Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is she thinking?????

5 kids.

Seems a little shocking to some.... It was to me. That is why I needed time to process this and be still before the Lord before we announced it. I wasn't ready for the shock and gasping that I knew was coming.

Because I am starting to wonder if I have lost my mind myself.

What am I thinking?

Here is the deal: When I gave my life to Jesus Christ in college, He turned everything upside down. I had made my own plans up until that point. When I gave my life to Christ, I said, "I have nothing to give you but I give you all that I am." God began to re-direct my paths. I had planned on getting married and teaching High School Health but instead God showed me He had other plans if I would trust Him. I began to understand that this life of faith was an adventure and at times... HARD. God (through His Word) began to change me from the inside out!


"Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:2 (The Message)


I was like a wobbly legged doe learning to walk. I fell a lot. I still fall a lot! I don't know what I am doing. I never planned on having a big family. I never pictured myself as a mom. That was too foreign to me. But, step-by-step, God began to teach me how to walk. The girl with the hard, rebellious heart began to fall in love with Jesus. I just wanted to be near Him. He was everything to me. After graduating from UTK, I went to Bible College in Austria and studied the Bible. (If you are single, GO!! http://www.ccbce.com/ ) God had so much junk that had to be cleaned out and replaced by His Word. My mind had to be renewed. I didn't understand spiritual things. But, God's Word began to change me fast. For the first time in 20 years, I realized my life wasn't meant to be lived for me but for Christ.

"And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart."


Ezekiel 36:26



I have shared before that God gave me a promise (through prayer) for a godly husband. So, I prayed and waited. Walking completely by faith that God could actually do something that undeserved.


Then, He did.

Tim pretty much fell out of the sky. God confirmed very quickly to both of us that we were

"the one the Lord had chosen" (Gen 24:44)for one another.

We were married 6 months later.


On our honeymoon, I was having my quiet time and started crying. I didn't know why the Lord had blessed me with a godly husband I didn't deserve. I was overwhelmed with thanks and reverence.

I prayed, "God, why have you blessed me so much?"

That morning in Maui, I was reading straight through my Bible and just happened to be in Malachi 2.


"Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he WAS SEEKING GODLY OFFSPRING." Mal 2:15



I don't know if you have ever had a "Jesus moment" where He just blows you backwards off your feet. When you are reading the Bible and you KNOW He has just spoken specifically to you... giving you a promise... or a rebuke... or encouragement... or just taught you something really cool.



"And as he [Jesus] said, "I am he," they all fell backward to the ground!" John 18:6



Well, it was one of those moments for me. Jesus spoke and I (in my heart) fell backwards because of the power of His Words to me. I KNEW the Lord had just given me a prophetic promise about future children. It was confusing though (as all of His callings on my life have been) because I immediately think...


"you've got the wrong girl, Lord. Maybe my prayer signals got crossed with some other girl's because....I can't DO THAT!!!!"



And... THAT IS TRUE.



'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." Zec 4:6 (A life verse to me!)


So, a couple days into our honeymoon, I told Tim, "I think the Lord just gave me a promise about children!". I had waited so long to have sex that I had decided I was going to be married at least 5 years, travel the world, and enjoy my husband before children. Children were NOWHERE on MY radar screen. They really never had been. Did God really just tell me He wanted us to have children and raise them to be godly? Yep.


Me? A mom, Lord?


"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Prov 16:9



So, a few months later, we (again!) changed our plans and began to pray for children. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Then, the Lord gave us another child. We were both over-the-moon ecstatic when Reece arrived. Although, we had NO IDEA what to do with him.



The nurses in the hospital had to show us what to do with him. We were both so inexperienced with babies, it was scary. Step by step, God began to teach me how to be a mother. Next, He blessed us with Bubba. Life was picture-perfect! 2 baby boys! A great marriage. Leading college Bible Studies. Cruising in life. What we didn't know was that an unexpected storm was forming in the distance.



"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat." Matt 8:24



Without warning, I got very sick. Severe Headaches, joint pain, fatigue (that made pregnancy seem like a walk in the park), my muscles began to harden, and eventually I began struggling to formulate my thoughts into words. Months went by. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease but it was too late. I had been mis-diagnosed and missed my opportunity to treat the infection so I would probably be chronically ill for the rest of my life. At one point, I was bed-ridden from illness+a botched spinal tap. I had an IV that went into my heart for 17 weeks and was on home health.


