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Bagworms

Growing up in a fruit and nut orchard I spent my time barefoot in the trees, playing in the irrigation water and eating fresh fruit right off the branch. One year a large, old black-walnut tree near our house got infected with bagworms. The worms wove silky-spider-webby-like bags all over the tree and my dad had to take action. If he didn’t then the worms would spread and soon he wouldn’t just have one infected tree he would have a whole orchard and then the next door neighbors would have a problem too. To kill the worms my dad carefully maneuvered the ladder and a wand of fire to burn away each worm bag. It was a bit dangerous and precarious but he had to do it to save the tree and contend for the health of his entire orchard and the orchards around us. Much of cultivation requires nurturing through watering and pruning but when an enemy shows up you have to fight for life and health. Cultivation requires, at times, contention.

In Psalm 139:16 God tells us that before there was even one of them that God ordained each and every one of our days in a book, set apart, holy unto God. From the very beginning, even our first day in utero is holy unto God and God has a plan and a desire for every one of our days no matter how small, how big or how old we are. What does the scriptures tell us about these plans? That they are for our welfare and for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). God is good period. He does not plan for bad things to happen to us or those we love at any stage of development. However, we need to be aware that God isn’t the only one who has plans for “our orchard”. Just like the bagworms tried to set-in and launched an attack against my dad’s orchard, Satan will launch attacks directly at our ability to fulfill our God-given destiny (both our big life destinies and our destinies of season or a position as a child or as a wife for example). The enemy’s whole focus and agenda is to steal, kill and destroy everything God has a destiny for: marriage covenants, children, even babies and more. The enemy doesn’t have a “they are too cute” or “they are too innocent” off-limit line, he will go anywhere a legal foothold is provided to him and do whatever he can to thwart the plans of God in our lives and He won’t wait until we are old enough to know it. That is where the role of a parent moves from the nurturing aspect of cultivation to the contention aspect. We create footholds in our children’s lives either for the Holy Spirit to flourish or for the evil one to set up a stronghold. To cultivate God-given destinies we must contend in prayer, word and deed for ourselves and for our children. When God gives us a glimpse of his destiny for our children or for our own lives whether it be through a prophetic word, a life-verse that jumps out at you in scripture, a God-given passion, however He communicates it we need to hang on to it. We need to write it down. We need to carry it around. We need to remind ourselves about it when things seem to be going awry. We need to speak it over our children, be intentional about cultivating it, and bring it up in prayer over and over again. If God has spoken it we can push for it in prayer, it is His promise for our child. We can push and push in prayer until every stronghold that is in the way is destroyed…and there will be obstacles. We need to pray and ask God to show us where the enemy has legal rights/footholds. Whether we are facing a generational fortress of darkness or a toe foothold we, as followers of Christ, have this promise: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5” God has given us every weapon we need to destroy every “bagworm” in our walnut tree. Even if those bagworms have already spread and have already infested our orchard or the orchards of family members or even generations of family members….OUR GOD IS BIGGER!

I always knew since I was a little girl that I was going to be a mom someday. I now realize that becoming a mom wasn’t just a desire of mine or simply a choice or a preference for me to make, no it was part of my God-given destiny, to cultivate children in the fear of the Lord. This became particularly important for me to realize when after the traumatic newborn phase due to tongue tie I never wanted to have children again. I knew though that what I had just gone through was not from God, it was not good. I also knew that God had given me the desire to have kids so I started praying immediately upon having this realization and asking God to heal me from the trauma and to help me want to have kids again. I was contending for my God-given destiny to motherhood! God did heal me within a few short weeks which is miraculous given the fact that we were still struggling, just not as bad. God wants me to be a mom and the enemy will try to take that desire away.

I didn’t realize that for years I was contending for my God-given motherhood destiny. When my husband and I got married in 2006 I would always talk about “when we have kids” so much so that it led one lady to comment as to why we just didn’t have kids yet. In 2010 we started trying to have kids. We kept on trying in 2011, in 2012, in 2013, in 2014, in 2015 and in 2016…something was clearly wrong. Along the way it was tempting to just let my heart become hardened against the desire to have biological children in order to protect myself from the cruel and unusual emotional roller coaster of hope and heart break that is infertility. I am so thankful that during my journey more than one woman told me to remember that God had given me that desire to become a mother. This gave me strength to keep on trying and most importantly to keep on praying. Finally in 2016 God called me to do a fast starting out with 24 dry, 24-48 hour water only then 21 day juice. Around this time a friend of mine on the prayer team named Laverne had an anointing from God to pray over someone who had a request of prayer for the desire of their heart. I remember that prayer meeting, I was all of a sudden in a surprise and sudden battle for my destiny. On one shoulder thoughts like “oh you have prayed for this so many times at the altar with so many godly women, cried so many tears, you have reached a place of peace and contentment (see my blog post 5 years), is it really worth making a big deal about again today?” On the other hand I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to raise my hand for prayer. I raised my hand. I was contending for my destiny and I listened to God, hallelujah! After the prayer meeting disbanded two of the women took me aside for further prayer. One laid her hands on my womb and was led by the Holy Spirit to sing a song in tongues over my body and I now realize over my destiny. Susie at the same time was given a vision from God of me and my husband playing with a baby boy. Just a short time later and after years of trying my husband and I conceived…our joy and delight, our baby boy Caleb! Incredible! A prophetic vision and a miraculous conception! I also now realize that the fast God called me to was part of the contention for my destiny. Through my experience with Caleb I have found out that the root cause of my infertility is due to a leaky gut and all of the overgrowth of gross things like Candida (a fungus) that go with that. God knew this. I do not believe it was coincidental at all that He called me to do a detox fast right before getting pregnant! Not only did this fast help me conceive but it helped me keep my pregnancy as high toxic load (again linked to leaky gut) has been linked to miscarriage. My heart was so fragile after all of the infertility heart break already and God protected me from the shattering affect a miscarriage would have had on my heart. The fast God called me to do was not easy either. Contention is not easy. It was not easy for my dad to carefully balance himself on a ladder and burn out each bag of worms from the tree in the hot New Mexican summer but he did it. I faced cravings for food to feed the candida etc. that were so vivid and so hard to resist that I thought I would go crazy. It took a lot of determination to obey God and to cry out to him for help to get through that fast. Contention for my destiny through prayer and not letting my God-given dream die led to fasting, led to divine appointments, led to spiritual songs and prophetic visions and to a stronghold that was destroyed enough that it led me to get me pregnant and to a delightful baby boy! Hallelujah! I am now preparing to destroy that generational fortress out of my life all the way, in Jesus name.

Just a few hours before I went into labor God gave me a “jump-out-at-you” Bible verse promise for my labor and delivery: “…I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25b”. Less than 24 hours later my baby wasn’t breathing and was being intubated a second time by the ER doctor since the first intubation had failed by the labor and delivery team. God’s promise to me from the night before about saving my children had seemed a bit strange then but all of a sudden I knew this was a promise from God and in that moment it was what I hung on to and it gave me the strength and the faith to contend like I have never contended before in front of God and man in that delivery room. Crying out to God for what seemed like an eternity in front of everyone I prayed earnestly, I cried, I sang, I fought and I stood firm and my baby BREATHED….HALLELULAH (see my blog post Caleb Gabriel). The ER doctor came and saw us the next day and told me he really believed my prayers were the reason my little one had life. God gave me a scripture promise and a song, He gave me tools for the battle that He knew was just around the corner. God has prophetic words for our children all the time for us to use against every bag in every tree in our stewardship. We need to seek close relationship with Him for them and we need to herald them in battle. If the Word of the Lord has spoken it then we need to realize with the fear of God that we are accountable to it and can stand firm in it. It doesn’t mean the fight will be easy, there will be precarious moments but we have to stand firm.

I am still fighting for my son’s God-given destinies. We are up against generational curses related to tongue-tie, candida overgrowth/leaky gut, etc. This fortress is big and it is hard. My life and the fight against the “bagworms” would be a lot easier if I had heeded the Word of God and refrained from giving Caleb omeprazole but it doesn’t mean we are defeated. I did lay “lifeless” on the battlefield, frozen by my broken heart for a time after I realized the scope of the consequences from me discarding the warning of God, but I can stand up again and fight cause the grace of God is part of my heritage as a daughter of God. Grace. So it is not easy, we are still fighting the “bagworms” and I have realized that this “bagworm” infestation is so much bigger than “my orchard”, but we have the victory in Christ Jesus, even if we are surrounded by worms we have the victory. So just like I kept on contending for my destiny to become a mother and just like I kept on contending for my son’s life in the delivery room, and just like I kept on contending for my son’s oxygen which God gave him at 12 weeks of age (hallelujah, see my blog post Red Lips)…just like those and many other times I will keep on getting up and bearing the name and the word of the Lord in battle. Sometimes when I “get hit” in battle I feel like just lying there and crying and sometimes I do just lay there and cry for a bit, but my goal is to get up faster each time because to wallow in despair and discouragement is to wallow in agreement with the enemy. To sacrificially praise God in all circumstances is to agree with God. God deserves my praise no matter what and praise is a weapon of victory in and of itself!

I will praise Him and I will agree with Him that my son’s life, my son’s body, my son’s mouth, throat, stomach and bowels will be a living testimony of:

Jehovah Rapha, The God Who Heals Caleb
of Jehova Nissi, The God Whose Banner over Caleb is Love
of El Roi, The God Who Sees Caleb inside and out
of Jehova Jireh, The God Who Provides for Caleb
of El Shaddai, the All-Sufficent One

That will be and is my son, a living testimony. I am striving to cultivate, in the fear of the Lord, a living testimony of the Lord God Almighty. I am rearing a holy image of God and I am pressing in for my son’s physical body to not only reflect a Good God’s physical image but for his mind, heart and soul to reflect the same Good God, in Jesus’ name.

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
 Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’”

Isaiah 44:1-4

Dayenu

One of the most encouraging and most beautiful blogs that I have ever read is called “It Would Have Been Enough” by Nichole Sawatzky. In it she explains that the Hebrew passover song “Dayenu” declares that it would have been enough even if God had just parted the red sea, or just fed the Israelites manna and nothing more. Each miracle, each provision, each manifestation of His presence during the Exodus into the nation’s God-given destiny was a gift that would have been enough to greatly and deeply praise the Almighty King of the universe even if that was it!

I would like to make my own version of Dayenu:

If He had just healed my broken heart of infertility,
and not allowed me to conceive
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed me to conceive and to feel the precious kicks of my little one,
and not allowed me to hear my little one cry
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed my little one to breathe,
and not given me an Owlet Oxygen monitor through an Instagram contest
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just alerted me to the problem with my newborn’s oxygen saturation which saved his life more than once,
and not led me to discover that my newborn was on the brink of starving
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just helped me find out my newborn was hungry and not getting enough milk,
and not provided the special needs bottle Caleb needed to eat without hours of screaming
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the special needs bottle Caleb needed to thrive,
and not warned me against giving my newborn wheat cereal in his bottle as advised
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just warned me not to give my son wheat cereal in his bottles,
and not told me my son had food allergies before the doctors caught on
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just revealed to me that my son had developed food allergies before the doctors caught on,
and not healed his oxygen saturation levels

–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just healed my son’s oxygen levels without invasive medical care after 12 long weeks,
and not revealed to me the generational root to his feeding difficulties

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just revealed to me the root of our feeding difficulties known as tongue tie,
and not warned me against giving Caleb Omeprazole
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just stopped at the warning me about the omeprazole when I decided to listen to the doctors instead,
and not led me to a diet that can deeply nourish in spite of and even reverse the scope of food reactions that resulted
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the healing and nourishing diet plan,
and not helped me get Caleb back on my breastmilk even with doctors saying it would be like winning the lottery
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just shown me what to eat so Caleb could drink breastmilk again,
and not provided me with a hospital grade pump

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just provided me with a free hospital grade breast pump even when no place would take my insurance referral,
and not helped me find the support group I did for Caleb’s healing journey
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the support group,
and not provided a doctor who takes our insurance and knows how to help Caleb
 –Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the doctor who understands what is going on in Caleb’s body,
and not shown me the root cause of my infertility at the same time then
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

And Dayenu continues forever and ever. God’s wonderful miracles and works of provision deserve all of our attention and glory in continual praise. He is the master of the universe, time, and space;  how great and mighty is He that He takes such detailed care for each of us, Who loves us and speaks plans that are good for us. Let us press in to our Good Good Father and contend in prayer for everything He bought for us and for our children on the cross. Let us not forget one of His benefits.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

Psalm 103:2-6

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Caleb Gabriel

THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH
At my baby shower I spoke about my son’s name, Caleb, and how his name will forever be a reminder to me, and to him, to remain wholly devoted to God whether we are entering a promised land or a wilderness. Either way it takes courage to follow God, to fear Him versus fearing our situation. These are things that God used infertility to teach me and the Biblical heritage attached to my son’s name is a reminder of these important lessons. That leaves Gabriel, which means The Lord is my Strength – how beautifully and how powerfully this name has become intertwined into my son’s legacy. During labor I talked about my son Caleb Gabriel and was able to focus on God to be my strength, speaking my son’s name and its meaning over me as the power of the contraction would take over my body. However no one had any idea what was to come at delivery – how this name that my husband chose for our son really in a sense was prophetic because it was the strength of God that saved my baby. It was God, who after my son did not breathe at birth, when the oxygen mask failed, a failed intubation attempt, it was God who finally used an ER doctor who was rushed into Labor and Delivery to successfully get my son to respond during a second attempt at intubation. During this entire process I did not stop calling on the name of God, crying out loud to Him to save my son, declaring that He is good and He is the authority over my son’s life, crying out that every chain was broken in the name of Jesus and crying out to my baby to hang on, mommy was there. It was shocking watching tube after tube being inserted into my baby and tons of people swarming in and around him as my own OBGYN continued to work on me to deliver the placenta and to stitch me up. Time stood still for me, I noticed nothing but my son on the “baby spa” and focused on God saving my baby until finally about 45 minutes later my baby was placed safely in my arms.

PROVIDENCE
Just a few hours before breaking my waters on my due date to send me into labor God placed some verses strongly on my heart. I wrote this to a friend who was praying with me in preparation for labor:

“I was just praying my list of verses and two of them in particular feel like they are extra important for me to be praying:

‘For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.’
Isaiah 49:25, NKJV

‘ The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’
2 Tim. 4:18
Out of the two Isaiah 49:25 was most heavily impressed upon my heart. I did not realize how literally this promise would be fulfilled within the next 24 hours…nor did I realize how God had providentially provided to save my baby from low oxygen levels once we got home from the hospital.
Just a few days before God brought my baby into the world I got an Owlet oxygen and heart monitor in the mail that I won on CyberMonday through an Instagram contest sponsored by TempTraq… After 3 consecutive red alarms and low oxygen lasting 15-20 minutes as my son soundly slept early Sunday morning, 8 days after my baby was born we found ourselves in the ER and then the Pediatric ICU with oxygen desaturation episodes. If it hadn’t been for that monitor at home that God provided me with through a contest who knows? Now, with a medical-grade pulse-oximeter it is so wonderful to see great oxygen levels as my baby sleeps in his bassinet.
The Lord is my baby’s strength. When the tubes from delivery put my baby and I behind with feedings due to his sore throat and a resulting poor suck reflex – the Lord was our strength. We overcame, we met a 24 hour deadline for weight gain and no more meconium. My son is brave, he is courageous, God is his strength – these are his foundations: grounded, founded in the Lord. Where does my baby’s help come from? His help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.

HOODWINKED

So where does that leave things, how am I handling all this? To be honest the question “why” has been on my lips before God. It is ok to ask God why, as long as we are willing to wait for His correction, correcting our perspective to align with his. Often we don’t get an explicit, “x,y,z” answer, but instead the strength to simply trust in Him as our Sovereign Lord and our Good Good Father. I don’t know why we were in the hospital more than home the first 2 weeks of my son’s life, or why he had to get an IV and a lumbar puncture, why he didn’t breathe right away when he was born or why he has to be on caffeine, but what I do know is that God saved my son’s life, God knew there was an oxygen problem and provided, God has blessed me with a reward, a gift, a heritage, a son precious beyond words. My son is actually a very healthy little boy. The hospital ran the gamut of tests on him, ultrasounds, x-rays, he is brave and strong. I have a lot to be thankful for.
Something his pediatrician told me this week has really struck me. He said he wanted to reassure me and give me some good news so he ordered a test that he really didn’t have to that I was worried about. He said this should be a really good time in my life, celebrating the birth of my baby boy. When he said that it struck me, all of these events and tests had really put me in a place of concern to the point that I was spending a lot of my time researching every possible thing about it all to the point that I was worrying about things I didn’t have to worry about. It is natural of course given the circumstances that I would find myself researching things and looking for symptoms – but the bad thing is I was letting it rob me of bliss – of simply enjoying these precious weeks where my baby is so tiny and brand new. I wasn’t resting in the Lord or in His joy, I was being robbed of this. I felt hoodwinked by it all – God has answered my prayers. He has given me a precious son, He has saved His life. God’s got this. I can trust Him with my baby just like I trusted Him with my barren womb. Now it is time for me to enjoy my blessing. Now it is time for me to enjoy my son. We are hidden together in Christ, in The Rock of Ages-The Rock Eternal.

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 16:3-4

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES 
There are two songs that now are strongly linked in my memory to the birth and delivery of my son and interestingly enough they both have to do with names. Just as my son’s first and middle name have become very significant testimonies, there is another name that stands above it all – God’s name. I have an entire playlist that played on repeat during my labor – but there is one song that sticks out to me starkly – it brings me back to those moments of thanking God for the contraction, accepting the contraction, and relying on God’s strength to get me through. Interestingly I only had a vague knowledge of the song when I added it – really only it’s name and the images of Time Square – not the song itself, but the sound of it fit the mood I was going for. Now, however, it is part of my story, part of my son’s story. There is truly No Other Name. The second song I sang as a prayer out loud as I begged God for my son’s life at his birth, There is Power in the Name of JESUS to Break EVERY Chain! Amen.

Naomi’s Baby Story

I told my baby story at my shower – I didn’t know if I’d every have a baby shower, and I’m so thankful to God that I did. I hope you find the story of my journey through infertility encouraging to you no matter if you face infertility or not. We will all face something that feels crippling or overwhelming at some point in our life. We are all busy with the building of our household whether it has children in it or not – who will you trust with the building?

God Knew

When my husband and I started to try to have a baby in 2010 God knew that it wouldn’t be until 2016 that we finally would conceive our son Caleb.

When I was in my mother’s womb, God knew that I would struggle with infertility issues when I grew up, but that didn’t stop Him from planting the desire to be a mother deep in my heart from a young age. That didn’t stop Him from placing me in a family where I was the oldest of six, surrounded by babies and younger children–I’m so thankful for those years that I feel prepared my heart for loving and valuing children – whether they “are mine” or not! All children belong to God first and foremost as their Creator*. He gets to see their first smile in the womb, their first grimace, their very first movement, their “firsts” belong to Him. God gets the first fruits of our life in the secret place of our mother’s womb. Even today with the advancements of ultrasound technology we come no where close to the 24/7 intimacy God has with our precious little ones as He tenderly and lovingly knits them–as He knitted us –together.

God doesn’t make mistakes. God is on time. God is perfect.

In January of 2013 I created a business card for a dear friend of mine as a class project for school. I needed to created one and she had a business that needed one. She created cute, lettered cloth blocks by hand. I borrowed one to help me with my project and I ended up never giving it back to her before she moved out of state. Flash forward to 2016, God has blessed my womb with life and another blessing of a friend graciously and kindly offers to take some photos of me to help document this miraculous time in my life. That morning before we met up for breakfast and photos she wanted to know if I had any wooden blocks with letters on them to help with the photos, I had none but thought maybe we could go by Walmart and grab some after breakfast. Anyway I remembered though that I had a cloth block in one of my office drawers somewhere…I just couldn’t remember the letter on it! I hoped it would still be in the drawer that I thought I’d last put it in, it was — way in the back.

Lo and behold the letter on the block was the letter “C”. In the bold color red, just like the shirt I had chosen to wear that morning for photos.

Before the beginning of time God knew me. He knew all of my paths that I’d take and every moment of my life. He knew that my husband and I would come very close to choosing to stop trying to have biological kids before He would open my womb. God knew that we would have a son and that we would choose to name Him Caleb. In 2013 He knew this and the cloth block my friend gave me to help me with my project had the letter “C” on it. How fun it must be for God, like a big surprise, 3 1/2 years earlier and He is the only one that knew as she handed me a block of cloth, both of us clueless how meaningful it would become. How amazing and how loving is our Father in Heaven truly is!

