Author: Kristi Leckband

Isaac Pleaded

In my selfishness, I forget that my husband bears the cross of barrenness, too. I forget that my empty womb is a cross that he also shares.

Isaac also experienced the same cross. He and his wife Rebekah did not have any children. His father Abraham had been told that he would be the father of nations. Isaac knew that this meant his family would need to have descendants. Thus, Isaac took his concern to the Lord. As a loving spouse, he pleaded to God for his wife because they were barren.

Genesis 25:19-21

New King James Version (NKJV)

19 This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

God heard Jacob’s prayer. Only by His grace and mercy, God granted twins to Rebekah and Jacob.

May we be so bold as to always take our concerns to our Father in heaven. May we also thank God for our spouses, who share the cross of barrenness with us.

Flesh vs. Holy Spirit

“The flesh distrusts God, trusts in present things, seeks human aid in trouble, even contrary to God’s will. It flees from suffering, which it ought to bear because of God’s commands. It doubts God’s mercy and so on. The Holy Spirit in our hearts fights against such tendencies in order to suppress and kill them and to produce new spiritual motives.” — Apology of the Augsburg Confession V 45-49

It’s tempting to seize control of your barrenness and change your status. You dearly want to trust that your doctor has the tools to prepare your body to carry a child. You want to believe the advice of friends who’ve had success in child-bearing. You hear about couples who have children through IVF. In your head and heart, you know it opposes God’s will. Yet it is still so hard to accept this truth and live in God’s grace. You go home to a quiet house at the end of the day. You weep when the phone call comes, announcing a friend’s pregnancy. You wonder if toys will ever occupy space on your living room floor. Your suffering never seems to end. You feel alone.

Take heart, dear sisters. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit is fighting against the sinful flesh for you. Yes, for you! The Holy Spirit wards off more evil thoughts than you know and gives you strength to live each day. It is the Holy Spirit who reminds you that you are remembered by Jesus. So fight on, Holy Spirit; fight on! th-1

Ephesians 6:10-17 (ESV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

From This Date Henceforth

It’s very rare to find me in a courtroom. And yet, I was there yesterday for 2 special reasons. Our daughter Maria was being readopted in the USA. At the same time, the finalization of adoption for our son Josiah was also being completed. My husband and I watched the legal system work. Both of our lawyers presented evidence that supported our request to adopt. The judge reviewed the piles of paperwork and listened to our testimony. He even asked Joanna a few questions about being a big sister. After twenty minutes, we heard the judge decree that… “from this day henceforth Maria shall be the adopted child of Jerome and Kristin Leckband.” He also decreed that… “from this day henceforth Josiah shall be the adopted child of Jerome and Kristin Leckband.” And there was much clapping from the gallery of friends who had come to share our joy.The deed is done; the decree is made.

And just like that it was done. We officially have 2 more children in our family. The range of emotions that I have experienced in the past 24 hours is wide. Incredible joy at these blessings God gives. Extreme humbleness for being given the responsibility to parent. Guilt over the gift of three children. Pain for birth families. Relief that the adoption process for both children is finally over.

Each adoption story is unique and special. God knows each of His children and provides for them when and where He wills. Jerome and I conversed about the Galatians passage regarding adoption.

Galatians 4:4-5
English Standard Version (ESV)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

We did not choose these children. The Chinese adoption agency matched us with Maria. Josiah’s birthmother chose us to care for her son. There was nothing in us that deserved either of these children; God brought these children to us. The same can be said for our biological daughter Joanna. God gave her to us. Also, God chose me to be adopted into His family. He made me His child in Holy Baptism. On my baptism date of August 27, 1972, it was decreed that… from this day henceforth Kristin Kay shall be a child of God. It’s all God’s work in us and through us.

And, so, to those of you who are working through the adoption process, know this. The Lord is with you every step of the way, no matter the outcome. Adoption is not an easy answer to the prayer for children. The adoption process can be loaded with bumps and bruises and disappointments and u-turns and marathon miles. There will likely be pain and hardship and trials. Still, God provides what is best for you. He always does. Thus, if the Lord blesses you with a child, it is purely by His grace and mercy. And when the judge makes the official decree regarding the adoption of YOUR child, then you can smile all day and all night and do a happy dance. I did, and I’m still smiling today.

More Advent Waiting

thAdvent is a season in the church year that is easily dismissed. It’s a time of waiting. We, in the church, also use these days before Christmas to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ-child. Our sinful hearts, minds, and bodies need to be turned from our sinfulness and turned to God for His grace and mercy.

