Hope in the midst of Sorrow- News about our 6th Child

 

I am writing to share some hard and heavy news we received a couple of weeks ago now. It’s taken me a bit to even think about sitting down and writing this. Because my heart is grieving and sometimes it’s hard to get through even the simple daily tasks. 

 

Most of you know we are expecting our 6th child in May. And while it took some processing, “6 kids!!” We were excited. And as I entered the second trimester and started to feel better. That excitement just kept growing. 

 

But just as our excitement was growing, the wind has been knocked out of our sails. 

 

I went in some weeks ago now for my first ultra sound and blood test. And the results were that my little one has Trisomy 18. 

 

I had never heard of Trisomy 18 until now. Trisomy 18 is a genetic mutation, a chromosome abnormality, where a person has 3 chromosome 18s instead of only the two you’re supposed to have. And that slight imbalance, that one extra chromosomeaffects almost everything with the baby’s development. It causes extreme birth defects, including, but not limited to, key organslike the brain, heart and kidneys. 

 

It is very fatal. 

 

95% of babies that are born with this pass away within the 1styear of life. And most babies do not even make it full term, passing away in utero. A lot of babies that are conceived with this chromosome abnormality are often miscarried in the first trimester.

 

We’ve been informed it’s totally random. It’s not something that is hereditary. There is no one to blame. I didn’t eat bad romaine lettuce and Daniel didn’t eat too much raw cookie dough. Its super unlikely to have this happen.

 

It’s like winning the bad lottery. 

 

We hoped that this would be a mistake, a false positive. But when the blood test was compared to the ultrasound findings the diagnosis was confirmed. This past week we went in for a second ultrasound, and the doctor said they could see the cysts forming in the brain of our little baby.

 

Receiving the news that unless God starts knitting differently in my womb we are going to have to say goodbye to this little one has been heartbreaking. This is never a road I anticipated walking. The unknowns and the questions, mixed with the reality of the diagnosis can make the walk overwhelming, scary and debilitating.

 

How do you prepare for a birth and a funeral at the same time?

 

News like this clouds most thoughts through the day. And some moments I’m grieving, and some moments I am filled with God’s peace, and some moments I have no choice but to laugh at my boys and their silliness or funny comments, and then I’m back to crying. 

 

I am grieving, but I am not grieving without hope. 

 

Weather the Lord decides to make this little one whole and healed in heaven or decides to heal this one for life here on earth, I know with certainty that this little one is in the Lords hands. And for that matter so am I and my family. 

 

Processing through this has just highlighted so much to me the brokenness of the world we live in. This is not punishment for Daniel and I or this baby. This is not “fair” or how things are supposed to be. 

 

This happened because you and I live in a world that is broken. Broken by sin.

 

Ever since sin entered the world at the time of the fall with Adam and Eve, the world has had a sin condition which has resulted in separation from God, and things falling apart. God created the world, He said it was good, and then we got involved and corrupted the whole thing with our sin.

 

Sin is trisomy 18. Sin corrupts this world with defects, just as Trisomy 18 is corrupting my beautiful little baby with defects.

 

And so, this world is broken and filled with hurt and I am reeling from the consequences of that right now. 

 

However, as Christmas approaches and we think of this season that is, or should be, filled with joy, I can’t help but be reminded of why we are filled with joy. It’s not the food, or the presents or even spending time with family and friends. All of that is wonderful and joyful. But the real reason we can have joy in this season is because Christ came. 

 

Christ came and walked the hard road to the cross and took our sin, shame and brokenness so that we can have forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ. So that He can restore and make things new. 

 

Christ came to make things right, Christ came to restore our relationship with Him and the Heavenly Father. Christ came to heal our brokenness and hurts, and to make us whole. Christ came so that we don’t have to bear the weight of our burdens and sin. Christ came so that some day we will live with Him, where there is no more death and no more sorrow, no more trisomy 18, and He will wipe away the tears from our eyes. And things will be as they should be. 

 

Christ came and walked the hard road to the cross, so that I can walk this hard road now with hope and His peace. 

 

Because of the gospel I can praise the Lord in my grief. Because of the gospel I can say that God is good. Because of the gospel I have hope and assurance in my sorrow. Because of the gospel I can have peace in the storm. 

 

John 14
 
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

 

We have shared with the kids about the baby and the situation. They are sad. Silas’s response to the news “But Mommy, I wanted to play with this baby!” Me too Silas, me too.  But they are doing well. And looking forward to Christmas. 

 

I will try to be open about this hard journey we are walking right now. I’m not sure how long or short it will be. 

 

When I feel like it and when I don’t feel like it, God is right here with me. 

 

We covet your prayers through this time. And are thankful for all your encouragement.

 

I Need a Nap!

It’s November now. I wrote this in August. Before we were expecting #6! It’s been a while now. Sorry!!! But here it is anyway!

~

It’s a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in August. And to be honest Daniel and I need a break. Maybe not necessarily a date night or a weekend away. But a brake from the schedule, a break from work, a break from the kids. I “need” a break from Elijah.

My little(one year old) Elijah has been sick. He requires so much physical attention. This past week, he needed day and night attention. He is also going through a shy phase, which means he is hardly going to anyone besides his daddy and of course me. While Elijah may be the most taxing, my other four also need plenty of attention.

I want a break.

So this afternoon I said no to the splash park, I said no to catching up on things in the house, I said no to making sure the boys are getting in their daily reading and I ditched the to do list this afternoon.

I am letting both of us(Daniel and I) take a break.

What does that mean??? Daniel is playing on his computer, Judah is on the old computer playing next to Daniel. Asher, Caleb and Silas are watching the Disney channel. And I took Elijah with me. We are sitting in the nursery at church where I have the AC blasting(it’s like 100 degrees outside),and Elijah is playing with “new” toys in a room he can’t escape. As for me, I am sitting with an iced coffee writing this blog post. Right now this is a break. I might even order some cheap Chinese take out for dinner. I need to breath today. And I am refusing to feel guilty about it!

