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Finding Beauty in the Boundaries: Sara Hagerty

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2024 5:15 am

Finding Beauty in the Boundaries: Sara Hagerty

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 2, 2024 5:15 am

Do you ever feel like it's just... too much? Laundry piles up, bills keep coming, and your schedules overflow. Well, Sara Hagerty gets it. Once struggling with infertility, adoption, and yeah, now she's raising seven kids! She encourages us on finding purpose in the unexpected twists of life, even with our limited time.

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Connect with Sara Hagerty and catch more of her thoughts at, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

And grab Sara's book, The Gift of Limitation: Finding Beauty in the Boundariesin our shop.

Intrigued by today's episode? Think deeper about Grief by listening to "Stages of Grief".

Want to hear more episodes by Sara Hagerty, listen here!

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It's okay. On a day where I'm tripping over the boots, I can't find another sock, the kid's having a meltdown, and I'm going, Lord, it is really hard to mother seven kids. He didn't see me as having a tantrum. He actually just wants to be with me in that moment. So we grieve it, and in the grieving, I think then there is a resurrection.

There's a time and a place where God goes, well, that was the dream for your life, but I actually have different dreams, and they're better. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at This is Family Life Today. All right, so here's what I'm thinking about today.

It's just this thought just came to me. If we had seven kids, would we have survived? Seven kids?

Yeah, I think we would have survived, but I don't know if we'd still be married. Well, the laughter you're hearing is the woman who has seven kids, Sarah. And I'm still married.

Sarah Haggerty is with us. How many years married? 22, almost 23. You know those years.

It took a while, right? Tell us your family story. We had many years of infertility after being married. We just assumed like everybody else, you get married, and then when you want to have kids, you have kids, but that wasn't the story for us. And so after, we had wanted to adopt, but we thought we would have biological children first and then adopt. But after many, many, many years of infertility, we started the adoption process. Now, was infertility a struggle? Oh my goodness, one of the biggest struggles of our lives. Different for both of us. I think, you know, speaking to marriage, men carry that different than women do. I think that creates tension.

Absolutely. I think for us, it actually ended up drawing us closer together because of his personality. The ache for him was watching me.

I think he'd always wanted to be a dad, but I think he had just a sense of surety this is gonna happen some way. Whereas for me, you know, I'm going to all the baby showers. I'm watching my friends have their first, second, third birthdays with their kids, and I'm feeling this thing like every day. You're facing it constantly.

Constantly. I mean, it just, it marked my 20s and into my 30s. And so you decided, well, we've always wanted to adopt. We've always wanted to.

So, so we went for it and we adopted. Before you got to that point, was there a God part of it? A faith part? Was there a loss of faith? You know, struggle? Complaining?

Lomenting? I remember sitting at my kitchen table one afternoon and we had, we had built a house and we thought this house would be filled with children and it was filled with guest rooms. And I remember sitting at my kitchen table a lonely day and I opened the Bible and read in the Proverbs, to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.

The satiated soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet. And it was a moment. It was like the light shining through the window, like this bitter has the potential for being sweet with my walk with God. Did you feel it or did you just have to claim that or just? I think it was the first time I felt it. You know, I think I knew in my head maybe, but this was the years before anybody talked about infertility. I mean, we knew one friend who would walk through it.

It just wasn't that prevalent. So I felt very alone, but I think in that moment it was probably the combination of, I felt this is God reaching into my heart saying there's this is a moment for you Sarah. But I also in my mind went, the words telling me this is terrible, but it actually could be sweet. And so it ended up being a profound walk with God where I went, I'm not getting my dreams.

The things I want aren't happening. I'm watching all my friends have one, two, three babies, but God is reaching me. And you know, I say that as a big banner over ten years, right? That's interesting though that that moment of this is your moment, Sarah.

Absolutely. Of God saying that. I'm thinking of how many listeners God's saying this is your moment in the midst of the pain and the heartache.

Right. Which is hard because we get our eyes fixed on when that's over. We just naturally do that. Anybody who's going through something hard right now, subconsciously you're counting days or months till when it's over.

