’t just taken a pregnancy test that morning, or cried before church.
Sometimes, it just catches you off guard.
All of our friends had kids and babies. But our arms were empty.
They were all trading in their sports cars for big SUVs and minivans. And changing their offices and guest rooms into cute little nurseries, but our house stayed the same.
I remember going to baby showers. Holding the gift I had wrapped, that I so carefully picked out at Babies R’ Us or Target, studying the registry, careful to match up the numbers of the right bottles or crib sheets. I’d fumble through the Baby section of stores with a registry printed out on blue paper in my hands, feeling like a foreigner with a map in this seemingly forbidden world of motherhood, which I so longed to be a part of, but feared I’d never belong.
And I’d sit at the shower, sipping on punch and trying to fill out the Baby Bingo card, unsure of what to even put in the blank spaces, and feeling a blank space inside of me, wondering, if I would ever get to have my own baby shower? Wondering, as I heard all the “oohs” and “aahs” over all the little tiny gifts, if I would ever have my own little, tiny gifts to open?
I feared I never would.
Because no matter how much I wanted to be a mom, no matter how much I wanted to have a baby, I couldn’t. We couldn’t.
Sometimes, it felt like the whole world was rushing past us. But we were just staying still, frozen in time. Everyone else’s life was changing, and growing, and expanding. But ours stayed the same, like a big rock in a river, where the water keeps rushing past, but it cannot move.
I used to watch teenage moms from my second story window, push their strollers past our house. And they were smoking. Their poor baby’s lungs breathing in a cloud of smoke. And I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to raise their baby for them.
And I couldn’t understand why God gave them a baby, and not me.
I couldn’t understand why it seemed like He gave everyone else a baby, but us.
And when night came, I’d go in the bathroom and sit on the floor and cry.
“Why can’t I…have a baby?”
And I would pause for a long time. My arms wrapped around my bent knees.
“Why can everyone else have a baby—but us?”
“Do you see me, God?”
“Do you hear me?”
There in the dark, in the quiet, in the flickering candlelight, He was with me. My soul stretched out, right there on the bathroom floor, tears rolling down my cheeks.
I was broken.
And I felt it.
My body was broken. It didn’t work the way bodies are supposed to work.
My heart was broken. In a way I did not know how to piece back together.
What can you do when you have a broken body?
And you have a broken heart?
All you can do is one thing: be broken before Him.
So this is what I did. I would just lay on the bathroom floor, and the closet floor, and living room floor, and weep before Him. Like a drunken woman. Like Hannah.
I would just “be broken.”
And He did not despise me for it.
Nor, will He despise you for it.
And I say this with tears, I would not trade those moments with Him, for anything.
So, weep before Him, dear one. Be broken before Him, and do not be ashamed, for He says,
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
And as you are, remember the One, who was broken for you.
Whose body, and spirit, and heart was broken for you, on the cross.
I remember feeling like I was waiting for life to start. Like it couldn’t start–until I saw those two blue lines on the pregnancy test.
What I didn’t realize, what I had become blind to, is that…
it already had.
This was the life God had given me. Whether it involved babies, or not.
Sometimes, when you want something so badly, it can make you become blind to the things that God has already put right in front of you.
It wasn’t wrong to desire a baby–God sympathizes with the barren woman all throughout Scripture. He speaks tenderly to her, comforts her, validates her, and speaks of her preciousness to Him. (See Isaiah 54.)
Still, barren women can become blind. And I had become blind.
All I saw was what my life was lacking–not what God had already given me.
Not the people God had already placed in my life for me to love.
One day, while I was praying for a baby, God whispered to my spirit,
“How well are you loving the people I have already given you?”
I thought of my husband.
He was whispering,
“How well are you doing with the things I have already placed in your life?”
It wasn’t that He was trying to get me to “do better,” or “love better” as a prerequisite for giving me a baby. (He doesn’t work like that.) Instead, He simply wanted to open my eyes–to what He already put in my life. He wanted to open my eyes to the beauty He already placed all around me.
(Pause right now, and think of all the beauty, all the beautiful people, He has already placed in your life.)
As wonderful as motherhood is, mothers are not the crown of creation.
Children and husbands are wonderful gifts to be cherished and loved, but they are not the crown of creation.
Jesus is the ONLY ONE who can satisfy our souls, in the way we crave to be satisfied, day after day, and hour after hour. Because He is the only KING. The ONLY one.
“Whether we have children or simply hope to, children are not the fulfillment of our identities, and they should never be asked to bear that weight. The Christian identity can stand on no person–spouse or child–but on Jesus Christ alone.”
–Sharon Hodde Miller, Free of Me
You may be called to motherhood. Or, you may be called to something else. Whatever He calls you to, He will equip you for, and bring His glory and light through you. And if you are not called to motherhood, and called to something else–it’s not a “lesser” calling in the Kingdom of God.
You are not any less of a woman of God. You are not any less of a wife. You are deeply and profoundly loved by God, and set apart for His glory on this earth.
I don’t know about you–but some of the women in my life who are “not moms,” (my single friends, my friends that are married, but never had kids, my aunts that never married, or had kids) they are some of my favorite people on earth.
Let me just talk about this kind of woman. No, for whatever reason, she never had kids.
But her laughter–could light up the coldest of rooms on the darkest of nights. I mean that.
Her joy is like a spark–that starts a fire, not the burning kind, but the warming kind, you feel it from your head all the way down to your toes. (Her laugh is contagious, like scientifically contagious.) And though she’s never been a “mom,” she knows how to love. Fiercely, compassionately, and tenderly. With every fiber in her being. She celebrates your victories, mourns your losses, and somehow shows up (with take-out, and party supplies) to cheer you on–your whole life. She’s the aunt that was there at your kindergarten play, and your bridal shower, and somehow now is rocking your baby and playing peek-a-boo with him–the way she did once with you. And looking back–you can’t even imagine your life without her. Because she loved you, with every fiber in her being–with the life that was given to her. She gave it all away. Dumped it out like a big bottle of champagne.
Taught you to dance in the rain.
This kind of woman–who never had children–is still a “life-givers.”
She still fuels her world, her people, her workplace, her atmospheres with LIFE.
Because, you don’t need to push out a baby to be a life-giver. (You just don’t.)
You become a “life-giver” the moment you are connected to the Life-Giver, Jesus, and share that life with others. You only produce “fruit,” lasting fruit, when you are connected to the Vine. (See John 15.) And when you are connected to Him–JOY inevitably flows out of you.
And you become the kind of person people want to be around. (Especially when you bring the take-out and party supplies.;)
Motherhood is a beautiful calling,
but it is not the only one.
We have a big world. And we need moms. But we also need aunts, and sisters, and friends, and women who will embrace us on our worst day, with a big bear-hug, even though she isn’t our mom, or even related to us.
We need life-givers. All kinds.
And if you just aren’t sure, if you’ll ever be a “mom,” I want you to know, not matter what: He has an adventure for you. He has a plan for you. It may be more wild than you ever dared imagine. Or it may be more simple. But, does it matter? As long as He is there?
So, just turn your face, towards the Life-Giver. Turn your face, towards His wind, until you feel His breath again.
He is the adventure. He is the way, and the truth, and the Life.
He is the Life.
And all of life is found in Him.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 ESV
Imagine a barren land. The earth is dry, and cracked. Nothing grows there. There is no water. No life.
Now, imagine a beautiful land. It’s warm, the sun is shining down, warming your face. Green meadows, and forests, and flowers are springing up everywhere. Rivers, streams, and waterfalls. A place so alive, you can almost hear it growing.
Now, if I were to ask you: Which place would you rather live?
Who would choose the barren place?
Who would choose the beautiful place?
Of course, you’d choose the beautiful place!
It’s easy, right?
It’s easy when you are choosing a physical place. But not a spiritual place. Not when you are choosing it for your soul.
It wasn’t so simple for me. And…
I chose the barren place. I chose to make the desert my home.
We thought it would be so easy–we laughed about how easy it would be. And, I still remember, so naively, taking that first pregnancy test. I took it before work in the tiny bathroom of our first apartment. I didn’t know if I would shout through the bathroom door and say, “You’re a dad!” Or, “We’re gonna have a baby!”
But instead, after two long minutes, I was shocked when the test read: negative. And I didn’t say anything.
“It might just take a little longer for us,” my husband told me when I came out.
And he was right.
Month after month. We tried. We waited. We prayed.
And then my period came. And I cried. And my husband was quiet.
We were trying so hard. To throw ourselves, our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, our faith back into the sheets month after month. “Maybe this would be the month..” my heart would whisper.
But, no matter if we nailed our “fertile window.” Or, totally botched it. No matter if we were getting along great. Or, fighting like cats and dogs. No matter if I diligently charted with different colored pens, and knew every fluid, and mood swing, and temperature rising and falling. Or, if I took my stack of BBT charts and threw them in the garbage under the coffee grounds–to try to prove to God that I trusted Him.
It didn’t seem to matter.
I couldn’t get pregnant.
And it felt like my husband and I just stayed still. Frozen in time.
While the rest of the world rushed past us.
All of our friends were having babies. Even accidentally.
They were trading in their sports cars for SUVs and transforming their offices and guest rooms into nurseries. They were welcoming little tiny packages, and holding them in their arms at church.
But our arms stayed empty. Except for each other. Some nights my husband would hold me as I cried into his chest.
Why was it so easy for everyone else?
I tried to “accept” that this was God’s plan for us.
I tried to “tolerate” the fact that I couldn’t have a baby, and maybe would never be a mom.
I actually thought I was doing good, being able to “accept” this fact, or “tolerate” it. But, in reality, I was walking around with clenched, angry fists. I was trying to be okay–but I wasn’t.
My soul was like a dry, barren wasteland.
Yes, my womb was barren–but so was my soul.
There is nothing like a barren soul.
How did my soul become barren?
How did I choose to live in that dry, barren wasteland–on the inside of me?
This is how:
I looked out on my life, and saw: a barren wasteland. I saw only what I did not have, I saw only what I lacked. And I did not see God, or any of the many gifts He had already surrounded me with.
I just saw: barren.
And this is why, I think, the Bible uses the word “barren.” It literally means, “unable to produce.”
We hear the word “infertility” in our culture. But I never have felt that word is accurate. It’s too clinical. Too sterile.
And speaks nothing of the soul.
Yes. This is how the woman with the barren womb feels–on the inside. In her soul.
I was barren. And I was blind. To God.
To His goodness.
God wasn’t doing what I wanted, so I thought He wasn’t doing anything.
But He was. Oh, He was.
He is always doing more than we can see.
God didn’t want me to simply “accept” His plan (even if it meant I never had children) for my life. He didn’t want me to merely “tolerate” it.
He wanted me to embrace it.
To embrace Him.
So I did something crazy.
But sometimes you have to do something wild in order to break free.
So, here’s what I did: I thanked God for not allowing me to get pregnant.
Yes, you read that right.
I thanked Him for my “infertility.”
I said the words.
“Thank you God…”
And there was a very long pause, a very long silence before I could say it.
…”for my infertility.”
I don’t even know, if I meant it. I know I didn’t feel it.
But, I said it.
And sometimes you have to start saying something–before you can start meaning it.
Sometimes your heart is trailing twenty miles behind your head.
(Apologies and forgiveness are like this, too.)
But, you just say it. You let the words escape out of your lips. You push them out like fragile, baby birds.
And somehow, in the air, they learn to fly.
As I began to thank God for my infertility, something crazy happened. I actually began to trust Him. I began to think He was wise.
I began to think of EVERYTHING I possibly could that was “good” about not being pregnant. I made a list.
“Thank you that I don’t have to go through labor..”
“Thank you that I don’t have to go through morning sickness..”
“Or, stop exercising..”
“Thank you that I don’t have to put on baby weight..”
“Or have a flabby stomach…Or, flabby arms..”
(Yes, I was vain, but I was sincere.)
Soon, my prayers moved from vanity…to true thanks in who God was.
“Thank you God, that you are wise..”
“That you know my body better than I do…”
“That you know my future better than I do…”
“Maybe there’s something around the corner, we don’t know about yet..”
“Maybe you have called us to something we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if we had kids..”
Maybe He was going to call us to another country to do missions, or something more wild than I had ever imagined!? I had no idea!
But for the first time–in a long time, I began to actually feel excited.
God had a plan for us. He would show us exactly what that was.
And we could rejoice in it.
Whether that meant we had kids, or not.
This was how I began to embrace what God had for me, as a woman. For us, as a couple.
He didn’t want me walking around with those clenched fists. He was inviting me, so tenderly, so gently, to open my hands. Open my arms.
Wider, and wider still. Embracing Him–and whatever He called me to.
That was how…I crossed from barren…to beautiful.
In my soul.
My womb was still barren. But my soul no longer was.
My soul was no longer that dry, barren wasteland.
And it was no longer what I saw–when I looked out over my life.
Now, I saw God. God was there. He had surrounded me with gifts, with beauty. With good things.
A torrential downpour broke out in my desert.
Streams burst through my wasteland. Just as He promised in His Word.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
[God did miraculously and naturally give me two beautiful babies, you can read about my first miracle daughter, and second miracle son. He did heal my barren womb, but don’t miss the biggest miracle of all–when He healed my barren soul long before any pregnancies.]
If you are barren, and reading this–take heart.
Do you know what is so great about being barren, about being as dry as a desert on the inside?
He will come and make rivers flow through your wasteland.
Gushing, might rivers are coming. For you!
And you will drink, like you have never drank before. Because only the thirsty, can truly drink Him in.
And you will be satisfied with Living Water. And you shall not thirst anymore.
Whether you are trying to conceive a baby–or already have tons of kids. Whether you are single, or married, or never even want kids. It doesn’t matter. Whether you are a man, or a woman, rich, or poor, it doesn’t matter.
We are all barren on the inside apart from Jesus Christ. Every single one of us.
Maybe your fists are clenched so tightly right now. How can I open my hands? How can I open my arms to Him? Why should I?
Because He first opened His arms–to you–on the cross.
This is the Gospel:
Jesus Came To Take All Of Us From Barren to Beautiful
Jesus could have come to this world and saved Himself. Easily. He could have come to our world, and closed His fists, and shook them at the sky. “Father! What is wrong with these people? Why did you even make them??”
But that’s not what He did. Is it?
No, instead. He opened His arms.
On the night He was betrayed. He took bread, and broke it. Saying this is my body. And He took wine, and said this is my blood, and poured it out.
And He went to garden and wept loudly, and poured out his soul, even to death. For us.
So we didn’t have to barren anymore–on the inside.
So we could have life. Eternal life in Him.
Jesus Opened His Arms To Us On The Cross
Have you ever thought about Jesus’ posture on the cross?
Arms wide open. Like He is ready to embrace us. Baring His heart.
Like He is calling out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
He calls us each to come–arms open wide.
Embracing Him, as He is embracing us.
This is love.
Will You Let Him Take You From Barren to Beautiful?
Maybe this is the year you stop living in the desert place. I don’t know if He will give you a baby–but I know He will give you Himself. And He is the best gift of all. And…
He is calling out to you in the wilderness. Come! Come! Come!
Don’t stay here. Don’t choose this place. Take off your grave clothes. I have something for you. I have a plan. It’s gonna be wild. And scary. And you won’t always know that I’m right there–but I assure you I am! Because I will not leave you as orphans–I will come to you. And I will give you rest. And I will give you drink. And I will satisfy you. Fully. For you are mine. You are my sons, and my daughters.
And I will take you from barren…to beautiful.
For, I make streams in the desert. And rivers in the wasteland. And behold,
I am making everything new.
Listen this song called, “Control,” by Tenth Avenue North. Make it your mantra for this year, and open your hands to Him. <3
Have you ever wondered what God says about infertility? About not getting pregnant? About deeply longing and desiring something you don’t have?
When I was trying to conceive, I felt like my emotions were constantly rising and falling with my hormones, mood swings and my (ever faithful) periods. The only place I could find any sort of peace, comfort or hope was in God’s word.
That’s what this is about.
Sometimes you just need to put down the “fertility charting” and “Getting Pregnant 101” books and pick up the only book that really can bring life to your soul: the Bible.
That’s why I’m so excited to share with you the “Yet I Will Rejoice: Infertility Bible Reading Plan.” It’s a 20-day Bible reading plan to fill you with truth and hope during this season of infertility–or just any “barren” season of life you may be in.
I believe this reading plan could literally change the trajectory of your life. (Not because it will somehow magically make you pregnant.) But because when your desires, longings, fears, and dreams meet God through His word–there’s like a holy collision that takes place.
This is where the journey gets real. It’s where you exchange your ashes for His beauty.
Where your deep thirst encounters the Living Water of Jesus.
She’s currently walking this road, and she knows exactly how you feel.
But she’s made the choice to keep walking, to keep trusting God, and to allow Him to fill her with life, no matter where He leads her and her husband. Because she knows it will be good and full of God.
Here’s what Kristy says about why she created this plan:
“Shortly after you get married, everyone starts to ask the same question, “soooo…when are you going to have a baby?” I don’t think any woman is ever comfortable answering that question, but for those of us who are trying to get pregnant, it’s a hurtful reminder of something we want, but can’t have. For as long as Ryan and I have been married, we’ve been asked this question, and as long as we’ve been married, we’ve been unsuccessfully trying to have a baby. After our first 12 months of trying to conceive, we officially joined the infertility club back in 2013, a club I never thought I would be a part of, especially at the age of 23.
Although it’s something women rarely talk about, infertility affects 1 in 10 couples, so chances are, you or someone you know is struggling with it today. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, but can’t, I made this month’s bible reading plan just for you. And if this isn’t a trial you’re experiencing, maybe you’ll still want to take part in this study to gain a better idea of what other women go through when they’re unable to get pregnant. Or, maybe you’ll just want to share it with someone you know.
Over the next 20 days, we’re going to see how God uses even infertility to accomplish His purposes and bring glory to His name, and how we can rejoice in the midst of our pain. My prayer for all of us is that we would not judge God’s goodness by our ability to carry a child, but that we would trust His plan and His process for our lives.”
(Right click and save image to your phone or device so you can easily access it. Or, print it out.)
How to get the most out of the “Yet I Will Rejoice: Infertility Bible Reading Plan”:
Right click on the above image and ‘save image’ to your phone or device. Or, print it out.
Every day before you start reading, ask the Lord to speak to you, draw you closer to Him, and for Him to reveal Himself to you through His Word.
Join the Barren to Beautiful “Yet I Will Rejoice” Facebook group and interact with a community of women who will be following the plan together beginning November 1–November 20 (2017) in preparation for Thanksgiving, which is November 23.
Visit Organic Christian Living, to access the original reading plan and read Kristy’s commentary about each of the four sections of the reading plan: In His Sovereignty, In His Perfect Timing, In Who He Is, and In My Salvation. Although you’re free to read all four summaries at once, I recommend reading one section overview at a time before you begin reading that section’s scriptures.
Download the 20 day Yet I Will Rejoice Scripture Writing Plan by signing up at Kristy’s beautiful site Organic Christian Living. (You can find this by scrolling through the Reading plan.) The Scripture writing plan compliments the Bible reading plan and really helps you to really soak in God’s word. (Plus, there is a darling “Yet I Will Rejoice” frame-worthy printable you can get over there when you sign up!)
Lastly, I’m praying for you. Out of all the words I could write on this blog, nothing can compare with you meeting with God in His word for yourself. I am confident He will speak to you.
I don’t know if He will take the barreness from your womb, but I do know and am praying He will take the barreness from your soul. I don’t know if He will give you a baby, but I do know He will give you Himself–and He is the greatest gift of all.
Now go join our special “Yet I Will Rejoice”: 20-Day Reading Plan” Facebook group to be reminded to follow the reading plan each of the 20 days and participate with other women walking this journey. Our interactive Facebook group will run from Wednesday, November 1-November 20 (just in time for Thankgsgiving)! So, you have a few days to get your reading plan saved and all your ducks in a row before we begin. Click –> here to be directed to the “Yet I Will Rejoice”: 20-Day Reading Plan Facebook group . (Only females can join this closed FB group.) Hope to see you there!