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.

Shut the Door!

DoorLately, I have found myself praying fervently for open doors in my life.  I have asked for open doors that will lead to both personal and professional opportunities.  What I have failed to do is pray for closed doors.  Yes, I said closed doors.

Maybe prayer should go something like this,

God, shut that green door of envy that I’ve been walking through lately.” 

“Shut that door of my temper that tends to crack open on those I love the most.” 

“Shut the door to my yearning for things to go my way, and not Yours.”  

“Close that far too comfortable door that is always ajar to the feelings of resentment towards the actions of others…even towards Your children.”  

“Father, shut that door that leads to impulsive decisions that end up causing regret.”

“God, close the ugly door of hypocrisy that is present in my life.” 

“Hammer that door of self-doubt shut.  Seal my worries, and sense of inferiority away.”  

“God, shut the door that opens up old wounds once healed over.  Close that door to my own vision of my imperfections.”

“God, please seal that door that leads me down a road in which I lean less on my faith in You.”  

“Loving Father, please, forever close that door where the pain of the past keeps creeping through.  You, Father, You are the healer of my past, present, and future. You are more than able to put away the things that tear me down.”

“Close that door that allows my own insecurities to persuade me into believing that I do not deserve anything better; especially forgiveness.”

I wonder how my life, and maybe yours, would be changed if we all started praying for shut doors, instead of open ones.  An unbeliever might think that Christians are supposed to be perfect, or that our lives are easy, or naive, or whatever one might think.  The truth is that all of us, Christian or not, struggle with choosing to walk into situations that negatively affect our lives.

As a Christian, I still struggle with self-doubt, a quick temper, envy, resentment, selfishness, regret, hypocrisy, painful memories, lack of true reliance on the One I believe in, and insecurities.  If I were to tell anyone otherwise, it would not be the truth.

So, my hope is that instead of praying for open doors to which my will would happen, I will start praying for the closing of doors that distract me from the faith to which I stand on.  How about you?

Psalm 62:6-7 (The Message) – He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.7 My help and glory are in God.

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.

The Other Side of Sadness

There you are, sitting on a side of sadness where….

 the air is sucked out of your lungs;

your mind is forced to enter a dark place;

sorrows are whispered;

another day is wished for;

results seem to not come;

regrets are mulled over;

anger is justified;

what could have been is fantasized about;

your spirit is bored down;

pleadings go unanswered;

miracles do not seem to happen;

loneliness and despair sit side by side;

things don’t make sense;

our bodies break down;

and, you are compelled to let go; even though it is the life-changing, heart-breaking, and most pain-inducing moment of your life.

Are you sitting there, my friend?  I have been there myself.  Many others have too. Sometimes, we choose this side through our actions or lack there of.  Most of the time though, we are swept away from the other side of sadness we once lived in. Like a stranger in a foreign land, we enter into a place where we do not find comfort, and wish to leave.  This side of sadness may feel as though it will last forever.

I want you to know that there is another side of sadness, though.  It is one where….

hope dwells;

the resilience of the human spirit is witnessed over again;

beauty comes out of messes;

love is not silent;

laughter resonates;

stars are wished upon;

new life is born;

miracles are witnessed;

wind is felt;

purpose is found;

friendships are formed;

faith is grounded;

prayers are answered;

restoration happens;

and, meaning leads you to the peace that once evaded you.

The hard part of life is that we often find ourselves sitting on one side of sadness or the other.  We have not been promised a life of glorious moments, painless relationships, or perfect condition.  No….life seems, at times, to be just the opposite.

I have found, though, that memories I will choose to walk through life with are not the ones that caused strife, or physical pain.  The memories I want to hold dear towards the end of my life, whenever that will be, are moments where my senses felt alive, my mind was stirred, and my heart was over-flowing.  Yes, these are the moments that exist on the other side of sadness.

There is another side of sadness, another side of pain, and another side of having no control over some of the tragedies in our lives.  The human spirit is capable of capturing grace and joy in the darkest times; even when life is depleting.

The other side of sadness is one where love collides with life.  It is one that cannot be taken away.  It is where memories remain.  It is the side that doesn’t deteriorate or go silent, even when circumstances seem to be challenging it.  

The other side of sadness awaits for you.  It has reserved a spot with your name on it.  It will be waiting for you when you are ready.  I hope to find you on the other side of sadness soon.

 ….Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

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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Everything We Do Matters

photo913It was one of those laundry-washing, Lysol-spraying kind of days recently as my daughter brought home a nasty little stomach bug from preschool.  She was up nearly all night with it.  Thankfully, the little critter (that’s my name for it), successfully purged itself out of my daughter as it was purging everything…and I mean everything… she had eaten.  (Sorry for the details, but I’m a mother, so nothing really grosses me out anymore.)

