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Hello, ladies of The Springs Fellowship! I had something on my heart that I wanted to share with you, and I thought this blog format we’ve used in the past would be a great way to do so. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!!!

– Cathryn Wrightwoman

I had grand Kingdom plans for our new venture in Tahoka. I had a second chance as a football coach’s wife, and I had a better attitude, much more confidence and a greater understanding of the need for kindness, grace and honesty among women. I was going to build relationship with these coaches’ wives; our family was going to move to Tahoka, embrace small town life, have play dates, help out our neighbors, and I would be a women of grace and honesty, willing to admit that I occasionally leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight, get impatient with my children, and hide in my locked bathroom while eating brownie batter because I don’t want to share. I would take the place God had put us and be everything that I could possibly be! I would give women courage and hope!

None of this happened. A truly crazy series of events ended our house selling in Lubbock and buying in Tahoka just days before closing. My kids were sick so much during football season that I hardly made it out to the games to spend time with the other wives and build relationship, and when I did go, I felt left out, although that had way more to do with my insecurities than anything else. I had the “official” coach’s wife shirt, but I was not “in”. I felt hurt and disappointed. I had been willing to really jump in to this new community, and I felt so shut out. After a little pity party, I decided that I would be friendly no matter what. I would take the few opportunities (mostly on Facebook) to be honest, encourage, and gracious. I would pray for them and do what I could. My mom is always saying “as far as it depends on me…” (Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”) So as far as it depended on me, I tried.

When the school year ended, and we knew Jerod would not be returning to Tahoka, I figured it was for the best. Nothing had worked out like I had hoped. My grand Kingdom plans to bringing Christ’s Kingdom to our little part of the Tahoka had fallen flat. We moved on. Jerod got a new position in a new district. We were very pleased, and hoped it will be a good fit. We don’t regret our time in Tahoka. We met good people and Jerod had a good year. We knew God had a reason for our being there and a reason for our leaving, but we could only guess at it.

Then today, July 21, while thinking about the beginning of a new football season in a new district and a new group of coaches’ wives to meet and navigate, I get a complete shock. I received a Facebook message from a coach’s wife in Tahoka. One that I thought had hardly noticed me. She wrote, that a lady in the store patted her on the back and said to “keep it up” while her preschooler was throwing a fit and her infant began crying. She said that the lady’s sweet spirit and calm words in the middle of chaos reminded her of me, and, she didn’t know why, but she thought I needed to know that. My jaw dropped. I was completely and utterly shocked, flabbergasted, bewildered and gob smacked.

My Kingdom plans may have failed. I never got to do the cookie exchange I had planned or buy the other wives copies of 1000 Gifts. But God’s Kingdom plans succeeded. He did work I never intended in ways I never imagined. And through this I was encouraged not to let the insecurities I feel keep me from the many unexpected places God has directed my life, from the medical team we’ve amassed with Grant’s “struggles” to the numerous jobs Jerod has had as he has found his way.

Even when my life looks like failure after failure and bad luck after bad luck, God is able to make it success and victory in His Kingdom even if it’s not really success and victory in my personal life. I know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. Sometimes we see the good in our own lives, and other times we have to know that He uses the years of “failure” and “bad luck” to further his Kingdom and not necessarily my personal success.

I’m learning daily that to live in my Kingdom purpose means to live with the eyes of my heart fully focused on God, not on what grand Kingdom event I can plan or carry out, but to simply be a vessel, a flawed vessel made whole in Him, and to walk in the path He lays before me even when it makes no sense. As far as it depends on me…I will be faithful and let God take care of the rest.

Winding path

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Today, Desirae Culp is sharing with us a great word that God has shown her lately and that could apply to each and every one of us….thanks, Desi, for being transparent and real with us!!  

 

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart &

an evil man brings evil things put of the evil stored in his heart.

