Monday, October 26, 2009
Delivered at Mothering By Heart, Oct. 26, 2009
My Life Before Christ:
Up until recently, my life has always been very easy, where all my plans succeeded and nothing ever went wrong. This made it easy to solve my small problems by myself.
I was raised in Connecticut by a single mom. My mom accepted Christ when I was 4 and we started going to church. I went to a Christian school for kindergarten. I accepted Christ the same year, when I was 5. I don’t remember much about the experience, except that it happened at church. This didn’t turn me into a perfect child, but I did feel the Holy Spirit constantly tugging on my conscience.
I remember feeling horribly guilty every time I did something I knew was wrong, like talking about someone behind their back or telling a lie. I also remember feeling a distinct sense of injustice when another child was being made fun of and would (usually) do what I could to stand up for them. I know that if God’s Holy Spirit were not part of my life, I would have just shrunk into the background and not said anything. I remember praying a lot. I told all my non-Christian friends that they were sinners who needed to be saved by Jesus (I’m sure their parents loved that!) I really loved going to church and to Sunday School.
But as the years went on through elementary school, middle school, and high school, we went to church less and less until finally we never went at all. Then I transferred from my Christian school that I went to until 4th grade to a public school in a new city in 5th grade.
As time went on, I stopped praying and reading my Bible. I wasn’t surrounded by Christians on a regular basis anymore and I found myself mirroring the world’s attitudes instead of God’s commandments. I wasn’t “bad” per se, I didn’t do drugs, drink or party, and I was considered one of the “good girls” of my high school class. But I was very selfish, moody, disrespectful to my mother, and I just always felt unhappy. I remember only having happy days when everything went exactly the way I wanted it, which obviously was very rare. But I still had a pretty easy and uncomplicated life.
I graduated from public high school, went to college, and met my husband during this time. We courted and were married in record time. It was 6 months from the time we first spoke until we were engaged, and 3 more months until we were married.
Our first year was pretty normal as newlyweds. We lived in Connecticut while I finished up my last year of college. I’m sad to say that God was not the center of our lives or the center of our marriage. We prayed now and then, like if someone was very sick, or if we really wanted something, but not much more beyond that. We never sought God’s will or acknowledged that we needed His help. We went to church sporadically but never found a home church while we lived in Connecticut. We had the minor growing pains that all newlyweds have as they learn to live with a new person and learn each other’s quirks.
I graduated college in May 2005 and the same day we started driving our Camry westward to begin our new life in CA. Our second year of marriage brought my pregnancy with Tommy, who will be 3 later this week. Again, our conceiving a child came and went without a hitch and life was pretty good. Having a newborn was a very easy transition for me and I took to motherhood pretty easily.
When Tommy was only 6 months old, we conceived Ben (on purpose), and just a few months later moved to Morgan Hill from Santa Clara and started attending West Hills Community Church the second weekend we were in town.
How Christ drew me in:
It was when we joined West Hills and I starting attending Mothering by Heart that I heard a speaker talk about the huge responsibility we have as parents, and particularly as moms, to teach our children about Christ and to foster in them a relationship with God:
Deuteronomy 6:6: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
This was the first time I read or heard this passage and it was the first turning point in my life that urged me learn more about God. I felt Him calling me to get to know Him better so that I could teach my children about Him. I knew the first step was to read my Bible, so I began reading through the New Testament, and most of the books I read for the first time in my life.
I started attending Bible study on Wednesday mornings. I read everything I could about how to be a godly mother and wife. Although I read a lot of good advice and learned a lot, it was difficult for me to apply what I learned in every day situations with my kids.
Trials of Having Two Kids:
By this time, Ben was born and now I had 2 children, a 15 month old an a newborn.
I never knew fatigue, frustration, and impatience like I did parenting two children under the age of two. For the first 6 months of Ben’s life, I literally had no free time for myself. This was very difficult for me to deal with. I remember putting one child down for a nap, and then hoping I had enough time for a catnap, would lay down on the couch, only to be woken up 5 minutes later by the other child waking up from his nap.
I was angry all the time, in a bad mood, and my home was definitely not a fun place to be in. I displayed anger and impatience I did not even know I had in me. I was not enjoying my children and I’m sure others noticed my impatience. I was not living according to the Bible which says in:
James 1:19-20: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
I definitely was not being humble or gentle, and I wasn’t bearing with my children in love. By this time Tommy was 2, Ben was 9 months old, and I found out I was pregnant with our third child, a huge surprise, and not a good one. I cried for about an hour when I saw that positive pregnancy test. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with three children, especially ones so young and close together when I could barely deal with the two I had.
Just before this point, Mark and I were pretty sure we didn’t want any more than two children and were even thinking of getting a vasectomy. When we found out we were pregnant, we signed up for a vasectomy right away, which we did this past February. I’m ashamed now to think about how I reacted to what I now realize was God’s blessing of another child and an opportunity to rely on Him for all my needs. Instead of leaning on God for all of our needs, we made sure we couldn’t have any more children.
Trusting in God through my trial:
My pregnancy went along smoothly just like my previous two. We heard the heartbeat and saw ultrasounds at 8 and 12 weeks and everything seemed to be going well. But at 16 weeks we lost that baby. My charmed life was over. This was a problem I could not solve on my own. I could not get through this on my own power. This trial literally brought me to my knees. I clung to God and to His Word like I never did before in my life. I told God that I needed His help and could not live without Him.
We were studying the book of James in Wednesday morning Bible study and my memory verse for the day I began to miscarry was from James 1:2:
“Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I didn’t exactly know what that meant at the time, to consider this trial as ‘pure joy’, but God gave me the grace to do it anyway. He was faithful to fulfill the promise written in James and used this trial to grow me into a more mature Christian. I did not want this experience to go by without learning something from it, so I prayed for God to give me wisdom:
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
One of the things God taught me was to rely on Him for EVERYTHING. Since then, I have been asking Him for wisdom for every little thing. I ask for daily wisdom and patience with my children and He is faithful to give me the strength to stay calm in even the craziest situations. I remember one day in particular when, in the space of about 2 hours, my 18 month old poured water all over the bathroom floor, stomped in dog poo outside and tracked it all over the house, poured juice out in the grocery store, broke a bowl, which he helpfully tried to put in the sink, and stomped blueberries into the carpet. Eight months ago that would have been enough to send me over the edge, but because of God’s grace I was able to laugh about it all and stay calm.
I ask for wisdom and discernment in my discipline. I even ask for wisdom about how to organize my time at home. Ever since I had children, I couldn't seem to find the time to get everything done I needed to get done: make nutritious meals, keep my house clean, spend quality time with my children. When I asked for wisdom about it, instead of trying to figure it out myself, God led me to a way to organize my daily schedule so that I get everything done and still have time to relax.
Before, when I needed wisdom about a childrearing issue, I would do online research or ask moms on parenting boards what they thought I should do. Now I go to God first and ask Him what He would have me do, and He is faithful to guide me to the right path.
God shows me His faithfulness:
Most recently I came to God for wisdom on how to expand our family. I felt He placed the desire on my heart to have more children which is a miracle itself! Since Mark had had a vasectomy and was against having it reversed, I asked God for wisdom about adoption. I researched adoption and learned all I could about it, but the closer I got to making that first step towards it, the more uneasy I felt about that decision. I felt this was God leading me away from this option.
I still felt strongly that God wanted us to have more children, so I began asking Him earnestly to change Mark’s heart so he would want a reversal. I never talked to Mark about it, but only went to God in prayer. After a few weeks, one day out of the blue Mark told me that he wanted a reversal and that he had even done research about it and had chosen a doctor to do the procedure! Mark’s reversal was 2 months ago and now we are waiting on the Lord to bless us with another child.
Gospel message & Conclusion:
I have no doubt that I accepted Christ when I was 5 years old. He changed who I was. But being so young I did not have the maturity or the support I needed to grow as much as I could have. And so two decades later, God gave me a trial that presented a fork in the road as a follower of Christ. I could have chosen to blame God for my tragedy. I chose to trust Him.
We live in a sad world that we cannot control. Christ is the only way to find true peace. Christ can give you peace. But first you need forgiveness and a relationship with God. I realized that I was a sinner who needed to be saved from God’s judgement when I die.
If you don’t know Christ, there is nothing more important than accepting that His death and resurrection have paid the penalty for all your sins. If you would like to talk to someone about your relationship with God, your table leaders would love to help you. Since realizing that I am nothing without God and cannot do anything without His help, my life has such incredible peace. Every day is a happy day. My happiness flows from this peace and grace that God gives me, not from whether everything is going the way I like it.