You’ve Got Your Hands Full!

“You’ve got your hands full!”

With 3 kids 3 and under, I hear this phrase every single time I am out in public with the kids by myself and most times my husband and I are out with them together (every single time until recently when we had one entire outing without hearing it–so there was that one time…). In restaurants, airports, the park, church–we have our hands full, or so we’ve been told. Sometimes other diners will even take the time to walk up to our table at a restaurant to tell us how full our hands are. It doesn’t matter if the kids are being little angels, or if someone is having a rough time. It doesn’t matter if we’re wearing the baby and holding big kids’ hands walking in a parking lot or if two are riding happily in the stroller down the street.

Most people don’t mean offense, although some say it with eyebrows up and eyelids down, perhaps with the hope that I can take a hint, will realize we have too many, and will immediately return one. Regardless of the intent, I take issue with this phrase for several reasons.

First of all is the general over-use of the phrase. In addition to having my hands full, I also have brown hair. It would be equally annoying to me to hear that every single time I went out. *walks in the store* “Wow, you have brown hair!” *goes to the produce section* “You sure do have brown hair, don’t you?” *checks out* “It looks like you have brown hair!” *walks to car* “You’re cute, but you certainly have brown hair!” (And this isn’t an exaggeration of the frequency this phrase is used.)

Did you catch the underlying tone of that last one? “They’re adorable, but you certainly have your hands full!” even when said in a jovial tone with a smile hints at the fact that their being cute (a positive) doesn’t outweigh the fact that your hands are full (a negative). Speaking of them, they are listening. 9 out of 10 strangers (and that’s a conservative estimate) look at them and tell their mommy she has her hands full. How must that feel day in and day out? Judah asked me the other day why everyone says that. He hears you.

We are thankful for our children and are sad they are being raised in a culture that is hostile to children. Don’t believe our society does not like children? Have 3 of them, and take them out in public. Three! How many siblings did your grandparents have?

Most of you don’t know that my hands are actually even fuller than you can see as I walk with these three beauties. Some days we’re sailing; other days we’re drowning. On a good day, I can laugh at what you’re missing as you comment on me and my full hands. But in those hard times–when we’ve been in seasons of appointment after appointment and sleepless nights and teething and potty accidents–you have no idea as you blithely comment “You have your hands full,” that I feel so incredibly drained. You have no idea it took almost 2 hours to get ready and into the car to drive to the grocery store or a restaurant or yet another doctor. You have no idea that by the time we get there, someone should be sleeping, someone is hungry, and I’m mentally making a list that when we get home, so-and-so needs a diaper, everyone needs to eat, if I can get out in 30 minutes, we will not have completely screwed up naptime. And you interrupt my unceasing inner dialog to tell me what I’ve heard a thousand times. Yes, my hands are full. But on most days and whenever I pause to ponder, my heart is full to bursting, too.

Lastly, depending on the day and on the person, this phrase can deeply hurt. My hands aren’t as full as they should be. With all the craziness I just mentioned…we totally love living life with each of our wonderful kids, but what you don’t know is that we’re missing someone, two someones, in fact. You think they’re so close? You ask if this was on purpose? (As though that’s any of your business, but that’s another post…) They would’ve been closer, stranger, but I won’t tell you that. And for those struggling with infertility or loss, it stings to be out with the friend with her hands full and to hear that phrase tossed at her a handful of times on a playdate while your hands feel painfully empty.

I don’t take for granted that my hands are full of blessings, that my mind is full of memories, that my arms are full of cuddles, that my lap is full of “Please read one more story!” and that my soul is full of hope and love, growing with this amazing family of ours.

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Dear Baby Girl and Dear Boy Who Is No Longer a Baby

Precious Baby Girl and Precious Boy Who Is No Longer a Baby,

Tonight I lay between you two as you slept. I smelled your sweet smells and basked in the peacefulness of your deep breathing. Could I but keep you here, safe from the horrors of the world, I would! But there is a world to be conquered and battles to be fought and glories to win. You were both created for beautiful things. God knows the plans He has for you, the individual gifts He has given each of you and the hurts you are to help heal in the brokenness around us.

Dear Boy Who Is No Longer a Baby, how did two years pass so quickly? When did we shift from sweet smiles and constant cuddles to trying tantrums and breaking boundaries? How can you swing on the pendulum of total independence back to dependence in an instant (and back again)? How will I have the energy to keep up with you, let alone guide you, on this journey of life for the next decade and a half? As you lie there sucking your thumb, I stroke your cheek and wonder who the man is that God is fashioning from this little boy. Your curiosity, your joy, your willfulness, your love–how the Holy Spirit will use these as you grow! I pray that God captures your heart so soon. Oh, son, you are my delight! I know your Father in Heaven rejoices over you even more than I. I would not keep you little forever, for you have mighty deeds to accomplish for the Kingdom. So we must continue pruning as you grow, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us as your parents, until the day you surrender your life to Him, and He prunes you directly.

My darling Baby Girl, how perfect you seem right now! You are beautiful, and you mesmerize me with your tiny movements and your restfulness. As you lie next to your brother and me, you seem so frail, so very little. But my love, you are strong. You had to struggle to enter this world, but you did it! The Lord has marvelous plans for you, too, my sweet. Oh but the world will try to mar your loveliness! Evil will loathe the glory that you represent. Don’t listen to those voices. Listen to the voice of Truth. Learn to quiet your spirit to hear the still, small Voice above the winds and waves. I pray for you while you sleep that you will grow to be a woman whose whole heart is the Lord’s. Who will you be, my sweet angel? How many lives will you touch? What will be your story? As you grow from baby to girl to woman, how can I best lead and teach you? I surrender you to our Father, too, my love, for He knows what we need even before we ask it. And He knows you intricately and perfectly for He made you.

Oh my darlings, I selfishly want these precious times to never end. Two sleeping little ones, tucked on either side of me. But you were not placed on this earth just for me. You are here, as I am here, to glorify our Father God. So I hug you a little more tightly then I hold you a little more loosely, knowing you are not mine to keep. May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ raise you up to be a strong man and a strong woman after His own heart to the praise of His name.

Dear Baby Girl and Dear Boy Who Is No Longer a Baby, I love you. More than words can say, I love you.

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Discipleship and Diapers

“‘For I [the Lord] have chosen [Abraham], so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him'” (Genesis 18:19).

“‘Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children”‘” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

Tonight as I was pulling (yet another) load of laundry out of the dryer, I saw Judah’s clean star diapers and smiled. He will be so excited tomorrow when given the choice between a plain green diaper and the *star* diaper. Everyday, every week, something new and exciting unfolds in the life of a one-and-a-half-year-old boy. Making choices like which diaper he wants, helping spread peanut butter on a sandwich, pretending to feed his “baby” aka Froggy–our little boy is an absolute joy to raise.

I watch our son learn and grow and suddenly, feel the great weight of responsibility that parenting is. Interspersed between all the fun activities are the other parts of our day: little chores like taking clothes to the hamper, cleaning up toys, defiance, and major. toddler. meltdowns. That first year of focusing on attachment–full of sweet moments of cuddling, nursing, staring deeply into this little person’s eyes, and sharing my dreams–has given way to year two, where serious discipleship has already begun.

I wasn’t aware how quickly character training would become the bulk of parenting. But we’re in the throes of it already. We talk about and are working on first-time obedience, learning to apologize, taking responsibility (like helping to clean up milk he intentionally pours on the floor, which he loves to do). And he’s even already having to learn a little about forgiveness. Sometimes Mummy has to apologize because she’s tired and speaks harshly or isn’t as attentive as she should be, and all she can do is pray that God will soften her son’s little heart toward her and that He will raise up a man of God despite Mummy’s (many) failings.

This is when the heavy load of godly parenting seems overwhelming to bear. I alone have been given the job of Mother to this precious soul. Andrew and I are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and might. We are to keep God’s words on our hearts and diligently teach them to our children. How easy it would be to get caught up in the diapers and laundry and snacks and story times! But each of these little moments together, all day, every day, add up to equal the discipleship of our children. I am at home with our little son (and will be with our children yet to come home) to show them who God is, to be their number one encourager, to be the one who knows the intricacies of their individual personalities, to respond to them as they explore and learn, and to introduce them to this world God has made but that is marred by sin. I am also home to be there when their sinful natures expose themselves, to teach them the Gospel by my life and words, to pray for and with them that God would grab a hold of them and never let them go. And if we go over the same thing a hundred times a day, that’s okay. It’s part of the “diligently” teaching….