Now when I say I said “no” to those different things. The only person I actually had to say “no” to, was myself. I love to go, go, go and I have a hard time remembering that it’s fine to let certain things “go”. Being a mom in this big family teaches me everyday that things can’t be perfect! Just last week at church the kids were totally squirrelly on me and numerous people encouraged me after the service that, it was just fine, that’s just kids. I train them the best I can but, they are little humans that have little personality’s. Sometimes without them knowing it, they gang up on me and it all falls to chaos! And you know what, it is ok. And I’m thankful to have people that remind me that it’s ok.

But I have an issue with saying “no” to myself and taking a rest.

I was putting Elijah down for a nap the other day. It was a little later than it should have been so he was over tired. He was just wailing and screaming because he didn’t want to take a nap.

He wants to be a part of everything. He doesn’t want to miss a thing! All of his brothers are still awake playing and I’m putting him in baby jail… his crib. I give him a kiss whisper good night and leave him all by himself. I am the worst! At least that’s what his screaming seems to communicate!

But the reality here is, He really needed to take that nap. He was not going to have fun playing with his brothers that tired and cranky. He most definitely did not need to be a part of everything, right then he needed a rest!

As I closed the door part of me felt relief “Yeah! It’s nap time!” Part of me felt a little bad because he was especially mad today.

But that got me thinking, how much I relate to my little guy.

I want to be a part of everything. I want to know what’s going on, and be on top of all the things. I want to make sure all the fun summer things happen with the kids, I want to make sure, they are caught up and ready to go when the school year starts, and I want to make sure I’m catching up on my summer reading or catching up on mundane paperwork. My time seems so limited right now, so I try to be productive with all that I have to spare.

But man the reality is, sometimes I need to be unproductive and restful. I need a nap!

Um what did I just say??? I need to stop the train of thought that taking a rest is unproductive!!! How productive can I be with anything while I’m running on empty?? And I also have an issue with realizing how low my tank is getting.

I don’t really, realize how much I have put off rest until it’s too late. At these times I am not a nice person. I’m like that grumpy baby I couldn’t wait to get a break from!

Usually the rest of the world doesn’t get to see that side of “Karen”. I save that side of me for my sweet unsuspecting family.

And then literally, Daniel will say, “Hey, Babe I can come home after lunch and you can take a nap..” And even then sometimes I argue with him, and he continues to assure me its ok if I don’t get it all done. It’s ok, Go take a rest.

When I’m sitting burdened in my struggle, the struggle not to let any of the “ball’s drop”. God’s word gently reminds me of what His expectation of me is.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God doesn’t mean for me to keep going and going and going. He is not throwing on this big burden of stuff that I have to complete on my own. He’s not telling me that I just need to be stronger. He’s not telling me that if I was better at following Him then I wouldn’t be in this mess.

He’s showing me the gospel here.

God desires for me to rest physically and spiritually in His grace. To come to a greater dependence on Him. He desires to show me His grace in the form of rest and refreshment.

He designed us to need it!

In my need I am pointed to the cross, in my insufficiency I’m pointed to Jesus and what’s already been done. And He reminds me of what is actually important. If I could keep on top of it all, there is a good chance I would forget to bring these things to the cross. I would forget my utter need for being dependent in Christ.

Praise be to God that I can’t do it all! Praise God He keeps me turning to Him! Praise God He keeps me thirsting for the refreshment I will find in His word. Praise God He keeps me longing for prayerful dependence in my chaotic world!

Praise God He shows up there with me in my mess and my unfinished list.

Praise God for the rest in Gods’ grace that He has promised is mine.

When I turn to Jesus and seek rest and dependence in Him, He often surprises me with His literal provision and grace for the things I am worried about letting go of, this may come as a shock… but… my world does not fall apart. However, it does remind me that its not all about my ability, but Christ’s ability. Praise God!

Coast to Coast – Summer with the Stenbergs

It’s half way through summer, and I really can’t believe it. I have spent the past couple weeks catching up on being away from home during the whole month of June.

We had the opportunity to drive back to the West Coast this summer. That drive! I’m still recovering! Nothing reminds me of how big or diverse our country is like driving coast to coast…and then doing it all over again!

It was quite an experience, packing the seven of us, including our dog, into a minivan and driving for over 40 hours one way.

Looking back on our vacation adventures I realized that “It’s not a vacation with the Stenbergs without”:

– A ridiculously long road trip… Seriously Elijah started thinking the car was his baby prison. And Caleb still pipes up at gas stations “I have to use the bathroom!”. Come on man! We just left home 2 minutes ago!!!! You don’t have to use the bathroom at every stop anymore!

– All the energy drinks… Keeps Daniel driving and driving on the road.

– A noise complaint within the first 15 minutes of being in a hotel. I mean really people?! It’s before 8:00pm and my kids have been in a car for 13 hours. At least let us have a chance to get settled before phoning in the noise complaint!

– Being stopped in pretty much every public place by people who would like to talk with me about my family. My kids make me feel a little famous! Haha! Although the reactions range from, “Wow you have such a beautiful family!” To the gal at Walmart eyeing Daniel and kids with distaste and then, after seeing the Bible verse on Daniel’s shirt, commenting: “Well at least you’re going to the right place” … hmm I’m still not sure what to make of that…

– All the snacks… Ones that don’t melt or crumble into all the crevices of the van are best. But at some point, you just stop caring.

– Usually this is where I would mention someone puking…but we made it through the whole vacation this time without any of us getting sick! Woohoo!!

– Starbucks! (Ok, I do miss having a mom and pop coffee stand within 5 min of everywhere. In my opinion they usually have the best coffee for cheaper.) However now that I don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, Starbucks totally hits the spot! And it’s just the best on vacation.

– Silas getting naked at parties… I mean really, using the bathroom while you are playing with friends or cousins is overrated.

– Being creative with eating out.  When you realize your boys are already getting bigger and eating more than you expect. I tried to have stuff for peanut butter and Jelly in the car. But somehow the bread kept getting squished and becoming inedible. So…eating out on a budget it is!

– Being told there is a bear and her cub that live very close to where you are hiking and to not let the kids or dog chase it or try to pet it. Yep… think we will make sure that doesn’t happen, and while we are at it, find a new place to hike!!

– Making use of peeing in a bottle. (Advantage to having only boys.)

