Angela’s Testimony

My husband and I both come from a large family and we dreamed of having a big family, too. Everything seemed so perfect when we decided to have a baby. And then the disappointment set in. Months and months passed.

All around us people were having babies. Then years passed and those people had more babies. We became the only couple out of our family and friends to not have a child. Talk about isolation and despair, and confusion and yes, anger and so many other horrible feelings. It was the darkest time of my life. My heart yearned and ached with all my being to be a mother. Instead, I felt empty and the pain got worse. As silly as it sounds, I even thought that maybe God didn’t love me.

Around the two year mark, we went through infertility testing and learned that there is nothing physically wrong; our infertility is unexplained. At that point we strongly felt it was just a matter of God’s timing and we turned down infertility treatments. From that moment , God’s plans took us in ways that we never imagined.

Over the next year, we bought our first home, then my husband had to have extensive back surgery. He started college at 30 as he felt led to teach and coach high school kids. I went back to school to specialize in an area of nursing. We also moved my elderly grandparents into our home and became their primary caregivers. Not only did our physical lives change drastically but internally God was giving our hearts and minds a makeover too. Looking back I see this was a crucial time and God was planting seeds and growing us individually and as a strong couple. He helped my husband mature and become disciplined and responsible. The love and devotion he showed my grandparents was inspiring and we learned how to work well as a team. I found new strength and faith during this time and grew to cling to God for both. Despite our cries and prayers, I see now that because of His love, He didn’t give us a child during that time! More time passed.

One day, my husband and I discussed it and thought we would pursue infertility treatments. Little did we know, I was already pregnant! I will never forget how excited and overjoyed I was to see a positive sign in place of almost 5 years of negative signs each month. I was shaking as I called to my husband and we both jumped for joy and held each other and cried and hugged. Even our dogs jumped and barked in excitement! We were sobbing in happiness when we saw that little heart beat on the monitor. We sobbed 6 weeks later when we learned the day before our 6th wedding anniversary that our baby had died sometime around 12 weeks.

That was one of the hardest days of our life. How could it be that after all this time we could finally be given something so precious only for it to be taken away? But something happened then. It was a defining moment and it was the moment I can truly say that I fell in love with our Lord Jesus Christ.

In all our pain and in all of our heartache we reached out to Him for peace, for understanding, for comfort. I learned that the deeper and larger your hurt is, the bigger the space is for God to fill it with his presence and peace and love.

 

Rather than focusing on our devastation and loss, we decided to focus on Hope. We shifted our tears of pain to tears of praise for His grace and love and thanked Him for our baby who did have life, no matter how short. Having been pregnant once, we had hope I would be again.

Amazingly, 10 months later, our beautiful, miracle, daughter was born. Her name is Elliana which means “God has answered me.” We named her just before I was emergently hospitalized my 18th week of pregnancy. I spent the next 5 months on strict bedrest. It was a challenging journey and a time of spiritual growth, a time when God, family, friends and even strangers wrapped us in love and courage. It’s a beautiful testimony to share another time.

What I’d like to share now is for all those couples who suffer from a broken heart and empty arms. I know this pain so well. It’s unfair, lonely and agonizing. But God has big plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Where you are right now is where He wants you to be IF you acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:6.) Believe that! Ask God to help you embrace where you are in life, no matter how sad or difficult. Try hard to be thankful for the present. The story God has written for my life is so much more beautiful than I could ever have planned and much of the source of that beauty is derived from heartache and pain. Isn’t that the basis for the gospel story and His saving grace!?

I’ve learned when you pray big, God answers bigger. Be ready!

Paul tells us specifically to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). God is writing your story, too. I believe, just as He promises and like He has shown me, that your story is a beautiful testimony of God’s love and faithfulness. You might not be at the part you want yet, but God is working up to it and these chapters have purpose (Ecclesiastes 3). The best part is that even through the hard or sad times, if you ask God to be with you, He will (Jeremiah 29:12-13). During this time, don’t despair! “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will answer the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

We don’t know why or when or how, but God does and He is faithful and mighty. I pray my story glorifies Him and inspires you in peace and joy. He is the awesome creator and author of your life and mine. Trust in Him and His perfect plans and timing.

–Angela


Thank you Angela for sharing your story! Broken hearts and loneliness are two things I think a lot of us can relate to, especially as we are here talking about infertility and difficulty in pregnancy. You’re so right though, God’s plans and His timing are BEST, as He IS the Author of our lives.

