There was a time near the end of our infertility treatments when I grieved for what I thought was a loss of our heritage. I was devastated that we wouldn’t be able to replicate the likeness and similarities and resemblance of our family. But God spoke to my heart. He taught me that He is the creator of true heritage. He taught me that He is both adoptive parent and creator to us. My newest article written for Imperishable Beauty is up on their website this morning. If you are experiencing this feeling of loss because of infertility, or because your family feels broken, or because you don’t feel like you belong, please head over and read How Adoption is the Story of Love Beyond the Natural at Imperishable Beauty.
My mama bought me this planner this week and every time I look at it I want to cry. Our nursery theme is powder blue with songbirds, and I felt like God was in this gift, prompting me to see Him in the baby steps we are making in our adoption process. Our home study is complete, and now we wait. Guess what month this planner starts in. It starts next month, July 2017 and goes through December of 2018. I’m hopeful for what may happen in the months to come, but even more so I’m trusting that God will use our time of waiting to His glory and for His Kingdom. This is such a timely gift, and I hope that it’s pages will document well the Grace that God shows us over the next year and a half (the span of its calendar pages). I hope that whatever it is you are waiting for, that you are searching for God in the steps along the way. Sometimes moments of Grace are so subtle that we miss them until the whole picture comes into view, but I’m here to tell you that when I take the time to notice them as they are happening my heart is filled with inexplicable Joy in my Father God who loves me and loves you come what may. Today, there will be moments of Grace. I encourage you to document those moments, to store them up in your heart, to see the glory of God in every tiny moment. He is there, and He is overwhelmingly Good to us.
A Fellow Grace Wanderer
P.S. this planner is made by Punctuate and can be found at Barnes and Noble. Not an advertisement, just a fact worth sharing.
Grace isn’t finally getting what you’ve always wanted. It isn’t finally seeing your dreams come true. It isn’t getting to live the life you’ve always imagined. Most days, Grace looks like closed doors. Grace looks like we’re running the wrong way. Grace looks like nothing is happening when really God is orchestrating every little thing in beautiful harmony with our broken hearts and our mercy washed souls. Sometimes we’re like this little toad who got picked up on a tennis racket one day and was gently placed out of harm’s way beneath some shady trees in the safety of the woods. Grace means that God is good even when life is not. It means that we’re safe in Him, even when everything around us seems dangerous. It means that our hearts won’t shatter forever, because Jesus binds them together with stuff not found in this world. Grace means strength even in weakness, provision even in poverty, love even in a world of hate, and life even in the midst of perishing dreams. The old has passed the new has come. Jesus makes this life, the very one you’re living right where you are, so incredibly worth while. Your plans don’t need to work out perfectly in order to experience Grace. In fact…it’s better if they don’t! Because the Grace of Jesus is that He knows what’s coming, and we don’t, but He promises to go with us and be the Beauty in all of the waiting and the wondering and the hoping and the trusting. After all, isn’t Heaven our biggest dream? And yet none of us know the extravagant beauty that awaits us there or the Grace that will mark our way as we journey there. He is making all things new. As my husband and I just recently completed our home study for our adoption agency, I know that God is bringing beauty from ashes. I know that all those nights I cried because I was afraid of where my future was heading, God was just carrying me like we carried this little toad to a place of Grace, down a different road, but one where we would rest in His arms and trust Him always, whether I get to become a mama or not. Infertility took a lot from me, but God gave me more. More faith. More trust. More hope. More Grace.
A Fellow Grace Wanderer
I love empty vessels. Mason jars, milk bottles, anything glass that can be filled. I love how sunlight can fill them up, I love how the twinkle lights in my kitchen cause the mason jars to shine and shimmer. And yet, I wonder if I ever view the vessel of my heart in this way. It too can shine in the light. It too can hold the shimmer of contentment and the shine of Grace. Maybe the key to letting go of all our worries is to allow our hearts to be washed clean, to allow our lives to be hand washed in grace by our Father God who loves us and who sees our hearts full of the potential to soak up mercy and love and grace and walk brim full out into the world where we pour it all out again. In order to see real beauty in the world, God urges us to be completely poured out before Him, He encourages us to take the fullness of His Grace and give it away because we trust and we know that God has the power to fill us completely back up again. We pour out before the King of Kings and we are filled to the brim by the King of Heaven. Our hearts can carry all the light He shines on us. We can be washed clean over and over and over again like these glass bottles. That’s how Grace works. It keeps on washing us and filling us and allowing the Light to sparkle. So whatever Grace God is filling you with, don’t be afraid to pour it out into the world.
