Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Plans and His

I recently shared part of my God Story with my dear friends at 

I have the privilege of being a mentor, because I have the privilege of being old. The young moms graciously use the word "experienced," but we all know they mean old.
(Funny things is that the age of my youngest child just barely disqualifies me for attending MOPS as a Mom Of a PreSchooler) 

While sharing a story I know (because, of course, I lived it) I was interested with a contrast which I hadn't previously considered. The discovery-of-sorts involves two separate times in my life. 

I was sharing some of God's Grace through 
the ups and the downs of my life. 

The first Sustained Down of my adult life was when Mark and I were joyously expecting our third child. Odd time to have a down, but God was writing the story, not Nicholas Sparks.

Because Mark was having some health issues that our medical minds knew could be
the worse possible scenario,
I was pretty unhappy. Here I was with our third child on the way, and there was a very good possibility the Daddy of my kids was looking at cancer. A yucky one. What was God thinking? What in the world would I do if I had to raise these three little ones without their daddy?
Did I mention, What was God thinking?

I was reading through the Bible that year and often used the boys' nap time to spend time in His Word and to pray. One particular Spring afternoon, I recall my beginning-to-be-overstuffed belly rubbing our overstuffed blue chair as I kneeled and prayed with hands held open: Okay. Fine. You're God. You know the end from the Beginning and You have this figured out. If You need to take my husband in order for Your will to be done, I guess You know what you're doing. My family is Yours.

My realization was that I couldn't "hold Mark in my life" in clenched fists, but neither could I hold anything else God wanted to give me. I began to pray "open palmed" that day. I still do (peek under the table when we ask His Blessing on the food, and there's a good chance they'll be open.) 

What I never suspected was that God was taking me through a spiritual chasm that was leading to a deep and sad valley for us. He didn't take my husband, but we soon lost the daughter I was carrying. I am surprised that 19 years later, it makes me weep. Ashley was still born at 27 weeks gestation, and my incredible, deep passage through grief began.

So, where was this Grace I experienced?
It was in the knowledge that God had loving walked me through the spiritual journey of giving my family to Him, before I was asked to walk through the physical and emotional trail I covered that year. None of it was pleasant, but He graced us with a loving church, kind friends, and a Comforter that gave peace we couldn't explain. I trusted that He had purpose in my pain, and trusted He would bring beauty to our ashes.

It was the first time my plans and His were in direct opposition 
and I chose to trust.

Another chapter in my God Story has more to do with gaining a child than losing one. Without giving details that could someday wound a delightful son of ours, I hope you'll hear my heart when I say that God asked us to parent our 7th child at a time when I was doing all I possibly could to parent the 6 we had. It was again a spiritual battle for me, but of another sort.

When we were asked by Matthew's birth mother if we would foster him while she dealt with some personal issues, I was certain it was the right thing to do. Mark and I were certain that God was asking us to trust Him and to obey the promptings of His Spirit. 

The ugly truth is I did not want to

Every minute this new child required of the Mama (and it was a good assumption that he'd need many minutes as he acclimated to a very new normal in his young life) meant a minute that my own kids would not be getting. Mrs. Analogy here felt that "pouring into" our 6 kids was an investment that you could "hear at the bottom of the pitcher." Pouring into Matthew sounded like emptying myself into a bottomless well--no guarantees, in any way, that our investment would change his life. 

It was the first time my plans and His were in direct opposition 
and I chose to obey.

God's grace in adding Matthew was miraculous. He added time and energy for Enough.
Enough of everything necessary.
He gave me miraculous pockets of one-on-one with each of the other kids, as well as patience with this little boy who had so much change happening in his life. (Honestly, if YOU were dropped into the middle of this particular family of Crazy 8s, how well would YOU do?!) 

In losing Ashley, I didn't have a choice. 
This is what life dealt; how are you going to handle it?

In adding Matthew, I had to make a choice. 
God is asking for obedience when it makes no sense; how are you going to handle it? 

These events in God's Story of my Life have another thing in common: they're behind me. I can look back at them and pull myself through the time in between to see the ways 
God has Graced me, and Grown me. He doesn't owe me any explanations, but I have seen ways that He's redeemed my losses. It strengthens my walk with Him today, and gives us interesting conversations along the way. I know He is trustworthy--although it still takes me a moment to decide whether I want to trust Him when things are difficult. I know He is gentle; I know He has much bigger plans that I can fathom; I know He will supply the needs each day, as the need shows up.

He's created beauty out of things that don't even look like ashes to me anymore. He's given me an incredible family. He's given me incredible daily walk with Him. 

He's given. So much.


  1. Sharing with others what the Lord has taught you brings the lesson full circle. Thanks for letting us peek into your relationship with God.

  2. I love you. And feel privileged to have walked with you through one of these valleys.

    Hearing the way you wrapped up these 2 times in your life into 2 statements has resonated in my head and heart for over a week now. I've shared it aloud with one friend and plan to with another who's seeking the Father right now. Am pretty sure that I'll never forget where I was and what God said to me as I read your words. Looking forward to sharing it with you soon.