Winter Skies

It’s late into fall now. The nights are crisp and clear and cold. Even though the calendar says that winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, here in Upstate New York we can expect it any time after October 31st. I saw the hint of a few flurries in the air today, I thought, but we’re still just toeing the line.

Tonight, though, was the first time that I’d been outside since the cold front hit, and as I stepped out onto my back deck my eyes drifted heavenwards and my breath caught in my chest. I have lived here for the majority of my life, so you would assume that I would be used to these things… that I would expect them. But God’s glory is not something I’ve found you ever “get used to.”

Oh, the stars of the winter skies. 

When the air chills and the world begins to fall asleep, every day settling in for the winter… when life seems to stop. The skies clear, and the stars shine with a fervency and illumination so bright that it takes my breath away.

When the world stills. When we feel the cusp of death’s bitter chill on our necks… and we look up. It’s in those moments when we see His wonders more clearly than before. Before when the buzz and glow of life’s busyness pollutes the broader view. When we’re distracted and the air around us is thick with heat and self-centeredness, it tends to blur the horizon.

Clandestinely a soul longs for wintertime.

A time when the stars look like peepholes into paradise. Where glory is raining out through the floor of eternity. When we can sit back and marvel in awe at brilliant lights against an obsidian sky.

And if we take the winter, the time of great sleep, and use it as a time to still ourselves and look up, we will drink in beauty.

I am ready for rest. I am ready for winter skies.

Advertisements

There Once Was a Story

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

This was something I heard over and over at Allume – sometimes it was said differently or just implied, but the message was the same.

I have often found myself trying to look like a blogger or writer that I admire; I try to copy their writing style, their passion, their callings. But there’s that simple truth – everyone else is already taken, and honestly they’re going to do it – whatever it is- better than I can because, well, they’re them and I’m not. They were given those exact gifts, and I’m only imitating. They have heard that specific word from God, and I’m only eavesdropping somewhere down the telephone line. They might be mirroring Christ, but if I’m mirroring them, then that makes me nothing more than a shadow – matte, shrouded, and completely devoid of light, because we cannot shine unless we are reflecting the Sun, and we cannot reflect the Sun if we are not fully facing Him.

There is something to be said for knowing what appeals to us and taking notes from someone who has mastered that particular skill, but when we look at someone else and think “I wish I could write that” and then try to copy who they are or what they do, then we lose our ability to be real; and people can tell when we’re not being authentic, because it looks cheap and vapid, and kind of shallow.

And why? Why do I even need to go there? Why do I feel like I need to look like anyone else to be valued?

This weekend Ann Voskamp said something that’s been retweeted approximately a million times, and for good reason. She said “When you take your life for granted? You get jealous. When you take your life as a gift — you get joy.”

Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when we’re looking at other people and elevating them to a place of superiority, bemoaning our own lowliness? When we envy, aren’t we taking what God has given us, our lives, for granted? Aren’t we telling him “Hey, You failed here! You left me incomplete. If I were really whole, I would look like that!”

Do I, little ant, dare to have that kind of dangerous audacity?

We I need to remember that we are the storytellers and not just a single story. We are living, and breathing, and feeling, and evolving, and constantly moving forward, and that will never look like exactly like someone else. We have been placed exactly where we are for an exact purpose; we shine as stars who dance together to point the way to the Son. We are not the same, but we are together.

The stories we tell are extracted from the substance of our existence; the essence of our lives in the moments and days, from the mundane to the miraculous, and every breath of grace in between.

We cannot be confined to one story, one situation, one cause, one exhilarating moment of triumph or heartbreaking moment of surrender because we are not just words on a page – we are souls.

This is where I have strayed off course. I have limited myself – limited what I have allowed God to do with and through me.

“This is a blog about mothering” I said.
But soon the mothering well ran dry and I had nothing to draw from anymore because I realized I really didn’t know that much.

“This is a blog about faith, then.” I decided
But there are moments when what I have to say about my faith is better left at the foot of the throne and in the hands of the great healer.

“This is a blog about writing.” I revised.
But those moments of literary success come in blazes of Heavenly glory – and then it passes, and I’m left throwing draft after draft into an overflowing garbage can.

I have felt like an inadequate writer because I don’t have enough to say about something, because I am not a literary or mothering guru. But that’s not the point. That has never been the point. It’s not about knowing it all, it’s about letting God know all of me, and being available for Him to pour life in so that I can pour it back out to you.

This weekend I learned, I realized, that I am none of those things – but they are all part of me. I am a storyteller, and I have many stories to tell.

I have stories about faith, and mothering, and writing, and great causes, and heart ramblings, and life. And it’s messy. Life is messy – I’m certainly not an exception.

But I’m just going to tell His stories. Hands and heart open wide, ready to drink in and ready to flow out – I want to be brave, and honest, and low. Low enough to wash the feet of the lost and the found and the broken and the bold, and in doing so wash the very feet of Jesus.

I want to serve you, and encourage you, and I want to make you cry because I know that there is freedom and truth and surrender in tears.

I want you to read my stories – whatever they are – and be able to rest back in your chair with a mug in your hands and feel at home.

I want to join arms with you. I want to love you and minister to you and be Jesus to you from my messy, humble little home.

And I want to tell the stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories of a generation of Esthers who were born for a time such as this – to give our lives so that we might live.

To tell the broken who are sitting just outside our gates the story of the stars; stars that shine bright to light the way home.

I’m here to walk wherever the road leads – I am here to tell the stories.

Allume; Layers of Grace

I’ve spent the past two days caught between a need to just soak in and process everything that happened this weekend, and a fervent desire to write as quickly as I can so as not to forget a single moment or thought.

Oh, Allume.

Where I went expecting a writer’s conference perforated with church, I was met with
engulfed by revival woven with art.

And I’m not talking church camp high, people, I’m talking revival. Where hearts were broken in and bent low, where stars learned to dance together, where prayers were spoken and received, where words fell like rain on dry bones, where we reset our focus to our audience of One, knowing that we cannot shine unless we are reflecting the Sun, and we cannot reflect the Sun if we are not fully facing Him first.

Allume. Real light living. Real. Light. Life. There is no better way to describe it.

Let me bring you back a little bit.

For the past few years I’ve been struggling. I’ve struggled with wondering where God was, if He was even there, if he was even real.

For a while I was trapped in a place surrounded by a thick suffocating darkness, despair, and heartache. I began to truly question if anything I believed in was real. To say that it was the hardest moment of my walk thus far would be a gross understatement.