At one point during the morning, I took a break from my frantic, and probably futile, attempt at cleansing my home.  As soon as I sat down on the couch, my daughter came over to me, snuggled up (even though I would have preferred her to be in a bubble), hugged my leg (because I wouldn’t let her hug my face), and said, “Thank you for taking care of me, Mommy.”  

Shortly after her soft “thank you”, I loosened up my need to stay as far away from her flu-bug infested body that I could.  I cozied up to her, and said, “You are welcome, sweetie.  I’m your Mommy, and I’m supposed to take care of you.”  As the day progressed, she started feeling better, and I went about my day trying to answer work emails, and wash whatever I could get my hands on.  Her thankfulness resonated within my thoughts, though.

Lately, it seems my heart and head have been in somewhat of a whirlwind.  I get the required tasks of the day completed, and then I exhale.  This morning during church, as I was thinking about my children and what I needed to do for them, the Lord gently reassured this to me:

“You are also a child.  You are My Child.  Everything that you do matters.”

Sometimes, it seems easy to forget that we are children of the Lord.  We get caught up in our troubles, desires, mistakes, and ego-driven need to succeed.  We negate the trivial acts of the day, and focus on what we could do with our lives if we had more time, more money, and more power.  We fail to remember that the smallest of tasks, if done in love, are often some of the most significant tasks of the day.

On the flip side of this, the things we fail to do matter as well.  If we fail to be present with our children, loving to our spouses, unkind to our friendships, disloyal to our parents, and unfaithful to our Lord, the ramifications are great.  Ultimately, to ignore the calling on our lives to serve others through our presence, prayer, service, and sharing of testimonies, could potentially mean the difference between life and death; earthly life, and earthly death.  Eternal life, and eternal death.

Friends and fellow believers, please don’t doubt your significance to this world, the lives of your children, your spouse, and your Heavenly Father.  Please don’t forget that your presence and love even in the lives of strangers matter. Jesus didn’t find you insignificant when He chose the Cross.

The Road Less Traveled

roadI went for a run the other night, and found myself alone on the path.  I thought, “This isn’t the first time I’ve been on a road alone.”  Growing up with what happened to me, I always felt I was walking down a different path in life.  I was a sojourner discovering a new world all to myself.  No one could relate. No one could understand.  No one could comfort. The chains of barrenness bound me to relive my regrets, my insecurities, and my unfulfilled desires over and over again.

I was on the road less traveled.

It was hard, really hard, to fully understand and accept that I would never have children through birth.  I hid my insecurities through a big smile, an adventurous spirit, busy life, and a confident persona.  Yet, beneath that chameleon-like suit, was a girl blindly walking through a tunnel without a light.

I felt forsaken by the Lord.  I had to navigate the road before fully understanding the terrain.  I had heard that the greatest of all gifts are children, and yet, there I was childless, damaged, and forgotten.  The Lord felt thousands of miles away…

Here I am now thirty years after my surgery, and infertility is spoken about, but not often understood.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by how many women, and men, struggle with similar gut-wrenching tugs on their hearts, minds, and spirits.  If only I had a “mentor” growing up, or someone who would have shared with me that barrenness would stay with me for life.  It would get harder the older I got, and it would try to siphon the joy from grand moments in life.  If only, I had someone to walk with me down the road less traveled.

My advice to anyone going through similar issues is quite simple: listen to your heart, cry when you need to, don’t let others negotiate your infertility for you, and never give up hope.

NEVER.GIVE.UP.

I didn’t walk down this road to keep my experience to myself.  Now, as a parent, I certainly don’t want to silence the songs my heart sings about grace, forgiveness, and the gift of children.  Looking back on my journey, I get a sense that it all led to this time in my life where I can speak out loud the twisted thoughts, confusing notions, and painful longings of my youth.

IMG_1517So, here I am.  I’m still walking the road that was carved out during that fateful time in September of 1983.  The difference now is that I’m no longer walking the road less traveled by myself.

I’m sharing it with a host of others who are walking alongside me.  I’m walking side-by-side with my husband who could have chosen a different path.  I’m celebrating it with family members whose lives and love have grown tremendously since the kids entered our lives.  I’m being carried by the strength of the Lord, and, I’m skipping down it holding the hands of my children.

I’m on the road less traveled, but I am no longer alone.

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Glass Door

Dear Teacher I Barely Know

Dear Teacher I Barely Know,

I dropped my first grader off in your room yesterday.  Truth be told, I didn’t want to leave the room.  I wanted to sit with him, introduce him to some kids he didn’t know, and help him understand that first grade is different from Kindergarten.

