When God Made Me a Mom: God’s Gift of a Husband and Five Children In One Day

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

I know this story is long, but I can’t find it in my heart to delete any of it. I am deeply grateful of the miracle of how I gained a husband and children in one day. It is my prayer that through my story you will learn from my mistakes and rejoice in the gifts of children God has given you, whether born in your bellies or adopted into your hearts, and do the best you can with the abilities God has given you through whatever struggles you are going through. The best gift we can give our children is LOVE.

If you don’t have children but nurture children or adults who have never known a mother’s love or need more motherly nurturing, I still say, “Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for your love to a child’s heart!”

I have always felt a deep connection with children, and I loved teaching, but God called me away from this passion. It was His time for me to provide a mother’s love and nurturing to five extra-special children, children He planted in my heart, not my belly.

Nearly thirty years ago, I was in my fourth year of teaching at a Christian school in Alberta. I devotedly loved my first-graders and I still remember their excited little hands tugging my arm, saying, “Mom! Mom!” Then giggles as they realized their mistake… “Teacher!”

I had been allowed by the Canadian school to begin teaching before I finished my degree, and I could continue classes at Lethbridge University, but I needed to take my final semester back in Iowa to get my actual teaching degree and license. I didn’t want to leave “my kids” even for a half-year, but this was something that needed to be done. The plan was that I would go back the next fall semester and would return to Canada to finish out the year as a teacher for the students who needed extra help.

Before that time came, on a cold February morning, I walked into the staff room before school to get some tea, and another teacher also from Iowa shared some sad news with me. A woman of 32 years old had died suddenly, leaving behind a grieving husband and five children. I knew who they were, though not personally. Troubled and shaken, I went to tell our principal who also knew some people from that area. We stood on opposite sides of the office counter and discussed how devastating it must be for the widower and children when a soft whisper eased into my heart, “He is the one I have chosen for you.”

Shocked at what I thought were selfish, irreverent thoughts, I reprimanded myself, “How dare you think of such a thing at a time like this?” I had prayed for God to choose me a husband for over ten years, but I was sure this was not God speaking.

Since I heard the children’s voices coming into the hallways, I hurried to my classroom. When all the children were settled in their desks, I repeated the sad story. “When you go home this afternoon, hopefully your mom will be there. But there are five children whose mom won’t be there anymore,” I said, tears choking off my words. As we prayed for that family, a powerful emotion stormed my heart – a love so strong for five children I didn’t even know – such a protective, mothering love.

Confused, I thought about what came into my heart earlier. I didn’t want to believe it then, but God was directing me to lay down my teaching job, because He had something else planned for me. But the more I became convinced that something was going to happen when I went back to Iowa, the more I balked. I did NOT want to return to Iowa, because I hated to go back to the area where bad memories of abuse depressed me. I was determined to return to my teaching job in Canada.

Then one of the school board members came to my classroom door and showed me the teaching contract for the next year and said, “You don’t have to sign it right now, but do get it back to me.” I grabbed the contract and said, “No, I’ll just sign it right now.” I went back into the classroom smugly thinking, “I AM coming back here! I am NOT going to stay in Iowa.”

In August of 1984 I rented a room from a couple and began my final semester. One Saturday in September I was visiting my parents in Canton, SD, and was feeling especially lonely and depressed. I stayed later than usual before I headed back to Sioux Center. By now I had smothered God’s call with my denial and unbelief. As I drove along in my navy-blue Chevette, I prayed as I had for so many years that God would send me someone to share my life with, someone who understood me, someone who truly loved God and desired to serve Him. As I drove through Rock Valley, Iowa, a rusty-orange-colored station wagon pulled out from a side-street and tailed me all the way to Sioux Center. When I turned corners, he turned corners. When I parked at the place where I was staying, he parked, too. At first I was afraid, but then I saw who it was.

“Strange,” I thought. “I didn’t know they were related to these people.” A man got out of the vehicle and came straight toward me as I was getting out of mine. I wanted to run, but I froze! I could not believe it was that widower! I still see the faces of five children crowding at the windows of the station wagon as he said, “Hi, do you know who I am?”

