Sunday, May 14, 2006

Planned Parenthood

A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend. We were talking about babies and how many we wanted. She wanted three. I was in my early 20’s and I remember saying I’d like four: 2 boys, 2 girls. (A brother for a boy and a sister for a girl.) It was a nice even number. My father came from a large family, and I loved going home to visit numerous cousins in Wyoming. I had plans of being the “kool-aid, cookie, and soccer” mom of the neighborhood.

As the years passed, and no child yet, melancholy set in. I started the infertility tests, the shots and waited. I started to shun baby showers. I ignored invitations. And when a new mom showed up at work with her bundle of joy, I could not find the strength to stay in the room, much less hold the child. Why should I even be allowed to cradle a child, when God would not give me my own? When someone dumped a child in my lap, it was pure torture. The questions from acquaintances felt like slaps: “So Kelly, when is it your turn?” and “Kelly, don’t you want to have kids?”

The worst was Mother’s Day Sunday. A place where I had felt so much comfort and joy turned into a black hole for me. For years I would not attend church on that Sunday.

1 Timothy 2:15 rang in my ears… “But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” Did I not have enough faith? Wasn’t I good enough as a person? I felt taunted with so many women around me getting pregnant by accident or by careful planning. Everyone was having children except me. And adoption? Forget about it. How could I even toy with the idea, when I felt I was not worthy enough to even hold another woman’s child?

I was approaching 30 and felt my clock ticking—more and more it sounded like a time bomb to me. Most of my prayers were tearful and I’d fling a fist in the air. “If you gave Sara a baby at her age why not me? Forget the four children, give me just one before I’m 30!” I buried myself in work. I volunteered at my church with one stipulation: no nursery duty, please! I worked with teenagers—I could relate to their feeling like an outcast.

God’s son Jesus didn’t give up on me. One day we were getting ready for a funeral and my friend who wanted three kids was there with her first baby. She had to duck out to the restroom, as did everyone else. I was alone with a sleeping baby in a carrier. As soon as her mother left, it was as if someone pinched that baby and she began to cry. I was frantic for someone to take over. That little child looked at me with big teary blue eyes as if to say, “Won’t you hold me? My mother has left me and I’m desperate to feel safe and loved!” My heart could not stand the cries so I unbuckled the child and held her close. I had not held a child in probably eight years. I felt something inside me break open and it was my turn to cry. The baby was a bit confused, but she was happy to be held.

That was when my prayers started to change from a fist in the air with tears; to an open hand…accepting whatever Jesus would give me. And I began to think about adoption. Jesus reminded me how many kids I had loved in my life as a youth counselor. I had even taken in one girl in to finish her senior year when her parents moved to another state.

It was a boot camp for me and my heart opened even more to other people’s children. So we did the paperwork and waited.

It happened so fast, we had a call around Christmas that a baby was on the way for us. It was so exciting to ready the room, to get our affairs in order. The first time I saw him was at the hospital. The nurses called him “Joshua” which means “the Lord saves”. I named him Jared Nathan, “inherited gift of God”. He had a scalp IV due to an illness, and where the IV’s had to go, his little head was shaved. So my son started life with a red Mohawk. He’s still a cool guy.

Just when life was perfect, my husband decided to abandon us. I was devastated that Jesus would give me this wonderful child and then allow my marriage to fall apart. How was I going to raise this boy all by myself? My parents were 4 hours away in another city, and I fought my pride to move back with them or accept help. My prayers were back to a fistful of tears.

So Jesus went to work on my broken heart again. He led me to a Christian singles group and good friends. I learned to seek Jesus in everything. I clung to Him since I did not want to do this alone. I don’t know how there was money left after bills, but He provided. My pride fell away and I received help from friends and family.

And then when I accepted this was how the rest of my life was to be, He literally put Tom on my doorstep. We married and Tom adopted my son. He already had a teenage son and daughter and I loved them instantly. Even his niece became like a daughter to me. Did you notice that number? Jesus literally restored my hope of a large family. (And no, He wasn’t done with me yet!)

Years passed and when Tom’s kids got married and had their first babies, I got to baby-sit one day. They splashed happily in a wading pool with my son watching over them and my niece’s baby. The giggles were nonstop and the water had to be constantly refilled because they splashed it out. I closed my eyes and listened to the laughter. I remembered another barren woman in the Bible who named her son Isaac, which means laughter. Then, Jesus seemed to say, “Kelly, open your eyes and tell me how many babies do you count in that pool?” I looked and counted my son, two grand daughters and a grand niece. I had my four babies. And I laughed.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Are you sitting down?

Did you think about the chair you are in right now before you sat down? My computer chair is one we bought at a garage sale. It was $5 and the adjustable height doesn’t work. It goes up with no one in it, but when you put your weight in the chair, it slowly descends.

Last weekend we found another couple chairs at a garage sale, the owners wanted $10 for two aluminum, forest green, wicker-like chairs and matching table. It was a pretty set, and the lady had enjoyed countless mornings sipping coffee on her front porch with them. They were moving to the country, and didn’t want to drag them along on the trip. She warned us about a crack in one leg, but assured us it had never let her or her husband down.

There was another chair story I heard of many years ago. A young lady was on church visitation with a group of eager students. They entered a mobile home and she asked the owner if he minded if she took a seat. With an OK, she grabbed a chair sitting off from the rest and started to share the gospel. The owner seemed enthralled with her talking. When she got up to leave, she asked him if he wanted to know more about her faith. He said he did, because the chair she had grabbed was broken and he hadn’t fixed it yet. He had put it aside because no one could sit in it without it dumping people.

Faith is a chair. We don’t know how strong our faith is until we sit in it.

Some of us have faith like the $5 office chair, it doesn’t seem to want to stay up. When it’s time to really test it, we feel the drop of altitude but it does hold and we get our work done.

Some of us have obvious cracks in our faith chair, and others will point it out to us. However, when the test comes, the crack does not get bigger and we bask in the sunshine—and those others that were so quick to point out the faults are amazed.

Then there are those with a faith that seems to have no cracks or let downs. They are very secure in their faith. When the test comes to sit in that faith, that person is oblivious to any danger that lurks nearby. They sit in a faith that others find hard to believe. It is this chair that beckons others to have a seat and rest a while. (Matthew 11:28)

Like that chair you sit in now. How do you know that chair will hold you? Because it has held so many times before. How do I know my faith will hold me? Because it has held after several tests through the years.

How is your Faith chair? Will it hold the next time you need it? Or will you find yourself sprawled on the floor, rubbing the back of your head? It’s those “broken” faith chairs that make the best impact (sorry for the pun) on people's lives. Because when we sit in our broken faith chairs, it is clear that someone else is holding it all together.

If you’d like to know more about a Carpenter who makes the best faith chairs, please email me: