Your Day Is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together this morning before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time and boy, does it describe my life.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her attitude and with my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the grown children. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at times and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day  I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child.

Your day is coming. Your path will be different than mine. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you.  And if your day has already come, seize the day and embrace every moment of your miracle.

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Worth Remembering 

Thirty-three years ago this month my first baby was due to be born. Thirty-two years ago this past May my second baby was due to be born. I know their names and I know their ages but, I do not know them. Yet. I do not know them yet. Our getting to know each other was delayed but not destroyed. There’s a difference. A really big difference.
This morning as I considered them and how things might have been, my heart was squeezed tight. We were so young. Times were so different. The best of intentioned people said to me what had likely been said to them at similar times. It didn’t help. Please weigh your words carefully when you are speaking to a grieving person.

We had the hope of others, more children without any notion that we would never achieve pregnancy again. Infertility? What was that? Whatever it was surely wasn’t anything we needed to know about. We were young and healthy and deeply in love. Of course, we were assured, there would be more pregnancies and other children. We were naive when it came to such things.
The biting remarks started early on. How can I remember some of them when thirty years has passed? I suppose that is proof of their impact.

Only years later did I realize the full impact of the losses we had experienced and allow myself to grieve. It was then that our babies had proper names and a proper place in our heart. It was then that God began to heal my broken heart. It was then that we answered the call to foster children. They needed parents albeit sometimes very temporarily. We needed children to nurture and love until we would one day be reunited with our Jacob Jeremy and Tessie Alicia. We had experienced great loss. These children were experiencing great loss. We could love them with an understanding.

Forty-five children entered our homes and lives. Seven of these became our forever children through the miracle of adoption. Others have found permanent places in our hearts although we did not adopt them legally. I call them my spiritual children. I am a #momofmany. I am blessed beyond measure.
Yet, today I remember my first two children. Today I wanted to tell you about them so you would remember with me. Today, my heart squeezes a bit as I consider the great loss of not only two children, but, two lifetimes of memories and experiences and opportunities. They are worth remembering. They are worth celebrating. Every child is a blessing, even when we have to wait a while to hold them.

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, allow yourself to grieve. Just remember, don’t allow grief to have you. A few short days from now is a Remembrance Day. Light a candle, say a prayer, write out your feelings, seek support, remember those worth remembering. Then, wipe your tears and live your life with great hope. Our loss is temporary. Our reunion will be sweet. Then, we will be complete.

Your Day is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her choice of clothes, scold my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the two ‘grown’ sons. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at points and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

This week, this very week, I’ve been privy to a life-altering event, an answer to prayer. A niece and nephew who have waited as long as Henry and I did (thirteen years) brought home their long-awaited and prayed for child. They texted me a picture of him wearing the little crocheted booties I made them two years ago as a token of faith for when the day came. Your day is coming, I told them. And, now their day has come! Suddenly, they are seeing their dreams fulfilled right before their eyes. Suddenly, the world looks different, priorities change, sleep will become a rare commodity. This tiny life will explode the world as they knew it. It won’t be long that the memories of waiting and hoping and praying will slip into the form of a dusty, stored away yesterday. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day and even as I celebrate their new day, I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child. 

Your day is coming. Your path will be different. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

I believe that adoption has a great spiritual significance. I believe if the Lord has given you the desire to adopt you have been called and chosen to a uniquely beautiful form of parenting. I believe that adoption is a result of answering that call. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you. 

  

Worth Remembering

Thirty-one years ago this month my first baby was due to be born. Twenty-nine years ago this past May my second baby was due to be born. I know their names and I know their ages but, I do not know them. Yet. I do not know them yet. Our getting to know each other was delayed but not destroyed. There’s a difference. A really big difference.

I was surprised to have unbidden tears spill down my cheeks this morning as I considered them and how things might have been. We were so young. Times were so different. The best of intentioned people said to me what had likely been said to them. It didn’t help. Please weigh your words carefully when you are speaking to a grieving person.

We had the hope of others, more children without any notion that we would never achieve pregnancy again. Infertility? What was that? Whatever it was surely wasn’t anything we needed to know about. We were young and healthy and deeply in love. Of course, we were assured, there would be more pregnancies and other children. We were naive when it came to such things.

The biting remarks started early on. How can I remember some of them when thirty years has passed? I suppose that is proof of their impact.

