Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shiny and New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17


Opening the front door, peeking inside, I saw the newness of what awaited me. New carpet. New fixtures and faucets. New, fresh paint. New bulbs. Newness just surrounded me. It was one of the most exciting times of my life, having bought our first home together just two weeks before we were married. I breathed in the new smells and stared at the new sights, and without one single complaint, I reveled in what the Lord had given me. Everything was new.

The days and months passed, and the new walls became scratched and nail pops began to show. The new carpet looked as though it was twenty years old. Those once-new fixtures and faucets were needing plumbing and examining. I look back to just a little over twenty months ago and remember how quickly newness comes to an end.

I find myself wishing we were in a new house again, that our marriage was still new, and that life was altogether new. Unfortunately, none of them are. They might not, in any way, be old, but they aren't brand new any more. I see how things change in front of my very eyes. From my best friend's baby to my grandfather's age, nothing remains new. Addy, at just two months old, has started laughing and rolling. My Pop recalls more often these days what his life was like years ago. See, nothing can stay the same.

That is, except for Jesus Christ. In Revelation, we see just how NEW life in Christ is, as it states, "Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful (Revelation 21:5).” It's hard for us to understand that things can always be new, but with God they are. From the dawning of each new day to His mercies that are new every morning, life with the Lord is NEW!

And exactly how do I know this? Well, let me tell you that my house may not be new, but it is a home. It will be a brand new home for the new baby who will be entering it in this new year. The new year brings forth opportunities for all of us with new jobs and new talents that God has waiting in store. Those new abilities will be used to make new relationships with those new co-workers. Just think, those new friends may not know the new life they can have in Christ. What a New Year that would be!

With the holidays practically over and those new gifts finding scratches, tears, and their own closet space, there is reason to focus our minds on what really matters in this life. It isn't the new house, car, or job we find ourselves in; it is the relationship we have with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Life without Him is old. In this New Year, take the time to realize the newness we have in Jesus, and cherish it more than any new thing you are given.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cleaning Up Or Out... Whichever You Like to Call It.

When I was a kid, the worst chore I was ever given was to clean my room. You would think that I could have figured out that if I'd attempt to keep things clean, dusted and vacuumed, that having that assignment wouldn't be so terrible. BUT, it was... Every single time, I would throw a tantrum at the idea of having to do it.

That phase lasted up until I was in middle school. I continued with the feeling of disgust in cleaning my room. Oh, and in high school too. I would have friends coming over, and at the last minute, I'd be shoving things into my 2 closets and under my bed. It's an awful habit, I must admit.

The scary part is that I STILL hate having to clean. You'd think it would change what with having my own house and getting married and having a child on the way. BUT it hasn't. I could not tell you if you paid me to inform you on all the things under our bed right now. My closet is shameful, and the soon-to-be nursery closet is the most atrocious thing I've ever seen. You seriously CANNOT see the wall, carpet, or ceiling; it's packed that tight.

Life is like that sometimes. We have so many things we like hanging onto rather than getting rid of them or just cleaning them up. We pride ourselves in hiding our dirt. It's sad but painstakingly true. In Psalm 24, it's clear that we need to get busy with cleaning up... "Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart..." I know I'm taking it a bit out of context, but in all seriousness, I think it somewhat applies. How can we live clean lives if not ALL of us is clean? I just don't think it's possible.

I've started cleaning. Maybe it's because I realize I've got a baby on the way and I've GOT to make room for him. Maybe it's because I'm tired of all the junk I've held onto and realize it's time to make the break. Maybe it's because I have learned that THIS WORLD is not my home, and as the old hymn says, "I'm just a-passing through." The less I have here, the better off I'll be when it's my time to go.

It's time to clean out the closets and clean up from underneath the bed. It's time to rid myself of things I don't need. It's time to realize that God's given me more than enough to live on, and there are those who need these things more than me... So, I'm giving in and cleaning up...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Complete Awe of You

Well, I'll admit that twice in one day I became completely awestruck by two amazing beings... It's hard to call them beings in the sense that really they aren't. They are my life, my world you see, and I have been forced to type them into a word like beings... But for the sake of explaining, let me ramble on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008, is a day I will soon never forget. It began as a normal day with a woman running late to get to her appointment while she knew her husband was more-than-likely already there. He's been amazing throughout all of this pregnancy. He hasn't missed a single thing. I'm so grateful for that.

It went on into a small doctor's office where nurses prodded at this woman's stomach and found the most beautiful heartbeat you've ever heard. In that same room, an expectant father asks if the ultrasound he's been waiting for over four months could be done that moment. He really wasn't pushy; he just felt as though he had to ask with it being the day before Thanksgiving, and WHAT A GIFT to be thankful for!

Soon, that same office had a knock on its small door telling this family that they were going to see their baby, not two weeks from then, but that day! The blood drawing and poking weren't half bad after that. I wasn't so excited to see this little miracle within me.

Not long after lying down on the table, this young couple learned that their baby was a little boy! They watched as he moved his hands around his face, kicked his feet, rolled onto his stomach, and clasped his hands to pray. I was in complete awe of him. RIGHT THEN. I was so, completely, and totally amazed at this little child, growing right under my nose... I cannot explain the love I felt in that moment. I'd never knew what it felt like to be a parent... until then.


His hands in prayer


Driving away with their faces full of joy, the Johnsons couldn't help but see who their Father truly is. He had given them so much to be thankful for, and He completely showed Himself strong. In his father's chin, his mother's nose, and a heart to "pray" after the Lord, how else could God prove His love to them?! Lord, I am completely in awe of You. Thank you for this sweet gift...


Elijah Thomas (1 Kings 18)



With his hands over his head

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weak in the Knees

I get weak in the knees sometimes. It isn't because I'm pregnant or have a medical issue or anything like that. I just have these moments when I am SO overwhelmed at the possibility that my God is working in my life.

I can remember when I first started realizing that I was pregnant. It was the first week of August, and I couldn't help but think I was. I had the same symptoms I had with my first pregnancy; the only difference was... we had avoided (or so we thought). I kept telling myself that it was impossible, yet I knew how I felt. Pregnant.

Brian became so overwhelmed with the idea that he himself went to Dollar General that week and bought me two tests. I took the $4 test and it was negative. I wasn't devastated, but I wasn't overjoyed either. After losing a child to miscarriage, whether I like to admit it or not, I couldn't help but LONG to have another baby.

A week later, we were in West TN for Brian to preach a revival. I can remember the day clearly as I waited for my period. I left the pew a number of times thinking it had come, but it hadn't. I knew what it meant. My knees were weak.

I waited another day, but still nothing came. With that in mind, I got up from my afternoon nap (in which I never actually napped) and told Brian I had to go get a pregnancy test. He was confused, as the first had been negative. I explained what I had been feeling and that I believed God was telling us something. He agreed I should go.

I drove to the small town's Dollar General and purchased two $1 tests... one for now and one for the next morning, just in case. I returned back to his mother's house and took it. Just minutes later, the two lines appeared. I was again weak in the knees. I walked out to show Brian, and we both were in shock. How could we be pregnant when we had attempted to NOT get to this conclusion?!

The next morning proved another positive test, and weeks later at the OB's office, we saw our 7-week-old child's heart beating on the ultrasound monitor. I saw God's fingerprints in between two tiny x's where my child's body was beginning to form. I was lying down, but I promise my knees went weak. I could not believe what I saw.



Sometimes things in our lives happen that way. We have to see the evidence of God working before we believe He actually is. We expect everything to fall in place so we can see it perfectly crafted just for us. We also try to avoid blessings by attempting to prevent certain things from happening.

What I have realized is that God isn't concerned with what it is I am trying to do. His first priority isn't to check with me about something He is planning on doing in my life. He also knows how badly I need to see His handiwork before I'll truly trust in Him. He realizes that I have been crushed by His plans before, and He knew exactly how He would prove Himself strong to me once more.

Each day those moments come when I feel the flutter of a tiny child. I see them in the eyes of a husband I truly don't deserve. I hear them in the voice of my friends and family. I can now understand that He is working, though I don't see it, in so many ways to prove to us once more that He is GOD. I sometimes feel Him most when my knees go weak, and He's right there to catch me before I fall.

Monday, November 17, 2008

He Chooses Me

Crashing waves. They seem to be all around me. It seems as if my life is caught in a storm, and I am not sure that I will survive it. The rain keeps coming and the winds are stronger than I could imagine, and yet the amazing peace of God is in the midst of it all.

Fear seems to overtake me at moments like these. Times when it is more difficult than not to know where we are going or what God has in store. Times when I do not know why this boat was for me.

Isn't that life? It seems as if there is always something changing. Life is so inconsistent when all I am looking for is one little piece of normal, and yet the waves continue to toss. I don't know why I expect this. It was evident this past weekend as we were in Gatlinburg how life changes so quickly. When we arrived in the mountains on Thursday the 13th, it was 70 degrees, and in fact, I had on a t-shirt which was almost too hot. As we woke on the day of our departure, we had an inch of snow on the ground. Nothing stays the same.