Interestingly enough what broke me out of my internal prison was a blog written for none other than Allume. God had used September McCarthy, used simple words, to bring me back to life – just barely, but I began to breathe and breathe enough to find the strength to blog about it (you can read that here).

Y’all, God had been preparing my heart for this for almost an entire year. Can you see it yet? You will.

The time since I wrote that has been spent striving towards life, but I was barely holding on, and even though I asked, God remained silent.

I still fought doubt, I still felt lonely, I still wondered why, why, why He wasn’t answering me. There was no passion. No zeal. At least nothing that lasted through the night.

Two weeks before Allume I was sitting on a park bench looking out over the water where sunburnt trees were admiring their new hues. It was quiet, the sun was shining down, and Papa was watching the girls back at home, so I actually had a few minutes to just sit and think. So I prayed. I poured my heart out to God and asked
begged Him to reveal Himself to me.

Please, Lord, I want to hear you! I want to see you! I want to feel you! I’m seeking Your face and I just need you to reveal yourself to me, because it feels like you’re not there. Are you even there?

And I sat. And I waited. And all that came was silence. Finally I had to leave my quiet little bench, frustrated and empty and confused. I didn’t have the slightest inkling as to what He was about to do.

 

The first night of Allume Ann Voskamp blessed us with a talk on stars, and she said things like

You don’t have to perform anymore because God is forming you into beautiful,

and

Your hunger to be known is a good God given appetite for more of God,

and

When the world strives — the wise still,

and

You are where you are for such a time as this – not to make an impression, but to make a difference,

And it wrecked me. Night one and I was completely undone. The tears were running too near the surface. I was starving and set before a feast, and it was almost too much to bear – but it was only the first layer. And if this weekend was anything it was layer upon holy layer. That first day He was laying the foundation – slow and steady – of a work that was going to blow my mind.

 

The next morning Melanie Shankle reminded us that

God sees us even when the world doesn’t

and

It is in the still, quiet places that God shapes us

and

No one sees God’s potential in you as much as Satan. He’ll do anything to shut you, your voice, and your message down

And I thought, hey… that kind of sounds like me, that kind of sounds like where this whole thing started to come undone those years ago. And I wondered where exactly He was going with this. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, I was here for a bigger reason. Another layer.

I went back to my room after the cupcake party (yes, a cupcake party. I’m sorry you missed it, too) and began to message my husband, crying to him that I was so confused. That this place seemed so real, but it was in such stark contrast to other things I’d been dealing with, and I didn’t know how to handle them both. I didn’t know how to coexist with what was stirring in me here, at Allume, and what was holding onto me for months and months. I couldn’t accept both, and I didn’t know what to do, and I just wished God would answer me!

And then Friday afternoon came and I got to attend a session hosted by one of my favorite women on this planet, Sarah Mae. I have a kind of deeply rooted love with this lady, in the least creepy way possible. When I read Desperate it literally saved me and my children from a mother who had checked out and was so fed up and depressed that she didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. Her book was warm tea to my soul. It changed my life in a way that I don’t know if she’ll ever fully understand, and it was the reason I came to Allume in the first place – remember that, because it’s important.

So when I had a chance to hear her speak up close and personal, I jumped on it. I didn’t know really what her talk was about, but I knew it was probably going to speak to me. I’m convinced that was God’s doing.

Her session was called “Honest Capacity” and it felt like she was talking directly to me. Especially when she spoke about seeking God. She shared with me – ok, ok, with us – about a time in her life very recently where she found herself sitting and asking God, nearly verbatim, the exact. Same. Thing. I just prayed two weeks before. But God had answered her the next day, and in doing so He answered me at that exact moment. She challenged us specifically to quiet the world around us – intentionally and sacrificially – for the sake of hearing God. For the purpose of seeing Him. And in my soul I was crying “Yes! That sounds like exactly what I need! But what about this other situation? I don’t know what to do about this. Is this keeping me from hearing Him?” The next sentence she said was a quote from A.W. Tozer,

“Anything that keeps me from knowing God is my enemy, and any gift that comes between him and me is an enemy.”

And I surrendered. Yes God. I hear you. I hear you. Another layer.

That night Jennie Allen spoke, she took a chance and looked each of us in the eye and challenged us to get real, to finish running the race we’d begun, and to admit – not only to ourselves, but out loud, what was holding us back. The sin, the trap, that’s entangling us. So there at the dinner table, clutching a woman’s hand who was a stranger until an hour ago, I confessed my heart, and she asked me something that kind of rocked me.

“Do you have anyone praying over you about this?”

Well… no. I guess I don’t. I think, maybe, there’s something to that.

After we prayed together Anthony Evans Jr. performed worship and by the end of it I knew what I needed to do. So when the lights turned back on I headed immediately for the prayer room that Allume had set up.

A sweet, beautiful prayer warrior met me as I entered and asked me if I needed prayer. “Yes!” I burst out. So we gathered together in the corner by some pillows, and I spilled my heart out again to a near stranger. She asked gentle questions and put her hands on me and began to pray. My heart was focused, set upon God as hard as it could be, and as she prayed my body began to warm from where she’d gently placed her hand on my back all the way to my center. She shared words with me that resonated loudly, and it was at that moment that I realized something big was happening, and that I was here, at Allume, for a reason.

A reason that He had planned for three years. A revival three years in the making. Because He knew that what I needed wasn’t a quick fix. It wasn’t something that could be healed without long, slow, intentional paving. I began to realize that before I left something was going to be different.

The next morning was where He pulled back the curtain, through a message given by a woman that I had never heard of before – Bianca Olthoff, and she was sharing on Ezekiel 37

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.
And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

And God spoke to me through her – to four hundred other women, but still, so directly to me

Do you believe me for the dry bones? Do you believe I can bring life to those who are dead? I have built this foundation, I have revealed myself to you over and over again this weekend, you have just begun to connect the dots, but the question is do you believe I can bring you back to life?

And my soul cried out YES! Yes, Lord, I do! I believe YOU can restore LIFE and life more abundantly to these dry, empty, hollow bones!

And I felt myself fill from the inside out. I felt life rush into me like a breath of wind, and my heart burst open with a strength and weakness and trust that I have missed so desperately for so long.

Revival.

I have so much more to meditate on. I have pages and pages of notes to go through, I have concepts to put into practice, I have ideals to overhaul, but I have water for my dry bones, and if I didn’t take a single other thing back with me, that would be enough.

Real.

Light.

Life.

Allume.