FOR THE MOUTH SPEAKS WHAT THE HEART IS FULL OF…”

 – Luke 6:45

       

                          
A client informed me this week of a conversation that she had with another mom. This other mom had told her that 2 words she didn’t let her kids say were:

  • Bored (which I totally understood-that was a word we weren’t allowed to say growing up either!); and
  • TIRED!!!

I might have looked at my client like she was crazy. Why on earth would this lady not let her kids say they were tired?? I asked my client if I heard her correctly & she said yup! She said she didn’t want her children speaking that as a word curse over themselves, because speaking “tired” over oneself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think about how i feel when I  say “I’m tired” vs “I’m happy” and….
MIND BLOWN!

So as I let that soak into my brain a little & talked with some mentors about it, I came to some major conclusions.

 

Pretty sure I say “I am tired” so many times every day.

Think about this – breaking that sentence down in a simple grammatical style – tired is defining the word “I”.

If you think about how The Lord defines himself, it is simply I AM. Any word after that speaks to His character.

We are made in His image & are chasing after His heart & redefining ourselves by His character & we are walking in destiny & purpose. So in defining ourselves, I’m pretty darn sure “tired” is not part of His character, part of His heart for us, or part of our destiny….

So in the last few weeks since I’ve heard this I’ve watched my language. The 2 things I’ve definitely never wanted to define me are “busy” & “tired”. However, those are the 2 things I speak over myself ALL THE TIME! What?!? Yup! So I’m not only speaking those over myself but defining myself to others by those words! SO NOT OK!
Now hear me, I’m not saying that I don’t feel tired sometimes, or that sometimes my schedule gets a little on the crazy side. I will not go into the semantics & debate of what words are appropriate & try to put down rules of what we should or should not say. I’m saying that for me, in my life, I want to speak blessing over myself & others, & not cursing because we have the power to do that. (Proverbs 18:21)

 

So I personally have decided to change the wording of “I am busy” to “my life is full”. I’m trying to only use the word tired when it’s a feeling & not a state of being. I’ve come to find that it’s so much more of a heart issue than I originally thought…

 

One of my very dear friends made a comment earlier this week about having grace for someone.  Our prayer as we ended our conversation was that our speech be full of grace. As she prayed that, I realized that lately my speech has not been full of grace – for myself or for others. So this becomes a different type of prayer for me – God change my heart, so that my talk may change as well…
So my question to you ladies today is this – what are you speaking over yourself?

 – Desirae                                                 

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Today, Desirae Culp shares with us an important word on who we really are!!!  

 

gong

 

 

Be the gong ringer.

 

Sounds funny & was something I almost laughed with my friends about.

 

But then as I watched her sit on the sidelines (of a symphony if that’s possible) only standing to do her part, I realized I feel a lot like the gong player a lot of the time.

 

Over looked, sidelined, with a very small part to play.

 

Except her part is important & a lot of times I wonder if mine is.

 

Deep down I know it is.  There’s a podcast with Emily Freeman & Christa Black from the IF gathering that I can’t get out of my head. In the last 2 min, Christa talks about the legacy she wants to leave behind. & it’s a surprising one to me.  The legacy she wants to leave behind is that she wants to be known as someone who operates out of I John 4:19  -a person who operates out of how much she is loved – that everything she does flows from knowing she is the beloved.

 

Ladies – isn’t it time we operate out of love & stopped operating out of what other people think? Afraid of what other people will say? Paralyzed by our own expectations of ourselves?

 

We (ie. I) set this impossibly high standard & then are disappointed when I don’t “measure up” & assume that God & everyone else is disappointed in me too. THAT’S NOT TRUTH!!!

 

I’m doing a study in proverbs & one of the verses that has resonated says (basically) that lies last for a moment but truth lasts forever. (Pro 12:19)

 

Listen to me- I know I’m young in a lot of ways but I know this surer than I know my name. If we don’t come to a place of truth & vulnerability we will not walk in freedom. I’m not saying everyone you meet needs to know every single thing going on in your life, but I am saying that someone needs to.  Christa also said secrecy breeds shame & I believe that to be true.

 

Let me speak some truth:

You are immeasurably loved.

You are created wholly & specifically the way you are,

You are delighted in!

You are treasured, You are fought for, You are worth so much more than I can tell you.

So as summer hits & the whole world goes crazy trying to fit everything into no set schedule whatsoever, take some time to find a friend, to have a glass of tea & get vulnerable with someone, to soak in being loved instead of being measured, & then LIVE that out because the world needs new creations that know they are beloved..

 

 – Desirae

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A few weeks ago, I pick my almost 11-yr old (gasp!) son, Will, up from school. As we are driving off, he makes the offhand comment “Hey, there’s one of the Anti-Wills….”

 

Ummm, the what?

 

“One of the Anti-Wills, Mom.  You know, the kids who are against me, that actively don’t like me…”

What?  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Why would someone NOT like Will?  He’s like the greatest kid EVER (at least according to his momma…)

 

After talking with Will a bit longer about it, I get the full story on at least one of the Anti-Wills (and he says there are exactly 5 out there).

It seems that one day, as Will was eating breakfast in the cafeteria all by himself, minding his own business, several other 5th grade boys come sit all around him.  They are talking and cutting up and one of them asks Will to trade places with him so that he could sit next to another of the friends.

Me, I would have said “Sure!  No problem” and scooted over.

 

What does Will do, you ask?

 

I cringe even as I type this….

He says “No.

 

As if “No” wasn’t bad enough, he follows it up with “Try and make me. ”

 

WHAT???

It gets better… “I was here first,” he says, “You can either both move and sit somewhere else together or you can try and make me move.   You sat down next to me, remember?” (did I mention he has no filters?  Zero. Nada. Every single last possible filter is MIA.)

As a mom, I’m wanting to slap him upside the head, even as he is telling the story.

 

So what happened?  Well, the kid came around and tried to make him move, of course.  We are talking about 5th grade boys here.

When I asked Will how it resolved, Will says “I did my best rock impression…and he couldn’t make me move.  He had to go sit somewhere else.”  And since then, this kid has been active Anti-Will and shown his dislike for my son through his words and actions at school.

 

As I relay this story to Dallas, expecting him to back me up with my more gentle approach, I instead get this –  “Dang straight! I’m proud of you, son.  Way to stand up for yourself…”

Huh?

 

Guys, I’m not kidding you.  God has been messing with me on this one.  SERIOUSLY messing me with, and I have a feeling He’s not done.  Hang with me….

I get so frustrated when I think about how our modern culture characterizes Christians as intolerant hatemongers, but then, all too often, I see Christians do what I consider to be stupid things in the name of taking a stand for the Gospel that don’t appear to reflect His love at all to me.  Are they all missing the boat on what God wants from us?  God cracked the door open on this one for me when I was listening to Jen Hatmaker speak at the recent IF: Gathering.

She says:

“We can’t make the Gospel real for people if we keep thinking of people outside our circles as enemies…  I see Christians take the Gospel, which we love and treasure, and try to guard it so nobody can mess with our Gospel. We have a defensive  posture, guns blazing, daring people to come near it. Here’s the problem with that—Christ came to seek and save those who are lost. It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, it’s the sick. So if we had the eyes of our Savior, we would view them not as our enemies, but as future brothers and sisters in Christ…”

So I have been rolling this around in my head and heart, been talking with God about it, trying to figure out whether the answer is always to love people, even if it means backing down from what I know to be truth and justice, or whether it means bowing up and defending that truth – taking my proverbial stand – even if some of the unintended consequences of that means I have helped push people who need to experience God’s grace or God’s love a little bit further away from that.

 

I have hesitated to put this down in writing because I know people may have strong reactions one way or another – just like Dallas and I did in Will’s situation.

What I am wondering is this – is there a set right answer or response for every single Christian?

Don’t get me wrong – I will always err on the side of loving people.  That’s one of the ways God made me – with a heart for shepherding people.  Love God and love people.  But there are those who are called to be evangelists – to preach the gospel, loudly and proudly, to be out front.  There are those who have the gift of service – to serve quietly and humbly in the background.   And there are those with the gift of mercy.