Only years later did I realize the full impact of the losses we had experienced and allow myself to grieve. It was then that our babies had proper names and a proper place in our heart. It was then that God began to heal my broken heart. It was then that we answered the call to foster children. They needed parents albeit sometimes very temporarily. We needed children to nurture and love until we would one day be reunited with our Jacob Jeremy and Tessie Alicia. We had experienced great loss. These children were experiencing great loss. We could love them with an understanding.

Forty-five children entered our homes and lives. Seven of these became our forever children through the miracle of adoption. Others have found permanent places in our hearts. I call them my spiritual children. I am a #momofmany. I am blessed beyond measure.

Yet, today I remember my first two children. Today I wanted to tell you about them so you would remember with me. Today, my heart squeezes a bit as I consider the great loss of not only two children, but, two lifetimes of memories and experiences and opportunities. They are worth remembering. They are worth celebrating. Every child is a blessing, even when we have to wait a while to hold them.

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, allow yourself to grieve. Just remember, don’t allow grief to have you. A few short days from now is a Remembrance Day. Light a candle, say a prayer, write out your feelings, seek support, remember those worth rendering. Then, wipe your tears and live your life with great hope. Our loss is temporary. Our reunion will be sweet. Then, we will be complete.

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DUE TIME

Studying the Bible is unlike studying any other text, at least in my opinion. At first, it is exactly like studying any other written material. You discover the facts, determine the setting, identify the main characters, etc. Next you see spiritual lessons, truths and applications for Christians in general, the church as a whole and these are valuable and worth taking note of. But, then, there is a third dimension, one might call it, where you are reminded clearly that there is more for the person who is willing to be taught. If we will look carefully and listen intently, the Holy Spirit will make it personal. It is one of the remarkable results of sincere Scripture Study. Suddenly, this is not just a story about something or someone from long ago. This is not just a lesson for everyone. It is PERSONAL and your own spirit is quickened by the Spirit of God.

I know this to be the case because I have experienced it myself. Although I could try my best it would be difficult to explain fully what happens during that moment when you realize God is speaking to you, directly to you, from within the pages of ancient manuscripts. It is glorious. It is life changing.

Consider that as we consider Hannah, a well known woman in the Old Testament. Hannah’s story is told in the Bible in I Samuel chapters 1&2. For the first decade of my marriage I became fast friends with several Biblical Women and Hannah was one of them. I could relate to her. I took comfort from and was given hope by her story. She and I had a few things in common, after all.

So, what do we know about Hannah?
*She lived in the latter part of the period of the judges before there was a king in Israel.
*She was a woman of prayer.
*She was a barren woman.
*She was in a place of desperation.
*She was greatly loved by her husband
*She was taunted by other women.
*She was falsely accused, misjudged.
*She became the mother of Samuel, one of the greatest prophets and priests in Israel’s history.
*She kept her vow that she had made to God, so she was faithful and courageous.
*She wrote a beautiful prophetic poem/song that many believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus used as a pattern for her own Magnificat found in Luke 1.
*She is still inspiring and influencing people, just like me, today.

Now, she is isn’t the only woman in this story. So, what do you know about Peninah? Well, we know, wait…. Who? Chances are, that is exactly your response. Let me tell you what is known. Peninah was the other wife, she had everything that Hannah wanted so desperately and she took great joy in pointing that out. She had Hannah’s husband and she had been able to give him children. The full impact of this statement is lost on us in modern times. This was huge. This changed everything. This determined the future. And lastly, we know that Peninah was one of those women who knew how to use her mouth and her words to hurt and belittle a wounded and struggling soul.

Here’s the first ‘make it personal’ point I want to make. I’ll tell you just as plainly as I told my own children when we studied this passage together as a family. If you haven’t already encountered a Peninah, you will. You can count on it. The day will come when you will find yourself discouraged and disappointed and perhaps confused. You will find yourself in a season of waiting and praying and hoping for things to change. Right at the most vulnerable and painful time of your life when what you really need is an encouraging word, you will find yourself facing a Peninah. I want you to remember this lesson and that day remind yourself that Peninah is remembered for her poisonous words if remembered at all. It is Hannah that we recall and Hannah that made a lasting impact on the world around her. When that day comes just look them right in the eyes and say, “Peninah who?”

