My husband and I have two little ones we believe are in heaven. We never met either of them. I carried each one in my womb for only a few short weeks and then the Lord took them home.
I remember it well, staring at the ultrasound screen, hoping, praying to see that beating heart, only to be informed by the technician that it had stopped.
Each baby was small, but I could see the form of his or her head and body. Each one was my son or daughter; yet each was a baby I would never hold.
As painful as those two miscarriages were, I can’t imagine the pain of a mother who has actually held her little one, only to lose him or her in the end. I can’t imagine what you must think and feel on Mother’s Day.
But many godly men and women throughout history can relate to your experience. Their writings—the encouragement they received from God’s Word—are compiled in a book called From Grief to Glory: Spiritual Journeys of Mourning Parents.
One of these men was John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. He and his wife, Elizabeth, suffered the loss of two children. Considering their eternal future, he wrote:
“God comforted Rachel concerning her children that Herod murdered because of the birth of Christ. He bids her not to cry with the promise that her children would come again from the land of the enemy, from death. And I think this should be mentioned, not only for her and their sakes, but to comfort all those that either have had, or yet may have, their children suffer…. None of these things happen without the determinate counsel of God. He has ordained the sufferings of little children as well as that of persons more in years. And it is easy to think that God can as well foresee which of his elect shall suffer…in their infancy, as which of them shall then die a natural death. He has saints small in age as well as in esteem. And although I desire not to see these days again, yet it will please me to see those little ones…standing in their white robes with the elders of their people, before the throne, singing unto the Lamb.”
I pray this picture of your child’s joy in heaven may fill your heart with comfort and hope this Mother’s Day.
It’s almost Mother’s Day again. And for some of you, this can be a bittersweet holiday. You delight in the opportunity that this occasion affords to honor your own mother and all your friends who are mothers, but you also can be saddened by the reality that you are not yet a mother, even though you long to be.
Perhaps you are single and there does not appear to be any prospect for marriage in the near future. You are keenly aware, however, that the body clock is ticking. You may fear that the childbearing years will pass you by.
Others of you may be married and have been trying to get pregnant for months now. Maybe even years. But still no baby.
In her book, The True Woman, Susan Hunt, includes a story by a woman who faces this very struggle. Debbie Trickett from Atlanta, Georgia, knows the heart-wrenching challenge of infertility. But Debbie also knows the heart-changing power of savoring God’s presence and goodness. We got permission to share her story with you. We pray it will impart fresh comfort and encouragement to any who have an unfulfilled longing for children:
Children. I want children. Not just a baby. Not just a child. I want children. Three of them. If I were younger, I might want more, but at thirty-four three seems like a good number. Marrying a little late and moving across the country a couple of times as well as a long-running struggle to pay the rent delayed the real trying for a while. The trying has been going on for a long time now. Not as long a many of you, but much longer than most.
To no avail. No children. Not one pregnancy. I have never experienced that wonder of knowing that there is a life inside of me. Instead, there is a longing that will not be filled, that will not be diminished, that will not end this side of heaven without children to fill it.
Nothing else in my life has been as baffling to me as not being able to conceive a child. My emotions hide even from myself, spilling out in tears of sadness or anger at the most inopportune times. There have been no days of real clarity, no times when a light has come on to show the way—not even a little. But the mysterious and marvelous mercy of God has convinced me of one thing in all of this—it is dark because I am in that deep, hidden place under God’s wing.
Certainly, the inability to bear children to the glory of God is due to the sinfulness of sin and its effect on all of life. It is not that God punishes us by not allowing us to give birth to the offspring we most desperately desire. It is rather that we, along with all of creation, suffer the wretched consequences of the sin of our first mother and father, Adam and Eve, compounded by the sin of all the sinners who have come after them. And that, of course, is all of us.
Since this is so, I know that, as with all of life, I must not put my trust in anything other than God, even in the provision of a child. This does not necessarily mean that I may not use a medical intervention to try to conceive a child. It does not mean that adoption is not an option to pursue. Rather, I trust that God in His mercy has given us these means as part of His redemption from the effects of the Fall.
