Asking Questions

When I was studying for my Master’s degree, we spent whole courses exploring how people learn and why we teach the way we do. We took quizzes about kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners. We talked about how we often teach the way we best learn. So when it came time to teach my own children at home I started thinking about the ways they would best grasp concepts within difficult subjects. And while I’ve employed some of these strategies and theories to learning…the best tool I’ve found to teach my children is to ASK QUESTIONS. Lots of them.
I started thinking about what I want my end result to be. Do I want them to just be able to regurgitate information for a test or a room full of people like a trick pony? And the answer is no. I don’t want them to be vats of useless knowledge…full to the brim of facts and statistics, theories and formulas with no ability to apply them. I want my children to think for themselves…to know where to go to find information, how to put that information together and draw a conclusion that is right and real for them.
When I teach my nursing students, it is so tempting to just want to open their brains and dump information in. I do lecture a fair amount, but I try to ask questions, to get them to take the next step to a conclusion on their own. I can’t tell you how many times potential employers would say “Just give me someone who can critically think…I can teach them to do any skill.” I think the same goes for my children.
I ask questions to teach them…to let them think things through. I want them to process the information, consider the options, weigh the results and determine why, when and how. It’s not enough for them to spit it back at me, I want them to be able to tell me why they picked what they did.
It doesn’t just go for school, but more importantly for their faith. I want my children to own their faith…not mine. I want them to follow Christ, to seek after Him and to do His will. I want them to know the Bible is true and that is sufficient for EVERYTHING. But I don’t want them to know it because I said so…I want them to know it because God said so and He called them to follow Him. I want them to find the path God has for them, not the one I want. I want them to wrestle with the tough questions, the challenges they face and I want them to ask questions and find the answer God has. More importantly, I want their faith to be tangible to them, not some paper thin replication of mine, but the kind of faith that is sturdy, the kind they’ve built with God themselves and I want them to be able to defend it to a world that will tell them they’re wrong.
I ask my children questions to teach them, to guide them, so that they can ask the questions and find the answers for themselves. By asking questions, I hope to allow my children to make what they are learning their own. I hope they will be able to know what they believe and be able to defend and articulate it. Because that’s the important part…not just the “correct” answer, but why.
 

What next?

This past Sunday we made the difficult announcement to our congregation that we would be leaving. Our hearts broke, but it has become apparent that we would be more beneficial to the Kingdom if we serve in a different place than our current church. Our church has been such an easy congregation to love. They have loved us too and we’ve cared so deeply for them. Our hearts are heavy at the thought of leaving. I can’t tell you how many tears we’ve shed over this decision. How many sleepless nights and how many prayers cried out to God. While it isn’t what we’d hoped for when we came here, He has clearly given His answer. And we are to go.
The question is now “What next?” And the truth is we don’t know. We don’t know where we’re going or what God has in store for us. But we know that it’s time for us to leave. I’m reminded as we’re in this time of transition of Psalm 119:105 that says “Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”
Several years ago we were camping with a group of friends from church. The ladies decided to make a trip to the bathroom in the dark, using the lantern to light our way. As we were walking along the single file path to the bathroom, we commented about how with the lantern we can only see the next step in front of us. We can’t see the whole path laid out before us, but only the one step ahead. We took one step at a time, trusting the path would carry us closer to the bathrooms.

It’s like that with God some times (much of the time really). He rarely, shows us the whole big picture. He may place a call on our lives, give us an idea of where we’re going to end, but He doesn’t often show us the whole process of getting there (lest we think we know a better way and try to go our way instead of His and jack up the whole process). Instead, God tells us “this is where I’ve called you…take one step.” He shows us one step at a time and we are to walk in faith and know that His word will light the way.
As much as I’d like to see the whole path, heck right now I’d like to see the end point (or at least the general direction), God has only shown us the next step. His word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. If we continually turn to Him and His word, He will light the way, giving us direction and guiding us to the place He has for us. God’s word is true, it is relevant and it is sufficient always and for everything. Even when we don’t know what comes next.

