Guest Interview–Rebekah Kline: Loving The God Who Takes Your Child

Rebekah and I met many years ago, shortly after I first moved to the US to go to university there. Neither of us could have imagined how the Lord would, over time, bind our hearts together in our love for His kingdom nor how He would use our friendship to deepen each other’s faith in Him. Seeing Rebekah and Justin worship Jesus even as their hearts were broken, was an amazing testimony to me that Jesus is truly enough. I am so humbled that she would be willing to share the story of their son’s brief life and death here on the blog today. I needed to read this interview today as I experience afresh the brokenness of this world in my life and in the life of people I deeply love. I pray the Lord uses this to strengthen your faith as well, whatever your suffering is today. 

Worthy Hope–Share about you and your family:

Rebekah Kline: In 2005, a girl from Kentucky (me :), Rebekah) met a guy from Nebraska (Justin) in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip. It was love at first sight…”and the rest is history!” It has been a rich life together from the very beginning. By just our 4th year of marriage, Justin and I had moved to the hood of our city to become missionaries, had three children, and buried one.

God blessed us with two awesome little girls, Eliza Jobi and Jersie Cruz, and in 2012 we werrebekahjustinbabye overflowing with joy to welcome our first son to the family, Ezra Blaize. When the nurse first handed him to me, he was so beautiful that it literally knocked the b
reath out of me for a second! When Ezra was 2 months old, I was home alone with all the children while Justin was in Nebraska for the death of his grandpa. On a Sunday evening, when I went to wake up Ezra from his nap, I found that he had stopped breathing and had passed away in his sleep. No cause was ever found for his death – he was a perfectly healthy and very strong baby boy – and so it fell under the category of SIDS.

WH: Did you have a theological framework for suffering when little Ezra went Home to be with the Lord?
RK: When Ezra died, it was like the earth cracked open and darkness swallowed me up. It was the most intense sorrow I have ever known…but it was also the most intense grace I have ever known! As I’ve reflected on the darkest of those days when the pain was the most raw, I have said many times that it was THEOLOGY that kept me from drowning. I am so grateful for my rich Christian heritage which so well prepared me for this trial. (And many, many other things I could point to throughout the course of my whole life that God was using to train and prepare me for such a time as this! He is so mindful, isn’t He?!) Even in those earliest days of deep sadness, what held me up was what I knew to be true about

1. the CHARACTER of God and
2. the PROMISES of God.

My faith remained intact and unwavering, simply because I knew that He is good and He has done right by me. Somehow He was going to make this serve our great good and His great glory. During those times when I was certain that I was going under and was going to drown, I leaned hard on the truth that God in His perfect wisdom has chosen suffering to be the irreplaceable pathway to be close to Him. I had been taught that it is through the hottest fires and the deepest waters that we learn the richest things about God…and now I know it’s all true!

WH: How did your theology of suffering grow through this trial?

RK: In the ER while we waited for the outstanding team of doctors and nurses who worked so hard to revive Ezra, my dad and my brother were by my side in place of Justin who was still in Nebraska. (They also happen to be two of my pastors!) They were talking with me about heaven and eternity and the good and perfect character of God; my head was spinning. I clearly remember my thought process in that room: “Is this stuff all true?!?! I’ve been a believer for over 20 years and now I’m actually wondering if this is all real?! What I’m going to do is lean real hard on it, and if it’s not real, then it’s not going to hold me up and I’ll fall. But if it’s real, then it will hold me up.” I found out that all the things I’d been taught about God and His Word, all the things I had ever read or heard…it’s all true! I have learned that God Himself calls us to these deep waters, He is WITH US as we go through them, and He is always actively at work to bring good. We began to enter into more precious depths of who God is for us as He showed us these things.

WH: How have Jesus and the Gospel become more precious?
RK: Because of Jesus, all of God’s righteous anger toward my sin is gone, so there is nothing left in God’s heart toward me except goodness! Even THIS.

