The God Of All Comfort

On August 7th with great surprise and joy we found out that we were having another baby. Number 4! I was shocked and thrilled and a little bit scared all at once. The weeks that followed were filled with wonderful happiness as we gradually began sharing the news with loved ones. Over the Labor Day weekend I made a trip to Florida to tell Jason’s family and my siblings. It was wonderful having all that support and excitement.

At 10 weeks I went in for a routine appointment. I was looking forward to hearing the heart beat on the doppler this time. I had been having spotting, which was abnormal compared to my other 3 pregnancies. I also suspected I had a uti the week prior but there was no bacteria in my urine. It was strange all the symptoms and discomfort and yet no apparent reason. On my drive to the OB, as I sang “Thy will be done”, I had this strong sense that God was preparing me for sad news.

There is no heart beat.

I felt like the air was being sucked from the room. I immediately started crying. I have never lost a baby and have had 3 healthy pregnancies. But in the wake of that moment Gods presence was so near to me and Romans 8:28 just became even more personal.

Jeremiah 8:18 “You are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.”

I can’t even describe the deep sadness I have felt. Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word.” I have brief moments where I’m not crying but mostly I just keep crying. When I think about not seeing this babies face or holding him/her, letting that little hand wrap around my finger. Knowing that our kids will not be getting a little brother or sister. We have so much love built up for this baby and just like that, no heart beat. I’ve never known this kind of ache and grief. And yet I know my gracious Father will not waste it. I sense his strong comfort and peace, even in my ache and tears, I know with certainty “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭This promise doesn’t diminish my grief but it strengthens my hope in the midst of my grief. I can cry and rest in that promise all at the same time.

On top of finding out this very sad news we were faced with the decision of having a d&c done or waiting for my body to do what it should do. You have all these emotions and then you have to decide what’s next. It’s scary and confusing, mounted on top of trying to grieve this tremendous loss. I never knew all these details involved with having a miscarriage. I was really concerned over possibly having a d&c. I began asking for prayer that God would allow my body to do what it was designed to do in this situation. The next 2 days it all began to happen naturally. More tears, more sadness, but also gratefulness for God sparing me the decision of the d&c.

During this time we have had countless family and friends praying on our behalf and loving us in so many ways. It has been incredible knowing how many people have prayed for peace, comfort, and wisdom for us. And we have received all those things in abundance. I would say I have more of a bent towards depression and God in his great mercy has covered me with comfort and confidence during this difficult time. I didn’t know you could be so sad and at the same time be at such peace in Gods sovereign plan. I didn’t know I could have such deep grief and yet fully assured of Gods goodness in something so heartbreaking. It’s something that doesn’t even make sense to me and yet, it’s where he has me. I feel like a child crying buckets of tears while being wrapped securely in my Fathers arms while he whispers, “It’s going to be okay.”

My mom was able to fly in almost immediately. As a family we had a little burial and ceremony to honor this little life. As much as I instinctively want to shield my children from hurt, this time has deepened all of our understanding of compassion, thoughtfulness, the preciousness of life and of course love. We are closer now and I wouldn’t change how we’ve included them in our rejoicing and now in our grief.

I can’t express the comfort I have felt from the body of Christ. The cards, flowers, prayers, messages,…. there has been an outpouring of love as you have grieved with us. I haven’t had the chance to tell everyone, but others have shared for us and I have been told of ALL the prayers for us. Thank you for mourning with us and praying on our behalf. We are so blessed and grateful. I’ll end with this scripture from Habakkuk. I love the imagery of this passage and the message it’s conveying and its what I am praying over my heart. That even when I have precious things taken away, I can trust and rejoice in my Savior. Please pray with me.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk‬ ‭3:17-18‬

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Zippys Birthday

I’ve written before about my children and their love for stuffed animals. I would say it’s a problem……storing them is a problem for me…. but more than any other toy they have their stuffed animals have always been the favorites. Once again I’m reminded that the delight these fuzzy friends bring is completely worth the inconvenience of a floor that can’t be walked on. 😬😉

