Maybe That’s Enough Joy

I caught myself staring across the street at the neighbor’s this afternoon.

They have two teenagers—one girl, one boy. Nice family.

The boy has even shoveled my driveway in the past, despite the fact I have called him by the wrong name a few times.

My husband and I want a lot of kids, and by a lot, I mean more than 3, which is unfortunately considered a large family these days.20170420_172025

Since marrying and having children, I have wondered why anyone would choose to have just one or two kids and stop there. I have such a strong desire to have a large family, with a lot of grandkids running around, always a daughter or daughter-in-law to hang out with on a boring Saturday.

However, as I stared across the street to the neighbor’s, the thought crossed my mind for the first time, that perhaps my life would be easier if I would just stop at two kids.

Lately, motherhood has been hard, and I have found little joy in it.

Wait… am I allowed to admit that?

My sons aren’t sleeping and have been sick constantly for the past month. There has not been much to rejoice in.

If I were to stop at two kids, I could go back to teaching.

If I were to stop at two kids, I could maybe afford something for myself someday.

If I were to stop at two kids, I would only have two humans to keep alive, to worry about, to train up in the ways of the Lord—I would only have two humans to screw up.

If I were to stop at two kids, I would only have two college tuitions with which to scrape up money.

20170425_205435If I were to stop at two kids, a good night sleep might be nearer than I previously imagined.

If I were to stop at two kids, maybe I could take my life back, find some freedom, breathe a little.

So, to all my readers, now you know I’m selfish—disgustingly self-centered and entitled. Gasp. How could I admit something so dreadful, so personal? Um… we are all disgustingly self-centered and entitled— we are all sinners. I’m confident every parent, in every house, on every street, in every country, struggles to overcome their selfishness to raise their self-absorbed mini humans.

It’s because children take everything. They take your wits, your strengths, your time, 20170416_141733your freedom, and they take advantage of your weaknesses, wringing them out until you have no choice but to toss them aside, along with parts of yourself, and keep fighting.

There is good news, though. In order to parent the next generation, the Lord does not ask us to submit to our children’s needs and desires, only to stop recognizing who we once were when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror.

No. In order to parent the next generation, the Lord asks us to submit to His will, His call, His desires. Whether you’re a parent or not, you are called to die to yourself and serve and honor the Lord. If you’ve been asked to do this in the shape of a parent, it is no different. You are honoring your Father by being a parent to His children. There is no greater, nor is there a more difficult calling.20170422_190447

Each time you deal with a day of constant tantrums, each time you sacrifice what you want for your kids, each time you give up another Saturday morning for your child’s activities, you have served the Lord. You have honored Him, by seeking out the joy in the life He has given you.

Finding the joy in motherhood can be difficult at times. However, the joy that it brings cannot be matched by any other experience on Earth. World travel will not match a mother’s joy. Money will not match a mother’s joy. A good night’s sleep will not even match a mother’s joy. For even though a mother has much to suffer through as she raises her Christians, she has even more bliss to revel in, to bask in.

She will revel in her child playing his own game with an imaginary monkey and shark. She will revel in her children growing up to serve God in their own way.  She will revel in all the dancing, the singing, and the laughing that comes with motherhood. She will revel in it all—and it is all joy.

20170422_184234She will even find joy in the struggle of it all, because it is in this struggle, that the Lord will refine her and make her more like Him. In the end, that is not a struggle, that is a blessing.

So, how many children do I want?

A bunch.

As many as the Lord thinks I can handle.

You can never have enough joy.


The Day God Answered my Prayers with my Worst Fear

In the Bible, God tells us to fear nothing 466 times.  In the Bible’s 66 books and 31,102 verses, fear not is God’s most frequent command to His children.

joshuaIn the first chapter of Joshua, the words “be strong and courageous” are spoken four times in just 18 verses. God says it to Joshua three times, and Joshua’s men say it once. God also reminds Joshua not to be afraid several more times throughout his journey toward the promised land.