I am saddened to be leaving here. I don’t always understand and to be truthful I’m not always happy about it. But I TRUST that when we are faithful to Him…He is faithful to us. When we hold to the standard He’s called us, when we honor Him and when we are obedient to Him, He will direct our path.
So for now, we continue to serve Him, love His church and trust Him knowing that He has a perfect plan for our lives. We covet prayers for our family, the church and the leadership here. We are thankful for the time we’ve spent here. We have loved and cared for His flock here. We are sad that we have to leave, but we know God is faithful. And so we take the next step…

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your paths straight.

 

How's your serve?

This past Sunday we heard a message on Volunteering within the church. Serving each other.
Sure, we always need more volunteers, more hands to help “do church” and more people willing to step up. But there are lots of reasons (see excuses) that we don’t step up to serve within the church.
The thing is this…we are all called to serve. Every last one of us, whether we really want to or not.
Joshua 22:5

5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
We are called to serve God. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus paid the penalty (death) that we all deserve as a result of our sin. We deserve death and life away from God. God can not bear to be in the presence of sin. He hates it. And nothing we can do will “earn” our way back into His presence. There is no way we can ever be good enough. But God loves us, so He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin. Once we believe in Him and trust Him as our savior we are assured eternal life in Heaven with our God. Because of this wonderful sacrifice we should want to serve Him and those around us. Serving God means we are obedient to Him and what He has called us to do. It means we honor one another, we seek to do God’s will and seek to bring Him glory in all we do.
The Bible lists lots of spiritual gifts, but the one thing we are all called to do is to serve. It’s not optional. This can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes. We all may have a different gift, but sometimes those gifts are big labels we hide behind. We don’t want to serve in a certain ministry or with a specific group of people because we don’t think it’s our “gift”. Are some people better teachers than others…probably, but does that mean we shouldn’t try or be willing to step up and try to learn or even help? Definitely not.
I’ve been pondering lately why people are hesitant to serve within the church or community. I think one of the reasons is that we don’t know how or where to serve. There’s this thing in church…it’s the untrue belief that those who are coming to church have it all figured out, life is all roses and we don’t need help with anything. Let me tell you nothing is further from the truth. Every person sitting in church has problems, most of us have a colorful or at least semi-colorful past and none of us have life figured out. But it’s this belief that we’re supposed to have it down that keeps us from telling others when we need something. The truth is though, when we’re unwilling to ask for help, when we’re unwilling to be real with those around us…we are robbing others of the opportunity to serve us and we’re missing a blessing. We’re too busy being proud. So we need to be willing to ask for help and we also need to be willing to look around for ways to serve those around us. Keeping our heads up, our ears open and our mouths shut helps us find ways to serve others. We hear someone say that they’re going on vacation for a week…can we serve them by mowing their lawn while they’re gone? Look around…there are lots of places to serve.

Another reason we’re hesitant to serve is we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what someone else might think of us. When we’re serving God, what man thinks should mean very little to us but let’s be honest…we’re all a little afraid of what everyone around us thinks. When I first started playing drums in worship band I was paralyzed by this fear. Could I play drums? Yes. Was I the best? No, but I could do it. Did I like playing? Yep. But why then, did I not want to play on Sunday morning, why did I nearly faint from panic for the first several months I played? Because I was afraid…I was afraid that I would mess up that I wouldn’t hold the beat and that people would talk. I was afraid of what the worship leader was going to think of me and what the congregation was going to think of me. It wasn’t until several months in to it and I’d messed up a couple times (which I totally agonized over for the rest of the week) that I realized what they thought didn’t really matter. I was going to do my best, but I wasn’t there for them. I was there because I had a talent that God had given me, our church had a need and I was called to serve. And better yet, even though I’d messed up, my church still loved me. They didn’t even bat an eye really…we might have gotten a little off beat but we made it through and no one disowned me.