My husband and I have learned all about storms, and how they can incredibly distort your ways of thinking. Just since January of this year alone, the ship we've been on has been a rough ride. We have learned we were pregnant, lost the child to miscarriage, left my teaching job, grieved the loss of Brian's father, become pregnant for a second time, endured Brian's sweet cousin's brain surgery, and resigned from a church that we dearly love. I know everyone has journeys like these, and yet I cannot help but wonder what we are supposed to learn from being on board this particular ship.

And yet, I'm so thankful for it all. I'm so thankful that God decided to give and take my first child; it makes Heaven so much sweeter knowing that we have a perfect gift awaiting us. I am so grateful to have left my job; I would have never been able to support my husband or find the gifts that God had given me without leaving there. Losing a loved one has taught me to love much more deeply; the sudden loss of Brian's dad has left an impression that RIGHT NOW is my chance to love. Hayden's surgery has been one of the most traumatic events our family has faced, and yet it has made me realize how BIG God is; I've watched my Lord in the hands of surgeons and in the eyes of a 5-year-old child, and I see that my God is triumphant in every way. I'm honored to say that God has blessed me with a second pregnancy; I don't know that anyone could understand why the pregnancy itself is such a miracle to me. But I've learned to hold onto something that isn't in my arms, and I've seen its heart beat as only God could allow. We have had to step out and leave a church where our hearts were; God speaks so clearly and yet it is the hardest thing to say goodbye when you weren't exactly preparing for it. We also now are learning what blind faith really is, and I'm grateful for that. I have never been so certain of anything despite neither of us having a job or a place to call our own; these waves continue to surround me and I am at peace.

How is that? How can I have peace when all I feel is that I have no control of the stern? Well, I don't know exactly how to answer that. I would be lying if I said I wasn't fearful, because I am in some ways. I fear that money will get too tight or that I'll never hold this baby in my arms; it frightens me to think that I don't know where we're going or if this is all there is. I will admit that the waves overwhelm me, but I KNOW in whom I BELIEVE. He is at the head of this boat I'm on, and He is my Captain. No matter which storm I encounter, my Lord knows what is right. He knows which way I need to go. He realizes that these waves are best for me and no one else. He chooses me. These storms were made just for me, and I'm beyond thrilled to ride them out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Constant Change

For I am the LORD, I change not…
Malachi 3:6

It did not seem like much at the time it was planted, but it has grown to show me how constant my Lord tends to be. As a friend left the bush beside our house, I never imagined it would actually do what he said it would... The small, green leaves seemed so insignificant that I doubted they would ever take change like he promised. Yet, I watched and waited, and last year, it did nothing. It remained the same, hunter green and never changed in size. I was almost disappointed when this "special" bush did not change before my eyes. Of course, I never took the initiative to water it or prune the plant, but I just expected something to happen.

I am not usually that fond of change, but at the same time, it happens all around me. I have changed hair colors, phone numbers, and cities. I have changed cars, jobs, and relationships more often than I will ever admit. I have made new best friends, began shopping at different stores, and completely changed the ways I think throughout the years. In just two short years, I have gone from a single, outspoken teacher to a married, introverted, stay-at-home, soon-to-be mother, and none of these changes have been easy for me.

Expecting change is one thing, but having it happen without knowing how to handle it is another. I am reminded of Abraham when the Lord told him that his barren wife, Sarah, would give birth in Genesis 17 and 18. He fell on his face, laughed, and doubted the change the Lord promised. Sarah also laughed within herself at the idea of becoming pregnant in her old age. Though they had been told, Abraham and Sarah seemed astounded when she bore Isaac (Gen 21:6-7). Never has change been an easy thing to accept, even when you are waiting for it.

Hannah prayed for change. Though her womb was closed, she went year after year praying for a child. Hannah even vowed that if the LORD of hosts would grant her a son, “…then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).” Did Hannah realize what she was promising? After pleading years for a child, would she willingly give it away? We all know that she did (in the latter portion of 1 Samuel 1). She begged for change and received it. She waited for change and cherished it. She longed for change and loved it.

No matter how change comes, it is never what we expect, and its outcome is not always what we planned. However, while waiting on our burning bush, which never seemed to bring forth the change I was hoping for, I have learned that God is in the midst of the changes we seek or are given. He promised that He Himself would never change. Daniel said, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:20-21).” Though things around us are changing, we can be confident in knowing that the Lord will give spiritual guidance to those who seek Him.

As I looked outside this afternoon, I saw the most beautiful thing… change. In it, I saw how faultlessly and timely the Lord moves. The leaves were a bright red, and just like Moses before his burning bush, I stood in awe of the wonder of change and the beauty of a constant God.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hushed.

The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

It has been very difficult for me to write lately. It could be from all of the emotions I'm experiencing or the changes that are within me. Truthfully, I have just been completely humbled at how God is working in my life.

Seems strange that just a little over 7 months ago, I was sitting in a classroom, trying to decide if I should resign. I wasn't exactly enjoying life, but knew God had bigger purposes than just where I was. I was ill at Him for taking my child from me, and I wanted so badly to be pregnant again.

Things don't work out exactly as we plan them. If I'd had it my way, 7 months ago, I would have loved teaching, been 4 months pregnant, and never would have had to think about a child in Heaven. I look back now and realize what it was all for.

Hush, and watch, He wanted to say to me. It's just that I wouldn't listen nor would I exactly get quiet through the bitterness and chatter. His ideas seemed irrelevant to me at that point. He lost all hope of keeping my trust. I was so mad at Him that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to love Him again.

Now, I see that that anger has caused me to love Him more. I've learned that He didn't promise me that life would be easy... On the contrary, "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 17:14)." Difficult is what He said it would be, and yet, I spent months wondering why life had to be so hard... why all these terrible things were happening to me. I see that they weren't terrible. They were part of His plan to silence me.

The reason I am finally quiet is because I've realized that I have to listen to God. He's saying things to me all of the time; it's just that for the past few months, I've been unable and unwilling to hear Him. Sometimes I don't hear anything for days, and sometimes the silence is so loud I cannot bear to handle it.

However, on many occasions, I hear Him in the office, through the typing of my gentle husband's hands. Sometimes, I can hear Him late at night, through the ache in my back that my little one is pressing upon. Other moments, I hear Him in the strokes of a paintbrush, as He reminds me how He has blessed me with talents. Mostly, I hear Him in the quiet of the day, reminding me that I am exactly where He wants me.

Hushed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blessed.

I've only been up for a few hours, but after a night of good sleep on the couch, I awoke feeling incredibly blessed. I cannot go into detail into why I'm feeling this way, but let me just take the time to praise God for all He's doing right now.

"Flicka" is 12 weeks TODAY!
I'm sure you're wondering about who "Flicka" is, but our little one is being called this by his/her daddy. When we never had the opportunity to hear our first child's heartbeat, when we went 6 weeks ago to the OB and saw the flickering on the screen, we were completely humbled. Since then, the baby has earned its keep as "Flicka". And no, that will NOT be its name or nickname. By the way, Brian didn't know it, but being the first-born son of a first-born son, it came as a surprise to my husband when I informed him that "Flicka" is Swedish for "beautiful, young girl." I think he's finally warming up to a girl, but we will be more than blessed by either.

My husband is my best friend!
Some days are hard, and some days we barely speak due to our busy schedules. However, mornings like these are what it is all about. Knowing you're exactly in the center of God's will and having Him answer prayers right before your eyes is amazing. Not to mention the fact that my wonderful husband woke up with the intention of heading to Hardee's to get me a biscuit but he couldn't remember what kind I liked (I haven't said anything about biscuits). As I was getting up, I mentioned that a biscuit would be so good, and before heading off to West TN, he ran out and got me 3 biscuits... 1 1/2 for this morning and 1 1/2 for tomorrow since he'll be away. How sweet is that?!

My pants don't fit so well...
To most women this would be a terrible realization, but for me, it is a wonderful reminder of God... How He grows us and reminds us of His abilities everyday if we're willing to see them. My ever-protruding midsection constantly proves to me that God is so good. He has chosen me for this time and this purpose. I am so honored and so thankful to see how He's changing me.

We always have enough...
It may not be a big deal to some, but after having left a job and depending on one salary, we have learned that God does provide. It wasn't until we took this leap of faith by my leaving a teaching position that we've realized this in full. Before, the finances were always there, and now, they're not on a weekly/monthly basis... That's where God has stepped in. He's given us abilities which He has used to help us, and He has blessed us with unlikely "sponsors" that show up at just the right time. How thankful we are for His promises and His devout provision!

He's very clear...
Both my husband and I are VERY indecisive. Brian likes to think everything through logically (how much will it cost, is it a priority, will this put me ahead or behind), where as I just can't decide for ridiculous reasons (maybe something else will come up, this can't be reasonable, what will Brian think of this). However, God has made SO MANY THINGS clear to us lately that we've not had to make our own decisions at all. He has spoken timely and directly, and everything that we thought would be so difficult to choose has been so remarkably easy.

