Calvary was not Convenient, not Comfortable

Are you ready for real, vulnerable, ugliness of my heart? Well, it’s coming, and not because I’m just thrilled to show you my nitty, gritty sin. God has been talking to me a lot about convenience and comfort. Is love comfortable? Is love always convenient? The answer is pretty simple. So why do I get so frustrated when I am inconvenienced by the little people living in my home? The short answer is, sin.

In Philippians chapter two, Paul reminds us how we are to love: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (v. 3 & 4, ESV). Paul can confidently give us this instruction because it is how Christ loves us. As Christians, we are to imitate Him, especially in the way He loves. Being frustrated by the needs of these children due to inconvenience or discomfort is certainly not putting their needs above my own. It’s certainly not loving them like Christ.

My biological children are 8 and 13, and they are both boys. The foster children we have are 2 and 3, and they are both girls. My boys are rather independent. My girls are very dependent. I know my boys very well, I have cared for them since birth. I don’t know my girls very well, because I have only cared for them four weeks. My boys love me and are attached in a healthy way, because I am their mother. My girls like me sometimes and are not at all attached, because I am not their mother; in fact, I may seem like their enemy who keeps them away from their mother on any given day. I cannot expect to parent these girls the same way I parent my boys, nor can I expect these girls to behave in the same manner I expect from my boys. All of this makes life a little difficult, not very convenient, and sometimes uncomfortable.

I wonder if Christ was inconvenienced when the Father asked Him to surrender to His death? I wonder if Jesus was comfortable receiving the beating I deserved, or suffocating to death on the cross because of my sin? I wonder, even in Christ’s inconvenience and discomfort, did He get frustrated with me? Did He ever look upon me with anything in His eyes besides love? These questions are rhetorical and I doubt I have to answer them for you. Heavy, weighty, real – yes?

That escalated rather quickly, huh? We went from getting frustrated in the day-to-day tasks of parenting traumatized children to Christ suffering and dying for our sin. That is how we should view EVERYTHING. Through the lens of the cross, all things change. That fresh perspective will shift every minute of my day-to-day from selfishness to selflessness. Why? Because Christ owed me nothing, but gave me everything. These girls have had everything stripped from them, have nothing to offer, but deserve no less.

The picture above depicts grace. That Tech Deck ramp she is playing with was purchased for my 13 year old when he was approximately her age. When he opened that package for the first time, no one could have predicted that some ten years later a sweet blonde haired beauty, with nothing to call her own, would be enjoying the toy so very much. That’s grace. It’s not convenient to open our home and double the number children we have overnight. It’s not comfortable being mean-mugged by a traumatized 3 year old who misses her mommy. It’s not convenient to dig through years of toys, that belong to boys, trying to find something these new children would like to play with. It’s not comfortable trying to coax a 2 year old into the bathroom for a bath given by a stranger. But in those first 24hrs, God’s grace was evident beyond everything else. I didn’t feel the discomfort and inconvenience, just grief and suffering.

One month in, we are all getting a little more comfortable and establishing routines and expectations, and this is where it gets tricky. I feel as though they have always been here, but they still long for home. Things don’t always go as planned and that’s when feelings explode. As the parent, my job is to remain cool and calm – ideally. When discomfort and inconvenience rear their ugly heads, I am immediately frustrated. The reason is selfishness. I forget their needs, let alone put them first, and am blinded only by the inconvenience and discomfort. It always comes out as frustration.

But God, He is showing me the way. Through the lens of Calvary, that dramatic and necessary act of selflessness, I gain new perspective. If I continue to place the cross before me, I will look upon every circumstance in a new way. If I start each day meditating on the truth of scripture, I will set myself up for success. If I fix my eyes on Jesus, my girls will see him too.

How goes it with you? Will you let me know I’m not alone? I know I’m not; that’s why I can confidently share with you what God was so sweet to point out. Paul would not have spent so much time preaching about selfless love, and imitating Christ, if I was the only one who needed the message. I pray this blesses you in some way, as this is my only goal: obey Christ so He is glorified. His grace is sufficient, saints. Lay it down at the foot of the cross.

Only God Changes People

This is a picture of a foot. My foot, to be exact. And that hand belongs to my husband. This is a picture of far more than a foot and a hand – it’s a picture of redemption.

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I were engaged to be married and I knew I would never get a foot massage from my soon to be husband. He had made it very clear he hated feet, even my feet, because all feet are nasty. Lucky for him, that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, so we got married anyway.

It’s no secret to most who know us that we have been through our (more than) fair share of infidelity and marital issues in this short 10 years of wedded bliss. In fact, one might say we have been through more than most in this last decade of loving each other. It also isn’t a shocker that my husband and I neither one knew Jesus for the majority of our lives, let alone when we entered into holy matrimony.

Over the last 5 years we have grown much and suffered through much heartache. We were headed to divorce on two separate occasions and we’re only still married by the grace of God alone. In fact, my husband may still be alive by the grace of God alone, and I do not say that in jest. The last bought of infidelity happened just two short years ago.

The details of our trials do not need shared on this platform, just know that my husband’s choices led to us being physically separated for a period of 4 months where we didn’t share a home, or a bed. During that separation we started over, after lots of prayer and many talks; numerous tears and countless “I’m sorry”s; lots of sleepless nights and one BIG “I forgive you”, followed by many little repeats. By the grace of God alone, we started reconciliation by dating, slowly. Eventually we renewed our vows and he moved back home. What does all of this have to do with his hand on my nasty foot?

I do not say this lightly – I could not see past divorcing my husband. I love Jesus, and He loves me. I prayed and prayed and prayed for Him to let me divorce my husband. I mean truly, how much more was I expected to take? There were five years of lies; five years of catching him and forgiving him; five years of heartache; five years of sorrow, and joy. Jesus wasn’t a doormat, and He certainly has not called me to be one. Even scripture justifies my decision to divorce this man who clearly CANNOT be faithful. Right?