WH: How have you seen God advancing His kingdom?
RK: God has done great things through the brief life and death of Ezra Blaize. “Ezra” means “helper.” God has used him to help several see their need for Jesus and place their trust in Him! He has used Ezra to build up our faith in His grace that is sufficient for us and made perfect in weakness and to help us hold the things of this life more loosely.

“If Thou shouldst call me to resign what most I prize, it ne’er was mine; I only yield to Thee what was Thine.” (Charlotte Elliott, 1834)

To lose a child is to lose your most precious possession on this earth. But suffering cuts the cords that tie us to earth! When the Lord took Ezra, there was one less cord to fasten me to this world and another band to draw me toward heaven. I love what Charles Spurgeon said,

“Trials drive us from earth. Happy is the trouble that drives us from earth.”

WH: How did the Lord use community to sustain you?
RK: One of the sweetest ways that Jesus showed Himself to us was through His body. We were overwhelmed by the love and prayers and compassion of the body of Christ, and we knew that it was God Himself caring for us! In many ways, I understood the Incarnation more deeply than ever. Through the loss of Ezra, we experienced Jesus putting on flesh and coming to us in our need. How could we doubt the goodness of God when we saw it so clearly in His people?! Justin and I were convicted to the core by the example set for us.
I still cry to this day when I think about one of the many stories I could share about my dear friend Aylin who was given a special gift to enter into our sorrow with us and carry the heavy weight of the burden with us. The first few nights after Ezra’s death were stifling. The enemy would whisper in my ear all night long, “It’s your fault. You killed your son.” I’m not sure if Aylin was aware of this dark spiritual warfare, but I’ll never forget her text message late at night that said, “I want to keep watch with you.”

Here is a brief clip from Ezra’s funeral where Justin and I share more about God’s grace and how He is a very present help in time of need.

“My heart is broken – never to be mended – but God is enough.” (Amy Carmichael)

Guest Interview–Aurelia Smith and Perseverance in Chronic Pain

When I first met Aurelia, an instant bond was created. She is wise, loves people and loves to laugh. Most of all she loves her Savior. He has made her beautiful through suffering. Aurelia is a biblical counselor and I am SO thankful she was able to answer these questions about what the Lord has taught her through chronic pain.

Worthy Hope: Can you share a little about you? What are some of your trials in motherhood especially regarding your health?

Aureliaureliaa Smith: Although an autoimmune condition surfaced in my childhood, it did not keep me from leading a normal, active life. I have served in our nation’s military and am a graduate of one of our military institutions. However, when I started to carry and bear children, my body took a turn for the worse and my life has never been the same physically.

Because of this, many of my physical trials are directly related to motherhood! There have been multiple times when I thought the Lord was going to take me home or I have been unable to care for myself or my children. I have two beautiful sons and over the years I have come to realize just how miraculous their births were. They also have some health struggles that impact their daily lives as well, but they are manageable (allergies & asthma).

Another incident that God used in the area of hardships was when I thought my oldest son was going to die. His umbilical hernia was strangulated and required emergency surgery. He almost did not recover from this surgery and we almost lost him. This all occurred during my very difficult second pregnancy.

WH: Did you have a theological framework when you first started experiencing these trials? What was it?

AS: God in his grace began to prepare me in amazing ways before my health took a turn for the worst and my child suffered this near-death experience. I was pursuing my masters degree in biblical counseling at the time. I was also doing projects and papers that dealt with the practical application of the sovereignty of God. In God’s perfect design, I had already consumed helpful resources like, “Trusting God,” by Jerry Bridges. This book specifically talks about how important it is to understand and know that God is loving, wise and all powerful before suffering occurs so that we can honor him in the midst of it.

WH: How has the Lord grown your perspective on Him, you and your circumstances through this situation?

AS: In order to answer this question completely I would need pages!!! However, here is a short summary statement in answer your question. God has helped me to savor, thrill and delight in his Son alone. He continues to show me how good he is, and that regardless of the circumstance, I can honor and please him. Health or no health. Pain or no pain. By his enabling power, he is helping me to fix my eyes on the eternal rather than the temporal, and that has made all the difference!!