As we are introduced to Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1 we can get a good understanding of her and her struggle. We see that her husband loved her but, although he did his best to comfort her, he simply wasn’t enough. There are those times when no other human, no matter how much they care, can lift the heaviness on our hearts. We see that she knew where to go and who to ask for help. She went to the temple and prayed to God. Scripture tells us that she was in deep anguish and wept bitterly as she poured herself out before God. She was so grieved that ‘there were no words’ and although her lips moved, no sound was heard. Have you ever been there? Have you ever experienced pain that was so deep, so unfathomable, so overwhelming, that ‘there were no words’? Have you ever felt so desperate for things to change, for relief, for an intervention and an interruption in what seemed like a living nightmare that you couldn’t even bring yourself to say it out loud? If so, then you understand how Hannah felt.

If you’ve read her story, and I hope you have taken a moment to do so, you know how the rest goes. She has her encounter with God. She leaves that moment different than she came. She gets up, no longer downcast and gets something to eat (which she had not been able to do) and returns home. Here’s another personal point to take note of. What had changed? Was she suddenly with child? Did a baby magically appear in her arms? Did Peninah’s taunting cease? No, the circumstances had not changed. It was Hannah herself who had changed. Her perspective, her outlook, her attitude had been adjusted.

One translation says that in DUE TIME Hannah was given what she prayed for, the gift of a baby boy. If you only remember one thing of the many things I am writing today, remember those two powerful, potent, pivotal words DUE TIME. No matter what you are facing today, no matter where you find yourself tomorrow, DUE TIME is going to come. There is an appointed time when you will be on the other side of what seems like a impossible situation. I waited over a decade to see my due time when my aching empty arms were filled when we adopted for the first time. Don’t give up, don’t despair, DUE TIME is ahead.

Just when we think we’ve arrived at a happy ending in this story, Hannah now must draw on every ounce of strength and courage and fortitude within her to do whatshe promised she would do. She is going to give back to God whatHe gave to her. There is not one of us who would pretend for a moment that whatshe would do was easy or simple or painless. She had vowed to do what every mother eventually must do, release her child into God’s care. We all hope that day will be later rather than sooner and the result of a natural growth into adult independence. But, we are all fully aware that is not always going to be the case.

Exactly how old Samuel was when Hannah presented him to Eli at the temple is debatable. We do know that she kept him until he was weaned and took him when she felt he was ready. And here’s the other thing that we know. When she kept her vow and returned Samuel to God, she did so with a song of praise. Her poetic words are recorded in 2 Samuel and as I mentioned before, are believed by many to be the pattern for Mary’s Song. Hannah no longer found herself at a place where there ‘were no words’. The Lord had given her a song and the words flowed. That song came not when she had that initial life changing encounter, not when DUE TIME had arrived and she held her answer to prayer in her arms. Her song of praise flowed from her inner most being, a powerful prophesy when she gave back to God what He had given to her.

This is the question we must all ask ourselves. What will our song sound like? Who will we pattern ourselves after? Which words will we choose when facing difficult times? How will we respond? I pray that like Hannah, we will impact those around us With a song of praise, words of encouragement, a response of hope.

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A Woman Forsaken

It was Autumn 1993, so 20 years ago that I sat on the small screened front porch of our home in a rural setting and faced deep disappointment once again, for the millionth time it seemed. I felt betrayed by my own body, misunderstood by the people who I loved the most, abandoned by God and humiliated. My husband, Henry, and I had been married a decade. This was our year to turn 30 and we were childless. The first and second year of our marriage we experienced pregnancy but lost those babies before they came to full term. While I was comforted that we would see them in eternity, my arms remained empty here and now. As time passed we climbed into our assigned seat on the infertility roller-coaster and buckled in for a less than thrilling, far from enjoyable ride that had left me sitting still and feeling numb on a porch swing with coffee growing cold in the cup I held in my hand.

We had tried to give it time and let nature take its course for a few years. We had tried old wives tales, herbal remedies, temperature taking, chart keeping, several laparoscopic procedures to address the endometriosis and even a round of fertility pills. We had prayed prayers, been anointed, claimed verses, stood in faith and as a show of how sure I was, I had given up my job in preparation for the baby I was sure we would soon have. The ob-gyn had assured me after the last procedure that he would leave the back porch light on for me as he thought I would soon return with the success of pregnancy achieved!

