I see

I’m sitting in the nursery in the glider on which I’ve put many miles rocking two little boys, and I look up to see this. A sweet friend made this when I was pregnant with Liam, and it has hung over the changing table as a constant reminder of the waiting, weeping, and prayers before my pregnancy with him.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget those days while I’m in the thick of raising a 2.5 yr and 1 yr old. These days are long and sweet and wild and hard. I get discouraged and become self-critical. I worry that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not enough. I miss sleep and spontaneity and a little more freedom.

And yet, I’m reminded of God’s incredible goodness to me. He gives the best gifts at exactly the right time. I look at these boys and see the life I wanted so desperately. I see them and am filled with joy, and also remember the deep sorrow and ache.

And I see you, sister, who is waiting. Who is walking that hard, lonely road. I know your pain and I haven’t forgotten you. Most importantly, God hasn’t forgotten you and is writing the most beautiful story for you. Even when hope hurts, He is still good.

Hope, revisited.

It’s a little funny that I based a blog around the concept of hope and what God was teaching me about hope, but sometimes I think that I still don’t have a good grasp on the meaning of the word. Often, I still think of hope in the sense of “I really hope ______ happens.” In this way, it’s a wish, a want, a dream, or an uncertainty in the future; something you’re not sure will happen, but you “hope” that it will.

I was reminded back in December, however, that this is not representative of Biblical hope (sidenote: I wrote this post originally back in December and am just now getting around to editing and posting. Whoops.) Our pastor preached from Hebrews 6, which includes the verse that talks about our hope as an anchor for the soul. The Bible explains that our ultimate hope is fulfilled in Christ, and realized through eternal life with Him after this temporal life. Biblical hope is something that is sure, certain, and founded in our faith.

This is the gospel: God created us to have perfect fellowship with Him, but we separated ourselves from God by sin – becoming spiritually dead. BUT GOD made a way for us to be reunited with Him eternally by sending His Son to take the penalty for our sin and bestow on us the free gift of spiritual life. In this truth, the ultimate “hope” that we have is the spiritual life, or eternal life, but it is not just a dream or a wish or some uncertain thing, with fingers crossed, will occur for the future. No; instead, through the word of God, we can know that this hope is a certainty for those who are in Christ. In other words, we who have given Christ Lordship (i.e., given Him control of our lives) have the certainty of eternal life with Him and peace with God.

What about our earthly hopes? They are defined by Jesus and our faith. We still have casual hopes, such as “hoping” that it will be sunny this weekend, or that the cookies will turn out all right, or that our family will have safe travels on vacation. We also have more weighty hopes, ones that intrinsically affect our lives or the lives of those we love – such as hoping for healing from cancer, or to find a godly spouse, or (as I know well) for a baby. But all of our hopes are seen through the lens of our faith. This gives them importance (or reveals the ones that actually aren’t so important), and we know we can trust the Giver of all good gifts to give that which we hope for if it will be for His glory and our good. Thus, we can trust Him in all things, if we remember that everything is defined by our faith in Him, and we know that our ultimate Hope is eternal and secure.

What is it for which you’re hoping right now? Do you trust God ultimately with your hopes, even if things turn out a little differently than you’d desire? This is my story: my sweet baby that I hoped for did not come in the time or manner that I had hoped (read: two years and multiple miscarriages, medical procedures, and surgeries later), but I know God has brought glory from brokenness and I’m so grateful for my Liam.

Most importantly, is your eternal hope secure in Christ?

(Updates about Liam – he is now 10 months old! Wow! He is the smiley-est baby and loves to babble, laugh, and loves attention. He’s a people watcher for sure – I call him”nosy” all the time. He is crawling quite fast and loves to pull up on any and everything. He’s a busy boy, for sure! He’s got curly, wild hair, and his eyes are grey-blue with hints of brown. He has six teeth (four upper, two lower) and I’m thinking that more are on the way! I’m starting to think about birthday plans and in disbelief that God has allowed us to parent this precious baby for almost a year now. He is my daily reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness.)



Holy moments.