There are warriors and there are peacemakers – by God’s own design.

And then there is, as Christians, our mission field –  hurting people who need to know and understand the love of Christ and the grace He offers.  There is no set formula for expressing this message because every one of the individuals who need to hear of His love are different  – some will best understand His love through deep theological debates, some will understand it thru emotions and acts of selfless love.  Why do we think there is a right and wrong way (and that we always know the right and wrong way) and give no grace to other Christians around us who are (hopefully) seeking to express this message in the way God designed them to do, just because they may do that differently than we do?   Are we so perfect that we always know Jesus’s heart (and act accordingly) while they do not?  What if – just what if – it was God’s design all along that it takes the whole Body of Christ, with all of its diverse giftings and experiences, to represent Him and who He is?

We serve a God who loves variety, who loves diversity – I see it every morning in the colors of the sunrise.  I mean, the same God who created the vast stillness of a desert also picked up his paintbrush and created the rain forests, full of life and movement.  The same God who created the delicate ladybug also created the majestic blue whale.  What if, in order for the body of Christ to function like He intended,  we need Christians who will be willing to love on people, no matter what the cost, AND Christians who will proclaim His truth (and hopefully avoid actively hating on people in the process)?

 

Jen Hatmaker makes reference in that same talk about how our God doesn’t really need defending – He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

There is nothing..let me stress that again…NOTHING anyone can do – our culture, our government, even Satan himself – that will defeat Him.   He has already won.  We can stand in confidence, knowing this to be truth.

With that foundation of truth in mind,  what if everyone in the body of Christ actually sought God’s heart and direction before we jumped into action or before we started bashing each other in our reactions or responses?  What if we actually put His love and His heart for people above our own agendas? What if we took a good look at our own self-righteousness and stopped assuming we have all of the answers?  Novel concept, right?   Not every Christian is going to get it right every time, but if we started by not throwing each other under the bus, would there be less hate in the world? Maybe, maybe not.  But perhaps there would be less hate within the global body of Christ, which only hinders our ability to truly show the world His amazing heart and incomparable love.

Can we stop fighting with each other in an attempt to “be right” and start battling the real enemy?

 

All of these thoughts sprang out of some random 5th grade cafeteria antics. God is pretty funny sometimes.

                                                    – Kacey                               

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Heavenly Reality Checks

Sometimes God has ways of just bringing you back to reality, doesn’t he? When I get all up inside my own head and lose sight of the important stuff, a gentle reminder sometimes doesn’t do…

 

A few weeks ago, Dallas and I were driving home with the kids from what I would classify as a pretty rough evening.  Rough as in emotionally hard stuff.  Rough as in our hearts hurt.  The radio was on the Rangers game, as always.  It was late.  My mind was going in so many directions and replaying everything and picking up blame and guilt and hurt and all kinds of things the enemy was trying to throw in my path.

 

The radio was just white noise for me.  I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening in the game.

 

Then, God smacks me in the head.

 

I hear from the backseat “SUCK IT, ANGELS!”

 

Yes, friends.  My sweet William.  My sweet William and his passion for Texas Rangers baseball.  My sweet William who rarely says a mean thing to anyone, who opens the door for young and old, who teaches his baby sister how to skip rocks.  My sweet William’s potty mouth brought me right back to earth.

 

While I will admit, it’s a good day when the Rangers can beat the Angels in a walk-off in the 9th inning, his little proclamation brought me right back into momma mode – back into the real world and what God has laid right in front of me – you see, the biggest job God has called me to is being momma to 3 beautiful little treasures of His.  That’s what God has set in front of me right now.  All of the circumstances of this other stuff swirling around me was preventing me from keeping my eyes focused forward. Dwelling on things that I cannot change does nothing but steal my attention from what God has for me in the present. If I let it consume me, I would be missing out on the new things God has before me, I’d be missing out on the joys – both big and small – that God has lovingly and purposefully brought into my life.