Yes, I knew who he was, but my memory did an oops. We chatted a bit and he asked me if I would go out with him. I felt compelled to say, “Yes.”

When I got in the house, I was so glad my landlords weren’t home. I was awed, yet terrified. I cried and prayed. As I thought back to the nudges in my heart in past months, I could not deny God’s voice anymore. “O God, please, if this truly is Your plan, please let this be with Your blessing and give me the true love of a mother for these children.”

I finally quit digging in my heels and surrendered to God’s plan. I learned later that when my husband was at a low point, God brought me to his mind and told him to “love a woman who has had great bitterness and give her joy and happiness.” It was remarkable how God poured love for each other into our hearts, and since we could not deny God’s plan, we were married on December 21, 1984. That day God gifted me not only with His priceless choice of a husband, but with five precious children.

We married at home, and as I stood in the kitchen watching the dreary skies pour down freezing drizzle while my husband went to get his parents, doubts and fears trampled my heart. Fears that this all was too good to be true, fears that God wasn’t in it all, fears that I would not be a good enough wife and mom. But God opened up the dark clouds and a pool of sunshine surrounded me as He whispered His promise, “But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.” (Malachi 4:2) That day I begged for the Sun of righteousness to shine within the hearts of each of us. (Sad to say, I have too often forgotten to trust that God always fulfills His promises, but in His own time and way.) My husband noticed the sun’s burst through the clouds at the same time while he was on the road. The sun went under again but later shone through the window directly on us as we knelt to make our vows. It was so unique that even the minister who married us said, “Surely God must be sending His blessing.”

I haven’t always wanted to admit this, because I’m so afraid to “burden” anyone with my troubles and I feel like I’m being ungrateful for the blessings I am still given. But I’m trying to be more “real” and I have to admit it that bringing up five children was by far more difficult than teaching 33 first-graders. I brought a lot of stuffed-down, unresolved pain into it and we lived in the same town where a minister abused me and I was pictured by many as a “whore” rather than a victim. I also had asthmatic problems and three surgeries in eight months, ending up with a hysterectomy. I was so overwhelmed at times, but God’s grace and the precious love of my husband and children helped me put one foot in front of another. However, to cope, it was easier to stuff emotional pain down, but I wrongly expected that also of my children. I’m so deeply sorry I couldn’t do a better job helping them emotionally. In my heart, I grieved deeply for them, but it was easier to act like their loss never happened. When they mentioned her name, I didn’t want to hear it. I cried and felt rejected. I felt like I was always in someone else’s shadow. This was so not fair to them. I was too often selfish and insufficient.

As I look back, the only way my husband, my children, and I survived was through God’s gentle hand of love, patience, and compassion. As I worked through my own problems and my children got older, I am more able to help others in pain. My kids have graciously forgiven me and tell me they turned out alright, but it still taunts me at times. I wish I could let it go and forgive myself.

I recently read about survivor’s guilt, and I identified with it. Especially around our anniversary, I feel guilty and afraid to celebrate what I received from God when it was at the expense of the loss of another. I too often let her death and their loss over thirty years ago overshadow the precious blessings God gave me in one day – six priceless packages of love. I know He wants me to rejoice in His plan, purpose, and gifts no matter how or why I received them, but sometimes my heart is so afraid I might hurt someone. I am deeply grateful, but celebrative, not so much.

It doesn’t help that I’m a world-class over-analyzer, a professional worrywart, and a powerful self-debaser. Oh, and also an extreme perfectionist when it comes to myself. I expect far more from myself than God ever does or wants me to. We don’t have to be perfect. Only God is perfect, and He graciously uses imperfect parents. We can’t always do the right thing, and we can’t dwell on the “What-ifs.”

Every mother has difficulties, whether our children are planted in our tummies or our hearts. We can do the best with what abilities and strength we’re given at any given time, but we can’t be God. He is the real Healer. I have often prayed that He will heal where I may have inadvertently hurt, and I find comfort in knowing He has all power in His hands. So whatever “mom” situation you may be in, know that there is a God who can wipe out our mistakes and heal with the balm of His healing love.

