It's Only A Stage

The summer sun is out to stay, until a little shower pops up to water our gardens. Kids are out of school and running between our houses barefoot in my neighborhood. I hear laughter and basketballs bouncing right up until the time the sun meets the horizon and passes her duty off to the moon. The neighbors across the street keep their floats on the porch for easy access because you can find them at the pool everyday. Summer is finally here.

Last year this time, we had just brought home our second child through adoption. I can still see his squishy newborn face and wrinkled old man skin. His big sister was only 16 months old and conveniently decided after months of therapy she was ready to walk when we brought him home. My husband had just taken a new job and was working nights in the NICU. So it was me all day and all night with two under two. And some days it was just too much.

I knew immediately that something was wrong with my little man. By the time he was two weeks old I was already syringe feeding him and counting wet diapers. He screamed ALL THE TIME. Not like colic, but like something was really wrong. The kind of thing only a mama’s heart knows.

I was in the trenches of spit up, screaming, bottles, diapers, toddler messes, and tantrums. The baby would only sleep for 30 minutes at a time so to say I was tired was an understatement. The toddler was like a tiny tornado whirling around my house at all times. My body was exhausted. My heart was weary. I barely had time to shower, much less spend time with Jesus. My time with Him was more of a desperate cry here and a feeble prayer there. I felt like there would be no end.

When I shared my desperation, it was always met with “It won’t always be this way. Savor every second.” So not only was I feeling utterly desperate, completely defeated, but then I was feeling guilty because I wasn’t enjoying this season of our lives. How could I? I was praying for him to grow bigger and wishing for the next month to pass.

The doctors finally realized it wasn’t colic. After six hospital stays and among many, a diagnosis of failure to thrive, everyone listened to me. A few months, more hospital stays, and several surgeries later my son got a GJ tube and is growing beautifully now with our newest diagnosis of cerebral palsy. We still have frequent hospital stays, lots of therapy, and a road of challenges to overcome, but we are better. I am no longer living in that desperation every moment of every day. It was only for a season.

Yesterday my husband carried our two year old out of Target kicking and screaming like a sack of potatoes under his arm. She had already sat in time-out twice (in Target). I’m sure like you, time-out can be found in any place we go these days. I chuckled to myself as I watched all of Target’s loyal customers quickly turn their heads to get a look at this unruly toddler. I pushed our buggy (that’s what we call carts in the south), with my son in the front like we had no idea who they were.

He took her to the car so she could be contained in a small area. Then it hit me as I put a box of diapers in our buggy, that in a few months we will probably be carrying him out of stores kicking and screaming because he couldn’t run around the store like a wild horse. And it terrified me.

My husband and I both agreed it wasn’t our best parenting day. So we got a babysitter, went to a wedding, and promised to try again tomorrow. And that’s what we did.

A friend at church reminded me this morning that it is just a stage. It won’t be like this forever. And she didn’t say it in a way that made me feel guilty. She knew.

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Photos by

Rachel Ackerman Photography

Tattoo It On My Heart

I got a new tattoo a few weeks ago. I really like it. My grandma doesn’t. She hates tattoos. She doesn’t understand “Why you young people have to mark things on your bodies.” She’s cute and l love her so much. And regardless of my tattoo, I know she loves me too.

Hesed is scripted on the side of my wrist.

It’s Hebrew for covenant love or loving-kindness. Capturing the true meaning of the word in English is difficult. It’s better defined as a life-style. Like the love Ruth lived for Naomi. It’s the love Boaz lived for Ruth. It’s the kind of love that has no strings attached, doesn’t think about self, loyally loves regardless of feelings, day in and day out, in the hard and in the easy. It’s a sweet love, like the love between a husband and wife. It’s a lasting, never ending love, the kind of love the Father has for His people. The kind of love I want to spew out of me like a geyser and wash over the precious ones in my life and those watching.

Tattooing that word on my body is so much easier than living it.

Sometimes I literally go in the bathroom and close the door, just to be alone. It doesn’t change the fact that I am still needed. There is always a little knock and voice on the other side of the door calling my name. After a few seconds, I’ll see those tiny, brown fingers wiggling underneath. I never knew the bathroom before to be a place of such retreat.

Right now I’m working full time and my husband works nights in the NICU.

So I work a full day and come home to two little people who seem to always fall apart when I walk through the door. My husband wakes up right in time to entertain them while I cook supper and pack lunches for the next day. We see him off to work, and I do bath and bedtime by myself. The few hours between the babies going to bed and the time my head hit the pillow aren’t exactly rest either. I’m sweeping up food thrown in the floor from the tantrum at dinner. I collect all of the sippy cups scattered around the house. Run the dishwasher. Iron and lay out clothes for the next day. Check emails, pay bills, and clean the kitchen. The baby has been sick so when it’s my time to go to sleep, I’ve been up with him every night, and working with dark bags underneath my eyes the next day. It honestly seems to never end, the exhaustion.

I know you know what I mean.

I’ve learned that when I am physically exhausted, without realizing it, I can become spiritually tired too. I start believing lies about myself and my family. I start to feel frustrated that I am not seen, recognized, or appreciated.

After those thoughts start stirring around for a day or so, I develop this annoying, entitled attitude.

“I deserve a break. I deserve to go to the bathroom alone. Or for heaven’s sake can I not just eat without being interrupted?” I start keeping score. “I haven’t slept either. I’m just as tired as you. It’s your turn. I just changed that last dirty diaper.”

There is this distance between the Father and me. I have trouble connecting with my husband, because rather than seeing him as who he is, my beloved, the one I loved first, I see him as two extra hands to help with the chaos of our life. I start to see my children, the ones I prayed so long for, as jobs. My friends hear more of my griping than my engagement in their lives.

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Photos by Rachel Ackerman Photography

The Weight of the Wait

The hardest part in my journey of motherhood was the waiting for it to begin.

Every year on my birthday, I just knew the next one, I would be a mommy. The seasons would change, another year would pass, and I was still there, on my birthday, waiting…again.

In each of those seasons were months, weeks, and day after aching day of waiting.

It was exhausting, and one of the hardest times in my life.

I couldn’t escape it, the waiting.

I would have dinner with my husband, and see a mama snuggling her baby across the restaurant. I would go to the store to get groceries, and see a cute toddler demanding her way at the checkout line. I would sit down to watch a show on TV, and see a diaper commercial. I would check the mail, and once again, be invited to yet another baby shower. When would it be my turn?

Then there was the waiting on the calendar. Those two weeks in between infertility treatments were the worst. Every second I was awake, I was wondering if I was already a mama and didn’t know it yet, or if I still had the same barren womb, I had come so well to know.

And then, right when I thought the wait was over, that one lonely pink line, reminded me it started all over again.

Photo by Rachel Ackerman Photography

Photo by Rachel Ackerman Photography

After that season came to an end, a new kind of waiting began. Waiting for paperwork, waiting for our home study, waiting for a birth mom to choose us, and it was still just as hard.

It was during all of that waiting when the Lord took a girl who had only known of Him in black and white, into a desert. He allured me out to a place where He was the only One left. It was in that desert of waiting, where I began to see Him in color. He became more than my God, He became my lover. It was there in that desert where He tenderly showed me my desire to be a mama had become more important than my desire for Him.

I was able to ask Him hard questions. I was able to engage in a conversation with Him about the unbalance I was seeing in my life. I was finding Him to be good, even in the brokenness of my body, and in the weight of the wait. Yet, my circumstances were not changing. I grieved before Him the unbalance of Him giving me a calling to be a mama, but no children to mother. It was in that waiting, my faith became authentic.

If we want a real, deep, authentic faith, we have to engage in real conversations with the Author of it.

The more of Him I saw in color, the more of me began to die. I saw His worth in that season of waiting. I found Him to be enough for me when I reached inside my mailbox to find another baby shower invitation. He was enough every time I saw an ultra sound picture on my news feed. And I decided He was enough even if He chose never to give me children. I had come to know Him in that desert, and I knew Him to be good.

The waiting really was the hardest part in my journey to motherhood, because the Lord used that wait, to prune parts of me that needed to die. The season of just Him and me before children, were the hardest, yet sweetest days of my life. Because it was in those days, I desperately needed Him, and in that desperation, He became enough.

On a cold, cloudy December day, the waiting finally ended.

My daughter’s birth mom placed in my arms a six pound five ounce answer to thousands of prayers. And it wasn’t until that day, did I really understand the weight of the wait. I promised myself to never forget.

Photo by Rachel Ackerman Photography

Photo by Rachel Ackerman Photography

Because it was in that wait, that I would find all I needed to be her mama, Him.

Waiting is so hard, sister. It is painful. And it feels as if there will be no end. My prayer for you is that you will allow yourself, rather than pushing away from Him, to lean in. Take His hand, and walk into that desert, knowing you will come out one day, the wait will be over, and you will walk away changed.

Photo by Rebecca Lauren Photography

Photo by Rebecca Lauren Photography

The waiting produces more in our hearts, than the gift ever could. It’s often the weight of the waiting that helps us understand the gravity of the gift.