God has used you to bring me back to life this year.

 

I can hardly stand to wait and see what He’s going to do next time.

Trees of Life

All trees have roots.

Pine trees, lemon trees, apple trees; good trees and corrupt trees.

They all have roots; roots that go down deep below the surface; roots that have been growing since before that tree ever broke through the earth into this world.

They are the lifelines of a tree. Through them the tree pulls from its source of energy and existence; its livelihood. So where a seed is planted is of the utmost importance, and as it grows, the deeper the roots go down; the more anchored it is; the harder it is to move.

Our children are trees, and as mothers we decide where they set their roots. This is a job that we cannot, must not, do half-heartedly; the rest of their lives depend on it.

As I begin to truly raise my children, as opposed to merely growing them for the past two years, I have begun to see the enormity of this calling, and the richness and blessing it brings when done right.

Praying with them before bed, and before meals, and after they’ve punched their sister in the face – and when I’m scared – grounds them in the importance of ceaseless communication with our Father.

Allowing them to see that I am only human, as much in need of His grace as anyone else, will allow them to accept their own humanity and see that no one can truly fulfill all of our needs but Him.

Instituting bed-time traditions of song singing and story reading will solidify their joy in family times.

Holding them to standards of grace and selflessness from a young age will enable them to be naturally more willingly gracious and giving adults.

Spending quality time talking to them and searching to know their hearts will result in a trusting bond that will withstand the trials of pre-teen and teenage years.

Teaching them the Truths and Ways of Yahweh now will ensure that they grow up to be trees who are not easily swayed – who will stand the test of life.

It all takes such careful guiding and direction, and to fail to do so reaps its own production – children who feel disconnected, aimless, and out of control.

Neglecting to intentionally plant roots in life-giving soil leaves our children looking for that life elsewhere, and we do them a great, and grave, disservice.

Praise Yahweh that His son, Jesus, saves. Thank Him that He never loses sight of our children. There are many who are not planted in His Word, who have been rooted in the shallow soil of the world, who must be transplanted to the banks of the river of life – but it is so often a hardship. Those trees must be plucked up, unearthed; the roots will tear and break, and the healing is often slow, as new roots find their way back down. The process is not without damage, and precious time is wasted.

The tree planted in His garden, though, will never want for sustenance. The children brought up knowing their Savior are blessed.

The thing is, moms, it’s not enough to send them to church or Sunday school once a week, say a gimmicky prayer before dinner, and read from the bible on Christmas and Easter, and think that’s what it takes.

Jesus is not an American Holiday. He is not a special occasion.

He is daily bread. He is eternal living water. He is the beginning and the end. He is every second of every minute of every day of every life.

These roots – they will build a foundation that will always keep them grounded. It will be their way home. It will be what they fall back on when things are hard. We can give them that safe place, that sure place, the place where they have come from and can return to again and again as storms pull them to and fro.

Intentional mothering is hard. I know that because I fail at it so many times, but we have to keep looking ahead – we have to keep pushing forward. We have to show our children that it’s ok if we fall because we fall on grace, but then we have to show them how to take His hand and rise back out of our sinking waves. We cannot win our children’s hearts for Yeshua by commanding them to do as we say and not as we do. We just can’t. Children are fantastic mimickers, and while they still think you’re the greatest thing since peanut butter and jelly, they will do as you do – so show them. Guide them. Every day give this mission all of you’ve got. Purpose in your heart where you want their roots to grow; to faith, hope, purity, joy, truth; lovlieness. Fix your eyes on it and make a plan to get them there. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, but He will give us the strength to see it through.

Forget the iphones and the ipads and the ps3s and the stuff. One day soon that will be just another piece of junk collecting dust in a scrap metal lot somewhere. Don’t ask someone else – or things – to hold their attention so that you don’t have to. This is what you were made to do, and He has given you all of the resources you need in His spirit, you just need to ask and seek.

At the end of her child-rearing days the Proverbs 31 woman – the woman who is so hard to find, whose worth is invaluable – her children rise up and call her blessed. This is not the wide easy road, this road is hard, and few have the courage to walk it, but we have to realize that it’s not our souls at stake – it’s theirs. And that’s worth working for.

So take up your shovel and your watering can and carefully tend to your sprout every day. Pull the weeds of influence, nourish with the Son’s light, breathe and speak life into your sapling, and one day they will be strong enough to provide your heart rest. Eyes up, mama. With Him on your side, you’ve got this – and we’ve got each other too.

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” – Psalm 1:2&3


Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7&8

 

In His love,

Ashley

Once Upon a Miracle

When she was only 32 weeks grown London Aubrey Rose Martin was born into this world, along with her twin, at a tiny three pounds, but pink, crying and breathing with a might all her own. At the time we believed that the hardest part of our journey was over and praised God for the miracle of their survival – something that literally every doctor during the pregnancy told us likely would not happen. We had prayed, and hoped, and kept our eyes focused on the only One who could hold them safely while we waited, and He was merciful to pass them on to us. They had defied the odds. Despite their growth differences and blood flow scares and too-small umbilical cords they had survived to 25 weeks, then 30, and then 32, a point at which a vast majority of the premature complication risks have passed. Hearts light with hope we delivered our babes into the world and breathed deep sighs of relief; we could never have guessed that it was only just beginning.

Two days after she was born the nurses in our hospital’s NICU detected a heart murmur. Ever the one-step-ahead-mother, I’d done my research and knew that this was not unusual for premature babies, and is usually an issue that resolves itself over the next few years. Optimistically I believed that to be the case with her as well. Nothing prepared me for the news I got sitting in that room the next day; my daughter had pulmonary stenosis, a congenital heart defect that would definitely not fix itself. Three weeks later my sweet little baby girl underwent a procedure called a valvuloplasty – where a tiny catheter is threaded through an artery into her heart, and then a balloon is inflated to stretch the valve. When it was done we were told how beautifully it went and how successful it was. We were told that it was really a pretty miraculous coincidence; how, when she was born, she had a small hole in her heart that was in just the right spot to allow extra blood flow through her valves where the narrow valve had restricted it. Had the hole not existed it is likely that her heart would have become stressed under pressure and we would have had to do an emergency surgery immediately; much more dangerous than the four weeks later which provided necessary growth to diminish some of the risks. If her valve hadn’t been narrow, on the other hand, it is likely that the hole would have caused an overflow of blood to her heart, again requiring immediate surgery. It seemed as though God did, in fact, know what He was doing after all. While we would come to find out that her valve didn’t stay as stretched as we thought originally, it still was considered successful and she has never had an issue from it since. We praised the Lord on our knees and thanked Him for delivering us through the hardest part of this journey as we knew it – again.

