My Heart Aches

Today a friend in Sunday school shared that one of her friends from Mississippi lost their newborn baby. The mom had complications getting pregnant, endured a high risk pregnancy, knew the baby would have to have surgery right after birth, and then lost the baby at full term. I may have some information wrong, or misunderstood, but no matter what no mother should have to attend their child’s funeral. I know it happens so often, but today as I sit 39 weeks pregnant I find myself continually praying for Hannah to be okay. I hope that God will deliver her into this world happy and healthy. I thank the Lord for the great pregnancy He has blessed me with. 

As a doctor put it a few weeks ago, my perfect pregnancy has been a shock since it was so difficult to become pregnant. Infertility changed me, changed my heart, moved me in a direction I never thought I would walk with God, but pregnancy has changed me even more. My mindset about being a wife, teacher, daughter has all changed. I realized on my birthday this year that it is not only a big day in my life, but in my parents’. It’s the day they became mom and dad. The day they welcomed a new person into their home. The day God entrusted a little human into their hands. It’s a big day for them too! 

So today as I pray. I pray for a mom I will never meet. I pray God will heal her heart and bless her abundantly. I pray for several moms I know who have lost their children and know that I can never fully understand, but that God can soothe the hurt. I pray that God will give them joy in their sorrow and healing in their hurt. 


Sophie’s Heart

I love to read but tend to read multiple books at one time. As Hannah’s due date is approaching I have been trying to finish the books I have started because I know they will be placed on a shelf for an undetermined amount of time. Last week I finished a great Christian novel by Lori Wick called Sophie’s Heart
Sophie is an immigrant from Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. She finds a job as a house keeper and cook for a family whose mother died suddenly in a car accident the year before. Sophie loves the children and they love her, but what she doesn’t expect is to be loved by their father too. 

This was an easy to read book with tons of moments that made me giggle (mostly with the major technology shift that has happened since my childhood—VCR and answering machines). If you are looking for a loving story that will leave you feeling warm inside, then this is your book. 

One Picture

I love photographs, but I don’t love the cost of professional photography. Over the years of Pinterest scanning I have had one picture in mind that I wanted when I became pregnant. It was nothing special, just a silouhette in front of a window. After pricing some photographers for a maternity shoot and recognizing that I am poor and would rather pay for photographs of Hannah instead of my baby bump I decided to break out my birthday present from my parents. 

After setting up the tripod, getting the camera positioned and figuring out the right angle by trial and error for about thirty pictures I grabbed the one picture I wanted. 

I am so glad to have this little reminder of how precious this time in my life is. I will never be this close with Hannah ever again and want to cherish the bond we have now (no matter how uncomfortable I am at times).

Have you SPLASHed someone today?

We had a HUGE youth event last week called SPLASH Bartow. SPLASH stands for Show People Love And Share Him, the Him being Jesus. We had over 400 students and 300 adults volunteer to do service projects in our community with the intention of sharing Jesus with the people we served.
This year our worship band was the Brandon Stubbs Band and they played a song each night that captured my heart. It is called O Come to the Altar. As I continue to listen to it this week the Holy Spirit is showing me more and more about myself and God’s love and grace for me.

With life on this earth I constantly feel the hurt and pain, but especially with my own sinful nature. When Jesus saved me He didn’t make it to where I would never sin again, He forgave (and continues to forgive) my sin and made me aware of just how much I need His unending grace. It overwhelms me daily how sinful I am. I’m judgmental, ungrateful, self-centered,… The list goes on and on. Yet Jesus calls me to continue to try to be like Him.

I continually try to do things out of my own strength. I try to make more money, take care of the house, land, work, council students, lead the youth praise band, take care of a husband, love on youth, … Yet I never seem to be good enough, strong enough, make enough,… And it’s because I try to do it out of my human strength instead of giving it to God and letting Him take care of it. I need to let Jesus fill me up at the well of everlasting water. And He continues to call me to let Him take over.

God wants me to come to the altar and crawl into His welcoming arms. He made a way for this to happen when He sent Jesus to give His perfect life so that I could have the forgiveness that need.

I have to leave my sin behind and not dwell on the continually mistakes I make. I don’t need to carry my burdens around because Jesus has called me to cast my cares on Him because He cares for me. He cares that we struggle financially. He cares that I worry about being a new mother. He cares that I am overwhelmed with going back to work. He cares!

I can take my sorrows to God and He will trade my hurt for joy. Not happiness, but joy. He can turn the ruins of my life into a new creation. The hurt from infertility is turning into a testimony of God’s goodness. The tears over bills due into provisions coming out of nowhere. The wonder of how everything will get done into a completed to do list with an abundance of time left over. I just have to listen to Jesus calling me and trust that He will continually take care of me.

There is no magical location or specific altar to run to. I can use my couch, seat in my car, or church pew as an altar. God is waiting on me to turn over my sorrow, climb into His lap, and let Him have full control. He wants me to remember the price Jesus paid for my forgiveness and recognize that with that gift also came a new name for me, daughter to the King.

When I can remember how I have received forgiveness, then I can take my eyes off of my selfish needs and wants and focus on praising Jesus. He is my Savior! He is wonderful! He deserves my praise and honor and glory.

So today when I choose to bear the burden of the cross, I will remember that I am simply waiting for the crown the Lord has for me in heaven. I can’t wait to return my crown to the altar of God as praises sing from my heart and mouth! Until that glorious day I must tell everyone about my Savior and how they too can have a relationship with Him. They can leave their burdens at His feet and let Him take care of them.

This is the heart of SPLASH. We are to turn our lives over and serve the Lord and share His grace, mercy, love, salvation with everyone we come into contact with.

Have you shared Jesus’ story with someone today? This week? This month? Year? Ever? Let today be the start of your telling the world about the Savior they need!

Youth Pastor Super Heroes 

Think about to when you were in youth. Who was your youth pastor? I had a few (Mark Chandler and Spencer McCoy) but never realized how much they really did for me. Now, as a wife of a youth pastor, I have a behind the scenes view of all that really happens. Youth pastors are super heroes!

These men who devote themselves to leading teenagers toward God do so much more than plan trips to Six Flags and teach a bible lesson once a week (which I do believe is what 16 year old Kyle Ruff thought they did). They see a hurting student and take them fishing. They see a crisis in a young person’s family and go to the hospital to just be there. They hear a student share the gospel with a child and text the parent to encourage them. They spend a week on local mission, basically without sleep,  and then leave with the youth group on another mission trip across the country. They listen to girls cry and some lucky pastors have wives to send them to (others learn to handle girl tears). They guide boys on how to handle being turned down by the girl they like. They make crazy videos to get the group pumped for events and lessons. They love on smelly teens after long days of work, fun, or …some teens just smell. They wrangle up volunteers for summer camp. They pray for teens by name daily. They lift up other youth pastors and bear each other’s burdens. They share there hearts with their church families. They write curriculum for events which they may not even be attending. They share Jesus as much as they can work it in (which is more often than you would think). They go to sporting events, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, and other life events for students. They… I could keep going, but I think you get it. 

Youth pastors give so much of themselves and ask so little in return. My husband is just part time, but his time is not his own. It is our students’. I love how he sees a need and instantly wants to take care of it. It doesn’t matter that technically he doesn’t work today…super heroes don’t have set working hours, and neither do youth pastors. 

Today, take the time to encourage your youth pastor, or your student’s youth pastor. 

When did we switch to days?

Suddenly people have stopped asking how far along I am, or how many weeks left. Now they ask how many days? When did that happen? Months seemed like I had tons of time. Weeks made me realize how little time I had. But days… Man, days make the phrase any day now feel so much more real. 

So, to answer the question, we are 19 days away from her due date (ahhhhh!). We are so excited to meet our little girl and can’t wait to introduce her to our family and friends!

Overly Aware

With everything that has happened this week my heart is burdened and struggling with the idea of raising a child in this world. To be honest, I watch very little news, do not follow news channels on social media, and guard my heart from the world. As I waited for Kyle’s surgery yesterday, I watched Good Morning America and saw way too much footage about the Dallas shooting. They also discussed the other two cities who were struck with tragedy this week, and I felt completely overly aware. 

I have to wonder about the state of the world and question whether it is better or worse today than 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 10 years ago. I honestly don’t know if it is better or worse but what I do know is, as a world, we are overly aware about everything because of technology, media, and social networking. Twenty years ago, there was no internet and news only spread through TV and radio (mostly). One hundred years ago, news traveled through letters, newspapers, and face to face communication. Information was slow to spread and many times people didn’t know when bad things happened.

