Author: Kristi Leckband

Yes. No. Wait.

“Does God answer prayers? Does He really? I’ve been praying for many years for a child, and it’s taking FOREVER. I’m trusting you, God, and I’m ready for children. Please, Lord, if it be Your will.”img_8280

Dear sister in Christ, I’ve been there. For many-a-year I prayed and prayed that God would give children to my husband and me. In my sin-sick mind, I just knew that His answer would be YES…immediately. That was not to be the case. With the help of some medication to boost the proper hormones, our daughter was born. Thanks be to God! He had given a YES to our prayers.

A couple of years later we hoped to add to our little family again. This was not to be the case, though. After multiple appointments, my doctor suggested IVF. I was firmly against the procedure. That seemed like a strong NO to our prayer. It took some time for my husband and me to pursue adoption. There was so much to consider: change in family structure, the wait-time, the finances for adoption, the mental adjustments for everybody. After much prayer, we decided to try the adoption process, even though there were no guarantees.

The paperwork was huge, but we pressed on. We were told that the entire process for adopting a child from China would last 13-14 months. Hooray! We could wait that amount of time. Perhaps this was another YES to prayers. The process would take much longer than 14 months. The months stretched to years, many years. Could this be a WAIT from God? During the interim, we were given permission to try a domestic adoption as well. This seemed agreeable to us. After completing even more paperwork, our profile was circulated among pregnant moms. Nobody seemed interested in us. Was this to be another NO to our prayers? Our two-year commitment to that program expired, and we did not renew our file. Still we waited.

After seven long years of praying and mourning, God answered our prayers with a YES. On this day, five years ago, we received our referral for our second daughter! Prayers of thanksgiving and tears abounded!

We were informed that we would be traveling a few short months later. Due to several hiccups, our trip to receive our little girl occurred more like five months later. It turned out to be a time of more waiting. God used this time to prepare ourselves, our families, and our church family for the joys that were to come.

Dear sister, I share these things with you, not to teach you that God will answer your prayers in the way that you want. Rather, I want you to know that God answers your prayers in the way that He deems best. Our desires do not always line up with God’s plans for us, and we desperately would like to be the ones who run the show. Not so. God knows our needs and provides in the best ways possible. He really does.

During our family prayer time this morning, we sang the hymn “What God Ordains Is Always Good.” The words are comforting and encouraging. I commend them to you this day.

What God ordains is always good:
His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me,
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In every need
Knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.

Lutheran Service Book 760:1

The Night Will Soon Be Ending

Sometimes a hymn can express our feelings better than we ever imagined. Here is the text for three stanzas from the Advent hymn “The Night Will Soon Be Ending.” The lyricist Jochen Klepper understands quite clearly the darkness that tries to squelch our hope. However, as he reminds us, “God dwells with us in darkness and makes the night as day.” (Lutheran Service Book 337:5) Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.images

The night will soon be ending; The dawn cannot be far.
Let songs of praise ascending Now greet the Morning Star!
All you whom darkness frightens With guilt or grief or pain,
God’s radiant Star now brightens And bids you sing again.

 Yet nights will bring their sadness And rob our hearts of peace,
And sin in all its madness Around us may increase.
But now one Star is beaming Whose rays have pierced the night:
God comes for our redeeming From sin’s oppressive might. 

God dwells with us in darkness And makes the night as day;
Yet we resist the brightness And turn from God away.
But grace does not forsake us, However far we run.
God claims us still as children Through Mary’s infant Son.

I’ve Always Wanted To…

IMG_4974Barrenness is a no fun-and-games deal. There are days when I’m “okay” with it, and the next day I struggle with my own reality. I’ve survived days in which I’ve wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. I’ve asked the Lord to take this suffering away from me. I’ve begged the Lord to open my womb and give me more children. He listens, and He gives me what I need, whether or not that includes children.

I really want more children. However, the Lord has determined that more children is not what I really need. Ouch. That statement hurts. Still, dear sister, you and I live under the Lord’s grace and mercy. He grants us daily breath, His Word and Sacraments, and He gives us the vocations of daughter, aunt, niece, and friend.

Why isn’t motherhood on that list? That’s a harsh concept to swallow; it certainly doesn’t seem fair. For now, though, motherhood is not the vocation God has given you. Rather, He is blessing you with the time, resources, and opportunities to serve your neighbor in other ways. That art class you always wanted to take? Do it; maybe you’re the modern Monet. Perhaps your art can give silent witness to the faith you have in God. The trip to Europe that you and your spouse dream about? Now might be the time to pick up the travel information and see the Luther sites. The parents at church who seem overwhelmed? Perhaps you could offer to babysit for a few hours and give the couple some time together. Does your elderly neighbor need some company? Could you offer to bring dinner and enjoy a nice conversation? Are your nieces and nephews struggling with their identities? Can you send them an encouraging note or text and remind them of their value in your family?

