Do you have any moments that are burned into your memory? Where the words spoken and the actions performed are so clear that you can practically smell the freshly cut hay or just-baked Christmas cookies in the background of your mind? I have a few… some lovely, and some I wish I could erase. One that often comes to mind, especially this time of year, is the moment I told my husband we were pregnant with our first child.
We’d been married about six weeks and were living in a one-room cabin on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. My husband spent almost every summer as a ranch hand on this beautiful 1000-acre property, and this year he brought his new bride, the ranch owner’s granddaughter, with him. Life on the ranch was idyllic: waking with the sunrise, following my husband around and assisting with various chores (mostly just trying to look cute and flirty to distract him from moving water or spraying weeds), and helping my grandma rearrange furniture or sort through vintage treasures in the ranch house. However, about two weeks into our working-honeymoon I started to feel nauseous (I’m sure you know where this is going). Suddenly, little trips into town with my grandma were no longer as fun, and I’d fall asleep as soon as I’d unpacked the groceries that suddenly looked absolutely disgusting. In the back of my mind, I knew what was going on, but fear of the unknown kept me from acknowledging it.
“The Sonheim Hilton”
Finally, one sunny afternoon, Nathanael came in for a late lunch. I ate a few crackers and attempted to sit up with him at the table, but felt relief when he got up to go back to work. I collapsed on the bed, ready for my second nap of the day. Instead, I got up and reached under the bed for the pregnancy test—purchased two weeks prior and hidden immediately with the false reassurance that avoidance brings. The test didn’t indulge my denial, and within milliseconds two pink lines appeared: ready or not, we were parents.
Although fear of the future and insecurity still gripped me, suddenly a thrilling excitement took over. I ran outside. Nate was still loading tools into the ATV and only a short distance away. Breathless from the altitude and first-trimester exhaustion, I burst out, “You’re a daddy!” Although he must have known this was coming, he put down the tools and immediately pulled me into his arms, spinning me around, full of joy (and friends, I am proud to say that I didn’t puke, even a little).
The view from our cabin, taken from just about where Nathanael was when I ran out to tell him.
Reflecting on this moment makes me wonder – what was the interaction like when Mary broke the news to Joseph? The Bible only tells us this of their interaction:
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel — which means, “God with us.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 1:18-24
What a way to begin a marriage. How did Mary break the news? Did she run to his house right away to share, or did she wait and gather up the courage? Was Joseph upset? Was he excited after his dream or did he still harbor frustration and jealousy that the bride, for whom he’d been preparing and waiting, was carrying a child that did not carry his genetics?
Babies are a wonderful gift, but every story is different and sometimes the conceiving and carrying of them carries grief and heartache. In some seasons I have prayed every day for wombs to conceive and carry longed-for children. I have wept with and held the hands of dear friends when a child is taken too soon. I have begged the Lord to have grace for my imperfections, to send his angels to guard my children, and, trembling, placed their futures in His knowing arms.
In our story, Nathanael and I hadn’t planned to start a family so quickly, and I worried often that we were too young or too newly married or in too much transition to provide for our baby, both physically and emotionally.
But Mary and Joseph hadn’t even gotten married yet! And talk about transition- they had to haul themselves to a completely different town for a crazy census that meant the only place Mary could give birth was next to an animal’s feeding trough. And my insecurities about raising my child probably pale in comparison to the anxiety of raising the King of Kings.
Yet Mary and Joseph knew they weren’t in this alone. God didn’t plop this huge responsibility in their lap just to watch them fail. And in a crazy turn of events that could only be divine, the child they would raise together would later die to save them from their sins.
One week before our sweet boy was born; still clueless.
What responsibilities cause you anxiety? Where do you fear your own shortcomings? What hurts or tragedies are gripping you in this season?
Hear this today: you’re not going it alone.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Draw near to Him today. He’s with us in the doubts , fears, hurts and tears. And one day he will whisk us away to eternal joy with Him. He will draw us to His chest and spin us around in joy (and friends I am proud to say that we won’t puke, even a little).
Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild
Jesus Christ her little child
He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor and meek and lowly
Lived on earth our Savior holy
For He is our child-hood’s pattern
Day by day like us He grew
He was little, weak, and helpless
Tears and smiles like us He knew
And He feeleth for our sadness
And He shareth in our gladness
And our eyes at last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love;
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone
Not in that poor lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
We shall see Him, but in heaven
Set at God’s right hand on high;
When like stars
His children crowned
All in white shall be around