I wanted to help him unpack his belongings, check his backpack again, remind him about his lunch, and stay with him.  I wanted to be with him on the playground during recess.  I wanted to stand up for him if I needed to, explain to the other kids how amazing he is, and fill them in on how he doesn’t worry too much about what others think about his interests, or lack there of.  I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I LOVE THIS BOY!”

Dear Teacher I Barely Know, please help me understand how he learns.  Help me understand his struggles, his successes, and his potential.  In return, I’ll give you insight into his world.  I’ll share his talents, his interests, and his needs.  We need each other.  We have a lot to teach each other, but even more to learn from each other.

I need to hear from you about his time at school.  I want you to hear from me that my first grader is complicated, amazing, impulsive, creative, misunderstood at times, and deeply cherished.  I want you to know how much he has colored my world with every shade of love possible.  I need you to know that I would do anything for him, including holding him accountable for his actions.

I want you to see my son for who he is…all of him…not just the blonde-haired boy sitting in the front row of your classroom.  Do you know that there is no place he’d rather be than on the lake with his Papa?  Do you know that he really isn’t into sports, but excels at gymnastics?  Are you aware that he’d rather dig up worms, and watch fishing shows than sit in front of a video game?  Do you know that he draws pictures for me just about everyday?

Do you know that he has already cried, and described his day at school as being “hard”?  Do you know that his three best buddies from Kindergarten moved to another school this year?  Are you aware that he doesn’t have a lot of friends outside of school, except the girl down the street, and few at the lake who visit when he sees his Papa?  Do you know that he asked me the day before school started to remind him again of the kids who might play with him?

Do you know how much that breaks a mother’s heart?  Are you aware that I leave a piece of my heart at the door each time I drop him off at school?

Dear Teacher I Barely Know, I don’t expect you to invite the Lord into your classroom, but I have.  I’ve asked Him to wrap each child with arms of protection.  I’ve prayed that He would be in the midst of your interactions, your lessons, and your set of challenges.  I’ve asked Him to show kindness, gentleness, and love through the actions of others.  I’ve prayed for you, other students, and my son.

Dear Teacher I Barely Know, you have a tough job.  I don’t envy you, and I certainly don’t know if I could spend my days like you do.  I want you to know that I don’t expect you to treat my son better than any other child.  I know how deeply each child is loved by his or her parents.  I know other parents must wonder how their children are at school.  I’m sure other parents worry about friendships, peer pressure, bullying, and loneliness.  Surely other parents pray for their children, and desire more than anything that their children will learn, grow, and pursue happiness.

I trust you.  I know you must love children.  I know you have years of experience with kids just like my son, but I do not.  I’m still learning how to be a parent.  I’m learning that my kids’ needs change with each year, and that life doesn’t get easier as they grow up.  I’m still making mistakes, needing do-overs, and learning not to sweat the small stuff.

Dear Teacher I Barely Know, we share something very special in common.  We are teachers, models, and disciplinarians to the same child.  We are both set out to understand, shape, and encourage the same child.  We may barely know each other, but are now connected through this wonderful boy.   I’m here for you.  I support you.  I will back you up when you need it, but I will also defend my son when he needs it.

Dear Teacher I Barely Know, welcome to my world.  Welcome to my son.

Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Dear infertility,

I ran into you the other day.  You’ve changed.  I hardly recognize you anymore. I’m sure you could say the same thing about me.

Do you remember the first time we met?  I was young and sick.  I was vulnerable, and innocent in so many ways.  I didn’t understand you at all, and you did nothing to help me understand you.  Instead, you covered me like tar.  I tried to shake you off, but you stuck.  Even worse, as I grew up, you became harder to remove from my skin, my thoughts, and my heart.

You stalked me.  You ridiculed me, and you made me believe false things about myself, and about my future.  I was forced to wear you like some uncomfortable skin.  Everywhere I looked, I saw you.  I could not look at a child, and not think of you.  I heard you hissing painful reminders to me, and I felt you pound on my heart each time I tried to picture myself as a mother.

Oh, you met me where I was at alright.  You confronted me in each vulnerable moment of my life.  You chose to mix me up.  You twisted my thoughts, and tore at me.  You even tried to make me believe that I was half the female my friends were. You made me question my design, my worth, and my purpose.  You did your very best to take me down….didn’t you?

Infertility…you are not bigger than you think you are.  You have claimed power in so many people’s lives, but, you are only powerful when preying on people’s weaknesses and insecurities.

Infertility…you are despicable. 

