Anyone who has ever given birth, watched someone else give birth or even heard a little about the process knows what a painful, joyful time it is. The Bible uses childbirth as an analogy for the signs of the end of the earth. Today, as I share about my labor pains, I’m not talking about the birthing process of my 4 children. No, I’m talking about the day-to-day, sometimes mundane and other times crazy, life of a mother. Let me share several ways I’ve been laboring recently.
Noah and I started school today. Not even ten minutes into school time and he’s crying. Seriously? That’s how second grade is going to be?? We had finished Bible and had just started Spelling…And we were only on the fourth word! After a nose blowing episode and a firm pep talk from me, he focused and did really well in both spelling and reading. Needless to say, homeschooling is a labor of love….And YES! the Wonderwoman t-shirt was on purpose! It takes a supermom to homeschool. 🙂
Yesterday, I finished Hannah’s scrapbook. (It’s actually scrapbooks. I couldn’t fit it all into one book, so I divided the pages into two big books.) Ashamedly, I didn’t start it until after she went to her forever home. Shortly after her third and final memorial service, I started ordering pictures and making trips to craft stores to gather pretty girly things to decorate the pages. My original goal was to have it done before we returned to Kenya, but I underestimated how emotionally taxing it was going to be. Especially this past week as I documented those last few days of Hannah’s life, I couldn’t do too much at a time. It was shocking, devastating, painful and tearful all over again. But perhaps the most surprising reaction was to the suddenness of everything. Yes, I know I lived it. It was sudden. But as I scrapbooked one day when we captured a smiling, happy little girl and then the next page she’s fitted with a feeding tube and then the next page she’s in heaven. How did that happen?? The rapidity of the events shocked me to the core, and I had to pace myself. I had to take time to process each day leading up to 2a.m. on March 13. I had to give myself even more time to process each moment of those last 24 hours. It took me 5 months, many pages, countless pictures and God’s grace, but it’s finally finished.
As I look ahead at the week, I hope another labor of love will be completed. As many of you know, I’ve been memorizing the book of James. Summertime busyness really slowed me down, but my goal is to have in committed to memory by the end of the week. This labor of love has been a lot of work but also a real joy! I exhort you, you Bible-believing Christians, to memorize Scripture. No, it doesn’t need to be an entire book. It can be a short verse. Whatever it is, use that Truth when you are talking to yourself and when you are praying. Our Father loves it when His children pray back Scripture to Him.
Here is the recent challenge: the end of James has verses that seem to contradict my experience. James 5:14-16 says, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Isn’t that what we did? Countless people, righteous people, prayed earnest prayers, prayers that are powerful and effective. Why didn’t they heal her? Why did God, the God of James, the Great Physician, the Author of these very words, why did He not make my sick daughter well?
These words are Truth. I know they are. I also know that God’s ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts higher than my thoughts. I know He is the painter of the grand masterpiece. I am the workmanship; He is the Artist. I am the clay; He is the Potter. He did raise her up. He did heal her. He made her perfect and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)
And there is where the trouble lies. I am NOT mature or complete or perfect (or whatever else your translation says). My broken, frail body cries out for my daughter. I want to focus on this one verse that seems to grant me the right to my healed daughter in my arms here on earth. Instead, I must focus on all the other verses that not only speak Truth into my life but also promise me eternal rewards. Takes these few verses from James:
1:12 – Blessed in the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you.
5:11 – As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full or compassion and mercy.
5:20 – Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
It is on these verses, and many other truths and promises in the Bible, that I choose to focus. It is these Scriptures that become the meat of my spiritual diet. It is these truths that the Holy Spirit brings to mind whenever I’m tempted to focus on anything but the risen Lord. It is these promises that will be fulfilled by my Father in heaven. Until I get there, I will continue to choose joy even through the many labors I must encounter here on earth.
Praises and Prayer Requests:
1.) Praise God that there’s one less day of 2nd grade with Noah! Just kidding, but please do keep us in your prayers. Homeschooling a strong-willed, incredibly smart but lazy child can be torture. Pray that I will be gracious and encouraging, that I will know how to best structure his day and that he will learn to love school and do his best.
2.) Praise God for Tenwek’s co-op! Both Jacob and Levi will be taught by other moms on the compound. I will be teaching pre-Algebra to 3 young men (Monday – Friday), second grade math to 4 kiddos (Monday – Friday) and science to first and second graders (Wednesday). The co-op starts on Monday, so please pray for all involved. I, along with all the other moms involved, still have teaching responsibilities at home. Not to mention, we’re still moms, wives, friends, children of God, cooks, hosts, etc.
3.) Praise God for househelp! I’m hiring a second helper. Since my teaching responsibilities take me outside my home this year, I will be hiring a young woman to watch Levi Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. When she isn’t keeping Levi out of trouble, she’ll be helping my full-time helper keep my clothes clean and put away, my house clean and my lunches cooked. This is such a huge blessing. Please pray that the three of us will work well together, that the kids will be respectful to her authority in my absence and that we will fall into a good routine.
The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective indeed!