These vocations may never satisfy the craving and deep desire to be a mother. However, they are vocations that serve God and your neighbor. There can be great joy and satisfaction in loving others. Undoubtedly, there are days that will drive you to despair. It will be difficult to remember that your life is NOT over, despite the fact that you have not been given children. Your grief is real; there is no denying the sorrow that accompanies barrenness. Know this: You have been given grace to live the life that has already been granted to you, despite its suffering and sorrows. You are a daughter, a friend, a niece, an aunt, a godmother, and more. God loves you, just as you are. The Lord is blessing you with opportunities to try something new. What is it that you’ve always wanted to do?

A Thank You Prayer

The Apostles’ Creed with explanation:

THE FIRST ARTICLE

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; that He richly and daily provides me with food and clothing, home and family, property and goods, and all that I need to support this body and life; that He protects me from all danger, guards and keeps me from all evil; and all this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I am in duty bound to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

No matter how difficult it is to give thanks to God, we are still His children, whom He dearly loves. He made us and still preserves us, despite our sinful condition. More of His gifts are outlined in the explanations to the Second and Third Articles of the Apostles’ Creed.

THE SECOND ARTICLE

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?

I believe that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary; and that He is my Lord, Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death; in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

God the Father sent His only Son Jesus to take our punishment for sin. Now the gift of eternal life is ours.

THE THIRD ARTICLE

I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

We are preserved in our faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. Despite our trials, we continue to receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament.

imagesDear God, You know my inmost being, for You formed me. Thank you for sending Your Son to redeem me, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit to keep me in the true faith. Thank you for the gifts that are given to others. Forgive me for coveting those gifts and help me to receive my daily bread with thanksgiving, for it is all truly given by Your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eleven Blessings

Looking for an opportunity to mother some children? Offer to babysit somebody’s children for a few hours. It will be a blessing to you, to the children, and to their parents.

For one afternoon, this summer, I got to be MOM to these eleven kiddos. And what a joy that was! We didn’t stay home. Oh, no, we braved the local water park for several hours. The kids checked in with Jerome and me from time to time. Sunscreen and water, you know. The three little ones stayed in the little squirts’ play area and then spent time in their strollers, napping. It took two vehicles to cart our baker’s dozen home, but we did it. Was it tiring? No, it was short-term parenting. The kids all played so nicely together. Could I do it on a regular basis? With God’s help, I could, and I would. The amount of food they ate amazed me. They didn’t all sit around my table either; they took advantage of the nice weather outdoors. It was a treat to have them in my charge for several hours. They were all well-behaved children and enjoyed each other’s company; it was fun to watch them interact with one another. I am so blessed to be a parent, a good friend, and a godmother to these blessings from God.

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I Remember You

16003520-medical-recordIt had been years since my last ultrasound, but I was talking with the ultrasound technician at my doctor’s appointment. She and I were chatting about our families and how things were going for each of us. After a bit, she said, “I remember you, Kristi.”

Stunned by her comment, I asked, “Why would you remember me?”

With certainty, she replied, “Well, there are quite a few women who come here with their third, fourth, or fifth pregnancy. Their ultrasounds are fine, so I don’t really remember them. Your situation was unique and also sorrowful. I prayed for you.”

And there I was comforted. While that wasn’t the reason I wanted to be remembered, I was still grateful. “Thank you for your prayers. I am thankful that God has given me so many blessings.”

We went on to talk about God’s good plan for His children. While we do not understand God’s timing, we trust that He will only do what is best for us.

What If…

10588494-pregnant-woman-holding-big-question-mark-all-on-white-backgroundWhile at the doctor’s office for a routine physical exam, I decided to ask about the official diagnosis for my barrenness. My physician is a wise soul, and, since she hadn’t been my primary physician years ago, she asked a variety of questions. We visited back and forth, reviewing my medical history. I assured her that I did not NEED to know the exact reason for my barrenness; I was merely asking out of curiosity.

After more discussion, she asked, “So if you could get pregnant, would you?” She caught me completely off guard. “Wow,” I replied, “nobody has asked me that question in the past several years.” She quickly apologized and assured me that I need not answer that question. “No, I do want to answer that,” I told her. “You surprised me because that scenario has not entered my mind since we began the adoption process eight years ago.” I went on to share with her that I believed all children to be gifts. If God would bless our family with another biological child, then I would definitely receive him/her with great joy. At least I think I would. Right?

I pondered her question over and over again. At times, I was excited. God could bless our family yet again with a child. At other times, I was terrified. I have just survived a challenging eighteen months with the arrival of our two youngest children. Could I handle another child right now? I thought that our quiver was going to have three arrows, so I wasn’t even considering the possibility of more children. I was being challenged. I could feel myself trying to take control of a possible pregnancy situation. Why, oh, why was I trying to take the reins of something that is completely out of my hands?

Thanks be to God for His continuous forgiveness, despite my attempts to be in charge. God knows what’s going to happen. The “What if….” question may play out for years to come. What if we do get pregnant? Will I be able to handle all that a pregnancy entails? What if we don’t get pregnant? Will I remain thankful for my blessings? “What if…” can be a dangerous question because it leads me down paths that may not be what God has in mind for me. This I KNOW, however…. God is in control, and He is always working for my eternal good.