She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

This goes out to every woman whose heart aches to be a mother, but finds herself still in waiting. May these words soothe your soul if you are in this place, or otherwise break your heart for those who are. This guest post was originally published on MomLife Now by a beautiful writer named Sasha and I am honored to share it with you:

She’s Longing For A Child This Christmas

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Christmas can be the most joyous time of year. The pitter patter of little feet running out on Christmas morning. The squeals and shouts, the laughter and excitement. . .

Not everyone will feel such joy. For many this day is a sharp wound. Piercing deep in the mother who has yet to hear herself called by this name. She who has tried and tried again, only to see another negative stick, another baby lost in the womb. The adoption at a standstill–again.

To you, dear momma, I have been thinking about you. My heart unable to push you to the back of my mind. With every visit to Santa’s lap I have ached for you. I felt the hot tears fall onto my pillow last night, brushing your searing pain. The emptiness which tries to engulf you.

But what good are my tears to you? I tried to make them worth something. A prayer.

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God of the childless mother,

She may not have a little one who calls her “momma” just yet, but she is a mother still. Your definition of the word starts with the heart, and hers, tenderly longing, is tenderly felt by you.

I see her as she smiles lovingly on my own child, helping him pick up his cheerios just spilled across the floor. I see her as she acknowledges my shy little girl, telling her just how beautiful she looks this morning. What an incredible mommy she will be. I feel such joy for the soul who will be so blessed as to call her such.

Today though, her own soul, it’s so wounded. So desperate.

Meet her at her desperation. Give her the patience–the miraculous patience–she needs.

I see so many “mothers.” Mothers who leave their children, who neglect them, beat them, shame them. They keep on having more babies. Babies who will live through hurt and suffering. Then, I see her. She who would love her child more than life itself. God, why is she the one having difficulty? She who deserves so much to be a mother! If I struggle with this question then I know she does too. I know her hope fades thin.

Revive her hope. Hope for a day when she will find herself face to face with the child you have destined for her. Mothers come in all different shapes and sizes. Show her the path to take.

When all seems hopeless, bring your hope. When all falls dark, shine your light. When life slaps much too hard, bring your arms of comfort. Hold her God. For although a mother is her desire, your daughter she is first.

Christmas day, which could bring such pain to her tender heart. May it be a day of hope, of sweet longing for the future. A reminder that one day she too will hear the pitter patter of little feet–feet running straight to her.

Hold her tight this Christmas. She needs you.

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“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” ~Deuteronomy 33:27


Sasha is a wife and mom of two who loves to open up about the realities of motherhood at her blog, MomLife Now. For more from Sasha, you can also follow her on Facebook.

When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You

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This Christmas season my almost-3-year-old daughter will “help” decorate: She will yank on the Christmas lights, and break ornaments, and stick her fingers in the cookie dough.

But it hasn’t always been this way. There were many quieter Christmases at our house.

I remember just a few years ago, my husband and I were putting up the tree. And as I pulled out lights and ornaments from the red and green storage bins—I found our stockings.

I guess it’s just instinct to reach my hand inside. Maybe a stray Snickers bar? Some leftover Christmas candy? I immediately felt something in mine.

But what I pulled out of my stocking was not candy.

It was a another little stocking.

Almost like a…baby stocking.

I’m not sure where it came from or how it got in there. But as I held the tiny stocking in my hand, a pang of sorrow filled my heart. I couldn’t help but think of the little baby I had desired for so long. As I touched the fabric gently in my fingers, warm tears rolled down my cheeks and the Christmas lights blurred around me.

I longed for the little one I could one day hang this stocking for. The patter of little feet. And the sound of laughter.

I held the tiny stocking up to  my husband, and tried to force a smile, with tears coming down my cheeks. He came and sat down on the couch next to me and pulled me into his chest, holding me in his arms. More tears came then.
“I just thought,” I said, as tears streaked slowly down my face, “We would have a baby by now.”

“I know,” he whispered and stroked my hair with his fingers. “I know.”

It seemed like forever then, the waiting. The not knowing. The trusting. The wondering if God would answer. And when.

Tonight, that little stocking hangs on our mantle. For two years it’s hung. And the one for whom it hangs sits with me here on the couch and lays her sleepy head on my lap. And as I slowly stroke her blonde hair with my fingers, hot tears run again. And Christmas lights blur. Selah.

My Precious Selah,
Our nights aren’t silent any more. They are loud with screams, and cries, and laughter. But when you go to sleep, and me and Daddy are left alone, sometimes I sit and remember the time before you. And I grow silent once more, in awe and reverence…because of what God has done. And I think about the way He came close to me during the years of silent nights, and my silent cries for you. When your name was but a whispered prayer. A dream in the night.

