I am so humbled and grateful to have the chance to introduce you to another Lindsey today. I have never met Lindsey, but I found her blog through a friend about a year and a half ago. I was struck by her honesty and her faithfulness in suffering. As you will discover today, Lindsey writes with a conviction and a trust in the Lord that is so real it leaves you with a hunger to know Jesus better. You can read more about Lindsey and her daughters, Sophie and Dasah, at her blog. Today she shares with us what it means to be a mother surrendered to the story that God is writing, with our lives and with the lives of our children.
Our children were created in the image of God, to be image bearers, just as we are, with a unique purpose, a unique story that, just as our own stories have unfolded in ways that perhaps even our own parents are still perplexed by, so the stories of our children will unfold. They are stories written by the One True God who takes His pen and dips it in the ink of His love and begins to display His glory through our lives. His ink of love penned the story of Abraham, called to leave his home and family to trust that God would bless the world through a child he had yet to conceive in his old age. I wonder what his parents’ thought of that decision? I wonder what they think of it now? Their son, called to leave them, for no reason that made a whole lot of sense to them other then the fact that he had heard from God. I imagine that hearing their son say “God spoke to me” raised more than just an eyebrow at the time. I imagine today, they are amazed that God would call their son to such a story, such a lineage, and such a mark in history. Jesus, the Savior of the world was the blessing that would come through their son… through them, do they sit back in awe of it all? God’s ink of love penned the story of Isaac, the promised son, only son of Sarah and Abraham, the story that led him to become a sacrifice on a mountain only to discover in the last moment his salvation in the thicket… a ram. A foreshadowing, that at the last moment our salvation would come too, only it wouldn’t be a ram caught in the thicket, but a man… God in the flesh covered in blood, thorns on his brow, slashes on his side, the sacrifice that saved us. I wonder what Isaacs parents think now? Was it worth it? Surrendering their only child to the will of God when it least made sense to them. I’m sure it makes a whole lot of sense now. His ink of love penned the story of Hannah… a woman with a longing for motherhood to only find herself devastated with a womb closed by God himself. A woman with a longing so deep that she cried out to God that should he give her a son, she would surrender him to serve the Lord all the days of his life. And his ink of love opened her womb, and a son was born, and a faithful woman cried “For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So, I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” And Samuel became one of the greatest prophets, a man of God, a messenger of God, who brought God’s words to His people, who continued to set the stage for Jesus, the one who would come to save his people from their sins. I wonder what his parents thought when they surrendered him to the service of their Lord? Was Hannah in the back of her mind wondering how she could have made such a promise, how God could ask her to fulfill such a promise? Is she now, quietly nodding her head as she looks at Jesus with a smile of joy emerging on her face, thinking of how beautiful that surrender has become. How God chose her to be the mother to a man such as Samuel? As the author of Hebrews declared “time will fail me” if I tell of the countless men and women, mothers and fathers who surrendered their stories, and the stories of their children to a God they knew was coming to redeem, they trusted even when they feared, and they chose to step into the seeming senselessness of their stories believing, knowing, trusting that they served a God who made sense out of the senseless. This God would come down as a man, and allow the ink to be his blood, to write his love in blood on the cross to pay for the sins. Of. The. World. And Mary, his mother…. What agony must have been written on her face as she knew that her son was indeed sent by God yet still, must he die? Must this be the way? Will it be worth it… really? She could never have grasped the full magnitude of what her son’s suffering would be for… that the door had just been opened for men and women of all time to enter into a relationship with the living God? I wonder if she sits now at the feet of Jesus, as she looks at the man she was chosen to carry, raise and give away at the age of 33 and a smile of joy erupts on her face as she hears and sees of the stories of salvation that happen every day as people all over the world hear of the good news of his death and resurrection and respond. I wonder if she ponders over the moments where she tried to control his story, tried to protect him out of fear and not trust, wrestled with relinquishing him to the One who gave him to her in the first place. I wonder if she is overwhelmed by His grace for those moments. I wonder if she’s overwhelmed with gratitude that the very author of Love chose her to carry such a story, to be the steward of such a story. A story, penned with the ink of Love itself.
All of these stories and all of our stories carry a common thread, a common question. Will I surrender my story? Will I surrender my child to His story, to His pen? Will I trust that God writes with ink that is filled with more love then I could even comprehend? Will I trust Him with my child’s story, even when it doesn’t make sense? The difficulty in surrendering ourselves and the ones we love to God’s story for our lives is not simply a wrestling in surrender but a wrestling with love itself. “Perfect love casts out fear.” Why do I fear surrendering my child to the Lord, to the author of love, to the one who created them in His image, to the one who is good and loving? It is because I do not know the fullness of His love. I do not know his love in a way that casts out fear. But, oh I want to. I want to know the fullness of His love. And how sweet it is that motherhood can lead us so deeply into knowing that love.
You see, I do not know a lot about the day-to-day lifestyle of motherhood. The two daughters, the two stories of love God gifted to me were on this earth but for a moment. But I know that at the core of all we do for our children and with our children is love. Our love seeks to protect and provide for our children in ways that is a picture of God’s love for us. But our love has limits, our love will wound at times. Our love can’t protect from everything (though it sure tries). Our love makes mistakes… and yet, it is often so difficult to let go of our ways of loving our children and surrender to the one who can love them perfectly? Are we afraid that He may make the same mistakes? That his protecting may wound them, or us? That his providing may be so different from our idea? That he may lead them where he wants them to go, but not where we want them to go? Our surrender doesn’t release God to do His will with our children (we are not that powerful), it releases us to receive and accept what His will is and to know His love far more deeply then we ever could. For in exposing the fears that keep us from surrendering, we are freed to draw near to the true God as we realize the ways our hearts do not know Him as He truly is.