A Fellow Grace Wanderer
I just keep thinking about these sunsets, how they signify an end but also a beginning. I keep thinking of how God causes the sun to rise like a burning fire across the sky, and how He has called it to set in the same fiery fashion. And this is how we can transition from one stage in life to the next, with the same fire burning brightly when we rise and when we set. “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” Sometimes, it feels like we live in a world where passion for anything is merely fleeting, because just as quickly as the wind shifts, so do our desires. And yet, God is permanent and eternal. His people then, who are ignited with their dreams and passions by the fire of His Spirit, can hold fast to the knowledge that what He has started in us, He will finish. This is how we can pursue our dreams, when we know that the dreams we hold were given to us by our Creator and are sustained by our Father God. He is the navigator of our lives. He is the lover of our souls. He is the King of our hearts. So what is it that God has placed on your heart? The temptation of this world is to do what is easy and what will yield the quickest reward, but our God often calls us to what is hard so that we can experience the permanence of His provision for us and the vastness of His Grace.
A Fellow Grace Wanderer
God gives us seasons of work and seasons of Rest, and both it seems, are good for our souls. I have this desire to be back at the cabin already so I can soak up some more of that Northern Wisconsin summer sun, and yet at the same time my heart is filled with the desire to get back to the work of everyday life so that we can be a tiny bit closer to bringing our baby home. His Rest is meant to carry us through the times that it would seem we don’t have time to soak in Rest of our own, and so I plan on carrying the blessings of the slow paced life of last week into the whirlwind that is sure to be this week ahead. “Praise Him from whom all blessings flow”. My husband and I speak often about holding more reverence for what is actually a blessing from God. Sometimes I label things such as vacation, or our home, or time off as blessings…but the truth is that God doesn’t just provide when the living is easy. The height of His goodness is evident when the living is hard. When we think everything is broken, or messed up, or destroyed…that is when God shows up with the blessing of His presence. And so I want to shift my language, I want to shift my thoughts about what is Good and what is hard, what is blessing and what is simply easy. Maybe when things get tough, that’s when we’re meant to speak about the blessings of God, because it is truly then that all the glory really does go to Him. An easy life doesn’t necessarily mean a blessed life, and a hard life does not mean the absence of blessing. I am striving to understand this better and to see more clearly the heart of our Father. For He is Good and all of His ways are Love. Blessings on your Sabbath Day, friends. May you feel the real Goodness of God today whether the road you walk or the life you live is hard or easy going. “For the Lord your God goes with you wherever you go.”
A Fellow Grace Wanderer
The blog has been quiet lately, I know. I’m not going to lie, the home study of our adoption process has left my head spinning. Seemingly so much to do in such little time…hurrying so we can wait and wait and probably wait some more. But all is good and all is Grace. God’s timing is always consistently better than mine. This week I’ve spent time away from all the busy work, and spent more time soaking up some sweet time with my sister before she gets married next month and moves out of state. This life is a constant state of surrender, bidding bittersweet goodbyes to the old and welcoming in the new with great hope and expectation. God is in every detail, the small and the big. Nothing is beyond Him or forgotten by Him. And so my friends, I wish you a happy and sweet warm June weekend. Tomorrow is Friday, may it be full of rest and Grace and warmth and sweet Joy.