We are called to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Nurture. Admonition. In mundane tasks like diapering, I can nurture our sweet boy by giving him choices, which makes him grow in confidence (and makes him so excited). And two minutes later, I can’t excuse horrible behaviors because “we just hit the ‘terrible two’s’ a little early”; I must admonish him. Our days rapidly alternate between sweet nurturing times and trying admonishing times. Discipling small children isn’t just about them; I am made more Christlike as I learn how to take my daily life and make it an offering pleasing and acceptable to God.

God is using this season to make me more dependent on Him, as I must constantly seek His wisdom, study His word, rely on His Spirit, and pray without ceasing. Each day I serve my husband and child(ren), I have to lean into Christ with my whole being and rest in His grace that He is sufficient in my insufficiency. I have to surrender myself to be, as Jesus said, the servant of all. I will never have the accolades of this world for education or achievements, but if Andrew and I raise men and women to love God with their whole heart and soul and mind, and if they diligently teach their children, then I will have obeyed what the Lord called me to do when He gave us our first son and what He continues to call me to do as our family grows.

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Advent

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day” (Genesis 1:14-19).

I was reading Genesis 1 the other night, and something stood out to me that never had before. It may seem obvious and not relevant to many of you, I’m sure, but maybe there is a control freak or two out there who will find that it speaks to them, too. I pray it does.

The Scripture opens with God’s creating the heavens and the earth. On Day 6, which was actually my focus of reading that night, God creates man and gives them dominion over the earth, commanding them to “subdue it” and “rule” (Genesis 1:28). Another word for that might be to govern. A couple days earlier, God had placed the greater and lesser lights in the sky to govern the day and the night. So, while God commanded man to govern certain things, He placed other things not under the rule or governance of man.

Obvious, no?

But in this season, I really had to chew on that. I have spent the last few weeks really embracing this pregnancy. This little one is making it (and will continue, Lord willing!)! Simultaneously, I have become obsessed with guaranteeing the perfect birth, the healthy baby. What could I have done differently with Judah to avoid a C-section? What can I do this time? Where do I want to labor and give birth to have the beautiful, natural birth we planned the first time? And on and on (and on), my thought process went.

Then I thought about several situations that people I dearly love are in and over which I have no control. I realized that while my heart is breaking over all these things I can do literally nothing to change, I seek to micromanage the little parts of things I have a tiny bit of control over. All the while the major things loom in the back of my mind and heart.

I wish I could take Dad’s cancer away. I wish I could change broken hearts and make them whole. I wish I could make callous hearts soft again. I wish I could tell the prodigal, “You’re eating pigs’ food when there is a feast at home and a Father who loves you!” I wish I could tell all the hurt in this world, “Don’t you know it’s Christmas? So much sadness can’t come at Christmas!” Sometimes I even wish I could go back in time–could I do something to make everything okay today?

You know what? I can’t.

But it’s Advent. And during Advent, we await the coming Messiah, as the world groans in all its brokenness and pain. And we plead, Veni, veni, Emmanuel! Captivum solve Israel, qui gemit in exsilio, privatus Dei Filio. Come, come, God-with-us! Break the bond of Israel, which mourns in exile deprived of God’s Son.

How overwhelming the sorrow would be were we deprived of God’s Son! But He has come! Emmanuel, God with us, has already come to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. By His scourging, we are healed.

Creation groans, and so do we. But we have hope in God, who became flesh and dwelt among us and became everything for us that we could not be for ourselves, to bring beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:22-27)

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He Tabernacles Among Us

Isn’t it beautiful when the Lord coordinates a thousand little details in your life that lead to a moment when you suddenly feel Him embrace you? when we He shows you a truth that breaks through all the lies in your heart and He just holds you there, in that safety, in that peace?

That happened to me tonight. And I wanted to share it with you now because Daniel is (let’s be realistic) years away in the verse by verse Bible study that we have been plodding through for quite some time. At church, I’ve been in a quicker book-by-book study for the last year and a half, the Amazing Collection, as well as reading a history of the world and quite a few “Great Books.” Needless to say, between all that and life, I haven’t progressed in those blogs as far as I hope to in the (somewhat) near future.

Regardless, I have made it from about 3500 BC until about 600 BC in the ancient world and am now in the throes of the Babylonian empire (though its demise is eminent). May God speak to you through His word tonight.

In Daniel 1, we read how the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into the hand of Neduchadnezzar king of Babylon. Some articles from the Lord’s temple are taken to the temple of the god of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylonia. Young men from the royal family and the nobility were taken to be educated for service to the Babylonian king. Their names are changed from Hebrew to Chaldean, or Babylonian, stripping away and replacing their very identities as Hebrews. Four young men stand out: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Haven’t you heard of them? For some reason, the latter three are better known by their Chaldean names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. “To these four young men,” Scripture tells us, “God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17).

After a year of this captivity and training,

“Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them ‘I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.’

“Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, ‘O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’

“The king replied to the astrologers, ‘This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me'” (Daniel 2:1-6).

Yikes! “Tell me my dream”? Can you imagine being woken up in the middle of the night because the king can’t sleep and then being told you will be cut into pieces if you can’t tell the man what he dreamed?

“Once more they replied, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’

“Then the king answered, ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me'” (Daniel 2:7-9).

If I were them, I’d probably be trying to gain time, too. Their black arts could only do so much. Evidently, they could find a meaning in a dream, but tell a king his dream? Well…

“The astrologers answered the king, ‘There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men'” (Daniel 2:10-11).

Mmm. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” The pagan wise men said that the gods do not make their dwelling among flesh, but the one true God has told us that “the Word [who was God and was with God in the beginning] became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).

He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” This word “dwelt” is the Greek skēnoō, “to fix one’s tabernacle, to abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent); to dwell.” Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, fixed His tabernacle among us, took on this lowly tent of flesh and lived among us, chose to leave glory to abide with us. “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14b).

Why would Jesus do that? Why would He dwell among us? Quite simply, He was doing the will of the Father who sent Him, for in Jesus, the Father was accomplishing His work (John 6:38, 14:10). And what had God the Father always been doing?

Read Exodus 3:7-9 and 25:1-2, 8-9, emphases added:

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey–the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.”

[…]

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give…Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

The Lord had seen and heard and was concerned. He came down and made His tabernacle, His dwelling, among us. From the Garden, the Lord God walked with His people. When they sinned and rejected Him, He promised that One would come to crush the serpent’s head, defeating all that separated us from Him (Genesis 3:15). That same God who dwelt among His chosen people the Israelites indwells His sons and daughters today (1 Corinthians 3:16).

No matter what you are facing today, God is with you. He didn’t just drop you a note. He isn’t popping in and out for visits, stopping by to see how you are. He has tabernacled–pitched His tent–with you. And with me. He hasn’t forgotten the things everyone else has already forgotten. When the rest of the world has moved on, He hasn’t moved on without you. He isn’t waiting to come by until you have it all together, until your dwelling place is presentable. He’s dwelling there, too.

You could do a search and find “dwell” and “abide” and “tabernacle” throughout Scripture, but the only other time the Greek skēnoō is used is in the book of Revelation, where it occurs four times. Meditate on these precious words and ask God, who is near, to speak to you.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….”

Revelation 21:1-9

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Letter From a Grieving Mother

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
October 15, 2013

Dear other mothers,

First, I’d like to say I am thankful for your children, thankful for their precious lives, and thankful for you, their mothers. I hold no grievance against any of you, so if you see yourself in this letter, please know that I’m not angry at you. I am writing in the hopes that knowledge may bring understanding and compassion.

Pregnant mothers, sometimes you say deeply hurtful things without realizing it, especially toward the end of your pregnancy. When you’re awake at night because of little feet and elbows inside you, remember another mother may be awake at night, holding her empty stomach. When you complain of common pregnancy ailments, she wishes she still had the discomfort, the nausea, the heartburn–evidence of a baby. When you frustratedly joke as your due date comes and goes, “I don’t think she’s ever going to come!” another mother knows her baby really isn’t coming, so it’s hard for her to have sympathy at the extra days you’re blessed to have your sweet baby inside.

Mothers of newborns, I know your darling baby seems to eat all the time and wants to be awake just when you finally fall asleep. But all the hours of sleeplessness are hours you are with your lovely child, smelling his sweet hair and stroking his soft skin. Another mother is exhausted, hours of sleeplessness full of tears, imagining the smell of her lovely child’s hair (wouldn’t he have been lovely?) and the softness of his skin.

Mothers of children, motherhood is stressful and requires boundless energy and love. I know it’s hard chasing after toddlers, teaching young children, and discipling teenagers. But right now, my heart is broken by a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult I never got to meet.

