"Therefore, whoever hears these saying of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." Matthew 7:24-25
Is your house founded on that rock.....on a relationship with Jesus Christ? For that and that alone will give you a firm foundation. Your foundation will be rooted in truth and righteousness, love and forgiveness, grace and mercy, redemption and hope.....for as you read His Word, as You find the heart of God, as you learn about what He desires from us and what He wants to give us in return.....your foundation becomes strong. You are prepared for the storms that lie ahead, storms that have the potential to destroy.
This post today is not at all what I thought it was going to be...I sat down to write a blog entry called "The Prodigal Daughter." (that would be me). Some things have happened the last few days that have been significant in my life and so as I've been meditating and praying on my next posting, God has been moving thoughts of Him around in my heart and a lot of stuff about my childhood. So I sat and pulled out my Bible to begin and as I opened His Word, I stopped in Matthew and read the verse at the top and God put a new post in my heart. So here it is....I'll still post on the Prodigal Daughter, but I guess not today.
I am quite new to this whole world of blogging and being a homeschooling mommy to 5 children aged 11 1/2, 9, 7 1/2, 4 and 2: I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands. I get up early to have my quiet time with God most mornings (I long for every), and then around 7:00 the craziness of my day begins. I have a lot more "down" time in the summer as I am not planning school lessons, teaching and overseeing my children's education.
So, it was a perfect time for God to nudge me into the world of blogging. I stepped with timid feet, as I so want to make sure I'm keeping all my priorities in order......you know, God, husband, children, community. I pray that God will give me the balance He desires. But now, I have jumped right in and God has blessed me so in being obedient. My desire it to share with you all that God has brought me and my family through, to encourage you, to grow with you, to be transformed alongside you and to give God all the glory. It is by His grace that I stand today...."steadfast and immovable....always abounding in the work of the Lord....knowing my labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (that is a key verse in my life.....you'll see it on my site.)
I am quite excited to share also, that God used a dear, sweet friend and sister in the Lord, Jill, to encourage me in starting this blog. (Check out her blog and you will be encouraged in the Lord, especially if you are an adopting mommy...forever n ever n always...her link is on my sidebar.) Thank you, Jill. And so God put this desire in my heart one morning, and later that day, Jill gave me the push I needed amidst the uncertainty of it all and then later that same day in my quiet time (I had it in the afternoon that day...but see God knew that was how it needed to be orchestrated on that day!! He is so perfect.)-He gave me the title for the blog and to my amazement, it was available......why I am continually amazed when God puts the puzzle together....I don't know (lack of faith...hmmm)....I am always in awe of God!
So here I am. Let me start my story of stillness, of the rain descending, the floods coming and the winds that blew and beat on my house......but we did not fall. My story is long...as most of ours is....so I won't go into a ton of detail today, but give you the sketch. As the days and weeks go by, I'll fill in all the blanks...I promise.
My husband, Barclay, and I married right after college graduation. We had been together since our junior year of high school. I had accepted the Lord at the age of 6, but had entered some years of rebellion. Barclay knew of Jesus, but hadn't made a personal commitment to Christ. He hadn't admitted his sin and his need for a savior. There wasn't a relationship, yet. Soon after we were married, we began looking for a church home (we grew up with very different examples of church). God's hand was upon us and by His grace, my husband entered into a personal relationship with Christ shortly after we were married. He was on fire! I recommitted my life to Christ. I was on fire! We began attending a church that taught God's Word, but in a legalistic way. It is a foundation that was firm, but at times unloving. Not really representing the heart of God through grace, mercy and love. But we learned God's truths from the Bible, nonetheless and we dug deep. God was laying a foundation for our marriage, our family and our children, yet born...but most importantly for our walk with Him.
"He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock." Luke 6:48
About one and a half years into our marriage, we found out we were pregnant (so much for the 5 year plan!) We were thrilled, but my husband was still finishing grad school, I was working and he was preparing his dissertation and looking for a job. It wasn't the best time to start our family. So much for the doctor's saying it would take a couple months to get pregnant after being on the pill......really someone else was in charge.....not the doctors. We were thrilled nonetheless. We knew God would work it all out.
Well, shortly after my 6 week prenatal appointment, I get a call from the ob's office saying my bloodwork had some abnormalities and I needed to have further testing done. What???? The "What to expect" book didn't say anything about this!! There was no page to turn to for the answer. So, I prayed. After after many, many tests and ultrasounds, the doctor's couldn't find an answer. The baby was growing normally and I looked on the outside completely healthy....but my bloodwork said something different. I ended up having to see a hematologist/oncologist every 4 weeks along with my regular prenatal appointments. I was having platelet issues. Platelets allow your blood to clot and mine, well they were very, very low.
In the midst of this all, my husband gets his first job at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA in the orthopedic research department. (He is an engineer by schooling and is in spinal product development-designs, develops spinal implants.) I quit my job at a local newspaper, in advertising, we take a 20K paycut, and we move from upstate NY to PA....oh, and I'm about 5 months pregnant....with a high risk pregnancy. The rain begins.
To top it all off, due to the legalistic teachings we were under, we can't seem to find a church that we both like.....so church begins to fall out of our daily Sunday routine. The foundation is still there....oh we are laid on the rock....but now, we aren't being fed, we aren't abiding daily, we aren't fellowshipping and the flood waters start to roll in. Thankfully, God puts me in touch with a group of doctor's wives from the hospital and I begin attending a precept Bible Study....thank you, Jesus. He is faithful!
Well, on November 1, 1996, I go for my 30 week ob appointment. I am temping at this time to help pay the ever increasing bills (that we can't afford) and I had noticed a lot of swelling in ankles and hands....but not too concerned. Well, I am admitted that day to the hospital due to high blood pressure, and protein in my urine, and a 10 pound weight gain from excessive fluid. Oh and did I mention my platelets were at 40,000...normal is 150,000-450,000. My baby isn't due until January 8th. I go downhill quickly and am put on magnesium sulfate because of my high blood pressure, my kidneys begin shutting down, as does my liver and my platelets continue dropping. I developed HELLP Syndrome. My son has to be delivered, or I will die and so will he. They do an emergency c-section..... my husband is praying that I don't bleed out due to the platelet levels. I don't. All goes well, without complication and Benjamin James enters the world on November 4th...10 and a half weeks early weighing in at 2lbs 12 oz and very sick.
The floodgates are open wide. I am in a fog and I am just trying to keep my head above the waters. This was so not what we planned for, nor expected......but God came alongside us, and permeated every ounce of our beings. I remember daily, standing over Ben's isolet in the NICU and praying Psalm 23
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." v.4
I wasn't being moved from God's truth. I struggled, I fought, but I stood firmly on Him. But you know what, I didn't let Him search my heart during that time. You see, the trial, the flood, in my mind, it was about surviving....Ben surviving and I surviving. I didn't humble myself at the feet of Jesus. I didn't let Him break me. I stood my ground...His ground, but I didn't give Him access to my heart. I needed Him to bring me through to dry ground. Lord lead me. Lord deliver me. But never Lord show me....Lord teach me, Lord change me to grow in You.
Oh, what a difference when we go through trials letting God lead and search our hearts and teach us versus going through a trial and just making it, with God in tow, to the other side. It isn't about getting to the other side. God wants so much more. It is about growing us, teaching us, using us for His glory, His purposes, His plans.....His way, not mine! It is about moving forward in our understanding of who He is, versus just planting your feet and not being moved at all. He wants to change us. At that time, no, I didn't think I needed to be changed. I was ok, right Lord? I just needed to put my head down and plow through.
No, God wants to use rain, floods and beating winds to conform us to HIS image. He wants us to think like Him, love like Him, forgive like Him, and hope for the things He hopes for in our lives. For His glory, not our own.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purposes. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:28-29
Oh, God will bring us to the other side of a trial because He loves us so much, but without obediently following Him, submitting to Him, and being a doer of His word, we won't be conformed. Without giving Him access to all parts of our heart, we aren't giving up "our Will, for HIS."
Ben was discharged from the NICU on December 13th, five and a half weeks after being born. We made it through that flood. We didn't fall, but I wasn't obediently following Him at the time. I wasn't a doer of His Word. I just needed to make it through with a healthy child in my arms. Little did I know at the time, that Ben was just part of the preparation that God was setting before me for a path to come.
I guess I'll stop here now that this posting is quite long, and I did give you lots of details, not just the sketch, like I intended. My encouragement to you, is that if you are in the midst of the rain or the floods, or the rain beating down.......give God access to every part of your heart. Oh, let Him mold you, let Him change you, let Him teach you, let Him have you completely....not just your feet so you can make it to the other side. He wants all of you. There's so much more. I can't wait to share it all with you and to give Him the praise. Thank you for stopping by and encouraging me as we continually submit to His way, not our own.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23 & 24