Two years ago I felt crushed as I sat in a Mother’s Day church service we were attending. I felt the need to rejoice for my friends who were being honored in their motherhood, and yet felt isolated by the words of scripture presented that day. God called women to be mother’s, how was it that He would not let me become one? It turns out, God never means for us to feel isolated…especially in His word. After receiving encouragement in the Lord from friends later that afternoon, God revealed to me the stories of Hannah, Rachel, Sarah, and Elizabeth and proved to me His deep love and concern for women just like me. If you are preparing for a hard Mother’s Day weekend because of infertility, or are looking for ways to support a friend who is, please head on over to read by clicking the link below:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” Genesis 3 1-3
The story of the burning bush in Genesis has taken on new symbolic meaning for me. God placed this event in scripture on my heart late last week, and for days I could not figure out what it meant. But now He has begun revealing this to me through it: My dreams in life have often become my burning bushes. I have wandered to the far side of the wilderness, as Moses did, to pursue things I could not understand instead of the things I had planned for myself. I walked up to these bushes with this burning thought: “How can this be?”
How is it possible that my heart has found peace as we have entered into the adoption process…something that is certainly not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit? My dream was to be a mother, the natural way. It seemed like a simple request. It seemed normal and something that God was likely to do for me. And yet…God placed this burning bush, adoption, in the far side of the wilderness of my heart and called me to this place with His fire. His power is made perfect in my weakness.
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Genesis 3:4-6
I am learning that adoption is holy ground. It was placed in our hearts only by the fire of God. Our weakness led us to this place…and yet God’s strength shines so beautifully in it. I feel as if I could simply insert my name into the passage “when the Lord saw that he had gone to look”…as if it could be read, “when the Lord saw that I had gone over to look, He called to me from within the bush.” It is as if He wanted me to look at adoption all along, and as soon as I was ready, as soon I would hear His voice and wonder about His fire, He would call out my name…and His power would be made evident to me in it.God has asked me to take off my sandals, and He has reiterated who He is to me…Jehovah, Father, Provider, and King.
And like Moses, I have felt the need to hide my face. Because this journey to motherhood is no longer about me. It’s no longer about what I can do. It’s about how God weaves together lives and writes our life stories and sews together the beauty of the universe. It is about God, and only Him. He has called us all into His family through the spirit of adoption. And suddenly I have realized…that my prayer can still be answered. Because this is how God has chosen to build His own family…and I believe so strongly that in this most beautiful way of sacrifice, and love, and surrender, He can build mine too.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Genesis 3: 11-12
Moses didn’t set His people free…God did. And I won’t set anyone free either. Adoption is about love, all the way around. The love of a birth mother who loves her baby so much that she sacrifices her heart. The love of an adopted mama who has felt the bondage of her own Egypt, infertility, and has felt God redeem parts of her heart she thought could never live again. The love of birth fathers and adoptive fathers who have become witnesses and partakers in the miracle of life. And the love of our Father God…whose over arching Love has set all of us free.
I hear my doubts and fears echoed in Moses’ own thoughts: “Who am I that I should go?” Who am I that could be chosen to forever and always carry a child in my arms that I did not carry in my womb? Who am I to think that I could hold such a sacred place in the heart of a child and a birth mother? And to all of this God answers: ” I will be with you. And I will give you signs so that you know it is I who have sent you, and you will worship God on this mountain.” This mountain I have built so high with my pain and grief and worry through infertility, this mountain that I have still added to as I have begun the paperwork and anxious worrying and waiting in adoption, this mountain that God has stood on top of with me the entire time…on this mountain I will worship God.
There are no guarantees in adoption. No guarantee we will be matched or placed or chosen. But God has made it clear, that this is His holy ground.
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Genesis 3:14
I believe that God sends people to each other at exactly the right time. I believe that an entire adoption story can point back to my God who tells us, “I AM has sent me to you.” I have heard it argued that adoption should not be viewed as a calling, or as mission. We shouldn’t view ourselves as the Moses of this story, because we aren’t heroes. And I wholeheartedly agree. But I do believe that my Father God is so invested in each of His children that He makes a way for them. I believe that He is the one who opens adoptive parents hearts to adoption in the first place. I believe that He is the one who speaks “choose life” in birth mama’s ear. I believe that He is absolutely involved.
Adoption is most definitely a burning bush like the one God spoke to Moses through. In a perfect story, no mother would have to choose to place her child into it and adoptive mothers simply wouldn’t exist. And yet, because our world is broken and our dreams don’t always come true, He places this beautiful promise at the far end of the wilderness…He allows adoption to catch our eye, to cause us to wonder and to hope, to humble us deeply, and to place our lives and hearts into His powerful hands where they belong and where they are most treasured.
