Romans 5:6

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

We're Rich!

With mother’s day tomorrow, I cannot help but reflect on all of the things my mom has seen me through, supported me in, and taught me.  There are many things mom taught me that I hope to instill in Ada as she grows up; but one lesson my mama taught me particularly stands out, as I am only weeks away from our due date.

As a young girl, I remember asking my sweet mother, “Mama, are we rich?”  The question was usually spurred on after playground conversations with friends as they chatted about how much money they were given for their good grades, how extravagant their Christmas gifts were, or even how much money their parents made.

Mama’s response to my question was always the same.  “Sydney, we are rich in the things that matter most.”

For a girl in elementary school, the answer alone seemed sufficient.  Mama said we’re rich, so I believed we were.  It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I really began to understand all that she meant.

You see most of my childhood was spent in a single-parent household.  My mom, brother, and I have lived through many various difficulties, but in the midst of them, mom never gave a hint that things were in turmoil.

We were rich in the things that mattered most.

Mama had every earthly right to complain about finances, but she never did.   My brother and I never did without anything we needed, and mama worked hard to make sure that most of our “wants” were covered, too.  Growing up, I never knew the stress that mama carried concerning the needs she had to meet for our family.  Mama always said, “It is just money, kids.  We can’t take it to Glory with us.”  Or, “God’s got us.  We can’t worry about it too much.”  Now, as an adult, listening to the stories of how the Lord carried us through during the days when her income didn’t cover the expenses, Mama’s trust in Him cultivates more trust within myself.

My precious mom never put herself above my brother and myself.  She selflessly attended countless ball games, baton competitions, and singing performances, cheering us on and smiling as we played/preformed.  She worked long hours in our school’s concessions stand after she had worked all day, just to help our school raise money.  She used her vacation days from work to chaperone church camp trips over the summer, only after she single-handedly planned all of our fundraising for our group to even be able to attend the camp.

She never complained.  Rather, she would say, “When I chose to be a mom, I chose to be apart of your lives.”

Mama has taught me the importance of truly understanding the beauty of the blessings we have been given.  By the world’s standards we may not have much.  But because of the lesson Mama instilled in me, I know that we are rich.

We are rich in love.

She’s always taught us the importance of family.  Regardless of our circumstances, I’ve always known that our family would help one another.  She’s taught us how to love deeply and serve one another well.

We are rich in laughter.

For anyone who knows my mom, you know that she laughs with her soul.  Mama has led our family well in many, many ways.  Always telling us not to take ourselves too seriously and laughing with us (and at us) has developed a unique bond between us where we can be serious in one moment and laugh hysterically with one another the next.

 (Picture from Mom's 50th birthday trip)

We are rich in trust and commitment.

The seasons of life that the Lord has led our family through has cultivated a great deal of trust in Him, but also in one another.  We are a family committed to looking after one another’s interests.  Mama’s words when my younger brother and I would argue growing up were, “When I’m dead and gone, you two are all you will have left of this family.”  Her intent wasn’t to sound morbid, but to teach us the importance of us seeing the bigger picture.  We are a family that sticks together regardless of our differences concerning different matters.  We can trust one another because of that commitment.

We are rich in faith.

My mom’s routine of taking us to church every time the doors were open wasn’t a matter of religious duty.  Mama’s life embodies genuine faith.  Her persistence in prayer, in good and difficult life seasons, taught us what to value most.  Going to church growing up, I witnessed my mother serve those who were hurting in the congregation.  I witnessed her using monetary resources that we could have used elsewhere to buy groceries for other single moms.  Most parents wouldn’t buy a mini-van just to make sure they had enough seats to take all of the kids to church that came to our house after school on Wednesdays --- but mine did.  Her faith is truly who she is.  She admits that it’s scary at times, but having the faith to press on, she continues to live what she believes.  The Lord will provide.  We believe in His goodness, even when it isn’t always evident in the moment.

We are rich because of you, Mama!

There’s no way I could adequately articulate all of the things that you have taught me over the years.  The lesson that we truly are rich because of the Lord’s goodness and His steadfast love for us far surpasses anything you could have taught me about making as much money as I can as an adult. Thanks for teaching me what’s really important. 

Thanks for showing me that loving and serving others is not an inconvenience.   You always opened our home to whoever couldn’t go home for the holidays; you fed the study groups (and football team) we brought home; and you offered our couch to anyone who needed a place to crash for the night.  She, you embody what it means to serve one another and see to it that no one is in need (Acts 4:32-35).

“Thank you” doesn’t seem like near enough to attempt to express my gratitude for you and your life.  But it will have to do, so… “Thank you, She!”