And I’ll tell you, those fears are from satan. He wants nothing more than to keep you from serving your church, your community and those around you. It’s sinful to succumb to that fear and to let it keep you from being obedient to Christ.
Perhaps the most touchy reason we don’t want to serve is because we are too caught up in our own self to be of much service to anyone else. We are selfish, we like to think of how others should be serving us, how uncomfortable serving others might make us and to be honest we are too proud to really do it.
Sometime we think a job is beneath us. I don’t know very many people who enjoy scrubbing toilets, changing diapers or even mowing the lawn. But all of these things can be ways we serve each other. Is there a spiritual gift named in the Bible for changing diapers? No. But I will tell you, to the mother who is able to sit in worship because someone else is willing to care for her children for an hour, it is a gift. A few weeks ago, someone served me in the most unglorious way I can think of. Titus got sick and barfed at the end of the buffet line during a fellowship meal. I was holding Zeb and chatting with someone and had no idea what happened. By the time Gabe came to get me and let me know, one of the fathers in church had cleaned up after Titus and scrubbed the carpet. I was humbled (and embarrassed). The dad was most gracious and willing to serve our family in that way. And I’ll tell you it wasn’t the first time someone willingly, and believe it or not, cheerfully cleaned up after one of our children got sick in church.
Sometimes we just don’t want to serve others (insert two year old whiny voice here). Tough. I went to church with a lady who didn’t particularly enjoy leading children’s worship. She enjoys kids but she doesn’t really dig serving in this way, but she does it anyway and the children are none the wiser. She does it because she has the ability and she is being obedient to God’s call to serve. She puts on a smile and teaches every couple of months. And her smile isn’t fake, it is real because she is cheerfully serving God and not man.
When I used to sing on worship team there were some weeks that I didn’t care for a song or two we were singing. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sing it but rather I didn’t care for it, it wasn’t my style. But I also knew there was a lady in our congregation that really enjoyed the song. It was one of her favorites. So we sang it. We were able, we were called and we were obedient. Had we decided to avoid singing it because we didn’t care for it we would have been selfish and would have denied her ability to be blessed by worship that morning. Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and choose to serve how God calls us to serve and not how we would rather do it. We should joyfully serve Him and look for ways to bless others…even if it’s on our “less than desirable” list.
Serving isn’t just about doing stuff, it’s about ministering to one another. It requires us to be humble. We have to be willing to swallow our pride, serve where, when and how we are able. Serving isn’t about getting glory and recognition for ourselves, it’s about bringing glory to God. I think you can glorify God by cleaning toilets as easily as you can by feeding the poor.
Service to others is a part of loving one another within and outside of the church. It’s part of building relationships with others. We are much more likely to have a genuine relationship with someone when we are willing to serve them and look for ways to do so.
Learning how to serve takes time. We can’t just have one lesson on it during a sermon, or Sunday school or even during Life group and expect it to take hold. It’s something we have to cultivate every day and every moment we’re together. Teaching your children how to serve can be as simple as helping them learn to hold doors open for those around them. It teaches them to be aware of the needs of others and meet those needs. We do it when we don’t want to, when we’re grumpy and when we’re already frustrated. But…we are called to do it. We do it because God asks us to. And as we serve others, we find that we’re blessed as well.

So I would challenge you…how can you serve those around you? Are you listening to what people are saying about where their needs are? Do you have the ability to do something to serve others, even if it’s something you’re not thrilled about doing? The question really is…How’s your serve these days?

 

To touch His garment.

Mark 5:25-34

25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this.33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