So this coming Mother’s Day, I will be here marveling at how the God of Genesis, and of Moses, and of burning bushes, chooses to also be my God and to speak into my heart in the most miraculous ways. He has taken my weaknesses, and used them for His glory. I trust that though I am weak and unworthy as Moses was, that my God is strong and powerful.
We will be scheduling our homestudy in the next couple of months, and though I am anxious, I know that God will lead us to where we need to be. My goals and outcomes are now subject to His love and mercy. Wherever He chooses to lead us in this, I pray we will bravely follow. But for now, I am simply taking off my sandals, and patiently standing on God’s holy ground. It’s not just about me, it’s about how God will wield His beautiful power in this story.
I AM who I Am has brought me to this place. And that is everything that I need to know.
As much as I’ve tried to begin to shy away from the hurt that infertility has brought into my life, God keeps leading me back to it and reminding me that during this battle His love for me has been made evident. I have proclaimed His name louder and I have knelt deeper in prayer. I have hurt, and I have heard His voice. I have cried, and He has comforted me. I have screamed out in anger and in frustration…and He has remained steady at my side. What has God taught me through infertility? He has taught me that He will never leave me or forsake me.
I will be honest that I didn’t know Infertility Awareness Week even existed. However, I’ve had a million thoughts running through my mind in the last month as I have tried to process everything that God brought me through in regards to infertility, and as I begin to process everything He will be faithful through as we enter into the adoption process.
There are two questions that I haven’t been able to answer until now. They were the two questions I was asked right in the middle of treatment, and right at the end as we decided to no longer pursue infertility treatments. They were this: “Why does this hurt you so much?” and “Will you ever be happy if it never happens?”
“Why does this hurt you so much”? was the question that most haunted me. It was asked by friends who already had children. It was asked by my family members. It was asked by people who barely knew me. And maybe their wording wasn’t all exactly the same, but the essence of the question still was. They couldn’t understand it. And honestly…I couldn’t either.
I thought for a long time that maybe I was selfish for wanting God to grow our family so much that it hurt. I thought I was asking for something that wasn’t meant for me. I felt slighted, and hurt, and marked by God as not good enough for this blessing that most would view as “common”. What hurt the most? Probably the thought of family Christmas when my husband and I grow old and there aren’t any grandchildren, or maybe the thought that I would never know that bond between mother and child as she carried her baby for nine months in her womb, or possibly when I realized there wouldn’t be any little ones running around who had both of our blue eyes and my brown hair with his curls. The hurt, I think, comes mostly when we realize that the buck stops here. That even though we love tradition and heritage so much, that with us it would be different. And I could not reconcile it with what God had laid out in the Bible for husbands and wives. He told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply…why was He withholding this from me? Am I broken?
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them” Genesis 1:27
And that’s it, friends. That’s why it hurts. Because God, who is our Father, is also our creator and we were made in His likeness. We contain attributes of the Father, and so naturally, just as it was His will to be our Father…it is our desire to follow suit, it is our desire to hold flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones and know that we are connected, that we are family.
God is all about His children. He created us. He gave us free will that we would choose to freely love Him…because that’s how family works, isn’t it? We can choose to stay connected, and we can choose to walk away. But it is the hope of every father and mother that our children would also choose to love us…as we have hoped to so dearly love them. God describes His church as a family, He describes us as sons and daughters, Jesus referred to Him as our Father. Why does infertility hurt so much? Because the desire to be a part of a family is intertwined into who we were created to be and in who God is to us.
And so it’s not just that my womb has never stretched to hold life…it’s that it feels like a part of me is entirely missing.
That’s not something that I was prepared to encounter in this life. It’s not something that’s preached about at church, the topic of “what if you can never have children?”. It’s not talked about in high school or middle school… in fact the opposite is discussed, “how not to have children right now!”. And I don’t think you can ever hope to even comprehend the magnitude of it or the depths of your soul that it reaches, unless you yourself have felt its sting.
