"I've learned how much the Advent season holds, how it breaks into our lives with images of light and dark, first and last things, watchfulness and longing, origin and destiny." Kathleen Norris

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Romans 8:22-25The Message

For four years my wife and I were eager to have a baby. At first, naturally, we tried like everyone else. After some time, we had tests. Then we tried drugs - as prescribed by my urologist. At one point we considered artificial means and later looked into adoption. We were praying and trying and waiting and hoping, all a bit anxiously, no doubt.

One spring Sunday at our church in Miami, at a point in the service open for worshippers to speak words of testimony or encouragement as led by the Spirit, a young man said something that caught my attention. Andre was a rotund, deep-voiced Jamaican temporarily among us as a participant in the Youth with a Mission program hosted by our church. "I sense from the Lord that a couple here today has been trying to have children, but unsuccessfully; the Lord is saying: trust in me and you will receive the desires of your heart."

I was generally open-minded about the charismatic workings of the Spirit, but more as an observer than a practitioner. Was this a prophecy of some sort? Was it meant for us? That's what our priest suggested when Andre asked him who might be the subject of this pronouncement. Father Cliff pointed him to us. We listened, neither dismissing his words with skepticism nor seizing on them with enthusiasm; rather, we tucked them away to ponder quietly in our hearts. And we waited.

Andre returned to Jamaica. We went off that summer to Vancouver for study. Our friends John and Martha Zimmerman lived there and we sought their pastoral counsel. They prayed earnestly with us about out situation and the idea of adoption. The months passed. In December while Charlene went to see a specialist in her hometown of Clearwater, I stayed in Miami to host a missionary friend and spiritual mentor visiting from Mexico. Doug listened to my confused questions: Adopt? Remain without children? What were our desires, really? And he prayed with me. It was one of those times of prayer that seemed charged.

Shortly after Christmas, out of the blue, we received a brief note from Andre in Jamaica: "Have been praying for you and wondered what was up." I was startled. I had not thought of him for months. A trace of hope rose within me. I was even more startled when only days later Charlene learned that she was pregnant.

Then, two weeks after that, the Zimmermans flew in to visit and we picked them up at Miami International. Back at the house we shared our exciting news, whereupon Martha, wide-eyed, blurted out, "Oh, Charlene, when I saw you at the airport, the Lord told me you were pregnant, but I couldn't bring myself to say it aloud." It was our turn to be stunned. Signs from God before and after!

Nine months later, Evan was born.

I am mindful just now of the innumerable stories of couples seeking to have children. Many are wildly successful and others deeply disappointed. Some joyfully adopt. Some of these adoptions become painful down the road. Some give birth to babies with Down syndrome or other heartbreaking conditions. And many others are disheartened by miscarriages. So many stories, such a wide range of emotions.