WH: How has he sharpened your theology of suffering?

AS: Here are some bullet statements:

-All suffering, my personal experiences included, is directly related to The Fall and all the terrible after-effects of The Curse

-Suffering is not a surprise to God & is one of the primary means by which he conforms me to the image of his Son

-Suffering should not be a surprise to us! It is promised!

-I am to view all suffering and hardship as discipline from the hand of a loving Father. Not because I’ve done something wrong per se, but because he is working a harvest of righteousness and peace that can come no other way (Heb 12)

-Suffering is a gift. Suffering is a stewardship. Suffering is given for the edification of not just the individual, but for the entire community of faith

WH: What are some ways you see the Lord advancing His kingdom through your suffering?

AS: Opportunities to share the gospel with those who might have not had ears to hear had I not experienced these forms of suffering. Opportunities to comfort, encourage and cheer my sisters on in the race that God uniquely ordered for them to run. Churches who have grown because of the tangible ways they sought to serve my family and I in practical ways (loving in action and in truth). Growth in compassion because of experiences in suffering. Sharing about his sufficient power and grace to see his people through any and all circumstances until he safely brings us home. Opportunities to speak frankly to my young children about suffering, God’s sovereignty and death so that they are biblically prepared for whatever comes.

WH: What were/are some of the temptations that you faced? What truth (s) reorient your heart when you were tempted?

AS: The temptations attached to chronic pain and medical issues probably have some similarities from person to person. But for me, anger is one of the largest temptations that I face. My temptation towards unrighteous anger is a result of being upset with my family members for not understanding how hard each day can be. Being a wife and mother in the midst of daily pain, exhaustion and baffling symptoms is one tall order. Doing so with joy is a taller order still. When I am tempted to unrighteous anger at not being understood or identified with, I turn to Jesus who perfectly understands what it is like to be in this body and who calls me to faithfulness nonetheless. Absolutely no one can understand what my daily existence is outside of my faithful Savior.

I would say the second big temptation for me is pride. Prolonged physical, life-altering trials make it obvious that we need others! What I used to be able to accomplish is no longer a reality. Learning how to ask for help, and receive it with grace has been a large part of my growth.

WH: What role has community played in your suffering?

AS: Community is an intimate part of this more than decade long journey for me. The churches of which we have been members have been the faithful hands and feet of Jesus in our lives. From caring for my children when I could not, stepping in when my husband was deployed, shopping for our groceries when I could not, and weeping when I wept, we have experienced the great joy and support to be found in the body of Christ. There is so much more to be said here but this is a start!

Guest Interview–Michelle Cooper, part 2

Yesterday I introduced you to my friend, Michelle. So thankful for her willingness to pull back the curtain a bit and let us have glimpses into their home, and most especially to God’s work in their lives. Here is the second part of the interview!

Worthy Hope: What were/are some of the temptations that you face? What sustains/feeds your joy in the midst of the daily grind?

Michelle Cooper: It’s easy to feel like no one understands what you’re going through. Could this be true? Certainly. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t speak truth into my world. And the only thing I need to know is that Christ does know me and understand my temptations.

~I am always tempted toward pride, as though having a child with special needs makes me more worthy of the Kingdom.

~I am tempted to be discouraged and give up disciplining a child who we are constantly wondering, “does he understand what we’re asking of him?”

~I am tempted to compare my situation with friends who have typical kids who are 5 years old, thinking how simple it must be to have a kid who talks, is potty trained,
easily interacts with others, can be trusted to go play at a park w/out kicking someone off a playset!

~I am tempted to wonder if I would have had a fifth kid had we not had a child with special needs; meaning, life might feel simpler so we might have had one or two more.

~I am tempted to envy my husband who has a life outside of this home 🙂

WH: What truths reorient your heart when you are tempted?