Your eyes are on when this is over. But for me it felt like God reached into the now. And I knew it wasn't necessarily a promise that it would be over. You know, I remember another instance of being at church. And church was always painful during that time because people are pregnant or carrying their babies. And it just felt like the reminder.

If I went to work I wasn't around a lot of pregnant people. And I saw this picture in my mind's eye of the word family nailed to the cross as we're in worship. And I felt like it was an invitation from the Lord, would you still love me if I never gave you what you wanted in a family? And it was like a big lump in my throat. No way.

I don't want this. And days of just going hmm how could I answer that? How will I answer that? But I think because of that that time of every bitter thing is sweet I went, you have something for me.

It might not be family right now. But I'm discovering for myself, God you have something for me in this loss. I mean it sounds like you should write a book on this.

Yeah, I did. Every bitter thing is sweet. I mean everything you're saying is the gift of limitations. The beauty of the boundaries is obviously the title of your book. Maybe your newest book.

It's coming out of that, obviously that journey. Well the irony is, so that was in my 20s right? And then here I am, how many years later, and I have seven kids and barely enough time to brush my teeth. Your house is full. My house is full. I mean it is loud and messy and I'm organized and quiet.

Yeah it's really nice and quiet right where we're sitting right now. I can't imagine what's going on in your house. I know we're not thinking about that.

I've got some crisis texts already. But I mean did you start the adoption process? Like we're done. We were never gonna have kids. No we really in my heart of hearts I wanted to hold on to faith that God would heal me. The ironic thing is I felt like God was healing my heart while my body wasn't being healed.

So we walk through the adoption process still asking the Lord to give us biological children. We adopted two from Ethiopia and then two, we actually in Ethiopia as we were touring the orphanage there was an older girl who just looked at me with these eyes like take me home. She was giving us the tour of the orphanage when we were there to pick up our semi younger children. How old was she? She was probably nine or ten.

Yeah. And she had these eyes like I'm not going home with anybody will you take me home. And we came home from Ethiopia after adopting our first two and I said to my husband we have to go back for her. And it wasn't actually her that we ended up adopting but we adopted two more children that were older.

Her face is just burned in my brain. There was little hope for her to be adopted and I just thought of those older children. And so we went back to Uganda two years later and adopted two more.

But then? Several years after that just it was you know a Valentine's Day that I discovered I was pregnant and went what in the world? Everything just changed.

Valentine's Day. Mm-hmm. What'd you feel? I think it felt surreal. I had dreamed about it for so long and then it was finally there and I went God you met me when I didn't have this. And there's something about that when when the miracle we're waiting on comes and we look back and go oh we didn't when I didn't have that God was so near. And it was so it was so personal to me I wrote letters to my closest friends telling them I was pregnant I couldn't even tell them I couldn't even say the words. It felt that private near I can't believe all these years you've walked alongside me I'm just gonna put a letter in the mailbox to you because I don't think I could actually verbally tell you God came through this way.