And yet here I sit two years later, in a pull out chair that I’m fairly certain is made of jagged rocks, next to that same little girl’s hospital bed for an entirely different reason.

When she was around 18 months old London began to gag on her food. At first it was only a few things and only occasionally, so it wasn’t something we worried about, believing she was just learning how to eat, but as time went on the gagging got worse. I started to think that maybe it was sensory, or maybe it was a learned behavior and we could train her out of it, so we tried for a while, but to no avail. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I began to realize something was really wrong, because she was gagging up practically everything she put in her mouth, including food she really loved and seemed upset about not being able to eat. I spoke with my doctor about it and she believed it was still sensory, because it didn’t fit the criteria of a normal disorder or disease, but my mommy gut wouldn’t let it go, and so I asked to schedule an x-ray and swallow test.

A few weeks later a CT scan revealed that she had a mass in her esophagus – and my heart nearly stopped beating. I remember my hands shaking as the kind voice over the phone patiently answered all of my questions as best she could, which was hardly at all with the limited information she had. All they knew was that it was a mass. The words kept flashing through my head; a mass, a mass. The first thing I thought, of course, was that my sweet barely-begun-to-live daughter had cancer. That Yahweh had given her to me only to teach me how to fully surrender to Him; that this would be my test; and I nearly had a convulsion. After all, hadn’t I said that He could have it all? Even my kids, if it came to that? I felt like God was calling me to make good on my claims now, and I was shaking where I stood.

“Not cancer, God, please!” I prayed and sobbed “Anything else I can handle, but please just not cancer!”

And so I fasted and prayed, and the people who have grown so intimately close to my heart fasted and prayed with me. People whom I loved but had never actually met in person dedicated time out of their own incredibly busy and stressful lives to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of my daughter. It would prove to be only the first of many times that they would blow my expectations out of the water, and my legs steadied a little as their arms, His arms in action, supported me.

A few days later we had a meeting with the surgeon who, to my great relief, assured me that what they were seeing was not cancer after all, but looked more like some kind of foreign object. The theory was that she possibly had swallowed something and her esophagus had walled it in with scar tissue, protecting itself from this unwelcome invader.

“Not cancer!” was all I could think. “NOT CANCER! WOOHOO!” See, everything else was peanuts to me, because as long as it wasn’t cancer I had nothing to worry about!

“It needs to come out” he said. And I fully agreed! Let’s do it! Book the OR! My guard was gone, I was completely at ease and “at peace” with whatever this was.

But it’s a funny thing about peace that’s not grounded in complete faith in Yahweh and His plan..

“But we need to talk about it first. This isn’t cancer, but it’s very serious.”

Wait, what?

I sat up a little straighter. But it’s just something *stuck*, so just take it out and we’re done? Right?

But God wasn’t done teaching me. Teaching me that my faith in physical circumstances is misplaced. Teaching me that how *I* perceive my situations is so, so flawed. Teaching me that my daughter not having cancer does not mean that my faith isn’t going to be tried down to my core.

“It’s a very complicated surgery with a significantly high risk.”

Thump… thump… thump went my heart. I wasn’t prepared for this. I felt blindsided and in a horrible fog.

“What kind of risks?” I timidly asked

The doctor went on to explain… “Well, this lodged itself in the worst possible location. It’s not easy to get to. Her esophagus is too narrow to fit a scope down, so there’s no way we can do an endoscopy (remember this, because it’s very, very important). In order to find out how to proceed we’re going to have to make a huge incision from her ribcage back to her shoulder blade, and there are many major nerves in that area. If one of them is damaged it could mean she’ll need to be on oxygen for the rest of her life, or that she will need a feeding tube for the rest of her life, or that we will need to do reconstructive surgery on her stomach and diaphragm. She’ll need to be in the hospital for a month after the surgery to recover. I think I’m equipped to do this, but if I do get in and find that I can’t, I’ll back out and we can try a different route.”

Thumpthumpthumpthumpthump.

My illusions of safety were shattered. I thought that if I could rest on science then I wouldn’t need to exercise my faith so much. But then we know how Yahweh feels about resting in anything but Him.

So the next step was surgery – do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. We booked the OR for three weeks from that date and I left discouraged and heartbroken and terrified, and not entirely confident in my surgeon or his expertise in the area. If you’re talking about a surgery that could potentially leave my daughter unable to breathe on her own, “I think I can do it” just doesn’t sit well.

The news spread through my family and friends like wildfire, and when my aunt heard about the conversation we’d had she suggested to my mom that we get a second opinion. It’s something I’d tossed around but hadn’t committed to, but with this “confirmation” I felt like it was best. As it would turn out that feeling would be confirmed multiple times over from close friends, and so I knew that this was a God thing.

After a day or two of research I came to the conclusion that the Children’s Hospital in Boston was the best place in the country for the kind of surgery that London would need, and so I called that day and asked them to review her case for a second opinion. From the moment I connected with them I felt a peace that had, until that point, been missing. They were kind and quick and seemed so incredibly knowledgeable, and before I knew it her care had been transferred to their hospital and we were talking about dates to come out and do testing.

“This is what we do.” Confident voices assured me where questions about success and capabilities had previous resided.

So her testing was scheduled, and it had required a step of faith and a whole lot of prayer. Boston is expensive. Hotels are expensive. Gas is expensive. And to be frank, we were we’re broke. A borrowed credit card was used to pay for the expenses up front, and my dedicated hardworking husband logged hours upon hours of overtime to try and help offset the cost, knowing it wouldn’t be enough, but also knowing that we had to do this and were just going to need to trust His provision.

I spent the next weeks waiting filled with dread and worry and anxiety, imagining worse case scenarios in my head. Trying to imagine what life would be like in the hospital with a two year old who had been cut up one side and down the other; the excruciating pain she was going to experience, the sorrow of not being able to see my other daughter for a month straight, and worrying about who was going to take care of her. The days passed quickly and before we knew it it was late in July. We made the long drive from western New York to Boston.

The first day in Boston we did another X-Ray with the surgeon present who was able to detect the same mass, but while he could see there was something there, he couldn’t tell us what it was either. I had hoped for better news, but was given the same diagnosis as before, with the same treatment plan, the same surgery. He went over all the terrifying risks again, detailing his biggest concerns (her vocal cords), and his insistence that whatever it was was infected and inflamed and had to be cut out.