– Your kids giving one of your best friends dating advice: “You just need to go on a date with all the single men in Seattle.” (Side note: My boys better not take their own advice!)

– Great Bible teaching! I’m so thankful for all of the people that volunteered to run the kids programs at camp. It really is the best when you can drop off your kids at someplace fun and just sit down and enjoy hearing the message from Gods Word without all the distractions.

– Awesome friends!

– Amazing family!

– All the laughter!!

The kids actually did great, I really can’t complain. Elijah was pretty frustrated at times. Seriously though, he’s one and a half and the whole “being strapped into something where he can’t move” is pretty much the worst form of torture to him right now. So, for that being the case he did really well.

We had a great trip, so good to see family and friends that live so far away, but after a month on the road, it was so nice to get back home to Jersey. Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed after being gone for weeks!

Our journeys, being separated from loved ones and thinking of all those who mean so much to us and are spread out all over this country I am reminded of Philippians 1:3-6.

Philippians 1:3-6

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul often starts his letters off thanking God and praying for the people and church he is writing to.

There is longing in his tone about his desire to see them again. And an excitement about how God is at work in their lives.

When our family travels to visit family and friends, I am reminded of how Paul feels as he starts off these letters.

There is such a thankfulness for them, a joy in their friendship. They have partnership in the gospel, and a longing to see each other again.

When we are together with friends we haven’t seen for a long time, or meeting family after a year of time passing. There are some great things that happen. We start sharing about how things are going, and how God has been at work. We hear about how God is at work in our friends and families lives and in their church’s. We joyfully reminisce about God’s faithfulness.

When I start sharing the stories of what God has been up to in my life, my family, and my church family, I am reminded and encouraged again, as I recall God’s faithfulness in those life events that have happened since I last talked to that person.

It leads me to think we should be recounting the faithfulness and blessings of our Lord more often than we do.

We also share about the struggles and hard things in our lives. When we are being real and honest about our hardships, praying over each other naturally follows. There is so much encouragement in praying over each other in our struggles.

All of this pushes me to praise God! He is at work. He is worthy of praise in the blessings. He is worthy of praise in the struggle.

I love, love, love having the family of God extend out so far. To be encouraged and to encourage as we travel the length and breadth of this country.

I love hearing about what God is up to all over the place.

Having all these conversations also reminds me to get excited and share about what God is up to with the people that I get to see all the time. It can be so easy to get distracted and not share what you are excited about or encouraged by to the people around you. But man, it is so important to cheer on and share with the people that you are living life with in the everyday struggle.

It was so sweet to get home. To pull in and smell the air and think: “It smells like Jersey. It smells like home.” I continue to be filled with hope and anticipation at what God is up to here.

God has filled my life with so many amazing people wherever we go.

What a blessing that month of travel was to me and my family. But what a greater blessing we have in what God is doing in our country, from sea to sea.

Let us be encouraged and let us encourage. Let us remember each other, take joy in the memory, and pray.

God is at work!

Chafing Against my Role

Motherhood! Oh! Motherhood. It is a glamorous calling isn’t it?

Said no woman ever….

At least in this current setting and culture.

Motherhood is messy, frustrating and often thankless. However, you can actually broaden this quite a bit. I think it’s safe to say many stages in life are messy, frustrating and often thankless. There are many times we find ourselves in the trenches, chafing against our calling or just the status quo of our current situation.

There was a time I felt like my sole purpose in life was to take care of my babies and support my husband in his ministry.

And if I’m being honest, it was a struggle. It was also a struggle I didn’t see coming.

In my younger years I would often look forward to the days when I would have my own baby’s and an amazing husband. When I would stay home and read books, take the kids to play dates and the zoo, make dinner and sit down around the table with the family.

I still love all of these things. But they were often serene pictures in my head. Seen through unknowing rose-colored glasses. Absent of the crying, discipline, inconsistency, exhaustion and yogurt melts fused to my hair.

When the time came that I had all of it, I was surprised to find out how different it felt with a front row seat.

(I talked a bit about it in my last blog post in particular with the struggle of little ones.) You are Not Alone.

Sometimes I would take stock at the end of the day and think about what I had been able to be accomplish. There were days I would get so much done! And at the end of those I would feel pretty good about myself! Then there are the days when we didn’t get out of our pajamas, and I ordered take out for dinner because I didn’t want to deal with the massive pile of dishes in the sink. And, at the end of those days, I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t “get it together”.

In doing this I started associating my work accomplishments, with my self-worth.

This method of estimating value is…..  A DISASTER!

Confession… I still struggle in this department…. I have to bring this one over and over again to the Lord.

Also, let’s just take a minute and talk about this whole ‘stay at home mom’ thing. What was once considered the ideal: supporting your husband by staying at home and taking care of the children, is no longer loved by society.

It’s all over the television, music, and the internet how, as a woman, I should have goals and dreams and all the people in my life, especially my husband, should support these dreams and goals at all costs.

Career is highly valued. And, hey, having a career is great, and should be valued. But am I ‘settling’ because I don’t have a career? Does it mean that I am worth less because I don’t currently bring home a paycheck? Or does it mean that I am worth less because I don’t have a career that is valued high in society? Or maybe just one that “I” don’t value?

Does it mean that my husband loves me less because my dreams or passions are on hold while he follows his calling?

My husband has often been involved in more “glamorous” callings than I have. When we met and were married he was in a band for 8 years. He was the “front man” in the band. (OK, so his work life was not glamorous.) But the whole band thing was pretty cool. Watching him play all the shows was fun. Their band had a bit of a following for some years, and eventually they were really good. Then we started having kids (that’s a longer story than I feel like getting into right now) and shortly after kids he went into ministry full time, and then to school full time. And now he is Pastoring full time. He gets the chance to preach the gospel into people’s lives from the pulpit every Sunday. Really, it’s an everyday type of thing, but Sundays are a big deal.

Honestly, I’m so proud of Him and all that God does through Him. He will be the first to tell you, it’s not about him, it’s never about Him. It’s all about Jesus and what he is doing through him in ministry. And using it to glorify God.

But God has called him into some roles throughout our marriage that sometimes take a lot of time and energy. Which means at times I have needed to put more time and energy into the kids or work. And there are times I have struggled with this…because it makes my life harder. (God loves to inconvenience me… haha!)

Not only does it make my life harder, but if I look at it from a worldly perspective (which I never do…right? Hah!) …his role is more exciting than mine.

Come on God? Can’t I glorify in a more glamorous way? I feel like you put me in the back seat! …. And there’s kids back here!?!

As I wrestle through evaluating my self-worth and my general purpose in life, God grabs hold of me and gently leads me back to the truth.

My confidence in myself, and my self-worth, can’t come from my accomplishments or big dreams, or a title. My self-worth can only come from who I am in Christ.

In truth, it’s really not about me at all. It’s about bringing Glory to God.

My role currently is just as important as my husbands. And I’m enabling Him to follow God’s call on his life. Really God’s call on our lives. We are very much in this together.

Daniel and I can both pursue passions and callings that God has put on our hearts, but we need to do them together, centered on Christ. Supporting one another and enabling one another.  Always talking through what is working and what isn’t. Making a point to be sensitive to the other person, and at times that means putting something on the back burner, for a season.

I want to be cheering each other on and not jockeying for position.

If I start looking for my worth in a more “glamorous” calling you can bet that is when I will start jockeying for my position and pushing my agenda through.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to support Daniel in this way.  He could not do the ministry that God has called him to if I didn’t. I’m thankful for the opportunity to raise all these awesome little men with an amazing husband. They are the biggest blessing and I am so grateful that I can teach them about the hope, security, love and grace found in our Lord and Savior. He is our shelter, He is their shelter, in this broken world. What is more important than that?

And later in life, if I have a more “glamorous” calling it can’t be about me. It must start in the humble submission to Christ, and glorifying God, it always must be about bringing glory to God.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Goals 2018???

Here we are. The beginning of January. I feel like I have a bit of a Christmas hangover. Not in the traditional sense of the word hangover. But the week between Christmas and New years, I usually designate to do nothing but “party” with my family. We play with the new toys(AKA put together legos.) Play games, eat cookies, go to movies, read books and just spend time together not worrying about the to do list. This year I made a Turkey dinner for Christmas eve so we could eat left overs for a few days and when I did cook, it was light easy meals.

I love that week, it’s one of my favorites of the whole year. But now I’m in recovery mode. There is lots to do as I catch up from the month of December. It’s a bit overwhelming.

Often the week between Christmas and New Years also brings about a time of reflection. And then expectation as we go into the new year. We set goals and resolutions for the upcoming year.

As I reflected on this past year, I can’t help but feel thankful and undeserving of all the blessing the Lord has placed in my life. There is also a part of me that feels sad, missing the close relationships and some of the fun activities I used to do with the boys in Fergus. Although, side note: I heard that the bakery there is closing. So sad! I used to take the boys there all the time.

As I sat down with my coffee in hand and my planner in my lap I started to think about my expectations and goals for this new year. And let me tell you, this is an issue for me! My expectations often exceed the reality!

Here are some things that I thought of for goals for myself for 2018.

First of all, my messy house drives me crazy, My messy house. If I go to someone else’s it doesn’t bother me. But when I am living in my families mess I can go a little nuts. One goal would be prioritizing cleaning up after myself, and teaching the boys likewise. Haha!

Here’s a video of my house for fun. This is often my normal! 🙂

Secondly I had a beautiful baby this year. My adorable Elijah. But as many of you know he came via c-section and, well, I had a baby. So my core is super weak. I never did anything to strengthen it this time. The biggest problem with my weak core, is my back. My back is hurting more with all the daily lifting of toddlers and sometimes waking up in the morning my back is already hurting. Strengthening my core, wold be another goal.

Thirdly, (this I mentioned a little bit in my video.) I need to potty train Silas. Its time. I will leave it at that.

Ok and let me just throw in a few more things I would love to start on this year.

Piano for Judah and Asher

Learn to cook some more meals.

Continue to find ways to get to know my neighbors and get into the community

Explore the area more, there is so much to do here!

Read more

Be more consistent with my blog, and continue to grow in my writing skill

Run again

Train the best dog 😉

And continue to make new friends

 

You can see how quickly my expectations get out of hand!!! I’m ridiculous.

So I Prayed about it. I thought about all of these things. All of them being good things.

And you know which ones God put on my heart to strive for in 2018?

 

NONE OF THEM!

 

“Seriously, I came up with a lot of good options God!”

But no, as I prayed and read Gods word over that week between Christmas and New Years I had a resounding thought over and over.

Prayer, make Prayer the foundation.

Sadly too, often when I’m striving to get all of “the things” done, I let those things trump prayer.

Prayer can seem unproductive and pointless because, it doesn’t make sense in our human minds. God is not here in the flesh for us to talk to, and often results are not what we expect or in our timing. Satan wants to undermine the importance of prayer in our hearts and minds. He wants us to keep thinking its pointless.

But prayer is the opposite of that. It’s our direct line to the maker of the universe. Who holds all things in His hands. He is capable of accomplishing so much more that we can imagine. We are so simple and small, and yet He cares for us and longs to hear us pray. In the big and the small.

God has put prayer on my heart so strongly as I look into the new year. When I think of my kids, my marriage, my church, my community, my writing. I want to start with prayer. To let that be the undercurrent of all my goals. To set right my priority’s and to forge a way where maybe there wasn’t one. To bring  Prayer and God’s word should be the guiding light as I walk through my life.

Prayer and the truth of the bible is exactly where God wants us to start as we live out our days.

It’s simple and yet so hard. But as I look at being immersed in ministry and the community here. I know it’s exactly what I need.

Prayer is powerful! How great is our God!

 

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Psalm 5:1-3

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You are Not Alone

A few days ago, I started paging through one of my journals from a few years back. This was a period in my life when all my kids were little. I know, I still have little ones now. But this specifically was a time when I had only babies and toddlers.

I was lonely.

I was reminded of how overwhelmed I felt with all my babies. At this specific time, I had 3 children 3 and under.

Looking through those pages brought back a flood of memories. And not the highlight real kind. These pages brought me back to the real hard parts.

I was reading through pages where my tears spilled out into words.

I’ll share with you a few of them.

The time when I stopped by Right Aid to pick up a pregnancy test that would be telling me I was pregnant with Caleb. Here I already have two “babies” in my cart and I’m buying a pregnancy test. The stare the checker gave me made me want to crawl into a hole.

All the times I would load the 3 up in the van and go grocery shopping. The physical exertion of going grocery shopping…. I can’t even…  I’m not even going to try to put it into words… I would make sure baby was fed, put them all in their snow suits, load them and strap them in their car seats. Then I would go to Superstore where I could put the two older ones sitting in the front of the cart and then they had an extra basket area (above the regular basket), that I set Caleb in, in his infant seat. After our cart was loaded and the grocery’s where bought. I remember so vividly pushing the cart through the snow to the van. Buckling the kids back up, loading the grocery’s, and driving home. Pulling in to the garage, and not wanting to get out of the car. I would just sit and soak in the break before starting the unloading process.

There were times I wanted to leave the house so badly. But knowing the work it would take to leave and come back. Asking myself the needed questions “Am I in a good mental place? Do I have enough energy to do this?”

This was a time when our kids were 3, 2 and a baby months old. In fact, Judah was 2 for a month after Caleb was born, so there was a brief period of time we had three 2 and under. No twins. Often, I felt anxious when people would ask me how old my kids were. I never knew if the response I would get would be positive or negative. I was so tired from my own struggle, I was afraid of having a negative response from someone else. Could I handle it? Would it be too much, heaped on top of the negative thoughts already going on in my own head that day?

During this time, we lived away from family. There were no Grandparents to drop the kids off at when it all got too much. When I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, when I just wanted to crawl into bed and come out next week. It was on me, and yes, Daniel as well. There were some people that I could have probably asked for help from. But I felt insecure in this, I didn’t want to burden others. After all, “we put ourselves in this position, now we get to deal with it” right? “You know how this works, you could have prevented it”, because life doesn’t have any nuance…

To sum up, I felt alone, I felt unimportant, I felt tired, and I felt like a weirdo.

Now it wasn’t that I felt like this all the time. But on some of the pages on some of those days I felt it all.

I still refer to this time as “When I was overwhelmed with babies.” It is beautiful and messy.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy. I’m writing because I know I’m not the only one who has felt overwhelmed with babies, or baby…or life.

I’m not the only one who has felt alone and far from help when sanity is slipping.

 I’m not the only one who has struggled with #momguilt because I’m not enjoying all the moments.

 I’m not the only one who has felt trapped in their house.

 I’m not the only one who hides in their “insert here”(bedroom, closet, bathroom, pantry…)

 If you can identify with any of this, let me tell you!

 You are not alone

 Especially this time of year. Christmas. I love it. But it exposes hard things. Finances, as we buy gifts. Weariness as more things get added to the plate. Missing people at our celebrations, either because we live far away now, or because they are just gone. Long dark days. And let’s not forget, snow to push shopping carts through. (Although this is not something I am currently dealing with. Praise Jesus!)

I don’t want to be ashamed to write about the hard moments because they expose my weaknesses.

Even recently, in amongst my pretty Instagram moments with my beautiful babies and fun adventures, there are some very real hard moments. They look different now. I can’t capture them in a snapshot. But they are there none the less. I’m still human, so are my kids, and so is my husband, I’m reminded daily we are not home yet.

And let me tell you the best news of all here. In my weakness, Jesus is there.

All these hard times, they can either push me to anger, frustration, and the vicious cycle of guilt. Or they can push me to look at the cross. They can push me into Jesus.

God’s Word is living and active, it is still relevant to our situations today. Go there and dig in. See what He has for you there. And if you don’t know where to start, ask. Ask someone, ask someone in your church, ask your pastor, ask me.

Pray. God longs to hear your heart. He knows. You can lay yourself bear. He can take it. Let Him be a friend in the loneliness and hard places. Pray for situations. I know sometimes it can feel pointless. But believe me it’s not. I like to write things down that I’m praying for. That way I can look back and be reminded of so many answered prayers. It’s not always the case for everything, but it surprises me sometimes how many things I have prayed for that have been resolved over time. And gives me a chance to remember, thank and praise.

Go to church. Be a part of the Christian Family. Sometimes during all the extra Christmas services, it can seem like too much. But often its’ just what I need. My blood family is 3000 miles away, but my church family is right here. And I need to be intentional with making time to be a part of it. Some of these hard things I dealt with when my kids were so little could have been alleviated if I had reached out to my church family and let them know I needed some help.

This Christmas season let us draw close to the Savior. When we struggle with hurt, sadness, anger, and you name it. May it be a reminder to pray. To get into God’s word and to draw close to Him. To be reminded that His grace is enough to cover us, in every single aspect of our life. That His word is relevant today, it is relevant to us, it is relevant to me. To let Jesus shine bright in our weak places.

This morning I went to see what God had for me in His word. I was feeling burdened and lacking in places. Here’s what I read.

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“I will give you rest.” With Me you will find understanding, pardon, peace. In my presence, you may lay bare your heart. What has been shattered, I will repair. I will unravel the knots. I will relieve your burdens. What is painful I will help you forget. Here, in my arms you will find rest. Just come to Me!

~From Fredrik Wisloff, Rest a While, The last paragraph.

What If?

Over the past months I have often drifted back in thought to the day Elijah was born and the events that surrounded his birth.

(Daniel wrote a blog post talking about those events Here.)

I have played the “what if?” game. What if we had both died? What would that have meant for the family left behind?

The week leading up to his birth J-Term was going on. J-Term is a week where they bring in special speakers to the seminary and many of the Lutheran Brethren pastors, as well as some lay people and of course the students from the school attend, and receive further training. I was able to attend this past one because my mother and father-in-law were staying with us and my mother-in-law was able to watch the kids.

It was really nice to go and sit and just listen and soak up the training and speakers. Mostly it was wonderful to not have a child hanging on me begging for more gummies while I try and listen to the sermon. Ha!

At J-Term I had so many people come up to me and tell me that they would be praying for me and my baby and the delivery. In fact, so many people came up to me to tell me they were praying, I said “Daniel I’m starting to get worried that something is wrong or going to go wrong! Everyone is praying for me!” Then I proceeded to laugh my worry off and go about my day.