Those who cared for me tried their best to comfort me, Henry, like Hannah’s husband from Scripture, hoped his love was enough to fill the void. My precious grandmother encouraged me to just not think about it. My mom pointed out how fortunate I was to have a husband who adored me. My nieces and nephews declared me the best aunt of all as I lavished my attention upon them. While I appreciated their efforts, I felt alone in my despair. They did not understand what I was facing. They could not relate. They did not know.

I had taken my Bible out on the porch with me and I stared at its pages blankly. Desperate for understanding and longing for direction, I tried to focus on the words printed on the delicate pages. I couldn’t. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, willing away the unbidden tears and allowed myself to pour out my emotion through swirling thoughts in my mind. Obviously, God did not feel I would be a good mother. I must be incapable of that kind of love and commitment. Every person I knew was trying to avoid what I was trying to attain, pregnancy. I had failed to give Henry a child; surely he was disappointed in me. I was faulty, broken, not enough. There was no holding back the tears now, they streamed freely. I sat down the untouched coffee and reached for a tissue. My Bible began to slip off my lap and I instinctively grabbed for it. I embraced it and held it close to my broken heart. “Help me God! Please help me! If this is not your will for me then please take away this desire this longing, this emptiness! Please help me understand!”

I drew the Bible from my chest and let my eyes fall upon the page that had been revealed as I had rescued it from falling. For the rest of my days, as long as I draw breath I will never forget that moment, those words.

“The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.
(Isaiah 49:14-18 NIV)

“The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’
Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’ ”
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
(Isaiah 49:20-23 NIV)

I could scarcely believe what I was reading. Great hope did not abound that morning, instead a trickle of hope coursed it’s ways into my aching heart. I didn’t understand everything and all the pain was not erased instantly. But, I knew my God had heard me and answered my cry for help. I knew there was a purpose in the delay. I knew a plan was in place. I was not forgotten.

From that moment I began to seek diligently what God had in store for us rather than my own plans. It took several months to unfold before we found ourselves enrolled in the required training classes to becomes state licensed foster parents. Many considered us foolish as they cautioned we were setting ourselves up for heartbreak. Henry was very hesitant at first, worried that the pain of letting go would be too much for me. I addressed all the worries and concerns with a new found determination. I had been called. I would answer the call.

And when people asked how I could do such a thing, I asked them, how could I not? What this could do to me was not as important as what this could do for a hurting child who may be feeling just as abandoned and forgotten as I had felt.

We fostered for 15 years. Forty-five children came into our lives and into our homes. Some stayed for short times, some for years and seven forever as we were blessed to adopt them. Throughout those years God met me many more times in the pages of Scripture with comfort and strength to do what He had asked me to do. Those stories I will leave for another day.

I hope you will today take this one thing with you. The Word of God and what He says is more real than what you see or hear or feel. I know this to be true. I have lived it.

As unlikely as what I read that morning 20 years ago seemed, less than a year passed before one night under the starlight in my driveway I saw the social worker carry one of my children to me in their arms. Just like the scripture proclaimed, there would be so many that we would need more room. Exactly as the Word proclaimed, I had hoped in Him and I was not disappointed.

Multiplied

There is a ten year age span in our children. The youngest has just turned nine and the oldest will be nineteen in a few months. I still marvel that they are mine; mine to raise and nurture in love and admonition of The Lord. For more than a decade I struggled to produce a child as my husband and I struggled with infertility. When we finally achieved pregnancy, I miscarried two children, a boy and a girl. It seemed we would never ‘go forth and multiply’ as is the natural result of love between a man and woman. Those were dark days.

When The Lord led us to Foster Care and Adoption, I was thrilled to be able to deposit love into the lives of the children that came into our home. I was thrilled beyond measure when seven became our forever children in the eyes of God and man alike through the miracle of adoption.

Now, as I observe my children, the children that God so graciously gave me, I can see that we have been able to ‘go forth and multiply’ in spite of an inability to birth a child.

We have instilled parts of ourselves, our character, our personalities, our values and most importantly, our faith into our children. Like a child that is born to a man and woman, our adopted children have become a blend of myself and the man I love, the best of both of us.

Whether they are playing instruments on stage on clearing up a yard of a widow after a storm, they serve. They are eager to give of money, time and talent. They forgive easily and deal generously with the people they encounter. They believe sincerely, trust confidently and worship joyfully, not only because we do, but because they too have found Him faithful.

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth. (3 John 1:4 NLT)

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