There Really Were Songs Yet to Sing [Day 28: SONG]

My dad wrote me a poem called Still Yet Songs to Sing when we lost our second child, Ezra Coleman to miscarriage late in my pregnancy in 2013. It was such a sweet gesture and encouragement to me. It showed a father’s heart moved with grief for daughter’s pain, and I know it mirrored my heavenly Father’s heart in that way.

I was so broken at that time, completely wrecked with this great loss. I hadn’t asked for a second child, yet God granted me the precious gift of life far earlier than we would have planned. We welcomed the gift and spent those 5 months planning and dreaming for our little one. It was a dark year as we reeled from the sudden tragedy, and during that year, we had to continue traveling around the US raising support for our future ministry. I sobbed in many a church bathroom and pasted a smile on when someone asked how many children I had and I replied that I only had one. A few times, a well-meaning soul would say, “She needs a little brother!” And I would think, “She had one, ” or “We tried to give her one.”

There really were still yet songs to sing. There were still ways we were gonna get up and work for the Lord just how we dreamed we would, but we had to walk through that dark valley first. What’s funny about these types of thorns in the flesh is that they can be so healing if we are submissive to the Father’s hand at work to bring restoration. I could barely stand up on my own two feet so I had no other choice than to lean on Christ. That time of immense pain shaped me into the wife, mom, and lady in ministry that I am today. At the time I think I said I was grateful, but I wasn’t quite feeling it yet. I’m feeling it now.

Sometimes God allows great pain to enter into our lives. Knowing that death and loss were not a part of His perfect plan from the beginning, we know He does not delight in doing this. However, because of His display of love on the Cross and His daily graces in our lives, we can trust He will work all things — even the hardest things — for our good when we come out on the other side.

And we will… come out on the other side. Even though it feels like we’ll never make it there. We will come out grateful. We will come out singing, praising God for all He has done. Broken but healing hearts crying out, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I’m singing now and, by His grace, I am serving Him on the other side of the world. We have two precious children now and are perfectly content with the life we have been given. But we will never forget that little boy we held for just a few moments. His memory will forever impact the songs I sing and the way I fall into the Father’s arms — because Ezra taught me how.

I “make” God big in my life when I accept hurt from His hand and trust Him to heal me. Knowing He will give me songs to sing, I can walk first through the dark valley as He guides me to the other side.

What trials has God brought you out of to sing His praise?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Labor is Brief, Joy is Forever [Day 24: BRIEF]

Waiting for a Baby

I am glued to my phone right now waiting on news about my new nephew being born in Japan. These last few weeks seem to be ticking by as we await the arrival of this new bundle of joy. Though I won’t get to see him until he is significantly grown, I am anxious to get to see what he looks like and be assured he is healthy through FaceTime chats and Facebook messenger. And I’m just his Aunt — Imagine how his mother must feel!

In some ways, the nearly 4 years since I had my last baby feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened since then in our life and ministry. I mean, I’ve learned a language and set up a life on the other side of the world. Not to mention that that baby is in pre-school now and breaking my heart with how grown up he is getting. When I pause to think, however, I remember what that feels like to wait for a baby. There is fear mixed with wonder, joy mingled with anxiety. There is dread about the coming day and dreams about the future. When labor begins, there is pain and a narrowed focus. It’s time to get serious about bringing this baby into the world.

Freestocks.org
Waiting for Eternity

The Scriptures compare this temporal life to childbirth (Romans 8:22). We are waiting with mixed feelings of fear and wonder, joy and anxiety. There is sometimes dread about the days we have to endure on this earth, but we certainly have much to dream about. Even the awe-inspiring plump-red cheeks of a newborn baby is nothing in comparison to what awaits us in glory. What a thought!

Just as birth entails pain and requires a narrowed focus, so do our lives waiting for Jesus to return. There is immeasurable hardship because of sin’s stain on the world. We will have to endure what feels like a never-ending slew of suffering, but we do not carry these griefs as those who have no hope. We know that our ultimate treasure and our hope is other-wordly. We must narrow our focus with eternity in mind. Laboring in the here and now, we rejoice in the abundant blessings that are to come. We endure the pain of today with the promise of endless, joy-filled tomorrows spent in the presence of God.

In the end, it’s all worth it.

There will be times where the labor feels light and what is required of us is little. Other times, the groaning will be great and we get by only by the strength of God. Sometimes, we will forget about the glory that is coming and only suffer with gritted teeth and white knuckled perseverance because faithfulness means something even when we forget what.