Can I tell you something?  I felt you tremble a little when I was confronted with the love and the hope of Christ.  My Father met me where I was at, but unlike you, He wrapped a blanket of hope, forgiveness, and shelter for the future.  My regrets slid off of my skin when I encountered Him.

One day, I will stand before my Father in Heaven, and you will not be standing there next to me.  You will not be my sidekick, my story, or my painful moment of life.  You will be gone…gone…gone!  

I used to think that when I got to Heaven, I would ask about you.  I wanted to have a deep discussion about why you came at me like you did.  I do not need this conversation anymore.  I have my answer….I HAVE MY ANSWER.  My answer is a blue-eyed, Tomboy who loves her daddy, a blonde-haired charmer who is always one step ahead of me, and a little brown-eyed babe who loves to cuddle.

My answer is the redemption I found in the unstoppable, unfailing love of Christ, and in the unfolding chapters that have been written for my life.  You did not write my future out.  You did not dictate how my life would go, even though you thought you would. You were wrong.  You were so very wrong.

Dear infertility, I ran into you the other day.  You look different from what you used to look like.  I hardly recognize you anymore, and you feel so different now.  You are lighter…barely even noticeable.  You seem so small and weak compared to how you used to be.

Funny thing is….I must look different too….I must feel different to you.

Truth is….I AM different from the person I used to be, and, praise God for that.

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Related Posts:

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility (Part 2)

Let Freedom Ring

photo (90)As July 4th came to a close, I decided to go for a run through my neighborhood.  The neighborhood we live in has a couple of lakes that all connect by a system of drains.  Large trees, wide streets, light traffic, and streetlights make for safe and scenic evening runs.  The rushing of water running alongside me, chirping crickets, splashes of bullfrogs hopping into the water, and the steadiness of my breath are sounds I have grown accustomed to on my runs.

On the fourth of July, I could hear the sounds of fireworks going off in the outskirts of the city.  The popping noises and blasts were not a distraction; instead, they reminded me of the annual reunion our nation has with American pride and independence.  The sounds of the night did not frighten me or cause me to wonder what was happening in my city.  No, they were the sounds of celebration.

For some in other parts of the world though, the harsh non-celebratory sounds of blasts are heard.  For those in the midst of a warring nation, or a nation in revolt, these popping sounds must evoke terror.  There are also many in the United States who are enslaved in violent relationships, addictions, and hopeless situations.  The more I ran and listened to the fireworks echoing throughout the sky, the more I was reminded of what freedom means for someone like myself, and maybe even you, and how it must evade many.

I’ve been confronted this past week with the word freedom from a variety of sources.  Last week our church showed a video of a church member reciting a spoken word poem about freedom.  He spoke of freedom in Christ.  He reminded us that Jesus used his freedom to set us free.  In the end, he asked, “How will you use your freedom?”

On July 4th, my dear friend’s wall post on Facebook caught my eye.  In it she justified her reasons why she spends time on a weekly basis organizing, cooking, and serving food to homeless people in our community.  She is part of a grassroots effort to serve those in our society who are often invisible to most; even to those of us who are active in our faith.  I do not know why she felt the need to give her reasons, but I suspect something was said to her, or she was questioned about why she would help “people like that”.

My friend is serving others in a way that some of us who claim to follow Christ are not, or would not consider doing.  How many of us cook food for the homeless?  How many of us take our children along to help serve street people?  How many of us offer a hug, smile, or kind words to lift up someone who has been rejected by society?

Sadly, how many of us walk on by and pretend these people are not out there?

Her post stuck to me the rest of the day.  It humbled me.  I thought about it on the evening run I spoke of earlier, and at work the following day.  While sitting at my desk, I noticed the following Scripture on the calendar hanging in my office:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. –Galatians 5:13

There it was again.  The word free staring back at me.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that my freedom is not solely represented by fireworks or the fourth of July.  There are many who are not physically free in this world, but have found freedom through the unfailing redemption of Christ.  There are also many who boldly serve others because of their freedom in the Lord, even if it means possible persecution for themselves and their families.

We are a very blessed nation.  American Christians are probably some of the most free believers in the world; and yet, what are we doing with our freedom?  Do we use it to judge those who are different from us?  Do we use it to buy things that please us?  Do we think “someone else will take care of that” when it comes to the lost in our own communities?

How are we using our freedom?

I say, let freedom ring in the way we act towards one another.  Let the sound of our freedom be one that is undeniable.  There is someone in your community that needs for you to show him or her the greatest love and freedom you have ever found.  

We are not called to be served by our Savior.  He’s already done that.  We are called and set free to serve one another.

Let freedom ring, my fellow Christians, let freedom ring.