With how I guard myself, it normally takes me a good bit of time to learn about the terrible happenings of this world. I do not necessarily think it is good for me to be so oblivious to the news, but it helps me with worrying, fear, and controlling my tongue (or thumbs). With technology, people are able to throw their opinions out very quickly, hide behind their thumbs and screens, and “say” things they probably do not have the courage to actually say.

God’s word says, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” ‭‭(James‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬) I think in today’s society we could also insert that we cannot tame our thumbs as we very quickly pull out our phones, hop on Twitter and Facebook, and type out our opinions about everything without thinking. The poison is spread so quickly and hurts so many more people than it would have 100 or 20 years ago. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬) We need to be aware that our words can hurt so many, especially when posted on the Internet for everyone to see. If we can stop, think, pray, and state our opinions in wise ways…then healing will come. 

So, do I like how the world is? No. Do I think today is a harder day to live in than 100 years ago? I don’t know. Can I control my tongue and thumbs? Only with God. Today, let’s all try to pray before we post.

Wisdom Teeth and His Wisdom

For years Kyle has lived with his wisdom teeth, but lately they have become bothersome. He claims that he isn’t in pain, but two of them are impacted and one even has a big hole in it. Today, right now, he is having them removed. We were hopeful that our health insurance would cover the cost, but they aren’t fully impacted (go figure) but God has been good to us and we had the money to cover this expense. 

To be honest, Kyle would have loved to ignore them longer, but I don’t want to be taking care of him and a baby when they really need to come out in who knows how many months. So yes, today is partially because of my selfishness. 

The most amazing thing happened yesterday even though. We were in between our doctors appointment for Hannah and the hospital tour when our pastor called us. He informed us that someone in the congregation gave a gift to help cover the cost of the surgery. What? Are you kidding? Is this for real? My brain still cannot wrap around how much our church loves us and how God provides for our every need. God provided a lamb for Abraham (Genesis 22), manna for the Isrealites (Exodus 16), and each day He provides me with so much more than I could ever imagine. 

So this morning I will praise you Lord! You provided us with the means to take care of ourselves, but then showered us with a gift that relieved so much burden! Lord, You are impossible to understand, but I know you love me. Thank you for your never failing love and always enduring grace and mercy! 

It’s Getting Real

Today we had a doctors appointment and a hospital tour. Nothing to get all worked up about, but the doctor said something that I knew, but didn’t know. You know how sometimes you have a head knowledge of something but it doesn’t really click? Yep, that was me today. 

We are almost 36 weeks pregnant (Saturday is coming fast), and the doctor said, “If contractions start now, we won’t do anything to stop them.” I knew this was the case at 36 weeks, but I’M THERE! We’ve made it and this is really happening. We are really becoming parents in the next few weeks. According to my doctor any day could be the day. WHAT? 

This is crazy! 

So yes, my heart skipped a beat, my stomach flipped, and I constantly question whether we are ready for this or not…but no matter what…this is getting real!

Watching and Feeling

I enjoy watching Royal Pains, a fictional medical show about a concierge doctor. In the show, one of the couples has been struggling with infertility. During this week’s episode the wife took an at home pregnancy test before her blood work to see if IFV worked. The at home test was negative and she was devastated. 
I could relate more than I would like to admit to the heart break she felt, but the episode ended with blood work results that were positive and tears of joy began to run down my face. Three little words can make my heart melt. You are pregnant

The funny part was her husband’s reaction. Let’s keep it a secret for one night. The wife agrees and before she can complete her sentence he is screaming to his brother the great news. I understand his joy and lack of control in containing the news. It was two of the hardest days of my life to not tell, sing, shout it from a mountain top. WE ARE PREGNANT!

After the episode finished I was broken in my gratitude for my sweet baby girl. We are 37 days away from her due date. 37…that’s it. I can’t believe the journey we have been on to get here or how God sees me as deserving of such a miracle. God is beyond anything I can comprehend and though I am worried and stressed about being a mom, taking care of financial obligations, and maintaining a healthy marriage…I am so thankful that He trusts me enough to give me a daughter. My faith is being stretched as we look up to heaven and admit we don’t know where the provisions are coming from. My love for God is deepening as I try to understand how he could possibly love me at all. My trust is in the Lord today and tomorrow. May I never lose sight of that. 

So, yes…I cried through the end of the episode and then some. My heart will always feel for couples who struggle to have families because I too have walked that path. My only way of surviving is trusting in God…for all of my needs, wants, hopes, and desires.