Day 5 - Enlarge Our Hearts

ENLARGE OUR HEARTS

When I was growing up, I didn’t want kids. As far as I could tell they were hard to manage, loud, expensive, selfish and demanding. I wanted to be a marketing executive in NYC. I wanted to wear suits and heels and carry expensive bags and walk up Fifth Ave to get to work each day.  I wanted to live in a loft apartment. I wanted to be independent. And very successful.

Looking back, maybe this kidless dream of mine was a way of coping.  

I was born with some abnormalities in my kidneys and bladder and had a lot of surgeries to try to fix them. My first surgery happened when I was 2 months old and it wasn’t successful. In fact, none of the surgical attempts were successful until the 7th one at the age of 13. As a result of all the failed attempts I had a LOT of scar tissue and it didn’t seem there would be space in my abdomen for my uterus to hold a baby. The doctors prepared my parents for the reality that I likely would not be able to have children.
 
God had other plans. 

First, He healed my body at 13. Then, He healed my heart when I was 20 and and I fell in love with Jesus. It was then that I knew I wanted kids. Boys, actually. I wanted to raise them up to be strong men of God - warriors for His Kingdom. 

Somewhere in there He made enough space in my abdomen to carry a baby to 37 weeks - three times. 

I believe all children are miracles. Mine are no more special than anyone else’s. But I don’t ever want to get over the fact that God is the One who gets to decide if we have children. Not the doctors. Even if my body had not cooperated I am confident that He would have provided children through adoption or some other glorious miracle. 

His ways are perfect.  

A lot of years have passed and now that my uterus is gone forever (HALLELUJAH), along with my waistline, I still get to enjoy our three little miracles every day. I'm thankful.

Even at the ages of 13, 11 and 9...when life is FLYING BY and the baby books are collecting dust in the closet...I don’t ever want to lose sight of the gift that they are to me. They are evidence of God’s grace in my life.  Their bright eyes and huge hearts and loving hugs bring me great JOY in the most tender moments. It is a pleasure to love them.

Their three little lives have opened my eyes to the Father heart of God.

I remember the day I realized that my love for the boys was just a reflection of God’s love for me. I was pregnant with #2 and I was sitting on the couch watching #1 play in the floor. I was having a very emotional moment because I didn’t understand how I could love another child the way I loved our first one. My husband wasn’t sure what to say to comfort me. So he suggested that I call my grandmother and ask her for advice. She had four children and was still loving them well. Wise move, hubby. Mamaw was so kind and patient with me talking through my ridiculously desperate tears and fears. It’s funny now, looking back. My hormones had a mind of their own and I probably sounded so silly. 

Mamaw told me that the Lord enlarges our heart with each child. He doesn’t just stretch our bodies in this process. He stretches our hearts. He makes room to love them. To love them well. 

He gives the strength and the tools we need raise them. In every season.
With #2 and #3 the Lord did exactly what Mamaw said He would do. He enlarged my heart. I was so focused on my large body and sleepy eyes that I kind of missed Him in those moments but looking back, now that I've had some sleep, I can totally see it. 

He uses the 9 months or 9 years or however long it takes for that sweet baby to end up in our arms to prepare us for them - to prepare us to love them. With a love that only He could give.

And in the process He is reminding us how large His heart is for us. 
Our love for our children can be a glimpse of His love for us. 
I’ve never looked at the boys the same way. 

That tenderness I have in my heart for them - that is a fraction of the compassion the Lord has for us. 
The way we love them each day no matter how much they screwed up yesterday….those are glimpses at the mercies we receive every morning from our great God. 
When they get hurt on the field and I’m tempted to rush out and rescue them….that’s the Father heart of God that leans in and is so near to the broken. To the broken-hearted. 
That mama bear that rises up in me and wants to shield them from this world is just a of the way the Lord ushers in His spirit, His Word, and His boundaries to protect us from the evil one. 

We have all the tools we need to do this mama thing well. It was modeled to us by our heavenly Father. Demonstrated for us through His willingness to love us so unconditionally through Jesus. 

And if we will look and listen, we will see opportunities to join Him in His love for our children.  In all these seasons. 

If we follow Him, He will be radically at work in us and through us every day of their little lives. 
As we love them, learn to love them more, and learn to receive the Father heart of God in the process, we experience Him in ways we never could have asked for or imagined.
 

***
 

Father, we raise these children for You. They are all miracles. No matter what the doctors say, You are the One who gives us life...who opens our wombs and our hearts to give new life...and who who expands our capacity to be the steward of these little lives for as long as you give us breath.

We raise them for You. 
We train them for You. 
We love them because we love You. 
And because You first loved us. 

Strengthen us for the task, Lord. 
Enlarge our heart.
You are able.

In their giggles we hear your joy. Thank you.
In their victories we see your triumph.  Thank you.
In their faith we see you stirring. Thank you. 
In their voice we hear you speak. Thank you.
In their sin we see your grace because our mama hearts want to scream WE FORGIVE YOU!!! 
We do hate the sin...and the trouble it causes. 
The pain it brings. 
But even then WE RUSH to hold them. 
Like You do for us. 

You are not far off, Father. We love that about You. 

Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Thank you for aligning our hearts with yours. For making us strong for the task. 

Please, align their little hearts with Yours, Father God. Fill them with strength, with compassion. 
May your grace be upon them and may they grow in wisdom and stature and favor with You and men. 
Just like Jesus. 
Make them like Jesus. 

Make us all like Jesus. 

We are desperate for you.

Amen.