May 20 passed without me realizing it. How did it happen? I did think about it that day, but I didn’t make the connection that it was an anniversary.
Three years ago, on May 20, I had life-saving surgery for me, and life-ending surgery for my precious little one. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and was hemorrhaging. It was such a difficult thing to go through, such a loss. The grief that followed was thick, intense, pervasive, and destructive.
Yet here I am. Life has gone on. Life has been good, fruitful, purposeful, and even joyful. A big part of that is that God granted us our rainbow baby, Emma Noelle, who is 17 months old now.
On May 20 this year, I shared a story during a special song service at church. One of the songs was Because He Lives. I related how that song had been sung in church the week after we lost our baby. The second verse goes like this:
How sweet to hold our newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives
For many months to follow, I could not sing that song without crying tears of sadness and loss. But now, by God’s grace, I can sing that song. I still cry at times, but the tears are different. As I sing, “How sweet to hold our newborn baby and feel the pride and joy she gives,” I feel bittersweet tears of loss overpowered by tears of gratitude that the Creator has given us a second chance at parenting.
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NLT)
We don’t know how much time we have, but if we relax and listen to God, if we are still enough and if we acknowledge that He is in control (Psalm 46:10), then we can trust that there truly is enough time for His plan to unfold in His timing. We don’t have to be stressed, to overanalyze, to force things, or to make things happen. We can listen to His voice and follow His plan, and if we do mess up, we can trust Him with that too. He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes our way.
This is a lesson I have had to learn over time. God has graciously been teaching me in many ways. He has sent wise people into my life to gently attempt to steer me the right way. He has given me His Word and His Spirit. He has allowed me to see the positive and negative outcomes of others’ decisions and lifestyles. Yet, like most people, I’m a hands-on learner. The most powerful way I’ve learned the hard lessons has been through my circumstances. And like many other people, I’m also a slow learner, so I haven’t learned through the first hard thing, or the second, or the third. No, it’s taken several serious difficulties to get my attention.
A little more than two years ago, I was watching a Beth Moore Bible study, in which she discussed a period of “sifting” that took place right before her public ministry took off. As soon as she finished relating her sifting journey, I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit say, “You’re about to be sifted.” Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I did take it seriously.
Within two weeks, I discovered I had a life-threatening and heart-breaking ectopic pregnancy and had to have emergency surgery. During the following year, I had many struggles in my full-time ministry. It seemed we were relentlessly attacked by the enemy. The next year I became pregnant again, and we now have a healthy, sweet baby girl, but I developed a postpartum condition called PRES, which involved a blood pressure spike, a brain hemorrhage, a Grand Mal seizure, and many after effects, and which also kept me away from my ministry for longer than anticipated. When I returned to work, I fell and broke my ankle within a week and had to sit out for another couple of weeks. Since then, I’ve had simple partial seizures on a regular basis.
Through all of this, I kept hearing God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” And I kept saying, “Yes, God, I will.” And I kept returning to the hamster wheel of being busy and thinking I had to do it all myself.
At the end of the school year, circumstances made it clear to me that it was time to move on from the ministry that I had founded four years earlier. This was not what I had planned, but I knew it was the right thing. The timing seemed bad, but in retrospect, I can see God at work.
Again, I could hear God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” And I said, “Yes, God, I’m going to take the summer to be still. Just let me put in my resumes and I’ll be still right after that.” OK, so I didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I did. I put in resumes the day after I resigned. I had four interviews and had three offers within a week. I accepted a position at a wonderful school and was so excited, and then I proceeded to be still–relatively at least. And it was a good thing, because God really did have an opportunity to speak to me over the summer, because I could finally hear Him. I was going at a more reasonable pace, and it felt good. I had time for relationships–both with God and others.
But there was something nagging at my soul. I kept hearing, “Be still and know that I am God.”
And then last Thursday happened. I suddenly ended up in the ER, wondering once again if I would live to see another day. And then it clicked. It’s time to “be still and know that (He is) God.” He wants me to slow down, take care of myself, pay attention to the people closest to me, and listen to His voice before making major decisions. He wants me to have enough time to be in His Word regularly so I can learn from Him. He wants me to let go of my pride and impulsivity and self-sufficiency, because He is my all in all and He can take care of every detail of my life. There is nothing He can’t handle, so He doesn’t need me to take over His position. He simply wants me to accept His provision and direction.
He wants me to stop doing, and start being, so He can stop sifting.