It was that like close to the soul sounds like. Absolutely that you know and I think we all face this we have very I mean now even in this season I have these questions of God I'm on my floor begging God will you move in this way all of us have that in some way or another and the moment where he doesn't come through like we think I say that you know with air quotes in some ways in my mind is maybe just as holy as the moment when he does but we have tangible evidence when he does come through gosh that feels wholly other. He always comes through you're right. But not in the way that we think. Yeah talk about that how is it holy when he doesn't because that's the struggle. Well and that's really the topic of this book we fix our eyes on the things we can't have we just do we just human nature it's subtly it's in the back of our mind I mean I wish seven kids I'm walking out the door and I'm old and I'm walking out the door with my little children to have young children I'm walking out the door with them tripping over boots we can't find socks we want to go on this walk where I'm gonna get to experience nature and wonder with them and another boot is lost in the woods somewhere and some kids crying and I'm like I'm too old for this how are we doing this again right my I am up to my eyeballs and kids and I can in my mind's eye how ironic that all these years after my infertility go when am I gonna come up for air and keep my eyes over the fence line meaning the fence around my yard I don't I'm not looking at what's right in front of my yard I'm looking at the other over the fence when am I gonna get a respite when am I gonna get a break when are these limitations gonna lift and yet I think there's something that God has for us who are waiting in the waiting there's something that God has for us who are limited whether it be physically or in our marriage or with children or without children or taking care of a sick parent or taking care of a sick kid that isn't let's grate your teeth till this is over I actually have words and whispers for you right now when it's not lifting you're traveling you're speaking you're around women what do you think some of the main ones are you named a lot of those I think there's a lot of Aiken marriages me too a lot of Aiken he's not who I thought he was or this isn't coming together like I thought or we're not connecting emotionally and my kids all women saying he's not who I thought well she asked women yeah I think those conversations I think your health kids that have walked away okay yes older the older you get watching your kids go through the teenage years and beyond and if they're not walking with the Lord I think health is a big thing and that's actually a startling thing because I think people in my generation we watched our parents struggle when they got into the older years but now we're seeing friends in their 30s yeah and even 20s and 40s struggling with health issues that are chronic that's a big thing and you've had a chronic condition I you know after I wrote this book I actually was diagnosed with Lyme disease and it was so interesting to go back and reread through the book and really wonder is the message that I wrote in here is it gonna hold true for this and is it for me I use it for me yeah like you're really living it I'm living here in it I'm in it and I read it and felt like you know what Lord that what you're telling me I think of one phrase I write about in the book slower still yeah which is the phrase that just it comes up in my mind one of my best friends tells it to me often it is you know Jesus pace was something like what three miles an hour or something and yet we live in this world of optimization and finding hacks we just move way faster than we even realize we're moving and yet I think there's something of a whisper from God in our limitations saying hey if you if if you slow down and are less productive than you think you need to be less accomplished than you think you need to be noticing more gaps in your life than you want to have you might actually find that my presence is very near in the slower still and so being diagnosed with Lyme disease it was like okay I'm gonna practice this when I'm in bed or I have to go to bed early or I'm fatigued and I can't do it we're going on family vacation and mom's upstairs in bed do I really believe that God likes me hmm do I really believe that he has something for my day or do I need to grit my teeth through this fatigue and wait till it's over so I can really be present to my day that's really I mean we all face that even that question God do you like me like if you love me you know we have all of our wise why have you not healed me still why are my kids still disobeying and they've walked away why is my marriage still I like your sentence of will you love me still and follow me if this never happens if it never so convicting it is and I think we all would say yes right in a heartbeat but like lived we maybe wouldn't like really deep down I'm like gosh what if you took it all away God and that's you know you say that and it's like go go go you know but then you all of us are living small versions of having the Lord delay an answer yeah or having something we desperately want be elusive to us but you're right we have a choice in those moments when we're so desperate when we can't get out of bed when we have no answers we have that choice of like I can't do it apart from you Jesus which is a beautiful thing it's and then that really is the gift in our limitations you know we have we have bought a lie and fed ourselves a lie that we're gonna conquer it all and in many ways that's why so many of us are tired we are bone tired because we've been trying to change the world and conquer it all I'm tired yes me too well I mean part of me wants to ask you you know even hearing that term slower still when I read it in your book it made me stop mm-hmm for a second then I rushed