The Year of Spring

The Year of Spring

It’s the middle of winter.

The mornings are cold, really cold, and it takes as much bravery to run across the tile in the bathroom floor as it does getting out of bed. My hands cup hot coffee several times a day and I feel it’s warmth run all the way down to my toes. Our coats stay laid across the top of the chair in the living room for easy access, so I can grab them as we head out the door. A different hue of grey is the sky I see most days when I glance out my window as I wash dishes. We can peek straight through the line of bare trees and overlook the brown pasture in our backyard. The days are short and darkness falls way before I’m ready to let go of the light.

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When God Doesn't Answer Prayers

I wrote in my new journal today. It's really beautiful. The cover is printed with floral designs that are muted in pinks and greens. The binding is threaded so it folds perfectly. And even though the word, "Journal," is stamped in gold for all to see, eventually my two year old will tear out a few pages. The crisp pages filled with lines, wait to hold a story. My story for the next year.

I journal almost everyday, you know, on my

white couch

. It's our time. Me and God. I read His Word and then process how He speaks to me on those pages. They're filled with heart cries. I can be honest there. I'm safe to really be me, because He made me, He knows me better than I know myself. So I pour out my heart. The good, the bad, the ugly, my dreams, my aches, my deepest pain. It's all written in between those lines. I have boxes of journals filled with prayers He has answered. I love looking back at the start of a new year, reminding myself of all the prayers He answered. It's encouraging. I'm reminded of His faithfulness. And there is something powerful in seeing Him hear me.

In those pages are also prayers He hasn't answered. Like this

barren womb

. There are years worth of prayers asking for that healing. I have two beautiful babies sleeping upstairs that are more than I could ever dream. I sometimes have to remind myself I didn't give birth to them. And when I have to check the race box on the doctor's forms, is the only time I remember that our skin doesn't match. They are mine. They are blessings. They have filled the longing in my heart to be a mother, and the way the Lord brought them home to us has been nothing but a beautiful miracle. But those prayers I prayed for

physical healing

, have not been answered.

I knew God was going to heal Micah right in the knick of time before he had to have surgery. Two weeks before, a group of Believers prayed healing over his sweet body. And I felt the Lord touch him. I watched Micah respond. It was real and powerful and we left believing so hard in his healing. And three hours later, we were beating his back again, trying to get him to breathe.

We spent another five days in the hospital not even two weeks after that. The GJ tube we

didn't want him to get,

he got. And for the first time since we have

brought him home

, I haven't lived in constant panic, wondering if he would aspirate and I wouldn't get to him fast enough. I have actually had a few nights where I slept straight through the night. More importantly, he is much more comfortable. He rarely vomits now. And if he does, I now know how to vent his G tube to ease his discomfort.

We made the right decision. We really did. It was ultimately a matter of keeping him alive. But his feeding/speech therapist told me the other day, "As long as he has the GJ tube he will not oral feed." It's because his stomach has shrunk to the size of a newborn's. If we were able to get food in him, his stomach isn't emptying right now, so he would vomit it back up. His oral aversion is so severe we play with spoons without food during therapy. He takes nothing by mouth. Not even water. It's a miracle if he lets us get a finger in his mouth to rub his gums. And we carry his little pump book bag around with us everywhere now, because he has to have continuous feeds. I finally monogramed it, so at least it looks cuter. There are so many kids who have much more serious illnesses. And we are very thankful Micah's isn't as serious. Many children with feeding issues often show signs of neurological problems. We are thankful so far he hasn't shown any other signs of delays. But this new tube is still an unanswered prayer.

Really, God answered our prayer, it just wasn't the answer we were hoping for.

It's hard, isn't, friend? When God doesn't answer our prayers, it's so hard. We know "that nothing is impossible with Him." We believe that He doesn't give his children rocks when they ask Him for bread. He says, "Ask and it will be given to you."

Then we do, and He doesn't. And we're left wondering how to move on. It leaves questions, if we're honest, about Who He is and Who we know Him to be. It's a dangerous place to stay.

So I grab that box of journals, and I read until my eyes are tired of all the times He has answered me. Not only that He has answered me, but how He answered me. It is never the way I imagine, but always more beautiful than I could fathom. I dive deep into His Word and rather than letting doubt sneak in, I preach to myself Truth. All.day.long.

Somewhere between the unanswered prayers in the past and the waiting on Him in the future is this sweet place of rest.

It's there I quit striving. I quit trying to plan everything out. I quit trying to figure Him out. And I just rest there, in Him. The sting of the "No's" or "Not Yet's" is rubbed over with the balm of His nearness.

And my heart decides trusting Him, regardless of His answers, is so worth it.

There aren't enough journals to ever write of His worth.

So I'm learning again that as He tears me down, He will bind me up. As He ruins me, He will heal me.

And tomorrow, I'll meet Him there, on that white couch. I'll breathe in His presence, I'll drink His Word, and I'll be praising Him if He answers the prayers in my journal this year, or not. Because I've seen a glimpse of His worth.

And just that glimpse is enough to trust Him.

"Come, let us return to the Lord, for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."

