this is not a pregnancy announcement.

Odd title, right? Not for a couple struggling with infertility. This title seems to be on the forefront of our hearts,  especially as we're in the midst of a holiday season. This is the time we see people we don't usually see, and the questions come up. We're happy to answer them, to fill people in on our lives, but sometimes I want to put a sticky note on my head that says "this is not a pregnancy announcement". I'm wearing a flowy shirt because I thought it was cute, not because I'm hiding a bump. I'm not eating certain foods because my diet eliminates a lot of things. I am emotional because I'm an emotional person (I cry at all the things). People read into things hoping for an announcement, much like I read into symptoms, praying for a pregnancy. I understand.

My entire life I've wanted to announce a pregnancy at Christmas. Aside from actually getting pregnant, this has been a huge desire of my heart. The magic of Christmas, everyone being together, it felt like a beautiful opportunity to be able to share such exciting news. Jason and I spent a lot of time in prayer, fervently asking God for this to come to fruition. I felt in my spirit that God was telling us this was our time. That we would conceive, and I would have the opportunity to announce over Christmas. Everything was lining up, His peace was ushered in, and my husband prayed prayers over my body that I've never heard from his lips. I was certain. We bought a fun shirt, with anticipation to walk into a room full of family and see who got it first. We imagined the screams, the tears, the hugs, the pure joy from having the opportunity to share with all the family at once. A shirt that I walk by every day, that I pray over, and pray into, that God would move a mountain in my womb and bless us with a child.

And here I am, two days before Christmas, not pregnant. It became clear to me that this year, I don't get to wear my shirt. I don't have a special announcement for anyone this holiday season. I have no mountains moved, not yet.

I'm still clinging to hope, and it was so much fun to anticipate. This journey really kills your anticipation and hope, and to hold onto that and dream and laugh and vision up this really beautiful image, it was so. much. fun. My heart needed it, to know that a baby is something my husband and I truly do want. After years of trying, sometimes I wonder if I want a baby because I cannot have one. The dream lays dead in my womb until I pray it back to life. God's not letting this desire settle, so I have to have hope that He isn't closing the door on this yet. I know, His timing. I know.

This shirt has become a tangible amid the intangibles. This shirt, as silly as it sounds, is the physical piece of my barrenness that I can cling to, pray over, cry over. It's a soft piece of material that I can lay at the altar and give back to God. My hope is my sacrifice. Isaiah 55:18-19 "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far, says the Lord, who heals them". God's comfort has brought praise to our lips, friends. We're not alone in this, and neither are you. You may not be experiencing the kind of barrenness we are, but you may have some thing. Some intangible, some hope, some desire, some void that you are begging God to heal, or fix, or fill. Allow Him to comfort you in the middle of your mourning, especially during this Christmas season. This is why Jesus came.

I've really been concerned with how I was so sure I heard God whisper these ideas into my heart, only for it to not happen. I wonder if my flesh wants this so much that I created the voice in my heart, and longed for it to come from God. This bothers me more than a dream unfulfilled. If God's sheep hear His voice and follow Him - how did I get it so wrong? I'm not at the other side of this journey yet, and maybe once I am I will see that I did hear Him very clearly, and it will be obvious. But on this side of the journey, it's only making me lean in harder to Jesus. His voice is still and small because He whispers to those who are near to Him.

The sign on my wall, behind the shirt, behind the Christmas tree, says "Choose Joy". It's a choice, friend, one I have to pick up and pray for daily. To choose to not look at the circumstances that break my heart, but to focus on the goodness of God in my life. There's a lot of that to have joy about, and that's how I'm getting through this journey - the goodness of God. God has been using other people to lift up my arms when I cannot. Just now, as I'm writing this out, struggling because it's an intimate part of this journey I didn't want to share but have been "putting off" for weeks now, a friend sends me this: "God keeps speaking this same thing to you and I can’t help but see His love for you stand so firm. I hope you are feeling incredibly loved right now because His arms are wrapped around you".  What a beautiful reminder that pierced my soul with more of God's goodness. It's EVERYWHERE. We have to look for it, and allow it to settle into our hearts.

So this Christmas season, my prayer for you is peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Funny, the very verse that prophesies this talks about a child being born.. It's been a verse I've been chewing on, recalling back to my heart daily the past few weeks. Isaiah 9:6 "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." A beautiful verse to keep on repeat in my heart, and in yours. May you be blessed abundantly as we get through the holidays with joy.

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