Monday, June 4, 2018

Racing Against Horses

Oh how I miss writing! It helps me process. It helps me share what God has shared with me. My days are crammed with so much life. There is no time to sit. I stand in the kitchen feeding people most of the day. God has given me a full life and I LOVE IT! 
Belle is growing and she has stolen my heart completely. Maybe because she is just a straight-up-surprise-gift that we didn't have the faith to plan. Or maybe it's because we are older and know to savor every second of life.
Or maybe God just wanted to blow us away with His love.

I have honestly struggled because she feels so holy.
TOO HOLY for me. Like I am standing on holy ground around her. They are all holy but there is something tangibly holy about a 6 pound baby. She's delicate and lovely. She's a girly girl. I feel God's presence around her. I KNOW God planned her before He planned the oceans. I just weep feeling unworthy to be the mother to these 8 world changers.

I couldn't even write about motherhood on Mother's Day because it is such a humbling day for me. I could have never done anything to deserve these children. I fail them daily yet God chose me for this. 
People tell me all the time, "I don't know how you do it". I tell them, "It's all THE LORD". This was His plan for me! I don't  know why but I'm sure Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Mary, and every other very human person struggled with God's supernatural calling on their life too. It doesn't make sense. Grace NEVER MAKES SENSE.
How many children to have is such a prayerful thing in every marriage. It is a matter of marching in step with the Spirit. The only way I know how to describe how I had 8 children is... I was compelled.
We were compelled. There was warfare. There are seasons of faithlessness and fatigue. But by God's grace and willing hearts, we completed the work He assigned to us. We can't do it in our own strength. We couldn't have raised one child in our own strength. We are 8 children beyond our natural capacities! Yet His calling on our marriage and lives remains- to raise these children to know and serve God.
I believe God is raising up Christian couples to have larger families. 
Just normal couples living for Jesus whose hearts are being tugged by the Spirit.

There is no magic number. The lady with the mite gave more than the rich dude! It's not about numbers. It's about the heart. It's about faith. It's about calling. I praise God for couples who are stepping out in faith and asking God what He wants for their family. It may be one child. It may be 12. 
Obedience and sacrifice always come with a cost.
Having children has cost us a lot. A lot of money. Sanity! My body has suffered. Our comfort has suffered along with many other comforts. 
But I see motherhood as a major part of how I worship. 
When I have complications after delivery, I praise God because (like David said) how could I bring a sacrifice to the Lord that cost me nothing? 
I am amazed that my body was able to be used to bring 8 more people into this world! Praise God for those varicose veins! Think of what Jesus's body went through to give us life! Praise God we get to identify with Him through bringing children into this world! Motherhood truly has saved me! It has saved me from MYSELF. 

The verse I can't stop thinking of is John12:24
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
That is such a picture of motherhood. Life pours out of us as we surrender and die to self! 
With Jesus, death=ABUNDANT LIFE!


Image result for kernel of wheat
This has been a very hard season for me. Physical/Health issues+the darkness that comes from post partum and exhaustion but God always pulls me through! 
I am so thankful. He resurrects and rebuilds us mommas to make us better than we ever were before! I think the dark season after you have a baby is because you are truly taking ground from the enemy and you can feel it. 
God is so faithful to heal and restore.
I have been thinking a lot about the process of healing.
Multiple times in the Bible, healing was a process. It wasn't instant.
Sometimes the sick person had to go do something out of obedience to find healing.
Sometimes Jesus did a partial healing before the complete healing came.
"When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him.  Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly."
Mark 8

Don't be discouraged if you are still waiting for complete healing of your body, or your marriage, or your family! Sometimes it is a process. 
But there is purpose in the process!
We get a little insight into "the why" in the process in Deuteronomy 7...

"The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed."

God sees the big picture. He is doing everything at just the right time (little by little) because He is PROTECTING you from what you can't see.

****************************************************
I have been noticing a lot about how Jesus served and operated during His short time here.

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16
He purposely went to lonely places to pray. I HATE lonely places. He sought them out.  
Just *maybe* ;) Jesus still inhabits the lonely places. Maybe our lonely places are ON PURPOSE. I’m gonna follow His example and seek out solitude to spend time in prayer. I have a mentor/friend who goes away alone every year just to pray. That is a true discipline. I think social media has fried our brains so that they can't be still enough to pray any more. I know I struggle with that.


"all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them" John 8:2

 He wasn’t a "stage/platform guy". He SAT DOWN! He humbled Himself. He let go of status. He just loved people. I think we are living in a selfie world full of people desiring ministry status (if there is such a thing). Jesus motivates me to SIT DOWN and meet people where they are. Especially my kids.
I have no desire for limelight. I want to walk in HIS LIGHT. An unnamed child of mine wants to be famous more than anything. I tell her :)  "be famous in God's eyes". 
I crave anonymity more than ever these days. Just let me be faithful, Lord... changing diapers and teaching toddlers your Word. Help me to SIT DOWN and teach the people around me.


"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
John 21

He cooked yummy breakfast. He found joy in serving food.
I feed 10 people 3 times a day. I could use some new passion in this area!  My homemaking skills are not cutting it lately.  Even with my beloved Cindy.
There are simply a lot of messy oxen in this barn that are gonna produce a harvest one day!
Proverbs 14:4
I have always been a wing-it-girl. I truly have always been the girl who just wants to have fun. Well, you can't do that with 9 starving people all around you. God help me love my JOB of serving food. Give me creative ideas how to feed an army every day! 

( I also love that it says EVEN WITH SO MANY {fish} THE NET WAS NOT TORN because sometimes I worry our quiver may bust open because it's too full but not with Jesus!! lol. The enemy (and the world) love to tell us that we have too many kids. Only Jesus can prevent the net from tearing because it's full. It should have torn. But it didn't! It was full of LARGE HEALTHY FISH. Again, how many children you have is between your husband, you, and the Lord. It is hard to have that "one more" but God will give you the grace you need to survive it. I am living proof. My net should have torn a long time ago.)

Jesus loves full houses. :)
"I want my house to be full."
Luke 14:23


I found this verse the other day and LOVED it:

“If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you RACE AGAINST HORSES? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭12:5‬ ‭


 I’m so thankful with Jesus we can not only walk on water but we can RACE AGAINST HORSES. That’s what having 8 kids feels like.  I want God to teach me how to race against horses. Life with Christ is the greatest adventure.




LET’S GO.

Image result for running with horses

Our identity is not in motherhood because there is a name even greater!
Our identity is in Jesus!
"a name better than sons and daughters; 
I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever."
Is 56:5

Don't find your identity only in being a wife or being a mother. We identify with the name of Jesus and raise children IN HIS NAME.
I am all about having babies.
You have to have a STRONG HUSBAND to bear the weight of it.
You have to have a strong marriage.
You have to have a strong relationship with Jesus.
Focus on those things. Then you will have the strength you need if you feel like God is calling you to have another child to raise for God's glory. Yes, it is HARD. The hardest thing I will ever do on earth. When Tim and I got married, I gave him a globe and told him I wanted to change the world. I could have NEVER dreamed it would look like this. :) 
I am so thankful for these 8 children. I am so thankful I get to be a mom. I am so thankful for GRACE in the journey and a God Who has promised to do this impossible job through me... if I stay out of His way.
Be encouraged sweet sisters. God is calling you to run with horses. I don't pretend to know what that means in your life but God will show you. 
Keep abiding and watch Him do what only He can do.
If you don't know Christ as your Savior, open your Bible.
You will find Him there.


Love and miss all of my blog friends.
What sweet days those were.
Write me any time! Love hearing from you.
tsblackiston@comcast.net




Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bestowed A Beautiful Crown


"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Isaiah 62:3


Belle's pregnancy really felt magical. That doesn't mean I didn't have heartburn like crazy (now I know why--- her HAIR!!), or big ugly varicose veins, or the other strange things that happen in an 8th pregnancy. But more than anything I am going to remember how special I felt to be carrying her in my womb. My tummy made people smile. That is a fun superpower to have! People wanted to talk to me about if she was my first or if she was a boy or a girl. Pregnancy really is an open door for talking to people that is unique. 
Everything felt more beautiful since God placed her in my womb.
Even the snowflakes that fell right before her birth were SHOCKINGLY beautiful in their design.
You could see their perfect shapes. It was crazy!
Of course I thought God made those amazing snowflakes because of Belle but I think He did it to show thousands of people His glory and His creative power.
I've studied snowflakes a lot the last couple years.
He really does reveal Himself through creation!
"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?"
Job 38:22 

I found these fun cookies the day before she was born.
Her name is 
Belle Loren

"beautiful crown"
It all came from the verse God gave me about her.
"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."
Is 61:3
We thought about naming her Bella or Isabelle but Tim chose 
just "Belle" and I love it.
I also love that he named her. 
My dad named me and I will treasure that forever.
There is something deeply powerful about your father calling you by name.
Thankful her heavenly Father will call her by name too!

