Four Hands Joined TogetherThank you, Pastor Mohr, for reminding us of the gift God gives us in auxiliary parenting.

I move my right arm and feel a tug at my wrist. I look down, but nothing is there. For five days, a plastic band surrounded that wrist – a fetter to remind me of my bound service to my wards. For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of five young men and a college chaperone as we attended one of the largest events in our lifetime – the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod National Youth Gathering.

And now I don’t.

My young charges have been returned to their parents. The wrist band has been cut off. I have been set free. But still, I feel it tugging. I still sense the urge to turn around and count- 1-2-3-4-5-6 – to confirm I have them all safely with me.

After our closing devotion upon returning home, one of the mothers commented to me, “Why haven’t you adopted a child, yet? I see how great you are with these kids. God has given you a gift.”

He has indeed – but in the barrenness of my being single, my gift is not to bring a child purposely into the brokenness of a single parent home. No, I walk beside these parents, auxiliary to them, helping them raise their children. I stand next to them in bringing Godly children to adulthood. And God has blessed me with these children, for a brief time.

With great wonderment, I pause and marvel that God would be so kind to have given me such a great gift. But still, these several days later, I feel that wristband tugging. And that’s when I look down at that wrist with its phantom tugging and smile as the epiphany slowly dawns – my boys are still my boys. The gift of my auxiliary role is not yet ended. I still get to count them, 1-2-3-4-5-6, each and every week. Only now, the question behind the count is not, “Are they safely with ME,” but are they safely with Him Who gave them to me? Are they in the Word… are they receiving the Sacrament… are they growing in their faith?

For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of these young men, but I shall stand auxiliary to them for a lifetime, encouraging my brothers in faith to grow in the Lord. They will always be “My Boys.” Thank you Lord, for Your gift to me in these young men!

Rev. Michael Mohr

A Good Reminder

I watched as my husband read his Father’s Day card. Silent tears of grief slid down his cheeks.

“I am sorry I have not given you any children,” I whispered. My own tears dripped down my chin.

My husband cocked his head to the side, slightly surprised. He smiled sweetly, knowingly at me.

“It is the Lord who gives children,” he said.

Oh, yes. That’s right.

Even I need a good reminder now and then.

Father Watching His Infant Sleep

My Husband Is a Father

My husband is a tender father in the Faith.

He sits at the bedside of his world-weary children and leads them beside still waters. He walks with them through the valley of the shadow of death and sings to them Simeon’s Song. He restores their souls in the reading of God’s Word.

My husband is a faithful father in the Church.

He baptizes and teaches his parishioner children. He catechizes, comforts, consoles, and counsels them with all fatherly affection. He speaks the unpopular Word to them for their eternal benefit, slaying straying hearts with the Law and resuscitating the repentant with the Gospel breath of God, Christ’s blessed work of atonement on the cross for them.

My husband is a warrior father in the marketplace.

He picks up the banner of life and waves it before his neighbor. He wears a precious feet pin on his lapel to remind himself and others of the children destroyed every minute of every day through abortion. He defends the rights of the least of these, entreating parents not to abandon their children to be frozen in fertility clinics. He gives his time, talents, and treasures to those who have none and opens his heart and home to the fatherless.

My husband is a devoted father to our nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

He patiently endures guerrilla attacks of tiny, would-be wrestlers. He reads pink-and-purple books about fairies and princesses to sleepy, little dreamers. He stands guard next to half-pints in hospital beds awaiting their turn in the operating room. He jumps off two-story pontoon boats into smelly, murky lake water for the entertainment of squealing, human fish, and he daily remembers those fish in prayer.

My husband is childless, but he is a remarkable father.

Happy Father’s Day, Michael! xo

IMG_1098 copy


Infertility Medicine: An Unregulated Industry

MP900315620They’ve gone rogue.

The infertility industry not only allows for unreported, anonymous sperm donations and child-freezing but also for the killing of children at the whim of adults (parents, judges, doctors, technicians, etc.).

What about the children’s rights? They basically have none, at least not any that an adult would feel bound to respect, and the children involved have the disadvantage of not being the paying customer in the industry. There are no checks and balances set in place, legal or social, to protect the rights of the children created, handled, and destroyed by the infertility industry.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute explains it this way in an interview with Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc. (November 22, 2011):

“A lot of our social systems have built-in, self-correction mechanisms…[T]he free market where we let people do what they want has built into it a system of property rights protection and a system of competition to keep people from getting too far out of hand. There’s nothing built in to in vitro fertilization and the industry around it that stops people from going too far. Absolutely nothing.”

If there are no checks and balances set in place in the infertility industry, what exactly is powering the frantic steam roller that is infertility medicine? Dr. Morse explains:

“[W]e have sort of drifted into the system that we have now. [N]obody ever sat down and said to themselves, ‘You know, I think it would be a great idea if anyone with money could do anything they want as far as bringing a child into being, whether they have to have a relationship with their child’s other parent or not. We’re going to give legal parenting rights to whoever intends to be a parent, never mind if there’s any biological relationship or anything like that.’ Nobody sat down and thought through and said, ‘Hey, this is a great idea. Let’s do it.’ We just kind of drifted into this position, and the in vitro fertilization industry is pretty much unregulated. People say it’s like the Wild West. Well, that’s actually kind of a smirch on the Wild West, because the Wild West did have some sense of order and some internal sense of right and wrong. And in this particular case, people seem to think that as long as the adults get what they want, they don’t really have to think through what they’re doing to the individual child. And they certainly don’t have to think through what they’re doing to the whole system that everybody is operating within…I think it is really quite appalling that what we’ve got is a system that is being driven by two things…One, it’s being driven by the passions of the infertile woman, and, two, it’s being driven by the greed of the infertility industry.”