But…

“I want to try and do an endoscopy,” he said.

“The other surgeon said it wasn’t possible, he said her opening is too narrow.” I questioned, but he assured me that we had to at least try, and that if we could manage to get some kind of picture of it then it would allow for a potentially safer surgery, so what could I do but agree?

The next day we had a pre-op appointment, during which the doctors detailed the procedure to me and asked for my permission to allow them to “treat” the condition if they could while they were in with the scope. “I have no hopes that this will do anything but provide us information. Based on what we’ve seen there’s so much scar tissue around it that we’re really going to have to operate, but we need your consent just in case we create a tear and need to repair it.” So I signed, and then we went out and spent the rest of the day just relishing a few hours of stress-free family time exploring downtown Boston.

That night I received a call from the hospital; something was wrong with my insurance, and the company was denying my claim for this procedure.

Great. Just what I need, to come all the way out to Boston and spend all this money we don’t have for nothing.

I was told that the hospital was submitting as much information and documentation as possible to the reviewer in hopes that she would overturn the denial and approve the procedure, but at this point we wouldn’t know until the morning.

The next morning came and still no approval. The surgical team told me that they had to approve the claim by 9 a.m. in order for us to go ahead with her scheduled time at 10:15, otherwise we were going to need to reschedule for another week, if they would approve it at all.

7:30 am… 8:00… 8:30… and still nothing, but now it was time to leave for the hospital if we hoped to make it in time for her appointment. I asked the nurse what I should do, and she left it in our hands. Either cancel now, since it clearly seemed as though we weren’t going to get the approval, or make the hour-long drive and pray that it got approved by the time we got there. We debated and hemmed and hawed but in the end decided to take the chance.

It was mere minutes before 9 when I got the call; approved! Phew! It wouldn’t be all for nothing after all!


We got to the hospital and my husband kissed London goodbye while I took her in to the pre-op waiting room. A few moments later I met the surgeon who would be performing her endoscopy, and he spent the next ten minutes detailing the risks and objectives again, but this time there was no worry at all; suddenly I found that I was experiencing an inexplicable joy, and I chose to hold on to it as tightly as I could for both my sake and the sake of my little girl. So I carried my heart into the operating room and sang to her as she fell asleep, then I went off to wait and pray.

I know I was being attacked because thoughts of things going wrong kept forcing themselves on me – her torn esophagus, damaged vocal cords, my London with a hole and tube in her neck. They tried to shake me, but for the first time in weeks I had the peace of Yahweh – a peace that surpassed any understanding of my own. It was as though something inside me knew the plans He had and was giddy with anticipation waiting for my eyes to see it revealed.

About thirty minutes later the surgeon came into the waiting room, I assumed to tell me how everything went, and as he walked towards me he pulled his hand out from behind his back and handed me a small plastic jar. This jar.


I stared blankly for a moment, waiting for him to say something, not understanding. Maybe he had the wrong patient? And then it hit me, and my eyes widened in disbelief as he began to speak “Here’s the culprit!”

This was the foreign object that a myriad of medical geniuses agreed could only be extracted via an intense and complicated surgery; here, in my hand, while my daughter slept down the hall whole and intact, nary a scalpel in sight.

And I sobbed.

“I thought you said this wasn’t possible! I thought you said this couldn’t happen!” I exclaimed, probably too loud in a room full of waiting parents, but I didn’t care. I wanted to jump up and down and scream with praise and excitement and joy!

“We didn’t think it was. There was so much tissue around it, it shouldn’t have. We shouldn’t even have been able to see it, but it just pulled out like nothing.” And I stared at him with tears streaming down my face while he went on to explain that it wasn’t the end of the road, they still needed to make sure the infection and the hole healed, but I didn’t care. I was holding a miracle in my hands!! This meant that she didn’t need surgery! The surgery that threatened to steal her breath and her voice and her health – God had completely transcended it! He literally delivered this thorn into their hands! I hit my knees and praised my Abba for all I was worth before rapidly messaging my husband through blurry eyes and breathless laughs. Moments later I went back to her in the recovery room and it was all I could do to not hug everyone in the room, and I couldn’t take my eyes off my brave, beautiful, princess.


It took me a few hours to realize how He had allowed this all to play out. Had I not listened to the urging inside me to call another doctor this never would have been possible. The surgeon at our home hospital had refused to even try, and it made me sick to realize that he was about to cut her in half for nothing. The object that was lodged so far in scar tissue that it wasn’t even visible on the scan slid out easily during a scope that many believed to be physically impossible without causing serious damage.

My joy was running over, I couldn’t can’t stop smiling and hugging the people around me who helped care for her, but God wasn’t done yet. Moments later my husband called me to tell me that our some of our friends had felt it on their hearts to support us, and over the next few days we would receive gifts from some of the most amazing people on Earth that would cover our hotel expenses and those we were incurring over the next few days. People we hadn’t seen in years, and some we’ve never even seen at all, who love us so much that they gave truly of themselves to support us and love us the way they could. We had planned to drive back home on Saturday morning, but because of this procedure we were required to stay an unexpected few more days, and Yahweh provided for our need before we even knew we’d needed it.

What can we do in the face of such miracles but fall on our knees, let the tears run freely, and shout from the depths of our soul of His wonders and grace?

How sweet is this grace, I am drinking deeply.

As I sit here and type this my miracle baby is asleep in her hospital bed, completely herself, and you would never know that anything was ever wrong with her.

This story, her life, is about miracles.

Sometimes in our lives Yahweh uses trials and hardships as lessons, to teach us to grow, to show us how to walk through the rain and the valleys to the other side so that we emerge stronger in His hands.

But sometimes He lets us walk in the shadows for the sole purpose of displaying the brilliance of His beauty and light. Sometimes His plan is to shower us in blessing and clothe us in joy, simply for the sake of loving us.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

It’s taken me some time to adjust. For weeks and weeks I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the possibility of needing to fully rehabilitate my little girl, and now we’re going to be leaving this hospital in less than 24 hours with a child who has never felt more fully alive.


And neither have I.

 

Reposted from Whatever is Lovely

The Beauty of Silence

This morning we left our sleepy home in western New York, Boston bound, as the stars were just beginning to tuck themselves back into the dark velvety folds of the waning night sky. It is rare that I am ever up early enough to witness this every-day wonder, and for me this is one of the best parts about road tripping. After a stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee, and a few last minute essentials at Wegmans (aka: our local grocery store, aka: the grocery utopia of the known world) we were off rushing through the lush countryside eastward; our horizon melting from black and navy to pinks and oranges. It wasn’t but thirty minutes before the sun started to crown over the hillside, and the mist, still cradled betwixt yawning valleys, began to rise in nature’s exultation to her creator. In these still, quiet moments of the morning all the world cries out to sing His praises. Holiness.