past it but no I'm kidding uh-huh it made me stop cuz I'm like I don't like it I want it but when I when you know you open the book with the fence analogy and I'm like I like fences to keep people out of my life uh-huh but I don't like fences to keep me in I want to jump over them I want to cry and you've talked about the beginning you know the skin marks on your shins as you're crawling over absolutely limitations of your life how do we get to the place you're there you've walked through that of when you feel limited when God's not letting you jump over that fence for whether it could be physical could be just there aren't advancements going on in your life or career or whatever and the DNA of me and some of us the American way we celebrate it and as an athlete you're a runner yeah it's like you don't slow down you just push through push through that absolutely don't quit if there's a fence you know I'm a football coach run through it don't yeah it's but there are times like you're saying it's like no slower still it's a limitation God wants you right where you are rest in that how do you do it if you don't want to do such a good question I mean I think in many ways God is already doing it for so many of us with our circumstances we're resenting them we're wishing they would change and he's already bringing us there by the circumstances that feel so limiting I mean you know as a runner I think of I ran a race right there was a local race in Charlottesville Virginia that I had placed in and I mean this was many years ago when I could actually like you know place in a race and I wanted to win it the next year so I got a trainer I trained to win it and I I all summer long in 75 degree heat in the mornings which was pretty cool this is fascinating it's wild so 75 degree heat it's race day and I know the years times from years past you I mean this is not a race that's making it on anybody's radar it's just a local race but I know the times of the winners from the years past I have my splits on my hand I know what I need to do to win the race that race morning it's 85 degrees which for a runner that 10 degree difference is oh that's a lot I hadn't trained in 85 degree we just had an unusually cool summer and as we're lining up at the starting line I noticed and there's some chatter that there's some actually Olympic trailers who are at that race you've never run it before hmm so I should have known I'm not gonna win this race right but I didn't believe it so here I am you know gun goes off and I'm looking at my hand determined for my splits this heat is slowing me down but I'm I'm zeroed in on I am going to get my splits my splits meaning the time for each mile right I'm gonna win this race not really thinking these women are like so far beyond me still trying to keep up with them my body is giving me all the warning signs to slow down and I ignore them all such that I have a heat stroke no which psychologically people who have heat strokes are typically people who push past their limits they just cannot read what their body is telling them and it became this picture to me of what we do in our lives my your tiredness your migraines your stomach aches your panic attacks they are telling you a story that and sometimes that's even God reaching into your body could it be all the time I don't know God is reaching into your body and speaking to you that message of slower still I think there's a mercy that like I hear that too and I think how in the world am I gonna slow down with seven kids that's what I was gonna say the moms listening I can't slow down there's no way you feel that right so could it be that the circumstances that we keep trying to push past the fence line we keep trying to hurdle is actually God's way of saying slower still could it be his way of going I want you to slow down because when we slow man there is access to wonder in God we hear whispers more than we scroll our phone I like the whispers yeah that's whispering to us and we can actually hear him because the noise is quite yeah I mean you're in bed sick for a day could it be that God's even allowing you know I don't want to get into the theology of sickness but like could it be that God allows that and it always isn't physical you know the symptoms aren't always physical I'm thinking of there are many times in my life I haven't felt physical symptoms but I'm irritable mm-hmm I'm angry I'm frustrated all the time you can feel it you know that signs as well like you're yelling at people for what you know you're you're harsh to your wife absolutely there's no reason to be harsh and it's like you know what I'm just I'm out of control and God's saying slow down slow down slower still I love that phrase one of my best friends her oldest son was diagnosed with cancer when he was nine and their world just stopped talk about slow down they're both working the husband and wife are both working they have four kids their oldest and she said the only place I could go every single night when he was in the hospital is I would go into the bathroom of the hospital room and I would lay on the floor and cry out to God I can't do this I can't do this I can't do this and she said his presence wrapped me in a way she said I was still in it but I had this comfort in the midst of it and she said all I wanted to do is get out of this situation begging God to heal him it wasn't looking good but she's begging God get me out of this place and miraculously this little boy was healed after time but now when I talked to her she says and I missed that place of desperation she was I'm so busy now flying all over the place but I was meeting God face-to-face when I couldn't stand on my own two feet and that's kind of what you're talking and that's ultimately I mean those are the stories we need to hear because deep down inside the reason we're killing ourselves is we want a sense of belonging and being known and being seen but there's another