As today is a day to highlight that for which we are thankful, I want to share some of the blessings in my life.
Twenty-two years ago, I met a man who changed my life and my eternity. His name is Jesus, and He is my creator, my savior, my best friend, and my reason for living. He has given me the promise of eternal life in heaven, which is beyond imagining, and He has given me an abundant life now, which I never could have predicted for myself.
A year ago today, Terry and I got our marriage license. We’ve been married for eleven months, and I never cease to be amazed by how much we love each other. It’s an incredible thing to love and to be loved, to be married to my best friend, to spend my life with someone who has such similar goals, hopes, and dreams, and to experience a second chance at love.
Though I experienced the loss of our unborn children this year, I am so blessed to have given birth to four healthy children and to have three step-children. My life is filled with kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My family and in-laws are wonderful people who help me, listen to me, and regularly show me love.
I have many supportive friends who have helped me through difficult times and have rejoiced with me through good times. I know that I can call on several godly women for counsel and understanding.
God has chosen to use me to develop a ministry to families looking for educational alternatives. In 2013, I began a school that I thought would be very small, but it has grown to 82 children in preschool through high school. I was not the most likely candidate to run a school, and I had no idea what God had in store, but I believe that’s exactly why He chose me–so He alone would get the glory.
Though I initially had a good deal of strife with my ex-husband, we are now able to work together in a civil manner to co-parent our children, and this is to their benefit.
I live in America. This is a true blessing, as long as we can keep our perspective on heavenly treasures, rather than earthly treasures. I am thankful to live in a free country where I have all my needs met. There are many great countries in the world, but I am glad to be an American.
I am healthy. This is often taken for granted, but it should never be. I have known so many people who have battled great illnesses, some of whom lost the earthly battle at young ages. So in their honor, I will appreciate my own health.
I have a roof over my head, a full fridge and pantry, a running vehicle, and plenty of clothes. Though I have gone without a paycheck from time to time, I have never gone without having my needs met.
I have two children waiting for me in heaven, who will never experience any of the pain of this life. I don’t have to worry about whether they will accept Christ, because they are already in His presence. This doesn’t minimize the fact that I wish they were in my arms, but I am looking for the good in the situation.
I have been blessed with grief. Over the past few years, I have experienced some of the most difficult situations of my life, and I have become a more compassionate, understanding person because of it. Though I would trade the situations that caused the grief, I wouldn’t trade the growth they have brought.
Happy Thanksgiving 2015! To God be the glory; great things he has done!
I didn’t even used to like kids. I didn’t want to have any of my own. I wanted to be a career woman with a big house (not sure why I wanted a big house, since I wasn’t going to have any children), a Mercedes convertible, and a Ph.D. I wanted status, comfort, respect, and power. But not kids.
I also was staunchly liberal, and as such, I was pro-choice.
Then something unexpected happened. I met a man and fell in love with him. He convinced me to forego my dreams of a charmed and “powerful” life. He even changed my opinion on abortion. Yes, I was smitten. Before I knew it, this man had turned me into a completely different person. I now wanted with all my heart to be a mommy and even to stay at home to raise my children–I decided that I really wanted seven. This man hadn’t just changed my mind–I really no longer even recognized myself because of his influence.
You might know this man, too. If you do, odds are that he has had this kind of effect on you as well. That man’s name is Jesus and He changed my perspective on everything.
I had grown up as an only child until I was 16. Then my mom remarried and had twins! I even took care of them for awhile, but it wasn’t till I met Jesus that I actually liked kids. The Lord literally changed my view on children overnight when I was 21 years old.
Though I had once believed in the “woman’s right to choose,” I ended up working in a pro-life crisis pregnancy center for a couple years, and even did sidewalk counseling outside of an abortion clinic for awhile.
Though I had once not desired to have my own children, I ended up having four biological children, staying home with them for ten years, and homeschooling the oldest two for six years.
Though I had once not cared for children, I ended up becoming a
teacher, and I even started my own school, which I still run today.
So this woman who had no cares or desires for children, born or unborn, now has four living (on earth) biological children, three step-children, and two children living in heaven, whom I will meet for the first time when I join them there. (Interestingly, that’s a current total of seven children on earth, which is how many I had desired so many years ago.)
I’m so thankful for the man who changed my perspective on children, and I’m blessed that He called me to dedicate my life to ministering to them.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” (Matthew 19:14)