Grace In a Season of Delay: A Gospel Meant for Hard Places

Snow has finally fallen here in Wisconsin. The blanket of frozen white has seemingly settled in for the long haul over  the still coming winter months, and I admit that it all feels like relief for me. It has been an unusual winter here in our small town. As we hung our Christmas lights and brought home our trees, the farmers fields remained an ever dulling brown and our yard seemed just a swirl of old leaves from an autumn which refused to end and pine needles fallen from tall trees not yet frozen. We experience a delayed season, which mirrored a similar delayed season in my own life.

Last year, I wrote quite often about my struggle with infertility and our emerging new adoption journey. I wrote how God was redeeming my story, and how He was working strength into my days. I watched as God took me from a shattered state into a state of hope. And then the last month of the year, December, I seemed to unravel. Our plans weren’t happening the way I had hoped. Uncertainties and familiar feelings of failure, remnants from our infertility journey no doubt, were seeping deeper into my bones. The delay in winter weather spoke deeply to me, like nature was portraying the physical representation of what my heart felt: stuck.

We were with my family at my childhood home when the snow finally started to fall on Christmas Eve. There has been a steady blanket of white covering the ground ever since. If I had been more open to it, maybe I would have realized that the inevitable end to the season could be symbolic for me too. Maybe if I wasn’t becoming bitter, I would have known that God doesn’t leave us stuck forever. But I felt stuck. Coming so close to four years in our struggle to grow our family, the uncertainty of our future was beginning to hold me back from the certainty that I once knew so deep in my heart: that God is Good.

Having survived the many extended family Christmas get togethers, complete with their fresh new babies and age old celebrations of heritage, I stepped into January with a deep realization. All year long, all of 2017, I thought I had surrendered everything in my life to Christ. I thought I gave Him all of my struggles, all of my pain from infertility, all of my anxious worrying about our adoption process. I thought that I was almost completely healed of the deep wounds infertility had branded into my heart because God was moving me forward, into a new path, into a new story. But what December revealed to me was that I hadn’t let go of the hurt at all. I had just buried it. I had hid it away so deep that I was certain not even God could find it.

Infertility wasn’t going to destroy me. It wasn’t going to destroy my faith. I wasn’t going to let it. And that’s where I went wrong.

We can’t declare victory over our battles. Only Jesus declares the victory. And for that victory to take place, we must be willing to keep treading out deeper into the oceans of surrender. There is always more to give to Him. There is always more healing that needs to take place. As long as we live on this side of Heaven, there is a constant pursuit that takes place between our brokenness and our need for a Savior. Whether our battles be physical or spiritual or emotional, there is still more Healing in His wells.

Relationship with Jesus isn’t a surface kind of friendship. It goes down deeper, “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) Real relationship with Jesus results in a continual pulling back of the layers of our hearts, revealing more and more of what it is that we are holding onto more than Him, and loosening our grip on those things with Grace.

You know what I missed out on this Christmas when I built up my walls instead of entering into the stable where Jesus came for me? Him. I put my story ahead of His story, and I lost out on Joy.

I don’t know what it is you are holding onto into this new year, but don’t hold on to it tighter than you are holding onto Jesus. Don’t lose sight of how He loves you.

Jesus warned us that in this world we would have trouble. I think sometimes when we read that passage we read it only in regards to trouble spreading His Gospel. But the Gospel isn’t just a message we proclaim. It’s a message we live. How does the Gospel change our illnesses? How does the Gospel reach our marriages? How does the Gospel grow our families? What does loving Jesus look like when we’re mad or bitter or angry? What does surrendering to our Savior mean to us when we’re walking down unexpected roads with unforeseeable outcomes?

The Gospel is meant for hard places. We often get to hear its words from pretty pulpits and dreamlike representations of Christmas stables, but Jesus didn’t come to be remembered as the sweet baby laying in that manger forever. No. Jesus came to Heal us.

So maybe you had a hard Christmas. That’s why Jesus came. To rescue and save you from all the places you find yourself stuck. He is the Light in the Darkness. He is the Joy of the Lord. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He came here for you.

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Imperishable Beauty Contributing Post: Infertility, Adoption, and the Resiliency of Faith 

I document Grace and as I wait on the Lord, in infertility and now through adoption, I watch as God creates in me a type of resilient faith I was never capable of possessing before. I watch as He stretches my faith. I stand without breaking, stronger after each hard day is met with each grace filled day. My contributing post, which I wrote a couple of months ago, on resilient faith and the waiting during adoption was published over at @imperishable.beauty this morning. If you’re needing some encouragement, please head on over to Imperishable Beauty to read. God is Good. All the time. 

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.

 

 

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 

40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With The King Day 22


Dear Reader, 

Life takes time, but I often want my prayers answered in an instant. I’m learning that as years go by I’m learning more about God and understanding why He answers me in the way that He does and within the timelines He creates. Time gives way for reflection. It saturates our bones and it whispers wisdom and truth down into our souls. We rarely understand why things happen while we are still in the moment, but when we step away from it into a new season of life we find that things become more clear and we are able to see how God was simply fitting together all the missing pieces. We see things close up and out of focus, but He sees things and people in their entirety. He can’t give away the ending to us because then maybe we would never chose to live out the moments that get us there. Maybe we would miss out on all the beauty He weaves if we already had all the answers. I think of who I was five years ago and I know there are things in my life today that I simply could not accept back then. Five years ago there was no way I could be who I am now. I hadn’t lived it out yet. I hadn’t wrestled. I hadn’t reflected. I was looking at everything at face value, looking it all right in the eyes but couldn’t see anything from a different perspective. I know five years from now the same will hold true, that I wasn’t capable of being who I will be then while I’m standing where I am now. And so when we ask God why He is taking all the time in the world to answer our prayers, we must understand that it is because God works for Good and anything Good is worth all the time that God invests into it. There is reason and purpose and beauty to your story, but we must live to find it. We must walk through fire to experience true Grace. We must surrender to understand real freedom. And we must love deep to understand what God really means when He says He loves us. Prayer is the caption on the winding of time. It’s how we walked and talked with God as He lived out our stories with us. He is present and He is real and He is the time weaver and the Joy bringer and the Grace giver. Praise Him for all the time He has given us, and all the words He still has yet to say to us. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Contributing Post: How to Experience True Victory Over Infertility 


Dear Reader, 

I know I talk about infertility and adoption a lot, and many of you are probably tired of hearing it. But I talk about it because through it God has brought about my greatest victories. I know what it feels like to think you are going through this alone. I know what it feels like to think things will never get better. If I can offer hope through my story to one single person then I will keep on giving this testimony. Our struggles are opportunities for victories in Christ. My newest article was published over at Imperishable Beauty today. If you are going through this and you need to be reaffirmed that God’s love for you is real, please read. You are not a prisoner of infertility. Jesus has broken those chains…for real.
Just click on this link to head on over: Imperishable Beauty: How to Experience True Victory Over Infertility

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

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: 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