When Kelly invited me to share my story my mind was reeling…which part? My crazy blind date, long distance relationship and extended breakup love story with my husband? Our infertility diagnosis? The subsequent triplets? My heart failure and near death in the hours following their delivery? Or one of the thousands of little things the Lord to has used to reveal who He is and who I am during the 9 years of adventure since?
Quite certain Kelly didn’t intend for me to write a novel, I have spent the last few weeks praying about what the Lord would have me share with you—virtual strangers who are also my sisters in this role of woman. Somewhat surprisingly, I felt led to share something I haven’t written much about before…my back story.
I grew up in rural Alabama. I am the older of two daughters raised by loving parents. I lived on a family compound of sorts, with six of the homes that surrounded ours being occupied by members of our large extended family. There were always cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents--lots of relationships, laughter, love and drama—but no religious faith.
My parents have been married 42 years, but I have never witnessed them open a Bible together, pray or attend church services. Other than Vacation Bible School in the summer, we were an unchurched family.
I was 10 years old when our family was rocked to the core. My beloved Granddaddy (who not only lived next door, but provided my before and after school childcare) left my Grandmama for another woman---just shy of their 40th wedding anniversary. My devastated Grandmama turned to the church for hope and healing. Sympathetic to her colossal heartbreak, I started attending the First Baptist Church with her—to keep her company. In the process I found a faith that has carried me through the three decades since.
It is ironic that I am sharing my story here largely among women who represent the greatest insecurity of my life—godly women—wives and mothers who are seeking intentionality in their marriages and the way they raise their children.
I spent much of my teens and twenties believing the lie that I would never have a godly husband because I didn’t know how to be the kind of wife and mother men like that were seeking. My Mom & Dad were great. They raised me to be independent, respectful, kind and responsible. Yet, insecurity had me convinced that somewhere during adolescence all the churchy families passed along the ‘godly woman secrets’ from mother to daughter like age old family recipes. I was not a part of the tribe. If there was a mark, a secret handshake or other insider knowledge, I had missed the boat.
In my late 20s, Ryland & I were married. The fact that he was an amazing man of God raised in the church only enhanced my fears that I was going to miss something on my imaginary checklist and be a disappointment to him as a life partner. His unconditional love was used mightily by the Lord to break down my walls, soften my heart and to teach me to lean in and surrender to God’s undeserved love in a way I hadn’t trusted before.
Then I became a stay-at-home mother…to triplets…and suddenly I was thrust back into that place. My mother had always worked. Was there a homemaker handbook that taught me how to always be chipper, humming praise songs as I cooked from scratch and sewed our own clothes? Two of my trio were boys. I never had a brother, how was I supposed to know what to do with boys? And my husband was a busy surgeon meaning I was largely on my own for the household duties that had been evenly split between my working parents growing up. Was there a roadmap for that? My life looks quite different from my family of origin.
I am a pleaser who likes to do well with what I have been entrusted. As I began to grasp for parenting books, articles, mentors, opinions, and operating instructions the Lord began to reveal to me this simple truth: There was no secret society, handbook or code. He was it.
My eyes were opened to the reality that every life, story, circumstance presents its own challenges, rewards, beauty and pain. Lives cannot be codified or put into flowcharts or checklists. I stopped searching for the secret handbook and started looking for the Lord instead.
My insecurity, overwhelm and fear have been gradually replaced with the relief and rest that comes from knowing I don’t have to be in charge of everything any more. The control freak is being reformed by the Lord.
As a self-professed “intentional” Mama I am learning that my list needs only one main thing—abiding in the Lord. Busy lives in this modern world make this sound like archaic advice. I have bills to pay, people to feed, errands to run just like everybody else.
Practically, this means dialing down a lot of the other voices to make sure His isn’t being drowned out. I am learning to release the death grip I have on the controls of my family’s life and trust our Creator with their hearts and lives. It seems I am constantly reorienting the compass of my life to keep God as true North.
God has been so faithful to free me from much of the insecurity that controlled me. Life is still unpredictable. I am keenly aware of how little I really know about how to shepherd these little people—but I love and trust the Almighty, All-knowing Lord. He has brought me joy and security beyond what I knew possible.
My fears have been replaced with freedom. The Lord is writing an epic story where He is in the ultimate Rescuer—on my heart and in the hearts of my husband and children. I have a role to play—but He delivers my lines bit by bit and scene by scene and there is great adventure in that!