It’s tiring, isn’t it?

  • reading another failed pregnancy test
  • keeping calm as a new grandma asks when you’re going to start a family
  • reading the sixth birth announcement of the family down the street
  • watching other people’s children play in the snow
  • hearing your friends announce that they are adopting a child

These situations are so difficult. Why should that be? I want to say that I’m happy for those people, but sometimes I’m just not. I do my best to smile for the new parents and rejoice with the grandparents, but it’s no cake-walk. Sometimes it’s downright hard to be happy for those people. I fully realize that it’s a time to celebrate, for children are blessings from the Lord. However, when those blessings come to others and not to me…. Well, it pains me to be joyful because I want those blessings FOR ME.

imagesI’ve never been promised an easy life. I never knew I’d have trouble conceiving children. I never knew that parenting would be a challenge. I never fully understood that adoption would bring me tears of joy and sorrow. I never knew the pain that would come with watching a parent die.

Our vocations are given to us by God, but they can be tiring. Oh, it’s rewarding to be a Sunday School teacher, but that requires preparation and handling the unexpected questions that the children ask. It’s great to be a neighbor, but perhaps your own home is still rather quiet at night. The role of daughter holds its own blessings and challenges. A parent strives to give her young children her best but knows that she fails. Why must I consider that my parents might need me to assist them in making some decisions in their senior years? Why is it so hard? Some of us are given the vocation of mother; others are not.

Still, God has not promised that every vocation is going to turn out peachy-keen. This world is full of sin and sorrow. Parents anger their children. Teenagers rebel. Miscarriages occur. Adopted children ask haunting questions about birth parents. Our children, young and old, die unexpectedly. We gossip about the neighbors. We covet what our neighbors have. We despise the gifts that are given to others. Simply put – we fail in our vocations. WHY? And why can’t we have the vocations that we pick?  Why won’t God let ME decide what I want? Surely I know more than He does.

That thought process is exhausting. We desire to control every aspect of our lives. We want to keep our children safe, so we guard their every move. We expect to decide when to start a family, but we really don’t know how our bodies are going to react. We hope that the adoption process is a quick one, but we have no idea how long it’s really going to take. All of these things can consume us because we so desperately long to control everything. Why do we wear ourselves out like this?

Enter sin. That ugly reality of our own selfishness. Our sinful desire to rule the world. The dream that we can have the big house with two kids and a big dog and a cabin by the lake. The idea that people will want to be like us. The promise that we can have it all, if we only work harder. We deceive ourselves by thinking we know our own needs better than God does. We cling to the lie that we can have it all. It’s so tiring to live that way.

Yet there is forgiveness and mercy through Jesus Christ. He knows our struggles. He knows how hard it is to rejoice when you are suffering your own sorrows. He understands the emptiness in your home. He knows what it is likely to be alone and lonely. He desires only good things for you, even though you are surrounded by sadness. In fact, He does not leave you alone in your weariness and sorrow. He invites you to confide in Him and be comforted in Him.

Jesus says, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

You have also been given sisters in Christ who pray for you. We know those birth announcements are difficult, so we visit you and cry with you. We stand beside you at those baptism celebrations. We invite you into our lives because we love for you who you are. Let these dear sisters share your burdens, your sorrows, your tiredness. They will mourn with you, and, at the appropriate times, they will rejoice with you. Their vocation is given to them by God to pray for you and to love you.

So rest in Jesus. Lay your burdens at His feet. Rest in His arms that hold you. He will never tire of listening to you or caring for you because He loves you.



I was talking with my friend about adoption and the pain of not getting what you want and the guilt of not achieving what the world tells you others need and the sting of advanced maternal childlessness and the joy of knowing that God works all things for good and the peace of being forgiven in Christ Jesus of my covetousness and the blessed release that comes with trusting in God’s wise giving and not-giving of the gift of children when my friend put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said the most loving, encouraging thing:

“God is blessing you today.”

