7 Billion Ones {photography/storytelling project}

In the latter part of 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting photographer Randy Bacon, and his sweet wife, Shannon.  They invited me to be a part of their amazing movement/project/mission called “7 Billion Ones”.  Their goal is to excite others in believing that “Your Story Matters”, and to instill inspiration through images and words.

I am not a person who takes a ton of selfies, and I certainly don’t like to have my picture taken, but the purpose and validation through this cause was well worth stepping in front of the lens.  My purpose for being in it was this:  to share my story so that others in similar circumstances can be inspired to never give up.

Even if I only have an audience of one, but that one person is moved to encouragement by my story, then it is well worth it.  We never know how sharing ourselves with others can directly impact lives.

You can check out my story by clicking the link below.  Spend some time exploring all of the stories on the 7 Billion Ones website.  I promise you will find a great deal of inspiration from the multitude of others who have stood in front of the camera and told their stories.

7 Billion Ones Story

And, dear friends, keep telling your own stories.  Our lives, full of characters, drama, sadness, and joy, are what makes this big ‘ole world go round.  You never know how your story will affect others; even if it is only an audience of one.

Blessings,

Caroline

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider {Adoption.Com Article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.Com regarding some important factors to consider when one is facing infertility, and thinking about adoption.  Moving towards adoption after years of infertility is a serious decision, and requires lots of thought.

There are many facets to both infertility and adoption; however, it is vital to separate the two experiences in life as much as possible.  The article suggests nine crucial things to consider before taking the next step in one’s journey to parenthood.

You can read the article by clicking on the link:

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider

Blessings,

Caroline

Life in the Wasteland

“When I look at my kids, I think about my life. I think about the wasteland of broken dreams, shallow impulses, thick tears, and sorrowful ache. This is what my life could have and even perhaps should have been consumed by. However, during my walkabout, I found meaning. I found life in the wasteland.”

This is an excerpt from my story that I have been writing for the past few years.  I’m not sure what the Lord wants to do with it, but I’m so hopeful that it will touch the lives of those walking sterile in a non-sterile world.

For many years, I walked around feeling as though I was absent of anything that gave life. I was sterile. I was empty. I was broken.

I was a wasteland.

In my brokenness, the Lord met me. He lifted my head. He reminded me that my life is not a wasteland. It is not devoid of life, or anything that gives life to others.

In His mercy, I became a parent. Through my experience, I have learned that I am a broken vessel, but I am mended. I am mended through the gift of salvation, freedom, and grace.

For my friends who are walking barren, I want you to know that you are not destitute. It may feel like it. The emptiness may feel as though it will swallow your soul, but dear friend, it will not.

You are filled with the very Love that has seized the hearts of many. You sway to the rhythm of Mercy.

You are sculpted with incredible, grace-driven Sacrifice.

I am not a wasteland. We are not wastelands! We are children of the Lord. We are unique. We are not perfect. We are broken…but….

We are Redeemed!

For my friends who are struggling with infertility, whose every breath is filled with the desire to be a Mamma, I encourage you to cling to the Anchor of Hope.

Photo Credit: Ann Conn
Photo Credit: Ann Conn

Through the Lord, we are filled with life.  We able to bloom despite the seemingly insurmountable odds surrounding us.  We are not wastelands.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m here on the eve of celebrating the anniversary of our son’s adoption day, and I’m thinking of you.  It happens every year, you know. We mark the seventh of May with joy and celebration at the gift that he is to us.  It is the day that the courts declared him to be forever ours.  Still yet, my mind travels to thoughts of you.

Six years ago, on the eighth of May (the day after our big court date), I sat in his room, watched him play with toys a bit, and then pulled a blue t-shirt over his head to wear.  As his blonde curls popped up out of the neck of the shirt, his big brown eyes caught mine, and then it hit me.

I sat there for a moment, captivated by his precious face, and suddenly, felt the tears as they began to well up in my eyes.  Something about that moment….getting him dressed as my “official” son…on a new day…with a new start…being able to exhale for the first time in almost two years…with a new legal description of who I was to him…moved me greatly.

photodayafterI snapped a quick picture of him.  I wanted to capture that moment in time.  I did not want to forget it. I was a blubbering mess in the middle of his bedroom.  We had shared nearly two years of a life without permanency, and in that moment of our eyes meeting, I knew full well that he was not going anywhere.

It was not just the beginning of our new life together that caused me to pause, it was also the ending of the journey that you and I shared.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m thinking about the first time I met you, the meetings, court hearings, visits, laughter, tears, and restless nights.  Your words remain on my mind.  Your laugh, your concern for my family, and the friendship we formed in love because of our son are held in a place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else, but will be shared with our son as he grows.

Your kindness was an incredible and unique experience that is sometimes not expected in the world of foster care.  People may wonder why I feel the way I feel for you.  They may even question how I could form a friendship with someone who found herself in the position that you did.  Instead of understanding your “lot in life”, they judge.

My judgment fell away the moment we met.  I looked at you, heard what you had to say, and realized that you were not my enemy.  You were never meant to be.  We just found ourselves wrapped up in the legal drama that is foster care.  Instead, we formed a friendship based on very difficult circumstances. It grew out of the love for our little boy – yours, and mine.  Your love for him was never questioned in my heart – not then, not now, and not ever.

How can I love him and not love that part of him that belongs to you?  How can I not think of you when he learns new things, calls me Momma, succeeds at his talents, gets sick, and moves along in his journey to adulthood?

I want you to know that on our joyous day six years ago there were many loving people in the court room.  Each one played a small part in forming our family. Some prayed for us.  Some cheered us on.  Some loved on him with genuine and unmistakable adoration.  Some pushed paperwork, and some allowed me to cry on their shoulders.

Even still, no one in the cramped court room mattered more in the whole scheme of things than you.  Although you were absent from the court room, I carried you in my heart that day.

You chose life.  You carried him.  You labored bringing into the world.  You called him by his name before anyone else.  You left the hospital alone. You were gracious to the strangers (us) who took him in.  You hung in there, and visited him.

You said your good-byes, and you let go.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m returning to that incredible day six years ago when God proved His faithfulness, removed the mountain-sized weight off of my shoulders, and blessed me with adoption of the son we share.

Do you want to know something, birth mother?  On the day after, I thought the hard part was over.  I thought that being his foster-mother, not knowing how permanency for him would unfold, and wondering if I would be his forever momma, was the hardest part.

However, I’m learning that raising him is the hardest part.  It is not because of him. He is a challenging, at times, but he is remarkable, beautiful, smart, witty, creative, ornery, and loving.  He is an incredible son, and I’m one of the most lucky momma’s on Earth.  Being his momma is an important responsibility and privilege in my life.

kiteIt is just that the world sometimes does not look upon children like it should.  Raising him to love, respect others, enjoy the simple things, remain loyal to his family, and not be swayed by the winds of ego-driven goals, is a struggle for most parents these days.  I’m no different.

I do not ever want to dishonor you by not giving my all to him.  I want him to experience a life of opportunities, one full of friendships, and dreams that soar.

I want him to live life to the fullest, while also, learning how to be a responsible soul that passes on goodness to this world.  I know you want that, too.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m thinking back at what seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m sifting through memories.  I’m looking through pictures, and I’m experiencing the emotions felt when the gavel fell, and the Judge declared our adoption as final.

I’m thanking the Lord.  I’m praising His mighty Hand.  I’m marveling in His penmanship in our lives, and I’m relishing in His powerful ways.

I’m here again, birth mother, and, I’m thinking of you.  I’m thanking you.

 

Related Post:  I thought of you today, birth mother.

Momma-in-Waiting (Part #3)

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you....

I saw you the other day.  I saw the longing in your eyes.  I recognized the deep searching that your heart is doing.  You are waiting for a soft place for your heart to land.  You are on a quest to end the night to which you have been waking up to.

You are a Momma without a child.  You are a Momma-in-Waiting. 

You see the images of the babes of others splattered all over social media.  You watch new mothers at the park.  You greet the new babies at church with love, but while you do, your heart feels as though it is being ripped from your chest.  You read the headlines about others who do not seem to care about the very thing that you long for.

You know there are Momma-less children in the world; and yet, you feel as though every door you try to open remains unlocked.  You also know that there are children-less Momma’s in the world; and yet, you feel completely alone.

You get angry.  You question.  You feel sorry for yourself.  You keep it to yourself.  You are a Momma without a child.  You are a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you…. 

You are backed into a corner where your faith and your frailness collide.  Still, in this waiting time, there is great beauty.  You…Momma-in-Waiting…You know full well the magnitude of the gift of life.  You know every measure of importance that children are to our lives, and to this world.  You…Momma-in-Waiting…You do not take anything or anyone for granted, anymore.