Enraptured by the beauty of this especially magnificent sunrise I quickly reached for my iPhone and snapped a disappointing picture, I readjusted my angle and prepared to click away again, and then I stopped. “Why,”  I thought suddenly, “can a moment never be just between my Elohim and I? Why is it that I can never just bathe in His beauty? Why does everything have to be documented, or Tweeted, or Facebooked? Why can I never just be still and know – with every fiber of my being – that He is God?” And so I put my camera down and drove ahead in still silence, soaking up glory all the way.

I am all about capturing the special moments of my life on film – or pixel, as it is in our generation – and I have seen some truly spectacular photos of sunrises, sunsets, roaring waves, and majestic mountains crowned with clouds. But the truth is that most of the time, and especially in my case as my camera is certainly not of professional caliber, a picture simply cannot capture the brilliance that being present in the moment instills. Mostly it’s just a distraction from being completely with my Yahweh – mind, heart, and soul. It made me think about how we, as a society, are addicted to overexposing ourselves to the world, in both the good and the bad. For the most part I am a fan of social media, but I cannot help but feel like we’ve gotten to a point where we live from Instagram to Instagram, watching our lives through a camera lens and never just being in the moment. Discretion and propriety are considered old-fashioned and repressive; instead we have adopted a lifestyle of oversharing – sometimes in the worst ways…

Read the rest at Whatever is Lovely!

The Power of Grace

The first and most important guideline to blogging any writing is unadulterated authenticity. This is not to say that everything must be written as an autobiography or documentary, in fact it has little to do with the façade of the story at all; rather it’s the honesty behind it – the inherent integrity. Jesus spoke through parables; lessons taught through story. The woman rejoicing over her lost coin may never have existed, but that didn’t make His words any less true, and that’s what it’s about in the end; the truth.

The fact of the matter is that people don’t respond well to those who place themselves on their high horses and shout out their opinion as fact from their places of self-supposed superiority. No one needs to be lectured by strangers, and in reality we know that we’re not fooling anyone anyway; everybody knows that nobody’s got it all together all of the time. Acting like we do (deservedly) invites mockery and breeds skepticism.

Rather, any good blogger will tell you that if you want to reach your readers’ hearts you must first offer your own; scars and all. For the sake of wanting to know you and wanting you to trust that I have no intentions of preaching at you, I hold myself to this standard of authenticity and vulnerability…

I struggle with anger.

Ugly, vehement, dark anger.

It’s tricky, this temper of mine, because for the vast majority of the time it lays dormant. I can go months without it rising up in me, but so far I haven’t been able to rid myself of this unwanted heart-tenant permanently.

When it catches the scent of the sustenance that it’s been denied for so long – angry thoughts that I allow myself to entertain, hurts that I nurse inwardly, grudges that I refuse to release – it wastes no time in attacking. It pounces and sticks its sharp destructive claws into my soul, and everything follows en suite.

I have been damaged by betrayal, my heart has been shattered by people I loved with all of it, I have been wronged. There are scarce few incidents in my life that can release such a powerful and horrifying monster as this consuming anger, but one is one too many.

In these moments when I choose to allow self-defense instead of selflessness, ferocity instead of forgiveness, callousness instead of compassion, hatred instead of humility, jealousy instead of Jesus – it’s as though I’m slowly drinking poison from my own hands. But worse than the damage it does to my own soul, is that it leeches out in the form of impatience, frustration, and hostility towards my family. It detracts from the relationships I have with my children, my husband, and from my fellowship with the God of mercy and forgiveness…

Read the entire post at Whatever is Lovely Ministries!

The Ugly Truth

I’m angry.
I’m angry, and if I’m being honest, I’m a little bitter.
It’s ugly, y’all.

But I didn’t start a blog to make myself look like I’ve got all it all together, or to attempt to convince people of my enlightened spirituality. I started a blog because, for me, writing is worship; it is my testimony in action; it is my person outreach.

And I can’t be effective if I’m being inauthentic, so you get it all; the good, the bad, and well…

Yesterday we found out the results of my toddler’s CAT Scans. In short, there’s a mass; a mass that’s pressing on her esophagus, and we don’t know what it is.

Yesterday I had a conversation that I feared with all my heart.
“It could be something as silly as a piece of food that her body has walled in, or it could be more serious.”
“Could it be cancer?”
After a moment of silence my pediatrician said “We don’t know. I wish I could say no, but I can’t.”

Yesterday I cried.

When the panic passed, and when the fear turned from sharp stabs into engulfing waves, the anger came holding bitterness’ hand.

My mind raced with “Why her?” thoughts. Why was she born early? Why does she have a heart defect? Why is she delayed? Why – on top of all the challenges we’ve had to deal with – does she have this issue now? Why are there people who are never asked to face these kinds of trials? Why are their kids in perfect health? What makes them more worthy? Why is my daughter less important to guard?

I’m feeling shaken; broken; and guilty for thinking these thoughts to begin with. But I have to own them, because they’re mine, and they exist. Not putting them on paper or saying out loud doesn’t mean I’m not thinking or feeling them. And, the thing is, God still knows them. I can lie to everyone, including myself, but I can’t lie to Him. So whether I scream them into my pillow or push them way down deep inside and feign a smile, He knows they’re there. Lingering. Festering. Waiting.

And, the thing is, I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t want my fake smiles. He doesn’t want my superficial “strength”. He would rather have my earnest broken heart crying out to him; He would rather have me come to His throne room and yell and shout and scream and give it all to him. Because He can’t take something from me that I won’t give Him. If I’m bottling this inside, keeping it locked up, I am keeping it from Him, and if I am keeping it from Him He can’t do anything with it.

So I’m owning it. Not in the accept-this-as-who-you-are self-discovery-book kind of way. But in the this-is-my-truth-and-it-needs-to-be-released kind of way.

Admitting these things, confessing them, does not mean that I am clinging to them or excusing them. To the contrary; I know they’re there, and I know that He wants to hear about my heartaches, because He wants to heal them. And there is power in the spoken.

God spoke the world into being.

We can rebuke the enemy with our words.

Our speech can bring life or destruction to those around us.

They can bring freedom. They can break chains.