Hosea 6:1,3 ESV

*Photos by

Rachel Ackerman Photography

*

When Infertility Still Stings

There were four yesterday. FOUR.

Sweet black and white pictures of little nuggets (that mostly look like aliens) fill my newsfeed.

And all these years later, it still hurts. Not nearly as bad, but it does.

I still get baby shower invitations in the mail, and it still stings as I hang them on my fridge. I rest my hand on an empty womb and I'm reminded, again, that my body was created to produce children. But unlike most every other woman in the world, mine doesn't.

I still ache. I still grieve. I still tell my husband when he asks me what's wrong. He still hugs me tight, and tells me how sorry he is. And I still run to Jesus, every single time. I still cry out to Him in the shower. I still run to Him in that pain.

And He's still there.

He still reminds me, 

for now

, that is not my story.

This is... and it's much better.

Almost two November's ago, we got "The Call."

Well, I got a text.

"We're getting a baby," my husband TEXTS me. WHO DOES THAT?!!!!

So I do what any

waiting mother

does, I run out of my classroom, and call him immediately. "Yeah. The case worker called me because she knew you were in school. You're going to be a mama! A birth mom chose us. It's a baby girl. She's due in January." I believe he was in shock. The rest I didn't hear. I heard a few sniffles on his end, and he heard loud sobs on mine. I was dancing around in the teacher's bathroom in the elementary school where I teach. Our math coach heard my hollering, she came in to hug and dance with me. Pretty soon, the teachers on my grade level started peeking their heads out into the hall to see the ruckus. My principal was there within seconds and wrapped me in a huge hug. I quickly texted our families to let them know before they found out from anyone else.

The rest of the day was a blur. Pink, bows, monograms, dresses, and dreaming of HER face filled the rest of my day and all of the days to come.

That was the day. That was my positive pregnancy test. I'll never forget it.

The days followed were filled with anxiety, excitement, and all of the emotions in between

. You can't possibly understand the extremes unless you've been there. Waiting. Yet again, but in a different way. This time in hopes that a baby just might call you mama.

We met the strongest woman I know

. We immediately connected and it felt as if we had always been family. She allowed me AND my husband the amazing privilege, to watch her child, our child, come into this world. I cut the cord binding them to one another, she was placed in my arms, and the weight of the miracle in that tiny baby's body crushed me.

The nurse asked who should wear the "mommy bracelet" and her birth mom looked at me and said, "Jessica is her mommy. She should wear the bracelet." In that second, she gave me permission to be Selah's mom.

After all of the waiting. After all of the negative pregnancy tests. After all of the gallons of tears I had cried over the years, longing to be a mama, in that second, every single tear and moment spent waiting, was worth it.

She's almost two now. That six pound, itty bitty baby, who made me a mama, is almost two.

And I can barely deal.

And the

story of how her little brother came home to us

, just makes me cry. His birth mom chose life for him. She made the brave choice. The hard choice. He is a miracle, and a little fighter. He has

overcome so much already

, and although our days are still hard, they are beautiful. He is our miracle.

I fell into the bed last night, dog tired. Like the kind of tired where you lay in the bed and your feet are still pulsing. I was rushing through the "before I go to bed list," remembered a few things I forgot to do, and then thought of the next day only a few hours away. I started feeling overwhelmed. Micah's Gotcha Day party is this weekend, he also gets dedicated on Sunday, and we have lots of therapy and doctor appointments to still make this week.

Selah wanted me to hold her from the moment I walked in the door yesterday. She would hold up her little hands and say, "Hold you, mommy. Hold you." So instead of washing the dishes that towered over the sink, or sweeping the cookies she threw in the floor, or making 24 calorie formula for my little guy, or priming his feeding tube, or packing my lunch for the next day, I picked up that little girl. I took her in the living room with that sweet baby boy, and I enjoyed those tiny hands wrapped around my neck.

I snuggled my nose in her neck and kissed her squishy cheeks over and over. I made baby noises and silly faces with her brother. We all laughed at one another. And I was there. Right in the moment with them.

When my feet were aching in the bed after a long day, and I started my "overwhelmed, you picked the wrong girl" speech with Jesus, His Spirit reminded me of MY story.

He reminded me of the hurt I felt when I saw those black and white pictures in my newsfeed. He reminded me of the sting I felt as I hung up that baby shower invitation on the fridge today. And He reminded me of how much better I know Him now because of all of those years of waiting, still with a barren womb.

He also reminded me of my story. The story He has written in my life. The story that is so much greater than me, but one that tells of His Kingdom. Not the story I expected, but better than anything I could have ever dreamed. He reminded me how tired I was because

I worked a full time job

that day, came home, and was a mama to TWO babies.

Infertility still stings. Some days worse than others. But I still run to Him, He is still there, and He still reminds me of the beauty He has made from my brokenness.

The story He has written, the way I know Him now, and the two brown babies sleeping upstairs, have made every.single.second, worth it.

So when infertility still stings, remember He's writing a story greater than you. A story that tells of Him and His Kingdom. Nestle up close to Him, and remember all He has done.

It's worth every.single.second.

*Photos by my friend,

Rachel Ackerman

.*