It may not feel like it now, but there is much to be gained while waiting.  There are moments that cut and sear your heart.  There are moments when doubt about your purpose, or better yet, His purpose seems to cling onto you.  There are times when you feel as though your heart will never recover, and your tears seem to flood any attempt to see life with clarity.

You question.  You seek.  You wonder.  You wait.  You are a Momma without a child.  You are a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you…. 

You have made a pledge to yourself.  You have promised that once you no longer are in waiting, you will be the best Momma around.  You are already visualizing the moment you see your child for the first time.  You are already thinking about parties, nursery decorations, and announcements.  You may have even, in anticipation, tucked away a picture or item you will use once your wait is over.

In this waiting period, although sorrowful at times, there is great beauty.  There is coloring of the memories to come, prayers for the child who will be joining you, and soul-deepening conversations with the One who hears the deepest, and often unspoken, hunger of your heart.

You pray.  You plead.  You visualize.  You cling.  You are a Momma without a child.  You are a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you…. 

You do not understand why you are waiting.  You wonder if you did something wrong, or perhaps, just perhaps, you are holding onto the promise of something incredible in store.  Your faith and strength is unwavering.  Did you hear that, Momma-in-Waiting?  YOUR FAITH AND YOUR STRENGTH IS UNWAVERING.  

No one knows how you walk each day with an armor of courage, shield of strength, and heart of hope.  No one fully understands how this life experience has shaped you, grieved you, changed you, and matured your heart to the calling of His voice. Only the other Momma’s-in-Waiting who share in this journey of walking through the wasteland, will ever understand it.

You have courage.  You are strong.  You do not lose hope.  You are a Momma without a child.  You are a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you…. 

I used to be a Momma-in-Waiting.  I used to greet the new babies at church with quiet happiness, while harboring the sadness in my heart.  I used to feel alone.  I once battled between my faith and my frailness.  Doubt seemed to wrap around me

I questioned if I deserved barrenness.  I wondered if there was a daybreak in sight to the endless night to which I had succumbed.  I fantasized about my babies.  I decorated their rooms in my head.  I clung onto the intense prayers to our Lord.

I look back now, and I recognize the incredible beauty of the wait.  I know that my armor of courage, shield of strength, and heart of hope kept me going each day.  My experience shaped me, grieved me, changed me, and matured my heart to Him.

Pssst…Hey Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you….

My head was lifted, and so will yours.  My eyes were dried, and so will yours.

Soon, yes, soon….You will no longer be a momma-in-waiting.

Related Posts:

Momma-in-Waiting

Momma-in-Waiting (Part #2)

What’s up, beautiful?

What’s up, beautiful? When is the last time you heard that? 

I know first-hand that having a hysterectomy, and subsequent infertility/barrenness, can cause feelings of inadequacy, confusion, a feeling of being less of a female, and well, downright ugly. These thoughts are not the truth. Do your best to not allow these thoughts to make up your own sense of self.

That inner self that relies on the Lord despite the troubling heartbreak of infertility, is beautiful. Your inner self that still sees the beauty of a sunrise; although, the sun has set on your life’s plan, is beautiful. Your inner self that chooses to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and who clings onto the hope of a day without barrenness, is beautiful.

So, what’s up, beautiful?

1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Lessons Learned Growing Up Barren

In the late summer of 1983, I became gravely ill and ended up needing an emergency hysterectomy. I was just eleven-years-old, and did not fully understand the implications of this type of surgery.  That fateful moment in time changed my life in a drastic way.  Infertility became the shadow to which I danced around, but could never get away from.  Going through this experience taught me some vital life lessons that are translatable to other aspects of life.

Lesson #1 – You really cannot understand what someone has been through unless you have truly walked in his or her shoes. Unfortunately, I learned this vicariously through the things that people would say to my parents after my surgery. For example, my mom returned to her job at a local retail store after being gone for several weeks to care for my needs. A co-worker said to her, “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about her getting pregnant as a teenager.” My mother bit her tongue and kept on working, but I know these words stayed with her for many years. The woman would have been better off by either not saying anything, or letting my mom express her feelings about what just happened to her daughter.

I think about this often, and use this lesson to remind myself that I never really know what someone else has been through. It also reminds me that everyone has a back-story to life.  We live in a world of comparison.  We live in a world that expects nothing but the best.  Behind comparison and ideals are the battles that we all face. Everyone has a story.  Let us not forget that.

