October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have to admit that I didn't know this until this morning. Though we had children late in life, Gabe and I are blessed in that we've not ever had to experience loss in this way. However, as a nurse I've been at the bedside of too many families to count that have lost their children. As a flight nurse, there are countless stories I could tell you of being in the middle of the storm of children dying. Though I have not experienced this in my own life, I can relate to the outcry of grief that such loss causes. But... no. I did not remember that this day honors these lost souls and brave families. I can imagine that today is forever stamped into the memory and on the hearts of those who have lost their babies. My heart grieves alongside them. In honor of today, and so many of my beautiful friends who have lost children, I wanted to bring you a heartwarming and hopeful message that one of my dear friends wrote. I am honored to call her teacher and friend, sister in Christ. I pray that her wise words bring you comfort and peace... even in the midst of shattered hopes and dreams.
I've been lying. For a long time.
If that got your attention, it was meant to. After all, I am an English teacher and you've got to start with a great hook.
When asked if I had any children, I have always answered no. This is a lie. Let me explain.
After my first miscarriage, a pastor spoke the words of Isaiah 54:1-3 over me: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."
I've been pondering this verse quite a bit lately because I've been considering it as part of a tattoo design. Just this morning, I realized Satan had been feeding me a lie and I had been falling for it hook, line and sinker.
That I am a barren woman with no children other than the two who await me in heaven.
I have LOTS of children, right here on Earth.
You see, I had always viewed the Isaiah passage in a future-tense metaphorical sense. This morning, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that this is a NOW truth, and I'm blown away by it, so much so that I could hardly wait to get it written down.
You may have noticed the ring in the video. I purchased it this weekend at Apple Butter Days. The initials are for my Nine godchildren: Hannah, Tyler, Josie, Kenzie, Ella, Gabe, Payton, Sidney and Emma. The "&" symbol represents their spouses and children.
But here's where it gets good: the "ands" extend far beyond my godchildren. As I reflected on my 26 years of marriage this morning, I've had children every step of the way. It began with my nieces, and continued with football players, basketball players, church youth group members, friend's kids, and my own students. All along, God has been choosing specific children to weave into the tapestry of my life. And once I take you into my heart, you're there forever.
I have a LOT of kids. And not in a future-tense metaphorical sense either. They've lived with me, cried with me, laughed with me, done chores with me. We've played games and traveled together, celebrated birthdays and holidays. I've fed them lots of food and bought them lots of stuff. We've worshipped and prayed and studied the Bible together.
My children are incredibly successful. They are faithful husbands, wives and parents. They have careers in ministry, medicine, art, business, science, technology and education. My descendants, as they are called in Isaiah, are world-changers.
This summer, I asked God to make me a prayer warrior. Boy, has He ever answered my prayer, but not in the way I expected. I've always been a great sleeper, 8 to 9 hours every night...until lately. For the past couple months, I've spent countless hours in the dark of night in prayer. It started with going through my Nine one by one, and has gradually grown into a list of some length. If you're one of my kids, I've been praying for you.
So what's the point of this incredibly long and personal post? To give God the credit, as a sweet friend of mine likes to say.
There may be a woman out there who, like me, struggles with her barrenness at times. My dear one, God's words in Isaiah are right-now true for you too. Let that settle in your bones and begin to act on its truth. Your womb may be empty but your life is not, and God gets the credit.
There may be someone out there who needs to see an example of appropriating the truth of God's word. My favorite verse is Psalm 107:20, "You sent forth Your word and healed me, and saved me from all my destructions." Wherever there is an area of difficulty in your life, I promise there are verses in the Bible to help you, and God gets the credit.
To my Nine, I love you beyond words. Your parents' decision to choose me as your godmother is an honor I have always taken seriously, more so now than ever.
To my "ands," I thank God for you. You have made my life rich and meaningful. You know who you are, and every one of you are a unique and special gift to me. I adore you.
Lord, until you call me home, I will continue "stretching out my tent." Keep 'em coming. I have room in my heart, and You get the credit.
See Kathy's ring of children here.
Dear sister- on a personal note... thank you for your incredible vulnerability and for speaking such TRUTH to those who need to hear it. I see change in you! Much LOVE ~Bethany