(I miss my dad so much. I wonder what all he can see while he is present with the Lord.
He loved babies and children... And they loved him.)



This picture was a few hours before we checked in to the hospital.
We were watching Lake play indoor soccer.

( Funny- you can hardly see my tummy in this picture and it looks HUMONGOUS in the next one!)


This was around 4:30 am when we were checking in.


It was stressful because Worth got croup ( I despise croup!) in the night and I was so scared to leave him.
But, we called the Dr, gave him medicine, and prayed. I think I slept 2 hours... maybe.





Tim and I celebrated our 16th anniversary while at the hospital.
What a blessing to share this day with her!
She is such a gift to our family and to our marriage.
The day before she was born, her story flashed through my mind like a movie. 
A vivid glimpse back to the office waiting room where Tim chose to have a reversal, to our date a Chueys when I took a pregnancy test in the bathroom and we just stared at each other while our tacos got cold-lol, to the clear verse God gave me about her (that He had bestowed on us a “crown of beauty”), the gender reveal party when that pink smoke poured out where I’ve honestly never seen deeper joy than I saw on Tim’s face, and the daily joy of carrying her in my womb.

I believe she is especially a gift to Tim. 
The Lord truly does reward us with children.
God saw the amount of courage and faith it has taken to have 8 children.
The amount of energy and discipleship that no one sees (except the Lord).
I truly believe she is a reward.
They all are but she feels like the spiritual icing on our cake.

I have prayed that she would bring Tim great joy.
She has already done that.
I've never seen him more excited about having a baby.
He has had so much peace about her from the beginning.

We were going to renew our vows at the hospital (we do it every year with the kids)
BUT the best laid plans don't happen when you are IN LABOR!!
Belle can be our flower girl after we get home.
Lol.


We "just so happened" to get room #8. :) God is so awesome and in to the details of our lives!
He was there with us.
We knew it. 
His presence is so strong when people are being born and when they are born again!
He is the giver of LIFE.
He is LIFE.
And He gave His life so that we could ALL live.
I love thinking of all the angels encamped and assigned to the Labor and Delivery Floor of the hospital.
Each baby fearfully and wonderfully HAND-made with purpose.
All gifts from God!

So, the doctor came in around 6 am and broke my water around 6:30. In all of my pregnancies, I deliver within 3-4 hours after my water is broken. So I thought she would definitely be here by lunch time! And I was determined NOT to get an epidural. I am scared to death of epidurals after a botched spinal tap 13 years ago that left me in a total mess and needing a patch procedure to fix it.
Years of back pain has made me choose natural labor over a needle in my spine. 
So I was walking up and down the halls with Tim.
I wanted to speed things up so I started climbing the seven flights of stairs.
Then I started skipping stairs.
Then I started using the breast pump.





 Facetimed the kids.
Already missing them like crazy!

 Still 4 cm... what?? 
Wishing I had a cuter hospital gown about now.
I didn't know you could bring your own.
Totally doing that next time!
(ha ha- just kidding mom.. I think our quiver is FULL)

So, more time goes by. I crank up the breast pump. 
Tim was too tired to climb more steps so I kept on by myself.
I hadn't exercised this much in my entire pregnancy.
Some doctors saw me in the stair well and asked me if I was trying to break out.
Ha! I said, "I don't think that would work- I'm trying to have a baby!".
More hall walking.
Contractions are getting stronger.
Two of my best friends are at the hospital and my mom.










 Tim's love for me is mind-blowing. 
I never knew love like this existed.
 Waiting... waiting... waiting.
I thought she would have been here hours ago.