(Dr. Morse’s full interview can be heard here.)

In a recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air (January 17, 2013), science editor Judith Shulevitz shines the light on the fact that we can’t even be sure of the longterm medical consequences to both the mother and children affected by infertility treatments:

“[W]e just don’t know what we’re doing. There just isn’t a lot of data, particularly in America. The good stuff is coming out of other countries where they actually have the information collated in a national health registry. In this country, the fertility industry only reports pregnancy rates to the CDC – the Centers for Disease Control – and we don’t do follow up studies.”

Ms. Shulevitz continues to explain that it is not just a lack of required data which should cause us concern but also the cavalier, consumer-driven mentality which steam-powers an already unregulated industry:

“[W]e’re not studying [fertility] enough. We don’t regulate it enough.[W]e celebrate triumphantly each breakthrough as if it was an absolute good, and we don’t go cautiously enough and I think that’s a problem, and as the age of first birth creeps up more, and more women are going to be availing themselves of these technologies, and I think that we really ought to go carefully.”

(Ms. Shulevitz’s full interview can be heard here. PLEASE NOTE: I neither agree with nor endorse Ms. Shulevitz’s personal views on feminism, birth control, or family planning.)

An Everlasting Name

A pastor friend drew my attention to the following excerpt from January 4th’s Old Testament reading (Isaiah 56:1-8) from The Brotherhood Prayer Book‘s daily lectionary, which includes this part:

3. Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
The LORD will surely separate me from his people;
and let not the eunuch say,
Behold, I am a dry tree.
4. For thus says the LORD:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5. I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.


Comforting, don’t you think?

An Awkward Christmas Gift

I know, I know.

He Remembers the Barren is not exactly the kind of gift you want to wrap up and put under the tree for your loved one. Who wants to open a package and find this inside instead of something from Williams-Sonoma?

HRTB.Proof 1

I mean, did you see the cover? Talk about awkward when everyone else around the tree stops and asks your loved one, “Ooo, what did you get?”

And, let’s be honest, the book doesn’t exactly make a great stocking stuffer, either. It would go over like a detonated grenade amongst the dark chocolate, fuzzy socks, and iTunes gift cards.

Yet, I still think He Remembers the Barren  is a good gift worthy of giving, because the holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year for a barren woman. She can’t escape her grief when she is surrounded by children’s Christmas programs at church, family dinners galore, and greeting cards introducing everybody else’s newest editions to their families; she has to endure renditions of Connie Francis’s “Baby’s First Christmas” over the sound system whenever she goes shopping; she has to maintain her game face for an entire month’s worth of watching other people’s children enjoy the festivities and holiday traditions. It can be rough.

So, please consider giving your loved one He Remembers the Barren this season of Advent, but use some of your James Bond-esque stealth in the giving. Here are some suggested tactics (Q and M approved, of course):

  • Read the book yourself, so that you know what your loved one is going through and can better love her through her grief and suffering.
  • Give the book to your loved one’s parents, siblings, pastor, etc. for the same reasons.
  • Write a note to go with the book (i.e. “This book is not a label or a judgment. It is a great big hug from me to you. I read it, and it helped me know that God remembers me even when I suffer. I thought it might help you, too. I love you.”)
  • Give her the book in private and at a time when she does not need to be around people for awhile. You can mail it to her home, or you can hand it to her wrapped and tell her to wait until she is alone to open it.
  • If you two already have a history of openly discussing her barrenness, then give it to her in person when it is just the two of you. And tell her what she means to you.
  • Once you give it to her, don’t bring it up. Wait for her to talk about it or not talk about it.
  • Don’t be offended if she doesn’t read it for awhile. Depending on what phase of the grief cycle she is currently experiencing, she may want nothing to do with it at first. She might even be embarrassed or offended. Still, won’t it be nice that the book will be there for her when she is ready for it?

Thank you for caring enough for your loved one to do what is hard. She is blessed to have you in her life.

Second Annual Writing Contest

Christmas lightsDear Women, Men, Married, Single, Barren, and Blessed:

We’ve got another writing contest brewing.

Last year, we asked you to reflect on the topic “Advent and Barrenness.” This year, we would like you to submit posts on the topic “My Suffering Is a Blessing.” The winning post, chosen by our panel of hosts, will receive a free copy of He Remembers the Barren as well as a surprise. (That’s right. A surprise.) The top three finalists will also see their posts featured on our website.

Simply compose your post of 600 words or less in an email and send it to by December 25th. The winner will be announced on Epiphany (January 6th).

Please be sure to include your name and shipping address in the email.


Your HRTB Hosts