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Monday, October 17, 2016

While We're Waiting

The wait is over! On October 11th at 4:09pm, we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! Avalyn weighed 8 pounds and was 19 inches long. Though the majority thought we were having a boy, God had entirely different plans. I couldn't picture it any other way. Over the course of the next few months, I'll be taking a small break from writing to cherish these sweet moments that fly all to quickly. However, you will still see content in the form of guest posts and occasional posts by me. Until then, a picture of our sweet second. Cuteness overload.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Short & Sweet: When I Didn't Get the Family I Dreamed Of

My husband and I didn't marry until we were nearly 31. As soon as we were settled financially we began working on having a family. After several months of not conceiving we turned to adoption.

Infertility is extremely heartbreaking, but God graciously led us through it. Yes, we shed tears, but from the very beginning He prepared our hearts for this possibility.

Within the first few weeks of trying to conceive, I either read or heard three stories of women who had dealt with infertility. I thought, "God are you trying to tell me something?" As I listened to women share how difficult it was for them to handle the news of friends and family members who had become pregnant, I prayed, "Lord, don't let me be like that. Help me to rejoice with those who rejoice." And He did!

At that time we were involved in a small church of maybe 100 people, where seven other couples were also having difficulty conceiving. The Lord told me to pray these couples get pregnant. That way when they got pregnant, I would be excited for an answer to my prayers. You know what? Every one of those couples did eventually get pregnant. And I was able to truly rejoice with them.

We, however, never did get pregnant. The five children we raised were all adopted from eastern European orphanages. They came with overloaded baggage, irreparable foundations, and the inability to attach. The years we had them at home were filled with horrendous behaviors. Again, I had innumerable opportunities to commiserate about the family I never got. By the grace of God alone, I did not.

You see, in my late twenties I had grown angry at God when He didn't give me a man to love. I felt I could no long trust God with my deepest longings. As a result, I knew what it felt like to have a wall between God and me. Once that wall came down, I decided I never wanted another one.

It was a battle at times to not resent God's will for me as a mom. Usually, I just didn't let my mind go there. But one day I told my counselor, "I think I need to have a funeral for the children I never got." He encouraged me to do so. I never did—it was enough for me to just recognize the need.

If we are going to remain content in God's plan for our lives, there will be times we have to bury our dearest dreams and trust that some day we will witness a resurrection.

So here I sit today, my children are all grown with their own families. Much of their inability to attached has healed as they've had their own children. Some of my children are rock solid in the Lord. Another just bought his own home. Most of them are moving forward in life beautifully.

Contentment is the only way to parent at our best. When we parent out of fear, envy, guilt, or a sense of failure or inadequacy, we (unintentionally) sew discord in our children's hearts. But when we parent out of contentment, we sew peace and joy and confidence. We have to choose—every day—to be grateful for what God has given us and to trust that His plans are perfect.

How did I stay content when I didn't get the family I dreamed of? Well, I wasn't always successful, that's for sure. But as I sought God's heart on a regular basis, He helped me to …
  • refuse bitterness
  • surrender my dreams
  • pray for others to get what I didn't have
  • thank Him when they did
  • and trust Him no matter what

Cheri Johnson calls herself a SAFE mom: Step/Adoptive/Foster/or Every other kind of mom to non biological children. She's a mother to five children all adopted from Russia in 1997 and 2000. Many days she wanted to run away. She felt alone, misunderstood, and beaten down. Yet, God took the painful, confusing, and scary times and turned them into wholeness, beauty, and treasures. She now shares her pearls—gems grown from the grit of parenting—on her blog ( and Facebook page (
In addition to her five children, she's also married to her loving husband, Bob, who shares with her the joys of ten (and counting) grandchildren. They live in St. Paul, MN. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Short & Sweet: An Invitation to Hurt is an Invitation to Trust

There was no way we could hide it from him.
We’d brought a baby home with every intention of adopting him, but the entire process was being derailed. Our seven-year-old was with us from the moment the plan began to unravel, and I knew I couldn’t hide it. He was watching and asking valid questions. “Will we get to keep the baby? Will you be sad if we don’t? Will we get another baby if we have to give this one back?”
Those questions sent splintering cracks through my already fragile heart. On the one hand I was trying to love and bond with a baby I may lose; on the other hand I had a son who was trying to find security in the shakiest of situations. I wanted to shield him from all that was falling apart.
I’m the adult, I told a friend one day. I can take the blow of loss, but I’m worried about what this will do to my son. If we lose the baby, I can’t pretend like it never happened. Court dates, phone calls—I can’t shield him from everything.
In the middle of my panicked tears, my friend spoke these wise words to me: Invite him into your pain. He will learn to trust the Lord in crisis by watching you do it.”
There’s a lot that’s foggy about the seven months we lived in uncertain territory. But those words stand strong and clear in my mind. I took them in, wringing out the reality that could appear side-by-side with the chronic ambiguity we found ourselves living in. I could talk with my son honestly, and I could cry in front of him. I could also take this painful experience and point him to Jesus as our Hope and Comforter. Instead of whispering or pretending our faces weren’t strained by concern and fear, we talked openly about how God would take care of both us and the baby if our lives threaded out in different directions.
Yes, it would hurt.
Yes, we would be sad.
But oh yes, God would be with us in our sadness and would one day heal our hurt.
I don’t know if we handled it all right. As a mom I question pretty much everything about my parenting. But I can look back and see that my son was confident through the ups and downs of that unruly adoption process. And though his little heart is still learning about who God is and what it might mean to follow Him, he didn’t doubt that God would be with us in whatever way our story ended.

A few weeks ago, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and while tears streaked my face for days at a time, my now-eight-year-old watches me with serious eyes as I once again invite both him and his baby brother into my pain. He’s not alarmed by my tears, and I hope that he is learning it’s okay to feel uncertain sometimes. It’s okay to feel sad and unsure--because underneath it all is the steady beat of hope in Christ and the unbroken faithfulness of God who is always with us.

Find Glenna Marshall by clicking on the links below.

Monday, October 3, 2016

While We're Waiting

It's baby week! Maybe. Hopefully. Our little one may arrive by the 6th, but we shall wait and see what he or she decides to do. Until then, some reads for you!

I Quit My Job to Become 'Just' a Mom by Jill Molloy

The Weary Work of Waiting by Glenna Marshall

How to Drink Your Gatorade by Leigh Sain

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