For Better and Worse

It was almost a year ago that he was conceived. The “miracle baby”. The one that “stuck”, as people often say in the world of fertility. Even at his conception, he was met with anxiousness and excitement and hesitation, all bundled up into one emotion.

And the stories of my two boys….the losses, the hopes, the prayers, and the tears…is a story that I do plan to tell you one day.

But today, friends, as I think about Father’s Day coming up and what a downright amazing father my husband has become, I want to tell you about our road to get there. The  bumpy, winding, seemingly never-ending road of want. Of longing. Of a marriage put through the wringer. Of a marriage now stronger than I ever could have imagined. Of a father who deserves his honor this Father’s Day.

We married young. I was 19, and he was 20. We were babies, looking back now. But back then, we thought we had it all figured out. College, jobs, house, cars, babies…life. We had a plan and we thought nothing would stand in our way. He got a job, and I finished college. We bought a house. We traveled, and experienced new things together, and we lived life.

I remember, even back then, knowing what a great Daddy he’d be one day. He loved kids, and they loved him. He wanted babies from the minute we said, “I do.” I was always the cautious one, the planner. I wanted to wait until we had it all worked out – until we had more time, more money, more life under our belts. 298216_10150311189240876_931050993_n Then, good ‘ol life started the journey without us, and strapped us in along for the ride.

I can remember the first time like it was yesterday. I’d had a minor surgical procedure the month before, and had taken a test as standard precaution prior to the procedure. It was negative, of course. You don’t get pregnant when you’re not trying, right? That’s what my naïve, barely 24-year-old self thought anyways.

I remember the phone call, the nurse asking me those six little words that would pretty much change my life.

“Have you taken a pregnancy test?”

I remember his words to me, “A pregnancy test?!”. I remember how scared we were. I’d been bleeding for weeks, and little did I know, I had already lost our first baby earlier that day.

I remember driving to the hospital. We had so many emotions running through us that we were both shaking. I remember knowing how hard he was trying to be strong for me. Were we excited? Sad? Scared? Nervous? What were we supposed to be?

I remember the exam in that cold, drab Emergency Room. The doctor who wasn’t my own examining me with rough, cold hands, and telling me that our baby was already gone.

I remember the look on my sweet husband’s face. The sadness, the disappointment. The Loss. I even remember the hope we felt, as we explained to our families of our loss, and that we planned to try again right away. It wasn’t what we’d planned, but it had stirred a want inside of us. And now, we were ready to be parents.

Except, God had a different plan.

130904025408-dnt-ks-selling-pregnancy-tests-00005517-story-top The second time I remember even more clearly than the first. We had no trouble becoming pregnant, and anxiously waited those few weeks for our first doctor appointment.

I remember the look on his face when we heard that sweet, innocent little heartbeat for the first time. Y’all! I remember the tears of joy. I didn’t think I’d ever seen him so happy. If anybody in the world could’ve been happier than I was in that moment, it was him. And in that moment, my life felt perfect. I knew what pure joy felt like. We told everyone we knew. Cloud Nine was about 50 feet below us.

I remember the look on her face, the ultrasound tech that performed our next baby check. I remember the silence, and the confusion my husband & I exchanged between glances when she told us that she’d have to get the doctor to step in on this scan. I remember the raw, pure empathy in the doctor’s voice when she told us that the heartbeat was gone. And I remember, again, knowing how hard he was trying to be strong for me.

I remember the look on his face this second time…the sadness, the disappointment. The Ache.

It makes me cry even now, even though now I know how our story will end.

Y’all, he wanted kids so badly. SO BADLY. I wanted them too, but he truly longed for them. He ached for a baby of his own, a little buddy to play ball and take fishing. You could see it in his face, in his eyes every time he saw our friends with their kids.

I hurt because he’d chosen me…the one girl who couldn’t give him what he truly wanted.

He was such a saint, in a saint-less kind-of way. I told him (on more than one occasion) that I would understand…I wouldn’t blame him…if he wanted to find someone else. Someone who could carry a baby. Someone who wasn’t a failure. He assured me every single time that I was his girl. I was the only one he wanted, and that if we couldn’t have kids together, we wouldn’t have kids at all. He told me how much he loved me, and how sure he was that he’d picked the right girl back in 11th grade. But how could that be? I just could not wrap my brain around that.

But, his emotions often told a different story. He was angry. His temper would get the best of him sometimes. He said things to hurt my heart, just because he could. So did I.  I was selfish and inconsiderate. I thought only of myself.  I thought he should feel more, hurt more. And in reality, he was hurting. We hurt in different ways.

