What I Would Say To Her

He brought me tulips in winter and the card read: “To long, quiet love … and new life.”

They hadn’t been on my counter for 12 hours before he awoke to my sobs from the other room.

Could it be? Could it really be?

We found each other in the dark and wept a new kind of tears over this heartache that had the dust of nearly a decade.

Today we were crossing over Jordan.

Though it was February, this portion of our lives – still hanging in the balance of winter — was over.

Spring had come.

My womb had opened. I was carrying a child, within.

We lingered for weeks into months cupping our hands around this sacred secret.

It even feels slightly betraying to share it here, now, but my body can no longer hide what’s been warming inside.

How do you say goodbye to a season that He’s used to make you into who you are?

Sun Cherish

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So, for months I have had a conversation with her, that 23 year-old bride who didn’t know she was on the front-end of some of the hardest years of her life.

I reach across the table from her in my mind and clasp my fingers around the parts of her life that would soon be raw and bleeding and speak the still-nascent clarity that twelve years of walking that long and quiet road had produced.

Mountain Mist Cherish
She didn’t have a grid, then. I so want to impart to her what twelve years of Him over all the unexpected pain would do.

I stare deep into eyes that, then, were more vacant than she realized and say the words of life: hold on to Him. This will all be worth it one day.

I know as I say it that her life, so carefully formed around hedging herself in from all that she feared, couldn’t possibly absorb what “worth it” might mean. After all, fear makes life small.

Her greatest vision for what would constitute being “worth it” for a time might be some sort of outward expression of vindication: her body healed, her finances righted, her marriage thriving, her friendships forged. While those things are so good and true and beautiful, the conversation in my mind with the 23 year-old version of me centers on something so different. Other.

You won’t be the same on the other side of this. The bitter gall from which you once deeply drank will become your crown, if you let it … if you let Him. He will crown you with a reproach that only He can share, and that will simply be what it truly is — stunning — if seen through His eyes.

Hold on, young one. You will know God in your barrenness as the giver of life — before your body ever holds another’s heartbeat inside of it. He has life to give you. Now.

Branch Water MJ

I keep watching her. I see these vignettes of her life that were once so sour to me, but now they are like my cherished photographs.

That girl was made woman in the dark.

I watch her (like it was yesterday) force her foot against the pedal down to the floorboard as she sped away from her parents’ home, secretly hoping she could drive and never turn back, away from all this mess. Behind her was her father, whose brain had succumbed to a diagnosis that was becoming a verdict, and news of yet another delay in their adoption. Even these overshadowed her ever-present barrenness.

She could barely speak on the phone when she received the news about the lost adoption paperwork. She was teetering long before that phone call. How much could bear down on one heart?

Winter Cherish

Tears burned angry down her cheeks as she isolated each variable in her life that was causing her pain. Any single one could have leveled her, but all of them together seemed to speak an ominous declaration over her young-life: At what point did this life turn cursed?

I want to meet her at the end of that long country road and tell her that her twenty-something life was not cursed, but chosen. And that the tomb was but a holding place for a body that would be forever marked with resurrection.

This child would one day run her hands across scars that told the story of a God-Man whose skin she got close enough to smell, in her darkest hour.

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As we celebrate twelve years, this week, since the day that little boy in big-boy skin asked that naïve-to-life wee thing to marry him, we tell the world outside our home that, as with Jacob’s Rachel, He remembered.

Twelve years later, He remembered.

I almost feel like I need to whisper the glory streaming forth over this announcement because it is so sacred to my story, and that it speaks of a remembrance that didn’t just happen the day my womb opened and I entered into spring.

At year one of winter it felt like a lifetime.

Winter MJ

At five, it indicated that we’d crossed into new territory – as through the seventh, that came and went. Yet, the power of His hand as Healer was working, even then. We had hearts to be healed and understandings of Him to be mended and conversations with our Daddy to be initiated before my body, broken, would be pieced back together.

His power to heal is progressive, if we allow it.

I wanted a one-time miracle, a story I could shout from the rooftops that said “our God heals, against all odds!” but instead He gave me six long and quiet stories, first, under my roof.

Each of us would preach the message of His healing with our lives.

Candles

I thought my open womb would be the best and only glory story, but instead He let me cradle the fruit of three women’s frames with this same message and introduced healing into me and Nate in ways we never knew we needed.

My life has been living His healing that my burgeoning body has only just now revealed.

Every kind of miracle feels uncomfortable for flesh to accept. I lived hundreds of miracles in the winter, when the ground felt hard to the touch but when life was germinating, thick, within me. My heart was revived in winter. He breathed on the fractured parts of me with a tenderness that has left me love-struck.

All the while I couldn’t let go of asking for another foreign-to-flesh miracle.

To know Him is to hope for the not yet seen. If hope died it would only be a reflection of how my perspective of Him, and what brings Him pleasure, had grown dim. Because hope is a matter of life and death — for the heart.

The way He has merged these miracles has been well more powerful than what my mind could ever have conceived. This family of mine, we share a beautiful branding. All of us wearing some form of His scars.

So I lean in close to the 23 year-old heart (that she doesn’t know will find itself shattered in a hundred-pieces just around the corner) and I whisper: there is a Man on the other side of this that you’ll meet along the way who will pick up every broken sliver of your story and write His name on each one. And your knowing Him, alone, through this, will make every tear worth it.

New Shoot MJ

Hold on to hope. Hold on to Hope. It’s what will be most challenged – even by those closest to you — as the world around you collapses, but it is your greatest weapon because it is His ticket into the Unseen. Hope requires a true view of God. And that true view of God is not natural, He imparts it. One day, the Unseen will be more real to you than what your eyes can physically perceive.

And I sit back and wrap my arms around the girth that now holds this child and I say, Father, You are no more good today than you were a year ago. Though I am overwhelmed by this new way You’ve shown yourself to me as healer.

Winter and spring share this in common: He is healer in both.

 

Spring MJ

Spring Cherish

 

For Your Continued Pursuit: Joshua 3 | Romans 8:5-6 | Luke 1:37 | Job 37:5 | Genesis 30:22-23 | Romans 8:24-25 | Job 1:20-21 | Isaiah 61:11 | Isaiah 51:3 | Isaiah 64:4 | Song of Songs 2:10-13 | Romans 5:3-5

Third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth photos compliments of Mandie Joy.   First, second, fourth and ninth photos compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography

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