These are such small things, but they have had such a profound effect on our lives during this season of change. Through it all, we've learned that God's just waiting to bless us in His perfect timing. And He has. And it's good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It Really Hits Home

There are moments when things just really hit home. How about everytime I look back on this past February and remember losing Ethan? How about the moments when I look at any windshield recalling the wreck where I went through mine? How about the pictures I see of my Nana holding me as a little girl, knowing that she didn't know me for most of my life? How about when I walk past the pew on which I called out to the Lord and He saved my soul? Do you have moments like those? The ones that just really cause you to stop and think.

I'll admit I don't always look at everyone of those situations the way I should. It's easy to say that I thank God for the way He guided me in all of those circumstances, but it's much more difficult to admit that maybe, just maybe I disregard the fact that God had a hand in all of them. And he did.

Reading a certain Psalm this week really spoke to me. Beth Moore is teaching me (through her studies) that I must look deeper into these scriptures. Every single one has something to say to me, and God intended every word to hit home.

1-5 If God hadn't been for us —all together now, Israel, sing out!—
If God hadn't been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive
by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives
in the wild, raging water.

6 Oh, blessed be God!
He didn't go off and leave us.
He didn't abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.

7 We've flown free from their fangs,
free of their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken;
we're free as a bird in flight.

8 God's strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.



Now, I've not been swallowed up by anyone's anger, or thrown into a pack of dogs. I must say I've never once been in a flood or been tossed among waves. I certainly haven't been in ANYTHING'S fangs. But on the contrary, I HAVE been swallowed up in my own pride. I have been thrown into situations I wouldn't choose for myself. I've also been in some powerful storms in my life, and I have felt more than once that I was drowning in despair. Satan has had a hold on me, and his grip is more powerful than I am willing to confess.

That's not the point. Do you see what it says?! IF GOD HAD NOT BEEN FOR US... That's me. If God had not been for me... I've learned to think that one thing through. You know all of those scenarios that really hit home to me? Well, think of them like this...

If God had not been for me when I lost my child to miscarriage, I would still be lying in my bed weeping.

If God had not been for me when my head went through that windshield, I would no longer enjoy the breaths that I take.

If God had not been for me when my Nana was struggling from Alzheimer's, I would always question His purposes.

If God had not been for me on April 10, 1994, when I was saved, I would have never known Heaven as home.

God is for us. He's not against us. And though these trials continue to come, God is still for us. He's molding us into HIS image, and that cannot feel good. It's like putting a broken arm into a cast intending for the bone to heal, the means aren't pain-free. He's going to have to break us. He's going to have to tear me down. He's going to have to get me on my knees. Usually, it's in those moments that God really hits home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Living in a Great, Big World

I cannot help but look at the world around me differently. Something about the fact that I am carrying one of His very own within me makes me view life in a fascinating way. When I was pregnant for the first time, it seemed so surreal, yet I never could have understood then what I realize now.

Sometimes I take so many things forgranted. I complain so often about how I have very little purpose in life. I find myself wishing I were back at school just to hear NOISE all over again. I hear myself saying how lonely I am. I notice how I have come to enjoy simply being alone.

When God told me to leave school, I thought it was the best and worst thing that could have happened to me. Best because I was so unhappy, so burdened, and so emotional being in front of 20 little children. Worst because when I reached the solitude of being in a room all by myself, I would be forced to face the silence that I, for so long, tried to avoid.

Yet, I see now that God was working out His plan for my life. I could have never understood what it meant then, but now I realize that He was expecting me to bring life into this great, big world. I sit in the house alone now and simply breathe in. I wake knowing that life has changed. I cry with little reason. I know deeply that it is the little one inside me that excites me to no end. I live with a great understanding of what God is capable of.

And as small as I am, He has chosen me for this reason... To live for Christ, and to love as He does. It's really as easy as that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Somewhere

There's a picture somewhere of a blonde-haired girl running through the front yard of her small, red-bricked house, holding a brand new Barbie she had been given at her sister's birthday party. In that same picture, a brown-eyed boy is following closely behind her trying intently to get his hands on that doll.

There's a video somewhere of a party at McDonalds where a little blue-eyed girl gets skipped in line while waiting to throw balls onto a target at her own third birthday party. In that same video, a brown-haired boy puts his hands on her shoulders and helps her back in line.

There's an old tape somewhere of a little girl singing her heart out on some old Judds' classics. On that same tape, a young boy joins in and shares giggles as they attempt to recreate their own country duet.

There's a memory somewhere of that same blonde-haired, blue-eyed, little girl, who is now a woman, calling her best childhood friend to tell him that she was pregnant. In that same memory, the brown-eyed, brown-haired, young boy, who is now a grown man, tells his friend that his wife is pregnant too.

There will be a place somewhere in that woman's heart that breaks as she steps into the room in less than 48 hours to see that man's baby girl for the first time. In that same place, that man will not understand the love his best friend has for his baby already.

Because there is another child somewhere in Heaven who God had planned to take. While that brown-eyed boy will be getting his very own doll, the blonde-haired girl lived through the loss of the child who would have been born in this very same week. But as she steps in to see this newborn baby girl, her blue eyes will be filled with the tears of an expectant mother celebrating the birth of her best friend's child.

Anxiously Awaiting Addyson,
Jenna

In honor of the Clark family,
Jimmy, Amanda, and Addyson

Friday, September 5, 2008

When He Speaks

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9


For three days, I worked diligently on a painting that would be given to an expectant mother. I watched as the colors fell into place and became one of the most unique things I had ever done. The baby's name soon was creatively decorated onto the canvas, and finally, the decision on which scripture to use was finalized. As I wrote the bright pink verse on the pink and green polka dotted canvas, I did not know then how true they would be for me in the next few days...

Just a week before I began this gift, I had applied and been accepted to Western Kentucky University's online Master's Program in Elementary Education. I was overjoyed at the possibility of pursuing a purpose in my life. The door opened for me so quickly to go back to college; I never once took the time to really pray it through. It just seemed as if it were the right thing to do.

In my heart though, I believe I knew better. Just like the pink and green dots so brilliantly corresponded, a teacher with a year off should take the time to get her Master's degree. Or so I thought. We joke about it now, but my husband questioned me one afternoon about going back to school. The anxiety about it was overwhelming me, and with such clarity and conviction, I told him, "I would rather be a mother, than have a Master's."

For the past nine months, I have longed for a child. In December of 2007, when I learned we were in fact pregnant with our first child, I knew God was answering my prayers. Just two short months later, when that same God took the baby into His arms, I asked Him over and over why it had to be this way when He had just given me all that I wanted. When we didn't get pregnant in the next few months and knowing I would not be teaching in any school in the upcoming fall, we decided that God wanted us to further our education. I shared the information with family after being accepted, and as excited as they all were, my dad said the most peculiar words after learning of the news, “I thought you were calling to tell me you were pregnant." He even seemed disappointed (don't take this wrong because my father would love to see me graduate again).

I'll be honest... I was too. Two years ago when I graduated from Western, I was so thankful to be leaving and had no intentions of going back. God seems to have His own ideas and plans, and He actually wasn't keeping them from me. You see, as I was busy making my own plans to head back to school, God was speaking His plans for me loud and clear through paintings, family, and in my heart. I would not be going back to school because 1) the cost is currently too expensive, and 2) we are pregnant with our second child.

Now, I don't know the specific plans God has for me, and I'm not sure that I will ever meet this child that is within me. What I do know is that, through the steady sound of a heartbeat on an ultrasound monitor, God speaks clearly. He speaks directly. He speaks with great wisdom. When He speaks, we must listen. Our lives are not our own, and our decisions are not ours to make. So with a humble heart, I write to express my deepest apologies for misinforming you about my returning to college, and I meekly ask you to pray for us as we anticipate the plans God has for our future...

The bright pink words on the canvas stand out now. They are so plain yet now incredibly beautiful, as I know that God was using them to speak to my heart. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." How awesome it is when God speaks!


(See the “Bright Pink Canvas” here.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When God Gets Your Attention

It wasn't long ago that I was told by more than one person that I had to have ADD. My sister would laugh and say that she was positive I had it when the radio commercials would often talk about Adult ADD, and she would say, "Jenna, that is so you." I never took it seriously because I know I am as active (not physically) as a 5 year old... That would be my exact reasoning for wanting to teach Kindergarten.

I even took the online surveys and questionnaires... One of which said I was moderately ADHD, claiming that "You appear to be suffering from a moderate amount of attention and concentration difficulties..." While another said, "The responses you have provided indicate that your symptoms may be consistent with Adult ADD." It's always good to know that a computer fill-in-the-blanks can quickly diagnose me.

Oh, don't worry, I'm not concerned at all. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I could be, but the truth is, my attention is focused in one direction lately.

God has gotten my attention. Has He ever done that for you? It's as if He simply has gathered all of the thoughts and fears I've had and given me a clear picture of what it is He's doing. Now, I don't understand it, and I don't ever hope to. However, I know what He's up to, and I like it. Not because it's grand or spectacular but because it could only be happening this way if He truly was in control. And He is!

I tend to be distant, with my mind wandering in all sorts of directions, never finishing tasks, and quick to answer without thinking of what the question actually was, but I know how much better it is when God has your attention. All of it.


