Autumn of Hope: Grace after Pain


I’ve been quiet here on the blog for quite awhile now. I’ve been learning this new balancing act between hopeful expectation and hope deferred. For the first autumn since  2014 we are hopeful that our family might grow soon, through adoption. Infertility feels like a ghost, constantly haunting my memories and sometimes stirring up fear and sadness in my heart, but mostly it holds a more numbed and dull effect on my heart these days. Adoption has my attention at the moment. The hope that someday, somewhere, out of all of this pain and all of this waiting, God will cause our hearts to come together with the heart of a Birth Mama and out of both of our hard places will come grace and hope for the new child that God has ushered into this world.

The leaves have almost fully changed at our house and right now I’m sitting by the open window listening to the crumpled and colored leftover remnants of summer rustling their way down the street. And things just feel different. I’m excited for this new season. I’m hopeful for what each new season will bring. I know that with every season that passes we are that much closer to meeting the one that God created us to embrace into our family. Instead of feeling despair, as in years past, that each new season meant one more season behind us in our infertility.


Adoption is not a cure for infertility. Every book on adoption will tell you that. It won’t fill those holes in your heart that were torn open wide by the scraping edges of infertility treatments or tear filled nights or near breakdowns over the sight of yet another negative pregnancy test. It’s just that at this point I know what can undo me. Just this past week I had the flu which was suspiciously timed and so I took one of those cursed tests because I knew the doctor’s office would ask if I had, and even though I knew deep down in my heart it wouldn’t turn positive, I was still reduced to tears and heartbreak when I saw it lying there negative. And yet. I still have hope that even though motherhood isn’t coming to me in the way I thought it would, it will still come to me in the way that God always knew it would.

I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:15-16

He has written my name on the palms of His hands. He has seen my story. He has designed my testimony. And not only mine, but also my husband’s and our someday Birth Mama and our future child’s. He knows all of us. And He is at work intertwining it all, using what hurt us to become what frees us. Turning the flood gate of our tears into the washing waters of new life.

He doesn’t hurt us. That’s not what God does. God heals us. So many times I had forgotten that. I had believed deep in my soul that God had planned for me to go through infertility, but what I hadn’t realized was that infertility was never part of His plan. He loves us too much for that. Infertility wasn’t part of His plan, but He did plan how He would love us through it. He did plan how He would heal our hearts. He did plan how He would turn our stories around. He offered us opportunities for Grace and then He opened the doors wide open so that we could step through them and receive that Grace. Pain isn’t part of the plan, but His healing is.


This autumn, with its golden fallen leaves and its deep ripe harvest, once again has me looking up to my Father God. Last autumn I felt Him calling me to look up too, but then I think it was so that I could find the air to breathe and rest in Him from all that was taking place. This year, the looking up feels more like joyful anticipation and peace. Peace that God reigns. Peace that God can heal broken hearts, and that He has begun the healing in mine. Peace that even if this difficult adoption process shatters my heart all over again, that He can restore it. Just like He did last time.

And looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened.” Mark 7:34

Our God is Good. His plans for us are Good. I’ve found that in every way this broken world has tried to break me, God has instead reshaped me. Perhaps it’s just that I’m older now then when we began this journey, perhaps it’s as my good friend said today that I’ve simply seen more of the world at this point. Either way, God has continuously shown Himself faithful to me. In every pain, He has brought Grace. He has shown me that there is no pain too deep that He cannot take our hands and cause us to rise above. He keeps opening my heart wider and He keeps raising the stakes higher. He calls us to lay down our dreams and the ways we think things should be, and He opens us up to things greater than we could have possibly imagined: faith, hope, love, grace, and restoration. He opens us up to more of Heaven, to more of Him.

He is not a God of sinking ships. He is a God who causes us to continuously look up toward Him, because that is where the beauty is at. We feel it as we look to the tops of church steeples and to the tip tops of towering autumn trees. We feel it as we lift our hands to Heaven in worship and praise. The beauty and the Joy and the Hope and the Peace, it’s all with Him who causes us to rise above, who causes us to Rise up closer to Him.