way to get that that isn't achievement and productivity and having all of our goals met and our kids well behaved now those things are bad yeah but there is something really powerful in the dream that is thwarted and God's saying I just want to hold you yeah but we don't really ask to be held when we're accomplishing all our dreams we're too busy running yeah that's right yeah they're being held without the pain yeah exactly you just don't want the pain I mean when you and I want to have you talk about that come die yes live I think we Christians are just master pain avoiders I mean if we're honest it's like we want to do every world everybody yeah flavor of it right yeah Christians the world is and I think there is an invitation with our limitations not only to name them because a lot of times we react to them name we resent them you know we're snapping at our spouse and our kids but really underneath it all we're just frustrated with the things that are limiting us okay come on Sarah name yours so I'll name our stuff I mean this would take two hours practically like I want my kids to be well-behaved in every scenario so here we are I plan this party and I want it to be beautiful and then some kid is unraveling and even though the party is for them I'm frustrated that they're not receiving it right but we do that yeah we do like why are you human can't you see I did this party for you I mean my daughter's in the bathroom crying at her birthday party and I'm irritated like don't you see all I did for you I think we live that way so I think the first thing is actually just naming our limitations it's a lot of times they have a power over us and we don't really know it because we haven't named them have you done that with your husband naming the limitations absolutely I mean bless her husband named limitations like what do you think he would typically say so his answers you know in a business setting we have seven kids right we've already hovered around that four of ours have been through pretty significant trauma my husband's a business owner there's a ton of nose he has to say in his professional life in order to be present to our private life and he feels it like he he'll get in a room with a bunch of guys who are in similar you know who are CEOs of their companies also and he's going if I had ten more hours this is what I could give he feels that there's a rate you know there are days where he can't go to meetings because there's certain things happening in our home that he's got to tend to it's really present for him I mean I would say that's probably his major limitation okay we're naming our limitations we name them but then I think the other step is this you know we as pain avoiders we actually give ourselves permission to grieve them and that can feel really counter and wrong to us I think we want to skip steps and tell ourselves the good news at the end of it when in reality God gave us lanes for our emotions in the Psalms Psalm 22 my God my God why have you forsaken me the exact words that Jesus used on the cross there was a Friday death and a Saturday darkness before Sunday's resurrection so there's something powerful to I think taking that and applying it to our own lives going there are things that God is inviting me to die to if we lose our lives yeah for him there's things he's inviting me to die to not just to keep clinging to interceding for they've got to change they've got to change maybe just accept they're not changing oh this is so true for marriage to absolutely I mean you're just living for the day he will change or come to know Jesus or lead in the way that we hold sending out the crisis prayer yes pray for my husband XYZ and some of that I mean how many years in some of those things are never gonna change and your question at the beginning will you still love Jesus God if they never do and and will I still love him exactly that if he's still doing that thing that drives me crazy and he knows that we've talked about this 267 times and you don't know yeah oh shoot now you remember can I accept that this is the whole package this is who I mean you know and it's so in a similar way in my own life in marriage and also separate from marriage can I accept those things which I think in some ways this is Holy Saturday right like this the I'm dying to them can I grieve them on that day can I grieve them for a period of time and go this is hard I think sometimes we don't want to do that because we feel like we're just little kids throwing tantrums and God knows our heart so it's okay on a day where I'm tripping over the boots I can't find another sock the kids having a meltdown and I'm going Lord it is really hard to mother seven kids he didn't see me as having a tantrum he actually just wants to be with me in that moment so we grieve it and in the grieving I think then there is a resurrection there's a time in a place where God goes well that was the dream for your life but I actually have different dreams and they're better I was gonna say and they're better they are better I'm so glad that God didn't listen to some of the dreams that I had that I thought would fill me because God's dreams are way way better but in the midst of that we walked some hard spots you know with our marriage yes with things but that piece of continually surrendering it and laying it down that's not and grieving it with him and grieving it you know I think about our marriage we always say we fell in love ten years after being married which actually feels very true and I look at like it I mean I think two years in I'm like who did I marry like what in the world this we are oil and water how did I not know this like I was starry eyed and I did not realize that we are absolute opposites and so here I am praying like you know change change him change him and now I look all these years later and lots of marriage counseling later I look and I'm like oh those things I wanted to change I