I'm also aware that I was rambling in the post, but for those of you I've spoken to in the past 2 weeks, you know exactly how God has gotten my attention.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wrong Impression

I know what you've been thinking...

I know that you've worried about how I am and where I've been and what it is I've been doing since I lost my child a little over six months ago. I say that now, the part about my child, with such gratitude from the depths of my heart to the very heart of God. I've learned in the past months that only time can heal wounds of the deepest manner, and only God is capable of helping you understand the hurt, disappointment, and reasoning.

I know that in a few weeks, when his due date rolls around, how difficult it will be. I haven't doubted that at all, but what I have left is the wrong impression. As I grieved this loss in a very open manner, I seem to have given everyone the idea that I am weak, and believe me, I am. But not because I've loved and lost a child that was never really mine to hold.

I know that you may not understand this, but I am so grateful that God chose me. You see, it's taken me six months to realize it was ME he chose for this valley. He wanted ME to endure the pain and turn to Him. He longed for ME to love Him the way He does me. He ached when I did, and He rejoiced when I FINALLY realized it was ALL for His glory.

Maybe I've painted a negative picture of the grief I have had, and maybe I've left you with the impression that I wasn't strong enough to handle it all. Maybe you wondered if I was downcast or depressed, and maybe you've wondered whether or not I've realized that life is worth living.

It is. Every single second. Every single heartache. Every single disaster. Every single sadness. Every single loss. Every single miscarriage. It's worth it.

I have learned that we all have a season that is ours to live. Yours may not be what mine is at this very second. But God's grace is sufficient to get me through each season with more love and hope than I could have ever imagined.

Going through a season of loss has taught me that what you see isn't always what you get. On the outside, I've cried and been burdened and lived with a broken heart. On the inside, I'm rejoicing, because my child has already made it home. HOME! I can say that with all the joy I've ever experienced.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory...
1 Peter 1:6-8


Maybe you've met me on a sad day, one where I was overcome with the tragedy of loss, and maybe you've spent an hour with me over coffee, one where you've heard me discuss this child I never embraced. But on neither of these days have I failed to mention my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I've given the wrong impression. I've made it seem as though I'm getting through all of this on my own. I've made you think I'm terribly miserable and unmistakenly shaken. I've realized you talk about me to others, but never ask me how I really am. If you had, I'd give you this impression: my Lord is enough. That's all there is. Nothing more. Whatever I face and wherever I am, my Lord will see me through. I am overjoyed at the life that lies before me because my Lord is in control.

And that, my friends, is the impression I want to leave behind...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leap of Faith

Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
John 9:10-11


Jumping into puddles was SO easy when I was a child. It would thrill me, after each storm, to run through these little miracles God had left behind. The mud and the drops that splattered onto my legs never bothered me at all. Turns out I'm not a child anymore, and the truth is every spot irritates me to no end.

The mud on my legs has been quite evident lately. It's been no question to those of you who know me what I've been covered with. You know how my heart aches and what it is I've been longing for, and yet none of those things have come to pass. The puddles continue to pile up around me, and my heart longs for an escape from them all.

Instead of taking these "acts of God" head on, I've tiptoed around them. I've been so scared of getting dirty. I've been clinging to my clean clothes and worrying that the stains that may have found themselves splattered into my life would never come out.

The stains life leaves behind usually cannot be washed away. As they settle into the fabric of who we are, God has no intention of you doing His laundry. He simply uses each spot as a testament of who He is and how faithful we are. Will we spend load after load trying to rid ourselves of these blots, or will we simply trust that He is God and has a special purpose for each blemish?

With all of this in mind, I have quickly learned that each puddle is made for me. I can either run straight through it, wallow in the mud, or tiptoe around the water. There aren't many other options... Dirty may be the only way I can come out, but dirty is what I am, a simple sinner saved by God's grace. God's using the mud to clean me up. Romans 8:28 says that, "All things work together for good to them that love God..." ALL THINGS. Every single puddle. Each spot of mud. He uses them all.

Instead of spending my days avoiding the puddles that life brings me, I should take them head on, full force, and wait for the cleaning. I've realized that maybe God hasn't intended for me to have exactly what I want. All these things I've been stained with are preparing me for the future. Right now is not the future. What God had in store for my life was a brand new puddle, and it's going to take a lot of mud to get through.

I'm plunging straight into college. Not motherhood, not teaching, not housework... College.

I have applied to an Online Elementary Education Master's program from Western Kentucky University and if accepted, will begin classes on Monday, August 25th. Yes, it sounds strange. It's proably crossed your mind that I just washed my hands of teaching a little over three months ago... But God wasn't completely finished. He wanted me to go back, get my hands dirty, and love learning all over again... Here it is, one of the biggest puddles I've faced, and yet the only way around this one is a leap of faith...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just As I Was Catching My Breath...

The wind was knocked out of me again...

I cannot explain this in a way that seems fitting, but my heart continues to break. Not for the usual things, but for something I don't even know that I really want. I have wanted to see God move, and just as I felt I had, I see the devil run right over it.

I feel as though I've forgotten that the devil has power. He does, and he is capable of crashing through all of your happiness if you're not guarding each moment and taking each breath carefully. He'll knock the breath right out of you and steal your joy.

It won't be as you picture him either. He do it through your very own friends, people you trust, and things you count on. You better be on guard. Be in season, always prayerful, for he is watching your every move. And he's ready to hit you where it hurts...

Move, Lord, in a big way. Take my breath away in whatever way you must, but Lord, keep him away from me and from the things that are YOURS in my life. Lord, I am calling out for You... Help me to breath again...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Know You're There

In anticipation of what is to come, I sometimes get anxious and begin focusing on what lies ahead instead of what is here and now. I forget the words of my Father which say, "Be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication make your requests known unto God." I often hear myself saying, "Lord, give me this, if it's in Your will." I never once think to ask for anything. I just expect it of Him, like He owes me a favor.

That's the most pitiful part of how I've been thinking lately. He owes me something... I've felt as though He's taken enough from me, and if I started a list, it would go on for days. I haven't been able to grasp fully what it means when Job said, "The Lord giveth and taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord." I think because I've become so familiar with the giveth and taketh part that I am sick to go on any further in the verse.

If you do a job, you expect to receive pay for it. If you offer a gift, you want a "thank you" for it. If you give your time, you hope to receive recognition for doing so. I think that very same mind frame has gotten me into a lot of trouble in my relationship with Christ. I find myself thinking, "Lord, you asked me to quit my job, give me something else to do. Lord, you took my baby, give me another one now. Lord, our grandparents and father have passed, don't You owe me anything for that?!"

God doesn't owe me anything. Truthfully, He's already given me the gift of eternal life, what more do I need?! Well, I (think I) need more friends, another child, more time and opportunity, etc. Why should I receive anything else? What have I done for Him? God is not a "give and take" service; He is a Sovereign God who loves me unconditionally. He doesn't expect me to understand His reasoning, and He knows I am going to be doubtful after each thing is out of my hands. I believe that He does, however, expect and hopes for my faithfulness.

And I'm, for one, lacking in that area, in a BIG way. Let me explain myself a little, simply because I know it is shameful. I've waited five months for a child, I've waited 2 months for God to show me what it is I'm supposed to be doing, and I've gone 382 days without my Nana. I am angry that I have to go without. It feels as if He's taken the best from me, and I feel disappointed when there aren't two pink lines or when I don't have another job or because I miss my family. Do you hear me? I have gotten back to the point like I had in high school with the "It's All About Me" attitude. My faith is gone because I'm focused on what I don't have rather that trusting in what I've already been given.

God knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), but no where in scripture does He promise to give, give, and give some more. He doesn't intend for me to know what lies ahead, nor does He offer me the things I want so desperately because He knows that they will also become a means of doubting Him. God has perfect intentions in all He does, in all He gives, AND in all He takes away. It's a hard line to swallow, but I have to realize it's not about me. It's about His plan, His timing, and His sovereign will, and I just have to know that He's there. And He is...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gifts of God

You ever get stuck? I mean, really stuck. Not in mud or gum or anything disgusting like that, but just emotionally stuck.

I had gotten to that point where my feelings just felt stuck. I couldn't figure out what my purpose was or why God had given me the push to quit my job. Then after that, for the past few months, I have wondered what to do with my time. I just was stuck doing the same thing over and over, and the same emotions came along with it. You know, those pitiful, frustrated and lonely, disappointed and discouraged, and angry feelings you get from time to time? Yeah, I had all of them on a day-to-day basis, and honestly, I was hoping and praying for someone to pull me out of the "mud."

I don't know exactly who's idea it was or how it came about, but I have always been told my handwriting was a pure gift from God. Strange gift, I know, but if it was mine for the taking, what was I supposed to do with it? You can't exactly get a job handwriting. That's when my husband suggested I should paint. Use my handwriting by painting. He sounded crazy, but I tried it anyway.