We have been studying Mark in church the past few weeks. And in small group this last week we were talking about this passage among others. A young lady in our group posed the question “Would I have enough faith to touch His garment?” And her question has been on my mind all week.
Would I have enough faith to believe that if I could just touch Him I would be made well. Jesus had been healing people all week. He had thousands of people following Him, people pressing in on Him so hard that He had to retreat to a boat to teach. No doubt people touching Him all the time, surrounding Him, wanting to see a miracle. Yet the woman in the story had enough faith to believe that if she just touched Him, the hem of His garment she would be healed. I wonder how long she pushed through the crowds to get close enough, how many times she was shoved out of the way and yet she persisted. And she finally got there…she just reached out and touched Him.
And she was healed. IMMEDIATELY she was healed. And Jesus tells her “Woman, your faith has made you well.”
And then the question came…”Would I have enough faith to reach out and touch His garment?”
I think we’d all like to think that “Of course I would…Of course if I lived when Jesus lived I would believe and I would have enough faith” But I too, wonder…would I…really?
Faith is sometimes so hard. It means that we trust in Him and what He has in store for us even when we don’t see a purpose or reason for the trial we are wading through. It means that we willingly obey without hesitation when what He is asking us to do doesn’t make a bit of sense. Sometimes it means that we are hurt again or that we find indescribable joy on the other side of the valley. And having faith enough to reach out and touch Him means we are willing to lay down our lives, our desires and our mess to follow Him.
It’s so easy to trust, follow and reach out to Him when things make sense, when they’re going our way and when we’re sure of the path. Not so much when we can’t see around the bend ahead of us or when we’re wallowing in hurt, self doubt and fear.
I remember this struggle when Knox and Lily died. Especially after Knox. I remember the daily struggle to trust God with what lay ahead. I would pray one day “Lord, if you are going to call me to lose another baby…please don’t ever let me get pregnant again.” And the next I would pray “Lord, please bless my womb and I will surrender to what You call me to walk through.” When we got pregnant with Lily, and found out she had Turner syndrome and her 1% chance of survival, I fully expected, believed and felt deep down that she would survive. Kerry and I both did. We both totally expected that this past November we would welcome a baby girl to our family. And then she died too. Strangely enough though, it was much easier to surrender to what God was asking us to walk through emotionally. Not easy to do, but we had faith He would walk with us, He was in control and that He would heal us.
Yet…
Yet there are days when I fall prey to worry for this new baby. When I wonder if He calls me to again, mourn the loss of a child, if I could do it…if I could survive. I am not in control, no matter how much I like to think I am.
In doing HIS will, I surrender mine. I reach out and touch His garment and cling to Him because HE will rescue me. I know He will, because He is a God who loves me. I know that even when it doesn’t make sense, when it hurts so much I think I’ll break into pieces that He knows, He heals and He loves. The woman sought Jesus, she pursued Him and she fought the throngs of people to just get close enough. If I just reach for Him, seek Him, He will answer me. But I also know, that the healing I seek and envision, isn’t always what He has planned for me. It doesn’t look like I want it to and sometimes it hurts more than I think it should.
I have come to realize, it’s not so much about how much faith I have. It’s about whether am I willing to recognize Jesus for who He is. The woman in the story touched Him like so many others, but is it possible that she is the only one of all of them who recognized Jesus as someone more than just healer…that she recognized Him to be the Son of God? That He was the only one who could save her?
 

A letter to a Children's ministry worker

You may not remember me. You may not know what my home life was like and the family I came from. Or you might know everything about me. But I want to thank you. I want to thank you for investing your time, your energy and your life into mine.
Thank you.
It was so long ago, 27 years or so, that I hopped down the brown tile stairs to the basement of the Nazarene church. I can still remember the smell of homemade playdough, glue and construction paper. I remember standing there saying my memory verses to you, putting the sticker on the chart and watching the story unfold on the flannel-graph.
Thank you.
Thank you for taking the time to prepare the lesson, to be patient with me while my little fingers and hands figured out the scissors and to sing “I’m in the Lord’s Army” every Sunday because the 3 year olds love yelling “Yes sir!”
I remember, I think I was 5 or 6, working on a skit and song for a talent contest. I am surprised sometimes that my mom let me go on a trip to the little church in Lyons. I think of that trip every time we drive by. I remember praying the night before we all slept there. And I remember the prayer of one young lady…she prayed for you not to be afraid because you had just lost your baby. I don’t remember anything else that was said and I’m not even sure I understood at that moment what it meant, but I remember you. I remember you sitting there surrounded by the youth, with tears in your eyes…grieving your loss and being with us. As a mother who has lost 4 children, the fact that you were even there is more profound to me…more meaningful and significant. Thank you for being there in your time of loss to be there for us, the youth who so admired you and were blessed by you.
Thank you.
I still have the Christmas ornament you made for us one year. I hang it on my tree every year and I tell my children about the children’s ministry worker who invested in me. Who helped build the foundation of my faith, in the middle of the turmoil of my life, but who invested in me…who believed I was worth it. And I send up a prayer of thanks for you and the impact you had, whether you knew it or not.
Thank you.
I think of you every time I tell my faith story. Because of the time you invested in me (and the prayers I believe of my grandparents and great grandparents), the teaching, the prayers you offered on my behalf, I knew God’s word was true when I was very young. I trusted in Him early on.
Thank you.
I moved when I was 8. I came less often and eventually stopped all together. But you had a lasting impact on my life. We would occasionally see each other in passing. I always remembered you and how you made me feel. I think seriously, that if you had not been willing to spend the time you did teaching me and investing in my life I would have a very different faith life. In those 8 years you had more impact on me and my life than any other youth worker I had after.
Thank you.
I couldn’t appreciate it then like I can now, both as a mother and a children’s ministry worker myself. There are days when I am exhausted and the thought of voluntarily caring for a room full of preschoolers seems just more than I can handle. And I think of you. I don’t remember the lessons necessarily, but I think of you, how you made me feel and I can recognize it now…how you lived your faith in front of my eyes every time I saw you. You put your belief into action. You believed children, that we, were blessings. You believed in investing in the next generation, in helping us grow up in faith, and you were obedient to God’s call. You showed it every time you came. Every time you gave a hug or high five and every time you bowed your head and prayed with us…thanking God for each one. You lived it and that’s what I remember. You were one of the first people I saw who showed me what it meant to serve Christ.
I’m sure it wasn’t always glorious, it wasn’t appreciated like it should have been and that there were times when you were just plain exhausted and wanted to stay home. But you came, you taught and you cared.  For that, I am ever thankful. And I wanted you to know that you made a difference to me.
Thank you.