Now, it's like 4:00 pm!!!!
Where is this baby girl??
Doctor informs me I am at 7.5- yay!!
I'm still booking it up and down the stairs.
More pumping, walking, etc...
And NOTHING.
Contractions stop.
This had never happened before.
I was starting to worry.
The doctor says that he may need to start pitocin to jump start things.
Yikes!
I can't do pitocin naturally.
Um- NO.

My "birth plan" isn't panning out.
I was trying so hard to have this baby naturally.
But now I am in a time crunch because my water is broken.



We needed fresh wind and fresh fire!
We were losing steam.








 Tim looks like Clark Kent in his reading glasses.
He is totally superman when he reads the Bible to me.





By 6:00 pm, I was tired.
Stuck at 7.5 cm, 2 hours of sleep, 12+ hours of labor, 500 million miles of stair climbing.
I was scared something was wrong.
I decided to get an epidural.
I couldn't do 8-10 cm on pitocin with no meds. I just couldn't. It was too much.
The lady came in to put in the epidural and I had a breakdown. I was sobbing.
I asked her if I could pray over her hands.
I have epidural phobia thanks to that horrid spinal tap in the ER all those years ago.
Epidural was in and the numbness started immediately.
After they started the pitocin, baby girl was ON HER WAY.
Tim said, "I'm really glad you have that epidural because your contractions are going off the top of the paper and there are no breaks in between them".

I couldn't feel a thing.
It had been a LONG time since I had a baby with an epidural.
Almost 11 years ago.
I forgot how wonderful it was to not feel the pain!




Dr. Brody brought out the bubbles (It was his birthday AND our anniversary AND baby's birthday!).
I let my mom and friends stay in the room. It really was peaceful.
I don't let anybody in when I do it naturally.
(Ain't NOBODY need to see that!)
But when I am not screaming in pain, I want people in there to experience the miracle of BIRTH.
I listened to Christy Nockels song "All for Your Splendor" on repeat.
I probably listened to it 50 times.
It makes me cry because the lyrics are from her verse.
I could listen to it 50 times right now!



 I am so thankful Suzy and mom were there with me. 
Belle is named after my mom, Lorene.
Belle is her 12th grandchild.
She only had 2 daughters.
That's a big boost for the family tree!

 She's here! Praise God! 
She's safe.
I just wanted her here safely.
Thank you, Lord.




I had a bet with Tim that she was going to have RED hair.
I just thought she would- have no idea why.
And then out came the most beautiful BRUNETTE baby girl!







What a surprise!
She always looked so beautiful in her ultrasound pictures.
She would even cross her little ankles and be so feminine.
Outside of the womb, she is like a gorgeous porcelain doll who just so happens to be the spitting image of her daddy!
What a privilege to have a front row seat to such miracles.
I still can't believe God has allowed me to be part of all of these LIVES!
I have no doubt that I am doing exactly what I was created to do.
God has asked me to be a vessel and a voice for life.



 Tim cutting the cord.
 Love!

You can see my tear in the next one. 
Oh the tears of thankfulness when I saw her and held her in my arms!















Suzy is one of the most thoughtful, loving people I have ever met.
So blessed to have had her as a best friend for over 15 years.
If you know of any GODLY men, let me know.
She is waiting on God's best.









This picture means the world to me. 
Such of picture of my relationship with Jesus. 

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬


The verses I think of when I think of Tim are...


"Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man?
The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him."
Prov 20:6,7

By God's grace and strength, Tim is a faithful man.
He has his struggles and failures like all of us.
That's why we all need a daily walk with a Savior!
His life blesses me and our children.
I love and respect him more every day.
He brings such stability to our family.
He knows he is completely dependent on the Lord and spends time in the Word every morning.
Knowing He is submitting to the Lord makes it so easy to submit to him.


I run to the Lord and Tim in times of trouble. And I am kept safe. I find help and protection. 

I can hide under their protective wings. 

I especially have to do that during pregnancy and postpartum months as I am so physically/spiritually vulnerable. 
It baffles me to watch all the feminist marches. I guess I can understand to a degree but coming under this man’s authority is the smartest thing I could have ever done. 
I’m so thankful for his strength and protection over me. I KNOW I am the weaker vessel. 


“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭


Thankful we all have “equal rights” to enter the throne room and presence of God. Thankful God sees no distinction between male and female in His love and care. But there are roles (leadership/submission)that are beautiful when 2 are walking in submission to the Lord.