It was fabulous, the way all of my emotions seemed to leave me just by putting ink on a page but in this case, paint on a canvas. I felt as though I FINALLY was doing something with "my gift" and I had an awesome opportunity to share it with others. At first I just painted for us, as gifts for friends, etc., but I soon realized as people began commenting that this could be something God has gifted me to do.

So I began Gifts of God paintings today. After months of debating it, I have decided to walk the path, muddy or not, and be willing to get stuck doing something I love. Visit the site, do not feel obligated to buy anything, but if God leads you, let me offer my most sincere willingness to share the gift God has given me with you.

With love,
Jenna

Monday, June 30, 2008

There's Not a Friend

"A man with many friends may be harmed,
but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother."

Proverbs 18:24


Have you ever distanced yourself from a friend? Not purposely, but you ran into them weeks, months, years later and realized what you had done.

I have done that more times than I like to admit. I often make excuses behind my reasoning for doing so. Come to find out, none of them are worth explaining to that friend I left behind. Why is it so hard to hang on to those we cherish the most?

Getting married, getting pregnant, and getting old were the reasons behind my distance. Honestly, they are all good reasons for leaving other things behind, but your friends? There's no making that okay.

I visited the church I grew up in yesterday for lunch and a singing. I saw one of my dearest friends. (If you haven't learned it yet, the friends GOD has given you are the best ones you'll ever find.) As we hugged and looked at one another, it came to my mind that the last time I spoke to him was his birthday almost 3 months ago. The time before that, I really cannot recall. I told my husband as we were leaving that it was so good to have that one friend(s) that, no matter how long it had been, you could always pick up where you left off.

Jeremy is one of those friends... Truthfully, I have many friends like that. Seems as if we haven't talked in ages, but when you see them again, your mind wanders back to when you saw each other last, and you begin your conversation from there.

In sitting talking to him, I realized I had missed some important circumstances in his life... getting his first job since graduating college together, buying his first home, his learning lessons the hard way, and the healing of his wounds. My heart ached as I listened to him talking because it was so easy... My childhood friend and I were no longer the best of friends.

Who have you left behind? Is there anyone you miss today? My heart is LONGING for genuine relationships, and yet, I have no idea how to make them. I have friends scattered throughout the world, and I cannot seem to hold onto them. Are you hurting like me, in the sense that you need a friend?

In a way, I have two things I mean to say...

1) If I have someway neglected our friendship, please forgive me. There are so many that I know of, it would be hard to sit and think of them all. If you need me, please know that I am here.

2) There is no friend like Christ. He'll provide you with every relationship you need IN HIM. When He can't be as close as you'd like Him, pray for Him to help you to draw closer. He's all we need.

What about that? Have you forsaken your friendship with Christ? I have just recently learned what a friend He truly is, and it has taken me months to realize that I was the one who left Him. Maybe, just maybe, because I had neglected Him, I had begun distancing myself from friends... It's me. My fault. There's no friends because I'm not one. Lord, help me to be a friend again.

"There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus; no, not one."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Have We Ever Met?

If you had met me in February, you would have come to know a person full of hurt, disappointment, and heartache. If you had met me in March, you would have seen a person drowning in sorrow. If you had met me in April, you would have noticed that I was struggling to even love again. If you would have met me in May, you would have given up on me too.

If you had met me yesterday, you would have met the most thankful woman in the world. You would have seen how happy I was/am to be in love. You would have noticed how hard I tried to surprise my husband on his 28th birthday. You would have enjoyed watching me bake his favorite cupcakes and actually clean the house. You would have laughed to see me working out (oh yes, I am on a roll, and bound and determined). You would have wondered if anything could bring me down.

If you meet me today, you'll see my insecurities. You will understand that my life seems as if it's one long roller coaster ride that has no end. You will see my humble attempts at becoming a better wife and being a mother who is trying to be completely honored with the fact that her child is in Heaven. You will see how lonely I am - missing friends and realizing how much life has changed in just 2 short years. You will wonder about my heart - if I care or seem to notice what is going on around me. You will worry I have lost all hope in life. It would be okay for you to admit it... Because in some ways, it's all true.

If you meet me tomorrow, I promise I'll be trying harder than I was today. You will see that I'll be reading even more of my Bible to hear Him speak. You will learn that I am looking forward to my date night with my husband - something we haven't had in four months because the pain has overwhelmed me. You will see me swimming - weightless and free of guilt of the life I've lived. You would not have to wonder where my priorities lie, but solely on my relationship with Christ and then my best friend in the world. You'll see that I'm making the best out of what God has given me, and how hard that is for me. You'd want to keep your distance because I will still be fragile, but soon you'd realize how I long for your friendship.

Tomorrow will be another day... I'm praying that I have that chance. I realize how difficult it is to be my friend, relative, and reader, for that matter. Understand that I wish I could take it all back - every mistake, regret, circumstance, and tear. I hope that you know I do. I've done things I'm not proud of in the past, and even now, in the present time, I've walked and remained in the valley of the shadow of death, when God is urging me to move on. I've left you behind, I've neglected our relationship, and I've let go of life. Forgive me. I long to love, live, and laugh again... My perspective is clear, and my thoughts are vivid. I know it is God's push that has caused me to smile today... It will happen again... Maybe tomorrow, or even tonight, but I know God is holding my hand, and these are just seasons... And yes, they come and go.

Acts 3:19
"Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

God is Not the Author of Confusion

I've been reminding myself this a lot lately... Well, mostly just because I've really been confused.

I wake up after having had dreams that are ironic, frightening, and just odd. My emotions are at that point too, ironic, frightening, and odd.

In a small way, I realize that the devil is trying to creep into my life and destroy what good things God has done for me. It's easy to let him divide and conquer, but it's much more rewarding to realize that God is in complete control. All of my worries and doubts are nothing to God, and He can rid me of all of them if I'll simply trust in Him.

In a period of just a few weeks, I have learned these facts of life, and I encourage you to instill them in your own:

1. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but He expects you to seek out truth for yourself; therefore, READ YOUR BIBLE. Take 15 minutes. It's really life-altering.

2. The devil will hit you when you are down... or up. He doesn't care. Stay guarded having on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD (Ephesians 6:10-18).

3. Children truly are a blessing in this life. Do not take one second with them forgranted, be you a parent, sibling, or admirer. It is OUR responsibility to lead children in the way of the Lord (Matthew 18:5).

4. Love your spouse as God loves His church, and wives, Titus 2 states that we should LOVE our husbands. The Apostle Paul did not mean for us to love with an agape love, which means self-sacrificing, as Jesus sacrificed Himself for the world. But Paul used the term phileo for love in this chapter, which means to love passionately and affectionately. Take time to do that every day. Stop thinking about how we wish we could change them and start seeing the BLESSINGS which God has given you in Him.

5. The past is the past. Do not let Satan tell you it matters. I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 when we learn that there is a time for everything, and not all of it is wonderful. The past is over, and the future isn't ours either. Live for today.

6. Take care of yourself. Take time for yourself. We are to be a worker for the Lord and if we cannot present ourselves in the best manner possible, what can we do for Him(Corinthians 6:19-20)?

Lastly,
7. Set your affections on things above... Let me give scripture reference to that too...
1 Corinthians 10:31So Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Here I am, Lord, take me as dazed as I am and make me more like You.

I realize I don't usually write in this manner, but God is teaching me where I need to be... I hope it will encourage you to fall at His feet and open up His Word.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Longing to Love Again

I thought of you today...

What you were wearing and how the sun would have been touching your face. I imagined the smile you might have and how you would be enjoying yourself. I wondered how you had changed and how long it had been since I held you. I couldn't wait to love you. I thought about the next few days and weeks. What it would mean to see you again. To hold you tighter than ever before, and to know without a shadow of doubt that you were the greatest gift in my life.

I also thought of what used to be...

How we almost had him. How we are Heavenly parents. How excited and scared we were when we knew he was coming. How our hearts broke and how hard we were on each other when we realized he was gone. I thought about how we told all of our friends and family and how crazy all of that was.

I also pictured what is to come...

I thought about how one day, very soon, I will hold you closer than the last time. The surprises I have in store for you, the summer we will spend serving Christ, the days with our family, and the nights alone with one another. Those are things I can't wait for.

And though, I've spent the first part of this year missing our child, I realized today that nothing is harder than missing you... You are my best friend, and life without you doesn't make sense. I am so ready to see your face again.

"...When I found him, whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go..." (Song of Solomon 3:4)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Empty Boxes

I had boxes full of Kindergarten supplies, classroom decorations, and crayons. As we packed up my room into cardboard boxes, I felt so empty. I am not saying this is a bad thing. I expected to be over-emotional, crying, and not wanting to leave, but counting down the minutes until time to leave, I had no feeling at all.

I know I could put this into elegant words to explain what this taught me, but let me just say this: I firmly believe God filled those cardboard boxes with exactly what needed to be in them for this point in my life. I was afraid that leaving was the wrong thing to do, but when God says to do something, I do not have to second guess Him. He proudly watched me as I looked into each empty box and packed it full of things that I had to say goodbye to. It is sad, knowing I will not be teaching next year, but the peace I have about not going back is so comforting. FULL! Just like those boxes, I am packed full of God's spirit and He is leading me onto my next move.