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Love, Rebekah

Why Our Homemaking Will Never Be Good Enough

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Last winter, there were days I so hated living in my house. My house with it’s doors that froze shut during bitter temperatures, and windows that leaked with the melting snow, and my ugly kitchen floor staring at me day after day. But my husband would come home and get out his guitar and sit on that ugly floor and play and sing and worship. And my 2-year-old daughter would dance, and squeal, and spin around in circles. And I would sing and rock and sway. And in those moments, on the kitchen floor, the presence of God would fill our house so thick, it was other-worldly. It was Love come down with us. It was the Spirit of God filling our hearts and filling our house with Himself. And those were the moments that Heaven broke through.

And that kitchen floor became sacred ground.

Not because it was meticulously cleaned. Not because it was the latest design. But because we had sunk to our knees. And we found Him there. And behold, God was in that place and I did not know it.

And this is what makes it home. It’s not the home I’m making, it’s the home He is making in me. For Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

So, come Lord Jesus, come. Come and make your home in me, today and all eternity.

Click here to finish reading this post I wrote on author Emily Wierenga’s site. This post was originally published as part of Emily’s new Making It Home book launch. And it also is part of our Free-Spirit Homemaker Series:How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul. If you missed the last post, read it here “What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?”

This Ugly House

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My house has problems. Does yours? First of all, I have the ugliest linoleum kitchen floor. Ever. Sometimes I feel the need to apologize to guests when they walk in. It’s yellow and brown, and looks a lot like the geometric pattern of throw up. Maybe it was all the rage in the 60’s, but today it’s retro-horror. Even the most vintage-loving hipsters out there would find it ugly. I’m pretty sure the floor’s design came straight out of one of those optical illusion books I read as a kid. So, if you happen to drop your Cheerios, don’t even bother looking for them. They are lost. To hunt for them is dizzying. You won’t find them again until you feel something crush under your feet.

Go ahead, say it: first world problem. (But just for the record, when my brother-in-law, who lives in Africa, sent pictures of their new missionary compound, I couldn’t help but notice: even their floor was nicer than ours.) Just sayin.

We are renting this house, so we don’t have the freedom to change things. And while I love the location, there are some things I would love to fix about this place. Like, there’s no dishwasher. And old siding. The bathroom is somewhat decrepit. It needs repainted. And there’s definitely something funky going on with the shower tiles. And it’s tiny. (So tiny that when my daughter is on her potty chair and I’m on the toilet at the same time, our knees almost touch. That’s fun.)

But lately, we’ve had a bigger, less trivial problem: our doors freeze shut. (As in, we can’t get out of the house frozen shut.)

We realized last Monday morning when my husband tried to leave for work—and then he couldn’t. That was the day he jumped out the bedroom window in his dress clothes, and proceeded to kick the front door open Chuck Norris style. That was the day I stood there in my pajamas, head-over-heels (or slippers) in love, as my very own ninja-warrior saved the day and drove off to work.

That was a week ago. Since then, he’s acted out this little kung-fu scenario every day. And it’s not so funny any more. It’s plain annoying.

Finally, it happened to me. Selah and I were about to leave for Target to buy her some Mini-Mouse underwear, when I realized we were stuck. The door re-froze from my husband’s morning escapade, and we couldn’t get out.

Immediately, “Survival Mommy” sprung into action: I threw my weight into the door. Nothing happened. I tried kicking it. Nothing happened. I went to the bedroom window and tried to open it. Nothing happened. Then, I started to panic. “What are we going to do Selah!?” I kept asking her over and over again. And she just stood there all bundled in her coat, looking up at me like a little marshmallow. I had to do something.

That’s when I opted for my default weapon of choice: the blow dryer.

There I was, for about 45 minutes blow drying the door frame. And as the ice began to melt and I stood with a puddle of water forming around my feet, I kept picturing that little tag on the blow dryer. You know that one that has a red “X” over the blow dryer in the bathtub? And then I started thinking about what my obituary would say, “Mother dies of blow dryer electrocution. She was that stupid folks.” (Do you ever do that? Start writing your own obituary in your head when you’re doing something dangerous?) My next feat was chipping at the ice around the doorframe with a hammer, a screwdriver and…a grilling fork. (It was a real low point for me.) But I was determined. We were getting out of the house. We were going to Target. We were buying Mini-Mouse underwear. I would break a window if I had to.

But thankfully, by the grace of God (and perhaps some angelic intervention), the door finally opened. Which meant, we made it out of the house without breaking any bones or windows. And, I didn’t even get electrocuted in the process.

Hallelujah.

Now, this may not come as a surprise, but I’ve really been falling out of love with my house lately. I’m constantly noticing every little, and big, need for improvement. I’m constantly pointing out some new problem or failure. I’m constantly house hunting online, or browsing Pinterest to pin ideas for my dream house someday. Or, I’m researching how to spruce up a rental. How to utilize small spaces. How to make everything look nicer, and better than it does right now.

I was down on my hands and knees today, washing my kitchen floor from all the mud and ice that’s been tracked in. And as the warm water mixed with the clean scent of Murphy Oil Soap, and I scrubbed, I began to think about all the places I’ve lived. Places smaller than this, uglier than this. Places three times the size, and much more beautiful than this. But you know what I’m finally realizing? It doesn’t really matter. Our house. What it looks like. Because it’s not the house that makes me happy. It’s the people that live in it.

The more I scrubbed, the more clearly I could see it:

My kitchen floor is ugly, but the little feet that patter across it somehow make it beautiful. The feet that dance upon it, turn it into sacred ground. And the little girl who lays on it in front of the stove, makes it fade altogether in the background with her beauty.

My house is small, but it forces me to be closer to the man that I love. The man that jumps out of windows for me, and kicks in doors. The man who comes home at the end of the day and fills this place with music.

We get stuck inside sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck with anyone else on earth. We lose power, the heat goes out, but I wouldn’t want to be under blankets with anyone else.

It is bitterly cold here, but the neighbors next door begin to make it feel a little warmer. The other young moms down the road remind that spring will come. That we will take walks again. That things do grow here. When we let out our roots into one another’s lives.

This house has it’s problems, but this is exactly where God wants us to be right now. And though there are some ugly parts, this is a place where the Spirit of God dwells. This is a place where we love Him. Where we worship Him. Where we enjoy Him. This is a place where He speaks to us. And that suddenly makes this place holy. And sacred.

We could have the most beautiful house in the world. We could make the pages of the Ikea catalogue materialize all around us. We could Pinterest our way into some kind of paradise. But unless God is here, unless God is filling this place, it is just an empty space.

So God, come, come fill up this house once again with Your presence. Come dwell here with us. Because wherever we live, I want to make my home in You. And I want You to come make Your home in me. (John 14:23) Let us turn our eyes upon You. And look full in Your wonderful face. So the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace. 

I’m not saying I won’t still drool as I look through Pinterest, or that I won’t dream as I walk through Lowe’s. I will still really admire the beautiful houses of my friends. But as long as God has us here, I will love this ugly house. Because it’s the people that live here, that make it beautiful. And the God who dwells here, who makes it holy.

In Response to “Does Missions Separate Families?”

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I never expected that my recent post “Does Missions Separate Families?” would be so widely-read. But in the past week or so, I have had the privilege of a whole audience I never imagined: missionaries.
From all over the world.

And I just wanted to say to these missionaries and your families: thank you.
As I read your comments, I got just a small taste of your daily reality. Your real thoughts, your real feelings, and the real cost of what you are doing. More than anything, that you are real people.

I couldn’t respond to your every comment. Not because there were so many, but because…sometimes I just didn’t know what to say. Reading your perspectives, and testimonies left me often just whispering, “Wow,” and pushing myself away from the kitchen table, lost in thought about you. I had no words to simply “reply” to all I feel for you.

But this is what I want you to know, if you find yourself here and are now following:
I love what you are doing. I love that you are following Christ and proclaiming Him in the darkest places of the earth. Even when that darkness seems to invade every part of you. Even when you feel completely and utterly, alone. Even when you can’t talk to anyone (in English) and just want to scream at the sky. And even when your families, and showers, and clean sheets, and sanity seem a million miles away.

Surely you will be give one hundred times more in the life to come.

The other day, my brother-in-law in Africa (whom I wrote the post about) emailed us and said protests and riots broke out in their city (due to what happened in France.) The next day, the protesters burnt down eighty percent of the churches. And the day after that, he visited one the smoldering churches just two miles from their home.

There he met two men, who said the protesters tried to burn the church down, while they were still in the building—but they managed to escape. Nearly all the teaching curriculum and bibles were burned.

Listen, I don’t know where you are. I don’t know the threats that lurk outside your door. I don’t even know if you will be able to read this. But this is what I do know—Your mission stands. It is of God. And it cannot fail.