 

Talk about your heavenly reality check.

 
Since that night – when God used Will’s passion for baseball (and his potty mouth) to get my attention – He has constantly been finding ways to remind me to keep my eyes forward, looking ahead, looking and anticipating what He has for me, for my family.  He has been reminding me again and again to run the race He has set before me, to give my attention to what He has called me to in this moment…

 

And yes, Will was reprimanded.  And so was his daddy.

 

What has He called you to in this moment – for this day – sweet ones?  Are you focusing on those things or on hurts or disappointments or lies from the enemy?  Let’s put our focus and our eyes ahead of us, to the One who lights up the way.  

 

– Kacey

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Seasoned with Grace

Good afternoon! Today is the last day of August, and for the last couple of weeks, autumn has been on my mind. I’ve wanted to make soups, hot chocolate and wear long sleeved shirts! I love the relief of cooler weather after a hot, hot, hot Texas summer. Along with the typical longings for all things autumn, I think about the Springs Women’s Retreat. I love the women of our church, and I love spending an autumn weekend with you ladies! The food! The laughter! The relaxing! The worship! The fellowship! The sharing! The food! (Let’s face it, part of my reason for attending is the delicious desserts and snacks everyone brings! And the cinnamon rolls. Yum. Yum. Yum.)

This year, the theme for the retreat is “Seasoned with Grace: Breathing In, Breathing Out & Standing in Grace”. Over the last year (or maybe more), I know many women in our church have experienced heartache, publicly for some and privately for others, and it is only through God’s grace that we can put one step in front of the other because we just can’t do it on our own. We’re not strong enough, and that is (contrary to societal or our own expectations) exactly as it should be.

“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I wil boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

So by God’s grace, even when we’re broken, we’re ok. Even when we’re flawed and lacking, we’re ok. Even when we’re failing, we’re ok. Even when our lives are no where near “pinterestable”, we’re ok. Whether we’re functioning at 98%, 46% or 0%, God’s grace is sufficient for where we are right now, how we are right now, and what we face right now. 

So here’s what I desperately need to know:

What is grace to you? How have you experienced or witnessed God’s grace (received it, given it, or lived in it)? What do you think of when you think of God’s grace? (You don’t have to answer all these questions. Just take a minute to let us hear your voice about God’s grace.)

My experiences are limited, and we all benefit so much from hearing the voices of our peers. So please take some time, share with us how you (or you’ve witnessed someone else) breathing in, breathing out and standing in grace. 

Have a lovely weekend and beginning of September!

Cathryn Wright

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Ever have one of those days when you cannot even take a breath without experiencing the overwhelming love of our God?  Well, today is such a day for me.  My sweet Ella Joy turns one year told today…and God reminded me of this personal writing from a little over a year ago and prompted me to share it today.

– Kacey

So I have a story to tell…one that spans many years and one I never thought I’d be able to tell….one that God has pressed upon me until I can hardly breathe to share…one that is so close to my heart that if I tried to share it outloud rather than in the written word, I’d probably end up a mush puddle with swollen eyes, crying  because of how incredibly amazing our God is…

 

And one that is a little lengthy – but worth it.

 

This is the story of Ella Joy Stevens.  I started to call it Ella’s story, but in actuality, it’s our whole family’s story.

 

I’ve been debating in my head whether this story will make the most sense if told backwards or if I just picked a beginning point and went with it…so here goes.

 

From a pretty young age, I’ve struggled with issues of trust.  I’ve put up lots and lots of walls.  I’ve bought into the mindset, hook-line-and-sinker, that God loves me and is there for me always, but that I can handle most of the junk in my life all on my own without having to bother Him with it. I tell you that to try to give some perspective on where I was when I got married.

 

The concept of allowing someone else – even if he was the man that I loved and married – to be the head of my spiritual life was completely insane to me.  I loved Jesus with everything in me,  we had a very real, very personal relationship.  I did not need someone else all up in the midst of that.