It’s not that there isn’t an appropriate place and time to share your concerns. Your stresses and exhaustion and tears and frustrations are valid and important. But for the weeks and months following a miscarriage or infant loss, your very real trials are salt in my open wound. Later, I will be healed and available to listen with compassion. But is there an older woman or another mom who could sympathize with you today? Today, I am not that strong.

Every birthday your child celebrates, every smile and hug and kiss they share with you, every second with them (even the crazy, chaotic ones) are blessings from the Lord. Right now, my blessing from the Lord is emptiness. Please be gracious with me as I come to terms with the fact that while I was willing to embrace the struggles of mommyhood, God instead asked me to surrender my child forever to Him.

May each of us experience His grace, sufficient for the troubles of the day, and may we learn to live compassionately with one another.

With love,
A grieving mother

Written in honor of all the mothers and families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. Our prayers are with each of you.

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Perfect Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

This piercing question from this week’s lesson in Be Amazing caused my heart to pause and tears to well up in my eyes: “What hinders you from keeping your mind steadfast, or fixed on the Lord?”

For the most part, I would say it is the busyness of the day, the “worries of this life,” as Jesus said in Matthew 13. It’s meals and laundry and dishes and diapers. It’s puzzles to do, books to read, trucks on the floor. But last night, in my pain, my first answer to what hinders me from fixing my mind steadfastly on the Lord was
•being angry at Him
•seeking control because I don’t deep-down trust that He is good/will provide for me/cares.
How can I rest in Him, keep my thoughts turned on Him, when I waste so much effort, time, and energy trying to BE Him? (Yes, I do realize how utterly ridiculous that sounds and is.)

That question really drew me to the presence of the Lord. I felt Him gently near me, looking with compassion into my heart.

I sounded so childish. “It’s so sad. We had a baby and now we don’t. And I’m just so sad. Don’t You think it’s so sad our baby died?”
Or maybe not. I could almost feel myself turning away from Him. In Your sovereignty, this is what You chose for us. So maybe it’s not sad to You after all.
He suddenly felt larger, a little angry. “I am bringing you to a place of no more tears. I overcame death. Death is the opposite of everything I Am!”

The opposite. So this is what it would feel like to live in opposition to God–this pain, this darkness, this deep unfathomable sorrow.

But the serpent is more crafty than any beast of the field. He is disguised as an angel of light. He deceives us and makes us believe that the way this fallen world operates is not that bad; in fact, it can be good.

So we don’t search the Scriptures to see what God commands of us, His sons and daughters. We just follow the conservative status quo. Most self-proclaimed Christians trust themselves for provision, have little time for prayer and God’s word, send their children to public schools, have age-segregated ministries, and don’t believe in a literal hell. We live our lives how we want to, avoiding heinous sins, until tragedy strikes. Then as a sweet older lady mentioned at Bible study last week, “When we’ve exhausted all our efforts and done everything we can do, we say, ‘Well, all we can do now is pray.’ Why didn’t we start with that?” Better yet, why weren’t we praying continually before tragedy struck?
Honestly? I think it’s because we don’t really believe God is holy or how seriously He takes sin. We think only a handful of really awful people will go to hell when Jesus has clearly told us that the way is broad that leads to destruction and many find it. And maybe some of you are like me, and you don’t really believe God loves you and cares about you. I thought I believed it (I certainly knew it), and I’m pretty sure we’ve been over this lesson before in my life. But the first thing that happened after the shock wore off was that I believed the lie Eve first swallowed: “Did God really say…? Are His ways really good? You know better. Stiffen your back in self-sufficiency; don’t cuddle up with your Father to ask Him to teach you His ways and show you His heart.”

God is holy. I don’t have the right to question Him or hold a grudge against Him as if He somehow owes me a baby after a pregnancy or owes me another pregnancy now. I have a precious son I don’t deserve, a wonderful husband I don’t deserve, and a risen Savior who offers redemption that I absolutely don’t deserve. If He says that children are a blessing, I will rejoice in them. If He says that precious in His sight is the death of His holy ones, I will rest in the fact that this baby’s life and death mattered to Him. If He says count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds, I will ask Him to be my joy.
God, I want to rest close to Your heart. Right now, I really want to feel You weeping with me for our baby like You did with Mary and Martha for their brother. Fix my mind on You. Make it steadfast and immovable. Give me a heart to know You and the strength to live in Your ways. May I teach these things to my children and train them to teach their children for generations and generations, so we may build up Your kingdom until You come again to establish it. I love You, Lord. So very much.

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