What Utter Joy

It is often hard to put one’s experience down in words, and even more difficult is the task of penning one’s innermost ponderings. Not just what I have experienced, but how that experience has molded me and what I retain now from the experience.

Asher is three and a half months old already. I have posted pictures and happy updates during that time. Our happiness is broadened and our joy is immense. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) is a truly marvelous thing. The utter beauty and joy I find in the daily grind of repetitive, monotonous, and largely thankless tasks is nothing less than wonderful. To have turmoil turned to peace is an experience that I am unable to pour into words. Instead, it just usually pours out in tears.

God heard us and sent relief. His  mercy is abundant and the gladness in our hearts & home is immense, let me tell you.

Psalm 4:1, 7-9
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

But that may yet be only part of our story. The saga will continue. It does continue even now. Life and sanctification, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, sunshine and rain, diamonds and dust ~ it continues with each breath we take.

Wouldn’t you think it would be easy to move from sorrow to happiness? Yeah. Me too.
And it IS easy.
And yet it isn’t only easy.
As He has long sustained us in the past, so our Father yet sustains us now. He will continue to be faithful, for He can be nothing less than perfectly faithful. No matter where He leads us on our journey.

Long is the way, and very steep the slope;
Strengthen me once again, O God of Hope.

Far, very far, the summit doth appear;
But Thou art near, my God, but Thou art near.

And Thou wilt give me with my daily food,
Powers of endurance, courage, fortitude.

Thy way is perfect; only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.

Thou art my Portion, saith my soul to Thee,
Oh, what a Portion is my God to me!

~Amy Carmichael~

We are so thankful for the children in our home. I still catch my breath when I say, write, or hear that word. Children. Will I ever get used to it? Will I someday take it for granted? Will the novelty of life eventually give way to the normalcy of it all? God forbid.
Yes, the Lord has given us great things. But we clearly remember what He brought us before He delivered Asher to us. And it seems beyond possible to me that we could ever take our sons for granted, or life in general, or medical science, or fertility, or romance, or a godly spouse for granted. And yet, but for the grace of God and the Spirit’s stirrings within us, we would quickly take His goodness and mercy for granted. We are sinners, and grossly imperfect.

This afternoon I have been meditating on Psalm 16. Some verses have particularly popped out at me and are repeating over and over in my heart. Not only has the Lord been good to us, causing our lines to fall pleasantly of late, but He is the One who has given us counsel. He is the One that has been our Captain and King through all of this! He is the One whose arm is mighty to save (Isaiah 63:1, Zephaniah 3:17)!

Psalm 16:6-9
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;

My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will rest in hope.

In Scripture, I love how “night” is often a metaphor for more than simply the dark hours of a 24-hour cycle. It can imply inner darkness, such as sorrow or grief. So when David says that his heart instructs him in the night seasons, I give thanks that we can proclaim the same. The Spirit inhabits our hearts, and as we remain faithful to the Father and set the Lord always before us, He will instruct us even when our path leads through terrible darkness. Amen! God has been our Sovereign Lord through our recurrent miscarriages, through treatment trials, and eventually through a full pregnancy and delivery of our son. It is because of Him that we have not been moved, that our faith has remained strong, and that He has been glorified.

We ARE glad! We GREATLY rejoice! And we DO have hope!

What kindness.

This is one of those things that I just can’t adequately describe in mere words. I try. And I fail miserably. Every time.

A young lady at our church who competes in speech and debate tournaments around the country interviewed me a number of weeks ago, in order to compose an interpretive speech about my “story.” Her speech would be ten minutes long, once it was finely honed. The fact is, at first I wondered how in the world she would find enough solid material to fill up ten minutes. And then I started to wonder how in the world she could ever capture the height, depth, width, breadth, and spirit of my story in just ten little minutes.

As the days move on, I get to find joy and gladness in cleaning, cooking, laundry, hospitality, playing trains, reading Frog & Toad, drinking tea by the blazing fire, watching Bald Eagles perch in a tree right behind our house and then swoop down to feast on something (along with a coyote, no less), washing diapers, making silly faces, singing psalms, answering countless “why?” questions, kissing away countless tears, soaking in dimples and smiles and new red fuzz atop my baby’s head.
And at the same time, I remember. I remember seven little sweeties who so quickly stole their way into my heart. I see their seven little boxes lined up on top of a dresser in our room. I see their names hanging from arrows in a hunter’s quiver. I wear those names on a necklace, where they rest right near my heart.
I still have shadows of scars from injections. I have a shelf full of leftover medical supplies. Certain smells, certain feelings, certain places ~ and I’m right back there again.

I no longer live in grief. Now I live with grief.
It isn’t who I am, but it has shaped who I am.

When I see our boys, my Gabriel and my Asher, I feel like I can see pieces of our other children in them. I wonder if Hosanna would have had his brother’s steely eyes. And I wonder if any of their sisters had their long eyelashes and cuddly natures.

The perspective and thankfulness we have as we raise these boys for the glory of God and for the furtherance of His Kingdom is a blessing. It was painfully won, but it is a reward we reap.
We get the privilege of teaching, training, disciplining, discipling, and catechizing these boys.
We get the pleasures of playing, reading, wrestling, singing, running, cuddling, exploring, and living with these boys.
We get to clean up their messes, listen to their laughs, dry their tears, feed their bodies, fill their souls, and shepherd them for their life both on earth and for eternity.

What. Utter. Joy.

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying;
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.

Through life’s troubled waters steer them;
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them;
Father, Father, be Thou near them.

Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

~Amy Carmichael~

Thanks be to God. I know some deep sorrows of motherhood. But I also know deep pleasures. I know the faithfulness of God during the day as well as the night. I have been sustained by Christ in all things. And I glorify Him, offering my hands and my home, all that I am and all that I have, for His glorious service.

Not pretending that I have even begun to truly scratch the surface ~ but realizing that now I get to go live out what I am writing, as I go away from the laptop and back to the beautiful boys God has given me and the beautiful tasks He has put before me.


3 Replies to “What Utter Joy”

  1. It truly is amazing! God is so much greater than we so often believe and I often find myself afraid to ask for big things, but you weren’t. and I’m so glad. I was wondering if you have a copy of that speech to share?

  2. Thank you for all that you wrote. God’s faithfulness is amazing. Just to look and back and see His Hand…
    “It is because of Him that we have not been moved, that our faith has remained strong, and that He has been glorified.”
    I’m Praising God that He is mighty to save.

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