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.

The Morning I Fell In Love

I fell in love in the fifth grade.

I met Him when I was five, but that fifth grade year, He really stole my heart. 

We met every morning at 5:30. And I forget how old you are in the fifth grade, but that's real early for a kid.

I didn't care. There was something about Him that left me wanting more. He was real. And for the first time in my little girl life, I knew it.

Our church started a read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan. So that January, I vowed that I would, indeed, read the Bible through in a year. Even if that meant getting up at 5:30. I was at church every chance the doors were open. I won every Bible drill given in that big room on the second floor with the tinkering pipes. And I always sat beside the girl who had no friends. I was a "good girl," that little fifth grader...

But what I didn't expect, was to fall in love. 

There's something about time with Him. I guess like any relationship, the more time you spend together, the faster you fall. And fall I did. 

Even though I was only reading the Bible out of commitment, in those cold, dark mornings, He met me there. Right in the covers, amidst my elementary understanding of Him.

I religiously read three to four chapters a day, a Psalm or Proverb, and wrote out my prayers to Him. They were mostly about missionaries. Because I knew, even then, God called me to be a missionary. Little did I know, what kind.

In the black and white of those pages each morning, I started getting a taste of Him. And it was sweet. I wanted more and knew Him to be more, even then. He went from being a God I was hearing about, to a God I could know. And although I didn't see it yet, we started

dancing together

back then. I cannot be more thankful. And that was the first year I read the Bible through.

After that year, I started praying that He would give me a desire for His Word. Because that's what I saw David pray over and over in the Psalms. And honestly, because some days I really had rather sleep later.

That's where it started. That recipe. My longing heart, His Word, a notebook, and the Spirit. It's all the ingredients to fall in love.

I got to college, my

parents divorced

after 25 years of being married, and my whole world fell apart. I was attending a Christian college, and couldn't eat my two biscuits with saw mill gravy slathered on top, without hearing Christian Studies majors arguing with one another. They liked to "talk" about the Bible all the time. Not so much Him, but the Bible. I needed HIM. I wanted to know Him. And I realized that just like I was there studying to be a teacher, I could study Him, too.

Those college days, I would drive home to my grandma's house and browse the bookcases that lined her back room. I would take as many as I could carry. She'd make me eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits and would pour into me her wisdom along with a glass of orange juice (extra pulp). She would remind me that He is good, He is faithful, He does hear my prayers, and He is trustworthy. She'd wrap me up in her arms, give me a smack on the backside (because that's what southern grandmas do), and I would be on my way, driving back up the mountain to my school.

You could find me sitting in the middle of my room, with commentaries and every translation of the Bible surrounding me. And I studied Him. I studied how He dealt with His people. How He was kind, yet just. How He made no sense sometimes. But in those days of searching, He was being found by me. And He slowly started picking up the pieces of my broken life, and putting them back together.

Once we got married, my time with Him looked a little different. Because nothing is yours anymore when you become one with someone else. Not even your time. It took me a while, but I finally found a rhythm that worked. I was teaching and speaking a good bit during that time, and it kept me in His Word, digging. And then something incredible happened.

I don't know about you, but marriage

 has the tendency to surface the parts of my heart that have been hidden. During that time of healing, I didn't have the energy to study anymore. I knew God, but I really needed a Daddy. And one night, I realized it was Him. The Shepard I read about in the Psalms. The Father who hears and answers His children. Abba, who adopted me as His daughter. He became Dad, Papa. 

People email me all the time asking me how I spend time with Jesus. And it honestly baffles me. Because years ago, I would have given you a five step list of things I do during my "quiet time." But now, these days, it's more of a place to hide, a

time of retreat

from the battle I'm trying to fight during the day.

Sweet Micah has been sick for fourth months now. We've had five hospital stays, numerous doctors appointments and therapy sessions, and just recently a surgery. He still doesn't sleep. At all. Feeding pumps, tubes, power cords, and formula that must be ordered, consume my life right now. I also have an almost two year old, I

work full time

, and my husband works nights in the NICU.

Lately, my time with Him looks much different. It's a white couch, a water-stained journal, my Bible that has lost the front and back covers, a spit up covered shirt, very tired feet, and a weary heart. I all but throw myself on that couch. And I work hard to keep my eyes open the most of the time. 

Some days, all I can muster, is to sit there. And clear out space in my brain for Him. To think of His goodness, and kindness towards me. To know in the midst of the absolute chaos in my life right now, that He is good, and faithful, and worthy of my trust. And that's okay. Because He still meets me there in my chaos,

spit up covered shirt

, very tired feet, and weary heart. And rather than dancing together, He just holds me close. Like a daddy holds his baby girl.

Most days, I start by asking Him to help me clear my mind. I tell Him that He has all of me in those moments, and ask that He would stir my affections for Him and His Word. Then I adore Him. 

You can read about

adoration

on

Sara Hagerty's blog

. She loves Jesus, the way I want to love Him. So I copy her time with Him. I print this

31 Days of Adoration

, and spend time adoring Him along with a community of sisters. He uses this, speaking His Word back to Him, to shape my heart and remind me who He says I am to Him. While He washes away the lies I believed about myself that day through adoration, I continue adoring Him by reading a chapter or two of wherever I currently am in His Word.

Then, I write to Him. Like ugly things, things I would never want anyone else to know. Or dreams, the ones He has put in my heart. Or prayers for my family or wisdom in decisions I need to make. Whatever fills my heart, somehow finds it's way out on those lines.

And somehow, even in this short time, He pulls me away from the chaos, into the quiet desert to speak tenderly to me there. Although I might still feel weary, my heart isn't as heavy to carry, because He carries it for me. I let Him in.

