Monthly Archives: April 2012

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Mother’s Day Tradition

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Luke 5:16

By: Gretchen Speer

027 (4)A few years ago as Mother’s day was approaching, my DH asked me what I wanted to do on my special day.  Sleep in?  Breakfast in Bed?  Eat at my favorite restaurant?  Hmmmm, more like attempt to sleep in while my kids cry for me outside of my bedroom door. Spill eggs all over myself and our bed when the kids crawl in to share.  Wait for 30 minutes for a table, then scarf the meal down in the few minutes my kids are all behaving and don’t need my assistance.  While I truly appreciated the motive behind those suggestions, I had no desire to participate!  I could tell my husband was getting anxious about finding something that would make the day special for me, and so I decided to lift the burden of the usual “Mother’s Day expectations” from his shoulders.  I told him I would think about it and get back to him, and that is when I came up with what is now my Mother’s Day tradition.  (I need to note that we go to church on Saturday night so I do have the entire day to work with.)

Here is my itinerary:

7ish:  Wake up and get ready for the day by myself while Daddy takes the kids to go pick up breakfast.

8ish:  Have breakfast with the fam.

9ish:  Pack up the kids journals, the laptop, my bible and prayer journal and head to a coffee shop.

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This is where I stay for quite a long while.  When thinking about what I wanted to do on my Mother’s Day, I knew I wanted to write in the kids journals.  (I don’t scrap-book, I just keep a journal for each of them and update them a few times a year.  They already enjoy reading them:)  When I’m done writing I pick a verse or two to pray over them throughout the year.  This is also a time when I try to pick several verses for them to memorize throughout the next year.  When I’m done with that I take a 166while to write in my journal and read.  I usually stay at the coffee shop well into the afternoon.  When I leave I am both refreshed and emotionally exhausted!

2-3ish:  Either do some shopping or meet some other Mommas at the movies.

4ish:  Return home and hang out with the fam.

5ish:  Go out to eat at a kid friendly restaurant.  (I don’t care where we eat as long as I’m not  cooking and cleaning up!)

Either during dinner or when we get home I read to the kids what I wrote to them, and tell them the verses that I’m going to pray over them.  I do my best to explain why I picked those particular verses for them.

At the end of the evening, I call my Mom.  I like to wait to the end of the day so I can tell her about the day.  (She lives out of town.)

A few days ago I was talking to a mom friend of mine and she was saying that she thinks all moms need time outs where they can have their reset button pushed.  This Mother’s day tradition has been just that for me.  I hope you are able to find some time to reset on your Mother’s Day too!

 

Why Don’t You Just Adopt?

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series A Struggle with Infertility

This is the follow-up piece to When the Glass is Dark: A Mother’s Struggle With Infertility from our guest contributor, Jennifer Clark.  In this post she discusses the complexities of adopting and questions you should ask before making the decision to adopt.

“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.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Couples who are struggling to have a baby will, at some point, most likely be asked this question-why don’t you just adopt?

It’s not an unkind question, but it is inappropriate. Deciding to have a child, either through pregnancy or adoption, is a deeply personal decision. Adoption is a serious commitment. It is not the same as ordering a baked potato after discovering a restaurant is out of french fries.

After trying, and failing, to get pregnant, I was heartbroken. I had to put aside my dream of having a biological child and give myself permission to grieve that loss. It was important to me to begin the adoption process in the right frame of mind. I had to confront my pain and not use adoption as a way to escape it. It took months of counseling and prayer before I was ready to move on.

Once we committed to adopting, we felt overwhelmed by the process. It can be daunting, another reason I think it is important to make sure you have a clear mind and the right attitude before you begin.

There are many decisions to make and questions to consider.

Foreign or Domestic Adoption: The most basic decision you have to make is whether you prefer a foreign or domestic adoption. This is a question without a right or wrong answer. If cost is a consideration, foreign adoptions are typically more expensive. Do your research and pray about what you feel is best for your family. My husband and I chose a domestic adoption, and I have several friends who have adopted internationally. Think about talking to some families who have adopted so they can give you their perspective and share their experiences. I did, and I found it to be very helpful.

Adoption Agency or Private Adoption: Once again, this is a question without a right or wrong answer. The most important thing to remember, with either option, is to make sure you are dealing with people who have a reputation for honesty and integrity. Expect either an agency or a lawyer to be upfront about cost and risk. Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.