Today was Zippys birthday. Zippy is a little TY Beanie Boo I bought for Caleb when Jason and I were in Gulf Shores. Just like the Beanie Babies each Boo has a given name and birthdate. This is not the first stuffed animal party my kids have thrown. They are pretty much professionals with a party planning committee and everything.
This afternoon Micaila whipped together cupcakes out of pancake mix and some kind of Oreo filling frosting while Ryann decorated and rounded up all the guests.
I was downstairs when Caleb and Zippy made their way up to the party. All of a sudden I hear “SURPRISE!!!” and the three of them in unison singing happy birthday to Zippy.

There is something about hearing my children play, use their imaginations, and enjoy stuffed animals and each other that just compels me to give thanks to God for His grace and goodness. His mercy in my life is mysterious. And this I do not want any of us to forget. 🙂

I also dont want to forget that “the animals are having a sleepover” which is why they cant be cleaned up yet. 🤔😂

Well played.

Where am I and who are you?

There are so many things that did not cross my mind about children in foster care until we were in the thick of it with them. On one hand we “knew” they would have suffered trauma and we “knew” there would be things about them that are different than our own children or our friends children. But until we started serving these kiddos day in and day out, we couldn’t possibly really know.

On Monday we got a call about a nine month old baby girl. And she is every bit as precious as you are probably imagining. She has the sweetest, softest baby chunk I’ve ever snuggled. She has wavy auburn hair and smiley blue eyes. And when she smiles she crinkles her nose and shows off her two pearly white bottom teeth. But like most babies in foster care she didn’t come smiling. She came screaming, confused, and unsure of everything. And though the screaming has lessened with each day, I still find myself wondering what happened and why.

When these children come, you want them to understand they are safe. That whatever happened to bring them here, they can trust you. But that understanding doesn’t happen over night. So you have to be incredibly patient as they learn to trust you and feel safe and secure in this new place. And having that patience is easier said than done. When certain odd behaviors persist, you think to yourself, “Why are they still doing this? Don’t they know they don’t have to do that anymore?” I constantly have to reset my mind and perspective, reminding myself that, though I know they are safe, and there needs will be met, they don’t necessarily know that yet.

We went to a church fellowship and of course everyone was gushing over baby girl. And like a lot of normal baby loving people, there were some who wanted to hold her. Which is absolutely fine, except, she didn’t want to be passed around. And I realized why. Monday strangers came to her rescue, brought her to a strange DFCS office and gave her to a bunch of unfamiliar faces. Then she was put in a car with a transporter, some man she’s never seen, to be brought to another new environment with more new people. Our house. Her life for the next several months now will be a series of going from one stranger and strange place to the next. I had never thought about this, and how it effects these children, until we witnessed it first hand. It’s unique to every child how this scenario impacts them but make no mistake, it does. Now my face is becoming familiar to her. So it’s understandable why she holds on to me for dear life when we go places. She can not speak but you know in her infant mind she’s thinking, “Who is gonna take me next?”

Our prayers, your prayers, over these children in foster care are vital. Will you pray with me for them? Pray for protection over their hearts and minds. Pray for healing and redemption no matter the outcome of their case plan. And pray that these children and their families will find hope in Jesus Christ.

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” 1 John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The “worth it” moments 

Because I want to remember this stuff.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any one that home schooling can be hard. The logistics of getting school done is exhausting in itself. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again, I’m not Wonder Woman. Some days we have what seems like a hundred interruptions, other days I’m freaking out over math facts, and probably once a month I have to (or Jason does) remind myself why we are choosing to homeschool our children. It’s easy to feel defeated or get sucked into the comparison trap. And at just the right time, God always seems to give me that “worth it” moment. Like today….. Just sittin on a hay bale, no big deal. (By the way, those hay bales are the evidence of our first horse coming soon! Eeeee!!!)

