More than twenty years ago I was almost a junior in high school when I got seriously dumped. Like, definition of the meaning of the word DUMPED. Out of left field. Never saw it coming. My world revolved around this guy. We had been together for what seemed like a really long time. I pictured our entire futures together forever and ever amen. To say my heart was broken would be an understatement. It was dramatic and emotional and awful, and the adult me is a little embarrassed by how terribly I took it, but suffice it to say it was a bad situation. I was totally dumped.

A few months after, I found myself interested in this guy I had known forever. We had known each other all through school. Went to church together. We were in band together. I was getting involved in youth group, and so was he, so we were always together. Something was drawing me to Matt, and I couldn’t quite figure it out. He was not like the guy I had pictured myself spending forever with. I think I was still very afraid of getting into a serious relationship again, so I pushed Matt away time and again. We dated a few months, then I broke up with him. I dated someone else for a while. Then I dated Matt again, and I dumped him. It was ridiculous. I would get close to falling in love with him, and I’d push away. Eventually God broke into my heart and told me Swish was the one He wanted me to marry, and the rest is history. But that’s a different story for a different day.

At some point during our back and forth, Matt made me a mix tape. (Do you remember these things? God, there is something so intoxicating about making someone a mix tape. Let me gather these songs that I love and put them in just the right order to let you know all the things I want to say to you but somehow can never find the words with which to do so.) I don’t really remember any of the songs he put on that tape except for one. “Say When” by Lonestar is never going to be a song that goes down in any record books, but it said exactly what Swish wanted me to hear at the time. (Don’t tease. We were into country then.)

Your heart’s been broken, you don’t want to open up to me, But can’t you see
All that you’re needing is someone to believe in you
And when you are no longer afraid, Darlin’ I’ll be just one word away

Say when, I’ll be there by your side. For a day, for a year, for the rest of my life
I know you’re not ready, But someday your heart’s gonna mend
I’ll give you love without end. Say when

Could be tomorrow, maybe a little farther down the road. Your heart will know
My love is timeless and you’re gonna find it’s true.
And no matter how long it takes, If it means holding you I can wait

Say when, I’ll be there by your side. For a day, for a year, for the rest of my life
I know you’re not ready, But someday your heart’s gonna mend
I’ll give you love without end. Say when

I remember listening to that song over and over, and thinking that I was never going to be able to be what he wanted. I would never be able to open up to him. After I had my epiphany moment, I knew that I needed to say WHEN. The next day I opened up AOL Instant Messenger (RIP AIM!), and as we chatted away about mundane things, I just typed one word. “When” He was so confused. We went back and forth for a few minutes. “When what?” WHEN. “What? Huh? When what” WHEN. He finally got it, and we got on the phone to make a long distance love declaration. (He was in college three hours away then, and cell phones weren’t really a thing. People had them, but not like they do now, and we certainly didn’t call other time zones with them. Long distance phone bills got racked up when Matt was in school. Sorry Mom and Dad. You’re welcome AT&T.) With God’s clear guidance, I knew it was time to say WHEN to Matt. I have never been more sure of anything in my life, and to be honest I feel a little stupid that it took me so long to see it. What can I say? I’m a little stupid.

A few years later we are married, and have decided to start a family. We try and we try, and just never have any luck getting pregnant. We would think about the future, and say things like, “IF we have kids we can ABC.” or “IF we get to be parents we will do XYZ.” It was a way of protecting our hearts, I suppose, in case the thing we wanted most never came to be.

Our good friend Seth contacted us one evening to let us know that he and his (now) wife had been praying for us, and felt strongly like God was giving them a message for us. The message was simply, “Not IF, but WHEN.” We were so touched by that encouragement from the Lord and from our friends. In the darkest days of our infertility and miscarriages we carried that message with us as a torch of hope. We felt that we had been promised this family – however it was going to come. We just had to hold on to God and that hope that “WHEN” we were parents, not “IF” we got to be parents.

It sounds so easy, now that I’m typing it out. “Oh, you just hold on to that hope from God, and you’ll be okay!” Well, it’s not that easy. Please don’t let my language trick you into thinking that putting your hope in the promises of Christ is an easy thing to do. It’s really difficult. There were dark, dark days in the ten years we waited to become parents. But even on the hardest days, that little glimmer of hope and promise was like an ember in a dying fireplace. It was hanging on, putting off the tiniest bit of warmth.

And then, all of a sudden, when we weren’t expecting it, God said WHEN. And there was Hannah. And so quickly later there was Henry. And now that tiny ember in the ashes of my despair has grown into quite the blazing fire. And I sit before that fire every day snuggled with my dear husband and our amazing children, and I am so content and warmed by the WHEN that I am in. After decades of dreaming and hoping and praying – for the right one to partner with in life, for those children for us to love and raise together – I am living in my WHEN. It’s no longer “IF I fall in love again,” or “IF we have children.” It’s now. WHEN.

Last night a new friend of mine posted some pictures with the hashtag “#saywenz” (her last name), and I immediately started singing “Say When” in my head. It never occurred to me until that moment that the “Say When” of our young love and the “Not IF, but WHEN” of our desiring children were connected.

I’m not typically that person that chooses a “word of the year” or anything, but I think I’m going to make “WHEN” my word of 2018. My wishing and hoping is now seeing fulfillment. I am going to make every effort I can to remember that I am living in my WHEN. So much of our life is driven by planning for the future and looking ahead. This year I want to be intentional about being in the moment. To live my WHEN as much as I can.

Happy 2018 to each of you!


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