Selah.

You were worth every minute I waited for you.

 

Don’t Waste Your Barrenness: 10 Things to Do While You Wait

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It can feel isolating. It can feel like everyone notices that your belly is flat. It can feel like everyone reads “Not Pregant” like a tattoo across your forehead. At the baby shower, questions start to surface: Why her, and not me?  Is there something wrong with me? Has God forgotten me?

The answer is:

                        No,

                                    Dear One,

                                                  He hasn’t.

Barrenness, in some ways, is like singleness. For many, it is a season, not a lifetime. For those who have a God-given desire to parent a child, whether through natural, or adoptive processes–will most likely be doing just that one day. The problem is, you don’t know when, or how long you will be waiting to do it.

You don’t know if your “infertility” will last another month, year, or decade. God knows. But He often keeps those secrets to Himself. And I think the reason He does that, is because He wants to give us something even better in the process. He wants to give us Himself.

However long the wait is, you don’t have to spend it with the posture of your head in your hands. This is the time God has given you (before parenting) to live awake, and alive. If you spend this time like you would in a doctor’s office waiting room, you will just..well, sit there. And maybe leaf through magazines waiting for your name to be called. But that is not a good use of your time. If you haven’t yet, start seeing this “waiting room” time as season of incredible adventure, possibility, and purpose.

Here are some practical things to do while you wait:

1. Recognize God May Have a Special Calling On Your Life. Instead of feeling overlooked by God, start realizing the truth: God has chosen you for a special purpose. Maybe you aren’t like everyone else. He has a unique calling on your life. He may have appointed you to do something or minister to people you couldn’t reach if you had children right now. Perhaps, through this “waiting”, He is wooing you, calling you, to step out of the norm and find Him. He may be about to show you something incredible, you would not otherwise be able to see.

2. Live Radically. Is there anything “dangerous” or “risky” you’d like to do? This could be something like going oversees for a mission trip, traveling somewhere foreign/awesome, or sky-diving. Pray about doing it now, and not then. Once you become a parent, you see everything differently. (Not that you can’t ever do anything crazy or fun ever again.) But life is a little more fluid now, and you have the capability. Don’t break your bank account, but consider that this might be a season God is calling you to adventure. (Plus, any future kids will love to hear your wild stories at bedtime.)

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I even got to climb a mountain with this stud.

3. Buddy Up with Your Husband. A chief complaint of couples who got pregnant before they married, or very shortly after is: we didn’t have enough time together! This “time” God has given you is a blessing, not a curse. Get to really be best friends with your husband. Really get intentional about listening to him, learning to love him more, and laugh with him. The stronger your relationship before you have kids, the more likely you two will be able to grow and communicate after having kids. Don’t make an idol out of him, but learn what he loves. And even be willing to participate in his hobbies that have never appealed to you. (This might mean doing things you never imagined, like: going hunting with him, watching (and cheering louder than him during) football games, go golfing, skiing, or yes…even PLAYING Fantasy Football. Whatever it is. I dare you.)

4. Develop a Hobby or Skill. So..I took violin lessons with a man I swear was Gandalf’s twin brother. It was awesome. (Can’t say I’m the fiddler on the roof, since my violin is stuffed in the storage closet right now. But it was a lot of fun to learn!) Right now you have time to learn to do something you have always wanted to do. This might be a hobby you will enjoy (like a musical instrument, or knitting) or it might be a skill you can later turn into profit (ie. learning photography, or graphic design.) Learning a marketable skill may be more useful than you think, and may help to keep you at home with your babies once God gives them to you.

5. Exercise. When I was not able to conceive, I remember thinking, “Hey, at least I still get to exercise! Some pregnant women are not allowed!” I loved spending that time going on long two mile runs outside (it’s long for me, okay?), lap swimming, or jumping into a volleyball match. I’m not saying that becoming a mom is a death sentence for working out…it can just change it. A lot.

6. Career Time. If you want to realistically stay home with your child(ren), this time God has given you to work a job is a great time to clear away debt. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Really pray about making big purchases now, that you could be paying for later (ie. houses, cars, exotic vacations etc.) Sock away that money into bank! Private/and international adoptions are expensive, if the Lord should lead you to do that. And if not, it never hurts to be a good steward of the finances God has given you, trusting He will teach you how and where to use them.

7. Invest in Other People’s Lives. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Wasting time on other people, is not a waste. Seek out ways to serve in the lives of your friends and families and church and develop the gift of nurturing people. (I had the privilege of mentoring junior high girls during my waiting time, and loved it!) But if you seek out practical ways to help or invest in people who need it for the glory of God, you will never be wasting your time. I remember telling God I was ready to have a baby because I had so much love in me, I was overflowing. I remember sensing the Spirit’s reply, “How well are you loving the people I have already given you?”