Lesson #2 – Infertility is a topic that most people avoid. I was always so amazed at how very little my circumstance in life was talked about. Even medical professionals would ask why I had a hysterectomy, but then the conversation would fall off or end with the statement, “You can always adopt.”   I learned that the whole subject made people very uncomfortable, and in many ways, it still makes people uncomfortable.  In particular, churches do not offer enough support for church-goers who are deeply struggling with God’s plan for their parenthood.

Within the past few years, there has been an increase in public awareness about infertility. Thousands of bloggers hit their keyboards noting their very painful and poignant journey to become parents. They seek comfort from strangers while feeling completely isolated from those closest to them. My advice after living with barrenness for thirty years is to talk about it with anyone who is able and willing to listen. There is nothing to be ashamed of, so unload your secret struggle on those who will provide you authentic support.

Lesson #3 – Adoption and infertility are two separate experiences.  We need to stop blending them together.  People used to give me advice on how to handle infertility. Most of the time, they ended up talking about adoption. I never understood the equation of woman minus being able to get pregnant equals adoption. It is true that a lot of couples who are unable to have biological children seek and become adoptive parents.

I, too, am a mother through adoption, but my adoptions do not represent my infertility; nor do they erase the grief I experienced through the years.  On the flip side, barrenness does not damper my experience as a mother.  If anything, it may just enhance and enrich it.  My hope is that society gets to a place where we recognize the authentic and deeply wounding loss of infertility, AND, that we can see adoption as a separate and remarkable experience – not just a band-aid for infertility.

Lesson #4 – Traumatic events that take place in childhood can linger throughout adulthood, but they do not define who you are. Trauma, whether through abuse, loss of significant person in life, or serious medical illnesses such as mine, stays with a person for the rest of life.  The flashes of memories while in the hospital, and recovering at home still play in my mind. The reality of the great loss that I suffered has never really gone away, and it probably won’t. I keep it tucked away in a corner of my heart.

I suspect most of us who have gone through traumatic events remember a life in the “before and after”.  Yet, (and this was a very important life lesson I learned) my surgery did not define who I was, and it certainly did not declare my future.  I encourage anyone who is going through a traumatic experience to please remember that what you are going through does not make up who you are.  It impacts you.  It changes you.  It even sculpts you in a way that is a little different from who you were, but, it does not constitute the rest of your life.  Do not give it that much power. Cling on to who you were before sadness visited your life, and celebrate who you will be in the future.

Lesson #5- Infertility is both an emotional and spiritual battle.  It is hard, sometimes, for me to express just how much of a spiritual and emotional battle that I have walked through the years.  Before I became a Mommy, I dealt with deep loss and confusion about what God’s will in my life was.  I wondered why I was born a woman if I could not give the world what is considered to be one of the most precious gifts.  I’m not sure if people fully understand what having a hysterectomy means to a female; especially one like myself who had the surgery at a time when every other girl I knew was having a period.

From a spiritual sense, I thought that God must have never wanted me to be a mother.  I was taught to trust His will, but when it came to being a mother, I often questioned why the will of God would include infertility.  Looking back at the years long ago, I know that I was battling a spiritual battle,

I thought for many years that I deserved what happened, and that somehow the Lord must have known that I would make a terrible mother.  I figured that I must not be capable of caring for a child, or that for some reason, I was being punished by the sins of those before me.  Hear me when I say this – these thoughts were real, all-encompassing, and took a long time to heal from.

While I went about being a typical teenager, twenty-something, and young adult, I battled the silent war of my own emotions and sense of spiritual longing.  I know many others who are battling this secret war behind closed doors, and through unseen tears.  It is a very real.

Lesson #6- Women complain about pregnancy….a lot.  Now, I don’t mean any disrespect by this, and I’m sure that at times, pregnancy is extremely uncomfortable.  Please remember though that while you are complaining about swollen feet, hot flashes, and back pain, there might just be a woman around you who feels a twinge of pain with each of your words.

There is nothing more uncomfortable for an infertile woman than being around a pregnant person.  Again, I mean no offense by this.  Do you understand what it means to not carry a child?  Do you understand that it is a deep longing that may never be fulfilled?  If so, then please, stop complaining about pregnancy.  I know it is uncomfortable, but at the same time, it is miraculous, beautiful, and incredible. Please treasure the nine months, and understand that there are millions (literally millions) who would trade places with you in an instant.

