You Are Chosen, Not Forsaken

 

The candle flickered in the dark as I sat at on the bathroom floor, crying. I leaned against the wall, pressing my face on my knees, wiping away tears and questions. It was late, my husband was asleep. But I was there, whispering to God through the darkness.

“Why can everyone have a baby…

except us?”

 

Tears rolled down my cheeks. 

 

“Do you hear me, God?”

“Do you see me, God?”

 

 

I didn’t know it then, but He was closer, in that very moment, than I could possibly have known.

Orchestrating every detail ahead of time. Preparing everything.

He saw me, He heard me…and more than that,

He loved me.

Even then, He was loving me.

 

But I couldn’t see Him, or feel Him, and all I saw was the darkness.

The nothing-ness.

I felt forgotten. 

And over-looked.

Because all of my friends had babies. Easily.

(Even the teenagers were pushing strollers past my house.)

But not me.

I felt forsaken.

And I wept. Like a drunken woman, like Hannah wept at the altar.

 

But what I didn’t know, was that God had not forgotten me. 

He had chosen me. 

He had actually chosen me. I say this with tears.

He set me apart. For a unique purpose He had.

He took a broken vessel like me, and said, “I’m going to make My glory shine through her.”

“I’m going to take her weakness, her brokenness…I’m going to take her barrenness, and shine My glory through it.”

He had a purpose in my barrenness.

Because He always has a purpose. 

Through my “infertility,” God wanted to show me something I couldn’t have seen any other way.

Himself.

I knew I had a barren womb, but what God wanted to show me, was that I also had a barren soul. 

I had a barren soul. 

My soul was like dry, barren wasteland, where there was no water. Maybe it was from the months of trying (to get pregnant) and failing, maybe it was from the hope that was deferred over and over again, maybe it was from all the anger and sorrow that I didn’t know how to express, so tightly knotted up inside, trying to make myself numb to hope, and numb to hurt, month after month.

Either way, my soul had become barren. I was alive on the outside, but dead on the inside.

But God met me in that barren wasteland. He met me on the inside, He entered into my barren soul.

He came like a rushing river. He came like a torrential downpour and quenched the deepest parts of me.

The One who gives Living Water, who is Living Water, came to me, and watered me, with Himself.

[You can read About My Barrenness, and When God Takes You From Barren to Beautiful to learn more about my story.]

But He showed me how to worship Him when my womb was still barren, and my hands were still empty. He showed me that I didn’t have to wait until I was pregnant, to start worshipping Him.I didn’t have to wait until I was pregnant, to start thanking Him, or to be filled with His joy. And peace.

He wanted to show a barren woman like me, that I could be deeply satisfied in Him, alone, during the barrenness. And that even if He never gave me a baby, He would give me the greatest gift of all, Himself. And that was enough. He was enough. Because He was worthy of my worship, even if my arms were empty, and my womb was barren.

And I could trust Him. I could surrender completely to Him. With my arms open wide, embracing whatever He had for me. With deep joy.

***

I want you to know, God did heal my barren womb. He gave me two incredibly precious babies. Naturally. And miraculously. (Our daughter is now 5, and our son is 1.)  And they are more than I could ever ask for, or deserve, in a million lifetimes. And, I praise God for them every single day.

But what I want you to know is that the joy (of the Lord) came before I was ever pregnant. It came before the babies. (I think it’s easy to believe that “once you get pregnant,” or “once you have a baby,” then you can have joy, and peace, and that satisfaction you long for. But that’s not true.)

Babies do bring joy. They are gifts from God, and I don’t say that lightly.

But God is the one who brings joy, lasting joy. The kind of joy that lasts and stays even when your entire world is flipped upside-down.

Sadly, I have met many mothers who lack this joy. I have met many mothers who are miserable, who are not drawing strength, or joy, or peace from God. (You’d think that God blessed them with a child, they should be happy, right?)

But, it just shows that babies don’t satisfy your SOUL, the way Jesus does. They are wonderful gifts, but your soul was not made to be satisfied by a baby, your soul was made to be satisfied by God. Alone.

That’s why I feel it’s vital to share this message with you. 

Because whether you are a mom, or struggling with infertility, all of us are barren inside, apart from Jesus Christ. He is the only one that brings the life, and peace, and satisfaction we all long for.

And I can’t promise anyone a baby, but I can promise you Jesus. And if you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.

***

He changed me in the wilderness. He came and ministered to me there.

So if you are in a dry place, in a desert place, if you are thirsty–then you are in a perfect place for Him to come water you like never before.

And as for those nights I spent on the bathroom floor, weeping before Him… I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Because those are some of my most precious, intimate memories with Him.

In the dark. When I couldn’t see.

 

And He was my only light. 

 

As far away as He seemed. As forgotten as I felt…

He did not forget me.

He chose me.

Do you know why?

For you.

For you. Right now, at this moment. 

He comforted me in my affliction, so that I could comfort you in yours, with the same comfort I recieved from Him (2 Corinthians 1:4). For He longs to satisfy your deepest thirst.