There’s so much good coming, friends. Though we have pain in the here and now, God brings blessings here too. The laboring is painful and intense, but we have respites by His grace. In the end, when we are looking back from glory on what life and labor once was, it will seem distant. It will seem brief — just a blip on the radar on the way to eternity.

All our troubles of that time will be long forgotten. Just like my sister-in-law’s will be when she holds her newborn sometime in the next few days. If you need me until then, I’ll have my face in my phone.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

I “make” God big in my life when I set my focus on my eternal future as I labor for Him in the here and now. 

What helps you keep your focus on eternity?

Talk to me in the comment section below.

God’s Grace To Me in Plan B

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

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This place was Plan B.

Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.

I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time,  I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.

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That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere [Velvet Ashes]

Day 22, Prompt: OFF

Living the Golden Rule to my family today by taking the day from #Write31Days and spending my Saturday with them. I believe you’ll be able to see the theme in my piece that was posted this week on Velvet Ashes. Specifically, it speaks to the necessity of relying on Christ’s power to do unto others when we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted.

Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere

If any time earned the title for a crisis, it was this one.

The country’s petrol pumps had run dry. Power cuts increased to 16 hours a day. Gas for cooking was unavailable for purchase. Rice, milk, and even water were in short supply.

The electricity was off when we woke up and when we went to bed and would come some time in the night. The comforting glow of our bedside heater would wake me up, and I would fall asleep again with a smile. But it wouldn’t last long.

Since the first month we arrived and the earthquake rocked this nation and forced us out of our new home, I had been operating in survival mode. My husband urged me, “It will all be over soon. We have to keep pushing.”

And we did, for months, through thousands of aftershocks, through protests, and essential good shortages. Sleep deprivation fueled the turmoil in my heart about the issues at hand. Apparently, moving across the world and surviving major natural disasters is a little much for a 3 month new baby and 3 year old girl.

Continue Reading at Velvet Ashes…

The Learned Art of Awareness in Parenting

DAY 13, Five Minute Prompt: AWARE

from Flexibility and Feelings of Children [Click to read the full post.]

From any perspective, she has adjusted well. While she doesn’t often mention missing her grandparents or friends in America, she hasn’t been unaffected by boredom and loneliness. She even worries about everyone hating her, noting how the few kids she knows shoo her away with stuck out tongues.

These missionary and mommy worlds often collide, and my daughter is found in the debris. I can shield and protect her, keep her to myself, and never let her experience this country. Or I can allow these experiences, however painful, to shape and mold her into who God wants her to be.

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At that time, I had become aware that what we were doing wasn’t working. This awareness made me able to make some changes that lifted her spirits. I began spending more one-on-one time with her by allowing her to stay up a little later with mommy. We went on more walks around the neighborhood and tried to get out more.

I was able to enroll her in a nearby pre-school where she is the only foreign student. It is a joy to all of us to see her language taking off and her confidence booming as a result. [more on this decision: Pre-School on the Other Side of the Planet: A Mama’s Desperate Act ]

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It hadn’t just been boredom and loneliness. My sweet 3 year old had been hurting in big ways she didn’t understand. She didn’t know that she needed social interaction and sunlight, she just knew she was sad. I got sucked up in my schedule and missed an opportunity to really see her, pour into her, and love her back to life.

As busy moms, it is so easy to just check off the daily to-do-list and just barely make it to bed time and fail to check in with the hearts of our children. Sometimes there is more than just rebellion at the bottom of that explosive toddler tantrum or brooding teenager in the backseat.

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Awareness involves questions, quality time, and constant prayer. It alleviates unfounded worries and causes me to make change in areas where it is really needed.

Just like me, my children want to be known but may not always be able to express complicated emotions. The responsibility falls on me to study them and surrender their needs to Jesus.

My prayer is no different than last year: that we can point her to Christ, and that she will trust Him with her life. I ask God to make me aware to her needs and to give me wisdom to meet them.

Parenting is such an enormous responsibility, and, honestly, one I don’t feel overly qualified for. But there’s so much grace in my inadequacy. God meets me each day, giving me what I need for this most important ministry called motherhood.

My eyes and ears are open. My heart is bowed before the Giver of this most precious gift.

Are you aware of the needs of your children?
How can you open your eyes to see them today?

Talk to me in the comment section!