Lesson #7 – Life is unpredictable, but our reactions are not.  Life tends to throw us curve balls.  I was born a healthy baby girl and within eleven years, I underwent a hysterectomy.  I became the youngest female known to have this surgery.  This was the absolute last thing my parents would ever expect when raising me.  Honestly, it is the last thing probably any parent of a school-aged girl would think.

It took many years, and there were pitfalls, but eventually, life got back to normal. My parents raged in silence, and grieved even more, but they continued to show me a sense of stability and hope for the future.  Their reactions were what I expected – steady, loving, and what I needed.

Initially, when we are struck by incredibly traumatic events in life, we may falter a bit. Our knees may buckle.  We may feel like curling up in a ball, and wishing the world away.  After some time though, we can choose to get back up.  We can choose to react in a way that shows the world what we are made of, and better yet, where our faith is in our lives.  This a life-lesson that stayed with me.

Lesson #8- Hope is one of the most powerful human actions.  I always wondered with an excitement, and even a little bit of fear, what the Lord had in store for my life.  I remember thinking that maybe I could adopt some day, but, I really did not understand it at all.  I just knew that eventually life would make sense. Eventually, even if in Heaven, I would come to know the reason why all of this nonsense took place.  Eventually, I would know the answer to what my hope clung to.  And, do you want to know something?  I have found that answer in a two brown-eyed boys, and one blue-eyed girl.

Whatever you are going through in life right now, please do not give up hope. Hope is the confirmation that you declare a brighter future.  It truly is an incredibly powerful human experience.  It is one that has set many people free.

Lesson #9- Conception and birth are miracles, but the greatest miracle in life is love.  I knew that there was something quite special that I would miss out on. I knew that giving birth to a baby was a precious and vital part of being a woman, and that this had been tragically taken from me.

I also remember thinking at age twelve that birth is miraculous, but love is even more miraculous.  I found myself immediately defending love as being the most important miracle in life.  Without love, life would cease to exist, or at least the life that we all know.

Love causes us to be moved in ways that require selflessness.  It asks us to participate in moments that we otherwise might avoid.  It calls us to be the one person that makes a difference in another’s life.  It pulls us out of empty places, and commands us to re-position ourselves to the benefit of someone else.

This lesson of love helped me to survive the battle of barrenness.  I knew that one day, I would be able to pass on the love I received from my parents.  Out of love grew the desire of my heart to become a foster parent, to show kindness to my children’s birth parents, and to adopt.  And, it was love that called me back to my faith.

Love is truly the greatest miracle of all.  Love replaces barrenness.

Lesson #10- God is faithful.  I look around my house now as it is over-run by children’s toys, and pictures of smiling kiddos.  I enter into my children’s rooms while they sleep and see the love that lies before me.  I get up each morning to the sounds of needy and active children.  I feel frustration over their messes, bad choices, and just plain hardship of being a parent.  I cry at their successes, and their struggles.  I live life thinking about how I can make their lives better.

I look at life now as a mother and believe wholeheartedly that the God I believe in is faithful.  Of all the lessons I have learned in this unique walkabout, this lesson is the one that I cling to the most.  It is the one that delivers me from whatever hardship I am going through, and it is the one that my soul is able to rest on for the future.

These are the life lessons learned while growing up barren.  These lessons are ones that molded a life that went from barren to blessed.  These lessons are ones that have added depth to my Earthly experience.

In many ways, perhaps, I was not so barren after all.

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Momma-in-Waiting (Part 2)

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you…. You look in the mirror and do not recognize the girl staring back at you.  That girl, the one who radiantly wore your skin, now looks worn, tired, and plagued by a silent war.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You are surrounded by a crowd of many, and yet, you feel alone, isolated, and slightly misunderstood.  You hear the squeals of delights when others announce their impending motherhood, and all you hear is, “It’s not me.”  

All you think is, “It may never be me.”

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….At one time, you believed in happy endings.  Oh, you were not naive to the hardships of this world.  You knew that not all of life’s wishes are granted.  You understand that the Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but this….this battle….is one you never imagined facing.

Instead, you thought, “One of these days, I will be this kind of mommy.”  Or, “I cannot wait to see my child for the first time.”  Here you are now, waiting to be the kind of mommy you promised yourself you would be.  Here you are now, waiting to see your child for the first time.