At times the knowledge that God has given His covenant of grace to believers and their children makes not being able to have a child even more difficult to understand and bear. God has rescued me from such a desperate place and has given me such a glorious glimpse of Himself that I want, with all that is within me, to see this passed on to the next generation of my family, my children.
My heart cries out, “Why, O God, will You not answer this prayer? Why will You not do this simple thing for me and for Your own name’s sake? You do it for so many so easily. Your marvelous grace. Why not to me?” With thoughts like these, it is easy to fall into deep despair, and at times I certainly do. When this happens, God in His time and His various graceful ways, comes to me to remind me that I am not alone.
He does not, as so many do, tell me that “my time will come.” He does not say that if I will just relax and not try so hard, everything will be okay. He does not say, “If you adopt a baby, you’ll get pregnant.” He does say that He is with me. He weeps with me as Jesus wept for Lazarus. He reminds me that He is good and that He can be trusted with my heart. Any doubt of that was wiped away at the Cross.
He has given His best to me, His own beautiful, beloved Child. Will He withhold any good thing from me? No, never. Is Jesus enough to make up for this aching void in my soul? I do not always feel that it is so. But it is. Jesus loves me—this I know.
Taken from True Women by Susan Hunt, (c)1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, www.crossway.com.
While the four of us don’t have as much time for reading as we would like, I think we read faster than we update the “Books We’re Reading” list on our sidebar. So, today I checked in with Mom, Kristin, and Janelle, and here are some of the latest titles from our bedside tables.
Mom has begun to read Memorable Women of Puritan Times, Vols 1&2 by James Anderson. “The wives and mothers of the Puritan leaders shaped their lives as much as did their mentors and instructors. Here, in two beautiful volumes, are the stories of 25 women who influenced history and the kingdom of God by their relationships with and to the men God placed in their lives” (from the book description).
In addition, Mom and I are both reading an instructive book Dad gave us called Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.
Kristin is reading the Crossway Classic Commentary on Luke by J.C. Ryle in her quiet time. Her friend, Jerusha suggested it, and Kristin says it’s living up to her high recommendation.
Speaking of commentaries, Janelle is half-way through Esther and Ruth by Iain M. Duguid. Kristin recently finished this one and found it both inspiring and applicable.
Janelle’s also beginning Deception by one of our favorite authors, Randy Alcorn. If she doesn’t keep a close eye on this one, I’m going to steal it next time I’m at her house. Can you hurry up and finish already, Janelle?
In my “spare” time, I’m working my way through a biography of Anne Bradstreet by Heidi L. Nichols.
Hopefully it won’t be another year before we finish these books or update our sidebar. But I’m not making any promises!
The warm weather rouses us to clean and organize; but it also launches the spring fashion season. As we pack away the sweaters and pull out the t-shirts, we’ve got to consider more than style. We must evaluate, and each year, reevaluate whether or not our clothes our modest.
Styles are constantly revolving, but sadly, modesty never seems to top the agenda for fashion designers. As Christian women, though, modesty is not an option. In 1 Timothy 2:9 we’re instructed to: “adorn [ourselves] in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.”
Recently, Crosswalk.com serialized posts we wrote on this verse collectively entitled: “Fashion and Following the Savior.” You can read parts one, two and three, as well as modesty testimonies and links, and thoughts on wedding attire at the modesty section on our blog. And to help you reevaluate your wardrobe, we hope the Modesty Heart Check we’ve compiled comes in handy.
Happy Spring everyone! May the clothes we wear be pleasing to God this season!
Thank you to all who participated in our spring cleaning contest!
To conclude the week, we leave you with this Friday Funny sent to us by June Lee. The caption reads: “Just when you thought you had everything….”
(for Nicole, Kristin and Janelle)
The winner of the grand prize for our “Pick One Spot” contest is… TINA POWERS. Congratulations, Tina! You did a fabulous job revamping your storage area!