 

That is how I helped to set my husband up for failure from day 1 of our marriage.

 

As young newlyweds, we struggled in this area, but figured it was something everyone struggled with and we’d eventually find our way…no rush, no pressure, really. I was finishing up law school, taking the bar exam, looking for employment…it wasn’t at the top of our priority list.

 

Then life got way more complicated.

 

Abby was born.  Dallas made some very poor choices that I pretty much allowed to destroy any trust I may have thought about having in him in the first place.   Will was born 20 months later…my pregnancy with Will was full of drama with family and stress, Dallas again made some bad choices, and I was emotionally a black hole.  There was this cloud of gray that just hung over me…and we were not truly living in community.  I was fearful that if anyone REALLY knew how screwed up we were, about the poor choices Dallas had made, then we would be judged, that he could even lose his job in the ministry.  I was in a very lonely, isolated place despite having tons of people who loved us around us because I chose to cut myself off – thinking I was doing the best thing for my family, that I was somehow “taking one for the team…”

 

There was no color in our marriage no real joy in my life – despite having 2 beautiful children that we loved with everything in us.  I think I really hid from the reality of my marriage by pouring the very little I had to give into my children.…I gave all I had to Abby and Will, leaving next to nothing for my husband.  Our marriage was basically just getting by, doing the best we could to avoid divorce.

 

During the midst of all of this, as I would cry out to God, he was always there.  He was always encouraging me to hold on, to reach out and allow my husband into the most sacred place in my heart – the place where Jesus and I walked together.  I could not do it.  I was too hurt, too crushed.  But there was a longing  in my heart for another child…the only way I know to describe it is that I loved Abby and Will with everything in me but there was  someone missing from our little family.  That feeling would not leave me…it began to just linger with me all the time.

 

When I tried to talk to Dallas about it, he shut me down very quickly and left no room for him to change his mind.  He was not at all interested in another child.  I think that at least part of his reluctance could be credited to how I basically gave up being a wife when Abby & Will were babies and toddlers.  He was very low on my priority list, and he knew it.  We were coming out of that phase of life, he thought, and he didn’t want to go back there.

 

But the thought would not let me go…I prayed and prayed about it. I asked God to please, if this was my own selfish desires, to help them go away…I asked God to change Dallas’s heart, otherwise…I remember one particular moment (in the shower, of all places) when I was completely broken about it…and, in tears and with a broken heart, I cried out from a place of despair.  And God answered me…as clear as day.  I will never forget that moment.  As if He was standing right beside me, He held me and wiped away my tears and told me that there WAS  another child for our family…and that she would be a part of the restoration of joy for our family and our marriage….and her name would be Ella Joy.  This was in 2006, folks….5 years before Ella makes her grand entrance into this world.

 

At first, I questioned whether that was really God or me just wishing it was….so I held it very close to my heart and didn’t share it with anyone.  Dallas still wasn’t budging and wouldn’t even consider another child.  2007 hit and was, to this date, the most devastating year for me personally and for our marriage.   Without going into any great detail because it would take a whole other blog post just for that time of our lives, I’ll just say that I lost all confidence in Dallas as my husband. In my mind, he could not do anything that I expected from a husband – I couldn’t trust him, he could not provide for me or my children with any kind of security – emotionally or physically – and I honestly did not like him very much.  I loved him, but could not respect him.

 

Somehow, we came through that phase of our life…no, not somehow..by the grace of God.  We began sharing our struggles, we started easing into the idea of community, and God placed people in our lives who could walk us through.  And our marriage survived and began to actually grow a little….and I shared with him, 2 years later, the promise God had whispered to me about Ella.

 

But I still could not bring myself to a place of allowing my husband to step into the role of my spiritual leader.  That was too personal, too close to my heart. If he were to let me down again, I thought I could handle it in just about every part of my heart EXCEPT there…

 

And he continued to resist the idea of another child.  His pat response was – “I’ll pray about that….” Then months would go by without talking about it.  Then I’d bring it up again…”I’m still praying about that, but I’m not getting the same answer as you on this one…let me pray about it some more.  Give me some time.”  More time goes by.