They can burn down your churches. They can burn up the bibles. But they cannot take away the Spirit of the Living God. And He goes everywhere with you. And you go everywhere with Him. And His Word is in your heart, like a fire. And He will not be mocked. And this mission, regardless of what you see in front of you today, is not a failure.

My brother-in-law tried to encourage those two native men, who escaped their burning church, but instead they turned and encouraged him saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” And then went on to assure him that even though their building was destroyed, the Church still remained.

I was later sent this amazing video footage of the believers from their country worshiping in their church the day after it burnt.

They get it. They know where their treasure is. And that He is faithful, and He will do it. “He will not fail or be discouraged.” Isaiah 42:4

He will not fail or be discouraged.
And I guess that’s the only reply I have for you. I’ve searched it out, and these are the most soothing words I can find: He will not fail or be discouraged.

And neither will you.

Thank you for sharing your stories and lives with me. Thank you for laying down your lives. And for making our family grow. For the day is drawing near, when we will meet, face to face, every brother, sister, son, and daughter at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, and we will all rejoice wildly together at the greatest reward of all. That is, Christ.

For He will not fail or be discouraged.

Does Missions Separate Families?

 

Selah meeting her cousins for the first time.

 

Tomorrow, my brother-in-law and his family will get on a plane, and fly to Africa. I won’t see them again for three years, except by some emailed photos, or maybe a choppy Skype connection.

I joke that I am going to sabotage their trip to the airport. And part of me really wants to. Because deep down, I really don’t want them to go. I have enjoyed having them and their three sweet girls around the last six months. They were the first to teach her how to have a proper tea party, and make elephant noises, and sing “Let it Go” at the top of their lungs. As they ran barefoot through the grass in the summer, she chased them. As they danced wildly in the living room in the winter, she imitated them. She adores them, as if they were her own big sisters. They take her by the hand, they whisper in her ears, they burst into laughter at her expressions, and pull her in for a second hug. And now, they are going away.

Does missions separate families?

I think the impulse answer is: yes.

They left for Africa three and a half years ago. And in that time, they missed births of new nieces and a nephew. The death of a grandparent. They missed all the Thanksgivings and Christmases and game nights. They missed heartaches and victories. They missed life here, for three years.

And not for an easy life. But for oven-like heat, and dirt, and difficulty. And constant sweating. And risk. Risks of violence and persecution. Risks of disease, and illness. Risks of terrorist groups, and wild animals. Risks of kidnappers, and poor health care when it really matters.

I see these three fearless little girls, whose mom is pregnant with their first little brother, and tremble that he will be born there.

The question inevitably crops up: Why are they doing this?

One night after dinner at our house, as we pulled apart the last remains of the garlic bread, I asked my brother-in-law, “So, how did you…get over all of the fear?” I think he made a few cracks about my fear of Ebola. And then he just looked at me, and said with such simplicity, “I am afraid of some of those of things. I’m actually really afraid of flying. But I’m more afraid of not obeying God.”

But I’m more afraid of not obeying God.

And that’s the difference. I see the risk, the danger, the loss. He sees the reward. The gain. The joy.

He and his wife see hell as a reality. And love as a command. And the gospel as real. And they are doing it. They are living it. They really love Jesus. They really believe He’s coming back. And they really love bringing others into His family.

While we feel like we are losing a brother and a sister, they are actually rescuing lost brothers and sisters and bringing them into the Kingdom of God.

While we will miss their daughters and son, they will be rescuing daughters and sons and bringing them into the family of God.

They leave us in order to rescue others, to bring more into the family, the family of God. The family that will live on forever. And the gates of hell will not prevail against this mission. Because it’s the one Jesus called us to.

Does missions separate families?
Yes. For a time.

But it also expands them. By inviting the lost into a family. Those who had no family, no hope, who were on the outside and separated from God. (See Ephesians 2.)

There may be a few empty seats at our next Thanksgiving dinner. But by those seats being empty, it will mean that other place settings are being made ready for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Because lost brothers and sisters who live across the ocean, whose skin is darker than ours, whose language is different than ours, will be invited into God’s family, and will be called for the first time sons and daughters, and will be given a place at His table forever.

One day, we will come together, all of us, those who were far off, and those who were brought near, as one family, with exploding joy.  And there in the presence of Christ, we will see that missions never separated our family at all.

It only ever made it grow.