Remember I said Jesus loves me, yes? Well I prayed and prayed and you know what I heard? “Stay with him.” Seriously? My response was not quite as eloquent as I would have liked it to be: “Well then YOU have to do something here.” As bratty as I was, He still “did something.” We prayerfully decided to separate, as stated above, and something happened to my husband during our time apart. I will save the details for another time, but the short story is, he learned to appreciate the fact that I was NOT a doormat. He saw that I was capable of carrying on without him, and he was reminded that God was all I needed. In that reminder, he was also reminded that God was all he needed, too. With me out of the way, he was able to seek God fully and completely, because God was all he had.

Fast forward to two nights ago – I was reclining in my chair with my feet up on the ottoman after a long day of raising my children, someone else’s children, and being a wife, friend, mentor, and minister of grace. I was mindlessly scrolling on my phone, and my husband was sitting on the ottoman playing PS4 with our oldest, as it is their favorite pastime. Next thing I know, his hand is grasping my foot in the most loving way I could imagine and I was reminded of a conversation we had while separated.

Jeremy had come over one night after we started dating and we were watching TV on the couch. He was at one end, I was at the other with my feet in his lap. He started rubbing my feet and I was shocked. I asked him why he was doing that and his response was something like this: I have been apart from you for so long that I will touch any part of you right now. I can’t believe I took for granted every opportunity I had to rub your feet and I feel awful I have never done it before now. You deserve for your feet to be rubbed and I would give anything to rub them for you every night.

That all sounds like a man trying to say the right things to get what he wants, yes? I promise he wasn’t, and he didn’t. These were the words of a man God had changed. From that point on, my husband has never been the same. It would be easy for me to get on here and say that our lives are perfect, and all is well, and we have the best marriage ever, but I won’t. We are real people, with real problems, only two years removed from a very traumatic experience. We are far from perfect. We are, however, very different. Both of us. And God is the only one who changes people.

In our time apart, God taught my husband so many things. One main lesson that Jesus tends to hammer home for anyone who is willing to listen, is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” Luke 10:27, ESV. Through Jeremy’s surrender to God, God showed him how to love others well, starting with me. This man dies to himself for me on a daily basis, after first dying to himself for God. I firmly believe God would have driven this lesson home at some point, regardless of our separation, but I believe God blessed our obedience and used this separation to really minister to Jeremy and change some major areas in his heart, and mine too.

God alone changes people: not time, or pain, or happiness, or money, or provision. God alone changes people. Can God use things to change people? Circumstances, situations, etc? He sure can. But the Holy Spirit Himself is the agent of change – lasting, eternal, forever change. That is the kind of change we want; the kind of change we need. When God comes in and wrecks our lives for His glory, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN. He changes our capacity to love others, our willingness to love others, and our ability to love others. His power in us accomplishes MUCH!

I don’t wish these trials on anyone – but I do pray the God of the Universe, who loves you more than you can ever imagine, would get you to a place of surrender. I pray He wrecks your life in a good way that makes you turn to Him, rely on Him, and rejoice in Him. I am not saying God makes bad things happen, so please don’t email me about that. I do believe though, the God of scripture is sovereign over ALL THINGS and because of that, NOTHING happens outside of His control. And because of that, NOTHING that happens is wasted. And because of that, we can trust Him and His provision in our lives, ALWAYS.

 

There ain’t no sense in cryin’ over spilled milk, but what about cussin’?

Anger is the most immature emotion we humans possess, and it is by far the most frequently displayed. A 3yr old can’t have a snack when she wants, and she throws herself on the ground screaming. A 3rd grader can’t play video games before his homework is done, and growls while stomping to his room. A teenage boy is told he has limited screen time on school nights, and sulks on the couch before storming outside. These three children chose the emotion of anger to communicate their displeasure with the occurrences of the evening. These three children reacted as children their age generally would when given such news.

This morning, while I was sitting in the chair waiting for it to be time to take my middle son to school, the lovely 3yr old mentioned above spilled her entire bowl of fruit rounds (the Aldi version of Fruit Loops) onto the kitchen floor. While I was using what seemed like an entire roll of paper towels to clean up her mess, her 2yr old sister spilled what was left of her milk onto her high chair tray. Well, why not? Her sister and I were having so much fun, she didn’t want to be left out. As I am trying to maintain my cool, the 3yr old screams “I have to go potty,” and my husband is nowhere to be found. Milk soaked paper towels in hand, I say “well then go potty,” and in the same breath scream at the middle son “where is your father?”

At that point, my anger was on display, full force. I threw the soggy towels on the table, told the little sister to keep her hands out of the milk, and stomped quite angrily to the bathroom. I stood there very impatiently waiting for sister number one to finish on the potty so I could help her with the hygiene process, all the while steaming mad because my kid’s father is still like a fart in the wind and apparently at this point in the story, he has ceased to be my husband. Sister number one and I make our way back out to the kitchen to find sister number two playing carefree in her cereal milk, and my middle son waiting patiently to be taken to school.

Out of nowhere, like a very late knight in shining armor, my husband comes up the stairs mumbling something about being out of stamps. Oh, the poor man had no clue what he was walking into, and surely within 30 seconds he wished he would have stayed downstairs. I am quite literally slamming things around at this point, and slinging sugary sweet cereal milk all over the kitchen. I get sister number two down out of her high chair and wiped off. I have just enough time to get the two girls strapped into their car seats, soggy jammies and all, so as not have middle son leaving late for school. Before walking out the door, that poor man uttered the words many a husband have later regretted saying, “what’s wrong, honey?”

The death glare he received should have sent him running to his office, but he instead waited for my response. “I have had no idea where you were for the last 30 minutes (quite the exaggeration), and I have been up here dealing with dingle dufus spilling all her cereal and milk, and then she (pointing at sister number two) had to follow after and spill the remainder of her milk. She is soaked, this one is soaked, I used all these paper towels, it got all over the floor, and now I’m running late. When I get home I have to mop the *bleepin* floor because of all this sticky mess, and I really could have used your help.” The man I am married to is a saint I tell ya, because he grabbed some towels and started helping, even after I just completely railed him for something he had no part in! I was so nasty.

Remember how I said anger is the most immature emotion we possess? There was no reason for that amount of anger. None. I was throwing a 3yr old temper tantrum, stomping like the 8yr old, and then I sulked like the teenager. Throw in some truly adult cussing and my anger RULED me. But was I really angry at all? Honestly, the answer is likely a no. The root of all this anger on display was inconvenience. My morning did not go how I had subconsciously planned, and because my very unreal expectations were not met, I was reminded that I am not in control. The loss of control, for me specifically, is something that will almost instantly provoke me to anger. And truly, it is very silly.

Foster care has taught me a ton, and one of the biggest lessons is that I have absolutely no control over my life on even the best of days. This is something I KNOW. Like, not just a little, but a lot. I KNOW this is true, because God has continued to hammer the point home, time and time again. He is in control, I am not, and that is a pretty alright place to be. So why, when my morning goes completely awry, do I revert to acting like a child? Because I was not mature enough, in the moment, to tap out the root of what was truly going on in my heart. Instead of quieting myself and focusing on the truth, I reverted to ol’ faithful, ANGER. Anger is always expressed through immaturity. Unless it’s righteous anger and, nope, that’s VERY rare.

Did I cry over spilled milk? No. But was my choice any more helpful? For sure, no. In fact, the best response to that spilled milk would have been laughter. Laughter at the irony; chuckling at God for reminding me, yet again, I can control nothing but myself (sometimes); snorting at the fact that little sister thinks mimicking big sister is always the best choice. Truly, the best reaction would have been thankfulness for the little girls in my home who are here to spill milk and sanctify my heart. Hours later, in fact even minutes later, these realizations are staring me square in the face, and repentance is on my lips.

I mopped the floor when I got home. I hugged my husband when I saw him next. I pondered the lives of these two little sweets and realized my tantrum this morning was nowhere near the worst they had seen from trusted adults in their lives, and my heart broke further. Repentance. Spilled milk can aid in sanctification.

Do I celebrate my sin? Absolutely not. I grieve, repent, accept forgiveness, and leave it at the foot of the cross. Why do I share all of this? Because God loves my broken self, and you too. Foster care brings out all the ugly in my heart, but God uses that ugly to grow me. I am being transformed. It’s what He does best. Maybe the next bowl of spilled cereal will incite laughter, no tears or cussin’ at all.

Would you just hold my hand?

Does God ever use the words you say to teach some of the most deep, and profound biblical lessons? Just me? I doubt that very much. This lesson came to me from a far deeper well of wisdom than my own while walking through the parking lot of McDonald’s.

We were running late for church, again, and I forgot to feed my family. The answer, of course, was to rush around and get church ready to head to the golden arches on the way. We pull into the parking lot and my 8yr old unbuckles himself, then unbuckles the 3yr old, and they both come barreling out of the van. I grab the hand of the youngest and she pulls away. As I hit the button to close the door (yes, my van is fancy), I squat down and get eye level with that 3yr old fireball: “when I offer you my hand, I need you to grab it, because I am trying to keep you safe.” —–> Insert head exploding emoji here

adult affection baby casual
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A little background that will make this lesson a bit more relevant: these precious 3yr old and 2yr old sisters just came to us last Friday. They have been a part of our family for exactly nine days. NINE. Eight at the time of this incident.

In what felt like 10 minutes, but was actually more like 2 seconds, God scolded and taught me all at the same time. “Daughter, would you listen to your own words? When I offer you my hand, I am trying to keep you safe, and you often refuse the gesture.” ——–> head exploding emoji, again.

I have been held safe by God for all 34 years of my life. Seven years ago however, God grabbed a hold of me and nothing has been the same since. I have learned to trust Him to protect me through the many fires we have walked. I have learned to believe in His stability when everything around me was crashing down. I have learned to rest in His arms that offer to hold me through the suffering. He has proven Himself faithful to me, over and over again, and I have no reason at all to ever doubt Him. Yet, when He offers his steadfast hand for me to grab hold, there are times I still ignore the gesture. Years ago, my natural inclination was to discard His hand completely, and run across the parking lot, not looking left or right, darting full force toward whatever danger lingered on the other side. That immaturity of before has dissolved and made way for pride to take up residence and now, my refusal of God’s protection is simply because I think I know better. Whatever the reason, when the God of the Universe, infinite in wisdom and power, offers me His hand, I best take that hand!

Remember that sweet 3yr old girl? She had known me for eight days. Eight days prior to this incident in the McDonald’s parking lot, she was sitting in her own house, with her own siblings, in her own clothes, with her own toys, near her own bed, with her own food, and looking her own mother in the eyes. Last night after we pulled into the parking lot of that restaurant, all she could see was those golden arches and they could have triggered a myriad of emotions, one of which was no doubt joy. My offer to hold her hand while crossing the parking lot was nothing more than a hindrance keeping her from what she wanted so desperately. She did not see my gesture as a tool to keep her safe; nor did she see me as a person who was there for her, with her best interests in mind. I was darn near invisible in that moment and that was just fine.

Does she need to know that crossing a parking lot without an adult is unsafe and that she should look both ways before walking where cars could be driving? Of course she does. Did I do anything wrong in that parking lot by trying to hold her hand, and then explaining why she needed to hold my hand, all before we could enter the restaurant? Of course not. Do I understand why, after only EIGHT days, she doesn’t trust me fully? Surely. Do I understand why, after only EIGHT days, she doesn’t automatically know that when I offer my hand, she should take it? I do now.

When God offers me His had, I have absolutely no good reason to refuse the offer. When I offer my hand to a broken child whose trust in adults has been shattered, I should expect her to refuse that offer. God reaches down to love the unlovable, not when they are neat, clean, put-together, and ready to accept all He has to offer, but when they are broken, tattered, hurt, and struggling to take the next step. A good foster parent does the same.

Broken and Damaged – Inadequate


Infertility. It’s a word that can often be thrown around in a manner less than sensitive. It’s a word that can be taboo or derogatory. It’s a word that is also almost always misunderstood and understated. Infertility is more than a condition in which a woman is unable to conceive a child without the help of medical intervention. A woman who is infertile can feel as though she is less than her fertile equals, or even less than she was created to be.

It is no secret that my husband and I have struggled to get pregnant the entire time we have been together. I got pregnant at the age of 19, and it was seemingly simple (2004). I wasn’t married, straight out of high school, so it certainly wasn’t the ideal time to have a child. I chose to continue the pregnancy and have my baby, even if I had to do it alone, and that I did. That child is now a healthy, 13-year-old boy whom we all love and adore. When that boy was three, my husband and I got married and immediately started trying to pregnant.

It happened once before so surely, I could get pregnant again. After all, that is what married women do – they have babies. After a miscarriage, a year into “trying”, I found out I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). My doctor told me that this causes my body to ovulate infrequently, or ceases ovulation all together, and that it would be extremely difficult for me to conceive and carry to term on my own. A short while later I started chlomid, a drug used to force ovulation and within three months, we were pregnant again (2010). My body was able to carry this pregnancy to term and today we have a healthy seven-year-old boy.

Two boys, six years apart, I was 27 at the time, most would be happy with that. I, however, felt a whole in my family and found myself daydreaming of having a daughter to love. My husband and I were both on board and because it took so long to conceive our second son, we started trying again right away. I was not interested in starting fertility meds again and resolved to allow God to determine the size of our family. If He wanted us to have another child, He would certainly make it happen.

In December of 2013, I took my monthly pregnancy test and this time, it came back positive. After so many months of negative tests, I received a positive test. This was after friends of ours had prayed and said God was going to give us our daughter! We were so excited, but our daughter, much like my second pregnancy, would not survive. We miscarried in February of 2014 and yet again, we were completely devastated. A failed adoption, due to miscarriage, in 2016 proved to be just as difficult and it was then that I decided I was done.

For more than 10 years I have hated my body. The label of infertility is not just some syndrome or disease. Telling an infertile mother to be glad she has kids already is far from helpful. Comments like “there are so many children out there that need a loving home like yours, just adopt” pierce right through the heart of a woman who struggles to get pregnant. The reason is not because she wants a child so badly, it goes far beyond wanting to be a mother. An infertile woman feels inadequate, broken, damaged, and less than.
Women are told from the time they are little girls that one day they will grow up and be a mommy. One day they will get married and have children, if they want to of course. Some women never choose to have children, and that is certainly alright. Other women choose to have the average 2.5 kids and call it quits. Some women choose to grow their family through the blessing of adoption before even trying to conceive the “old fashioned way”. But some women, they strive, and they try their darnedest to have a child and they fail. Over and over and over again they fail. Month after month they fail. Cycle after cycle they fail. They fail and fail and fail some more. It doesn’t take long for that woman to feel like a failure. To feel as though her body isn’t right, surely God made a mistake when He made her. It’s not a huge leap for that to turn into her telling herself she isn’t good enough for husband, and surely he can go find another woman whose body isn’t broken and damaged. Surely he can find a woman whose womb is healthy and waiting to bear a child for him. And because her self-worth is in the toilet, she will begin to think he is going to do just that.

See, a woman who cannot conceive on her own experiences grief every single month. Every time her cycle comes it is a glaring sign that she is, yet again, not pregnant. Every box of tampons is an alarming reminder that her body cannot do what every other woman’s body can do. Every negative pregnancy test is a shot to her identity as a woman, mother, and wife. Infertility is far more than just the desire to be a mom. Infertility is punch to the gut that says, “you are broken and damaged and not worth a dime.”

But God…He says that the infertile woman is worthy and lovely, just the way she is. God says that she has value and purpose in the role(s) he has put her in, whether she can physically conceive, carry, and deliver a child or not. God determines her worth, not societal pressures and norms. God, the author of life, has control over all and in that, this infertile woman can trust.
If we had carried our sweet Rosalie to term and delivered her, many things would be different today. One thing that would be vastly different is that we would not be licensed foster parents in the state of Ohio. I spent a long time angry with God because I knew He could overcome my infertility and give me the daughter I so desperately longed for. I was angry because He made this frail body broken and damaged. What kind of God does that? What kind of God makes those kinds of mistakes? But they were not mistakes at all, and in true God-fashion, He knew exactly what He was doing.

We have been fostering for the last 17 months. We started this journey into foster care with the desire to grow our family larger and love on some kids. We continue this journey knowing that every child who comes through our home will be used by God to move us and grow us closer to Him. We love to see children reconciled to their biological families and we love to be just a small part of that process. We love to sit on the sidelines and see God restore the broken pieces of these little lives. And we love/hate fighting in the trenches against the very real darkness that encompasses the foster care system.

There are still days where I struggle big time with the brokenness of my body. At this point, if it’s not going to do what it is meant to do, I would love to be rid of my reproductive system. But saddled up right next to those lies is the truth of God that says, “I made you perfectly because I don’t make mistakes.” That is the truth I must remind myself, especially on those hard days when I just feel like a failure. If you know someone who struggles with infertility, will you please be sensitive to her needs, and when she is ready, will you please remind her of this truth? Part of it is truly about having children, but the bigger struggle with infertility is about not feeling whole, good enough, or adequate.

Be blessed.

The baby I lost, but never had

how-quickly-will-i-get-pregnant-after-miscarriage

It’s no secret that Jeremy and I have struggled with fertility issues for years. I spontaneously got pregnant at 19, while unwed, in an awfully unpredictable relationship with little hope of a future, working part-time at a grocery store, and completely unprepared. Nine months later my perfect first-born arrived: Jason Michael Miller, 10.31.2004, 1am, 6lbs6oz, 19.5in long. The situation was far from ideal, and he was certainly not planned by me, but he was perfect.

When Jason was three months old, my now husband and I went on a date and never looked back. On February 8th, 2005 I entered into a relationship with the man I will spend the rest of my years with. By May of that year we had purchased a ring and by July we were engaged. We would stay engaged for 3 years – marrying on February 9th, 2008. We did not stay “pure” but never got pregnant before getting married. We both wanted nothing more than to be parents together and have a large family. After trying for what seemed like forever, we ended up pregnant but miscarried before my first doctor’s appointment: Baby Peanut, 3.15.2009. That was loss number ONE.

At my first ultrasound, when we found out there was no baby, the doc told me I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which was causing my body to ovulate infrequently or not at all. This syndrome is common in overweight women, and can also be caused by different forms of birth control (yeah, no one tells you that your pill – or IUD – can actually cause long-term side effects meaning you may actually never be able to get pregnant on your own. They get paid far too much to push these drugs to inform you of the negative aspects…). We kept trying for a few more months, to no avail, then decided to give the fertility med Clomid (hormonally forces ovulation) a try, at the advice of my doctor. My third month on Clomid led to Parker being conceived and nine months later we had a 2nd son: Parker Manning Kidd, 07.30.2010, 10pm, 7lbs10oz, 19in long. As soon as Parker was born I looked Jeremy in the eye and said “I want more”. We both have always wanted a lot of kids but the hell I went through to conceive Parker, I thought, was surely enough to deter our wishes for more children. I was wrong.

Jeremy and I never stopped trying to conceive another child. We have not prevented pregnancy since our wedding day 8 years ago and have gone through many months of charting and timing, actively TRYING to conceive. In December of 2013, I took a pregnancy test (like I had every month prior for the previous 3 years) and it was positive. After so many negative tests, you can imagine my hesitation at believing this little pink pee stick. I took another, and another, and they were all positive. We wasted NO TIME telling all of our friends and family for they all knew how long we had been waiting, and praying, for this very miracle. See just a couple of months prior to this positive test, many friends had prayed for us and some, not even knowing our current struggle, prayed that God would give us a baby. Lo and behold, He did! We were elated.

Due to my past experience with infertility and miscarriage, this pregnancy was treated high risk from the beginning. I had bleeding from about 5 weeks on and we had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks. Our baby girl was high and doing great with a heartbeat in the 150s. She was an answered prayer if there ever was one. The bleeding, however, continued and got worse. We had another ultrasound at 9 weeks because of the bleeding and it was then that the ultrasound tech, with a ghost white face, had to tell us that our baby was still there, but she had no heartbeat. We were completely devastated, again. God had promised us this daughter and then He took her away! Why would He do that? Why would a loving, caring, thoughtful Father do such a horrible thing?! We had so many questions, so much  anger, and did not know what to do with any of it.

After weeks of being angry and yelling to God, He showed me my baby girl. Miss Rosalie Mae was in heaven. She was a baby and she was being held by her great-grandmother. Gran had passed the previous March and she had always wanted us to have a little girl (she had one son, two grandsons, and three great-grandsons). We were unable to fulfill her wish before she passed on to be with Jesus, and God was showing me that He provided for Gran, His daughter. She was radiantly beaming with joy while holding little Rosalie. Call it stupid, religious, idiotic, clinging to false hope, whatever you want to call it – I know what I know to be true and God answered her prayer through our hurt and suffering. Rosalie touched our lives, touched our hearts, and increased our faith tenfold: Rosalie Mae Kidd, 2.9.2014, gone from this world before ever taking her first breath. That was loss number TWO.

Two and a half years have passed since losing Rosalie and it still stings. We loved her so much, and can’t wait for our reunion in Heaven with all our precious children. We have never stopped trying to conceive because we believe the promise that God spoke over us to give us a living, breathing daughter this side of heaven. In April of this year we decided to give Clomid another try. The first month I was convinced I was pregnant, but I was not. Month number two I was hoping I was pregnant but then we got asked a very unusual question: will you adopt my baby girl, I’m due in December?

What?! Could this be what God has planned for our future? Adoption – we had always wanted to do it but thought it way too far out of our reach financially. But this, this is a private adoption which costs significantly less than an agency adoption, or international. Was God providing an answer to our years-long prayer? We prayed and prayed and prayed some more and ultimately decided that yes, we would love to adopt this little girl and provide for her in any way possible. We have so much love to give!

From day one we were praying for the health of this little girl. Her mama suffers from many ailments that can affect this little girl and we were praying for mama to stay healthy, for baby to stay healthy, and for all to be well. Every single day we went to the Father on their behalf asking for protection and provision. We formed a relationship with birth mama and got very close, very quickly. It was nice to be able to “see” my daughter growing in her mama’s belly but it was so hard not having any control over anything. I found myself praying, on several occasions, “God, why couldn’t you have just made me pregnant? It would have been so much easier.” Though easy is often what I want, it’s rarely what is best. Can I get an Amen? God reminded me over and over that He had chosen this path for us and that, if we trust Him, we will be fine. I felt as though He was protecting the baby so much and providing so much for mama – surely it was all going to work out perfectly.

July 3, 2016, there was no heartbeat. At 15 weeks gestation our baby’s heart stopped beating and she was gone, it was happening again: Gloria Mae Kidd, 7.3.2016, gone too soon but loved so much. This was loss number THREE. The difference here is that little miss Gloria was never really mine to lose. With the others, I carried them. I talked to them. I longingly rubbed my belly and bonded with them before they left me. But with her, I didn’t get any of that. I am left with a dryer full of baby girl clothes that will never be worn and an online baby registry full of stuff that will never be purchased or used. I have plans and dreams for a baby I never even got to meet. You know what’s not different this time? The pain. The sense of loss and the hurt associated with this death is absolutely NO DIFFERENT than the other two times. If anything, it may be a touch worse.

Miscarriage is hard and there are not enough people who even acknowledge it as a legitimate loss. As a matter of fact, research has shown that the loss of baby in utero, regardless of gestational age, has the same psychological effect on the mother as any other loss would (i.e. a family member, or child, or spouse). I have written an academic paper on the subject if you would like to read the research.

I am not publishing this to say “Please pity me and my broken heart” but rather to bring awareness to a struggle that is VERY NEAR to my broken heart. Miscarriage is REAL and it really hurts. If you know someone struggling with this very thing, love on them. Hug them if they’ll let you, and just be there for them. I am still mourning the loss of our daughter from 2 years ago, so there is absolutely no time limit. I never thought I could love a child so much and never even have a chance to meet her. Rosalie and Peanut were in me, that makes sense. Gloria never touched me, and I never touched her, but she was just as mine as the others. The feelings of love were and are the same. The sense of loss is the same. The hole in my heart is the same. And just like the others, God will show me His sovereign hand in all this. He will comfort and sustain me, like He always does. But for now, I just need to mourn.

 

One Leg Hanging Out of the Blanket

Sitting on my couch, crocheting an OSU earwarmer, and listening to Big Daddy Weave radio on Pandora: God gives me my next blog entry. I wasn’t seeking Him, or really even dwelling on thoughts of Him, and He invaded my mind and planted this there for me to share with you to bring glory to His name, and His name alone. That’s my King, and yours too. The lover of my soul.

So the song I was listening to during this invasion was this:

One line in the song says something like “Your grace covers me”. When I heard that lyric I got a picture of being covered, nice and cozy, with a great big blanket or comforter. It feels so lovely and warm under there, I’m protected and I feel secure. But then, as the night goes on, I get a tad warm and kick one leg out from under the blanket to cool off. There’s a real comfortable balance between the warm and chilled, and I feel good.

Imagine God’s grace is that big fluffy blanket. He tucks me in, warm and snug, letting no cold air from the outside touch me and taint me. His grace covers me completely and I’m protected, safe, secure. As my walk with God progresses, He searches my heart and pulls up the dark and the ugly. He wants to heal those areas of my life so I can be whole in Him: protected, safe, and secure.

But see, I want to hide from the ugly and ignore the bad. I want to embrace the warm fuzzies and forget the bad ever existed. So I kick my leg out from under the blanket when the hard work gets too hot to handle. In my mind, I cope by ignoring the leg, acting as if the leg is no longer a part of my body. I think the leg is too ugly to be covered by the grace of my Almighty God. I kick it out as far away from the warm, fuzzy goodness as I can in hopes that God, the Creator of the Universe, the Knower of all, will somehow forget it ever existed. If I forget, and He forgets, then it’s gone and never really happened anyway. Right?

But God… He wants to COVER ME completely with His grace. His grace says that “Yes, it happened. Yes, it was bad. But I love you so much that I am going to turn that bad into good for the good of you AND those around you, so that eventually, the bad will be used to bring others into relationship with me.” His grace says “There is nothing too ugly, broken, bad, or just plain yuck that would make me kick you out from under this blanket.” His grace says “There is nothing you’ve done to deserve this grace, it is simply my GREAT and HUGE love for you that makes me want to cover you in this way.”

Does all of this mean that I am always going to be comfortable under the blanket of God’s grace? No. Sometimes it is warm, fuzzy, and comfortable. But other times it’s just plain HOT! I want to kick the whole blanket off and run back to where I came from. But after the hot, after the hard, after the work, I’m grown to a deeper understanding of the blanket itself, God’s undeserved grace that never ends, and in that I’m able to speak His love louder than ever. The heat is good. Real good, regardless of how hot it feels.

Moral of the story? Don’t try to kick your leg (or arm, or head) out from under the blanket. God’s grace covers you whether you’re under the blanket or not. But ignoring the leg will only lead to frustration and a much longer healing process. Get it back under the blanket that God gave His Son for you to have, so He can do the work He wants to do in you. He wants you whole, because His love for you is so enormous. The One who hung every star in the sky is enamored with YOU. Let Him be.

This stuff hurts

Sacrifice.

What is a sacrifice? Here’s the Webster’s definition:

1:  an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially :  the killing of a victim on an altar
2:  something offered in sacrifice
3a :  destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
  b :  something given up or lost <the sacrifices made by parents>
4:  loss <goods sold at a sacrifice>
Anyone who knows Jesus knows the word “sacrifice”. We hear it all the time. We read of it often. It’s a part of our repertoire. But while using this word, do we really know the significance it carries?
Take a look at the third definition above. Did you read it again? Destruction or surrender of something (someone) for the sake of something (someone) else. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who died for our sins. Right? His human body was destroyed for our sake, for our freedom. He was beaten, mocked, spit upon, flogged, ridiculed, belittled, and killed for our sake.
When I say “our” (above), I mean every human being who will ever walk the face of the earth, and that means you. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 5:15 “ He died for all”. Jesus was sent as a perfect sacrifice for the ENTIRE WORLD for all of history. He died so that we MIGHT be saved: John 3:17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” He died for me. He died for you. He died for the ones who hate Him. He died for the ones who beat Him. He died so that I MIGHT be saved by His grace. It was worth it to Him.
That’s a sacrifice. A life. A holy God coming down into filth and wickedness, became the sin of the world throughout all of history, and then He died, so that I MIGHT come to know His saving grace. That’s a sacrifice.
How will I ever repay God for the sacrifice of His Son? I can offer Him all kinds of things to try and even the score. I can wake up real early and read the bible. I can pray for 5 hours a day. I can serve at every church service in every way imaginable. I can offer to help every single person that asks for help. I can cook and deliver meals to every one of my sick friends every time they’re sick. I can go to bible study every night of the week. I can give away all of my stuff. I can eat really healthy and workout all the time. I can treat my husband like a king. I can never raise my voice to my children. I can memorize the Torah.
None of those things are a sacrifice. A sacrifice hurts. A sacrifice requires blood. A sacrifice is a life. His life ended so that I could have eternal life with Him. The only way I can repay Jesus is to give Him my life. The rest of that verse from above (2 Cor 5:15) is “and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Want some more?
Galatians 2:20, 21 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
1 Corinthians 15:31 “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Romans 7:4 “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”
Colossians 3:3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Jesus is a radical God of radical change. Radical change happens when I allow that God to enter my life. I can’t let Him in when I’m do do doing. He changes me when I surrender the sacrifice of my life to Him. His life for my life. That’s how it works. When I lay Crystal down, that’s a sacrifice. I lay down my wants, my needs, my desires, my dreams, and I give it all to the Creator of the universe. I give Him my life because He gave me His, freely.
Do you need a touch from the Lover of your soul? He longs to speak into your life and fill the holes in your heart. He satisfies, He fulfills, He completes. Only Jesus gives us what we all long for. He accepts us as we are. He loves us where we are. He sees us as His prized possessions and He only wants good for us. He wouldn’t have died for junk. He died to save the ones He loves, His people. That was a sacrifice. He wants a sacrifice from each and every one of us, and sacrifice hurts. Does what you’re offering God hurt you to let it go? If it does, the blessing is huge! Surrender your heart, and watch Him work. Jump in.

Up for a challenge?

This one is for all the married women out there. Men, you can read on if you want, but the post is geared toward women this time.

Ladies, do you love your husband? Like really love your husband? I’m sure you all answer “yes” to this question but I don’t think you know what I mean. If you said “yes” to my question, then you should be able to answer this one: How do you love your husband? Is that a little harder to pin down? Probably is, and that’s ok. You’re in the right place.

If you are a married woman, your priorities should look a little different than those of a single woman. A married, Christian woman’s priorities (according to the Bible), should be 1. God, 2. Husband, 3. Children, etc. If this is true, we’re looking at the husband having a higher ranking in the wife’s life than her children, job, housework, other relationships, etc. Rub you the wrong way? It did me too, until I started applying it in my marriage. The change has been incredible.

What is the most important human relationship you’ll ever have on this earth? Who knows you better than anyone else and still loves you? Which human being has the ability to make you happier than you’ve ever been with anyone else ever? Catch my drift? Your marriage is the most important relationship you’ll have this side of heaven. And if that’s true, it’s probably worth your effort.

Is your husband perfect? No, I’m sure he is not. But neither are you. Is loving your husband always easy? No, I know it’s not. But God never promises life is going to be easy. Notice the order of priorities above? God is first.

God is first because you can’t love your husband without God. You can’t love your children without God. You can’t love your neighbor without God. Without the love of God indwelling, you are not capable of loving anyone properly. Because love is not a feeling that ebbs and flows like the tossing waves of the sea, love is a choice. I choose to love my husband when he’s being a turd, or worse, because God chooses to love me as a wretch. When I was the worst of sinners, God sent His only Son to die for me. I’m glad He made that choice.

Knowing the love of God is the foundation of any love relationship you’ll ever have. So that’s step one. But I don’t want to leave you hanging while you dive into step one, it could take a lifetime. Here are some practical ways to love your husband (these are your “how” answers from above), in spite of how you FEEL for your husband:

1. When he comes home from work, drop everything you’re doing and hug him (or kiss him or grope him, depending on your level of comfort). Doing this will show your husband that he is your top priority; not dinner, or tending to the house, or children, etc. If he knows he’s your number one, you’ll see some changes in your relationship almost immediately. You are his biggest cheerleader, or insult-er, and you hold his self-worth in your hands. Are you building him up with your actions, or tearing him down?

2. Ask his opinion on things. Again, by doing this, he’ll know you value his opinion, and in turn it makes him feel important. You two are a team, act like one. Making decisions without him, repeatedly, will have the opposite effect and make him feel unimportant. Eventually, he won’t know how to make a decision without you and then you’ll be insulting him for never making a decision on his own.

3. Initiate intimacy. Show him you want him. Men need to be wanted. They want to feel attractive and needed. If you let him know you want to be intimate with him, and that it’s not just a chore, his self-worth will increase immensely.

Are you freaked out by those three things? They’re not that hard, right? Ok, maybe number three is a little difficult, but the other two are easy peasy. The trick is to not give into your feelings. He may come home from work Tuesday and you’ve had a horrible day. You have a full night of errands and your only goal is to get dinner in your kids and get out the door on time. In the grand scheme of things, is 30 seconds of attention to your husband really going to make you late? Drop everything you’re doing and hug him, as soon as he walks in the door, regardless of how you feel. There’s a reason why that’s number one, it’s the easiest one to incorporate into your “routine”.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering “Why do I need to do all this? Just because some blogger mom told me too?”. No, of course not. The answer to the question, “Why do I need to show my husband I love him?” is simple, because God showed you He loves you. You have made a covenant with God to honor and love your husband. God has brought the two of you together as one flesh. He didn’t do that so you could just “go through the motions” of marriage. He did that so you could have life abundant here on earth. Your marriage is worth fighting for. Are you going to do your part?