But…here’s the second question I was asked: “Do you think you could ever be happy if it never happens for you?” There was a period of time where I thought my answer might be no. I couldn’t understand what the purpose was in purchasing a house with three bedrooms and a yard for kids to play in if we would never give birth to children to fill those spaces. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had spent the majority of my life caring for children at local day cares, and church nurseries, and teaching piano lessons, and serving as a private nanny only to be met with the disappointment that I wouldn’t get to step into the leading role as Mama even though I felt so completely prepared.
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-38
Through all of this hurt and disappointment, God has still given me purpose. Every child that I see now, I know that God specifically created and wanted. I see the looks on my friend’s faces as they parent their kids and I know how incredibly blessed they are and I marvel even deeper at the miracle of life. And I realize so much more now, that this life is not my own. It was redeemed at a cost. And that cost was the love of my Father. He must come first, even before my dreams of being a mama.
I prayed that God would bring me peace. I prayed that He would lift this burden from my shoulders and that one day…I would feel whole again. It’s been over three years, and friends, He is doing exactly that. There really is no explanation for what God is doing in my heart, or how my cloud has begun to lift and float away. It just has. Without warning, God has parted my clouds. He keeps speaking to me…it feels in softer tones now. I have felt the fire, and I pray that it has refined me. There was such a temptation to let it melt me instead…but I think now, God was holding me all along. Even as I kicked and screamed, because I’m His child.
We have begun the paperwork to pursue domestic adoption, and while that brings me so much Joy, I know the road ahead will still be hard as we begin to understand the depth and the grief that separation from one’s biological mama entails. The hurt that waits up ahead is not just my own anymore, it’s of my baby and of their mama. It seems that pain multiplies, and my heart breaks as I know that the pain in this world just keeps spreading. But…my God is a mender of broken hearts. And Joy can multiply too. Perhaps, He allowed my heart to be broken that I may weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice…that I might better understand and know my baby who will come home to us one day and their mother who will forever hold the other half of this broken heart of mine. I know the wait could be long for placement, I know that there is the possibility that we won’t be placed, and I know that God has used infertility to prepare me for that wait. I know what it feels like to wait for a long time…I know what it feels like to not know how this ends. And I know how good my Father God is, even if what I will and what I desire never comes to be. His love for me comes first.
My Joy has begun to emerge from a place in my heart that I didn’t know existed and that I don’t think would ever have been uncovered if I had never experienced infertility. So, could I ever be happy if none of this ever happens for me? The answer is yes. I think that because of all of this my Joy will be felt at a greater magnitude. I think that without it I may have taken for granted all that God is and who He is and how He loves me…and how He loves His children. My Joy in Jesus is greater…I am happier in Him because of this. And that is my victory. That though I was met with pain, and though I felt as if I was broken…Jesus has restored my soul. He has replaced the weakness of my heart with strength. He has given me Hope.
To those of you who suffer in this, know that Jesus is greater. Know that prayer is not just uttered desperate words…but that it is fully heard by your Father. Know that tears of pain can become tears of Joy in Him, and that Joy is not dependent on whether or not we are physically healed or whether we are able to become parents…but instead is an unspeakable mystery in the glory of our God for which we can not explain but can proclaim. Joy in Jesus defeats the darkness…and that is full truth.
I have found His grace is all complete, He supplieth every need. While I sit and learn at Jesus feet, I am free, yes, free indeed.
I have found the pleasure I once craved, It is joy and peace within; What a wondrous blessing! I am saved from the awful gulf of sin.
I have found that hope so bright and clear, Living in the realm of grace; Oh, the Saviour’s presence is so near, I can see His smiling face.
I have found the joy no tongue can tell, How its waves of glory roll! It is like a great o’er flowing well, Springing up within in my soul.
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory, oh, the half has never yet been told.
Does this mean I don’t have hard days? no. They still come once in a while. But it means that I’ve found my strength in Jesus, and that this battle no longer stands a chance at defeating me. Jesus is stronger. Jesus is better. Jesus heals hearts. Infertility can’t ever steal your purpose or your worth. It won’t distort you before the Father. It doesn’t mark you as lesser or forgotten. On the contrary…it marks you as brave. It marks you as strong. You, my friend, are a canvas for which the Lord God will paint beautiful things on. Your life can bloom in Him. And your heart can heal.