I haven’t written in a while because I just haven’t known what to write about. It’s easy to find “material” in the midst of the trials which instruct, train, and shape. But in the ordinary? The mundane? What is there to write about in the midst of diaper changes, bottles, and laundry? How can these moments compare to the others that shimmered with potential for application and growth?

But God does not waste a single moment. If we pay attention and align our hearts, we can see Him in every single moment.

He’s refining me in these days, too. He’s showing me the selfishness of my heart when Liam cries while I’m having a “moment to myself.” He’s showing me my laziness when I just want to sleep in or lay around instead of getting things done. He shows me how callous my heart is to His voice when I waste time with entertainment that numbs instead of waiting expectantly and leaning into Him for satisfaction.

My prayer these days is that He would reveal Himself to me in new ways. Only our God is creative enough to speak through days spent at home with an infant. I pray that He would continue to show me my sinful nature and sanctify me. That I will see how holy these moments are – Bethel Music essentials playing over the speaker as we play with blocks, dance, and worship, listening to my son make noises I can only believe are his attempts to sing along. Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible with a smiley, giggly baby who doesn’t understand the words or why they make mommy teary with their sweetness. Cradling his little body when he’s sleepy and whispering “Jesus loves you.” And simply watching my precious, undeserved gift just be, and marveling at His goodness to me.

I never want to waste a single moment or allow an opportunity to worship, grow, or serve Christ pass me by because I missed it. I want to see every moment as holy and ordained by Him.

Because I can know His glory even in the ordinary, His majesty in the mundane. Help me to see it, Lord.

(A small glimpse into an ordinary day with this little nugget)

Remembering loss.

Today, October 15, is the annual day for the “wave of light” for pregnancy and infant loss awareness. The month of October is dedicated to this cause every year.

And today I’m sitting in my home, watching my baby while he naps, and asking God to give me words. I want to honor the babies I’ve lost, and the ones so many have lost, and the untold numbers of mamas who have had to say goodbye too soon. For a time, I was on the empty-arms side of things – no child to hold as I grieved the loss of four pregnancies, short as they were. Now I have my rainbow baby, and I’m wrestling with a host of emotions on a day such as today. And I seem to have no words to express them.

All I can say is that my God is good through it all. He promises that He is always with us, in every season. He has a good plan for us. And He’s coming back to claim what is His and to restore all the brokenness.

Our pastor preached on 1 Corinthians 15 yesterday, where Paul talks about the resurrected body and the victory that is Christ’s when He returns. In verse 54, Paul quotes Isaiah in saying that Death is swallowed up in Victory. As our pastor explained, this doesn’t just mean that death will be stopped in its tracks and not allowed to continue from that point. It goes further than that; all the havoc death has wreaked on this Earth will be reversed, undone. In a paraphrase of the Jesus Storybook Bible, He will make sadness and even death come “untrue.” (If you don’t have a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible, just stop right now and order one!)

This is the hope we have. Even as we mourn and remember, we look forward to the day when all sadness and death will be made untrue. We live now in the tension between life and death; we experience the effects of sin through death and suffering. But one day, we will only experience life.

So tonight, as I light my four candles at 7 pm to participate in the wave of light, I’ll hold Liam close as I remember the four lives I held briefly within me. I’ll think about sadness, then joy; mourning, then dancing. But I’ll also think about the day that is coming when sin and death will be no more, and we will experience light and life with the Father forever. And that is a very good thing to dwell on.

Pictured is a maternity photo when I was pregnant with Liam; in the photo, I’m wearing a bracelet that has four green stones to symbolize our losses and one blue stone for my baby boy. Photo credit: Katuschka Rakovec, of Reclaiming Eden photo, who is an amazing photographer and happens to be my best friend.

Count it ALL joy.

James 1:3-4 tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Count it ALL joy. Not just the easy times, not just the excitement and celebration. This means we count as JOY the times that are difficult, or painful, or sad. We take joy in the mundane, the average, and the boring. We choose to see joy in the times we are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed.

Or, I’ll rephrase – we SHOULD take joy in all these times.