Sorry it is so short, but I am writing my husband's blogs for the next two weeks. I just finished this week's post. Please visit his Words of Encouragement site to view my article(s).

Help me to PRAY for him for the next 12 days until June 7th. He is with my grandfather and 20 others on a tour of Israel. Pray for safety and spiritual understanding. Keep up with their trip on Israel 2008.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Getting Good at Goodbye

In a few hours, I will tell a group of 18 children goodbye for the last time, only this time, they will not return through my classroom door ever again with a bunch of toothless grins. Miss Kramer next door has already came over with tear-filled eyes exclaiming she had broken down with her class. I haven't yet... But then again, it's only 10:30. The children's voices are filling the room, senseless chitter chatter and random squeals and laughs, but the looming moments also come to mind.

Maybe I won't cry this afternoon when the children say their final words. Maybe I'll be so overwhelmed that tears will not cease. Maybe I'm thinking much too into this. Nevertheless, my heart aches knowing this will not only be their last goodbyes but mine as well.

Upon entering this classroom in July 2007, I had the most distinctive feeling... I had become a stranger in my own room. It, for some reason, just did not feel as it had before. As the year progressed, the children entered, and God continued this call, I realized what He was asking of me. This is why as the children walk away today, they are not leaving this room alone. I will be leaving it as well for my last time; God has called me to leave this inspiring position.

All year I have said my goodbyes... I have said my farewells to my Nana, to Brian's Granddaddy, to my first child, and most recently to Brian's dad. I now plan to tell 18 6-year-olds that they will not be able to come back next year and hug me as they had seen my last year's students do this year. This room will be someone else's, and I will be following the will of my very own Teacher... His name is Jesus.

I also must say bye to my fellow colleagues who are now friends, and I will leave two of my very best teaching friends behind. Miss Kramer, who actually is Liz, has become the greatest addition to this year. Had it not been for her, I don't know, with all of the disappointments of 2007-2008, if I would have made it without her. She has truly been a "friend closer than a brother" or sister in my case. Saying goodbye to my best friend and next door neighbor is going to be one of the most difficult things I have done, and I say that with great experience of saying goodbye. I will leave behind one of the most influential friends I have... I've almost been ignoring her lately because I fear the emotions that will overtake me as we say goodbye. (Please forgive me for this shortcoming, Jenny.) Mrs. Jones has been a spiritual leader in this school; she started having devotionals and prayer time once a week even when only a few showed. She's been the most heartfelt and sincere friend I've ever had, and having to leave her breaks my heart. Why must goodbyes be so hard?

The crazy thing is that I'm not fearful. I know that this is what God has spoken, and disobeying Him would be a sin. I must leave this part of my life behind for now, and press toward the prize that God has for me.

With tear-filled eyes I write my last entry as Mrs. Johnson... Goodbye Kindergarten. You have filled my life with joy and the children I've dreamed to teach. Lord, I don't understand why, but here I am saying goodbye.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Down on My Knees

Do you remember how good you felt when that band-aid was placed upon your knee after having fallen off your bike? It wasn't as if anything miraculous had actually occurred; it was the simple thought of being taken care of, like that bandage would prevent more pain.

If you were like me in your younger years, it wouldn't be but a week later you were landing on that same spot before the scab was even gone. The hit you took hurt triple the pain you'd experienced before, but you found yourself avoiding those same circumstances in any way you possibly could.

NOT ME. I'd get right back on that bike and take the fall... a repeated number of times. I loved getting band-aid after band-aid and enjoyed even more the fact that my dad would be there taking care of it. He was also the one who encouraged me to get back up and try again. He'd tell me that if I wasn't bleeding that I'd be fine. He usually was right...

And my Father is telling me that I will be fine, but I feel as though I've been knocked down yet again. However, this injury is as heartbreaking as the last three. If you don't remember, just last July, my beloved Nana passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Just a month later, Brian lost his God-fearing Grandaddy in a timely death. This past February, we learned that our firstborn child had been taken from the womb straight into Heaven. Just days ago, on Thursday, May 8th, we learned that Brian's dad of 48-years-old had not risen from his sleep.

Though I feel as though God has kicked me in the shins before the previous bruises had even healed, I realize there is a purpose. Maybe I am on my knees now to prove that God is sovereign, and He is in complete control. Maybe someone, sometime, somewhere will need me for the loss I've endured, and at that point, in God's glory, I'll be able to point them to the source of these sore areas.

In all of this, I think back to those days when daddy would pick me up and put me back on that purple bike; his unfailing love and encouragement taught me to keep going, and that in time, the pain would be worth it when I rode over the hill. My Heavenly Daddy is exactly the same. He knows how bad the hurts hurt, and He understands how weak my flesh has become. Yet He loves me enough to let me fall down time and time again so that in my weakness, He is made strong.

There is nothing like a wound that won't heal, but when God is your physician, He knows what you need. I'm taking my battered and bruised self to His feet, and I am going to get down on my bandaged knees.

In Memory of:
Thomas Benjamin Johnson
Ethan Caleb Johnson
Bennie Lara Johnson
Jodean Honeycutt

Monday, April 28, 2008

Letting Go of Hanging On

So, I'm sure you've noticed it... I've not been myself lately. That's what my husband said loud and clear the other night. Then I admitted to him that a part of me felt as if it left when our baby did. I started thinking about who I was before there ever was a baby. Do you know how difficult that is? To imagine yourself BEFORE the loss of a child?

Well, here I go. I was so happy. I had been married 10 months to my husband, and I could not be more in love. I was looking forward to date nights on Fridays and post-it note love letters every single day. I was learning to cook... It wasn't always successful but I was trying. I was anxious about getting pregnant and had taken a NUMBER of pregnancy tests in the hope of becoming so. I was a friend. People came to me for advice and they often listened to what I had to say. I was joyous. I knew that my life had meaning, though I didn't know what it was, and I was thrilled to see what God had in store. I was a teacher. I loved everything about this classroom, yet I knew God was calling me out of it. These kids were interesting and awesome, and they brightened each day with their quirky looks and hilarious stories. I enjoyed listening to and singing music, looking at and taking pictures, and I absolutely adored polka dots.

That was then.

I am overwhelmed just to get out of bed for fear of thinking of him. I feel suffocated in a classroom full children because none of them are mine. I cry at any talk of pregnancy or just a simple photo of a baby. Baby showers scare me. I am frightened to talk about children. I'm afraid of even discussing babies because I know people feel as though I'm crazy. People walk around me as if I'm surrounded by egg shells. They talk behind my back for fear of not hurting my feelings. I cry all the time. I can't even sing a song at church because the thought of Heaven sometimes hurts because he's there and I'm not. Prayers are difficult, school is harder, and polka dots are driving me nuts.

See, this is now.

I do not want to be this person I've become anymore. I long to move on and feel excitement again over the HOPE of one day becoming a parent. It's not over. I STILL have that chance, that opportunity, even though I've acted as though it's over for me. I want to be a wife again, one who loves unconditionally and goes to bed loving rather than crying herself to sleep. I want my friendships back. I know I don't necessarily even know how to be one, but I want to try. I want to rejoice in my suffering. There are far worse circumstances than mine. My life is not over. I don't want to be like this anymore. Will you PLEASE pray for me? Help me fight this silly battle I've faced for 71 days... I HAVE to let him go. I've been hanging on for too long, and it's time to let go and give God what He deserves:

Praise. "The Lord gave and has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." He gave me a child, and He took him to Heaven; it's up to me to praise Him for it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This Side of Heaven

I know I've talked about Ethan often, but I can't help but think of him everyday. It seems as if he just could be in the other room, but then I realize God has taken him and I am left with this deafening silence and unbearable emptiness. I am not sad that he's gone, because I know his reward in Heaven is FAR GREATER than anything Brian and I could have given him here. Yet my heart aches for him and longs to hold him on THIS SIDE of Heaven...

I know that this isn't possible. I know that God has put 17 (seventeen may be a slight exaggeration but ONLY slight) different pregnant women around me to help me understand that our time is not "this time." I know that there are children in my life everyday and I have no reason to complain, but when I think that none of these are mine, I can't help but feel the pain of losing Ethan all over again.

I know that my fear of babies since losing him is irrational. I get completely overwhelmed when I see a baby boy or the clothes I "might have" bought for him or hear a child cry. I passed a little boy in a brown and turquoise polka dot stroller the other day and nearly choked 1) because of the baby himself, 2) because who would have imagined a boy's stroller in polka dots, and 3) Heaven only knows that that could have been mine! All of this sounds crazy, and I realize it. But then again, until you've experienced it for yourself, which I pray NEVER has to happen for you, you'll soon learn that all of these things are completely normal.

I know I'll hold him one day. I know he'll show us around Heaven, and that, in the mean time, he's in the upmost care. He's with MY FATHER. Why am I so sad about that? Why can I not look at a baby without seeing him? Why is holding a baby such a fear now?

I know that these have been my thought pattern for the past 2 months. I'm not saying it's okay but it is what it is. God has a funny way of showing you to move on from certain things...

