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

*

A Graceful December

It was the first time I sat down all day.

I grabbed a blanket, listened to the fire crackle, and gazed into those twinkling lights. The kitchen was clean, most of the toys were put away, my children were asleep, and just for a moment my house and heart were still.

I thought, "Lord, if it was always this way, like it is in quiet moment, I could really celebrate your coming to us." And with that thought still lingering in my mind, our huge tree crashed to the floor. The twinkling lights pulled out from the wall, ornaments were shattered, and I could hear the gallon of water in the stand pouring out onto my carpet.

You could say, my December has seemed everything but graceful.

I am utterly exhausted. Not from all of the Christmas parties, shopping, and looking at lights. I am exhausted from life. My heart is so weary and my body is tired.

Life doesn't stop for Christmas.

This was going to be the year I made the cute Advent calendar. I really wanted to spend a day baking cookies with my two year old. I wanted to enjoy wrapping presents and have them look like they could be found on Pinterest. I wanted to make those cute handprint ornaments with my children. After all, babies don't keep. And I had really big plans to host a Christmas party for our friends.

The reality is, I am very proud we have our decorations up this year.

Just last week, I sat in my baby's hospital room, after his second surgery in three months. (

The surgery we didn't want him to have

). We have journeyed a long road with him. We have recently made big decisions that will affect the rest of his life. We have visited countless doctors asking for second opinions, who all say the same thing, and most of our afternoons are spent in therapy.

I watched his little chest rise and fall and listened to the rhythmic sound of his breathing while he slept peacefully. He was attached to all types of tubes. Those feeding him, giving him fluids, and monitoring him. As my heart completely ached, and I wiped tears away from tired eyes, I felt the Spirit say to me, "This is why I came."

I'm writing over at my friend, Molly's, blog today. Click

here

to finish reading the good news the Lord shared with me in Micah's hospital room.

 Thank you for journeying with me throughout these pages. And more than anything thank you for praying for our sweet boy! Merry Christmas, my sweet friends, I'm praying He feels extra near to you today.

All my love,

Jessica

When It Can't Be Fixed

We heard words today no parent ever wants to hear.

Words void of hope. Words worthy of grieving. Words that caused silent sobs, red eyes, and a heavy heart for the rest of the day.

"He can't be fixed." 

After a night of no sleep, I was getting ready for work this morning and heard it through the monitor.

Gasping. 

By the time I got to him for what felt like the 100th time that night, he was lying flat on his back, gasping for air and choking, once again, on his vomit. 

I immediately flipped him to his side and started beating his back. This time, at least he wasn't blue. It took a few minutes, but after he started crying, I heard the rhythmic sound of his breathing begin. It was such a treasure. 

We sleep lightly. We run to him every time he coughs. We freak out about little things because what if we don't get there fast enough.

It happened one time at Salsaritas. Brandon and I were in line ordering our food and he was only a few tables away. We heard that little cough, and both of us ran through the restaurant to rescue him. The restaurant fell quiet, and people wondered if they should call for help. We ate a silent meal after that. 

So when the doctor looked at my husband, square in the eye and said "he can't be fixed," that feeling of panic we experience all too much, settled in to stay. 

"We'll try continuous feeds for two weeks and then if he still isn't better, we'll write orders for surgery." 

A more evasive surgery with a more permenant tube. And a lifetime of continuous feeds. Making void the hours upon hours of therapy we have spent each week for the last three months.

And the continuous feeds...being attached to a tube and pump all day long with only a two hour break. How is my already "developmentally delayed" baby going to roll around on his tummy, learn to crawl, and play? How will he run one day? How will he learn to ride a bike? Or swing at recess? Or play baseball like his daddy? 

I spent most of the day grieving for him. 

He doesn't know what it's like to feel hunger or a full belly. He doesn't know what comfortable feels like. He doesn't know all he's missing out on.

But I do. 

And it breaks my heart for him. 

Some of you reading this are walking through darker journeys than ours. 

For some of you, all your baby knows is the four walls of that hospital. Some of you are sitting beside your baby's hospital bed praying they'll fight through the night. Or some of you have stared at a grave where you have laid your baby to rest.

And I am so incredibly sorry.

Some of you are sitting in empty nurseries wondering if you'll ever get a chance to be a mama. Some of you stare at black and white photos and dream of the life that little baby would've had.  Some of you are sharing your children with an ex spouse, staring at a report card of failing grades, or praying your prodigal returns home. 

And you hear those words, "It can't be fixed."

Every bit of hope deflates your heart and you're left grieving what could have been.

After those words, I spent the rest of the day asking the Lord what to do with them. I spent silent moments lamenting to Him, grieving with Him, for this sweet boy He's given to our family. 

Those moments of blank stares throughout my day were silent cries to my Dad. The car ride home was filled with lots of tears and loud music. I didn't say much to Him. Because I knew I didn't have to. He already knew.

And as I prepared myself to walk through the door to mother my precious children, I heard Him whisper to my broken heart, "You are not alone. I'm right here. And I fix broken things every day. I've fixed you haven't I?" 

We have hope in Him. It anchors our souls when the waves of life are too scary. We have life, abundant life, in Him through deep waters. We have a shelter, a refuge, an ever present help in times of trouble. 

We have Him. 

So wherever you are right now, whatever darkness you're treading through, He is light. 

And when you begin to hear those words, "it can't be fixed," remember a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb. 

He raised a dead man to life. He conquered death once and for all. 

He can fix anything.