I say these words because they are fresh, they are words God is speaking to my own heart as I wrestle with surrender, as I wrestle with fear, as I wrestle with what God’s will has been for our children. Both of my children, two beautiful little girls, died shortly after birth due to similar terminal defects we found out early on in both pregnancies. We carried both to term, we met them both face to face and we spent a total of 22 hours of life with them as they cried, slept, cooed, and were loved in our arms. And we had surrendered both to the Lord, before we even knew their story would not include them in our arms for a lifetime. The second time was harder then the first. There were more fears, would this happen again? But, its in our surrender and our wrestling with surrender that we have drawn nearer to the heart of God. And so I wrote in my journal, my first letter to our second daughter at 8 weeks pregnant before we knew she would carry a similar defect as our first daughter…
“Dear Baby D #2,
I’m sitting here sipping coffee, tears streaming down my face as I write to you my little baby. I am truly excited for your little life growing inside of me and so hopeful that I’ll get to meet you and hold you and watch you grow up. You’re just 8 weeks old and the size of a raspberry in my belly, yet I am already attached to you. But, I’m so sad too. I’m sad because feeling you grow inside of me brings back all the memories and moments I had with your big sister, Sophie. It makes me sad because you won’t get to meet your big sister for a very long time. It makes me sad because we’re a family of 4, but you’ll grow up with one person missing. Well, physically missing but always a part of our family. So, I’m having a hard time fully celebrating you because I don’t want to lose you too. But I want you to know, I love you, I cherish you and you are so precious to me. I can’t wait to know you in the ways I got to know Sophie in my belly. I so hope we get to hear your heartbeat next week and then see your little body, growing fully and complete. I’m nervous about these things. I’m nervous that something may go wrong, but I want you to know that you’re teaching me new things about trusting God in the midst of my fears, about hoping in Him when life offers no guarantees and about allowing Him to continue to write a beautiful story for our lives. I have no doubt that your story, little raspberry, will be just as beautiful and powerful as Sophie’s. And I sure do hope we get to see that story unfold in your life over decades to come. But here’s the thing, I don’t know what journey your life will take or how it will affect our lives. I just know that you belong to the Lord and we trust Him with your life however long and however short. Our lives are about surrender… surrendering to the one who knows all things and is working all things according to the good of those who serve Him. I sure hope that includes bringing you home and watching you grow up. But I do know that when the ball drops in our lives, God is there to meet us and hold us in the most tragic of moments. The ball has dropped in our family, little raspberry, we lost your big sister… and yet God was and is more than faithful in our lives. He held us, he walked with us through the most difficult journey we’ve ever faced and we look back on 2013 as one of the best and most transformational years of our life in the midst of the deep sorrow and pain. So I know (though I sure don’t always feel) that He will hold us and walk with us in whatever joys and sorrows He asks us to walk through this year, 2014, and the years to come. But, oh my prayer and hope sweet one is that this would be a year of pure joy. That we would look back on 2014 and see more joy than heartache, more hope than fear.
I love you so much little raspberry and I can’t wait to meet you.
Even as I read this now, having experienced the loss of our little raspberry, Dasah Brielle Dennis on November 13, 2014 after 12 hours of life, I am reminded that before I even knew Dasah’s name or that we would not have her long, I trusted God with her story. I had surrendered her story to Him. 2014 wasn’t a year of pure joy for me. But I can imagine that one day it will be, as I sit beside Abraham, Isaac, Hannah, Mary, Sophie and Dasah with grins too large for our faces as we delight in the one who revealed His glory through our lives and wrote His love into our stories with jars of ink filled with love so great that should he show me all of it now truly it would be more than I could comprehend. For surely we are all simply image bearers surrendering our lives and our loves to the one whose image we bear and one day we will all sit around and tell the story of His love poured out through our lives…. And it will be a day of pure joy.
So to all the mothers who are longing for children, who are caring for children, who are waiting to see their children one day in heaven, whose stories of motherhood haven’t quite played out the way you’d imagined, would you pray with me, that we would be mothers who live lives of surrender…
Lord, you are the author of life, you are the writer of our stories, would you allow us to continue to entrust the pen of our story and our children’s stories to you even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when it doesn’t make sense, when it’s the way we’d hoped and even when it’s so far from the way we’d hoped. Help us to know when we are seeking to control because of fear and allow us in those moments to draw closer to you that we may know the kind of love that casts out fear. Would you use the great love we have for our children, the great longing we have for them, to lead us to the one who loves them and us far more… Jesus.
**Lindsey lives in Florida with her husband, Kevin and sweet dog, Toby. She loves to laugh, drink coffee and invest in the lives of others. Send Lindsey to anywhere where there is open water and her soul is put at rest. She’s the mother to two beautiful daugthers, Sophie and Dasah who were born and went to heaven within 14 months of each other. Married for just under 3 years, the past two years for Lindsey and her husband have been ones filled with pain, loss, joy and hope. God has met them in their pain and grief and writing has become an outlet for Lindsey in letting others into her story as she wrestles with God and encourages others to live out an authentic and real relationship with God. She is convinced that life is but a vapor and our lives are to be lived for things eternal. She wrote of her story with Sophie and Dasah throughout her pregnancies and how we wrestle with the pain and sorrows of this life and still have and fight for hope and joy at www.vaporandmist.wordpress.com