We are learning about countries and cultures. The girls were given passports and currency and have decided to “visit” each new place. They have chosen a spot on our property to geographically represent each country. I love how imaginative they are. Packing suitcases, going to the airport,….. I hear them pretending it all. This week they’ve traveled to Brazil.

Micaila remembered to pack good reading material. A book about Cameron Townsend, the missionary who founded Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Some days homeschooling is hard. And it is a sacrifice. But I’m so incredibly thankful to God to get to be here alongside my children as they learn, struggle, grow, pretend, play, mess up, forgive, mature, and repeat over and over. And while I enjoy the little “worth it” moments, they also serve as a reminder that God is good in all the moments, even if I may not be seeing it or feeling it at the time.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭28:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Three Legged Race

I thought it would be fun to teach my girls how to have a three-legged race. I teamed up with Ryann to show them the concept and mechanics of moving the appropriate legs and working together. Then I tied her and Micaila together and sent them off in the yard. Of course Micaila tried to make it a competition, running faster and dragging Ryann as they giggled along the way. I reminded them that it wouldn’t work unless they worked as a team, as one body. Before long they buckled down and started working together. But even as they navigated the yard “as one” they still would stumble every now and then. This time though it was different. Micaila would slow her gait down if necessary and Ryann would speed up when she could. If one fell the other would stop and pull her to her feet.

At one point they both were down but decidedly not giving up. They continued laughing but this time communicating the next move or direction. “Let’s walk!” Or “Let’s trot!” (You can tell they’re in horseback riding lol)

They were in this together and as I watched the scene unfold it reminded me of those treasured relationships in the body of Christ. Those special friendships that are so completely necessary for us as Christians.

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many………….there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:12-14, 25-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In the past I’ve written on the importance of having strong Christian friends. There is so much in God’s Word about fellowship, encouraging one another, and accountability. We need each other as we are all being sanctified.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11, 14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The truth is I know first hand how challenging it can be to form close relationships that are also in close proximity. I have lots of wonderful long distance friends but moving has revealed to me the challenges of making deep adult Christian friendship.

But alas there IS hope, God has been so faithful. Here are a few things that I have trusted and seen God work through.

Prayer. I know that seems like an obvious answer. But God has answered prayers that my heart and mind uttered before my mouth did. He’s also answered ones from the pages of my journal and THAT is super cool to reflect on. Don’t give up on praying and asking God to bring or use people in your life that can love, challenge and encourage you and run this race with you.

Just try. I have met a few “kindred” spirits. You know those friends that you just instantly click with little to no effort. Those are rare gems. Most likely you are gonna have to pursue with determined, prayerful effort. It may take a few times hanging out before that connection really occurs but don’t give up. Keep meeting, keep talking about it to God, he will prove faithful in your desire to have godly friendships.

Fear not. We are all messy people and to have “iron sharpening iron” you have to be willing to share your mess. Don’t let the fear of them running for the hills, after you open up about something really personal, keep you from being real and pursuing authenticity. This is the moment when we can really connect with each other and acknowledge “I’m broken”. Chances are they will respond “Me too!”

So go out there and find someone to run this race with. I promise you’ll be so glad you did. 🙂

Why Do You Pray?

 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on firm footing.

Psalms 143:6,8, and 10 NLT

I love the saying “Caught not taught.” With parenting so much of what our children learn is from what they see, what they catch us doing. (We all know this can be both a good and bad thing.) Even still, our efforts to find those teachable moments definitely needs to be made. One thing I was recently prompted to talk about in depth with our children was prayer. My kids “catch” me praying regularly. We strive to pray with them at bed time, dinner, and other given opportunities, so I believe they are learning how to pray and the importance of praying often. The question that came to my mind was “Do my children know what the purpose of prayer is?”

In the words of David Platt “God has designed prayer as a means by which we might grow in love for Him, on a moment by moment, day by day basis.” (If you’d like more on that you can listen to his sermon The Privilege of Prayer.)