And so I am speaking them. I am flushing them out of my spirit, and crying to my Daddy that I’m hurting, and I’m scared, and I’m broken – and I need You.

And the best thing about my Elohim, my God? He doesn’t take anything from us without giving us something better in return.

When we give Him our fear, He gives us His peace.

When we give Him our weakness, He gives us His strength.

We just have to acknowledge what we’re holding, and then be willing to let it go.

So here I am; This is me.

A mother who is crazy in love with her daughter, and a daughter who desperately needs the comfort of her Father.

The good, the bad, and the ugly; This is me.

Find Adventures in Twinderland on Facebook!

God is Still Good

As I quickly reached to answer the phone – a call that I had been anxiously awaiting all day – I realized the number on my caller ID was not that of my pediatrician, but the hospital (is it sad that I know the hospital’s outgoing number?). My heart began to race – that wasn’t a good sign.

I spent the next ten minutes having a conversation that I had prayed so hard against for the last twenty-four hours; “abnormalities,” “more tests,” “surgery.” Words no mother ever wants to hear about her children, much less her toddler.

My daughter has struggled with gagging for the past year. Initially we thought it was a learned behavioral habit, but lately we realized it was much more. An X-ray this week confirmed our concerns. Her esophagus is too narrow, and her intestines may need to be repositioned. There would be a sedated CT scan to determine the extent of the abnormalities. Following the CT scan the doctors and I will decide what to do about these issues; they will almost certainly involve one or more surgeries. There are so many unknown variables that makes my mother’s heart tremble with a fear I have yet to overcome; but one thing I know with absolute unshakable certainty – no matter the outcome, or the difficulty of the journey getting there – God is still good.

About two years and nine months ago I was given news that rocked my world. My 32 week baby, my 4 day old daughter – the one who didn’t have any complications during the pregnancy – had a heart defect. I stared at the doctor in disbelief. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The pregnancy was hard, that was supposed to be my test. Now that they’d made it – now that they were here – they were supposed to be normal, healthy babies. I was shaken to my core – naivety shattered.

We waited the next 4 weeks in the NICU while the girls grew – waiting for her to be big enough to perform a heart procedure on. Finally around 4 weeks she was, and we consulted with the best pediatric cardiac surgeon in the world, in my very humble opinion. I kissed her sweet tiny body a million times, swaddled her in heart-cried prayers, and watched as they wheeled her out of my sight. Then the best pastor I have ever had the blessing of knowing sat with my husband and I in the waiting room the entire duration of her procedure. I can’t even remember now how long it was. At the end the surgeon came out and got us and told us that she was doing beautifully, and proceeded to show us an image of what had been done. A catheter was threaded through an artery in her thigh and up to her heart. Then a tiny little balloon expanded in her pulmonary valve, and a few moments later another balloon expanded even wider, effectively stretching the narrow opening. He then pointed out something no one had seen before; it was a tiny little hole in one of the walls of her heart. He explained that this hole allowed a release of pressure that the narrowing of her pulmonary valve had caused. Had the hole not been there it is likely that we would have had to do the procedure the minute she was born – 3 pounds, barely breathing on her own, incredibly unstable. It’s a hole that, experience has suggested, will close up naturally on its own by the time she’s five and shouldn’t cause any issues, but it was perfectly placed to sustain her while we waited for her to grow stronger. In the midst of a heart defect – God was still good.

Fear is a skin I have not been able to shed. I love my children fiercely, but I know that He loves them even more than I do. I know that. I know it in my head and I believe it in my heart. I just haven’t figured out how to find freedom from worry yet. So I sit and quietly sob in waiting rooms, fighting off visions of worst-case-scenarios where rare and unexpected tumors take the life of my precious three year old; or in the past when those nightmares were of cancerous lymph nodes or fatty tissues turned malignant tumors. My life is an unending cycle of anxiety and worry when it comes to the livelihood of my children. But I know it won’t always be – because God is still good.

I was in the Radiology waiting room when another mother came in with her daughter; a sweet timid looking girl hiding behind a well-loved rag of a blanket, her arm showcasing a bandage that appeared to cover an IV site. The mother had a reluctantly familiar demeanor – she’d been here before. She clutched a book to her chest and spoke softly to the check in receptionist. She was tired, and I could see behind the strength she was trying to maintain for her daughter that she was scared. I smiled at her as she sat across from me, and she weakly returned a half smile before quickly dropping her eyes back to the floor. I could see the burden weighing down her shoulders. I wanted to clasp her hands and tell her that I knew how she felt, I wanted to, but I didn’t. I wish I had. I wish I had sat with this mother, who was so much like me, and assured her that no matter what her fragile little girl’s MRI showed them – God is still good.

No matter the trials, hardships, or heartaches – God is still good.

No matter our fears, failures, and sins – God is still good.

Isn’t it such a relief to know that no matter our situations, or our responses to those situations, that His goodness never changes?

Whether we’re standing in His peace, confident that He will provide, or if we’re lying on the floor crying out in desperate fear; His goodness is unfailing.

Life is better though, when we are able to find our footing in peace, isn’t it? In the moments when I have been able to rebuke the spirit of fear and drank in His spirit of peace and faith, things suddenly seem less scary.

And I’m trying. I have only begun to fight against my fear, but I am trying. I know that worry accomplishes and changes nothing; only God can do that, only faith in God. Whether He takes her home from a heart complication, or an esophageal birth defect, or a cancer, or a car crash; or if he blesses her (and us) with a silver crown – God is still good.

She is getting to an age now where she’s going to start remembering; mimicking; she will begin to respond to situations as she sees me respond to them. It’s becoming about more than just myself and my abilities to trust Him; I am conditioning her responses to trials and tests. Do I want her to meet every storm with fear and anxiety or with peace and faith in the goodness of His plan?

I am flawed. I am imperfect. I allow my flesh to over-shout His spirit so many times.

But I won’t always. I can’t, because I have two precious little souls who are watching every step I take, and listening to every word that leaves my lips. So this isn’t the end of my story, and He isn’t finished perfecting His spirit in me. I know without a doubt that no matter how long it takes I will be freed. One day soon He will lead me out of my self made Egypt of fear and worry, and into His promised land, because He is God – and God is still good.

The Call to Mothering

The kettle whistled from on top the stove, and so I set my book down and exchanged my emptied coffee cup for a tea mug. As I made my way into the kitchen my eyes were drawn upwards towards the thumping that indicated the toddlers, who tantrumed their way to an early nap time, were once again out of bed. Sighing exhausted and defeated, I stirred some honey into a piping hot pool of Tazo Passion tea; today is going to be another day of lesson learning about obedience and discipline – and more for me than for them. So has it been the past week.