This time invites me to allow Him to see the real me. The me that doesn't have it altogether. The me that is a complete mess. The me that feels as if I am going crazy. The me that so utterly and desperately needs Him to make it through each second. This is where He is found.

I am by no means saying this is how time with Jesus should be spent. I would love to sit with Him for hours. I would love to sit in a circle, surrounded by commentaries and different translations of His Word. I'm sure that some of you have this figured out much more than me. But in this season of my life, this is all I have to offer. And it isn't much. But He says that if I seek Him, He will be found. 

And somehow, He always is.

If you're in college, girl, get out those commentaries and become His student. You'll fall in love.

If you're in the middle of infertility treatments, mark up His Word. Circle every promise He has made. Write them on index cards all around your house. And preach them to yourself when you hear the enemy tell you He isn't good.

Sweet waiting mama, if your time with Him is spent pouring your heart out to Him in an empty nursery, He will be found there. And soon when you're rocking your sweet baby, there will be more of Him to find.

Tired mama, in the trenches of motherhood, put His Word next to the kitchen sink. And steal a few seconds breathing in it's sweetness between washing bottles and wiping bottoms.

No matter what your time with Him looks like, when we seek Him, He WILL be found.

And that is beautiful news for this tired mama's heart.

"

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me

with all your heart."

Jeremiah 29:13 ESV

To The Waiting Mother, on Mother's Day..

Although I am now a mother, and will celebrate my fourth Mother's Day, my heart still breaks on this day. My heart still grieves all the years of pain this day caused. It makes me want to come find you, Waiting Mother, wrap my arms around your neck, grab some Ben and Jerry's, and eat until we see the bottom of the container. If I could, I'd tell you it gets better.

God is so faithful and He answers prayers in the most beautiful ways. Ways we would never imagine, but always better than our greatest dreams. Although I know this to be true, on this day for you, it feels so far away. And every commercial, every present, every lunch, every barren second of this day, holds the reminder that you are not a mother...yet.

If I could, I would hug you, and remind you that "yet" is the word to breathe in, breathe out, and repeat today. I pray from the depths of my heart that these words meet you in your need, and more than anything, I pray that you will find Him here, right in the midst of your waiting.

To The Waiting Mother,

You, precious one, are not alone.

God sees your broken and weary heart. He is here, right now, holding all things together. Quiet your heart, just for a second. He is holding your very existence together, spinning your world, telling the sun when to set and fall, and holding each star in it's place. And in His grace, knows what you ate for breakfast, your favorite song, how you like your coffee, and the very depths of your aching heart.

Most people would tell you, Waiting Mother, to sleep. Because you will literally never sleep on your schedule again. Seriously. You will walk around like a zombie for the first two months (if you have a good baby). You'll wash your hair two or three times in the shower because your so tired you won't remember if you did it. And they say, "sleep when the baby sleeps." Yeah, right. Only if you don't want to get a shower that day. Eventually, sleeping in on Saturday, will mean your body (or a little squeal) waking you up at 6:30.

But you won't care. You'll run to that nursery. You've dreamed of this. What it would be like. How it will feel to be someone's mommy. You've imagined those tiny hands holding onto your finger as you softly sing Jesus' name. You'll eventually learn how to function on very little sleep and those baby love snuggles will be even better than caffeine.

Some people would tell you to go on dates with your husband. And I know you say, "That won't be us. We'll have a date night once a week." Well maybe so, if you get to stay at home during the day and you don't feel guilty leaving your baby with another baby sitter. Or if your willing to pay 10 dollars an hour, plus your actual date, every week.

But you won't care. It'll be hard. You will make it work. And when you do get those sacred moments where you just get to be a wife to your husband, you will cherish them more than ever before. And ultimately, he is your first ministry, so you will find a way to make him your priority. It might come with lots of trial and error. More losses than wins, but you'll make it work. After all, your marriage is the Gospel on display. Your little one, and the world for that matter, is watching.

Other people will tell you to get your nails done, shave your legs, do the laundry, organize, and clean. Really clean. Because you won't have time to even cut your nails, so you'll just bite them. Your legs won't see a razor until your husband starts to complain. The laundry....there just aren't words. It will NEVER, I mean NEVER be done. Just accept it. And your house won't ever be clean again. Really clean. You'll find puffs in your couch, paci's in random drawers, and green pea splatter on the walls.

But you won't care. You'll learn that all those things can wait. Your life, will indeed, go on even with a messy house. You will never have this day with your baby again. You won't want to miss one gummy smile, slobbery kiss, or squishy hug.

But you do care. You're not there...yet. Telling you to enjoy your sleep, go on dates, clean, and shave your legs is just ridiculous, and honestly insensitive. Your heart aches.

So while you wait...grow.

All those nights when you are crying out to the Father, begging Him to answer your prayer for a child, you are learning how to need Him. Because you will.

Lean into that.

Every time your friends tell you they are pregnant, deep in your heart you wonder why it can't be you. And you run to your Dad, to feel His big, safe arms wrap around you. This is how you will comfort.

When you feel like you are the only one in the whole world who isn't a mommy, you remember the story of a woman named Hannah and the big prayers she prayed for her Samuel.

And you'll pray those same prayers for your promised one.

It hurts.

It's so uncomfortable. The pain is just too much some days.

But don't fight it. Open up your hands and ask Papa to teach you how to wait. Ask Him to help you grow. Savor your desperation for Him. And then watch. Watch Him make your angry, winter heart a beautiful, spring meadow.

 And while your eyes are on Him, you won't even notice how He surprises you with your dream.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.."

Hosea 2:14-15a

*Photo by the amazing

Rachel Ackerman Photography

*