I agree and believe that when we understand prayer from this truth, it changes everything. When we come to God with a desire to commune with Him, know Him, and love Him more, it will certainly impact how we pray. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Not our little kingdom, HIS Kingdom. Not our wills and what should be’s, HIS perfect will.

So, do my kids know why we pray? Let’s find out. 🙂

Me: Tonight we are going to talk about prayer. Can you tell me what the purpose of praying is? Why do we pray?

Ryann: Umm cause we’re talking to Jesus. And its nice to Jesus. Cause when we pray it makes us happy.

Micaila: We pray because its important to Jesus and because its loving to Jesus and it cheers you up.

Caleb: For food and for God.

Ryann: Oooh Oooh! For other people!

Caleb: Nooo I wanna say thaaat!!! (Tone change) For other people.

Me: Those are some good answers…..

Ryann: What does it really mean? Because you didn’t seem happy with my answer.

Me: (I had to laugh, I didn’t think my expression showed disappointment lol) You’re answers are good but there is more to why we pray.

Since my children are almost nine, seven, and three I really did feel these were pretty good responses. But it also confirmed that it’s important to teach our kids the biblical reasons why we do the things we do. If we don’t teach them, they will merely be going through the motions of tradition and run the risk of becoming like those Paul referred to in his second letter to Timothy- “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Or they may become teenagers and later adults who view God as an estranged parent you only talk to when you need something or call on when you’re in distress, but ignore all other times. Or worse yet, view Him as a genie we recite our self serving wishes to.

A few more questions I asked were:

Do we only pray when we want or need something?

Will God always answer our requests the way we want?

Is that wrong of Him?

I was thankful that my girls answered a resounding “no” to all these questions. I lost Caleb to some foam wrapping he found inside a game and decided to crumble all over our living room. 🙂

I proceeded to teach the girls the acronym “P. R.A.Y.”
P- Praise God for Who He is and what He’s done.
R-Repent of sin and ask for forgiveness.
A- Ask or make requests to God.
Y- Yield yourself, your life to Him.

This led to even more meaningful conversation as we talked about the attributes of God. Some examples the girls gave without prompting were “He is kind.” “He is merciful.” “He is perfect.” We discussed what all those words mean and more practically what this would look like for them. Talking about things a nine and seven year old might repent of like impatience with others, delayed obedience/disobedience, being dishonest, poor attitude in school, and being selfish.

What amazed me was what my kids do know. Praise the Lord! Yet there was much they didn’t know or at least couldn’t yet put into words, I assumed they knew. We finished our time by praying through the acronym and it was really wonderful.

“Holy Father, Thank you again for the opportunity to partner with you in raising these children. As Ryann reminded me tonight, You ARE perfect, therefore completely trustworthy because all you do is good and right. I know I’ll make mistakes, as will our children, but I pray we would be diligent to build them a solid godly foundation that, no matter what, they will return to You, the Way, the Truth and the Life. “

Luke 6:47-48 “I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.”

Jeremiah 33:3- “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Holy Week 2015: Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause I want Palm Sunday to ring bells of joy in my kids hearts. “It’s Holy Week!”

Because I want them to know what happened on Good Friday and grow deeper in their understanding of what this means for them as individuals.

Because I want Resurrection Sunday to be a huge deal in this house.

Because I want them to reflect on the days that led up to the biggest, best day, ever.

Because when Spring comes (and every day for that matter) I want our Savior to be the highlight.

Because if I there is an event that I invest my heart and soul into, this should be it!

Because I am in awe over what Christ has done for me and I want my kids to see that.

I want my kids to know Jesus, to encounter his love, to value what he did for them, for us all.

So we make crafts and visuals. We read. We talk. We pray. We eat. We sing. We mourn. And then…. we CELEBRATE.

He is Risen!

For ideas on how to make Holy Week even more meaningful in your home check out some of these sites. 🙂

A Holy Experience

Joyful Mama’s Place