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

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

.*