I find myself thinking about this often – am I truly finding joy and treasuring every moment? EVERY moment? I would have been the first to tell a new mom to cherish every moment with your baby, because you’re lucky to have them. Every sleepless night, every screaming second, every diaper blowout, every dirty bottle and all the minutes where baby won’t let you do anything else but hold him a particular way.

On this side of things, though, I can understand why it’s sometimes difficult to not cherish EVERY moment. Some moments I want to pull my hair out, or cry, or hand him to daddy and walk away for a moment of peace. So I find myself wondering – how can I count it ALL joy? Though these trials are small and momentary, they can feel all-consuming right now. So how do I train myself to see even the less glamorous moments of motherhood as joyful?

I think there are several things that have helped me keep a joyous attitude and a grateful mentality (it’s a massive work in progress!). One is consciously remembering what I used to tell other mothers – this truly is a gift. I remember how much I wanted this baby, and how long I waited for him. I remember the trials and heartaches that preceded him. And that helps me take joy when I’m desperately trying to get him back to sleep at 3 AM.

Another thing that helps me is to recognize how short time is. I cannot ever have this stage with him again, so I want to truly live in the moment and cherish everything. I want to remember it all – the good, bad, and ugly. I don’t want to wish my time away with him, and I want to fully experience every stage and moment with him.

This most important, however, is to look to Christ. In moments that I feel incredibly weak and helpless, I know He helps me. He gives me strength and the capability for this task that He has assigned to me – mothering Liam. I see His example of praying for us at His most difficult times on this earth, and this spurs me to pray for my son. I see how He did not let His circumstances affect his peace and joy, and I strive to do the same. I know He never leaves me.

So I will count it ALL joy, in all circumstances.

(Full disclosure – I wrote this post initially around 5 weeks ago and never posted! Oops! Same truths now, too, though we have all adjusted a little better now 😉)

Our rainbow.

For anyone who has followed along on our journey,

Meet William (“Liam”) David Harbison, born July 12th, 2018, at 6:18 pm. 8 pounds, 7 ounces, 20.5 inches long. Gods gracious gift to us and a daily reminder of His sovereignty and mercy.

I won’t lie – the last two weeks have been some of, if not the, hardest of my life. Caring for a newborn is not for the faint of heart, and recovering from the physical trauma of childbirth, plus being incredibly sleep deprived, really multiplies the difficulty. It’s so much harder than I could have imagined, and I am learning so much. I have a newfound respect for all the mamas out there!

But it’s also one of the sweetest seasons I’ve ever experienced. I’m constantly overwhelmed when looking at this precious gift lying in my arms that I thought I might never have. I’m so incredibly grateful. Liam truly is our sweet rainbow after a series of storms.

For those still in the storm – I’m praying with you and believing with you in God’s faithfulness in every season. He is so, so good to us, all of the time.


Let me tell you about a small, but beautiful, picture of God’s redemption and how sweet He is to me.

Sometimes, the goals/expectations/limitations/conditions that we put on ourselves are so ridiculous. They can seem so arbitrary, or excessive, or purposeless, if you stop to think about it.

One expectation that I clung to not so long ago was that I wanted to have my first child before I turned 30. This was a really big deal in my mind. I always wanted to have children while I was still somewhat young for a lot of reasons – so that their grandparents would be around longer, so I might have easier pregnancies with a younger body, so Will and I would become empty-nesters then grandparents at a younger age, et cetera. This is not a bad goal. But it almost became an obsession for me, a line in the sand, a sharpie circle on a calendar.

Will and I have enjoyed our early years of marriage so very much. In 8 years, we have been blessed to be able to travel and have so many wonderful experiences with just the two of us. We have learned so much about each other and ourselves; we have learned how to communicate and resolve conflict; we have enjoyed so many nights of spontaneous trips just to have dinner together. I wouldn’t change that for anything. But when we decided to start a family, it was because I felt the proverbial clock ticking, and wanted to still be a younger mother.

There have been times that I have wished that we had started trying sooner. I’ve thought that if we started growing our family sooner, then by the time I got to actually have a child, I would be younger than I am now. But God, in His great love and mercy, has taught me time and again that this was His plan, and He brings redemption to my story.