MC: God has had my days and life marked out from the beginning. He knew hemichelle1 was going to save me. He knew He was going to give me this child with special needs. He knew he would give the resources we have, and when not, He would provide through His people. He knew this was GOOD for me and for my husband and our family. Our church. Our parents. Our neighbors. There was NO mistake. Psalm 139:13-18, right? There were absolutely, 100% no surprises for God. He allowed Myles to be born with Down syndrome. He knew it was good for us. I cannot argue with this. I simply cannot. I remind myself of this when I start being tempted to want OUT… to be FREE… to be INDEPENDENT. He has marked our path. And I can be confident in this even on the days when my mental, emotional, and physical body is screaming for something else and I feel my spirit poised to run the other direction. He gently pulls me back and this can be painful, but oh so good when I submit.

In the daily grind– coffee sustains my heart. As well as chocolate bark with salted almonds 🙂 Of course, God’s Word is always encouragement to my soul–I Peter 1:3-9. I know the trials they were going through were perhaps of much more gravity than a child with special needs. But, I still think we can cling to this truth today– He is holding us securely till the end and we can have inexpressible joy even in the midst of hardship because we know what He has done and is still doing on our behalf. This life is NOT all there is!!

James 1 always encourages me, knowing that the testing of my faith produces perseverance. This kind of goes back to the above question about how my perspective has changed. God does build our endurance for the trials of life through suffering. We question His goodness, His plan. The question rings, “How can this be good for me??” I have asked myself that question over and over again. But He gently helps me see the spectrum of where I was when He saved me to where I am now– growing in faith.

We can’t always see the contrast when we’re in the midst of trials. Many times, in the heat of situations, I seriously think I’m digressing! And there are times when I probably am! But in the courage the Spirit gives, we move forward in faith, disciplining ourselves to remember what is true. Eventually He will show us where we are at now and how He has grown us. And that builds more endurance for the next trial. At least this is how it has worked out in my life

WH: In what ways do you see the Lord advancing His kingdom because of Myles?

MC: Having any outward physical identifier allows people in public to connect with you. So Myles has bright red hair, freckles, blue glasses, and Down syndrome. There is a lot to talk about 🙂 We have many opportunities to speak with others ANYWHERE we are at because many times people are trying to make connections. It’s not as though we are giving the Gospel at each of these interactions, but we certainly are able to speak truth and demonstrate joy even in the midst of what can be awkward situations (i.e. him yelling in a store, or running away from us, or hitting a kid at the park).

Our neighbors have basically grown up with Myles. We live on a cul-de-sac and all of us lived here before Myles was born. So when we brought him home, of course everyone was excited to meet the new baby. I think they were shocked by our response. I mean, of course, we were still processing 3 days later what just happened. But we were still filled with joy and able to share our confidence in what God had given us in Myles.

At our church, it has definitely been an opportunity for growth. I think many believers love the idea of special needs having a place in the church family. But when faced with it up close and personal, you are forced to question your philosophy and belief about what that really looks like when practically played out. Many times, it is easier said than done. And it takes hard work to be able to meet the world of special needs when it comes to breaking down barriers that make it hard for the Gospel to get through.

My husband works in public education. He has had more opportunities than I have had to share the Gospel clearly with co-workers. God has used the conversation piece of Myles’ to make easy segues into spiritual matters, whether it’s about the sin nature of a child even with special needs or everyone being created in God’s image or the idea of suffering and trials being ongoing.


And God is working in our family day by day. It has been really interesting to see how God has used Myles right here in our own family! Watching our older boys make sense of disability in their school setting, and having Myles as an anchor in their lives, has really opened their minds to other kids who are not like them. It’s amazing and their love for Myles despite his behavior is enormous. We are confident the Lord will use it long into their adult lives. ~~

Guest Interview–Michelle Cooper, part 1

One of my favorite things is to sit down with a friend, ask them questions and learn from their experiences. Today I want to introduce you to a dear friend I’ve known for 5 years,  Michelle Cooper. She has been a consistent blessing and encouragement in my life. I love her honesty in this interview and how she testifies to God’s goodness in her life. I am sure reading her story today will encourage you as you read about God’s faithfulness in her parenting. 