Joshua was facing a nearly impossible situation, entirely impossible if you view the world without God’s abundant grace and power. His mentor and leader, Moses, had just died, and the Lord appointed him to continue Moses’ mission by leading the Israelites to the promised land. In order to gain access to the promised land, the Israelites had to defeat a large number of tribes, all encompassing Israel’s seven enemies. God’s people faced multiple setbacks as they progressed further into Canaan.

They had to cross the Jordan River, which looked impossible.

They had to defeat a strong city with impenetrable walls, which looked impossible.

They had to make a second attempt at defeating Ai, having lost the first time, which looked impossible.

Throughout this war, Joshua is the pinnacle of strength and courage, just as the Lord commanded him. However, he was just a man, and I have little doubt that his faith wavered and nearly broke numerous times throughout his conquest of this land. There is no way around this conclusion. The things that the Lord asked of Joshua were impossible by human standards, and it was only through the miraculous intervention of God that the Israelites were able to conquer the land.

fear-2083657_1280Since God tells his people not to fear 466 times in His word, He surely knew fear would be a strong and real presence in His children’s lives. I’ve realized with my children, that just as we are born sinners, we are born fearful. My youngest son is beginning to panic and cry when I am out of sight, just as all babies do. This is revealing a baby’s fear that he will be left alone. As a child grows, he begins to fear the dark, monsters, the first day of school, losing his friends, not fitting in, getting cut from the basketball team, etc.

When he becomes a man, he will fear just as often, but his concerns will be with much different things. We are born fearful, so why does the Lord command us so many times to do such an impossible thing as not to fear?

I have lived with a fear, some would call it a phobia, all my life. It has followed me around throughout many of my days like a shadow, and I have never been able to fully escape it. There have been moments in my life where it has become debilitating, where it took control of me and my logic escaped me. I thank God for the moments I have been able to control it, and push it far away from the forefront of my thought.

Since it has mostly just been a quiet, gnawing within me, I have ignored it most of my life, dreading the day it took control of me once again. Part of me thinks since I have been afraid for so long, it is more instinctual than anything else, like my brain has been trained to be afraid, more so than I have been given any reason to fear.

I have hesitated to pray for healing, because of the painful knowledge that the Lord often answers our prayers by making us face the things we don’t want to face. Since I have known this fear would dramatically affect the way I parent my children, I began praying vehemently to be freed from it just two weeks ago. This is the first time in my life I have begged the Lord for healing.

In these two weeks, I have had to face my fear not once, but twice. God immersed me in it so much that I was unable to escape it, unable to run, which is how I had been handling it throughout my life. Just like Joshua was asked to do the impossible, I was also asked to do the impossible.

A life without fear is the way the Lord intended us to live, before sin seeped into our world. A life without fear would be indescribable, and humanity would be unstoppable. My life without this fear would be the epitome of freedom. It is my hope that someday it will not define me, but that Christ will define me. It is my hope that someday this fear is such a distant memory, that I laugh about it with my husband. It is my hope that whether the Lord frees me from my fear or whether I struggle with it until I see Him in paradise, that He will use it for His glory, that my suffering will serve His purpose.forest-1529055_1920

Even though all of us have fears, we need to remember to credit the One who always carries us through them. I have never been able to follow God’s command to not be afraid, but He has never failed to prove His promise, originally made to Joshua, but now for us all, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God never fails us. In the deepest, darkest hours of our worst and strongest fears, the Lord works, and the Lord remains our King. It is Satan who tells us to be afraid; it is Satan who tells us there is anything to fear at all. Satan has been whispering lies to me my whole life, and I believed him, and have allowed him to gain strength within my mind.

boards-2040575_1920If we could only see how impenetrable and immovable God’s protection really is, we wouldn’t dream of being afraid of anything. However, when God tells us to fear nothing, He knows we will fail. We will fail every time. The beauty of the Lord, however, is that He works in our weaknesses, and it is our weaknesses that often bring Him the most recognition and the most glory, for it is in our weakness that we call upon Him, plead with Him, and depend upon Him.

In our fears, in our joys, in our triumphs, and in our sorrows, all praise be to our Father.