8. Turn Your Waiting into Worship. When we bought our first house, there were like three extra bedrooms. One of them was even decorated as a nursery when we moved in. Of course every time I walked past that room, a pang of longing came. When will we have a little person to fill that room? Months and months went by. And those bedrooms, though they began to fill up with odds and ends, seemed only emptier and emptier. One day, I decided to make the “nursery” a room for worship. I cleared out some of the junk and would go in there and just worship God, often on my knees, or on my face. And you know what? After worshiping my God in that empty room, He would come and fill that space with His presence. He would come fill my empty heart, as a dwelling place for His Spirit. The “waiting room” became the “worship room.” It was a time to seek the Lord like I never had before. Not so that He would give me what a I wanted (a baby), but so that He would give me Himself.

And He always did.

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Our first apartment getting wrecked by Brandon’s nieces. It was worth it.

9. Cultivate a Heart for Children. Jesus loved children. And so should we. Look for opportunities to get to know some kids. It will only soften your heart, and prepare you to love whatever children God should give you more. Baby-sit for your friends with kids, or your nieces and nephews. Their parents will really appreciate it, and though it may seem like a stretch, you will probably love it. We did this quite a bit during our waiting time. And it was a blast. Of course we had NO toys at our house, and not one plastic cup…but we got creative and made it work. It also opened our heart further for adoption (something we were seriously considering at the time) and made us willing to love and care for any child, any age, or race, that needed a home.

10. Seek His Face. I can’t say this enough. God is what makes life full and alive, whether your womb or household is empty or full. The best moments in life, are the ones that are full of God. The very title of this blog “Barren to Beautiful” is not about going from infertility to motherhood. It’s about seeing. Do you see your life as a barren wasteland, or a beautiful masterpiece? Children don’t change that perspective, God does. Because if you are stuck seeing all the “lack” around you, even if you should have a child, or ten, you will just find more reasons to be unsatisfied. Nothing and no one else but God can satisfy and transform you. Don’t let yourself be a stagnant pond, open your hands, open your arms to God, and to the people and things He has placed before you right now–then the streams of Living Water will flow to and through and from you, and pour from your soul. That is how the barren become beautiful.  “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

This post was inspired by John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” For more info on my barrenness read my post About My Barrenness or any of the posts under the TTC (Trying To Conceive) category.

I’m praying for you this morning.

Mother’s Day and the Barren Woman

Every mother at our church had a special glow about her. Perhaps she took 10 more minutes on her hair, or saved that special new Kohl’s outfit just for today. Maybe it was the scrambled breakfast platter that two shaky hands brought to her bedside this morning, or the half-dead flower her 5-year-old tried to “hide” behind his curtain all weekend–whatever it was, the moms were just slightly more “done up” than usual this morning. And it was the first time I noticed.

Because I was not. I was not gussied up, and I had no reason to be. I was not a mom. And at our rate, there was a good chance I might never be.

Mother’s Day can be an especially hard day for the woman who could never conceive, who lost a baby through miscarriage, or who is still awaiting the adoption process. And I personally know why many barren gals play hooky on Mother’s Day: It’s just easier. For me, drawing the curtains, and hiding cuddling with my husband in bed would have been Plan A. (If he wasn’t the worship leader.) But we did go to church. And I’m glad we did, because if we skipped, I wouldn’t be able to know the feeling that can come with it.

Mother’s Day can seem to draw a line in the sand between mothers and non-mothers. Kind of how Valentines Day can feel for the single person. When I was single, I made a point to wear black every V-Day, just to show my angst at the world, and all the lovers out there. (Even though probably no one ever even noticed. Or cared.)

It can feel good to do that. To wear black. But, I want to say: don’t wear black this Mother’s Day. What I mean is, don’t spend it bitter and mourning what you don’t have.  But instead, do this, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12b (Read that list slowly. Maybe when you get dressed, you will remember to ask God to “clothe” you with each one of these.)

So how can you spend this Mother’s Day?

  1. “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Romans 12:15a) It would be considered socially awkward to cross your arms and let out a loud “Boooo!” during a wedding ceremony (just because you’re still single.) As it would be to sulk in the corner at your friend’s 30th birthday party because they get to open presents, (and you don’t.) But there is more to this scripture than just social etiquette–it’s quite purposeful. When you “rejoice with those who rejoice” it fills you with joy as well. (You get some cake, too.) It truly is fun to celebrate what God has done in someone’s life.