Worthy Hope: Can you share a little bit about who you are, how far apart your kids are and what are your circumstances in parenting?
Michellmichelle3e Cooper: My name is Michelle. My husband and I have four children: Henry (9), Wyatt (7), Myles (5), and Tessa (3) – three boys and a girl. I am very thankful that I have been able to stay at home with my kids. My kids attend a local public school, and
my husband works in public education. He has a very demanding job, and we have learned to embrace his work as a family. We try to attend as many events as we can with him, but there are many evenings when we do life without him home. We have always talked to our older boys about this so they understand where Dad is and what he is doing. They love when we get to join him at work! But this also means that I tend to family life a lot as a wife on my own. Our third child has Down syndrome. He is five years old. We did not know he had Down syndrome until he was born. We didn’t even realize it when he was born as he didn’t have a lot of strong physical markers; however, by time we were released, our pediatrician was certain. Three days later, it was confirmed through bloodwork. This definitely changes our family picture in how we ‘do life’ together. There are a lot of unique challenges and opportunities that having an individual with special needs in a family brings.

WH: Did you initially have a theological framework with which to think about Myles’ disability? What was it?
MC: I have seven older siblings, and disability joined my family much earlier than Myles. I have a niece who has Cerebral Palsy who is now 16. She is in a wheelchair and is nonverbal, but she is not cognitively delayed. I have another niece who is 12 and severely autistic. So I already had two siblings and their spouses walking the road of ‘special needs.’ At that point, my theological framework was definitely there. I had seen my parents struggle with how God could let things like this happen. And try to constantly ‘fix’ situations that are just earthly unfixable. Even as a teenager, I remember thinking — “Geesh, why can’t they just accept this?” I knew that God cared, and I also knew that God was sovereign. I believed this, and I knew that praying for healing was fine, but at some point, you have to accept the journey and stop trying to change the course. I was young, and not married, but I remember always thinking that someday I just might have a kid with special needs. I just wasn’t sure what my situation would look like. That may sound strange, but it’s true. In fact, on the way to the hospital to deliver Myles, I called a friend and she was encouraging me, and my parting words were, “You know my fear is that one day I’ll have a baby and find out something is not right…” So, a theological framework? I’m not sure how sound it was, but yes, I was confident in the Lord’s plan for all people and understood that nothing is a mistake.

WH: How has the Lord grown your perspective over the years? How has he sharpened your theology of suffering?

MC: It’s easy to become discouraged with the difficulties of life in general… even when nothing is going wrong. But when you are faced with a daily challenge that does not go away or get better, you are confronted with whether or not you trust in God’s goodness and kindness. Disability, or special needs, can tend to feel like a relentless gnawing at you. It doesn’t go away, and there’s no end in sight, and there’s no getting better, meaning there is no cure. Sure, there are therapies, etc., but there is no taking it away. And while there can be much reward and blessing, there can also be a lot of tiredness of spirit.

The first two years of Myles’ life were really pretty calm. He was healthy and did not need any heart surgeries like many other babies with DS do. He was very quiet and never made a squeak, was exceptionally sleepy, and didn’t walk until he was over two. Life was simple because I’d put him down and he wouldn’t go anywhere. When he was just two, our 4th child was born. She was practically walking and talking out of the womb, and by time she was one, she had caught up to him in all ways.

By that time, Myles was three and now could walk. He was not verbal, but had started yelling and grunting for everything he wanted or needed. We had been signing but it took so long for him to even pick up on a few signs, and he would just resign to yelling or grunting loudly for me to get my attention. It was wearing and between him and her, I felt tired not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. It was a different kind of tired than with my older two. It was a frustrated, impatient, discouraged, weary tiredness–the kind where you just wonder a lot what others are doing because surely no one else’s life is this challenging. I’d find myself thinking about what a ‘normal’ home would look like. I let myself wallow in pity and despair forgetting that God cares for me and sees me in my neediest moments.

