The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steppin' Stones

He said to the sons of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, "what are these stones?" then you shall inform your children, saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.' "For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever." Joshua 4:21-24

"All those your children?" a woman asked me while my boys and I waited for Emma Faye to finish her little ballet class.

"Yes, Ma'am." I answered firmly making no excuses. I never know where people are going with that question. I get it a lot when I am out with all of them. People can be so rude. I never understand why our culture views children as an inconvenience. They truly are the treasure.

"Wow. They're little steppin' stones. That's what they are... little steppin' stones," she nodded and went on her way.

steppin' stones.

I paused a minute as I looked at their faces. I remember the scripture about the memorial stones. This week in our bible study we each brought with us a "stone" memorial that reminded us of God's faithfulness.

Yes, Ma'am these children are stones. They are my stones. They are testaments and reminders of God's faithfulness.

We were not expecting to be expecting when I first became pregnant. I loved the name Will. William means "valiant warrior." We knew our firstborn would pave the way for the others.. for us as parents. And Will is just that. He's brave. He takes a beating. He's strong, but he's gentle. He's so gracious with me as I flounder times in my mothering. He is Christ in a lot of ways. Bold and bright to call me out in my sin, yet merciful and gracious to forgive. In Will, I see Christ working in spite of my failed efforts. Despite the fact that I am not a perfect mother. I have made so many mistakes with him, yet he remains tender and open to the gospel and is full of such compassion he comforts ME in my sin. This is ALL the work of Christ. It's beautiful and Jesus uses my precious Will to remind me over and over that HE is my valiant warrior..fighting for our family..I can't mess this up.

Josh was born 15 1/2 months after Will. Joshua means "God is my salvation." I remember the dark days of residency...the morning sickness while caring for a 7 month old. I felt so alone... so dry. I had to draw from a deeper well. I needed a Savior; not just one I worshiped Sunday morning or at Wednesday night bible study, but one I called upon in the storm of ear infections...the mundane tasks of diaper changing...seeing the gift in stretch marks..and days without showers.. and sleepless nights. The fatigue...pregnancy aches...marital strife. Josh had colic during the first three months of his life. It was so hard being there with essentially two babies.. alone; one screaming.. the other not able understand why Mommy couldn't sit on the floor and build blocks like we used to. Josh was determined. He was a fighter. He questions. He tests. I look back and see God's sustaining power. Christ BECAME my Savior during those first few years. I look at Josh and see Christ's determination for my heart... to ask MORE of me..and never settle for less than what He created for me to be.

I became pregnant with Emma Faye during a time of change for us. Chris was finishing up his residency and we were going to be moving. When I was thirteen my daddy gave me a perfume that was called "Emma." I have loved that name ever since and always said that if I was given a little girl, I wanted her to be called Emma. After having two boys I would be lying if I said it didn't matter to me what I had. I would love a boy OR a girl, but I remember after Josh was born praying a simple prayer for a little girl one day. It was something very simple: God, I am thankful for everything and anything you give to us. But you know my heart, and you say to ask for whatever we desire, Lord.. and Lord, I would love the gift of a daughter. I prayed that several times. I remember being in the appointment with Chris and my mom and the technician saying, "I can't seem to get her to move." HER! My mom and I cried. I was surprised by my tears. I wasn't aware my heart had longed this much for a daughter. I remember rushing to the nearest Barnes & Noble and finding a baby book of names. This one in particular had scripture that went along with the meaning. There under EMMA read "faithful." and when I read the passage that followed, I wept.
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.Mark 11:24

The Lord became personal to me that day. He was my Savior who sees me.. who hears me. I feared no more my move. I trusted in Christ. I knew He would promise to be faithful. And that is how we ended up in Birmingham. It would take blog post after blog post to tell all the stories of His faithfulness to us over these past four years. Faye is my mother's name. Emma Faye is another woman in the long legacy of Godly women. She is more than I could have dreamed of what I would want in a daughter. She's joyful. She's creative. She's fun. She is strong, yet feminine. I am reminded of Christ's faithfulness when I look at her. I can hear her ask me, "Mommy, why do you call me your treasure?" and before I can answer, she answers quickly with my same response every time,"because you had wanted a daughter and God heard you and gave you one and it was so special because He didn't have to do it? Just 'cause He loved you?" Yes, sweet girl. I am always humbled by my Lord's faithfulness. I don't deserve any of it; eternal life is enough. Yet, what a kind Savior we serve.

Last but NEVER least, is our Thomas. He is but 18 months old, yet it seems he's always been with us. I suppose he has been since we are all known since before the beginning of time. Once again, Thomas came during one of the most difficult years of our lives... in our marriage. The push to move, the pull to stay in Birmingham. It felt like Evil, himself, was hunting our family. It was a difficult pregnancy, it was a difficult year for our children, it was a difficult year for Chris's job, it was a difficult year for our marriage. I had always liked the name, Thomas, but didn't like how it seemed that the word "doubting" always came before it. However, one of Will's school lessons was a on the Apostle Thomas. It went on to tell how he went to India, against his own heart, but in obedience to Christ. He boldly ministered and shared the gospel. There are diaries written of people with him as troops walked him out to murder him for his faith. They quoted that he prayed he had followed Christ at all costs... even to death. They wrote he knew he was going to be killed. He became one of the first martyrs. I sobbed at that story. Here was a man I could name my son after. Yes, he doubted, but in the end... he got it right... he was a man that had worked out his salvation. I looked up what his name meant. Thomas means "divinely preserved."

Our family went through much trials leading up to his birth. But when Thomas landed in our family, he was full of joy! Joy comes in the morning! We had gone through such a night...but we were still here. Christ truly holds all things together. His Grace truly is ENOUGH. Jesus preserves. He is still preserving. He is still sustaining and strengthening. Thomas is my reminder of God's covenant...His promises to me.

Yes, Ma'am... they are my stones. My reminders that Christ is my warrior, my leader. He is my Salvation and Savior. He is faithful. He sees me. He hears me. He is JOY in the morning. He keeps watch through the night. He keeps His promises.

We are walking around in a river of brokenness. At best we are treading water. Currents of evil falter our steps. We struggle for balance. It is hard navigating through rushing streams. But Christ is parting the water and giving us dry land everyday. Look down at your feet. He is making a way....
Pick up your stones as you pass.
Pick up your stone and remember...
Tell them.. Tell them Why when they ask
Tell them, Mighty is HE, our Savior