God Is Here

It was a sultry September afternoon when I first laid eyes on Beau. I had been in labor all day, but things were not progressing, so the nurse was lobbying for a labor-inducing drug to speed things along. I wasn’t fond of the idea, and neither, apparently, was baby Beau, because things immediately began moving forward.

We had been stalled for so long that my obstetrician was relaxing in the doctors’ lounge and eating dinner. Now, suddenly, delivery was imminent, and I was not at all on board with the nurse delivering my baby. While I didn’t doubt her competence, I knew in my momma heart that we were going to need the doctor’s expertise and slim fingers. Our most recent sonogram had shown Beau’s umbilical chord wrapped around his little neck, so there was concern that delivery might be dicey. My doctor had assured me that “babies go in and out of their chords all the time,” but I wasn’t convinced.

The nurse switched on the intercom and calmly said, “Dr., we need you..” Then, from the depths of my normally reserved and sedate being came the low, gutteral, urgent command, “NOOOWWW!!!”

The doctor beat a quick path to the room just in time to glove up. She checked my progress and, sure enough, little Beau was ready to make his entrance.
“Push!” she encouraged me. Then, more urgently, “Stop pushing! He’s got a very tight chord.” There were several breathless seconds as my baby’s face turned blue. Finally, the doctor managed to wedge her fingers under the chord and pull it over his head with no small amount of effort.

Beau began to breathe, and after pounding his little back a bit to help him, the nurse laid him in my arms. In those moments, my sweet, strong husband leaned near and whispered, “God is here.” He felt prompted to say those words, and I as I gazed into the beautiful face of my new precious son, I knew that God’s presence did, indeed, fill that room. It was His hand that had removed the wrapped chord from Beau’s neck and His arms that cradled my baby and all of us.

It is still His hand that holds my boy. He is over six feet tall now, but I still see that tiny face when I look at him. He is still my baby miracle, a reminder of God’s ever-present help, and he still fits perfectly in the Father’s hands.

Today, he is eighteen. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the reality that my precious son has grown up. That first life-threatening encumbrance was not the last, but God has always been there to deliver him and fill his lungs with His breath. I don’t have the ability to foresee the challenges and joys that lie ahead for him, but that’s okay. I know Who does, and I know that He loves my precious boy infinitely more than even I can. I know He will be His hiding place, His strength, His protector, His redeemer, and His guide.

I have no doubt that this son guitar-playing, wise-cracking, compassionate, tender-hearted, Jesus-loving son of mine is here for a profound purpose. He is stronger than he knows, and His future is brighter than he can see from here. Every day is a miracle as we watch God mold and build him into a man after His own heart. What a privilege it is to have a front-row seat. I can’t wait to see what comes next!



We Have Lift-Off!


It was a breathless week, but after some financial gymnastics by the very helpful financial aid office at her university, we were awarded enough assistance and student loan opportunities for my sweet girl to begin her pursuit of higher education. God didn’t answer our prayers in quite the way we were hoping and expecting, but He did answer, as He always does.

You would think that after so many answered prayers, after so many provisions for needs of which we were not even yet aware, we would be immune to anxiety, but we’re not. We’re learning though—slowly, but we’re learning. I’m learning.

I’m learning that God loves my daughter more than I do—so much more. I’m learning that He knows what she needs before she needs it and that He has already made provision. I’m learning to bring needs to Him as soon as they arise rather than running around trying to provide for them myself, bringing them to Him only when I’ve reached the end of my meager resources.

I’m also learning that my precious child has much to teach me about faith and what’s important. She is learning childlike faith by watching the loving care of her Father while I am an alarmist who constantly needs to be reminded that perfect love casts out fear.

So to Him who loves her most we take our myriad concerns. Will she get along with her roommate? Will she remember to take her medication? Will she be able to get up on time in the morning?  Will her eating disorder rear its ugly, relentless head with the stress of college life?  Silly worries taunt me, but they are needless.  She’s an intelligent young woman. She will make mistakes and then she will adjust to correct them, just like the rest of us did (and do), and her Father will be there to help her navigate the bumps and recover from the falls. I have to leave her in His hands because He is so much stronger, so much wiser, so much more capable than I am. But after the nearly catastrophic roads she has traveled in recent years and after the deep wounds she has sustained, I think I worry much more than I otherwise would.

The answers are not all clear yet, but I know that things are different now because she is trusting Jesus now. She wasn’t then. She has experienced so much healing, and though she still has wounds that hurt when touched, He who began the healing process will not abandon it. I know that her scars will be reminders of past brokenness, of where she doesn’t want to go again, and of how sweetly the Healer has mended her wounds.