No pain can take Him away from us.

 

 

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40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With The King Days 34 & 35 


Dear Reader, 

Lately when I pray God has been speaking to me about trust. What does it mean to let go and let God? I often think I’ve surrendered to His will, but then God keeps working on my heart and peeling away at more and more layers that I didn’t even realize existed, and with each layer He pulls away I find that my grip is still fixed tight on things I thought I had let go of. God knows me better than I know myself. That’s a new realization for me, but I used to think I always knew that. God not only knows what’s best, but He knows me best. How beautiful is it that our Father God cares and loves us so much that He has made it His business to know us better than we know ourselves. How beautiful is it that throughout time He continues to grow us and continues to reveal more to us not only about His heart but also our own? He makes beautiful things. Can we trust Him with that tonight? Maybe as we walk through these last five days of continuous prayer, continuous real conversation with the king of Heaven, we can learn to trust Him more and to trust more about what He has revealed about us through our time with Him. We can let Him mold us, even if it’s hard and it hurts because we can trust His intentions for us and we can trust that He is wholly Good. His Goodness is directed at us. We’re the ones He came to save. We’re the ones who can walk this life Brave because of what He has done and what He will always and forever create for us and in us. God is beautiful, and so is everything He so lovingly molds by His hand and breathes to Life with His breath. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

How to Love: Grace When We Don’t Understand 


Dear Reader, 

We love butterflies specifically for their many colors, and yet when it comes to the many beautiful colors of people we find barriers. We see “difference” as something to fear, instead of to praise God for. We see it with many things. We see the harsh criticisms across denominational lines of what we as Christians “should” believe, but the truth there should be simple. As Christians we “should” believe in the Bible as sole truth. However, ask Christians from different denominations and they will explain that truth differently. We can’t agree, even on something as simple as what is truth. If we elevate this to the color of the people in this world, we find the same holds true. Everyone believes the answer is simple, to love. But it would appear that what love looks like is understood differently by many. My husband and I are hoping to adopt our first child, and friends, I have no idea what race our baby will be. But I want them to know they are loved by us fully. I fear for how they may perceive “love” in this world. The “truth” spoken “in love” by this world is often not truth at all, but hatred dressed up in sheep’s clothing. Every single person has great worth, great beauty, great potential to love one another. But we must seek out how to love. What does it mean to love someone who is different than us? It means to speak up when the world has lost its mind and its heart. It means to be humbled and admit when we’ve been wrong or when we’ve been unable to understand. In order to love deeply, we must begin to understand where we have gone wrong and how we can do better. How can we understand what we have done if we never speak to those we have hurt with our silence or with our wrong words? God’s love is so much deeper than the surface love we often offer other people. Saying there is no problem simply means we can’t see the problem. It’s like closing our eyes in the midst of a tragedy and saying the commotion is nothing serious. To love our neighbor takes humility not condescension. To love our neighbor takes real conversation and real concern. Wherever you stand, don’t stand for hatred. Love, and learn what love means. We’re all learning together. Apart we fail.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Waiting Mama Wednesdays


In case you didn’t know, every Wednesday on the Instagram page, HandWashedInGrace, is Waiting Mama Wednesday. These days are dedicated to waiting adoptive mama’s. We talk about adoption fundraisers, what we’re doing during the wait for our babies, and what God has to say to us during this time. If you’re a waiting mama or know someone who is, feel free to join in! #waitingmamawednesdays

Imperishable Beauty Post: How Adoption is the Story of Love Beyond the Natural 


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. 

A Grace Note: A Timely Gift 


Dear Reader, 

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. 

In Him, 

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. 

A Grace Note: The Unexpected Appearance of Grace 


Dear Reader, 

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.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: Dreams and Grace 


Dear Reader, 

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.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: Blessings and Grace 


Dear Reader, 

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.” 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Gone Fishing 


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.