But God was at work long before Elijah’s delivery day.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant I had a dream. And in my dream, I knew that something bad was going to happen to Silas so I was doing everything in my power to protect him. He still fell and got a nasty cut on his head. But I was relieved, I thought to myself. Ok that was it! I saved it from being worse. But then I realized that event was an illusion and what was actually happening was Silas was in the bathtub by himself and it was filling up with water. And I watched as if from a distance helpless to do anything about it. Then I saw Daniel go in pick him up out of the bath and “save him”.  When I thought on the dream the next day I knew God was just telling me to entrust my children to Him. He knows all, He loves them more than I possibly can and He is in control, not me.

Flash forward to Elijah’s birth. As I was bleeding and they were prepping me for surgery I knew something was very wrong. Before I knew it, I was on oxygen and they were running, literally running at points to the operating room. Panic was overtaking me. But there was nothing within my power that I could do about my situation. As I felt the blood leaving my body and the panic overtaking, it wasn’t an audible voice but it felt audible in my head. “Do not fear, I am with you.” And then there was an overwhelming peace that descended on me. Whether I lived or died I had nothing to fear. God has me. I am His child.

God reached down His hand of intervention and saved Elijah and I that day. There was nothing I could do to save me, or him.

Pondering these events this afternoon brought me to think about our state as human beings. We think we have it under control. We have the illusion that we can save ourselves. There are so many religions that say you can earn your spot in heaven. Or that the path to peace is through ourselves or that we simply just need to be good. As long as we are a decent human being we are in the clear. We think that our view of the world dictates how the world actually is. We think we got it. I have it under control.

But the fact is, we don’t have it under control and our view of who we are doesn’t change reality. The illusion is just that: an illusion, a mirage in the distance that never comes.

The reality is, I am a helpless human being that has no ability to save myself. I am bleeding out in my sin, and there is nothing I can do about it. I can try to staunch the blood, but that is not fixing my inner problem. I’m still dying.

But God in His ever-loving mercy reached down His hand of grace and divinely saved me. Jesus came and did what I could not do. He did only what He can do. He lived a perfect life, and then He died on that cross, He shed his blood on my behalf, He covered me in is grace so that God the Father no longer sees my black heart, but sees His Son. He healed my inner problem. It is finished.

Now I still deal with sin. I won’t be perfected until God actually does call me home.

But I am right before the Father. There is no longer sin that separates us. Because of my faith in Jesus I am now a child of God.

I can’t explain the inner spiritual workings of how God makes this all possible. Just like I can’t explain the inner workings God did to physically save me and my son. Elijah was the most physically healthy baby that I have ever delivered. The doctor pronounced him a 10 and said, “I can’t find anything wrong with this baby.”

God has made me whole and complete in Jesus.

But Jesus didn’t just die for me, He died for all of humanity. And He longs for all to come to Him.

God brought glory to Himself that day. God showed His mercy and love to us. Just like He showed the world when He sent His son.

I will just share one last thing.

A few days before Elijah was born we finally settled on his name.

Elijah – Meaning: My God is YAHWEH

God brings Glory to Himself throughout all of it.

Praise be to God.

John 3:16-17

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

In the Quiet

Having quiet time with Jesus.

I used to think “once I have kids and I am a stay at home mom I will have time. Then it will be easy….”

Then I had kids. Wow. Was I wrong! hahahahahah!!!

Oh kids. I mean, I am at home often, but the schedule… Ummm….. did I say schedule? Wait what is that again?? Wait… what was I just saying?… hold on I need to take care of the spilled milk and the screaming baby and the toddler eating the cereal off the floor.

Yep, quiet time with Jesus got even harder! How am I supposed to spend time with the Lord when everything changes and everybody needs me and “I’ll get to it later” turns into, well the day is over… I need to go to bed so I will have the energy to do this all over again.

Every day I’m bombarded with how important my children are. And don’t I know it! They mean the world to me. But between social media and well-intentioned comments, I start believing that I need to make every moment count. They’re only young once after all. Besides, they all need to grow up to be astronauts and if they aren’t it’s because I didn’t spend an hour with them each individually every day nurturing confidence and expelling fears, or they weren’t in every sport, or I looked at my phone one too many times during the day.

I can reach near panic mode when I feel like I’m missing the boat here or there with things I haven’t been living up to for my children.

Often, I felt that I needed to fill all of the moments in the day with meaningful experiences, and always put my kids first. Because after all, they will grow up and this time is precious. And when they are gone I will miss these years. All of this is the truth.

So, when they ask if I will read to them I say yes, I take them to the library, to the park, to play dates, to the bakery, we make cookies, we finger paint, I teach them their numbers and ABC’s, and chores. And then somewhere in there I need to find time to keep up the house, exercise, do my job and love my Husband.

But all these things, while they are well intentioned and good. And not at all bad on their own, pushed God to a lower rank in my life.

Sometimes they push my husband to a lower rank.

Putting my kids first was never on the forefront of my mind. It happens in all well-intentioned ways. It just creeps in and takes over without my knowledge.

It is very prevalent in our society today. We feel so much pressure to be everything to our kids. And being a mom can become my sole, or main, identity without my really even realizing it.

Even though all of the things I was doing, with and for my kids, are good on their own, they are not good when they come at the cost of not having time for my marriage.

And they become especially not good when they come at the cost of not having time for the Lord.

They are not good, when they become my idol.

Those first months in Fergus when Daniel started seminary were hard. The summer started out hard. (You can read about that in this blog post) And then there were other circumstances that made it really hard, and I wondered if things would work out, are we going to be able to make it here. We have no jobs, and 4 little kids.

Nothing like hardship to remind you how much you need Jesus.

At this point in time I knew I needed to spend some quality time in prayer and in the Word. But I was having trouble because I didn’t know when to spend time with the Lord. I didn’t know when or how I was going to pour out my heart to Him like I needed to and be fed by the Word. I tried getting up early in the mornings. I hear wonderful things about the dark quiet before your kids get up, you can get a bit of time before the crazy of the day starts. So, one morning I tried it. I set my alarm for the wee hours of the morning. When that puppy went off I was so tired (I also had a newborn at this point: Silas). But I did it! I actually succeeded in getting up early! My plan was working!!