Here is a brief explanation from our winner as to how the spot got messy and how she got it organized:
About a year and a half ago God provided us a new home closer to our church and we decided to refinish the basement to provide play space for the kids, a home office for my husband and storage for all our homeschooling materials. We never “unpacked” the boxes and moved them into this storage area in the corner - with hopes of only having to unpack them once. Well, the refinishing of the basement was halted mid-project - but we still needed the stuff from the boxes, and we needed to put more stuff in the storage area. Well, we ended up with chaos!!
My husband built new storage shelves and we went to work. I have to also mention that I had the help of a very good friend, Corrine who kept me motivated and came in to help my cluttered mind make sense of the mess and reorganize. She is definitely a grace gift to me! Thank You, Corrine!
It feels good to have one area gutted and cleaned! We have more rooms to go (they aren’t all as bad as this one) - but now that we are started - we are motivated to keep moving!
Tina, looking at your “after” picture has motivated us all to “keep moving” with cleaning and organizing our homes for God’s glory!
Our fifth and final runner-up is Nancy who recently graduated from college and moved back home. We think you’ll be inspired by her humble email:
Hello to the ladies of girltalk!
Such timely words you all provided me with!
Allow me to explain! I’m a messy person. I have to admit it. I grew up in a messy family. For years and years, my three sisters and I have been working to fight against the clutter. But deep down, I think we’re all pretty messy. I have to admit that my messiness comes from being lazy. My room is filled with clutter! I honestly have a difficult time finding anything! I have been so short-sighted in failing to see how cleanliness is an opportunity to bring glory to God. When things are messy, it is more easy to get distracted searching for things and any added distraction takes away from ministry time or simply being still & acknowledging God!
But God, in His great timing and wonderful grace (not to mention, humor) provided me with the great encouragement I needed through your spring cleaning contest! Our Savior is truly so sovereign and good!
After reading your encouraging entries on cleaning, lightning struck over and over! I realized that cleaning is a great way to share God’s beauty with others. I was inspired. Instead of sitting around the house all day doing nothing and choosing to watch tv (so fruitless!), I promised God that I would clean daily for His glory. I committed myself to clean for several reasons: 1) as I grew up in an unbelieving family, this would be a great way to be a “light,” a true witness; 2) to make better use of my time; 3) to be a disciplined steward for Him (we must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness! 1 Timothy 4:7); 4) a means to serve my family joyfully; 5) a way to bless others—those who might visit, so that they might be able to delight in God’s beauty; 6) a way to practice for the future high calling of being both a wife and mother, who maintains a respectable household for her husband and children to delight in; 7) of course, to GLORIFY God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
With that testimony behind me, I would like to present to you the “before” and “after” of my room at home! Hope this really gives you a good picture of just how God really helped me to accomplish this daunting task! It was truly a joyful process for me and I pray that you would all be blessed and encouraged, too.
Your fellow worker and sister,
Congratulations Nancy—on your graduation and your clean room!
If you are a parent and did not have a chance to join us in the Covenant Life Church familyroom last month, please take a listen. Our very own Brian and Kristin Chesemore, along with pastors Kenneth Maresco and John Loftness and their wives participated in a q&a session for parents of young children, teenagers, and young adults. A message by Grant Layman and helpful questions for parents of young children and teenagers are also available at the Covenant Life Church website.
Today’s winner sent her pictures along with this delightful email:
First, please know that I am probably the most excited person about this contest. The day you posted it, I did not get to read your blog until everyone was in bed. I literally ran and woke my husband up and told him about it.
You see the room that I chose is my school room. But lately, it has been the “hurry and throw the stuff in there and close the door, we will deal with it later” room…. I have been so down about that room that every time I walked by it I would shut the door and just carry the weight on my shoulders. When my kids would say their math is in the school room, I would tell them, “Don’t go in there I will loose you, just find another math around the house to do.”
I spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday organizing it. Whether I win or not, I feel so good that this room is done…. Thank you for the encouragement.
Congratulations Kellie and hope you and your family enjoy your newly-beautified school-room!
Our runner up for today is Patty from Indiana, PA. This sweet mom helped her daughter tackle her bedroom. I’m liking this idea! Hey, Mom, how about some mother-daughter bonding time cleaning out my bedroom closet???
Congrats, Patty. Y’all did a fabulous job with this room.