Grow up

I wanted to share with you this week an email my husband sent to our congregation this week. It made me pause and think a bit and I feel like it’s a good reminder for us all to grow up…
This week I was informed by Erin that our 2 oldest boys, Gabe and Otto, were talking amongst themselves about how they wanted to grow up. The topic was one day about the fact that they had hair on their legs. Even though it was light hair, it was still hair. Another day Gabe asked , “What could I do to make myself grow taller?” Erin told him that there was not a lot that you could do, but it is important to eat healthy; eat your fruits and vegetables. Whether he will eat his fruits and vegetables is another matter, but I wanted to share something that baffles me a little.
Kids want to grow up. I cannot speak for what little girls want since I never was one nor have I had the pleasure of raising one up as of yet, but little boys want to grow big and strong. They look forward to the day when they will be able to lift heavy objects, grow hair, and even shave the hair on their face. If there were something that they could do to grow up faster, they would most likely do it. But the thing that gets me is this, how often do we as believers ask our Father, “What must I do to grow up?”
Is there a desire within you to grow up spiritually? Do you long for your faith in the Lord to strengthen? Although questions regard growing up physically seem to be common place among young boys, there seems to be a lack of these questions for us as believers spiritually. Are you growing up spiritually? If not, have you made an intentional change in your plans so that you can grow? If you are pressing “on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14), then continue that and may God bless you in that. But if you are content with where you are at spiritually, then I would recommend that you reexamine your life and God’s Word. My prayer as I write this is that we all may have a God-given desire to “Grow Up” and that God would help us in our endeavors to become more Christ-like.
Pastor Kerry
**This especially hit home for me as I pondered the events of the last year and how God has used them to grow me and how far I still feel like I have to go. I can’t say that I did anything intentional to grow up, it was God putting things in my path to make me grow. He allowed me to experience hurt, disappointment, rejection, abandonment and deep grief. He allowed me to feel the love of others who surrounded me and the peace that only He could provide. I will admit too, that there were many times when the last thing I wanted to do was “grow up”. But I’ve grown, I’ve learned and I’m still doing both of those. **

Stories

In our small group at church we were talking about our “stories” tonight. How we came to be followers of Christ and how we’ve seen God move in our lives. We were talking a bit about how some people have “big” stories. They have these big life changing moments when they clearly remember not following Christ, then being “saved” and now their new life after. Those stories are great, they make for great press and are catchy when telling them to others. But when you don’t have a “flashy” story sometimes you feel like your story isn’t worth telling. It isn’t something that is going to move someone else or it somehow doesn’t have the “street cred” that someone else’s does.
I’m one of those people. I don’t have a big flashy story. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe God and know that His word was true and I trusted it. My faith story is a long process, I took a long time to grow, there are big events where God grew me more, when I learned a big lesson (I call them my knock on the head moments). I don’t have a neat little package to share, my life certainly wasn’t and hasn’t been perfect but God has used the events in my life to shape who I am. It was a long messy process. I am still growing and learning what God is about and always will be.
We watched a video this morning in church about one woman’s journey to Christ. She shared the lifestyle she engaged in and how she was rescued by God from that lifestyle. It was moving, but as I thought about it…the truth is… before I found Christ my sin was just as ugly as hers. My rescue was just as miraculous as hers because I didn’t do it. One person’s sin isn’t worse than someone else’s. A murderer, in the sight of God, is just as bad as someone who lies or steals or cheats or whatever. A person who is a drug addict is the same as a person who sits in the pew on Sunday but hates in his heart. Without Christ, we are all the same…sinners…no one is worse than another. The redemption of a prostitute is just a beautiful and amazing as the redemption of a small child who puts her faith in Christ.
Sure it makes for good drama and a good story, but the “quiet” stories are just as amazing. Jesus died for her sins, my sins and yours. Through our faith and trust in Him, as our savior, we are redeemed. Ordinary stories are ones of beauty, ones of forgiveness and ones that deserves to be told, just like the flashy ones.
 