And then you can guess what happened… My kids must have got the memo…It’s like their internal clocks were set to my body motion. They got up with me… yeah….

Then I tried again the next morning…. Yep… same thing….

So, the next morning after everyone was fed, changed and Daniel had left for school. I decided to try a new tactic.

I said “Boys, I need to spend some time with the Lord. You are going down stairs and play until this timer goes off. And I don’t want you to come up unless it’s a dire emergency!” They looked at me with their surprised little faces. “Ok, Mom.” Then they headed down stairs. Two minutes later, “Mom! Mom!” Me “Nope, timer isn’t done.” A few minutes later. “MOM!”  Me “Did you hear the timer? Go back downstairs.” This happened a few more times. And then they finally started playing. And I got my time with the Lord.

I started doing this somewhat regularly, maybe not every day, but often. And it became part of our routine for that time in my life. It was a wonderful time, where I wasn’t incredibly distracted and I could actually pray and read in some “quiet”. It breathed new life into my relationship with the Lord. It reminded me that He is my friend and my Father. That He is close to me and I am the one who wanders far.

It also reminded me that He comes first.

Taking time away from my kids, and spending that time with the Lord, told my children that He comes first and not them. It is not ignoring my children. It is modeling truth for them.

That alone time is something that I forget is so important to live out and be an example in. I want them to put God first in their lives. What we put first trickles down into the rest of our lives. When God is first they will have the courage to say “no” when they need to, to stand up for someone when its important, to put others before themselves, to shine in the dark places. Not every time. Not all the time. As humans, my children will struggle in this as well. But giving them a firm foundation will help them to recover from their mistakes, from their shame. As the Word trains their hearts and minds the understanding, reasoning, courage and forgiveness of the Lord will grow inside them.

I want them to know that God’s Word will feed their soul. I want them to know that prayer is a life line, and God really does meet you there. I want them to know that you need to plug into church, the body of Christ, even though you may be bored there, or feel disconnected, or even when they hurt you. I want them to know that the church is for them, that it is their community.

I want them to know that the most important thing is not ourselves, but glorifying God.

If God is first the other things will fall into place.

If I teach them to put themselves first, I am setting them up for failure. I am teaching them that they matter more than anything else or maybe even anyone else.

I am a firm believer that God should come first, then your husband/marriage and then the kids.

Ultimately when I am filled up from spending time with the Lord, it gives me what I need to pour out to the other incredibly important things in my life. My husband, and my children.

And when I’m putting my husband and my marriage first, when we are a team, we are able to love and pour into our children so much more. We have more fun, more patience, and ultimately more love all around.

Now it’s a few years since this time, and each year it has looked a little different, with boys starting school, work and schedule changes here and there. Believe me it’s always a work in progress. I don’t do it perfect, I slide back and still wrestle with my sin in this area. But I know that the Lord needs to come first. And being aware of that has made all the difference.

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God

These Tired & Weary Bones

 

I am Tired with a capital “T”. For the past few weeks I feel like I am walking around like a zombie. It’s been hard to get moving, hard to be patient, hard to be creative, and hard to keep on top of anything.

There are a few reasons for this. One of the big ones would be the puppy. I know it’s crazy, I knew it would be crazy when we got her. It’s not the first time I’ve been to this rodeo. But I figure the reward will outweigh the crazy of the first few months… I’m hoping!! And just let me digress a little here. She really is a good puppy, she is catching onto training fairly quickly, and already walking on a leash nicely. The boys (in particularly Silas) love her. Silas just plays and plays with her, usually there is a lot of giggles and squeals while they are playing.
That warms this mama’s heart. But she is a puppy and there is a lot of work, so much training to do and keeping an eye on what she is up to all the time. Thank goodness for crates!!

Another reason is Elijah, he has been teething. This has caused him to be up two sometimes three times at night. Which in turn is making my nights feel like a series of short naps. Leaving me feeling like an empty shell of myself in the mornings. I can sometimes grab a nap here and there during the week, but not many and they are not long enough. Having the other little boys running around complicates the whole, ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ advice. Haha!

I have been feeling very encouraged with all the moving paperwork finally behind me. The vehicles are licensed, our health care is pretty much figured out, and we have our New Jersey divers licenses. The list has been long but I think it’s finally coming to an end. Now I’m settling into our new normal. Which to my dismay doesn’t happen overnight! Ha! I’m realizing it will just take some time for me to adjust to new patterns in life. And this whole not sleeping thing… well I think it’s safe to assume it will not speed up the process.

I have been wrestling through what it means when I read through scripture, and it talks about how ‘the Lord will renew our strength’, ‘He will lift us on eagles wings’, ‘He is our refuge’, and ‘cast your cares on the Lord’. (Verses listed in the bottom.) There are so many encouraging verses for us in God’s word. My go to book for encouragement is the Psalms.

But what about those times when I don’t feel like it? What about those times when He feels far? How does this help me here right now in my tired weary state?

One of the things that happens to me when I’m running on empty, is everything seems harder than it actually is and I feel more emotional about things than I usually do. Which in turn makes it harder to be the mom I want to be, the wife I want to be, and in general the woman I want to be. I try in vain to stay on top of everything and it’s just not enough. I’m not enough

This morning after I got everyone fed and the boys off to school, I grabbed my coffee, I brought my breakfast into the living room and sat. The sun was streaming through the windows and I forgot about my checklist and the laundry. I opened up my bible, to focus on the truths that the Lord has for me. And then I prayed. (Caleb and Silas were having so much fun down stairs that I was able to pray and be in the Word for most of the morning.)

And during that time something awesome happened. I felt spiritually refreshed and renewed.

You see the Psalms help me know that I have permission to complain. God already knows my feelings, my struggles. It’s no surprise to Him. My struggles may seem trivial in the light of what many others are going through. It may seem silly to complain about the sleepless nights, and whiny children, when I have friends going through cancer. And yet God cares about me, He wants me to give Him my burdens no matter how serious or trivial. To believe that I shouldn’t share these things with God because others have it so much worse than I, is just buying into Satan’s lies, that I don’t need to go to God over this, I can handle it on my own.