I don’t know why children haven’t been borne to me. After years of marriage, I’m ready to bear a child. I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically. Still no baby. In my self-pity I gripe to God for not giving me what I want, specifically the gift of a baby. After years of waiting and no specific diagnosis, that gift may never come come from my womb. What a hard, sad truth to accept.

And so I continue to wait. The Church reminds me to repent and turn from my sinfulness. My ways are not God’s ways. The Church reminds me that I wait for Jesus. So – does that mean that Christ’s arrival will make my body fruitful? No. The fruit of Mary’s womb is Jesus, and He makes me whole. I’ll not be whole in the physical sense here on earth. Rather, Jesus makes me whole through His death and resurrection. My body will always be sinful, thus, my body will not be perfect. However, God uses His means of grace to unite me with Jesus. He alone is perfect.

Being barren, I may never be finished waiting for a child. That longing may never go away. However, I no longer have to wait for Jesus to come. He came 2000 years ago and redeemed me. I wait, instead, for His triumphant return to take me to Himself in heaven.

One More Reason

praying before dinnerAs I count my blessings this year, there’s one more reason for me to be thankful. My salvation does not depend on my ability to bear a child. No, my salvation has already been won. Jesus Christ secured my salvation by His death and resurrection. Thanks be to God!

Those Rose-Colored Glasses

yup, they're redSome people think that adoption is THE answer to barrenness. If you would just adopt, then your life would be so much happier. If you adopt, then you won’t have to wonder if and when you’ll ever start a family. If we adopt a baby, then we’ll fit in with our friends. If we adopt, then our parents will quit hounding us about giving them grandkids. You start to believe that adoption is really the way to go!

Please don’t misunderstand me. Adoption is definitely wonderful. Two of my children joined my family through adoption, and we are blessed a thousand times over by their presence. Consider this, though. Adoption is not going to bring the perfect child to you. There is no such thing as the perfect family. Kids sin. They’re naughty. Parents lose their temper. They don’t always like to make sacrifices for their children. Life won’t always be rosy.

If you’re considering adoption, good for you. I would, however, encourage you to remove the rose-colored glasses. Know that you’re making an important decision. If you’re trying to take the reins and build the “dream” family, then you need to have your eyes examined. You’ve turned inward on yourself rather than on the smallest of neighbors. More importantly, you need to check your heart, for a child needs your love for who she is, and not for whom you have always dreamed her to be. We can love children because they are God’s gifts to us — whether they are homegrown or added through adoption.

What if adoption isn’t in your sights? God still loves you. There is no mandate that requires barren couples to adopt. We are free to live under the cross of Christ and bask in His good gifts. Whether children are given to your marriage or not, God still delights in you! He sees you through Jesus, His perfect Son! You, the baptized child of God, are perfect to Him, with or without children.

Does God like the idea of adoption? Absolutely! He has adopted His children into His family. The apostle Paul wrote about adoption in the letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 4:4-6
English Standard Version (ESV)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem
those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

God’s desire is for you to be part of His family. Yes, even with all of your imperfections. He knows exactly what He is doing when He brings us into His family through baptism. Thanks be to God that He looks at us through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Ongoing Battle

battleGreat and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations, which every Christian must bear. We bear them even though each one were alone by himself. So every hour that we are in this vile life, we are attacked on all sides [2 Corinthians 4:8], chased and hunted down. We are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not allow us to become weary and faint [Isaiah 40:31; Hebrews 12:3] and to fall again into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation.

We Christians must be armed [Ephesians 6:10-18] and daily expect to be constantly attacked. No one may go on in security and carelessly, as though the devil were far from us. At all times we must expect and block his blows. Though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never stops or becomes tired. So when one temptation stops, there always arise others and fresh ones.

So there is no help or comfort except to run here, take hold of the Lord’s Prayer, and speak to God from the heart like this: “Dear Father, You have asked me to pray. Don’t let me fall because of temptations.” Then you will see that the temptations must stop and finally confess themselves conquered. If you try to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head [Revelation 12:9]. If it finds an opening into which it can slip, the whole body will follow without stopping. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back.   (Luther’s Large Catechism III 105, 109-11)

How did Luther know what tempts me? How did he know that I would blame God, myself, and others for my barrenness? Each and every day brings temptations to “cure” my barren womb and to covet the children that are not mine. How did Luther know that once I was content within my barrenness, then the devil would send another temptation for me to try to “fix” my barren sisters?