Closed or Open Adoption: The most difficult question for me to answer was how much contact I wanted between my family and my child’s biological family. Not so long ago, any contact between the biological mother and the adoptive family was rare. Now, it is much more common. You have to decide how much contact is right for you. It can be tempting, when you want a baby so badly, to agree to conditions that you don’t feel comfortable with. I was tempted to do so myself, even though I knew in my heart that I didn’t want an open adoption. Be honest and don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.

Risk: An adoption that fails is called a ‘disruption’. You must accept that the adoption process is a risk, both financial and emotional. You might be expected to pay for a biological mother’s expenses during the pregnancy. If the birth mother changes her mind, you are unlikely to ever get that money back. Even more difficult is coming back from the hospital with an empty baby seat. We spent several days in the hospital with a birth mother who was trying to decide whether to place her child for adoption with us. In the end, she decided to keep her baby. We were luckier than most couples in that situation. We didn’t know about the baby before he was born, and we didn’t (on the excellent advice of our adoption agency) hold the baby or bond with him while she was trying to make up her mind. Other people are not as fortunate. In the state of Arkansas, a biological mother has ten days to change her mind after the baby is born, although she can voluntarily waive five of those days.

When we want something so badly, it can be hard to trust God. I urge anyone who is thinking of adopting to pray and seek God’s will. I believe that God had a plan for each of us. I think that God’s plan for me was to adopt the special little boy that I am lucky to call my son. It may have seemed like there were many obstacles in our path to our becoming a family, but now I know that God was in control all along.

And I am grateful.

When the Glass is Dark: A Mother’s Struggle With Infertility

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series A Struggle with Infertility

This is National Infertility Awareness Week.  In this post our friend, Jennifer Clark, has opened her heart to share her story of struggling with infertility.  We know that our struggles are not in vain.  May Jennifer’s testimony be an encouragement to you if you are or ever have dealt with infertility.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  1 Corinthians 13:12

By: Jennifer Clark

What I remember most was feeling like I was broken….
I took so many things for granted when I was young. I made so many assumptions. I thought I would get married, have babies and live happily ever after. Except after five long years of trying, no babies.

I was so angry at God.

I think the hardest part is that we started out with such hope. My husband and I knew it was possible I would have trouble getting pregnant, but my doctor assured me there was medicine I could take that would solve the problem.

And so began my experience with Clomid. If you have never taken fertility drugs, it is difficult to understand what those tiny pills can do to your body. I was irritable, and I had vicious mood swings. It was not a lot of fun to be me, or frankly, to be around me for any length of time.

Every cycle (you think of your life in cycles when you are on the fertility treadmill), I would pray to God that I would become pregnant. And I would be sure, so sure, that this month was the month. I had faith.I knew it would happen.

But, of course, it didn’t.
That’s when I began to doubt myself. Did I not have enough faith? I wondered what was wrong with me. Why didn’t God hear my prayers?

After a while, I began to doubt God. Was He listening? Did he even care?

My husband and I finally decided to go see a fertility specialist in Tulsa. I went through more rounds of treatments. The drugs were more powerful and more expensive. Every failed cycle, I would feel such pain and guilt. I remember lying in bed with my hand resting on my stomach, thinking that this time God had answered my prayer. I was convinced there was life inside me. And then, when my period came, I felt like God had abandoned me. Every month I would grieve for a child that never was.

It was my husband who put a stop to it. He gently suggested we stop trying. We had other options, like adoption. Maybe we were on the wrong path.

That was one of the darkest times in my life. I felt like a failure. I thought I had let my husband down. I thought God had let me down. For many months, I felt almost paralyzed with a sadness that never went away.

And even though I felt like I was so alone, I know that God was with me through that time. I can see it now, even if I couldn’t see it then.

I began to accept that God had not said no to a child for me. God just intended for me to have my child another way. I started to open myself up to His will. We began to pray about adopting a baby.

Once we committed to adopting, things began to move very quickly. My husband and I began the process in August, and by February, a birth mother had chosen us. Our son was born in March. It could have only been God.

I often think about a verse that is a favorite of my father’s. It is about how now we see through a glass darkly. In the middle of my struggle, I couldn’t understand why God didn’t grant my prayer. But now, I see. God wasn’t punishing me with infertility. God wanted to bless me through adoption.