Not “your time is coming” or “it will soon work out for you” or “God will bless you someday with a child” or some other false promise or platitude.

No, my friend told me the truth from God’s Word that He is blessing me today, even in my barrenness.

And my faith, God’s precious gift to me, responded to that promise, and I rejoiced!

God with Us


My mom does something really nice. She sits on the edge of the world with me, both literally and figuratively.

She, who is uncomfortable in high places, hikes to the cliff of my choice — usually the nearest, rough-hewn, dangerous place to which perpetual grief has pushed me — and shares my rock.

Those moments are un-rushed. We don’t talk much. We sit and look and listen and be. I sometimes meet a sob at the end of every breath, but other times my lungs are too busy handling the clean fragrance of juniper berries to bother with anything else.

But Barrenness, my tethered companion, is on that rock, too, and my mom knows it. She wisely never tries to push it over the ledge, for she knows it would take me with it. No, she let’s us both remain, and she stays with us for as long as we want to sit there.

My dad does something really nice, too. He sits with me until the pain goes away.

One summer afternoon my insides throbbed and twisted and turned with the force of a hurricane, and I sat doubled over in pain for hours. My dad led me out onto the front step — there was more privacy outside than in that day — and weathered every minute of the storm by my side. He never said a word but offered me his arm to squeeze through the violent gusts. He was my lighthouse and my harbor, a silent, unmoving, hopeful presence amidst the raging tempest.

My parents serve as masks of God to me in my suffering. They sit with me and wait with me and bear with me, preaching to me with their presence that God, indeed, sits with me and waits with me and bears with me in my suffering, too. They are icons of God’s promise never to leave me nor forsake me, beautiful illustrations of Emmanuel, “God with us.”

I try to remember this whenever I am given the opportunity to sit with someone else in her suffering.

Unto Us


Two years ago, my husband gave me this icon for my birthday. At the time, I thought it a sweet gift but highly unseasonal. I’m a summer baby, after all, and it would be a full four months before Christmas came around again.

Still, I displayed the gift on our dining room buffet all through autumn, and I am so glad I did. Because one blustery day, I glanced up from my supper plate and saw the icon with eyes afresh. I looked past the star of wonder and the Christmas red and the Marian blue and saw only the words,

Unto Us a Child Is Born.

I couldn’t swallow my food for the lump in my throat.

I have read those words a hundred times and not just on the icon. All my Baptized life, I have known Isaiah‘s prophecy, and I am blessed to believe it. But not always have I known the prophecy as a barren woman.

Unto us.

Not just unto Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem and Israel, but unto us — me and my husband. A Child is born unto us, the barren couple.

The thing we’ve never known — the happy news we’ve never been able to trumpet to our family and friends — has been ours to share all along: Unto us a child is born! It’s a boy, and His name is Jesus. And He is born unto you, as well.

I now proudly display our happy birth announcement all year round.

Speak of the Dead


It is risky business speaking of our dead children. We risk crying in public. We risk the discomfort of others. We risk crowds scattering before us like dust before an electric fan, everyone afraid of “catching what we’ve got.” We risk dirt flying in our faces as others furiously spade the earth to cover the ugly remains of our dead.

Perhaps, worst of all, we risk indifference. Oh, the painful silence of our dead children being acknowledged in public only to be ignored!

It is easier to hold our dead safely and quietly in our hearts where no one can offend or abuse them. But the truth is that our children did not stay in our wombs, and they do not now live in our hearts. They left our bodies to return to dust. They went before us in death, and we follow them into the grave.

This is why we speak of our dead children: because they lived and died and, we trust, live again in Christ. Our dead children are remembered and loved not only by us but by God who Himself lived and died and rose again that we all might live forever with Him in the flesh.

Thank you, Kristen, Audrey, Adrienne, and Melanie, for speaking aloud of your children that we might be comforted.

You can listen to their words here.

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