Over these past five years, I have prayed more, asked for forgiveness more, and yearned more for heaven because I see the despair of my sin and how relentlessly I HOLD onto my earthly treasures–my time, my energy, my rest, my space, my everything.

Being a parent reveals your own heart the most. I know we have all read that over and over so it can sound trite. But it’s the hard core truth! Through all of this hardship in our home, God has blessed my husband and I both with an endurance that we didn’t have ten years ago.

Sometimes with special needs, you feel like you’re living in a twilight zone. And it can be very isolating at times because you can’t always do what it seems like a lot of other moms/families are doing. Before we had Myles, I felt very prideful in my parenting and physical strength/control I had over my kids. I took what God had blessed me with as though it was something I had accomplished on my own. When He allowed Myles into our lives, I began to see my weaknesses more clearly and my inability to make everything happen how I wanted, including my child’s behavior. The Lord revealed my judgmental spirit by humbling me over and over again. I see God’s goodness in this because I have grown in my heart to serve Him. I see that it has been in those many times of tears, anger, frustration, feelings of loneliness, feelings of ‘this is too much responsibility,’ that He has drawn near to me most.

A real tangible/practical way my perspective has grown is in the way I now deal with a long bout we have had with Myles pooping in his diaper and then smearing it everywhere. It always happens when we’re not around. I cannot tell you how ANGRY and UPSET I would be when I discovered his mess. On the carpet, on the chair, smeared down a wall… you name it, it’s happened. It was just awful, and gross, and discouraging, and frustrating. Especially when he would look at you like he had done nothing wrong. To see my faith grow even in times like these, wow, how does the Lord do that? The last time this happened, I had a really good cry. The despair doesn’t always go away. But I quickly wiped my tears away and got to work cleaning and disciplined my mind to focus on heaven– what it would be like, when He will come, and how this life is not forever!!! I yearn for my Savior more even through small sufferings like these. And I crave the day when He will come to make all things right. michelle2

Stay tuned tomorrow, friends, for part 2 of this interview!

Guest interview–Julie Pizzino

Today I am excited to share with you this interview with my dear friend Julie Pizzino. She loves the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. She has been a wonderful “older” Titus 2 woman in my life, especially as we share a passion to see the gospel in action in our communities and around the world.

Worthy Hope: Can you share a little bit about who you are, how far apart your kids are and what were your circumstances parenting when they were ages 10 and younger? 

Julie: I am Julie Pizzino, 67 years old, wife of 47 years, mom of 45 years with three children, and now grandmother, pastor’s wife for over four decades, English teacher (usually part-time) of either homeschoolers or at a classical Christian school.

Our sons are two and a half years apart, and when they were twelve and almost fifteen, we welcomed by international adoption a daughter into our home. I was blessed to be at home for the rearing of our children, although I did tutor and teach homeschoolers along the way. Our children had diverse educational needs, because one had learning differences, one was gifted, and one was bright and especially creative in the arts.

When our sons were little, my husband Randy was able to assist at times, coming home for lunch from his office at the church building. Then as they grew older, his time had more demands upon it. He also regularly traveled to minister in other places. Sometimes that was hard, but I was supportive of his ministry and gave myself to extending hospitality and enjoying the work of the ministry with him. The Lord encouraged me through friends who had me in their homes, kept up with me by phone, and came alongside me when demands were stiff.

WH: Did you have a theological framework with which to look at the daily difficult circumstances of motherhoood when you first experienced them? What was it? 