 

I finally reached a point where I began feeling very defensive – he wasn’t taking me seriously, as if Dallas did not believe me when I shared with him, from a very deep place in my heart, what God had promised me, what God had spoken to me.  That he did not believe I had heard from the Lord…I know now Satan was whispering all kinds of lies to me and trying to again put obstacles up to destroy our marriage.  We had many arguments about this – until I finally just was fed up and asked him point blank if he thought he was the only one who could hear from the Lord….and why was it not good enough that God had spoken to me rather than him?  He had no response…This was in early 2010.

 

This resentment continued to grow in me.  I was so angry with him.  We had come so far in our marriage and what I saw as his selfishness was threatening to just wipe all of that out….

 

Then, out of the blue, he comes home one day…and as I acted like a brat and was pretty cold to him out of my anger, he pipes up and says “Ok – let’s have a baby.” I think I got whiplash, seriously.  You can’t just change on a dime like that.  What the heck was up?  He tells me that he still didn’t feel like he had heard anything definite from the Lord about this, he wasn’t crazy about the idea of another child, but that he trusted me and he knew that if I said I had heard from God, then he believed me and would trust me and God on this one.    I hope you get a chance to hear his side of this story someday, because God was doing some pretty amazing things in his life through this whole experience as well.

 

So we began this scary journey of having a baby 7 years after Will was born.  We talked about her name…Ella Joy.  We decided that we would call her Ella Joy but that she needed a longer name – just as we had Abigayle/Abby and William/Will.  So we settled on Ellasyn but knew we’d call her Ella.

 

Early summer, 2010, we discovered we were pregnant while he was away leading worship at camp…I still had all kinds of fears about how he would react – knowing he still was not really at a place of wanting another child.  That was a long week for me, waiting for him to get home, waiting to see what his reaction really was and how he would act.

 

He was not excited.  He was resolute about it, but there was no joy, no sparkle in his eyes.  As my pregnancy progressed, I tried to draw him in, to get excited with me, but he just couldn’t connect with this baby.  I was hurt., but I believed God’s promise and we began sharing with friends and family about our exciting news. But Dallas would tell me that I just needed to give him time to get used to the idea…and he would talk of how life was going to be totally different and how we needed a bigger car to carry this baby or a bigger house because there was no room for this baby…

 

I had more than 1 person suggest to me that I start a scripture book and read those scriptures when the enemy tries to attack…not knowing about God’s promise to me or really, most of our story, they suggested I look up every scripture I could find on joy….seriously.  So I did…and I would read those scriptures every single day and every time I had any doubts or fears creep up on me. My JOY book.  I carried it everywhere.

 

Then, out of the blue, I start to see a tiny change in Dallas…he came home and played me a couple of songs that God had put on his heart for our child – “What Joy” and “I Cannot Help But Dance”

 

At this point, I still had not really shared about God’s promise to me except with Dallas.  I may have told others there was a promise but never went as far as to speak her name or that she would be a girl…there was a part of me that still was holding out doubt that God would do what he said he would do.  I never spoke a word about the fact that the baby was a girl or what her name was supposed to be.  I had not bought anything for the baby.  I was leaving myself room just in case this baby was a boy…..

 

So, standing in the middle of Walmart, God convicts me on this.  He asks me if I believe him and his promise or do I not.  Psshhh..of course I do, God!  Here I stand 11 weeks pregnant.  You obviously knew what you were talking about!!  He asked me again – do you believe in my promise?  Yes,  God, I believe!  What do you want me to say or do to prove to you I believe you?  I didn’t really expect an answer…but God gave me one…right at that moment.  He tells me that I need to go buy Ella something right then…not to wait another minute.  I thought it weird, but I agreed…and I bought Ella Joy her very first outfit that day.