Luther was right in saying that the enemy never becomes tired. We are constantly battling sin, this world, and our sinful flesh. There truly is no place for comfort other than in the safe and secure arms of Jesus. He fights the battles for us. He wraps the Word of God, along with His own Body and Blood, around our weak souls and protects us. He gives us His own words in the Lord’s Prayer to battle the evil foe.

Take comfort, dear friends. While you may be weary from fighting off temptation, Christ fights for you!

I want to memorize this prayer: Dear Father, You have asked me to pray. Don’t let me fall because of temptations. Amen.

A “You-Turn”

About FaceIn my hours of self-pity, I am angry with God for the gifts He has given to others. In particular, I am angry that God has bestowed children to those who, in my opinion, don’t “deserve” them. My anger spews out words of jealousy towards the parents who seemingly let their children do whatever they wish. I tell myself that I could do so much better than those parents. I despise the Lord God for not giving me more children so that I might be a role model for good parenting skills. I am upset with my doctor who can’t seem to find the root of my barrenness. I chastise those closest to me for offering suggestions and encouragement. The anger builds. I am quick to point out the shortcomings of others, and it makes me feel good.

But then comes the you-turn. God shows me my sin, and I recall that I am steeped in self-righteousness. By God’s grace, I remember that children are GOD’s gift to give. Perhaps a larger brood is not what is best for me. I recognize my pity-party attitude and turn that around. I have made myself into an idol by thinking that I could do a better job with somebody else’s children. Thus, I see my sin, and I repent. I turn from my inward self and look to the cross of Jesus. In Him only can my anger be calmed and removed. That sin of anger is taken away by Jesus’ body and blood, shed for me. It’s time to turn my face back to Jesus, for only He can restore my soul.

Dear God, Forgive my sin of idolatry. Teach me to follow You and trust that Your will is best for me. Help me to love my neighbor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Childlike Trust

 

The following petition comes from the prayers for this day by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod…

For childlike trust in our heavenly Father, that the Holy Spirit would lead us to trust that all we need for each day of life we receive as daily bread from our Father, and that He would drive away all worry and anxiety, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.A child prays.

I was struck by the phrase “childlike trust.”  A childlike trust is one in which the child looks to the caregiver to provide all things. A child doesn’t worry about her next meal or where she will sleep. She doesn’t contemplate how the rest of the world views her. No, she trusts her father to fully meet her needs. If she needs something, she asks.

Throughout my barren walk, I have NOT kept a childlike trust. I have often wondered how there would ever be children gathered around my table for a meal. I have wandered the aisles of department stores, pondering the absence of a crib in my own home and begging God to give me a reason to walk down the baby aisles. I have kept my head bowed low as conversations about newborns and toddlers have been shared. I have been angry over “what should be mine.” I have not trusted  God to provide for all of my needs, and I have not taken my concerns to my Father in heaven. Rather, I trusted myself. I thought I knew what was best for me. I figured God hadn’t read MY plan-book yet. I failed to look to Him as my caregiver and provider. I disregarded His good plans for me, plans that may or may not include children.

And so I beg my heavenly Father for forgiveness. As the words are stated above, I pray that the Holy Spirit would teach me to receive my daily bread with thanksgiving. I pray that God would continue to put before my eyes all the blessings that are mine through His grace. I fervently beg Him to drive away all of my worries that surround my barrenness. It is He who brings contentment. I place my trust in God, my Father, for He will take care of me.

How Hannah Prayed

Holy BibleThe opening chapter of 1 Samuel begins with the birth of Samuel. His mother Hannah had been married to Elkanah, a Levite priest, for a number of years. It was hoped that Elkanah’s son would someday perform the sacrificial rites that were associated with the priests. Hannah went to the temple and prayed that the Lord might open her womb and give to her a child. She prayed so emphatically that Eli the priest thought her to be drunk. Hannah answered confidently that she was not drunk, but rather troubled in spirit. She had been pouring out her soul before the Lord.

Scripture does not tell us the specific words of Hannah’s prayer, but we do know that she was praying fervently. 1 Samuel 1:15 quotes Hannah as saying, “I am a woman troubled in spirit… I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” She had endured mockery by another woman for her barrenness. She was in danger of being unable to continue her husband’s priestly line. She knew that the Lord was capable of giving her a son. She didn’t know if that would happen, but she took her prayer to the Lord anyway. She did not tell herself, “I’m gonna get myself a baby.” She didn’t have to consider “which doctor can ‘make’ a baby for me.” Rather, she prayed the prayer of a believer in Christ, “Thy will be done, Lord.” She trusted that the Lord would grant to her those things that were best for her, and in His timing.

May each of us pray similarly, “Thy will be done, Lord.”