I sat at the zoo today with my Kindergarteners when a dear friend and chaperone brought her little baby girl, Eden, over and sat her in my lap. Eden can't be more than 4-5 months old, but when this friend was learning of her girl in the womb, Brian and I were discussing names in case something should happen. Eden was one of those names! I was completely scared to death to touch her, let alone HOLD HER. But as I did, I realized there was a reason for all of this. I don't understand it, and I never will on this side of Heaven. It's not for me to question. It's for God above to work out and show me what time is "the right time." But just in case he doesn't know:

Ethan, Mommy misses you on this side of Heaven.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

God Knows Who You Are

I have really had a lot of time to think about how much God knows about me. It's overwhelming at times, thinking that every thought I have, He knew it before I could even speak it. Every time I hear my Pop pray, he begins by saying, "All-wise, all-knowing and wise, Heavenly Father..." I've sometimes questioned the possibility of an "all-knowing" God. Yet this week, I'm so thankful that He is.

On Friday, as I talked in the office with my principal for only 15 minutes, a third grade student was stealing my cell phone and $12 from my purse. I came back to my classroom to discover that these things were missing, and in a panic, went speed-walking back to the office. However, just the day before, a "suspect" had been accused of taking $45 from the teacher across the hall. Sure, this gave me an idea of who it was, but I didn't know for sure. This strange sense that I had been violated in some way came over me.

All I was able to do in the circumstance was panic. I went to Verizon to suspend the phone and possibly get a new one. That turned out being a huge ordeal as I wasn't actually named on our account. It was awful; Brian was out of town and unable to help, so a fellow friend and teacher drove me around working all of this out.

Looking back, I realize how ridiculous all of this was. In His Word, God says, "In this world you will have tribulation, but take heed; I have overcome the world (John 16:33)." There was no need for my dismay or being fearful. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)." Why was I so frightened at the fact that a 10 year old had taken something of mine? I have no idea. I wondered often over the weekend if that child felt guilty or if he worried over what would happen to him if he were caught. This was not for me to know because my Heavenly Father knew it all.

He saw the child's face as he walked into my room.
He knew that the child would not feel remorse.
He realized that the child needed help.
He understood the child's heart.
He was angry with his actions.
He knew that His judgment on him would be stiff.
He also realized that his punishment here would be small.
He was working in my heart.
He helped the child's parent find the money and my phone.
He was disappointed when I didn't trust that He could.
He probably laughed when my principal handed it to me.
He knows how scared I am to leave my doors unlocked.
He keeps them safely secured even when they are wide open.
He feels my broken heart.
He rejoices when I think of Ethan in Heaven.
He smiles when I love on my husband.
He is put to tears when I praise His name.
He is anxious to see me put my trust in Him.
He is waiting for me to understand Him more.
He wants me to open His pages more often.
He asks that I let it go.
He is proud as I smile at the child who took my things.
He knows that I can be a testimony of His grace.
He knows about my disbelief when I'm walking away.
He feels the readiness I'm experiencing.
He hears my prayers but is already in the works.
He knows exactly who I am.

As angry as I was, I thought about how sorry I felt for this little boy. How lonely he must be and how starved for attention he is. It broke my heart. I am mad, but the emotions I feel are only a piece of what that child hurts with. My God is longing to show His face in this situation, and I am praying that it will be me. Remember today that God knows who you are, and He loves you for it anyway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Things I Should Have Said

Have you ever been through a situation, then, after having stepped away from it, realized that there were some things that you left unsaid? It's happened to me more times than not. I'm terrible about saying exactly what I think, and unfortunately, I've hurt some people with this character trait of mine. Lately, however, I have not said some things that I KNOW I should have when the Lord was leading me to do so.

So I guess you're thinking that I have started writing to make things right and to FINALLY say what I should have... Well, you'd be exactly right. Except it's not going to be what you think it is. I just hope you'll forgive me for opening my heart before you...

When you took care of me after the surgery, I didn't realize how blessed I was; to have the kind of love you possessed even overwhelmed me. Every act of service you performed and every word you didn't say, they went unnoticed at the time. The nights you allowed me to cry myself to sleep as you stayed awake simply praying without ceasing for my brokenness were so unbelievably considerate. The bitterness you have seen has been unbearable at times, and the words that have been thrown at you in anger were unacceptable. Yet, you stood by and loved me nonetheless. As I ached for my arms to be filled, you held me. You were angry at times, but you never showed it. You've shown your faith in our future by not letting go. You've loved with an unconditional love through my darkest days. You've seen the miracles God has performed and trusted that there would be more. You've listened as I poured my heart out in frustration. You've trusted my decisions, but led me to believe in God's faithfulness. You've had faith when I've had none. You've picked up ALL of my slack, and moved on without asking more. You have proven yourself time and time again. You've loved the unlovable. You've been my biggest encouragement, and you have believed in me. You deserve more love. You should have all that I have to give. You are better than 10 sons (1 Samuel 1:8), but without doubt, would be an amazing parent to all of them. You make me want to stop grieving because of your joy. You help me to see that Ethan was a gift, and nothing can take that away. You love my hurting heart and pray for its healing. You are everything a best friend should be. You don't hear these things enough from me, and I'm sorry.

These are the things I should have said to my husband for the past 53 days. I'm sorry it took me so long.

To Heaven and Back, Brian.
I love you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Even a Heart Needs a Break

"...This can be nothing but sadness of heart."
Nehemiah 2:2

I don't know how much more I can take, and yet I know I can face it all with God as my strength and shield. It's overwhelming at times, this sadness I seem to face. The ironic part is that I feel guilty for being sad. God never meant for His children to be anything less than joyful, but I can't seem to let go. I have a great excitement about what must be over this strange, upsetting feeling I've been experiencing.

I've been reading Psalm just to make me feel somewhat normal. Reason being? It's the one chapter in the bible where there is great sadness. The cries and sounds of despair cry out in its midst, and the Lord hears their prayers. I think that maybe I believed that something within myself had let my faith decrease, and that's just not true. Just because I'm saddened does not mean I have any less faith. Did you know that in the Old Testament, people grieved for up to 40 days... Jesus even grieved, even when He KNEW that in minutes He Himself would bring Lazarus back to life, "Jesus wept (John 11:35)." Also, I see no instance in which God didn't respond to those who grieved. "Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy (Ps 126:5)." This is His promise. He doesn't want us to feel the sorrow His Son faced, that is why Christ died, to bear our sins and griefs. However, I deeply believe that God will bless those who trust in them through their despair. I HAVE to think on this and trust His Word.

My heart just seems to stay sad. I'll go through seasons of happiness but underneath it all, I still can't get past the looming emotion. How long must my heart grieve? I know many wonder about me. I just wanted to make some things clear and ask a few requests...

-Please don't count me as weak simply because I cry.
-Please don't question my faith because I know God will provide comfort.
-Please don't say, "You'll have a baby soon," because you don't actually know that.
-Please, if you're worried about hurting my feelings, talk to me.
-Please realize I'm fragile, but I'm not a piece of glass. I won't break if you discuss babies with me, but I might cry; it's just my heart grieving my child.
-Please talk about this with me if you feel led.
-Please understand that I NEED to say his name. I miss him, and though I may cry when I say it, I'm rejoicing that he was and is.
-Please know that I feel your pain too. My burden is NO bigger than yours. If you need my prayers, PLEASE ask of me to pray. I will and can despite my loss.
-Please spend time with me if you can. I need you. Yes, you.
-Please forgive me if I'm harsh, if I say nothing, if I cry, if I don't attend your special events, if I seem distant... I don't mean to be. I long to be involved again, but there are moments when I can't.
-Please read Job. I sometimes feel just like him. No, I haven't exactly lived blameslessly before the Lord, and I haven't lost all that I have. But I have tasted death firsthand, and I have been tempted by the devil and tried by my Lord. I TRY to live after losing Ethan as Job, praising God for his life but saddened by the loss.
-Please respect my time away and with my husband.
-Please don't forget about me.
-Please know that I am so happy for you if you are pregnant or have children. Your joys with your children make you beautiful, and I one day hope to learn from you.
-PLEASE, please, please pray for me. I want to live in a state of love, joy, and peace, and I know I haven't lately. Pray for these three things I long to have.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you today.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Heavy Heart

What's actually heavier than a heavy heart?

Throughout my years, I've never once found anything more difficult than a heart that's been broken, busy aching, or deeply burdened. I've had my share of all of these. The teenage years of dating taught me what a broken heart was. None of these proved serious, and eventually God showed up and showed me how silly my sadness was. My aching heart comes into play when I've seen or heard of something that upsets me. From childless marriages and lack of parenting, to this upcoming 2008 election and every evening news I watch, my heart just yearns for changes in these situations, yet my aching heart doesn't do anything for helping those involved. A burdened heart is one I'm quite familiar with.

I remember the first time I ever was burdened; it came when I was 10-years-old at church. The pastor had asked for a handshake from the church, and as I went around the circle, clasping hands with friends and the adults, my heart started feeling incredibly heavy. That was the moment when I realized that that heavy feeling I would sometimes get throughout my life would be the Holy Spirit moving in me. This, just so happened, to the be first time I ever experienced it. But Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30, "Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. Serving me is easy, and my burden is light." So immediately, I realized my condition: the Lord was working in my heart and offering His plan of salvation to me. It was nothing I had done to deserve Him, but He came to me. I humbly bowed and prayed for that burden to be lifted, and within minutes, He had taken my burden upon Himself, and I was saved and free.

I think now that then I thought my life would be free of burdens because of that moment. Don't get me wrong; it (my getting savedd) only happened once, and that's all I need to know that I have a home in Heaven. But my burdens continue. He often shows me that He's willing, but my flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). I look around my classroom even today and ponder how many of these precious children would come to know Him. It grieved my heart to think that very few would be taught the truth, that Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life (John 14:6).

That's when I remembered a prayer I prayed many years ago... I guess it's not been that long, but I think back to a time when I was imagining what my future children's names would be... This was before there was our Ethan Caleb (who's now passed on to be with Jesus) and much earlier than there was a Brian and me. It was one of those moments in your teenage years when you think of all the creative names for children, and you sit and write them down, maybe in your Bible or in a journal, but you never forget about it. I had one of those times... I barely remember the names now, because God changes your plans whether it be for marriage and/or your children's names, but as I thought about my children-to-come, I prayed one simple prayer. It was something about how I wished that if my children were not going to be saved, I'd rather the Lord take them before they enter this world. How ironic that is to me now!

I have ached... and cried... and been angry... and spiteful... and bitter... and miserable... and so BROKEN since God took Ethan from us. It wasn't until today that God burdened me with that long-forgotten prayer of MINE. My eyes fill with tears as I type this, but I realize that God knows what He's doing. I've learned that it takes a burden to relieve another one, and my heart now understands that God knows best. It hurts and the pain is at times unbearable, but I know that whatever God does is beautiful in time.

There's nothing beautiful about heartache, my brokenness, or these burdens that come on ever so weighty, but God's Word says that "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)." In time, God will heal this wound just as he took that burden away so long ago. I am excited to see God's future plans for me, and I pray that I will wait in anticipation with a heart lifted up toward Him.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Looking Back, I See It All

As Brian and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary on Monday, March 31st, I was surprised at how quickly the memories flooded back. I imagined that I would forget most things, and believe I have, but as the date of our 1 year came around, it was amazing the little things I recalled about this past year.

I realized how:
intricately God had prepared our hearts for one another...
detailed His plan was to make us see what He saw...
He opened my eyes to my future husband while sitting in Starbucks...
quickly our wedding came together...
that beautiful day was perfectly detailed and uplifting to my Father...
time can change everything...
the loss of two loved ones can really bring you closer...
illness can cause the two of you to drift apart...
an endless amount of scheduled activities can make for an awesome summer...
a middle-schooler can change your attitude about children...
God speaks about your future while listening to a Sunday School lesson...
family can either make or break your time with one another...
time apart makes your heart long for each other...
holidays are completely hectic and overbooked...
holidays are so filled with love once you're married...
gifts are something you'll eventually forget...
post-it notes are your favorite thing to find...
peace is such a comfort when you're needing patience...
the excitement of our first pregnancy was perfectly anticipated...
the loss of that child can drive you to desperation...
you long to see him in Heaven...
the strength of your marriage is tested and proven solid...
troubled times always come...
chasing after a dream isn't always what God has in store...
trusting in God is more than just a dream...
asking God to fill you is easier said than done...
the pure joy of seeing it through a year is indescribable...
wanting more isn't enough...
praying for it is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The More I Do, The More I Remember

Do you remember that saying that goes something like, "If something's bothering you, get busy... You'll forget about it in no time." I always thought that was the most ridiculous saying because if something's really on your mind, there's hardly anything that can keep you from it. I've had this hit me just in the past 2 days... Losing this baby has really opened my eyes, and as time has gone by (considering we would be about 14 weeks now), the simple thought of "him" usually brings me to tears.

The past two days have been different. It hasn't been tears or complete sadness. I've looked back on more memories than I even knew I had. I've thought about the moment I decided to take a pregnancy test, talking to Stephanie. I remembered seeing the two lines and not having meant to, I told Brian I hadn't looked. I can still picture the look on Brian's face, maybe more shock than anything. I recall how unsure we were, going to Walgreen's after dinner that night to buy a SECOND digital test. I laugh when I think about how quick it popped up, "Pregnant." I remember wondering, in the first week after finding out (week 3) if it would be a girl, but hoping for Brian's firstborn BOY. I remember being so excited to gain weight! I imagined how to rearrange our house, and what the baby's room would look like (a creation room, with animals galore, and of course, scripture and dots on the wall). I remember thinking I was a complete idiot for buying a crib set without Brian and before I made it past the first trimester. I think about counting down the days until the first ultrasound. I remember seeing that little speck of white area that was our baby. It was all so amazing, and still, completely is! What a God I serve!

I do hurt, and believe it or not, the more I do, the more I think about it all. There's so much sadness, pain, loss, and happiness, joy, and hope knowing that it was ALL for God's glory and that Heaven is a place I can't wait to be. But through it all, the more I remember, I realize how much more I love my husband. What he's dealt with in the sadness, pain, loss, even in the happiness, joy, and hope is more than I can imagine. Although we've both lost deeply, he's had to watch me suffer. He's loved me every single second of complete misery.

In just 11 days, we will be celebrating our 1st anniversary on March 31st. I've thought on how much has happened in this year; it seems as if we've been through every valley there is and yet love has been the driving force. God's love at that! Please continue to pray for us that we will trust that God's providence is PERFECT and that in the next year He will continue to pour His blessings over us, whether they be valleys or mountains... The more we go through, the more we can remember to thank God.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where've You Been?

I've been asked this question for weeks, and I have even asked it myself...

Not much explanation is needed for where I've been. I've been here; yes, maybe I've not been myself and have definitely felt as though I was going through A LOT of the motions. I'll admit that. It seems as if I've walked through this valley (and continue to) because I HAD to. Don't get me wrong, I know that God never puts more on us than we can handle, but I believe He definitely uses the trials to test our faith in Him. To be completely honest, my faith has ultimately been tested. My "want to" about anything is much weaker. I am so tired even though I've done nothing. I've done a lot of things out of obligation - I have a responsibility to be at work, church, etc., but mostly, I've done things WHILE completely feeling sadness. I truly want to trust HIM more than ever, have a stronger faith, and complete patience in God and His timing.

I think I've asked God, "Where've YOU been?" all month. It seems as if He's not been here, but as I've always been told, "When you are wondering about where God is, check your own position. God never moves; He is unchanging." God's been so faithful to us. Sure, there are times I wonder why this has to happen or why we've had to face this certain situation, but God has His ultimate plan. He never said that the cross would not get heavy, and it definitely has. My heart has been the lowest it has ever been, but God's love is there to pick me up again.

What I've learned through everything, from withdrawing, loss, and sickness, is that God's timing is always perfect. His plan is amazing, so much so that I don't and can't understand it. These valleys, as I call them, are just steps before the mountain. God is faithful, so REALLY, the question is, "F A I T H, where've you been?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sitting in the Presence of the Lord

I never imagined that letting go of something you never really had would be this difficult. After having surgery on Monday, my emotions have been very hard to handle. I've felt heartless at times, wondering why at all I haven't cried since Monday, and at other times, I feel so sad that it seems that all I can do is cry. That's actually what happened last night.

I guess I began thinking about its little hands and feet, and how we never got to see them. I started wondering which one of us he would have looked like, and yes, we believe, and have since learning of the pregnancy, this precious baby would have been a boy. I realized we had nothing to remember him by except a Willow Tree figurine that Brian gave me on my birthday when we were 6 weeks and 1 day pregnant.



We have learned since then that my birthday was more than likely the day our little one passed. Our last ultrasound showed the baby being only 6 weeks and 1 day old, when in reality we were almost 10 weeks. Letting us know this information has made things on us much easier. God always opens one door when He closes another.

I feel a bit empty inside. I know that statement can be taken literally if it need be, but what I mean is that something we had longed for and gotten so excited about is no longer within me. It's like a piece of you is missing, just gone. It's so hard to explain unless you've experienced it, but I know many have. It's just a matter of letting go and trusting God.

The procedure from what I understand went well. I've been very slow-moving, needing help to get from place to place. My throat has ached since having the tube inserted and removed. My stomach has been so sore... I can't imagine what I would have felt like if I went back to school today. I just wasn't ready yet. I plan to return to work tomorrow, if the Lord allows. I've learned to depend on my Heavenly Father to take care of our child, and I've learned to depend on Him and my husband to take care of me. The Lord has been good to us as strange as that sounds. He's filled our home with friends and family, flowers and food. All have been so loving and supportive. They have lifted us up when we couldn't lift ourselves, and I imagine there will be more days than not that we will need that lifting again... How good it is to be a child of God, to feel His presence and love in our home, to know that our child is sitting with Jesus even now. How blessed we are to already have one child in Heaven!

Job 1:21b states, "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."