As I lay in bed unable to move, I begged God to heal me and let me be a wife and a mother again. I was watching other people care for my children. Something happened down deep in my soul during that darkness. God began to change me at the core. Proving to me that He was enough and His Word would be the only lifeboat I had. 3 years of suffering went by. I was told I could have no more children. I watched as all my healthy friends had babies and my non-Christian neighbors seemed to have life on a stick. But, during those horrific days God was drawing me in close. I call them my teacher's pet years. He wanted me close. I now know it was a time of favor as God began to give me the riches and treasure found in the secret place of suffering.





"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Is 45:3


My faith was tested. And, really hung in there by a thread... or shall I say "mustard seed". Thanks to people like Jill and Celeste who never stopped approaching the throne on my behalf.


"The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed." Ps 41:3


My heart ached for more children but the doctors advised us against it. My husband never stopped praying for me. Every night he would take care of ALL OF US and lay his hands on me asking for a miraculous healing. He never once doubted it would come. I DID. After many prayer sessions where I left as sick as I came, I was weary. Should I settle in? Is this God's plan for me? To be sick the rest of my life? Then my friend Lisa spoke a sustaining word to the weary (Is 50:4): She said with much seriousness, "Don't ever stop asking. You don't know when He will choose to say YES! Keep asking." So, I kept asking for healing even though I had asked 1 million times before and it hadn't come. One day, He said.... "Yes" and supernaturally healed my body. He is our healer, Jehovah Rapha.


"O LORD, you alone can heal me; you alone can save. My praises are for you alone!" Jeremiah 17:14



He gave us Lake and Hope during those dark days of suffering. What treasures! I want to encourage anyone out there who is suffering in a wilderness that seems to have no way out. Years of suffering that has worn you down. Affliction that is beyond your ability to endure.



"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us" 2 Cor 1:8-10


I am talking about situations that are so dire, you need a miracle similar to Lazarus' resurrection to escape. Gary Smalley is teaching us in our Bible Study (Guarding Your Child's Heart-- GET IT!!!!) that it is in those times we are told to REJOICE!


Rejoice DURING my trial?


What?


Are you kidding me?


Gary says that he and his wife lift their hands and say, "YAY!!" during those trials. Not because they are fun but based on these verses...


"Not only so, but we also REJOICE in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us," Romans 5:3,4



We rejoice out of sheer obedience. Not because we feel like it. Because we believe BY FAITH that God is doing something marvelous behind the scenes.


God, in His grace, decided to calm my storm. He delivered me. He has given me my health back.


"Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love"


Ps 107:28-31


That trial changed my perspective on many things. I realized motherhood is a gift. Having children is a gift. Raising children is a gift.


I don't have a desire to have lots of "babies". I have a desire to raise up children to know and serve the living God. That their highest goal in life is to love God with all their heart, soul, and strength. Children who will take the message of the gospel into the dark world. Children who have hearts of worship and commitment to Jesus Christ.


I can't do that in my strength. But God can and He will do that! Because He desires godly children! He is on our team to raise them! Empowering us to bring them to the feet of Jesus!


"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Prov 22:6


"Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows in a warrior's hands." Ps 127:3,4



We are sharpening these little arrows in our home to hit THE BULL'S EYE. What is the bull's eye? The glory of God. Jesus Christ! They are not going to fly straight for a long time. They are going to miss the target most of the time like we do. But, we can't give up on our efforts to have skilled arrows. What will enable our arrows to fly straight is the power of the Word of God. It will direct them straight to the center of the bulls eye. It will direct them when we are no longer with them. When you teach your kids the Word of God, you are not only teaching them but GIVING THEM THE TEACHER Who will teach them for the rest of their lives.


If Jesus calls me home to be with Him (btw I want to be buried in my wedding dress if He does. I am His Bride and I am heading to my reception! I CANNOT WAIT to see Jesus face-to-face. I know that is morbid to some but my groom is waiting on me and I am waiting on Him.)... what was I saying?? Oh yeah, if God calls me home then God's Word will continue to teach them even if I am no longer here to watch over them! How cool is that!


