Thursday, December 3, 2015

From Sacrifice to Worship

Today is Ellanie’s birthday. She would be four years old.

I chuckle with joy in my heart when I think about having a 5, 4, and 3 year old. Oh, my word! The fullness our hands, our home, and our hearts would have.

I’ll be honest. This year has been the hardest yet for me, since losing Ellanie. I suppose it’s because I wrote a devotional and put my heart out there. And while fruitful, it was challenging.

Mostly though, I think it’s because our children are old enough now to be really curious about her. About her home in Heaven. And about why God would take her. And just why God allows bad things to happen in general. It’s especially difficult to explain that one.

Questions like, “Mommy, do you think me and Ellanie would share all of our clothes and shoes? I’d definitely share my room with her!” For whatever reason, those little things have stung this year like never before.

Sacrificing her was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. And until now, I’ve held on. To her story. To her memory. To the dark parts of my soul that still felt it was unfair and incomplete for our family to live life without her.

But earlier this year, when I finished the devotional on infant loss, and all that was coming with this milestone began to settle in, my husband and I prayed over the manuscript before I turned it in. We asked that He help us be humble stewards of her story and this ministry He has given us. And that ultimately, He use the journey we have walked to bring others walking the same road to healing hope in Christ. In praying this, I felt the same peace overwhelm me that I felt in the hospital after they took her from my arms and I sat. Broken hearted. Empty handed.

I knew then and He continues to show me even now, that sacrifice is the greatest form of worship.

This past Sunday, I was reminded of the most beautiful display of obedience in Genesis 22 through the testing of Abraham. Though I’ve heard this story 100 times, it was delivered in such a way that urged me to listen with a renewed heart and fresh perspective.

Just the week before, Emmalyn and I had read the story in her devotional study time and of course, the mama in me positioned it to her as a lesson in wholehearted obedience. But, the Father, in His loving-kindness, positioned it to me as a reminder that before the Lord can test our faith in such a way that shapes our future, we must prove our obedience to Him.

Our willingness to sacrifice that which we love most.

Before Abraham even climbed mountain of Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord, he had already sacrificed him in his heart. How else could he have had the strength to climb that mountain with his son alongside, all the while knowing what he would have to do?? What faith.

Abraham called the sacrifice he was going to give, worship. Worship! When he told the men journeying with him, in verse 5, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go yonder and worship.” How in the world, without fully trusting that God would come through, could he have called the slaying of his heart’s greatest love, worship?

Just as Jesus had already sacrificed himself before walking to Calvary. Just as he worshiped in the midst of his fear in the garden of Gethsemane. Despite what He knew was coming. What faith.

I’m challenged every day, when experiencing those flesh-like feelings of wanting Ellanie here, by the faith journey of Abraham. And mostly Christ. For the sacrifice of obedience they made that was the greatest form of worship they could offer.

Because don’t we all know that it’s easier to worship in response to what God has already done. But when you’re living on the other side of the completed work and you’re making the hard sacrifice, but can’t yet see the fulfillment of blessings for your future- and you’re still able to worship...That’s true obedience.

And that’s the legacy I want to leave for my Ellanie. I want to continue to give meaning to her life through the life I live here. In this short term place.

Obedience. Sacrifice. Worship.

Happy birthday, Ellanie Beth. I love you so. I miss you. I’ll be there one day…

Monday, October 19, 2015

Infant Loss Awareness and Give-a-way

I recognize October is a tough month for women dealing with infant loss, or even for those who have loved ones walking that hard road. But, I'm hopeful that this little gift of hope can be a seed of encouragement and testimony of healing in Christ. God is blowing me away with His faithfulness in getting into the hands of those who need it. This month, I'm giving away 5 copies of my book, 30 Days of Hope for Restoration in Infant Loss.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here on my blog about how infant loss has impacted you or someone you know. The first 5 to comment will receive a free copy and will be notified through email. Remember, even if you're not walking this road, enter for someone you know who is!

If you want to share the message with others, here's a shareable link to a free sample of the content.

To lose a child, is to lose a piece of yourself. Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Half missing or wholly here?

