Monday, October 28, 2013

God's Perfect Timing

As I have written about before, I had a miscarriage in January of 2012, an event that affected me so deeply and so fully that it changed who I am.  Since then, as friends have loved me, listened to me, shared their stories with me, and prayed with me, I know I have healed.  But miscarriage is one of those events that I am not sure someone can ever completely heal from.  For months following the loss of our baby, I was on a mission to become pregnant again.  It consumed my brain and I couldn't make it stop.  I studied ovulation charts, read books, stalked pregnancy web sites, consulted with friends and family members, spent a ridiculous amount of money on ovulation prediction kits, and pretty much drove my husband crazy with incessant planning. My husband was a good sport about my, "we have 12 hours to get pregnant" announcements month after month, only making sarcastic comments roughly half of the time. Seriously, this man should get an award for his love and patience, especially since during part of this baby craze, he had a drainage tube in his side for some kidney stone issues he was having and he still didn't tell me to give it a rest.  He was mostly patient and understanding and I am continually thankful that God chose this man to be my husband.

During all of this planning and research, I started to become convicted about the whole thing.  As I prayed, I was continually met with God asking me, "Do you want this baby more than you want Me?" and "Don't you trust Me?".  At first, I pushed those questions away because surely I loved the Lord above all and trusted Him fully, I didn't even need to think about it.  But then, I started examining how I spent my time. Did I really think about this non-existent baby more than I thought about the real and living God?  Was I spending more time perusing natural fertility web sites than I was studying the Word of God?  It terrified me to come face to face with this truth.  God is definitely first in my life, but the fact that this concern was even in my mind gave me a new outlook on having another baby.

Finally, I had had enough.  I could no longer calculate the best day to get pregnant.  I couldn't handle the pitying look the cashier at the Dollar Tree gave me as I purchased yet five more ovulation kits.  That two week wait to find out if I was pregnant was just too dreadful for me to endure. I certainly couldn't tolerate the possibility of this baby becoming an idol.  As much as I wanted another baby, I prayed for God to change my heart if this wasn't His will for my life.  I also prayed that He would give me a desire for Him that was greater than anything else in my life.

A dear friend gave my family the opportunity to have an affordable beach vacation, which happened to be the week that our baby would have turned a year old.  I was relieved for the distraction from our every day life and glad to be able to get away with my other three little blessings from Jesus to have a fun week.  But as the anniversary of my would-have-been due date came, I found myself feeling a bit sad.  It seemed the beach was filled with one-year-old babies and pregnant women!  I couldn't help but think about how much fun it would be to have a sunblock and sand covered toddler with us, chasing seagulls, spilling juice boxes, finding lady bugs and eating dirt.  I again longed for that baby I didn't get to meet.  I also thought it was strange that I was so grieved by this day that I began to physically feel pregnancy symptoms.  Unwilling to let my emotions and now physical ailments ruin our fun, I ignored all of this and continued on with our vacation.
Watching the waves on Lake Michigan.

We got home and unpacked in the evening on August 29th, a year after the day our baby would have been due and I still felt not-quite-right.  I still had a pregnancy test in the bathroom and decided to take it just in case this nausea wasn't all in my head.  It was positive.  I was in shock.  I wanted to be excited.  I wanted to love this baby and think about who he or she would be.  In reality though, this was not at all how I imagined I  would feel when I finally did become pregnant.  I wanted reassurance that this baby would be healthy and a guarantee that I would be holding this little baby in the spring.

Doug and I decided to wait to tell our kids until after we heard the baby's heartbeat.  When I miscarried, there was never a heartbeat, so this seemed like a good milestone.  At nine weeks, I had an appointment with a nurse and I lost it.  I told her about my miscarriage and how unenthusiastic I was about being pregnant.  She had experienced a miscarriage as well and understood, so she squeezed me in for an ultrasound.  I got to see little hands and a little heartbeat, so I did feel much better knowing there was a live baby in there!  We told our other kids later that evening and they were excited about having a new baby.  My daughter had just turned four and is obsessed with babies, so this news was the best ever for her.  She even asked me if this baby can be her own child when it grows up.  I am not sure what that means exactly, but I know this little baby is loved already!  She tells everyone from the nurse who gave her a flu shot to the cashier at the grocery store that there is a baby in her Momma's tummy.
Ellery making footprints in the sand with her baby doll, Logan.

I am excited to meet the baby God has made for our family.  This baby is the one He chose for us, not the one I planned and orchestrated.  Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD."  It can be so hard to "give up" sometimes when I want something so much that I felt like I need to help God in order to make it happen.  That wisdom He gave me when I was faced with those hard questions wasn't easy to accept. But thankfully, God has made a way for me to have another baby, but in the way that He planned from the start.

