My little ladies,

It’s been one of those weeks. 

Crosbie, you’re already working on your first tooth, and Laynie, you’ve been hit with a lingering tummy bug plus Fifth Disease all within a few days. We’ve had a little rough patch around here, and I had a letter about the surprise challenges/gifts of motherhood pretty much written in my head and ready to share with you. But when I sat down to type it out, I found this instead: a letter I wrote to Laynie almost exactly a year ago, written when I desperately desired another baby.

My, how our lives have changed in just a year.

Crosbie, you are an answer to the broken prayers you will read below. And Laynie, although this desire was fulfilled, the truth of what you are about to read remains the same:

He is good. 

When dreams are fulfilled, He is good.

When dreams are shattered, He is good.

And when you feel you’re about to drown in the weight of uncertainty… He is good. 


12-14-13

My precious Laynie,

We humans like to think we are unique.

While there is certainly a satisfaction found in camaraderie, solidarity, kinship, and all those other inclusive, warm-fuzzy feelings, we like our individuality and we like to preserve it. Some things that define us are significant; some are silly.

“I hate onions.”

“I’m adopted.”

“I love to bake.”

“I’m Catholic.”

While I could give you a long and bizarre list of all the things that make your mama unique (read: weird), there are two that have defined me for as long as I can remember:

  1. I was born to be a mother.
  2. I am terrified of the ocean.

These traits were evidenced as early as my fifth year of life, when I started asking your Lovey why “we” didn’t have more kids and when I inexplicably became terrified of my nightly bath because I thought sharks were going to come up through the drain and eat me.

Five was not my best year.

As I grew, these two defining features stayed with me perhaps more than any others. I prayed every night for more siblings; I daydreamed of curly-headed babes of my own; and I experienced my first anxiety attack when Tom Hanks’ plane crashed into the ocean in Castaway. (By the time you are old enough to read this, you will probably have no idea who Tom Hanks is. Please come ask me so we can watch You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle together.)

Thus it is no surprise that I was already naming my future children while your daddy and I were on our honeymoon. (We spent a week at an ocean-side resort in Cancun, and guess what? I only entered the water once, and then only up to my knees. Did I mention I’m terrified of the ocean?) We agreed to wait a year before actually trying to get pregnant, and during that time I researched diaper bags and car seats, picked out nursery bedding, and was debating the virtues of cloth diapers. 

Imagine my surprise when the stick didn’t turn pink in a month. Or two. Or three. Or four.

When it comes to conception, five months of trying is but a blip on the radar. But when you desperately want a baby and are doing everything you possibly can to maximize the chances of getting one, every “Not Pregnant” result feels like a big, fat failure.

And when you’re born to be a mother, you mistakenly assume these things will come easily.

The Lord and I had a lot of late-night conversations during those months, and I vacillated between sadness, anger and resignation. It took your Lovey years of fasting, praying and heartache to get just two babies – she wanted and believed there would be more, but health problems and an early hysterectomy ensured that I was her last little. I’ve always carried a deep-rooted fear that my family planning would unfold much the same way.

I went into marriage desperately wanting children but secretly fearing I would never have any.

Is it any surprise that the slightest delay in my baby-bearing dreams sent me into a tailspin? I convinced myself that I was unable to conceive and adoption was our new blueprint, and I eventually accepted the fact that even if the Lord’s plan for my life looked drastically different than what I wanted, it was still good.

And then I got pregnant.

You would think that He would only have to prove His faithfulness to me once, wouldn’t you? 

Fast forward three years and I am back in that dark, confusing space that hovers between your greatest desires and your deepest fears. I’ve been trying to give you a little brother or sister for 7 months now, and although I thought I’d already learned the song of surrender, the nasty old tune of frustration, fear and shame is the only one I can remember.

I was born to be a mother, but it sometimes feels like my body missed the memo.

How do you reconcile the fact that God sometimes puts dreams in our hearts but withholds them from our hands? 

How do you continue to trust and hope in a God Who allows babies to be created out of rape, incest, and prostitution when countless faithful, godly women trudge through life with empty wombs and empty arms?

How do you carry an unfulfilled desire that burns so fiercely within you, you sometimes fear you will be consumed by the flames?

The answer I’ve wrestled with these past 7 months is not an easy one.

The answer is… You drown.

Back to that irrational water phobia of mine.

I’ve been doing a lot of praying, pleading, and waiting on the Lord lately, and I’ve noticed a pattern in our conversations. Every time I feel I’m at my breaking point, when tears are falling, shame is flowing, and discontentment comes knocking like a slick door-to-door salesman who tries to tell me if I just had this one thing my life would finally be complete… this song begins to play:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

~

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

~

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

~

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

~

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

 (“Oceans” – Hillsong United)

Seriously, every time the thought of wanting another baby enters my mind, this song shows up. On the radio, on Pandora, in church, in Chick-fil-A… if I’m there and I’m struggling, this song is playing. (Did you actually read the words? If not, go back and read them now. They are remarkably simple and powerful and have become so precious to me. Plus I’m your mama. So do what I say).

Did you catch the irony? I, the girl who has been terrified of water for as long as she can remember, have received a holy invitation to dive headfirst into the surf.

You call me out upon the water…

“Um, thanks for the invite, but I’m not a big fan of swimming. I think I’ll stay here on the shore.”

The great unknown where feet may fail…

“Yeah, that’s kind of why I’m not a big fan. My feet greatly prefer solid ground, thank you very much.”

And there I find You in the mystery…

“Well, of course I want more of You, but I’m sure I can find what I need right here in this safe little spot of mine.”

In oceans deep my faith will stand.

“Yeah, I got the faith part down, but I’d rather not push it. My faith will stand just fine here in the sand.” 

Oh, dear daughter, your mama is so stubborn. Is it any wonder I simply cannot get away from this song? Our gracious Father keeps holding out His hand and I keep pushing it away as if an invitation like that comes along every day. 

My flesh wants to bolt as soon as I hear the thunderous roar of the waves and feel the salty spray on my face, but the closer I get, the more my spirit whispers, “What if…”

What if there’s a life out there in the deep that can only be discovered after I’ve accepted and surrendered to the death of my own will?

What if each suffocating swell that crashes over me is slowly, painstakingly drowning the selfish desires that keep me from the contentment and joy that I long for?

And what if all He wants is for me to simply trust Him enough to say “Yes”? What if that one word of submission will open doors, break strongholds, and shatter chains not just for me but for generations of our family to come?

How can I respond with anything but submission?

So I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace. For I am Yours… and You are mine.

If I never get pregnant again…

I am Yours.

If I end up with more babies than I know how to handle…

I am Yours.

If this pursuit of You takes me into deeper and darker waters than I could have ever imagined…

I. Am. Yours.

The ocean is scary, my precious girl… but there is freedom beyond belief in its depths.

I pray with all my heart that you will dive in headfirst someday. It is so very worth it.

I love you every day.

-Mama

 

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