One final point and I’ll end. We (women) are so good at joining challenges to eat better, lose weight, read the bible, whatever it may be. We are smart enough to know we need accountability in certain areas of our life, but why don’t we think we need it in our marriages? So here’s what we’re going to do: I’m initiating a challenge. It’s called the 1 John 4:19 Challenge. I want you to love your husband for the right reasons and I want you to do it practically. I’ve given you three practical ways to show your husband you love him. I want you to find an accountability partner, another MARRIED woman who will do this challenge with you. I want you to commit to four weeks of intentionally loving your husband. Your goal will be to accomplish at least ONE of the three listed above FOUR times a week. One week you could do 1, 2, 3, and 1. One week you could do 1, 1, 1, and 1. Whatever is easiest or most important to your marriage, that’s what you should focus on. At the end of the four weeks, I want you and your partner to meet and talk about what you noticed. How has your relationship changed? How have your feelings changed? How have your priorities changed? Etc.

If you want to take this challenge, and you’ve found a partner, please comment below and let me know you’re in. I don’t have to have names and addresses or anything, I just want to know if you’re doing this so I can pray for you through it. If we all loved our husbands the way God wants us to love our husbands, could you imagine the fire we’d start!? Have fun!

P.S. I can type all of this because I’ve been there. My marriage was on the brink of divorce and, by the grace of God we’re not now. I’d be happy to share our testimony privately, just comment or message me. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and I think your marriage should be your priority, almost always. Strong marriages are super powerful in the Kingdom of God and your marriage can be one too.

Canceled Debt

Colossians 2:13, 14

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Does that make you want to shout? It does me. Wooo hooo that’s good stuff right there! If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, and you believe He died for you, and He’s the Savior of your soul, and that scripture doesn’t make you wanna shout, then there’s a problem. Perhaps you don’t understand fully what Paul is saying in this passage. Perhaps you have a hard time understanding scripture in general and all the words just run together. Perhaps you’re not fully aware of how wretched you were before Christ’s blood was spilled for your sin. There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want to shout after reading that scripture, but the fact remains that if you know Jesus as your Savior, you SHOULD want to shout!

Let’s look at the scripture and break it down a bit.

“When you were dead in your transgressions…” Before I came to know Jesus as my personal Savior, I was dead. I was living in a world controlled by Satan, doing his bidding everyday, and was completely unaware. The truth is, I was created by a Holy, loving God, and I had sinned against that perfect God. That sin created separation, it fractured our relationship, and I was eternally separated from my Creator. There is nothing I could do to restore that relationship. There is nothing I could do to get closer to God. There is no change in my behavior that could have made God love me more, for He already loved me as much as He could. But where sin is, Holy cannot be. I was a wretch and sentenced to death for my transgressions.

“…and the uncircumcision of your flesh…” In the old Testament, Jews were to be circumcised to show their allegiance to God. It was an outward symbol that they were God’s people. In this statement, Paul is referring to the time when I didn’t know Jesus. Before I was marked as His…

“…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…” The “He” in this is Jesus. When I was dead, Jesus made me alive with Him. How did He do that? My sin had eternally separated me from my Father, God. So how did Jesus make me alive in Him? By forgiving my transgressions! Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One, the only righteous man to ever walk the planet, the One with no sin, DIED FOR MY SIN.

“…having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us…” How could one man’s death forgive all my sin? Not only my debt was forgiven, but the sin of the World was atoned for that day (John 1:29). Jesus’s death paid the price for my sin. His death bridged the gap between my wretched self and my Holy Father. Jesus’s death “canceled out the certificate of debt”! The debt that I owed, my sentence was death, was canceled by the death of Jesus. He was Holy and righteous, spotless and pure, and He became my sin and died my death. That death canceled my debt. The decrees that were hostile to me, keeping me in bondage and death, are gone!

 

“…and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” What has Jesus taken out of the way? My death sentence, sin, has been taken out of way. It has been nailed to the cross and it died with Jesus. So now, my way is clear. The way to what, you may ask? The way to God! I have direct access to my Father, no more hindrances lie in my path. Death has no sting, sin has no pull, and the path to righteousness is clearly laid before me.

Why oh why are we called to walk “by the Spirit” and to cling to righteousness? So we can be better people? So we can get a pat on the back or a “Best Christian” sticker? Or maybe it’s so God will love us more? No. Absolutely not. God didn’t send His only son to die for me so I could have a “good life” and He certainly didn’t do it so He could love me. We are called to walk in righteousness, to die to sin, to walk by the Spirit, to bring God glory. We are to show the world the love of Christ by showing them the transforming power of His blood. The blood poured out at Calvary was life-giving, live-saving blood. It was the sacrifice of all sacrifices, so that the entire world would know the love of God.

This scripture is telling us that anything that could stand in the way of us fulfilling our duty (showing the world the love of God) has been taken out of the way and has been nailed to the cross. It is not there anymore! I have absolutely no excuse, no valid reason, why the love of God doesn’t flow from me into others. I should exude mercy and grace and forgiveness because of the mercy and grace and forgiveness that’s been poured over me. We all should. I was a wretch, dead in my sin, when Jesus reached into my junk to love me. He reconciled me to my Father and stands there pleading my case as I type as my Mediator. He poured His Spirit into my heart to allow me to walk by it, holy and blameless, to bring glory to my Father and show the world His love for them.

The love that God has for His people is huge. And there is nothing we can ever do to change the amount of love He has for us. God’s Son didn’t die so He could love us, He died so we could have a relationship with our Father, our Creator in Heaven. He died so that the world would know of his undying love for His people, and be given the same gift of relationship with Him. He died so we could be free and love others with that same, undying love. We are free, no longer slaves to sin, because Jesus canceled our debt, He paid the price. But now we have a purpose and that purpose is to share His love, that forgiveness, to the world. It’s our duty. It’s our job. And he has removed the obstacles, we have no excuse.

Matthew 22:36-40New American Standard Bible (NASB)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”