It will guide them, watch over them, speak to them, illuminate the RIGHT path for them to take! If that doesn't motivate us moms to teach our kids the Word, I don't know what will!



"Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light" Prov 6:21-23


I can work my tail off through prayer and teaching them the Word (and I will!) but God must develop and change their hearts. And HE IS! It is so exciting to watch as God's Word begins to teach my children and mold them.


So, what am I thinking by having 5 children? Have I lost my mind? No. I haven't lost my mind. I have lost my life in order to truly find it. God has called me to raise up children to know and love Him. I don't know how many. Maybe 5. I will follow Tim's lead on that decision. But, this is a personal thing between me and the Lord. Something I know He has asked me to do. That is why I homeschool. He has asked me to. Will I forever? I don't know. I will let Him continue to guide our steps.


Right now, I need to figure out how to juggle 4 kids at the baseball field. That is NUTS.


I treasure this time with my children. It is hard work.


I am completely dependent on the Lord for His help and His strength.


He is my Provider. He is my Husband.


Life with Christ is a love story. It is an adventure. It is exciting. It is supernatural. It is ever-changing. It is WORTH IT.


If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Savior from your sins, please let today be the day you trust His death to take the place of yours so that you may begin to live...


TRULY LIVE.


To Him be all the glory forever and ever.


Steph

13 comments:

Victoria said...

I have struggled with the "losing my life so that I can truly find it" part of life. I have battled a bit with God on His plans for my life, and my complete surrender of my (selfish) plans. He has captured my attention through making me the mother of two amazing little men. I really appreciate you sharing your journey and growing relationship with God. I have learned and continue to blessed. I will be praying for you through your pregnancy! Oh, and I am so happy that you are feeling better. I still remember those early days (i think) after you had Bubba and were in such pain. Thankful for the Healer.

Amanda May said...

No words. Praise you, God!! Your faith inspires. Thank you!

Kristy McBryar said...

I was not shocked in the least! Being a mom is your spiritual calling....I knew that even before I read your post. I can't wait to see the addition to your beautiful family!

Taylor said...

Beautiful post. :) Fill the world with those beautiful babies that will be raised with the love of Christ surrounding them! Congratulations again and enjoy every moment of giving new life!

Megan said...

I don't know you personally, but what I do know is that Jesus shines His light through you. Thank you for being so real and honest and for backing up what you learn and beleive through amazing pieces of scripture. You inspire me in ways that you will never know.

mama faith said...

I hear ya sister. What a beautiful mother you are to want something so precious for your children. My hope is that my boys will help make disciples and know the hunger for Christ. Prayers for a healthy pregnancy!

Lindsay Rose said...

I am the oldest of 5 kids and we all LOVE having such a big family! I am actually the only girl with 4 bothers :)
We are all very close! My mom always said that you really need to be "called" to have that many kids. My parents did such a great job raising us and giving us equal attention.

We are all adults now and holiday's are so fun with everyone!
I pray many blessings on your big, fun family!
Lindsay

Anonymous said...

as I read this I thought - "and my look what we sure would have missed out on if four had been all we'd had..." -- not tom mention, the glory God is receiving and will receive due to the lives that He gave us after #4 baby at our home.
I can't imagine life without my "Bub" - our #5 baby. He is awesome! and He is apart of our love, God's love - and will be apart of giving God's love to others.

Praise God for this #5 baby He has given you! Yes, so worth it. always.

alyssa

marymelstampers said...

Beautiful blessing!
So joyful for your family, Steph!
Mary

perennial-mommy said...

I found your blog through a comment by Rachel Johnson on the Pioneer Woman's blog. I read her comment and followed the link because my name is Rachael Johnson, too! Weird...I know. Anyway, this post touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Children are a blessing...a GIFT! I am a born again Christian, homeschool mom of 3 and hoping for more. Your words are so encouraging and Praise God for your healing. AMEN!

Bonnie said...

BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for writing this and sharing.

Bonnie said...

(I also found this through a comment on PW's page (about Matt Damon dopplegangers!)

Dawn said...

What a beautiful post. I don't know how I found your blog, but I too am a homeschooling mom of 3 boys, 1 girl and pg with #5 due in January. (don't know what that one is) I can relate to many things in this post.