The Battle

The Battle

Since my last blog post, I’ve celebrated my wedding anniversary and my birthday. Both are wonderful reasons to celebrate, which I certainly did. My husband and I try to eat at Chili’s on our anniversary. If you’re not familiar with, it is somewhat of a TexMex restaurant. The tradition began on our honeymoon when we had Chili’s delivered to our hotel room. (I’ve never seen that before or since!) With the exception of a couple of years when there was not a location near by, we have continued this tradition over the past 13 anniversaries.

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We got married on August 23, 2003, two weeks before my 22nd birthday. That means I just turned 35. I decided to throw myself a party for the big day. My family and I bar hopped…from salad bar to potato bar to ice cream bar to candy bar. (I think that joke is funny. To be clear, no alcohol was involved.) We had a fun “Frozen” themed party at my house. I have forced my nephews to watch “Frozen” so many times that as I was prepping food in the kitchen, my oldest nephew yells out “Laurel, hurry, or you’ll miss your favorite part!” My dad got to experience the movie for the first time that day. My job was done. And, ironically, a week later I ran into Elsa at the local Chick-Fil-A. Week made.

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Both of these special occasions were reminders of how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who loves my unconditionally. I have family who share my love of rainbow chip cake (or put up with it, depending on the family member) and don’t mind attending a Disney themed party for a 35 year-old. And it wasn’t about the gifts, but I sure was spoiled…

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Yet, if I am honest, this year’s celebrations were bittersweet. I never imagined I would celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary and 35th birthday childless. We have invested so much time and effort exploring ALL of our options for children, and are stuck waiting. We know we are waiting on the Lord, but the wait is still hard. On one particularly tough day when we were wrestling with a decision related to all of this, I walked into my bedroom. For the first time, I paused to read a Bible verse on a beautiful sign my secret sister from church gave me. I loved the beautiful cross on the artwork, and it matched beautifully with the color of my bedroom walls (hmmm…has she been in my room?), so I went ahead and hung it up on a nail that was already in place. I would be embarrassed to admit I had not read the scripture, except for the fact that when I did finally read it…I was literally stopped in my tracks by the impact it had on me.

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Yes. Yes! The Lord will fight for me. I need only be still. I immediately snapped the picture above and texted it to my husband. I also posted it on Facebook because it was too powerful not to share. Listen, friends, I don’t know what battle you are facing or have faced or will face. But I know battles are all around us. Like Dr. Frank Page says, “We are living in a battle ground, not a playground.” So, yeah, we’re facing battles. But God, GOD, is fighting for us! It gives me chills to think about the fact that I don’t have to do any of this fighting. I don’t have to stress or worry or fret. God is in control.

From Got Questions Ministries (www.gotquestions.org):
In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the children of Israel, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” At that moment, they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, hemmed in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation, but it was a situation brought on by the Lord Himself.

Did you catch that? God brought the Israelites to this situation. Surely, He would carry them through it. I think of the old saying “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” It may sound trite, but it’s soundly true. At the moment of crisis and terror that was faced by Moses and his crew, God did fight for them. He made a way for them to survive and for their enemies to be destroyed. God used Moses in this scenario. I don’t know what or who He will use for us in our journey to parenthood, but I know He is fighting this battle. I know He is fighting your battle too. We need only be still.

YOUR TURN: What battle have you been facing that you want to turn over to God?

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All Trees Matter

All Trees Matter

A little girl with big blonde curls excitedly bounced along behind her mother as they searched for the perfect Christmas tree to chop down. They were hurrying along when she saw her mother step on a tiny sapling. She cried out, “Mama, you just stepped on a little tree!” Her mother turned around, looked down at the ground, and seeing the sapling that was squashed beyond repair, replied, “Oh, I see. Oops. It’s okay, it wasn’t worth anything. You couldn’t even hang a single ornament on one of its little limbs. Come along now. We need to the find the perfect Christmas tree.” They quietly continued along when the little girl was sure she’d discovered the greatest Christmas tree in the history of Christmas trees. “Mama!” she exclaimed. “I found it! Just look at this one!” Her mother gave the tree a once over and laughed out loud. “Oh, silly girl. This tree is on the brink of death. It’s not worth our time or effort. Come on, little one. We need to find a tree that is in the prime of its life!” She turned around and continued on with her little girl, clearly disappointed, trudging behind her. As they searched, they stumbled into the owner of the Christmas tree farm and he asked how their hunt for the perfect Christmas tree was going. The mother explained they had not had much luck, to which the farmer replied, “Hopefully we can find you something that you’ll love, but maybe you’d like some of these seeds to plant on your own land. It will take some time to grow, but by the time your little girl is old enough to chop down trees herself, she can cut down a Christmas tree from your own yard.” As the farmer handed some seeds to the mother, she promptly let them slip through her fingers. “Oh, I don’t want any old seeds. They aren’t worth anything right now. Sure they’ll grow into Christmas trees, but they’ll be too much work. The little trees and the old trees you’ve got on your farm aren’t worth anything either. We want a perfect Christmas tree!” With that, the little girl began to cry, “Mama, am I worth anything? I’m little and can’t do much. And what about you? Are you worth anything? After all, you’re old!” Her mother, feeling a little embarrassed, kneeled down to look her little girl in the eye. As she wiped the tears from her rosy cheeks and held a tissue to her nose for her to blow into, she reflected on her daughter’s words. After a few moments, she quietly said, “Sweet child, of course you are valuable. And these trees all have value too. The little seeds that are planted will become saplings and the saplings will grow into beautiful Christmas trees. Some of the trees won’t be cut down for Christmas trees, but they will remain in the forest, adding value to its beauty, until their time to live in the forest is over. Yes, the trees are all valuable. You are valuable. And I’m valuable too. But, little one, I’m not old.” With that, they both smiled, stood up, and continued on their way, loading up their trees and heading home. They used the branches of the broken sapling to make a wreath for the front door and the old tree was the perfect Christmas tree after all. They even planted those seeds that once lay haphazard on the forest floor, and diligently took care of their little saplings as their appreciation for all trees, and all life, blossomed.

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Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture…my patience? She wears thin.

I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. I must have messed up, because I have been waiting on something for years: a child.

When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…as we get closer to 13 years of marriage without children, this isn’t a joke anymore. But our story isn’t really the focus of this post. Rather, the focus is on waiting well…even when it becomes painful.

In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this has not been a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I’ve experienced while waiting for a child has certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and can only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it has become difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there are good days and bad days. Moments where I am perfectly fine and moments where I can barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I’m able to manage this well most of the time. But not long ago, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our current childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through.

I haven’t sat and cried with anyone over this. Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or even “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that”, I have mostly kept my struggle to myself.

I hold back for many reasons: Because I want to be strong and I want others to see me as strong, because most people won’t understand and because I don’t want them to feel awkward, and because (and here’s the good news) I know this painful wait will come to an end. Oh how I look to that with great hope! This truth helps me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. By focusing on God, His promises, and His blessings, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well up and come out in the form of tears, that’s okay too. In fact, it’s a helpful release.

You see, it’s not really about being patient. And it’s not about holding back our pain. It’s about giving ourselves the freedom to be weak, because it is then Christ in us is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And it’s mostly about holding on to hope that the wait will end. For whatever you are waiting on, the seemingly never ending day will be over. It’s worth waiting well for.

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