You see, the idea of having a child before 30 had become an idol for me, in a way. It was something that was inflexible and that had to happen, like an ultimatum. When we began having the miscarriages and periods of waiting, and the fact that this would not happen in my timing became evident, I began to become very fearful and obsessed with that looming deadline. I calculated that I had until around September of 2017 to conceive a sustainable pregnancy in order to have my first child before I turned 30.

And how ridiculous is this? I mean really, is birthing a child at 29 years and 11 months any different from 30 years old? Of course not. But something about that number 30…it was just inconceivable to me to have my first child after 30.

I remember even telling someone that I felt like I had set this up as an idol in my mind, and that what would probably happen is I would birth a child right after I turned 30. I meant this as if God operated to have the last laugh, or maybe not allow us our hearts’ desires. Of course, I knew that this was not true about God’s character, but I guess I was a little bitter. But it seems that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has basically allowed it to turn out just that way. I will give birth sometime in the month after I turn 30. Ironic?…no, providential. Let me tell you why.

I heard a sermon in 2012 about how God relentlessly destroys each and every one of our idols until all we have left is Him, and He is our ultimate joy. And I am forever grateful that He does this for us. It is not something that we have the power to do on our own, and sometimes we don’t even recognize our idols for what they are. Sometimes, for instance, things we turn into idols are essentially good things, but the fact that we place them before God makes them not good for us. Having a child at a younger age would have been a good thing, and there is nothing inherently bad about that. But the fact that I had set it as an immovable goal in my mind, something that HAD to happen, and felt that I would be dissatisfied unless this happened, was a problem. I had placed my plan and my will above that of my Father’s. And this is always something that is dangerous and grieves our Father’s heart.

So, here we are. Once that “point of no return” loomed closer and closer back around August/September of last year, I began to realize how ridiculous this goal I had set really was, and I began to come to terms with the fact that I would not have a child before 30. As I began to release this to God, I truly began to have peace about submitting to His will and timing instead of my own. Around this time, we had decided to not only continue to pursue having a biological child, but also to pursue the adoption process, knowing that adoption can take a very long time. And I was at peace with this as well – knowing that we have always had the desire to adopt at some point, and recognizing that God’s plan is better than mine, I was content to wait and see how His plan would unfold and how He would choose to bring about our first child.

Of course, this is when I conceived.

One of the first things that I did after discovering that I was pregnant was to figure out when I was due, and I laughed when I realized it was after my birthday. But, finally, I had true peace about my birthday coming and going, not caring for once that I would be 30 when my first child was born. I was simply grateful and elated to be having a healthy pregnancy and believing this was God’s plan for us. I also realized that my due date with this pregnancy was July 24th (which my doctor has not changed, even though he was measuring ahead), which was my due date with my very first pregnancy. This too felt like a little bit of redemption.

Can I just tell you about how God has redeemed this birthday I dreaded once I gave it over to Him? He is so sweet to me. The calendar lined up to have my baby shower on the day after my birthday. My parents, who live 5 hours away, wanted to be here for my shower, so that meant that they would also be able to be here for my birthday (which rarely happens!), as well as my brother, my husband’s siblings, and some best friends. I had one of the sweetest, most fun, most relaxing, and most wonderful weekends with my favorite people in the world. I have never felt so celebrated, so loved, and so utterly blessed as I did celebrating 30. To anyone/everyone who had a part in making me feel incredibly cared for this weekend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

God pours out His grace on us when we least deserve it. I never would have imagined that my 30th birthday would be the sweetest and most memorable, or that I would be completely okay with having my first child in my 30’s. I’m so grateful for this small redemption story, which all points back to the larger redemption story of Christ redeeming us for eternity. So next time you recognize an idol in your heart, no matter how small or innocuous it seems, this is my advice (and I’m preaching to myself here!): release your grip, hand it over to the Lord, and watch as He redeems what you thought you needed for something so much sweeter.

Here’s to a new decade; may it be full of the presence and goodness of the Lord, first and foremost. He is ultimately all I need, my deepest love, and my greatest blessing.

Photo taken by my gorgeous-talented-amazing best friend Katuschka of Reclaiming Eden Photography, based out of Atlanta. She shot our maternity photos on my birthday, and I don’t have any other photos from the day really, so I thought it was fitting. For me, this is what thirty looks like!

Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is a sweet celebration, but such a hard day for many. Today was filled with joy and expectancy, but I remember so clearly the sense of pain and loss and emptiness that I experienced the past few mother’s days. It pains me to think about many others hurting deeply for a multitude of reasons on this day.

This morning, our pastor read a quote about Mother’s Day that I felt covered the wide range of emotions experienced today by women everywhere. I wanted to share it with you all – may it encourage you and remind you that no matter where you are or what stage you’re in, you are not alone, and you are loved deeply by your Father.

By Margaret Huisman Ruthven

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

NIAW 2018

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and this one’s for all my sisters still in the trenches, the 1 in 8. It’s for every blood draw, ultrasound, shot, pill, exam, procedure, and especially every solitary pink line. As I said last year, my “diagnosis” was not technically infertility, and I realize that I cannot fully understand what many of you with that diagnosis are feeling. But I’m with you. I know the pain of the months passing by, of every announcement and reveal and shower that is not your own, and of the mixed emotions that accompany the birth of a friend’s child. I remember the struggle of wanting to feel 100% joy for others around me getting what I wanted, but struggling against jealousy and grief. I understand the longing and the frustration and the sadness. Two years felt like a very long time for me, and I honor those of you who have had empty arms for much longer.

I believe that the Lord is good and faithful through it all. He has chosen to bless us by granting us a healthy pregnancy so far, and I will never take that lightly. I think so often about my friends who are still waiting, and you are constantly in my prayers. I am believing with you that you, too, will receive your heart’s desire in some form, even if it doesn’t look the same as the way you had planned.

I want you to know that even though I’m currently pregnant, I’m still here, with open arms, ears, and heart. I want to share your pain and your dreams and your prayers. I hope that you feel that you can still come to me with your struggles, and know that I will understand. But I also understand if it’s too hard right now. I respect that. But – I will still be here, and I will still be praying.

To all the infertility warriors and sisters, you are in my heart. I pray that you will be heard, respected, and loved. I pray that the infertility narrative will continue to become more open, more honest, and will bring ever-increasing awareness. I pray that you will feel strong and bold enough to speak out about your struggle and will allow others to surround you with love and support. Mostly, I pray that you will feel HOPE. Even when it hurts, month after month; that you will never give up on that hope.

Photo taken from the free resources for NIAW on iamfruitful.org

Waiting, reprise.

I guess we spend much of life waiting on something. To be older, to drive, to graduate, for a career, for marriage, for a family, for retirement; for that vacation, pay raise, test result, season change, project completion. We spend so much time waiting on what is next or what we hope for instead of focusing on what is happening now. After months and years of waiting on a healthy pregnancy, I find myself again waiting – this time, on baby.

But the waiting now is so different. Before, it was somber, anxiety-ridden, and just plain hard. I did grow and learn, but it was with great pain and reluctance. Now, however, the wait is something special. It’s full of joy and wonder, as I experience new things in new stages of pregnancy. It’s full of hopes and dreams, as I imagine what Liam will look like and who he will become. It’s full of expectation and excitement, trusting that we will finally see the child we so desire in July and preparing for all his needs.

I was thinking about this, and how our wait on heaven is meant to be more like the second wait that I’m currently experiencing. But too often, we get so caught up in the world, our flesh, and suffering, that our wait resembles my first wait. As in, we wait because we have to, but we’re not so happy about it and are always wishing our lives away by hoping for the future. I believe that God wants us to wait on the day that all is made new with joy, hope, and expectation. He wants us to not just “get by” in this life so we can get to the next; instead, He wants us to “love abundantly” now. We are called to bring heaven to earth, after all. And in order to do that, we must really live each moment, with intention and purpose.

These are my simple musings for the morning; I pray I will remember to open my eyes and see what is happening now. Where do you need me today, Lord? How can I serve those around me right now? How can I take joy in all the small things of life today, and stop to notice the beauty all around me? Keep my eyes and heart from wandering too far ahead of myself, Lord; You know what the future holds, and it is enough to trust You with it.