Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year One in the Bluegrass

As I look back on my journal from 2016, I see that there are exactly 2 1/2 entries.  Four kids, including a baby who will certainly never win any sleep awards (if those existed, although some doctors who have crossed my path seem to think that there are!) have not lent themselves to an abundance of journaling time.  Exactly one year ago today, when I was 7 months pregnant with Micah, I drove down with the kids from celebrating the Christmas season at my parents' house north of Cincinnati and pulled into our new driveway at our new house in Frankfort, Kentucky (actually, a man rummaging through all the trash the previous owners of the house left on the curb was blocking the driveway, but after he moved, I pulled into our new driveway with the kids!).  This year has been a blur, filled with sleep-interrupted nights, helping the three older kids adjust to a life away from the only home they remembered in Maryland, encouraging my husband in his new role as senior pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church, and serving in different ministries myself.

Much of my everyday life can feel small to me as I pray and ask God to help me reach refugees and orphans and the unborn and their parents and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people around the world.  However, I know too that this everyday, stay-at-home mom life is important kingdom work that God has entrusted to me.  I hope others are pointed towards the way Jesus never leaves His church when I love and respect my husband and that I am pointing my children towards Jesus in the way I love and discipline and persevere through the power of God's steadfast love-the love the Psalmists talk about time and time again.  The steadfast love that the dictionary defines as 'unchanging, unwavering, unhesitating, unfaltering, unswerving, unyielding, unflinching, and uncompromising.'  That is amazing love.  "But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Psalm 86:15).  God abounds in this type of overflowing, unyielding love and that is the love that has flowed into my heart through faith in Christ's sacrificed blood on the cross of Calvary.  Therein lies the source of contentment and that that is how I persevere and find joy.

As I sit on the edge of this year, I am grateful for God's mercies.  Ricky has been teaching the book of Romans in our Sunday School class and the truths of this study have really struck my heart about God's gifts to me-His mercy, each breath, each of my husband's and children's breaths, how I deserve nothing, but He has given me all things, as the verse on the front of our wedding program states:  "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"  (Romans 8:32).  Obedience to God's call is never small in this world.  It is good and it matters.  God is growing me in embracing this season of my life-to watch Ricky grow as a faithful teacher and preacher of God's Word, to be grateful as my children grow and when sometimes they don't, and to pray for God to allow me to be found faithful.

May God's blessings be yours in the new year!  May you know the depth of His steadfast love;  the love that came to earth and was born in a stable to grow and die on a cross for sinners like me and you.  May you know the hope of Christ's resurrection and how following Him is worth everything.  That is my prayer for all of us.

Highlights of 2016:
-Moving to Kentucky and watching Ricky faithfully teach and preach God's Word as Senior Pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church
-Time with extended family as we now live closer
-The specific ways each of our children have grown:
     Isaac-watching him blossom as a reader and bravely walk into a new school in the middle of the year, even though he was sad and scared.  Seeing him grow as a big brother and loving his baby brother so well.  Learning to think about godly things on his own:  the other day we were watching 'The Jungle Book' and in the movie it was stated that the elephants made the jungle and he said that could not be since God is the Creator.  Loved watching him recognize this on his own!
     Emma-watching her grow into a little girl with beautiful prayers to God, trusting Him, even when she was so very sad to leave her home in Maryland.  Seeing her learn what she is passionate about (ballet and tap) and bravely go on stage to perform.  Sharing tears the night before Kindergarten and being so very grateful for all the moments we shared together before our big girl walked into school with her big brother.  She is also wonderful with her baby brother!
     Josiah-watching him work so hard to have his brain finally start figuring out how to put words together into sentences.  Seeing his heart to serve others grow and to love his baby brother with all of his heart.  Josiah's heart to pray has also grown and so has his persevering spirit.  In his first soccer game in the Fall, the ball hit off his leg and he cried for the rest of the game.  But, all of the following weeks, he was out there playing his heart out!
     Micah-from feeling his kicks to all that sickness to the birth of our beautiful baby boy.  You know when people ask if your baby is easy?  Well, he is not easy, but he is so sweet and generally happy and already has a smile (complete with a dimple) that lights up a room.  His laughter and joy has brought laughter and joy to all of us.  He is already growing up-learning to walk and climb and destroy.  What a kind and unexpected gift God gave us with the birth of our littlest one!
-And many more highlights, including good schools for our kids, growing in trusting God's plan and time and goodness, learning how to help lead the children's ministry at our church, and God sustaining through the hard days, the good days, and all the days in between.

Happy New Year from our Family to Yours!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Thank You to Birth Moms this Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day, I want to take a few moments to say thank you to the birth moms all around the world who chose life for their babies.  Near the end of February, God blessed us with our fourth child, a little boy named Micah.  His birth reminded me even more of how grateful I am to birth moms who endure the challenges of pregnancy and birth to give their child the gift of life.  My pregnancies are mostly miserable-filled with so much sickness that the term ‘morning sickness’ is a serious under-exaggeration of what I endure well past the end of the first trimester.  I know other moms who have persevered through much more serious maladies than I have to make it to that beautiful moment when their child is born.  Some of these moms have gone through this knowing that they were going to make the brave choice of giving life to their child and then placing their child in another’s care. 

Since Micah was born, I have thought of and prayed for Josiah’s birth mother more often.  I will probably never know what her pregnancy was like.  Did she have morning sickness?  Was she exhausted?  Did she also have another little one to take care of while enduring the demands of pregnancy?   I don’t know, but I wish I did.  Was Josiah’s birth an easy one or was she is labor for hours upon hours?  Does her body still bear scars of pregnancy and childbirth?  Did she breastfeed him for the short time he was with her?  Did she name him?  Was his birth father there?  I don’t know, but I wish I did.  What I do know, is that she loved him enough to put him down in a place where we were able to get to him, even though we were 7000 miles away at the time of his birth.  This is what I will always tell Josiah when he asks me about his origins.  I will tell him that God placed him in our family as a precious gift and that his birth mother loved him enough to give him that opportunity. 

Now, Josiah is a proud big brother to Micah.  He loves to hug and hold him and is overjoyed when Micah smiles at him.  I am grateful Josiah’s birth mother has allowed us to have these moments.  Of course, not all moments in a family are this sweet.  Some are sad or difficult or filled with making it through a 3 year old’s frequent struggles for power.  But, they are all worth it and are all part of being a family.

In closing, I want to publicly say ‘thank you’ to Josiah’s birth mom.  Thank you for this beautiful, curious, strong-willed, smart, extremely energetic, and precious little boy.  And thank you to all of the other birth moms out there who chose life for their precious babies.  Thank you for the gift of the children you carried in your wombs.  Thank you for enduring whatever you endured in pregnancy and childbirth to bring these beautiful gifts into the world.  “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).
Proud Big Brother holding his little brother at the hospital!

Brothers Forever!

Our Family of 6 this Mother's Day after Micah's Baby Dedication at church! :)