This time last year, I can recall nervously clinging to my insecurities as I felt the Lord calling me to step out and trust Him with some big things. Things that in my limited frame of mind, seemed utterly impossible.

"You want me to do what, Lord?!"

But God...

So often we resist doing the things that are hard.

But God...

In reflecting over this past year and our homeschooling journey thus far, I'm reminded that when we just surrender our plans, listen to Him, and let HIM lead, there is peace.

There is joy in doing what He's called us to do! Even if it's messy and sometimes hard.

There are still days when I ask Him, "how do you expect me to do this, Lord? Really."

Homeschool my children, be a mom, a wife, write a book, work in publishing, serve in women's ministry... Honestly, there are days when I feel like I'm failing miserably at it all.

But God...

I mean, if only I could clone myself or find a better organizational system, right? Wrong.

But God...

Why fret when we have the most powerful resource living right within us?

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine... Ephesians 3:20

Lately, I've had several conversations about how to know if homeschooling is for you, or not. That's not what this post is about, but I do believe that you must be certain God has called you. Being a mommy is tough enough, right? Add "teacher" to that agenda and you can easily have a recipe for disaster if you're not certain that He is leading you.

In choosing our homeschool curriculum, Classical Conversations, I heard a presentation given by the founder, where she said "if you're choosing to homeschool because you want to shelter your child from the world, you need to reevaluate. Your reason for homeschooling should be so that you are the one introducing your child to the world."

For me, clarity came almost a year ago one day when I felt the Holy Spirit wake me in the middle of the night with a simple question. "Do you want to be halfway in my will, or wholly in my will?"

I knew then that all the fears, doubts, and anxieties I'd been wrestling with were going to be made small in light of Him. Have they disappeared completely now that we've taken the leap? Ha! Oh, how I wish. Absolutely not, however; He is providing in so many ways that the confidence I need to take small steps of obedience toward His wholly perfect plan, is there.

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

This is just life, isn't it? What we think is impossible... He makes possible. Not only does He make it possible, He surpasses all we can imagine it will be. He has called us to this wonderful journey of life in Him and I'm so grateful, aren't you?

I absolutely love the classical model of teaching. It makes so much sense to me. Know God, make Him known, keep Him at the center of all we learn. The classical model introduces information that within the traditional model, she may not learn until 6th or 7th grade. But because we are training her mind to retain knowledge long term, and not short term, it's all introduced from the beginning.

Emmalyn is thriving, glory to God. She loves her homeschool community of peers and amazing mamas who are loving on her and pouring into her as well.

So far, she seems to enjoy science the most. I think its because she can connect the dots more easily to God's purpose in all things and making all parts of life work together for His glory. Every Wednesday during our campus community group, we do science experiements. We do them at home on our own too, but obviously the group setting is way more fun :)

She's been studying the classifications of living things, kingdoms of living things, animal & plant cells, and types of seed plants. So, we've been to the McWane Center a few times, joining up with sweet friends for play dates along the way. She has an observation journal that she uses every day, so that she can look back at the end of the year and reflect on all she's learned.

We don't have a specific formula for every day. I aim to have our weeks planned out and do that on Sunday evenings, but sometimes it doesn't go according to plan and I'm learning, that's OK. Honestly, our curriculum involves a lot of repetition and memorization so we do things on the go too. She does do at least 2 hours of "classroom style" learning a day, but she's learning most by doing and ALOT of conversation.

What I aim for, doesn't always happen, because I do have a two year old too after all :) Honestly, he has been fantastic and wants to learn with her. For the most part, he does. Which I'm thankful for. It's helping him to advance too.

On Wednesday's our campus community group meets from 9am-1pm. It's a "classroom" environment day with music, art, science experiments, geography, latin, math, grammar, and Bible study. We eat lunch together and have recreational time together as well. I don't think I could make it without the prayerful support and knowledge of this community group!

We do field trips once a month as well. So far, we've been on a tour of our local fire station and to the pumpkin patch!

Best of all, the Lord is growing us together. Watching the light bulbs go off in their little brains and seeing them connect the dots to God's big story is simply the best. Truly the best.

And all the while, even on the hard days, instead of wondering if I'm half missing, I'm wholly here. Wholly in, and wholly trusting.