14 weeks

Today was a big day. Today I turned 14 weeks pregnant. Most people would say “Yay! You’re at the *safe* point, you’re in the second trimester now!”. But that is far from the truth I know.
I have learned in the last year that no point in a pregnancy is *safe*. Sure, risk goes down, but you’re never *safe*. I have experienced 2 early losses (before 6 weeks), but until last December, bought into the myth that the second trimester was the safe part.
But…
Our daughter Lily was born on May 19, we found out she had died on May 18…the day I was 14 weeks pregnant. Our son Knox died when I was 15 weeks in December. With those losses, I felt like my innocence with pregnancy was lost. I knew after they died that no point is “safe”.

Lily at our 13 week sonogram

 

And today I turned 14 weeks with my current pregnancy, I am 6 months from my due date.  We are living in a new community and I don’t have a healthcare provider yet. I haven’t been able to find a midwife who will be willing to travel to where we live for a home birth and I don’t have a doctor who will let me VBAC here yet. God has always provided the right person to care for us when we needed them and we trust He’s going to do it again. So for now, I am doing my own prenatal care and monitoring my weight, blood pressure, heart rate and baby’s heart beat every week.  It’s been going well. I have easily found the heart beat every week for the last month. And I have been peaceful for the most part.
Then today came.

Daddy and Lily's finger just after she was born

14 weeks, it seemed like I was giving my anxiety over to God every moment of the day. I tried hard not to think about what today meant to me and why it was significant. The boys remembered what today was, they prayed specifically for the baby this morning, they asked when we would listen for the heart beat.
I debated for a long time today. I was trying to decided if I wanted to listen alone or with Kerry and the boys here. I thought about sneaking off to my bedroom while the boys were playing and Kerry was gone to a visitation. But that’s how I learned Knox and Lily had died. I was just listening at home and couldn’t find their heartbeats, I was alone both times.
So tonight, just before bed Kerry suggested we try together to hear our little one’s heartbeat. It is always such a highlight for Zeke to hear the baby. He gets so excited to hear “his baby”, but I didn’t want him to not hear it…I was scared. I pulled the doppler from the closet and laid down on the living room floor. I prayed.
I prayed, as I have every day, that God would protect this little one, that we would be able to hold this little one in our arms…alive…and that he/she would be able to be born at home. I have been able to tell my uterus is growing, which means the baby must be growing. And then we listened. Daddy and I held our breath and we listened.
Lily's foot at 14 weeks

We heard my heartbeat and the blood vessels feeding  my uterus and the placenta. The slow woosh, woosh beating in time with my heart. And just below, in the background we hear the light sound of baby. The faint gallop of hoof-beats. Slight relief, but I want louder…I want more…I want to listen until this baby is born…I want it to be the soundtrack of the next 6 months.
We wait and move the doppler…slow woosh, woosh…then galloping. Strong, loud, steady…my baby’s heart is still beating. I am thankful. I close my eyes in prayer. A prayer of gratitude and thankfulness. Thank you God, for the life of my baby. That this life is still here and we can hear the heart beat. Thank you God!
We listen for a few more minutes and are thankful for each beat we hear. Eventually the baby kicks and moves away. Then in a moment…my mind immediately goes to fear again. Knox had a heartbeat at 14 weeks. My baby is alive…for now.
Ugh! Where does that come from? Why do I let it in to steal the joy and blessing of a heart beating within me? I start to quote in my mind the scripture verse we’re memorizing as a family. “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philipians 4:8. Fear is not true, honorable, right, pure or any of the things mentioned in this verse. Fear is the language Satan speaks and uses to control.
There are many times I have to remind myself to be thankful for the blessings I have been given, to be thankful here in the moment for the blessing I have now. To remember, not to get caught up in the fear of what might happen or what has happened in the past. I know that today my baby is alive. I am joyful, hopeful and so very grateful.
Lily's hand

