Hope Wins

Oh, God – I’m so afraid.monarch butterfly

During the sixth month of pregnancy, I finally ventured out of the bed where I spent the first five months – hoping, begging God to let me keep my baby. With years of infertility and two miscarriages in my medical chart – the chances for a normal birth were slim.

In June of that year, I waddled out to the back yard’s sunshine and stretched out in the chaise lounge. With my hand over my extended belly, I prayed again for the child within.

Protect him, please. Keep him healthy. I want to hold him. I need you to encourage me, God. Help me. I’m afraid.

When I opened my eyes, a large monarch butterfly floated out of the clouds and landed on my belly. Hardly daring to breathe, I watched as his wings opened and closed in a foreshadow of blessing.

As the baby moved, I wondered if the monarch might be disturbed and fly away. But he rode the wave, stayed in position and kept his gaze on my face.

For over an hour, we baked in the sun, ingested the natural vitamin D and shared in worship moments.

Then the monarch carefully lifted off, floated around me a couple of times, drank deeply from my colorful zinnia garden and disappeared into the clouds.

When I returned to the house and journaled about my experience, I felt encouraged, renewed and ready to face whatever happened in the next few months.

God often uses his creation to encourage, uplift and remind me that he is indeed greater than my problem. Since he is the one who manipulates cellular metabolism, hangs the stars in his front yard and whispers, “Peace be still” in the middle of storms – then he can certainly deal with my everyday stresses.

I wonder how many scenarios he manages and shows up to help us when we aren’t alert enough to look for him. Perhaps in heaven, we’ll watch a giant video screen and see his image beside our sick child, walking down the aisle with us as we graduate or smiling as we choose our first car.

Like the monarch’s appearance, he is with us – longing to soothe our fears and direct us toward the best path for our lives.

Because of my experience with the monarch, I nurture my butterfly bush and let the red clover grow around the perimeter of my yard. These plants attract monarchs every year and continue to remind me God is near.

And what of the precious child I carried that summer day? He is now 30 years old, a healthy and sensitive man who makes me proud every day to be called his mom.Caleb and Mom at reception

Hope wins. We just have to keep watching for the finish line.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Christmas with the Red Booties

“Why do you have those red shoes on your tree?” a little friend asked me. She pointed to the felt shoes that hang at the front of my tree.

“Ah…that is a wonderful story,” I said, “and it began many years ago. Would you like to hear it?”

Her dark brown eyes twinkled as she squealed. “Tell it! Tell it, please!”

red bootiesSo I sat down with her and began to explain why the little red booties hang on my tree. “Many years ago, a young lady and a man were married. They worked hard and saved their money and then wanted to start a family. But even though they tried and tried and tried, no baby came to live in their house.

“One year, at Christmas time, the lady thought she was going to have a baby. So she planned how she would tell her parents at Christmas with a pretty package and a note inside. She could barely contain her excitement.

“But then the doctor said she would not have a baby, so her Christmas that year was very sad.”

“Years and years passed by with no baby and many sad Christmases. But six years later, the lady was finally pregnant and was so excited. All the friends and family of the couple were excited to celebrate this coming child, but the baby died before it could grow to full size inside the lady. Everybody cried for a long time.

“Two years later, the lady again was pregnant and the same people celebrated with the lady and her husband. But again, the baby died before it could grow. Again, everybody cried – especially the lady. She decided she would probably never hold her own baby but she would teach everybody’s else’s children how to play the piano and try to be happy for all the people who had the blessing of babies.

“Then two years later, a miracle happened. The lady and the man welcomed their baby, a fully-developed and beautiful boy who was born on the coldest day of that November during a sleet storm. The tiny baby was such a wonderful present for Christmas that the lady bought special red booties for him to wear to church.”

“I like that story,” my little friend said, “and you were the lady in the story, weren’t you?”

“Yes, and the baby is my son, Caleb.”

My little friend pondered a while and then asked, “So you put the little booties on the tree every year, to remind you of that baby — your Caleb?”

“Yes, and those booties also remind me of another baby. He probably didn’t have any booties to wear, but his mother and father dearly loved him. He arrived as a special miracle, too, and that’s the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Baby Jesus came to remind us that God loves us and wants to give us eternal life.

“So that’s the story of the red booties, but the real story goes on. For each person who believes in baby Jesus and accepts the love of God, new stories begin. Stories of love and purpose as people realize Christmas is all about the wonderful gift of life and the miracles that God does inside our hearts.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

5 Ways to Approach Mother’s Day – Part 1

As a woman who has experienced several types of dynamics on Mother’s Day, I’d like to use this forum to suggest some different approaches to our somewhat-hallowed holiday. Certainly, we need to celebrate our mothers and the incredible work they do to nurture, teach and birth the next generation. But for women in various seasons of life, Mother’s Day can be either a blessing or a curse. For example:

The Infertile Woman

For six years, I tried to conceive. Each month brought another disappointment even while I bought baby gifts for friends and attended so many baby showers I was sick of cake with blue or pink frosting. For me, Mother’s Day represented the day in which I could not share joy. Instead, it was a poignant reminder that like Hannah, Rachel and Elizabeth before me – I could not bear a child.

I hated to attend church on Mother’s Day, because the pastor or the worship leader always recognized the mothers in the congregation. He asked them to stand proudly to their feet while everyone applauded. I, too, clapped for my “sisters” and posed with a fake smile. But there I sat, in the soprano section of the choir, almost as if a spotlight centered on me – the only woman of child-bearing age not standing. I felt disgraced.

After the service, mothers were handed prepackaged gifts, usually a pretty little potted plant or a packet of wildflower seeds.  I drove home empty-handed with the question imprinted on my heart, “Why, God?” or more often, “Why not?”

So how should we approach Mother’s Day while many women in our lives cannot bear a child?

  • Send a card. Find one that says, “I’m thinking of you today” or a card with a funny sentiment such as, “When life hands you lemons, forget the lemonade. Go for the chocolate.” Or design your own card that reminds this woman she has value to Christ and significance in your life.
  • How about some flowers, a tin of homemade cookies or a Starbucks card? Any little gift that reminds the childless woman she is not forgotten.
  • Remind your church leaders to acknowledge all women on Mother’s Day, not just the ones whose ovaries work properly. Better yet, let’s not celebrate Mother’s Day in our churches, but rather let it be a private family observance.

If you’re a woman who has your quiver full of children, say a prayer of thanks. But also pray for the childless woman. She needs God’s comfort this weekend, and she needs your love.