To mothers out there who have adopted their children in one way or another… Just because a child had or has another mother in their lives does not mean there is no room for you. They can deeply love their other mom but still deeply love us as well. We don’t have to try to compare ourselves and always come up short. We need to try to open our hearts to love and acceptance instead of thinking we don’t love enough or are not worthy enough to be loved.

If we’re not the only mother in our children’s lives or forever in their hearts because of death, divorce, or something else, we need to allow our children to keep a connection with their birth mothers if at all possible. If I could do things differently today, I would have set aside special times to encourage my children to remember good times they had with their mom, perhaps even helped them create a scrapbook of memories in honor of her. I still keep a picture of her on our wall to acknowledge the blessing my children had in their first mom, and sometimes I have to say to her, “Thank you for bearing my children and sharing them with me.” I still deal with far too many insecurities at times, but I am learning God prepares more than enough room in the hearts of children to love two mothers at the same time.

Perhaps like me, you have been stabbed in the heart by comments like: “It’s too bad you can’t have any children of your own.” Whatever God personally gives us becomes our own. Actually, children belong to Him and are only ours on loan. On loan to love. On loan to cherish, to accept as they are, and to nurture their potential. 

Another expression that troubles me is “Blood is thicker than water.” Many firmly believe this is true, but I can’t find it in God’s Word. After all, God has “adopted” us to be His children. True, God has uniquely created us through genetics in blood relations, but love comes from the heart of a God of love, not through human blood. The truth is LOVE is thicker than either blood or water. Love comes through the heart, not the blood. It doesn’t matter how God gifted our children to us. What does matter is that we love our children, no matter what, and keep doing the best that we can.

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To every child we have adopted and love more than life itself:

“Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute
You didn’t grow under my heart,
But in it.”

– Fleur Conkling Heyliger

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Joining Up With


A Soft Gentle Voice
Faith Barista’s Writing Prompt:
What helps you relax as a mom – what feeds your soul?

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

When Taking Risks Opens Up Opportunities of Blessings

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Taking risks does not come naturally for me, especially when it has to do with community. There is always this niggling in my heart, this fear of rejection or being hurt again.

Risk means I’m opening myself up to the chance of injury or loss. It means exposing myself to danger. The synonyms for “risk” say it all – danger, exposure, hazard, peril, exposedness, shot in the dark.

I don’t like darkness, and my heart races at the thought of possible peril. And I definitely don’t want to expose my true heart, my authentic thoughts. What if I’m not accepted? What if people don’t like me anymore?

My perception is clouded with negative past experiences and blinds me to the positive outcomes of taking a risk – opportunity, probability, prospect, fortune.

Every time I write a blog post, doubts and insecurities pummel me. Someone else could write about this better than I can. What if no one reads it? What if it doesn’t encourage anyone? What if I’m saying it all wrong?

So many what-ifs…

I take the risk and write anyway.

But I don’t always dare to leap.

I don’t always expose the “real” me, because it’s safer.

I don’t always write to please God.

Because I’m too afraid,

Afraid of what people might think.

Recently I have been challenged to be “real.”

To take risks even when I’m afraid.

And I’m learning it opens up more opportunities.

Opportunities to be blessed.

Opportunities I missed because I didn’t take the risk.

Opportunities of love from a supportive community.

It’s hard work to risk my heart more, not only to expose my authenticity out of the fear of not being accepted as I am, but also to open my heart to encouragement for myself. That wretched shame kicking in that I don’t deserve to receive comfort.

My problem?

My heart is looking through the lens of past hurts, not of God’s tender, faithful love.

I hug my insecurities and my fears instead of taking His hand and allowing Him to lead me.

I shouldn’t perceive opening my heart to God’s love as exposing myself to danger.

I should see Him as a Loving Protector.

He will not allow anything to happen to me if it were not for my good and to His glory.

So I’m trying. Trying to take risks. Trying to let go of my insecurities and fears and open my heart to opportunities of blessing. Yes, even to believe that through Christ I can be a blessing for others.

