When I try to recall my first thoughts of God, I think of my mother washing carrots from our garden. I think of her kneading bread until she had tendonitis, steady and faithful, providing for us. I think of sitting in her lap with my blanket, rocking quietly beside the window with the blue spruce outside. Steady and faithful, she was there—making bricks without straw most days—raising her fourth child when her heart was a little weary of raising children. I think of my father, strong and gentle, holding me in one arm and calling me his “Wee One” with his hazel-blue eyes sparkling. I think of his patience, always finding a way for me to work beside him. My mom and my dad were Christ’s hands, His feet, His heart (1 Cor. 12:27). They weren’t perfection, but they were faithful. They taught me to love Christ and to trust Him before I understood any of their words at all.
I grew up in a Baptist church—in Sunday School, AWANA clubs, and youth group—but I grew in my faith most when I would wake up early and find my father under a single yellow lamp in a dark house, reading his Bible and praying. I grew most when we walked together at night and talked. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but I remember knowing I wanted to spend my life getting to know the God my father knew and living in a way that would honor Him.
I grew up in Christ, knowing from preschool years that I was a sinner and that Christ had come to die in my place to save me, praying the prayer I had been taught to pray to accept Him as my Savior, and growing in my understanding of these truths as I grew in age. I loved to sit quietly by myself at night, lifting my face to the glowing moon, and talk with God. I was a leader in my youth group and an outspoken Christian in my public schools.
In the first semester of my freshman year of Bible college I was assigned to read the entire Old Testament. I fell behind in my reading and ended up attending an eight-hour, all-night, Bible reading marathon with many of my fellow students. After spending eight straight hours reading through the historical books, Psalms, and prophets, I returned to my dorm room, laid down in my bed, and began to pray. In that moment I realized that I couldn’t pray to God in the same way that I had prayed before. One night immersed in the Old Testament had grown my view of God more than any of the Christian education programs I had spent years in. I realized then that there was more I wanted to read, more I wanted to study. That night awakened a passionate desire in me to check everything I had been taught to that point: to run it all through a fresh reading of Scripture, and also a fresh study of church history and fresh Christ-centered worldview.
In the midst of this pursuit, I met a young man who was also running head-long after truth in Christ, and we began to run in that direction together. We grew to love each other because we loved Christ together. In the year that followed I came to know and treasure God’s sovereign leading in my life. I grew to understand my bondage to subtle sins. I learned to cry out to God for His Spirit to create a clean heart in me: one that loved Christ more than myself and more than any of His created gifts. I came to treasure the gospel more and to treasure God’s presence more that year.
I married that young man fourteen years ago now, and we’ve been entrusted with five children of our own to preach the gospel to. I understand now my own mother’s sacrifice—washing carrots, kneading bread—when it seems like there are so many more important things to be doing. I’m straining now to remember what she taught me, with so very few words.
God called to my heart through my parents, and I believed. He raised me in the knowledge of His Son and called me closer as I grew. He drew me away from my love of self and led me to pursue Him first. He taught me to trust Him and to follow Him with abandon. I thought maybe that would lead me to a jungle somewhere, but it has led me to raise five children, including two who were born with a complex rare genetic disorder named Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS).
My two daughters with BBS live with disease of both the kidney and liver which may one day require organ transplants. They have developmental delays and speech disorders for which they need therapies. BBS causes them to struggle with autism, obesity, and insomnia. They are losing their vision and will likely be legally blind within a decade. Caring for them has been challenging and life changing. I have been forced to feel the weight of life outside of Eden as I raise them. I have learned to eagerly long for the day when Christ returns to reclaim us from this dying world, when He renews His creation, and we will live in His light again. Naomi and Emma have taught me to anchor my hope in the kingdom to come. I have been forced to feel the weight of life outside of Eden as I raise them. I have learned to eagerly long for the day when Christ returns to reclaim us from this dying world, when He renews His creation, and we will live in His light again.
In the meantime I wash carrots. I make bread. I drive to doctors’ appointments and therapies. I stay up late reading online medical journals. I learn to make food that is free of all of their allergens and sensitivities, and it often feels like making bricks without straw. I preach faithfulness (Mt. 23:23, 3 John 1:3, Rev. 13:10), and wonder (Ps. 40:5, 65:8), and redemption (Rom 3:24, 8:23) to my children.
On the side, I manage the oldest mobile home park in town where some of the most vulnerable and the most destitute live. I try to preach Christ there with patience, and love, and words when I can. I meet often with other women from my church and we share our lives—our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our hope—and then we pray for each other with genuine, heart-heavy prayers that lift our eyes out of the monotony and set them back on the hope of glory.
And sometimes at night, after my children are in bed, I come to my computer and write. I write to tell others that God saved me. He changed my heart and He can change theirs (Ezekiel 36:26) . He shepherds me gently and He can lead them (Is. 40:11). He walks beside me through my dark places and He can walk with them through theirs (Ps. 23:4). He is beauty. He is here. He is worth selling all that you have to follow (Matt 13:44; 19:16-30)—steadily, faithfully—until His kingdom comes.
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
2 Thess. 2:13-17