He says,

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

He wants to water your barren places, and make you more alive than you ever imagined.

And something else, He has a beautiful purpose for your life. 

You are not here by mistake. And your barren womb is not a roadblock to His plan for you. Perhaps, it’s a catalyst to bring the fullness of His plan in your life.

Maybe He’s doing more than you think He is, and maybe His plan for you is greater than your plan for you. 

Did you know that every “barren woman” in the Bible was “chosen” by God for some special role in the coming of (our Rescuer) Jesus Christ, or for the advancement of the Kingdom of God?

First of all, Sarah was barren, but God chose Sarah, a barren woman in her nineties, to give birth not only to a baby, but to give birth to a nation, His people. (See Genesis 17:15-21, 21:1-7, Romans 4:18-20)

Rebekah was barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. (Genesis 25:19-26) (Jacob whose name would be changed to Israel.)

Rachel was barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. (See Genesis 35:16-18)

Samson’s mother was barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to Samson. (See Judges 13. This story gave me chills.)

Hannah was barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to Samuel. (See Samuel 1-2:21)

Elizabeth was barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to John the Baptist. (Who prepared the way for the coming Messaiah, Jesus.) (See Luke 1:5-25)

In their ancient culture, these women not only felt forgotten, but utterly forsaken by God. 

But you know what?

Each one of these women was chosen by God. 

To raise a world-changer. To prepare the way for Christ.

For a specific time, a specific purpose, in His story.

 

I don’t know His exact purpose for you in your barrenness. But I know He has chosen you for something.

I don’t know if He will heal your womb, but I know that He wants to heal you of a barren soul. And take you from a place of being barren to beautiful, on the inside. 

And I believe He has a purpose for you in this. And that He has not forgotten you.

And just because you can’t see what He’s doing,

doesn’t mean He’s not doing something. 

When I first heard this song, “Who You Say I Am,” by Hillsong, I laid my head down and wept. Because I felt the weight of these words, the truth in them, the power they hold to destroy self-pity, depression, and despair. (Click the link to hear it.–>)

“Who You Say I Am,” by Hillsong.

The words of the bridge are:

“I am chosen,

not forsaken,

I am who You say I am,

 

You are for me not against me,

I am who You say I am”

 

I pray that you can sing this (because the darkness trembles When the Barren Sing  and that you can declare it over your life, over your home. Because it’s true. And Satan wants you to believe that God has forgotten you–but He hasn’t. Quite the opposite. Instead He has set His gaze on you, and said,

“I am going to take her brokeness, her weakness…I am going to take her barrenness,

and make My glory shine through her.” 

He shines through broken vessels.

And you don’t have to keep beating yourself up for not having enough faith. All you have to do is kneel, and surrender. To all He has for you, to who He is. To whatever He has for you. Knowing He has chosen you. And He will fulfill His purpose for you.

And when God chooses you, it doesn’t mean He’s going to make your name great. It means He’s going to make His name great through you. And when He sets you apart, its not because He’s building your kingdom, it’s because He’s going to build His kingdom through you. 

More than you can imagine.

And in the end, you fall to your knees, whether your arms remain empty, or full, and realize it was all only ever about Him anyway. This life, whether long, or short, is about Jesus.

And one day, every eye will see.

He brings the joy, the life, the peace. He brings the rivers into the wastelands. And if you find yourself standing in a barren wasteland today, or if you find yourself simply kneeling on a bathroom floor tonight, in the dark,

I pray you can speak these words, even if only in a whisper,

“I am chosen,

not forsaken,

I am who You say I am.”

Because He is right there with you, even in the darkness, orchestrating every detail, and preparing to shine His glory through you.


Why It’s Okay To Just Be Broken

“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 God?”

“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.

Be broken.

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

 

So just,

Be broken.

 

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. 

 

That by His wounds, we are healed.


Photo Credit: Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

For more of my story, read about my journey from Barren to Beautiful. Or, follow me on Facebook.

When God Takes You From Barren to Beautiful

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.

I want to tell you the story, of my soul.

 

How my soul changed from barren…to beautiful.

 

It all started when…we wanted to have a baby.

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.

 

Over time, infertility began to wear on us. 

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?

Except us?

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.

But,

Barren. 

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.

We are all barren on the inside apart from Jesus Christ. Every single one of us.Click To Tweet

Dry, cracked earth. A dying, desert, wasteland.

That is our soul apart from Jesus Christ.

So, if you don’t want to have a barren soul anymore.

Invite Jesus in.

 

He brings rivers in the wasteland. And streams to the desert. He is the Living Water. And surely, He will come at the sound of your cry.

I can’t promise anyone a baby. But I can promise you a River. I can promise you Jesus Christ. And if you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.

I can't promise anyone a baby. But I can promise you a River. I can promise you Jesus Christ. And if you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.Click To Tweet

It’s what He came to do on the cross.

 

Maybe you think, No. I’ve had too much pain.

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

 

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 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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