We are rich; we are rich indeed!

Happy Mother’s Day, She!!

Proverbs 31:29 – "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The day between: Hope After Infertility and Miscarriage

I wish I could adequately express the measure of the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives over the past eight months.  Joseph and I have been blessed by sweet friends and family members who have loved on us, prayed for us, and have served us well since losing our sweet baby in July 2014.

There have been many times we have questioned why we were allowed to go through infertility and then experience a miscarriage.  Over and over again the Lord whispers so sweetly, “I entrusted you with this.”

The pain of losing a child is real.  After waiting so long to become pregnant and to experience the joy of awaiting a child’s arrival only to have empty arms after such a tragedy is something indescribable.

Though there have been many tears shed over the loss of our first baby, I can testify that hope is on the other side of the painful journey that I know so many are walking just as we did.

In the days and months just after the miscarriage, Joseph and I had many conversations concerning our satisfaction in the Lord alone.  If we were to become pregnant again, we would praise Him.  If not, we would praise Him.

We are grateful and humbled that the Lord has blessed us with another pregnancy.  Three months after we lost the first baby, we were delightfully surprised that we were pregnant again.  The grace of the Lord has been so evident to us throughout the past several months.

Though I am able to rejoice about the arrival of Baby Charlton in July 2015, I often still think about our first child.  I will be forever grateful for the ways in which the Lord has used our story to minister to others experiencing the same tragedy.  Even still, I wonder a great deal about who they would have looked like, if they would have been super intelligent like Joseph or sarcastic like me.  I know that the Lord doesn’t mind my wondering, because it’s in those moments that He reassures me of the hope that I have in Him. 

Regardless of our circumstances, the unfulfilled longings of our hearts, or even our uncertainty in difficult moments, we can cling to the hope we have in Him.

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

I know that there are many in a season of waiting.  Waiting for the right job; waiting for their spouse to finally arrive on the scene; waiting for a child; waiting for reassurance that they are where they need to be.

THERE IS HOPE IN JESUS!  In the moments of our wondering if we would become pregnant again after the miscarriage, hope was the theme the Lord continued to reveal to us.  As we long for Him to move on our behalf, He always reveals more of Who He is.  His sufficiency prodded Joseph and me to come to a sweet place of surrender.  Even if our hearts longing to be parents was to be unfulfilled, Jesus would be praised.  When He becomes our hearts object of affection above everything else, He truly becomes our all.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  We still wanted a child, but if the Lord saw fit for us not to have a baby, we chose to praise Him just the same.

My encouragement today comes from the beautiful, yet difficult, lessons the Father has taught me over the past several months.  Though I don’t have answers for all of His reasoning behind entrusting us with the journey of infertility and a miscarriage, I do know that part of it was to make Him name known.

Our prayer before we became pregnant last summer was for our child to impact the nations for the sake of Christ’s name and His renown.  My blog “Ministry in Miscarriage” was the avenue in which the Lord answered that prayer.  The Lord instructed very clearly to share our story.  At the time, I didn’t quite understand why.  He chose to entrust us with the journey we have walked in order for thirteen countries to read the blog and respond.  Thirteen!  Only the Lord could use a simply written blog post to reach several countries in order for them to hear about the hope we have in Christ.

Today I am more confident of this hope than ever before.

Today is the day between…

Yesterday we had a terrific appointment to check on Baby Charlton (and to find out baby’s gender!).  Tomorrow is the due date given for our first pregnancy.

Today, the day between the moment of celebrating a healthy baby and the day we mourn for our first child, His hope is so present.

This morning I cried just thinking of how beautifully God has orchestrated everything for us.  My banner verse, Romans 5:6, rings true again.  “At just the right time” He has chosen to fulfill His promises.  Only He could remind us of His faithfulness through an ultrasound of Baby Charlton just two days before our first due date and plan our pregnancy in such a manner that allows us to welcome our child into the world almost a year to the day that we miscarried.

Life after infertility and miscarriage are full of hope.

Please be encouraged.  He knows your longing that you are desperately seeking Him to fulfill.  He knows the disappointments you have endured along the way.  And He remains steadfast through it all.

Keep seeking Him.  Allow Him to truly be your sufficiency.  Your desires may never come to fruition, but you can be assured that dwelling in His presence grants to us His love and goodness in our lives. (Psalm 23:6)

On this, the day between what will soon be and what could have been for us, Joseph and I are confident in the Lord’s plan for our lives and for the lives of our children.

Whatever season you find yourself in, may your hope in the Lord and His goodness remain steadfast.