This week I took a risk to apply for one of the five openings as a writer of InCourage. I didn’t plan on it. I was resisting it. I don’t think I qualify. As I compare myself with the giftedness of other writers, I fear I will inevitably be rejected. But it kept coming back to me – There’s still time. Then I asked myself why I wanted it, and I’m afraid it’s because I want to be more important, more known as a writer. I wrestled with God about it, and He showed me my need to ask Him to redeem my words to His glory at all times and in all situations. To trust in His power to redeem my words and use them for the good of hurting souls. The next day I felt God telling me to apply in spite of my inadequacy and imperfections. That He will use it as a trust lesson. To trust Him in spite of fear. And to trust Him that even if I am not selected, it will not mean I am rejected by anyone. It will not mean I am not enough.

So in spite of doubts, insecurities, and imperfections, I keep trying to take the risk to trust God.

To trust He knows the plans He has for me are to prosper me, not to harm me.

To trust it is His passionate desire to lovingly lead me always.

To trust that if I open my heart to give and to receive, He will rain blessings.

What risk are you taking today? What is an example in your life of when God blessed you because you took a risk?

A Child's Trust

Joining Bonnie Gray’s Writing Prompt:

What I’m Learning About Myself

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Imperfect and Yet Beloved

loved as you are

 

I’ve been struggling with the word “Beloved” ever since Bonnie Gray gave us this prompt. I wanted to ignore this one, but the word keeps pursuing me and won’t leave me.

I looked up synonyms for “beloved” and found deep words like: dear, loved, valued, prized, dearest, sweet, admired, treasured, precious, darling, worshipped, adored, cherished, revered.

Do I love Jesus with such depth that I can call Him my beloved like the bride in Song of Solomon, “My beloved is mine and I am His?” Do I cherish Him and revere Him? Do I treasure Him above all else? Can I in sincerity call Him “Darling?”

I fall so far short of the deep-seated love I want to have for Jesus, like a bride for her Bridegroom. Though I will never have perfect love until that day when I may be with Him forever, it comforts me to know that the Bridegroom’s love for me is already always beyond perfect. His love is never fickle, fluctuating, or frosty like mine is.

Even though He knows all my imperfections, He freely invites me as His beloved bride:

“Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, come with Me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, My darling; My beautiful one, come with Me.” (Song of Songs 2:10-13)

My heart can’t fathom it. His darling? His beautiful one? Isn’t He talking to someone else here?

He is talking to me. And to you. He invites each of us to open the eyes of our hearts to see that the winter is past:

See! Flowers are vibrant with color! Hear! The birds sing! The doves coo! Smell! Vines spread their fragrance! Just take my Hand and join Me. Get out of this desolate state of your heart. You don’t have to stay frozen and afraid. You can bear fruit, too. In ME. So get up and come with Me.

I know this in my head, but my heart still struggles with it. My legs still feel weak to rise up and follow. My hands still feel weak to take hold of His. My faith is still weak. Especially in times of vulnerability. Like now.

I have a chronic illness – sarcoidosis. It’s an inflammatory disease that makes me ache all over, especially in my chest. A chronic cough plagues me. When I get sick, it flares up big time. My airways feel fiery. It hurts more to talk. My bones hurt. And my brain gets foggy. The treatment is antibiotics and larger doses of Prednisone. Not fun.

But do you know what the worst part is? When I am sick and so worn out, it’s so hard to fight off the negative voices and replace them with God’s positive promises, especially that I am His beloved. It’s so hard to believe it when I don’t feel well. When He can remove this thorn if He wants to.

But ok. I’m sorry, God. I know You have told me time and again, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” This too will pass, and someday I’ll understand all this.

I have to go. I’m sorry if I sound like I’m whining, but this year I’m trying to be more honest with myself, with others, with God. Not to always say “”I’m fine” when I’m not.

I started this post the other day before I got sick again. I figured I’d just forget about it. But that word is still pursuing me – “Beloved.” And my heart said, “Get up and finish it…”

So here it is with all its ramblings, imperfect just like I am. Imperfect and yet “beloved.”

Thank you, Bonnie Gray at Faith Barista, for encouraging me to be open-hearted and honest. Praying that you and all of us will answer our Beloved’s call – “Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, come with Me.”