Not long (enough) ago I hit a low place in my mothering life. Overwhelmed by anger, frustration, despair, and complete exhaustion, one night I found myself looking horrified at the environment around me – an environment I had created; though more accurately I can see that it was an environment that I had failed to create, and was now reaping the product of careless cultivation. I knew that something needed to change. My children, my sweet, vibrant children, were suffering at the hands of a mother whose selfishness left them with little to glean life from. If they were pushing me to anger and resentment, it was because they were following the path I had put them into motion on. My husband, who has always been patient, loving, and gracious, was living with a wife who met him at the door with exasperation and petulance. I needed to change. I didn’t even realize how badly.

My lack of focus was robbing my life of joy, my children of their mother, my home of its keeper, my husband of his wife.

To change, however, meant to re-wire my brain. It meant to choose to see mothering not as a job to get through, or a temporary distraction from life’s real work, but to recognize it as my life’s central mission – second only to serving Jesus – though I would find that I could not fully do one without fully giving myself to the other simultaneously. I could not say that I was serving Jesus when I neglected the work He had given me to do, nor could I possibly succeed in becoming the kind of mother my daughters needed without laying down my life and finding all of my strength in Jesus.

Aided with the wisdom of mothers who have been-there-done-that, I began to dismantle the building blocks upon which I based my existence as a mother, and wife, and woman in general, and began to rearrange them. The effect has been immediate and life changing and it’s a wonder I survived the other way at all; though that’s truly all it was – survival, not thriving.

I have been transformed. It seems that it is a season of transformation. I never fully appreciated what was meant when I heard it said that the Lord was preparing us and transforming us until recently. I now realize that all the trials and tests, they are pruning for a season. This is that season. (Oh thank you, Jesus!)

I have begun to find my rhythm in the day to day with my children. I have begun to find peace that accompanies the knowledge that we are exactly where we are supposed to be doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.

This mothering; it is holiness.

It is peace, it is grace; it is loveliness.

It is a mother who wakes up before her children so that she can fill her cup from The Father’s, because she knows that His grace is what will be required, and what is best.

It’s a mother who puts down her cell phone to explore the wonders of the back yard – connected only to little hands.

It is a mother who closes her laptop and joins in on rounds of Bah-Bah-Black Sheep and Away in a Manger.

It is a mother who chokes back careless words when a toddler has disobeyed again and chooses, instead, to speak life into these sweet little souls who have been entrusted into her hands.

It is a mother who carefully crafts beauty into her home so that her family will feel alive and loved by the sanctuary she has created for them.

It is a mother who invests in loving those around her, because she knows that practice makes perfect.

It is a mother who sits down at night with a glass of wine and the sweet love of friends in fellowship, because rest and caring for herself is essential to staying the course.

It is purposeful, and it all stems from obedience. Obedience to God over men, obedience to live in His presence and not the world’s, and obedience to humble myself and not only swallow, but discard my pride.

Obedience, obedience, obedience. It’s a word that is cringe inducing. It’s bitter to the taste because it implies sacrifice; sacrificing our will for someone else’s, sacrificing selfishness.

The world’s influence – it creeps. No God loving woman ever sits down and conscientiously decides one day to take the world’s path and forsake her Savior’s, or that Facebook is more important than the heritage of her children –it happens when we’re not vigilant. And it doesn’t happen on accident. There is a constant raging war for our homes and our families – for our souls. It is intentional; meant to break us apart from His will and each other, and take us out once we’re isolated.

In the bible women almost never existed alone. Their mothers or mother in law’s, sisters, aunts, cousins, and nursemaids did life with them constantly. A woman would consider raising a child on her own as a heavy burden to bear, and she knew the innate value of the silver crown her matriarch’s bore. She sat in the shade of her elders soaking up their wisdom while the sun shone on them as they worked side by side – day in and day out.

Now we live in a go-it-alone society where we are encouraged at almost every step to look out for ourselves first and foremost, and our elders are often scorned as being out of touch with the times, instead of looked to as an example. By deceiving us into thinking it is a desired accomplishment to be able to do life alone – without community or by our own strength – the focus shifts inwardly, to sustaining and elevating ourselves, and our energy and efforts follow in step. There is a sort of worldly pride found in being solitary in our own lives. Women more and more are being encouraged to secure their independence, not to be “tied down” by familial “obligations”; to make our own name, and to be self-reliant. Children are more often presented as a chore than a blessing, or something that we must deal with while we wait for them to turn 18 so that we can get back to our lives. We don’t want to think of ourselves as “just moms” (as if anyone could be just a mom!) because that implies we lack identity. Women are being urged not to make children their central focus; “You’ll spoil them” and “You’ll lose yourself!” are admonished.

And this is where the enemy finds his foothold and begins to filter in to plunder our heritage; our blessing. We diminish the vital investment that should be made in our children – the future generations of this world – content to leave it in someone else’s (or worse, their own) hands.

But when we have chosen our worldly rights over God’s blessing, and when we sow of the world, so then do we reap of it. Chaos, defiance, and selfishness abound.

When, however, we choose God’s way – when we accept the mission he has set before us – wholeheartedly, selflessly, intentionally investing ourselves into raising up our children as a heritage to the Lord, we will reap the sweet fruit of a house built on The Rock.

In the season of childhood mothering is consuming. In order to reach our children’s hearts for Him and to help them grow from saplings to strong Redwoods they require constant support, intentional guidance and direction, and it requires all of ourselves. But it is an honor! Mothering is not something done by default, it is a job of the highest calling; more important than scholastic education, more important than any financial gain; we are working for the souls of our children who will one day soon shape the world.

The time of sowing is upon me, and the labor is both heavy and continuous, but with my eyes fixed on an eternal reward it is a work I do with His song in my heart. I take the hands of likeminded mothers and mentors who have run their race, because there is strength found in fellowship and companionship, “and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

So I will endure the days of discipline and obedience, clinging to the hope of His promise for those who seek to train their children up in His ways.

So, fellow moms – take heart. What you’re doing matters, and the way you love and train your kids with your whole heart will have an eternal consequence. Stay the course, and one day your children will rise up and call you blessed, and you will rest in the peace of knowing that He will never leave them or forsake them – and that is the greatest blessing of all.

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.” – Isaiah 54:13-14

Find me on Facebook!