I love my son more than words can say. I can’t imagine a life without him. Everything I went through to get to him, I would do all over again. The pain of the past pales when compared to the joy he has brought to my life.

God made us a family. And I thank Him every day for sending me the son I was meant to have all along.

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On Wednesday, Jennifer will post follow-up article called Why Don’t You Just Adopt?, in which she talks about the complexities of adopting and questions you should ask before making the decision to adopt.

Jennifer Clark is a former teacher and stay at home mom. She and her husband Neal have a son, Jackson, who is 2 years old. He is a blessing and a joy who keeps both of them on their toes!  She has been a guest contributor in the past.  Expect to see more of her writings in the future. 🙂

31 Days of Praise

”I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:2

On Monday I shared how God used Psalm 34:1 to challenge me that, no matter what my circumstances, I need to extol the Lord and sing His praises. If I’m honest, some days this is easier than others, but it always requires supernatural help and intentional time.

An amazing co-worker and mentor of mine before I became a mommy introduced me to a devotional tool that has encouraged and inspired me for the past 12 years, time and time again. This tool is called 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers and it contains 31 fairly short devotionals that are totally made up of Scripture.

I love it that the devotionals use Scripture because I find that when I hide God’s Word in my heart and read the Truth that God has spoken about Himself it can be the most effective way to change my attitude and my heart.

It has been awhile since I have gone through 31 Days of Praise, so I have decided it’s time to read through it again in May. If you’d like to join me, let me know and then let’s talk about how it’s going on Facebook!

I would also love to hear if you have some tried and true tools that help you praise God throughout your day. Please feel free to share them in the comments section!

Glorious!

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1

By: Kerri Young

I was having one of those days. I was up to my eyeballs in chores that needed to be done. My two oldest children were supposed to be playing upstairs but had already taken turns coming down three times in 15 minutes crying and tattling on the other.  The last time I had gone up there to head off the little person coming to me and to prevent World War 3 I had threatened that they had better work on their conflict resolution skills and work it out on their own because Daddy was coming home soon and they would be in SERIOUS trouble. (You know it’s bad when you pull out the Daddy card.)

I immediately headed downstairs in a bad mood and opened my Bible to the psalms. I try to read a chapter in Psalms and Proverbs every day if I can (sometimes it takes me a month to get through the 31 chapters of Proverbs, sometimes it takes a couple). This particular day I was in Psalm 34 and as I started reading the first verse I felt the Holy Spirit starting to convict my grumbling heart:

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.”

Hmmm…. Yes, Lord, I thought. But do you know what kind of day I’m having?  How am I supposed to extol you when I’m just so exhausted and annoyed?!? Then I wondered, am I missing something? What exactly does extol even mean and how can the psalmist say that?

So, I googled it (because that was faster than finding my dictionary). And I discovered that the definition of extol is, in fact, the key to this even being possible.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, to extol means “to proclaim the glory of.”

Yes! That’s it! God IS GLORIOUS all the time, regardless of my circumstances. (Hallelujah!) And when my circumstances change—because they will—God will still be the same (Malachi 3:6): GLORIOUS! So, why would the psalmist not extol the Lord at all times or have His praise always on his lips? He wasn’t praising God for the stinky things that happened to him that day; he was praising God in the stinky things that happened to him that day.

When I’ve been up five times in the middle of the night to soothe a teething baby…. I will extol the Lord.

When my children are fighting and can’t play together for more than five minutes without one of them coming to me tattling in tears…. His praise will be on my lips.

When the kitchen sink is piled high with dishes and dirty laundry is in mountainous heaps on the floor…. I will extol the Lord.

When I’m overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and just feel like collapsing on my bed…. His praise will be on my lips.

I want to be known as someone who praises Jesus and reflects His glory, and grace, and joy at all times. I want my children to see that even when I am frustrated with myself or with them that I still choose to extol the Lord because God is always good and always GLORIOUS, even when my day might not be.

My prayer for myself and for you today is that together we can choose to glorify God with all that we are in the midst of our chaos. Because no matter what is going on with us, He is still GLORIOUS and worth being extolled.  May His praise be on your lips today! Say it with me:

When (fill in the blank)…. I will extol the Lord.

When (fill in the blank)…. His praise will be on my lips.

Tune back in on Wednesday for a great tool I have used through the years that always points my praises to God.