  2. “Honor your… [mother]” (Exodus 20:12) Thank God for her. And thank her directly. Make her a card, write her a note, tell her some memory you have you guys together, something that would bless her. And may the childlike excitement you had when you once clambered to your mother’s bedside with a crappy-looking craft in your hand all come rushing back. (If you don’t have a mother, consider thanking, or honoring a “spiritual mother” in your life.)

  3. “…And Be Thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Thank God for what He has given you, who He has given you to love right now. And in His wisdom, who he will give you to love in the future. You are not forgotten.

And then say this: I serve a wise, loving God, who is jealous for all of my heart, all of my attention, and He has sovereignly arranged my life for a unique purpose, whether I understand it or not right now. “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me,”(Psalm 138:8) and whether my life looks full, or empty, my life will be full of God–and I will rejoice because of the steadfast love He has shown to me!

So, when you see the mother’s glowing around you, perhaps you can have a glow of your own. Indeed, you barren one, can have a ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ as well.

Stop Waiting To Be Happy

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When I was barren, I was constantly waiting to be pregnant. But I was also waiting to be happy. I thought that if God would give me what I desired (a baby!), I would be “complete.” And I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, and I was indeed: Happy! I cried and jumped up and down, and blew my nose on my husband’s shoulder. Life was at last good. God was at last good. And I was at last happy. You’d think after that I should have remained the most content person on the planet. But I did not.

I have this problem. It’s a deep problem. Not one that can be solved by a few Pinterest tips, or self-help reads, or swapping my table sugar for organic honey. It’s something dark inside me. Like hunger…but it doesn’t go away with food. Or vanity. Or accomplishment. Or relationships. Or exercise.

I call it want. It’s this thing that lives in me that is always desiring more. That always whispers there is not enough. And this is truly the heart of being barren: emptiness. For so long seeing only the empty in me. Seeing the flaws in others. And seeing God as a withholding God, and not an infinitely giving one. This feeling, this way of seeing your life as “not yet full” is not just for the unable to conceive woman though.

As people, we constantly fantasize about the next “phase” of life–as if it will trump all our prior experiences. I know this because I have done it my whole life so far. Kids can’t wait to be teens. Teens can’t wait till college. College students can’t wait to graduate. Graduates can’t wait to get a job. People with careers can’t wait to retire. (And old people just long to be young again.)  How far does it go? There is something tragic happening here!

No one is enjoying their current phase of life! Everyone wants to be somewhere else, not here. The want is taking over. We are a people who constantly look to the next thing. We want more. Better. Different. Have you ever considered that the phase you are in RIGHT NOW is the best phase simply because it is the phase God has ordained for you right now? If we constantly race ahead to the place we want to be, the goals we want to achieve, we will tragically miss the good going on right now. We will look back on this month, this year, and not remember anything. All we will see is a big blur–jumbled with frantic desires and disappointments.

So just stop. Stop. Right now, and look around you. (Be still, and know that He is God.) What has God already given you? With what responsibilities is He entrusting you right now? Who is in front of you today to love? And then thank Him. Thank Him for every single thing you can about right now. This place. 

I share this only because for way too long I have wanted the next thing. And dear brothers and sisters, I feel it working even now within me. The want. The thing that sucks the joy, and steals it from today.

But when I am thankful–the joy comes rushing back in, like noisy, laughing children stumbling in from outside bringing the smell of summer warmth all around. When I am thankful (even in spite of the mess, and the chaos, and the things I don’t have, or things I haven’t become, or achieved) I am declaring with my heart:

God is Good!

God is Wise!

God is In Control!

God satisfies!

Growing up I always heard church-people saying, “If you are faithful with the small things, God will entrust you with the big things!” So, I always thought this was some kind of transaction, or a stepping stone.”Be a good custodian, and someday you will own the company!” What those people were referring to was to a parable Jesus spoke of in Luke 16:10 and Matthew 25:21, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” While I do believe this passage is about stewardship, I think there is something more going on here than a promotion at work. The very next line is, “Come share in your Master’s happiness!”  I think what He is saying is–whether you thought I entrusted you with a little or a lot, important, or unimportant–you embraced it with both arms. I am pleased with you because by welcoming what I have sovereignly arranged for you, you have declared me wise, and good, and giving! And indeed I AM! So come share in my happiness!

 

Dear Father,

I declare today that You are good. I rejoice in what You have entrusted to me right now (from the biggest to the smallest task). Before I get to the next “phase” of my life..or if I ever “get there,” I want to worship You. I was made for Your glory and to be happy in You. Open my eyes to Your glory all around me. I want to share in Your happiness. Take my heart full of “want”, and replace it with a heart of deep gratitude. You promise to satisfy the hungry with good things. And for that I praise You. Satisfy me now in all that You are, that my joy may be made full. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen