Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Blog: Scraps of Soul

I have a dear friend that I have known since I was three.  Her name is Amanda.  We grew up together, went to college together, and have stayed connected through Mommydom.

Several summers ago I led a group of about 25 women through Beth Moore's The Patriarchs.  If you have never done this study... I highly recommend it!  It is Beth's best, in my opinion.  If you have never done a Beth Moore study, you must.

Anyway, in this summer study of 25 women, I think there were maybe three that had not experienced some form of infertility or miscarriage loss.  Amanda was one of the ones that was in the midst of the storm.

Over the weekend I read a posting on Amanda's blog, Scraps of Soul, that was so beautifully written and so poignant, I asked her if I could share it with all of you.  Please check out her blog... she's so wise, but enjoy this posting here.  I hope it touches you, as it did me.

The Age of Miracles
The age of miracles is not yet over, and that you may tie to.
--Susan, Anne of Ingleside

Having a baby is like falling in love. While you're waiting for both to happen to you, it seems everyone around you already has what you so desperately want. To those struggling with infertility, to lose "unlucky" in love: both feel like a right is being denied them.

But then when you fall in love, or you become a mother, you discover that both are a privilege you could never actually deserve. (Neither is actually as romantic as you imagine, either, but that's the subject of another blog.)

Before I "tried" to have a baby, I didn't think much about what it took to get pregnant, in terms of the inner biology, that is. The mysterious union of cells, all the ways that the right things have to happen at the right time? No, mainly, conception seemed like something that could happen at any moment and needed to be prevented. But then once I was ready to be a mom, I thought of little else. My first pregnancy happened fast. My second, well, it took about a year, one of the longest, most frustrating, face-up-to-all-my-control-issues years of my life.

Almost eight years into motherhood, and surrounded by women in their childbearing years, I now appreciate the miracle that each pregnancy and each birth is. And though we know a lot, scientifically, about fertility and biology, in my personal experience, babies often come without seeming to play by any of these rules.

Just a few examples from my inner circle:

*A mom who sought medical help to get pregnant the second time and was told that biologically, she shouldn't have even been able to have her first. The mom's reaction? Appreciate the first as a miracle.

*A mom who spent her life savings on IVF treatments, and through it had one son and then fraternal twins. And then got pregnant with Baby #4 by accident one year later. The mom's reaction? After the initial panic, she thanked God for the miracle.

*A mom who was "done" having children and using preventative measures, and got pregnant with Baby #3 anyway. Again, initial panic, followed by thanking God for the miracle and asking Him to now provide what she needed as a mother.

*A mom who spent years in fertility treatments, had given up, and then suddenly had her first. And then five more, in a span of six years. (That one is my grandmother.)

*A woman whose cycle was so out of whack that she decided there was no hope of getting pregnant without intervention. And then got pregnant without it that very month. (That one is me.) My reaction? To praise God for the miracle, Olivia Faith, named for the peace I found on my journey to have her, and the faith that got stronger for having walked that road with God.

On my personal journey, what I've decided is that if God thinks its the right time for you to have a baby, He gives you a baby, no matter what science or medicine says. I was thinking about this in church on Sunday, hearing the story of the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she was going to have a baby that would defy science -- even simple first century science -- altogether. And when she asks, well, how is that going to happen, I don't even have a man here, the angel tells Mary that even her "old and barren" relative Elizabeth is pregnant too, "For nothing is impossible with God."

It suddenly occurred to me that in bringing about the Messiah, the Savior, he performed several fertility miracles. It started with Abraham and Sarah, father of Isaac, who would become father of all Israel, the line from who Jesus would come. God told Abraham that his descendants would be as great in number as the stars, even though his wife was barren and was now in her "old age." When Abraham told Sarah, she laughed with incredulity. And God struck her mute for a while as punishment. "Don't believe I can do it, huh Sarah? Why don't you just be quiet and think for a little bit about who I Am?" God delivered on that promise, and then Sarah laughed for another reason: joy.

Then, thousands of years later, God blessed another "old" and barren woman with a baby, Elizabeth, who gave birth to John the Baptist, who Jesus called the greatest man to have lived. When God told Elizabeth's husband, he laughed incredulously too, and he too was struck mute for a while. "You know the scriptures, Zachariah, and you're still laughing? Now you go sit quietly and think for a while, too."

And then finally, God does his greatest fertility miracle yet: he makes a virgin a Mom. This is a stumbling block for a lot of people. This is too hard to believe. To some it doesn't even seem necessary to believe in the virgin conception; Jesus can be who he says he is even if he had a biological earthly father. But me, I think it is literally true, and falls right in line with what God was doing all along. "You think I can't do what I've promised? I brought the earth out of nothingness. Now, watch this."

I have walked the infertility road with a lot of women who love God, and this thread through Scripture of God blessing women in barrenness, conception, and motherhood touches my heart. I love that He chose to bring Jesus to us through women, through moms. I think he really loved those women, and he really has a heart for women today, whether they are mothers, or want to be mothers, or are mothers of spiritual -- if not biological -- children.

I love my mighty God, even though believing He can do anything -- absolutely anything -- challenges me because it means I have to still trust Him even when he chooses not to. I watched one dear friend face up to this just this year, a clear word from God that he was not going to give her any more children. She accepted this with faith, and came out the other end of her long struggle with a sense of satisfaction and a clearer picture of who her Father is than she ever had before. Another miracle.

I'm grateful for the miracles of my daughters, for the privilege, the unearned gift of being their Mommy. I'm grateful that the age of miracles is not yet over. Because though they have been conceived, carried and issued forth -- a process that challenged my sense of control at every turn -- I'm even more in need of God's miracles now that my kids are out. A lot of things seem impossible. How can I keep them safe? How can I teach them what they need to know to live in this world? How can I prepare their hearts for eternity? How in the world will I pay for college? I can't really do any of these things. But I'm waiting on God, because I know he's already said to me, "Oh yeah? Seems impossible? Just watch what I can do."