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Picture by Magdalena Ferrandino

 ” I could ask the darkness to hide me
  and the light around me to become night—
     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.”  – Psalm 139:11-16

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” – God speaking to Jeremiah (the prophet) 1:5

* Whether we accept the price God paid to adopt us as His child and become our Spiritual Father is different than God being our Creator. See John chapter 8 and Romans chapter 8.

Joy in the Wilderness

During my journey through the wilderness of infertility God was with me every step of the way. He led me in, just as He has led me out. Just as He provided for Elijah in Kerith Ravine, God sent me His Spirit and His truth to feed me and to sustain me even as my womb remained barren and void of life, like a drought – a drought I had been born with. When the test results had first come back showing that I wasn’t ovulating and that I wasn’t creating the hormone levels needed to create nor sustain a pregnancy I had a choice. Would I decide what I was going to do next, or would I let God decide what I was going to do.

God tests us in the wilderness to see if we are truly fully devoted to Him, if we have a heart toward Him like Joshua and Caleb had even as they marched back into the wilderness away from the Promised Land. To be fully devoted to God is to be fully devoted to His authority, to His Lordship over everything, including the decisions we make. I determined to wait upon the Lord and to only do what I felt sure He was OK with me doing in my efforts to become a mom. Ultimately I was brought to the crossroads that even though this had been a dream of mine my whole life that if it was not God’s will, then God’s will be done. I had to submit to the pain of a failed attempt at pregnancy over and over again and declare that God was good, no matter what. The thing that amazed me in all of this was that God taught me about His goodness in the midst of the wilderness. He taught me by allowing me to experience the depth and the love of His goodness when I all I had was Him. He taught me that He was more than enough.

When I took that really hard step and declared that God was good, as I cried and sobbed my heart upon the floor I should add…God responded by bolstering me up in Him, by doubling my portion of faith and by filling my heart with joy–joy in Him. We can have joy in the wilderness. It all just depends on whether or not we will say:

Have your way in me oh Lord.

A few weeks ago a pastor in my life, Clay Gatlin, shared a message out of Proverbs and spoke about God’s authority and determination of “our vat”. How big our vat is, and whether it is overflowing or not. This could mean a myriad of things for each of us, our income, our health, whatever our lot. For me it was my womb, God has spent almost the past 6 years teaching me and bringing me into a deeper awareness of His authority over my womb and over my fertility. He did this through a womb that remained barren and lifeless year after year. It has been a journey of sorrow for sure, but one that I’m thankful for because God brought me so much closer to Him and to a place of trust. He taught me about the great wealth of His goodness as He challenged and grew my faith in regards to His love and goodness. When I stepped out and declared God’s goodness over my circumstances, no matter what–I felt such an immeasurable level of peace and joy in the Lord, a peace and joy that sustained me and healed my heart even in the midst of a barren “vat”.

I’m so excited to tell you that my husband and I are expecting. After 5 1/2 of trying, and almost to the end of the time I was willing to go through the emotional roller coaster anymore, lo and behold God has filled my vat to overflow with life! When Pastor Clay spoke about how some of us have small vats and others have big vats and that we shouldn’t compare our vats that really resounded with me because God doesn’t want me to compare my vat with with other women’s vats, other women who will be blessed abundantly in their fertility. I just need to keep my eyes on God and rejoice in Him during this most amazing season in my life as my vat is literally bursting forth (my belly is surely growing and I love it)! I love the my vat is physically growing as a living testimony of God’s perfect timing and goodness. 🙂 I am soooo incredibly thankful to God for my baby and I love him so much already.

We each have our place to serve and to bring glory to God in the kingdom before He calls us home. I rejoice with women who have been called by God to bear many children. I rejoice in God for the place that He has for me in His kingdom as well. I rejoice with all women for the place that He has for each of us as His dearly beloved bride. Oh how deep and how wide is the love and the passion of our bridegroom for each of us. Lose yourself in Him. Catch your reflection in His tender gaze. We are each so precious in His sight, the apple of His eye.