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken."  Psalm 62:1-2

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Knowing You, Jesus

I have a homeschooling schedule that I try to follow each day as I teach my three blessings.  By "schedule," I mean that there are subjects and lessons that I aim to complete with my kids each day any time during our waking hours.  We do a good job of completing assignments for the most part and I have learned not to get frazzled if things don't go as planned.  Sometimes my kids learn far more during the orderless days than they do when I meticulously plan.  This week, my sweet daughter called me into the living room, declaring it was time to worship the Lord.  I am pretty sure this girl will be a worship leader or pastor some day, as she is always setting up church and forcing us to sit and listen to her preach and pray and sing.  On this particular day, she had the radio on and was twirling around, eyes closed, arms in the air, singing, "Knowing You, Jesus."  How could I not join in this time of praise and worship?  She is an enormous interruption much of the day, but times like these I am glad she interrupted. Who needs to know how to convert decimals to fractions anyway? ;)

I am fortunate to have a few moments alone with God throughout every day.  This time might not be at the beginning of the day or when I would have planned it, but somehow I always find myself with chunks of time when things are going smoothly enough for me to sit alone with the Lord.  You might think that a homeschooling mother must be so busy that it's unimaginable, but I have found that this is far from the truth.  Sure, I could place unrealistic demands on myself and my children and fill our time so full of curriculum that none of us could breathe, but why?  There are times when my daughter is occupied with her doll house people and my older kids are completing their hour of independent reading or when Max and Ruby are entertaining my daughter while my sons finish their math assignments, when I find myself able to read my Bible or pray for longer than thirty seconds.  I haven't always made this time for prayer and studying the Word part of my life.  In my twenties, I strove to be the perfect wife, the ideal mother, the invaluable neighbor, the productive employee, the supportive friend.  All of that striving didn't produce perfection and instead left me feeling empty, discontented and exhausted. I was still lacking something, but it wasn't clear to me what that something was.

I know much of this need for perfection came from being the wife of a man who was lost in an addiction to prescription drugs, whose continual health issues left him in a constant cycle of abusing drugs to cope with the chaos inside his heart.  My twenty-something self needed to feel like everything was okay, that I was in control of something, though my life was out of control, unpredictable and unhappy.  I had to prove to my children that we were going to have a happy family and a happy childhood, regardless of our circumstances.  I had to prove to myself that I would not give up on my marriage, just because it was hard, just because I was miserable.  During that time, though, I didn't make room for Jesus.  I believed that Jesus died for my sins, I believed that I was going to Heaven, but I didn't cling to Jesus with all of my heart.  I had no idea what I was missing and how different my life could be, if only I would surrender completely.

Sometime in my mid-twenties, I finally found what it was I had been searching for to fill this emptiness in my heart: Jesus.  Jesus, for real. To know about Jesus and to know Jesus personally are two entirely different things.  Up until this point, I was unaware there was a difference.  I thought that as long as I had "heard the good news," I would avoid going to hell.  What I hadn't realized was that I couldn't just hear this news and push it to the back of my mind, continuing to harbor bitterness toward my husband and his addiction and continuing to live my life independently, apart from the will of God.  This knowledge of an all-powerful, loving, merciful God hadn't consumed me and given me the hunger for more.  I had felt the same way about this information that I did knowing my address or knowing that my kids preferred their PB&J cut into triangles instead of squares.  I knew the information, but it didn't change me.  I thought that I could know God was God, but that I could live for creating a perfect life instead of living for Him.

A decade after I first heard about Jesus, I understood what it meant to follow Him, to live for Him and to be loved by Him.  I was no longer enslaved by my feelings of inadequacy and the constant struggle to make life better, more rewarding, and happier somehow.  I no longer felt that it was necessary to pick up the pieces after my husband had produced yet another path of destruction for himself.  I could finally see that his addiction was his problem and his responsibility.  I was free from that massive burden of making perfection my true god.

Now, almost two decades after I first heard about Jesus, I am in awe of just how incredible our God truly is.  I still want to be a good neighbor, a supportive friend, a God-honoring wife and mother, but that want isn't what I live for and it is something that I know isn't possible on my own.  I try to do everything God sets before me with the desire to honor Him.  As I think about how different the circumstances in my life are compared to what they were even ten years ago, I cannot help but praise the Lord for what he's done.

John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Baby Hats Galore!

Since opening my Etsy shop, I have made all kinds of different things to sell: sweaters, slippers, blankets, wash cloths, toys, and bibs.  The item I sell the most of, however, is baby hats.  I have added all kinds of baby hats to my shop over the past few months and they've been selling like crazy!  I have more ideas in my head, but less time available than I need to complete them.  For now, I'll just stick to making LOTS of the hats I have already designed. :)