And yet, that first time has not happened.  You are a momma-in-waiting.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You have felt as though the Lord is not listening to you.  You have pleaded, begged, and cried out, but all you get is silence in return, and doors closed, and negative tests, and doctors giving bad news.  You nod your head, close your eyes, stare in the mirror at the girl you no longer recognize, and weep.

You feel lost in the midst of a million prayers.  You might just be questioning your faith, or perhaps, your faith in His plan for your life.  You do not know which one is worse – to doubt the Lord’s plan, or to doubt your faith in Him.  Both cut like a knife.  Both break your heart.  Both do not resolve your struggle.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….I was once like you.  I knew I could not get pregnant, but I wondered, and waited.  I stared at the mirror, and did not recognize the girl staring back at me.  I felt forced into a war that I did not start.  I felt like the loneliest person on Earth; even though, I was surrounded by many.

I too felt lost in the midst of a million prayers.  I questioned my faith, doubted His plan, and wondered if either really mattered at all.  I did not want to raise my white flag to surrender and give up, but I was sick of fighting.  I was tired from carrying the burden of it all.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….Do you want to know something? Sometimes, I still do not recognize that girl standing in front of the mirror.  That girl, the one whose scars seemed more powerful than life, does not even see her scars anymore.

That girl, the one who doubted her faith in a redemptive and loving Lord, feels Him in the slightest of breezes, sees Him in the wonders of her children, and hears Him in the quiet moments of reflection.  The girl, the one who used to believe that being a mommy was not in her plans, understands that her plans were so very small and narrow compared to the promises of God.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….tell that girl in the mirror who you are. Remind her of who you once were.  Tell her that she is not going to give up so easily.  Tell her to be brave, to seek answers, to keep trying, and to take risks.  Tell her to listen to the Lord….

….listen to Him.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….greater things are coming.  Soon, your skin, the one once worn with radiance, will be radiant again.  Soon, you will not recognize that war-torn girl staring back at you in the mirror.

Soon…yes, soon….you will no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting.

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Thirty Years Ago

Labor Day Weekend (United States) is usually one that most look forward to. The last hurrah of summer includes an extra day off from work with family and friends. Labor Day weekend evokes another remembrance in my life though.  It is the first memory of waking up in the hospital following my hysterectomy in 1983.

I remember waking up with my dad’s hand near my arm.  I remember opening my eyes just long enough to see him staring at the television.  I remember watching him quietly watch the Jerry Lee Lewis Labor Day Telethon….and that was it.  I closed my eyes, and fell back asleep.  I don’t know if it was day or night.  I don’t know how long he had been sitting there, or how long I had been asleep.  I don’t recall if I said anything, or if he did.  All I remember is quietly watching him stare at the television.

Thirty years ago, I became a survivor.  A survivor of a deadly bacterium.  A survivor of something rarely, if ever, seen in 1983.  It is incredible how a microscopic bacteria could wreak havoc, nearly claim a life, and leave in its wake, a life forever changed.

Labor Day weekend marked the beginning of a different life story.  It was the beginning of a journey marred with confusion, loss, and silence.  My parents suffered great loss as they watched me fight to stay alive.  They knew that staying alive was only part of the struggle….the temporary part.  Infertility would stay.

Today, as I sat around our table with my parents, husband, and children eating lunch, I thought about this weekend and what it meant for my life.  As I sat with my daughter at the doctor today (she’s fine), I thought about my own parents sitting by my bedside with worry as their greatest companion.  As I watched my son playing in a creek at a local park, I thought about the first time I laid eyes on him, and exhaled.  As I put the little one to bed, I hugged on him a little longer than usual, and told I loved him a few extra times.

Thirty years ago, I was a young girl waking up to the image of my father by my hospital bed.  I fought a deadly illness, and won.  The battle was not over though.  In many ways, it had just begun.

Through the years I’ve learned that life is partly what is written or ordained to happen, and mostly what you make of it.  What I mean is that it is easy to “throw in the towel”, rely on your own crutch of victimization, wallow in self-pity, and lose faith.  It is far too easy to say, “Well, life is unfair.”

I do not believe that the Lord wants us to be victims.  He does not want us to stifle His light because of what we have been through.  Through the past thirty years, I’ve learned to trust, hope, and to dare to envision dreams coming true through His grace.  photo

Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.
-Romans 5:2-5