Then I read God’s word. The truth. And I just let the truth of who God is wash over me. He is God, He is Faithfull, He is in control, He is all knowing, He is sovereign, He is my Rock, a Fortress around me, He is compassionate, He is my Savior, He is my Father.

Sometimes the voice in my head is so loud, it drowns out what I know to be true. And then I go to the word and it washes over me and breathes life into these tired weary bones. Because I can rest in God’s grace. The grace that extends when I’m not being a nice mom, or a nice wife, or forgetting important tasks. The grace that is always waiting for me when I come to the cross in repentance, or when I’m weary.

Even though I may feel battered and bruised. Barely hanging onto my sanity, or walking around like a zombie. I still have the truth of who God is, who my Father is. I like to go to the psalms and read and pray through them. I can pour out my heart to the Lord, the good, the frustrations, the things that need repentance and my petitions.

Coming before my Heavenly Father may not be able to give me a full night’s rest, train my puppy or a visit with my family on the other side of the coast. My situation may not have changed. But my focus has. And when I have set my focus on Christ. It’s much easier to remember that this is a season, and I can rely on my God’s strength and power, not my own.

I just need to take it one day at a time, and set my eyes on Jesus.

And someday I will sleep again!!

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who [a]wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will [b]mount up with [c]wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

 

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

 

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

 

 

A New Chapter

 

Here I am sitting at a blank computer screen, watching the line blink, waiting for me to write.

I have been a little scared to jump back into it again. Between my last post and now, so much life has happened. My brain toggles between wondering if I have too much to say or do I have anything to say? Where do I start?

So forgive me as I clear the cobwebs and sweep away the dust, and try to breath some life back into my writing.

Just three months ago we packed up all our belongings. We had many heart felt and tear stained goodbyes. We loaded up our van with our survival supplies for our road trip, and what we would need for the summer. And then we waved good bye to our sweet, little, quiet town, Fergus Falls.

The end of a chapter.

I spent the next two months in my home town, Olympia, where I grew up, where I spent many hours at church, where I learned to ride my horse, where I learned to love the rain and the mountains, where I fell in love with my husband. It’s the place I know the best. I know what to expect there and how to interact with the culture. It’s where some of our best friends and our family live. And summer… ahh summer. It’s my favorite time to be there.

Going there this summer gave me a good amount of time to spend with my family, to let the kids get loved on by their grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles. To let them run around with cousins. To just soak it all in.

But it’s not home anymore. I still love it there, and love the people. But it’s not home. It wasn’t a place I could settle. It was a time of transition. A time to wrestle, renew and find peace in the Lord and His calling.

Daniel finally returned from Alaska from being gone forever…. Ok maybe not forever… But 5 weeks felt like forever! And we again loaded up all of the things… And we said a few more hard goodbyes.

Then we had a chance to take our time and road trip to the other coast. Where we pulled into the fast paced, intense, busy world that is northern New Jersey.

The start of a new chapter.

The day we pulled into town and unloaded our belongings into our cute little house, there was a huge wave of relief that hit me. “We are here, I can settle, this is our new home”

It really has been a huge relief to finally be here. We have been anticipating it for quite a while. And now I can exhale.

One of the things I have definitely been feeling is: overwhelmed. Everything is new, different and finds me out of my comfort zone quite a bit. Switching all of the paperwork, learning the roads, learning how people drive on the road (praying that I chose the correct lane to get onto the correct highway), understanding this different culture around me.

Finding my new normal.

It is truly an adventure. When I think of the adventure, or at least the word ‘adventure’, I often just associate it with fun, and forget that it’s a journey. And while it is fun, the truth is an adventure churns up a lot of different emotions.

I have been really humbled to know God has called us to minister to the people here. To be a part of Christ’s mission here. Part of what is uncomfortable is knowing that on my own I can’t do it. I feel my inadequacy, my insecurity, and my ignorance. I have asked numerous times “Why me Lord? How can you use me? There has got to be someone better suited, someone who is more outgoing, who is more talented.” And the Lord reminds me who I am focusing on when I ask Him those questions, and I am reminded of where I’m putting my faith, versus where I should put my faith.

What I’m really doing when I ask, ‘why me?’ is putting my faith in myself, and that’s when I doubt and become anxious.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I haven’t had many moments of doubt and struggle. That when I looked up at the mountain of what needed to get done I wanted to turn around, throw in the towel, that when I looked at how many miles I needed to go I wanted to crawl back into my bed. (Side note: And let me tell you, when you haven’t slept in your own bed for over two months, it’s like a dream crawling back into your bed for the first time.) I once told Daniel “I am not moving, I do not want to have to find another doctor for the kids! I like this one.” He laughed at me… I laughed at me.

A picture that has been brought to my mind over and over these past few months, is a little girl that is holding her father’s hand as he walks with her and leads her. She is carefree, trusting and happy to be with her father.

I need to be that little girl.

She takes her heavenly fathers hand and lets Him lead. I have a perfect, good heavenly Father that I can trust with everything. I may be imperfect and inadequate, but my Father is not. And while I may be powerless, my Father is not. He has called us here, and all the ministry and growth that we pray comes, will be because of Christ. I can let the weight of my self-reliance fall off my shoulders and I place my hand in Christ’s. I can take steps forward, knowing that His plan will succeed regardless of my shortcomings.

So, here’s to my new chapter in life! Here’s to new experiences and growth! It will probably take me the year before I can put away the Garmin and stop being stressed at the intensity of the grocery shoppers at Trader Joes and Costco! But I’ll get there.

I just have to mention a few things I’m loving (in no particular order), the bagel place right up the street on Washington, it’s delicious. I’m loving the parks, Van Suan was so much fun with the kids. I’m loving that the library is right across the street. I’m loving that NYC is so close. I’m loving the diverse culture. And the last thing I’ll list but certainly not least, is the people, our church. They have been such a blessing to us already and we are so excited to partner with them in ministry.

God is good. All the time. Even in this new chapter.

Especially in this new chapter.

 

Psalm 25:4-7

Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

For You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,

For they have been [a]from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

According to Your lovingkindness remember me,

For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.