Four years ago, I sat in bed and cried on my 35th birthday. I was another year older, another year without a family. I had no idea then that I was in the home stretch of our family wait. All I knew was that my arms were still empty. Last week, on my 39th birthday, my twin sister and I went to her cabin high up in the Arizona mountains with our husbands and collective four boys. A few days ago, I flipped back in my prayer journal from 2015 to re-visit the words. I didn’t realize just how close the Spirit of God and just how loudly He was speaking was in those last, desperate waiting days until I read page after page after page of notes and prayers and insights from the richest quiet time mornings when I had nothing else to do but dig.
These words are the first in a collection of writings from the final months of our ten-year-long journey of delayed fertility. In them, I’m pulling back the privacy-curtain and taking you inside the pages of my prayer journals to give insight to those who have not experienced infertility, and hope to those who are neck-deep in the lonely-midst of it. Welcome to The Last Eleven Months.
It was a warm spring evening when I sat at an outdoor patio table set for three with two Maui girlfriends who had only known the last year of our then nine-year waiting journey. Between the two of them, there were a collective five children. The wine glasses were full, the pupus ordered, and the three of us slipped into easy girls-night conversation.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to steer itself toward our wait and the one question that was beginning to be asked more often and with growing intensity. “We believe God will perform His miracle,” I would repeat often. These particular girlfriends knew our story well – it wasn’t new information. But they finally asked the same question everyone else was thinking:
what if the miracle is in-vitro?
The next morning, I couldn’t shake the conversation. I began my quiet time thinking about family and miracles. And I wondered why every conversation that wound its way around to our story ended with lengthy discussions on the merit of in-vitro or adoption. Yes, any conception of a child is a miracle. I have many friends whose paths to motherhood involved both of those outcomes. Each one of them is a direct answer to their years-long prayers, each babe a miracle. But that’s not our miracle, I would say.
As I rolled my friends’ words over in my mind that morning, I wondered why the conversation always went that direction. I wondered why no one had ever encouraged me to wait, to stand by our conviction, to wait on God and for that miracle that we believe He promised us. Why as everyone pushing so hard for us to take matters into our own hands and make this thing happen once and for all?
(9:05am) Friday – 4/17/15
Is it time for me to drop the bone? I wrestled through the sudden, reasonable doubt and asked God some rapid-fire questions. Am I clenching my fists in frustration and stubbornness, refusing to see that the miracle could come about in a way that I’m not interested in? OR am I being faithful to what You have called me? Am I limiting You and putting this all into a tidy little box that You want to work outside of? Was there truth to what my friends were saying last night?
I had no idea at the time that we were ten months away from the end of our ten-year-long journey, but I sensed it. I feel like I’m approaching a crossroads, I wrote, like we are nearing the end of this journey. I have the splitting trail in my sight – do I pick up my mat and walk, making it happen? Or do I sit down on this stone and wait longer for Your miracle-touch?
I was terrified of getting that far and waiting that long and then, right there at the very end, interrupting His glory. And I could see the silliness of it all because any child that I could hold in my arms would be a miracle to me.
I tucked my prayer journal away, but the questions still weighed heavy. I talked in-depth with a few other people, re-read a few pages in Scripture, re-checked my heart. The next morning, I brought my morning coffee to my daily perch and continued my conversation with God.
(9:40am) Saturday – 4/18/15
As Josh put it, we are in a crucial time of waiting, I wrote. Right now, at this moment, I am renewed in my determination to wait because I know Your glory will be rich in it. I wrote the James 4:17 Amplified Version words that would be my waiting-strength for the last home-stretch:
so any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin
“Submit yourselves unto God,” Charles Spurgeon wrote in an 1876 sermon on James 4. “There is no sorrow in so doing. Who can refuse to be vanquished by love?”
And then I recounted God’s most recent lavish love that I could recognize tangibly in our wait: the client-turned-girlfriend who had watched me live out my faith since Shawna died and had just given her life to Christ. The record-breaking print order I received in my business. The last-minute trip to Paris on 12-days’ notice with only $113 out of my pocket. Thank You that there is so much beauty in this wait, I wrote. Thank You that I get to experience this side of Your Spirit-speaking, love-vanquishing character in this wait.