And with every baby, with every loss, it got harder. The pain got deeper. The communication got tougher. But we got stronger. 40937_418395300875_797226_n Infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy loss have a way of doing that to a marriage. They will pick up a perfectly healthy marriage, twist it until every ounce of good is dripping out of it, and throw it away like yesterday’s news. Oh, how HARD it was back then! We didn’t know how to recognize each other’s pain. We didn’t know how to support each other in our search for patience. We didn’t know how to communicate our needs, and his anger and my self-pity created a trench in our marriage the size of the Grand Canyon.

But you know what, friends? He didn’t give up on me. We didn’t give up on each other.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  -Matthew19:6

We will be the first to tell you that our marriage has not always been the most Godly example. We are far, far from perfect.  And I’m not saying that we have it all together now. But we know the One who was perfection. We’ve heard His word. We said our vows before Him.

And I will venture to speak for my husband as well when I say that we have kept this verse, or at least the premise of it, at the heart of our marriage all these years.

We didn’t give up on what God joined together. We JUST didn’t see that as an option.

And this Sunday, we will celebrate so much more than his first Father’s Day as a father of two. Or at least I will. I’ll be celebrating him. The man who loved me when I felt unlovable. The man who longed for these babies. The man who stood in that court room and cried like a baby as he promised to take “B” as his very own flesh and blood. The man with the pride of the world in his eyes when he showed me “S” for the very first time, so thankful for the life that we created. The man who promised me, all those years ago, that I was his girl.  The man who stuck by me through thick and thin. Better and worse.

Isn’t that what our vows say, guys? For better or for worse.  Even when worse means painful words, or longing hearts, or babies being loved on by Jesus today.

Happy Father’s Day to my baby’s daddy. You deserve every last dirty-handed hug & sloppy wet kiss.

Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s out there. Even the ones right smack-dab in the midst of “worse”.Brookeshire-10

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6


Seek Your Peace

image2Life is hectic and crazy sometimes. Ok, let’s just be honest….life is mass chaos.

There are those moments (lately they come more often than not) when you just want to curl up in the very far corner of your closet and hide. In fact, I had one of those moments yesterday. There I was, hiding on the other side of the bed. On the floor. Crouched and avoiding eye contact with the toddler.

The baby, mid-growth spurt and hungry, had been crying uncontrollably for what seemed like the entire day. And then, right in the middle of my frantic search for the 2 year olds’ juice cup (which was conveniently irreplaceable by any other juice cup on the planet), I discovered the poop in the closet.

My body slumped to the floor and tears stung my eyes. Not because we were experiencing a potty-training relapse…although that didn’t help my condition. And not even because I knew I had to clean it up. I cried because I was tired.   T.I.R.E.D.   The kind of tired that no “Honey, I’ll do the dishes tonight” would help. Tired as in sheer mental exhaustion.

I needed to quiet my mind. I needed a Mommy Time-Out. Except when you’re the Mommy-On-Duty, there is no time-out. Just about the time you’re pretty sure you’ve solved all the toddler-drama in the world, the baby is hungry. Or dirty. Or just plain mad because he woke up without a pacifier. And so it begins again.

And in this moment, hiding behind my bed, it comes to my mind — didn’t God tell us in Matthew to come to Him when we are weary and heavy-laden, and He will give us rest? I know He did.

And God…I do come to You. I come every morning, emptying to You my transgressions, sharing with You my thankfulness, asking of You requests for health or guidance or peace.

Where is my rest, God?

But just as His word instructs us to come to Him in Matthew 11:28, it also instructs us that we must actively seek our peace.

“Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” -Psalm 34:14

Have I been seeking peace? Or have I just been stringing my words & hopes together in my conversation with the Lord, and waiting for Him to hand me my peace all wrapped up in paper with a big, pretty bow? Friends, we cannot expect from God if we aren’t willing to give to Him.

Seek peace. Pursue it.

Just sit on those thoughts for a minute. Sure, He’s our heavenly Father. Sure, He loves us beyond imagination. But, He also wants us to seek Him. To fellowship with Him. To trust Him. To pursue Him.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  -Isaiah 26:3

Today, I came to the park on my lunch break. I spread out my sandwich alongside my Bible and my notebook, and I trusted that God would show me the peace that I so longed for. I took a step.

I actively pursued it, and Him.


I sought my peace, and I found it. The dogs stopped barking, a cool breeze blew through, and I felt God showing me how much He loves me. “Come to Me, my child” . . .

And I prayed. I prayed that God would show me how to find my peace – THIS peace – in my home life, in the every day and the mundane. And now, I will pursue it, and trust that He will provide. I know He will, because His word tells me so.

“The peace of Christ must control your hearts – a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.”  -Colossians 3:15