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Connection

This last week Kerry and I went to a pastor’s get together for 3 days. We met lots of new people (well…everyone has been *new* to us in the last month or so). It was refreshing…and surprising.
It felt so good to connect with other families who have been where we are. Who have relocated their families, taken on pastorates in unfamiliar places and tackled tough stuff. We were joking about how we were probably going to be the only “weirdos” (ie family with lots of kids and homeschooling) at the event. Funny thing…everyone started introducing themselves and we heard “we have 4 kids and we homeschool” or “we have 5 kids and we also homeschool”. I felt myself feeling more comfortable and connected with those sitting around me. I was thankful.
I hadn’t realized how much I have missed, in just the 4 weeks we’ve been gone from Pueblo, the connection with others. Adjusting to being a full time stay at home mom, Kerry working outside the home and being in a new community and church has been harder than I expected. It’s been lonelier than I thought it would be (there I said it, something hard for me to admit). We’ve been very “busy” but it still feels very alone sometimes. Being able to sit, laugh and talk with other moms and wives felt good. I told Kerry on the way home that the the fellowship probably did me more good than listening to the speaker.
This weekend also made me realize other “connections” we share, some happy and some sad. As I near my “mark” with this pregnancy, the weeks where I lost Lily and Knox there are moments when I start to get anxious. I try not to worry, I pray and I trust, but there are moments when it creeps in. I’ve also started to show a bit more this week so Kerry and I decided to announce our pregnancy to a group of strangers when we introduced ourselves the first night. (In truth, it felt good to say it and to not have everyone wonder if I was really *that* fat). But in our down time, for whatever reason, I found myself in the middle of a conversation about the babies I lost and the baby that we are expecting. I shared our story surrounded by women I had just met, women who cared for me when they barely knew me. They prayed for me and I felt loved.
The surprising part for me, though was as the next two days unfolded, the mothers and fathers who came to Kerry and I and talked about their own losses. The grief and hurt they suffered. I stood there, I was so grateful that they shared with us. I was grateful to hear the stories of how God had carried their families through and delighted in the joy they experienced when they were able to welcome a healthy baby after their losses. In the evening I sat and prayed for each of them. I was astounded at the thread of grief that connected so many of us, but also the grace and the blessing God has given. I didn’t have words of comfort, words of wisdom or explanation, but I had words of a parent who has walked that trail too. It was a time to remember and connect in a way that I don’t think any of us would have expected at the beginning.
I have been thinking lately about the connections we left behind, the ones we’ve made and the ones to come. I’ve been thinking about the threads that tie us together with those around us. It is a beautiful thing that God is making, weaving our lives together through events that often make us feel so alone, but He ties it together to make something glorious.

Five Minute Friday — Wide

This is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.
Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Oh and Ahem, if you would take pity and turn off comment verification, it would make leaving some love on your post that much easier for folks!
OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on:::

Wide…

Sometimes a word is just too big. It encompasses too much for me to write, I have a hard time finding words to fill the space. Wide is that word to me.
I can’t put the significance into words for me. Wide, His arms spread wide, held there by nails. Paying the price for my sin and my wrong so that I could be redeemed. I should have been separated from Him…I deserve it. But He loved me enough to send His son to take the punishment in my place.
I have believed it from the time I was small. I have learned to trust it, really trust it, in the last year or two.
I think often of the trials this last year has brought for our family. Family confrontation and abandonment, the loss of our son, then our daughter, the upheaval of interviewing for a job hours away from what had become so comfortable. Now here I sit, in our new town, new home with a new church…at times feeling lost. My life has changed so very much in such a short time. I am learning a new role in a place that is different. When I think about “before” here, it seems so far away and I long for comfort of normal, known, close.
I have relied on the hope that I have in Christ to carry me through so much. I am so thankful for the hope I have in Him. I’m thankful to know that when I have moments when where I’m supposed to be seems so very far away that I am right where He wants me. Where I am reliant on Him for what comes next, for my peace and my direction.
His arms are always wide open. Waiting to hold me, comfort me and remind me that He has me every step of the way.