Why my Husband’s Illness was the Best Thing to Happen to Us

When I am in the midst of a storm and panicking, I often imagine God trying desperately to get me to see the bigger picture—that my suffering is part of a much greater plan, a plan I could never imagine for myself. When I face a trial, however, the only thing I can see is the trial, and God often becomes a distant memory…

In the middle of August, my husband began complaining of a sore throat and ended up suffering from a three-day cold. The cold went away, and about three days later, he began complaining of a sore throat again. My wifely intuition told me that was a bit weird, so I pushed him further, and he assured me he was fine. Within a week, he was back in bed, and unable to go to work.


My husband was sick, on and off, for the next two months. His fatigue was so extreme, there were moments that I fought the urge to scoop him up and rush him to the ER, panicked he may fall asleep and not wake up again. Since my husband is the sole wage earner in our home, I was not only wracked with worry for my husband, but also for our future, as I often imagined the worst-case scenario—my husband would become debilitated from the fatigue and would never return to work.

I wish I could say that through this time, I was the epitome of strength and faith—that I never once cried out to God is panic, doubt, and fear. I cannot say that. As my husband and I fought countless doctors for a diagnosis, and my husband’s boss became increasingly less understanding, I often could do nothing but beg the Lord to pull us out of this situation.

He didn’t—not at first.

Financially crippled, I will never forget the nights I lied awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering why God asked me to be a stay-at-home mom, only to send me back to work 18 months later. There were moments I was confident in our decision and confident the Lord would find a way for us. There were other moments I was certain He had left us, and we were alone.

Doctors were not able to tell us what was wrong with my husband, and we were certainly stumped—that is until he quit his job. Having filled out roughly 25 applications in the two months my husband was struggling, one job came through, and he has been there ever since. His health issues have never returned once he walked away from his job, where the stress was literally killing him.20170413_151411

I have no doubt there are people reading this that are in a struggle of their own. It is my prayer that this will offer some hope and comfort to them as they wait for their prayers to be answered. Even though my husband’s illness was the most terrifying experience I have ever endured, it was also the best thing that ever happened to our family. Here’s why:

Change. A job that seemed like an answer to prayer, quickly morphed into a series of broken promises, and the cause of constant arguments in our marriage. I had begged my husband for months and months to walk away from it, but the only way he was finally willing to walk out the door, was when it made him sick.

Marriage. Going through an incredibly difficult experience with my spouse brought us closer together than I could have ever imagined. Our marriage has improved in inexplicable ways since my husband got sick. We talk more; we laugh more; we trust more; most of all, we serve the Lord together.

Faith. My husband and I grew up in the church and definitely trusted the Lord with our lives; however, since facing a seemingly hopeless situation, our faith has reached new heights, especially my husband’s. He has begun to serve our church with an unmatched passion, we constantly converse about God and His abundant grace, and he has stepped up to become the kind of spiritual leader of our family that I always wanted him to be.

Dependence. When my husband switched jobs, we had to adjust to a rather dramatic pay cut. Struggling financially has been more of a blessing to us than anything else. It has allowed us to depend on the Father in ways we never would have imagined when we were financially comfortable. It has given God the opportunity to show us His vast provisions, and, despite my hope that someday we will be able to give back to the Lord financially, I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Time. My husband is no longer consumed by the responsibilities of running a hardware 20170219_205909store. His focus has switched from his job to his family, and the time we are able to spend with him now has been a great blessing to us. He is home at a consistent time every evening, and he is carefree enough to enjoy the evenings with his sons. I would give up all the money in the world for this to continue.

Confidence.  Since God brought us through such a difficult situation, my husband and I now have gained the confidence to go after what we really want in life. We have explored many options, and we know, even if we take a step that involves risk, we can be assured that the Lord walks with us, and will provide for us along the way.

I never imagined I would look back on this time and consider it a blessing, but there is no other word for it. I know I will never take my husband’s health for granted again. Our life has changed immensely since my husband became ill, and even though life is still uncertain, especially financially, I have seen firsthand the love God has for his struggling children, and the way He uses a trial for His glory.

The only option a Christian has when all seems lost is to turn to the Father and trust Him all the way through it. There is always a way through it.