Thankful for this dear friend. 
She is a rescuer. Taking care of orphans and her needy friends like me.
She took all the beautiful pictures.
I am indebted to her.
Not for the pictures but for her pure and rich friendship.



Meeting her teenage brother for the first time. 
He is the one who begs to hold her the most.
He got my dad's baby-lovin' DNA.

No doubt Hope gets most of the credit for her. She told me years ago she KNEW God was going to give her a sister because she asked Him for one. We all need that type of faith! I am so excited for both of them.
Belle is SO stinkin cute.
Real life doll.


 I told my friend today I simply don’t have a “file” for her. I just stare at her in awe of God’s goodness. She is so peaceful. She hardly cries. Her little face is perfect. She’s feminine. I catch myself wanting to say “he” or “him” because I’m SO used to having baby boys. And a smile covers my face as I get to say “HER”. 




I did get a spinal headache. It was really bad.
They wanted to do ANOTHER patch procedure but I just wanted to GO HOME. No more needles in my back.
 I prayed God would heal the leak without intervention. 
I had to lay down in the back of the truck on the way home because my head throbbed if I sat up or stood up. I really do hate epidurals. 
Belle stayed in bed with me as I dealt with this spinal headache and tried to keep her safe from germy siblings. 
Mom was here grocery shopping and helping with homeschool. She’s been a lifesaver so I could deal with this terrible headache. 
Thankful God gives grace and help when we need it most.
It's a week later now and my headache is almost gone, praise the Lord!











"He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.
Praise the LORD!"
Psalm 113:9


I can't stop thinking about this verse. It popped in my head as I woke up yesterday. (I think when a song or a verse is in your head when you wake up, it is because the Lord has been watching over you while you are sleeping. Singing and using His Word to give you strength. Isn't that so awesome??).

I am so happy that God has given me a family and allowed me to be a mother. PRAISE THE LORD!! 
It is a lot of work. Overwhelming and impossible task actually. 
The last few weeks have been especially hard. 
I've got amazing kids but they are leaders and high energy.
I have one especially busy little boy that is a full time job.
When your tummy is so big that you can't pick things up off the floor... the house gets out of control... you just want to sleep all the time... momma gets GROUCHY.
Not been the happy mother I've wanted to be!
Those nights I go to bed completely defeated and convinced my kids are ruined for life.
But God gives more grace and new mercies!
And we have access to all we need because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.
It's like a spiritual pinata burst open when He conquered death.
How much "spiritual candy" we pick up is up to us!
I need every bit! 

I want to be a HAPPY mom!
 When I am walking with the Lord in thankfulness, then He makes me happy! 
I want my kids to know THEY make me happy! 
Yes, this is HARD. Very hard.

 I can so easily fall into my flesh and I need God to CHANGE me! 
A HAPPY mom stands out. (A mean mom does too- they scare me and really make me want to run to the Lord!! I don’t want to be THAT MOM. I think sometimes God puts a mirror in front of us!! ).
 I have had 5 sick kids, a spinal headache, a tiny newborn who is learning to nurse, etc... Yet God is giving me joy! His promises are real. And are for me AND YOU! 
I am so thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. We have heaven’s spiritual blessings available to us as mothers. We just have to lay hold of it! (Or “appropriate” it as my pastor Wayne used to say!) “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may LAY HOLD of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭

I’m determined to GRAB HOLD of the JOY God has already placed in my account! Thankful we can’t overdraft our accounts!! Be encouraged mommas, He has more grace, more forgiveness, more joy, more love than you could ever imagine...stored up for you. Spend time with Him and ask Him for what you need!


"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY."

Psalm 126:3

Well, that's her birth story.
I wish I had done it without an epidural but I am laying it down.
Control is a myth, right?
She's here and she's safe. That is all that matters.
Our mentor likes to joke that having a baby isn't a competitive sport.
Getting them here safely is the goal.

We are head over heels for this baby girl and blown away by God's gift to us.
Now, may He empower us to do the impossible and to love them all with His love and not our own. To train them up in the Word and to be faithful to pray for them.
Being a mom is such an honor and eternally significant.
It is WORK.
At the end of my life, I want to be able to say what Jesus did...

 "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do."
John 17:4

Not by power, nor by might, but by His Spirit!
Be blessed~
Steph