actually desperately needed that's so funny because our seminary professor who mentored I'd seen his wife I remember him saying what are the favorite this is year one of marriage tell me the favorite things about Dave like I love that he's so laid-back ten years later I saw him again what are the things that like are frustrating for you in your marriage I said he's so laid-back and so now after 43 years I'm back to I love that about him isn't that wild yeah I mean it yeah so my marriage is this picture of and really I mean we duked it out like it was hard years in marriage committed but very hard and I look now and I'm like I had no idea how much I needed that man and his personality and all those quirks and all those things that rub me the wrong way yes I would not be who I am today without him and I even think of you know in our in our family with the challenges with our children my husband says to me often you would not be this area you are today without those kids because they've shaped you they have shaped you yeah you thought you were gonna change the world and they changed you I say that's every young mom oh you think you're gonna change them God's gonna use them to shape you yes in a magnificent way if you'll let him it's so right we're gonna hear more in just a second from Dave with some encouragement on how to practically apply what we've heard today but first limitations to me have always felt like something I've needed to move past or kind of bust through very rarely have I considered that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places and God has put them there for the purpose of allowing me to flourish within them not always looking for ways to break them down and move beyond them I'm Shelby Abbott you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Sarah Haggerty on family life today I've loved this conversation and Sarah has written a book that is directly related to this conversation is called the gift of limitation finding beauty in the boundaries full disclosure I'm actually reading this book right now and it is a really challenging and very helpful book for someone specifically like me and if you're like me you have trouble with the limitations you have trouble with looking at the fences in your life and longing for something different than what you're currently experiencing is a narrative driven book and Sarah shares a lot of stories in it about her own personal experiences but also gives great and godly insight on how to appropriately look at your limitations and really be appreciative of how God has ordered your life so you can get your copy right now by going to the show notes at family life today calm or you can give us a call at 800 F as in family L as in life and then the word today it is officially the month of May as of yesterday it was May 1st today is May 2nd and that means that when you partner with family life when you become a family life partner we have had some very generous donors give to the Ministry of Family Life to make it that so when you give any amount it is going to be matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000 that means if you give a gift of $100 for example it is actually going to be made into $200 that means if you become a monthly partner and give $50 a month for a whole year is actually going to be $100 a month it's a beautiful opportunity to make your donation double and have two times the impact so you can find out more about becoming a monthly partner in the show notes at family life today calm now when you do give we're gonna send you as a thank you a book by Chris and Elizabeth McKinney called neighborhoods reimagined it's just a small way of saying thank you to you for partnering with us in the Ministry of Family Life and making this ministry possible to help reach more families and marriages again you can find out more by going online to family life today calm and if you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today would you share this episode of family life today from wherever you get your podcasts and while you're there it could really help others learn more about the Ministry of Family Life today by leaving us a review all right now let's hear more from Dave Wilson about some practical ways to apply exactly what you've heard today yeah I think as we wrap I would say I don't think I've ever named the limitations I would encourage a listener to take a moment be still slower still get out your phone or whatever you're gonna use to do it maybe a piece of paper because your phone will probably have a text come in an email and your mind will rush off but just sort of get quiet and say what are the things I really wanted that aren't ever gonna happen and that's okay cuz that's how hard that's almost a courageous thing cuz even at this age they're still like oh I can still and it's like those those dreams are they weren't even good dreams but that God put a fence there and said no it's better that you don't have that and name that and I like the naming it you know and then live live free in it I don't know what that would look like but that'd be a healthy exercise yeah I like that and I also like the idea of saying to God even if you don't change the situation I will love you I will follow you I will trust you I might not feel like it but I will be obedient and follow you anywhere you take me those are hard things to say now tomorrow what's the point in finding the significance of grieving our limitations and finding purpose in difficult situations well Sarah Haggerty is back with David Ann Wilson to talk about just that we hope you'll join us tomorrow on behalf of David Ann Wilson I'm Shelby Abbott we'll see you back next time for another edition of family life today family life today is a donor supported production of family life a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-02 06:47:55 / 2024-05-02 07:01:21 / 13

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