 

Childbearing Hips

As one negative pregnancy test led to the next and to the next, each cycle became less of an exciting wait and more of a dreaded encounter, hoping against all odds that this would be the month, only to have those hopes dashed be a single pink line and those telltale cramps. Agonizing cramps that seemingly mock me from within my own body. Taunting me that I have the body parts but that I’m broken, that I don’t work, that I might look like a perfectly fine woman on the outside-but that I’m not. Cramps that I still have to suffer. Suffer every month for what-for nothing my mind cries out. The frustration at “being broken” can feel overwhelming at times. Questions of “why was I created to be a woman if I don’t even work” flit across my mind as cruel reality brings jarring pain to such a crescendo that my infertility cannot be ignored–not today. I can go for a few weeks acting like everything is normal, but then the cramps, then the reality. The empty womb crying out at me–”don’t you dare forget!”– a war between my body and my mind, between my hormone levels and my desire to be a mother.

The identity crisis of being a woman with infertility is real and it was unexpected. It caught me off-guard when I began to feel trapped in my body, a body that didn’t work. A body that looked like it should work-but wasn’t. My childbearing hips were helping me carry in the groceries, or a box up the stairs, but that wasn’t what they were supposed to carry. They were supposed to help me carry a baby, my baby. Like I’d carried brothers and sisters growing up. Instead here I was all alone with no baby and these childbearing hips. Watching the diagnostic ultrasounds of my womb, finding out the exact measurements of these body parts that remained vacant, lifeless. I felt like I was useless, like I was defective. Betrayed by my own body it felt like there had been a mistake. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be a mom. My dream of raising children, homeschooling, making homemade bread, my body didn’t match up. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

Something is wrong. Things are broken. There is sickness. There is disease. I’m not the first person to feel trapped in, or betrayed by their body and I won’t be the last. In the end our bodies will fail each and every one of us, expiring to return to the dust because of the curse of sin that is upon us and all of creation. A curse that we’ve inherited and that we perpetuate. A decay that renders our ability to stay young, strong and healthy out of our control as time marches forward until we breathe our last. And when we breathe our last it will surely matter what or who we identity with and as. It matters because if your identity is founded only in the life that you spend in this body then you are guaranteed to be disappointed, to be betrayed by your body and by your idolatry. But, if your identity is rooted in Christ Jesus then you are guaranteed life eternal. Whenever I feel frustrated with my body, whenever the sorrow washes over me I cling to Jesus and I remember that my identity is in Him. I am His. I belong to Him. I am His daughter. I am His bride. He satisfies me with His Living Waters and comforts me with His strong arms. He holds me and He sustains me. He is my confidence. He is my Rock. He is my salvation. He is my hope. I will never be disappointed when my eyes are on Him, and they will be on Him forever–for when I leave this body I will be going home to a place that He is preparing for me. A place where He is the Light, where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more shame.

I refuse to agree with the lies of Satan that seek to take my eyes off of Jesus. I speak the Truth of God’s Word over myself. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am carefully made by the hands of my loving Father Who knew me in the womb, Who knew me even before He formed me. God made me a woman, God has given me the heart of a mother and I am so thankful for these things. I rejoice because of His tender love, He is my Victory. I am so incredibly thankful for my body. I am thankful for every part of my body. Yes this creation may be under the curse of our sin, but God is the Redeemer and He is making all things new. God is my Redeemer! He is my “dream-come-true-Boaz”, He has paid the greatest price so I can be with Him forever and ever and I gladly give myself over to Him, to His authority, to His will. He can–and is–making something beautiful out of the mire clay. I am free to dance in joy as He lifts me up from the ashes. He has brought me into His glory and I look forward to be taken into the full measure of His glory. His strong arm upholds me, His strong right hand defends and protects me.

I need thee every hour Lord. I need Thine Righteousness to revive me for Thine power to course through me, for You Holy Spirit to wash and cleanse me, for Your Word to lead me. For every part of me to be enveloped in Your presence, under Your guidance and authority. Every lie, every doubt hold no power over me-for I sit down under Your shadow with great delight and Your fruit is sweet to my taste, You bring me to Your banqueting House and Your banner over me is love. You satisfy me and embrace me, You come leaping and bounding over the mountains and hills and lead me into the Cleft of the Solid Rock, through Your pasture among the lilies. (See Song of Solomon 2).

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.  2 Corinthians 10:-6

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  I Thessalonians 5:16-24

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:1-8