And so I am asking Him over and over again to teach me, to give me wisdom, to help me know how to rightly parent this amazing, fragile, strong, smart, precious young adult without smothering her or making her doubt herself.  The biggest challenge most days is not letting my own doubt, fear, and weakness cause me to be a hindrance to her.  This feels like walking on a frozen pond—one tentative, prayerful step at a time—but we will listen carefully to our Guide, and we will get across it.

I am so excited for my girl, so hopeful and thankful. Every day is an adventure and a victory. She is held by a Mighty Hand, and she is going to be just fine.

Better Than One

  1. Ding dong…
  2. Opening the front door slowly, I was taken off guard by the hopeful face on the other side…and the double stroller on the sidewalk behind her. My across-the-street neighbor, whom I had just met at a neighborhood cookout a few days before, stood there smiling with her four-year-old son beside her. His twin three-month-old brothers waited in the stroller.

“Do you think you’d like to go over to the playground with us?”

I quickly recovered my senses, smiled, grabbed my two kids, and joined her at the neighborhood park where we spent the next hour getting to know each other while our preschoolers played.

My husband and I  had been in our house for less than a year, and as an introverted stay-at-home mother, I had not made any effort to connect with families outside our four walls. Quite frankly, I hadn’t felt the need.

Kristen changed all that. She was not an introvert. She thrived on companionship and began immediately to teach me its importance. When I would have stayed in my house and lived a small, drab life, she pulled me out of myself, out of my home, out of my gray boredom. Her friendship and genuine approach to life and relationship blew whole new realms of color into my life. Our children became best friends. We shared our fears, our hopes, our prayers, our confusions. She is the most authentic person I have ever known.

Two years and zillions of picnics and cups of tea later, God called our dear friends to another state to begin preparing for His next mission for their family. I felt so lost, like one of my arms or legs had moved away. We’ve kept in touch, of course, and we still pray for each other, but there is no substitute for the daily practice of community. Even though we no longer share each other’s daily lives, Kristen’s sense of spontaneous adventure, her zest for life and God, and her grace-filled, compassionate lifestyle have left an indelible mark on me. I have been forever changed by her friendship and presence in my life.

Scripture has some pretty clear things to say about friendship and community. For several years before Kristen rang my doorbell, I had dismissed those truths, convinced that my husband and children were all I needed. Sure, I could have continued to live my narrow life as it was, but I would have missed out on so much. My children would have missed out on so much.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 rings true.

“Two are better than one, becausethey have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

That’s been true so many times in my life. There have been days when, if my friends hadn’t been there to pick me up when I fell, to listen to my heartbreak, to support me with their prayers, I’m not sure how I would have made it through.

Before Kristen rang my doorbell that spring day, I did not seek out the companionship of other women. As an introvert, I just didn’t recognize the need of my heart. Thankfully, God in His wisdom knew what I needed better than I did. Since He brought Kristen into my life, I have begun to understand that I need the insight, laughter, and spontaneity of other women. I need to know that someone else struggles with the same things I do. I need to mentor younger women and be mentored by those who have been where I am.

There is another often-overlooked reason to pursue close friendships with other women (or men, if you happen to be a man). We need people who know us well and love us enough to speak truth to us, even when it’s uncomfortable truth. I can trust my friends to tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. I need to be challenged and held accountable by those closest to me. When my walk is not matching my talk, when I’m spiraling into swirling anxiety instead of trusting God, I need people in my life who care enough about me  to remind me of the truth.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.                                         Proverbs 27:6

Hard truths from a friend may hurt, but they do not harm. Rather, they are intended to help.

Since Kristen moved away, God has met these needs in so many ways. There have been several other women toward whom He has turned my heart. In each relationship, we minister to each other in unique ways. There is Candy, whose daughter was involved in Bible Quizzing with my son. Over the last several years, she has become a mentor, dear friend, and prayer partner. There’s Lauren, with whom I’ve shared the pain of children in crisis and the struggle with diabetes. Most recently, there is Sheri, whose sweet, quiet, unassuming, sunny spirit brightens and calms my own.

As a bit of a loner, I still have trouble initiating friendships with other women, but I now recognize my deep need for them, and I welcome them when the Lord directs me their way.  What about you? Who are your traveling companions? Do you live life in community with others, or is it perhaps time to open your heart to new friendships as God turns your heart toward those He has for you?

If you are experiencing the lack of close same-sex friendships in your life, but you don’t know where to begin to find them, the best counsel I can give you is to begin to pray for them. When we ask God for the things that He desires for us, He is thrilled to provide them. Be patient, though, because He does things on His timetable, not ours. When you least expect it, you may find Him turning your heart toward someone who is already in your life in some capacity, or He may unexpectedly bring someone along, as He did for me. Either way, He will provide just the right relationships at just the right time. Praying for those friendships will allow God to begin preparing you for them.

I’d love to hear about the precious relationships in your life. Who has taught you to laugh, wept with you, or held you up when you couldn’t stand on your own?