 

That very night, I began spotting…I spent all of the next day in bed in horrible pain, not wanting to really admit I could be losing this baby.  I mean – God promised me!  This was just a rough patch…..but the spotting continued and grew worse.  I read and re-read my JOY book scriptures.  Dallas sang the songs God had put on his heart over me…But, by the next day (Sunday morning), I knew we were losing this child…and we did.   And my JOY book went flying across the room in anger…and there it would sit, untouched, for the next several months.

 

I’ve talked about the miscarriage before and what I felt during that time, how God worked in my life…but there was a lot of anger in those first few weeks.  I thought God was cruel…how could he ask  me to buy my daughter something on the day before I would beg him to heal my child and he did nothing.   I couldn’t’ understand what he was doing and saw him as a cruel puppet master, playing with my heart.

 

Ok, I’m getting to a significant point, I promise.  And this is where Dallas’s side of the story becomes the most significant.

 

I was a mess.  I was devastated.  I didn’t know if I could even trust God, really.  I had no strength left to carry myself, as I had done during every other crisis in my life.  I found myself relying completely on Dallas…I found myself looking to him for strength, for leadership….I had no choice, in my mind, because I couldn’t do it myself.

 

Dallas describes it as a “switch” that just flipped inside of him.  He felt God place this mantle of leadership on him for our family…and he truly accepted it and stepped into it, following God’s lead.  Up until this point, when he would try to be the spiritual leader in our family, he carried with him shame and a feeling of not being good enough for that role.  However, this time was different.  And I began, for the first time in our married life, to see him as a spiritual leader for me and for my children.  I began to find myself looking to him for strength, to carry me and – crazy enough – loving him more deeply than I had ever loved him before, in the midst of my grief and my anger at God.

 

One other way that God revealed himself to us during this time was through the idea of how difficult times bring us closer to him, they strengthen our faith in him…just as Luke and Kathleen had shared at the conference at church that summer about the olive tree…and how the more the wind blew it, the stronger it became and the more fruit it would produce…

 

It was Dallas who insisted we were not giving up and that we would have another child.  It was Dallas who would not let me stay in the dark place I had found myself.  The best way I know to describe it is he took my hand and pulled me along into what He felt God had for our family…

 

And then, just 6 weeks after the miscarriage, we find ourselves pregnant again.  My heart  – overwhelmed, fearful.  Dallas’s heart – joyful, steady, full of belief that God does what He says He will do.  We kept it very very quiet – out of protection for Abby and Will, who had been devastated over the loss of the baby a few short weeks before – and, as I look back, that was a very private, intimate time spiritually for Dallas and I and our marriage.  It was changing…it was becoming something it had never been before – almost like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.

 

We got through the first trimester and shared with the kids and our families at Christmas about this baby – and I began to feel joy rising up in me, joy in my marriage, joy in my heart.   God was doing something in our lives. I had no doubt.  I felt it, I saw it in my husband.

 

As we prepared to go in for the sonogram at 19 weeks into the pregnancy. I still had not really spoken outloud to many people God’s promise.  There was part of me that was afraid that perhaps Ella was the child we lost…because it was through that loss that we first began experiencing this restoration of joy.  Dallas, however, knew that this baby I was carrying was our Ella.  He had no doubts. And the day before the sonogram, God tells me it was time to pick my JOY book back up.  And I did…and Dallas was right.  We saw Ella Joy that day…and I could hardly speak.  God’s promise was there, right in front of us on that sonogram screen.  God’s amazing goodness and joy filled my heart over and over again…

 

And do you know what Ellison (we spell it Ellasyn) means?  We didn’t discover this until after we had decided on Ellasyn as her full name…. it means “The Lord is God….”

 

Yes He is….

 

And here we sit, Ella Joy turning one year old today.  I cannot take one look at her sweet eyelashes, one smell of her hair, or listen to one single giggle or cry from her without being overwhelmed by a God who loves me so very deeply.  My tears today are tears of awe, tears of gratitude, and tears of joy.

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