JP: Oh, how I wish I’d been more intentional about developing a theological framework for my mothering! I often chafed at the demands of the littles, longing for the free time I’d once had to read as long as I wanted, spend time with friends, and sleep consistently. But I did not cultivate a Gospel grid until our third child came long. Then I recalled how quickly time passes and how worthy the calling of mothering is. Those experiences of wife and mother have revealed sin in me like nothing else and have made me call out to the Lord for grace over and over again. I remember vividly a night when one of our children had a stressful day and did not make it to the bathroom in time several times that day and then again that night. I felt so hot and angry inside for all the extra work this child was causing me. Once I cleaned up yet another mess, I went downstairs to our living room, sat quietly before my Father, and confessed my inability to be obedient, gentle, and effective as a mother. I told the Lord, “I do not want to go on like this. Please help me!” Although I have had many, many times of failure since then, it was a breakthrough for me to realize that I could not do this hard thing of mothering unless the Lord supernaturally helped me. He graciously answered that prayer by causing me to learn to die to myself.

On a natural level we avoid dying to ourselves. It is painful, costly, and counterintuitive to the pursuit of happiness to which we think we are entitled. But here is the truth: dying to ourselves in our being wives and mothers is the pathway of joy, just as Jesus endured the cross for the joy which was set before Him. And then because of the resurrection, we are raised after these little deaths to better understanding of and love for Christ, our husbands, and our children, as well as renewed spiritual vigor.

WH: You are a grandma now. How has the Lord grown your perspective on the little years? How has he sharpened your theology of suffering?

JP: Because I now “get” how brief the little years are, I am savoring every moment with my granddaughter Lizzy. I am overwhelmingly grateful that I get to share the Gospel with her, using the Jesus Storybook Bible. At nap time or bed time, she begs to hear about Jesus. I see clearly how much our daughter and son-in-law must deny themselves in order to parent Lizzy well. While the self-denial is absolutely a form of suffering, there are rich rewards of observing how pouring into her brings the fruit of obedience and even joy. But physical and emotional fatigue are real. I see more clearly now how important it is for a mom to have a community who can support and relieve her. I believe the Lord’s heart is very much toward young mothers and that He understands the trials of the repeated questions, the messes, interrupted sleep, and more.

WH: What were/are some of the temptations that you faced? What truth (s) reoriented your heart when you were tempted?

JP: As I look back, I see there were many points of temptation.

~~I would forget the importance of the work I was doing with my children at home. Much of it seemed so tedious and mundane.

~~I would forget the Lord was with me every moment. That truth alone would have kept me going at times.

~~I would forget to cry out to Him. That seems sadly laughable now, but it seems I would grit my teeth and persevere through the hard times, when I could have cried out to Him for more grace and strength.

I did have some truly wonderful friends who were mothering the same time I was, and they “carried” me many times and are still friends to this day. My friends’ faithful encouragement kept me going. And God has been so, so good to give me Titus 2 women throughout my life, women who have generously counseled me and prayed for me. I do not know what I would have done without them. I would urge every young mom to find such women and ask for spiritual help.

I have heard that a mom’s favorite verse is “And it came to pass.” But for me the verses about courage are the ones that speak to a mom’s challenges. Joshua 1:9 would be a great motivator for me now as a mom: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

WH: How has your growing understanding of the gospel impacted your perspective on motherhood in the mundane?

JP: My growing understanding of the gospel has been the biggest factor in my valuing mothering and grandmothering in every little moment. The gospel gives us the “big picture” of what God is doing in the world. When we are at home mothering our children, we are not sidelined from God’s building His Kingdom. We are on the front line, training little ones for His glory and becoming more like Jesus ourselves. It is kingdom work, for sure.

The “littles” require the same patience the Lord shows us, when we fall over and over into the same weaknesses and sins. Our children need us to mirror God’s mercy, His forbearance, and His gentle guidance into truth and obedience, line upon line, and precept upon precept. They need to be listened to, and they need a response delivered with a sweet spirit. They need to know they are valued as image bearers of God.

The Lord has taught me many lessons regarding disciplining children in light of the Gospel. First, I am responsible to train them in His ways before I punish them for disobedience. Second, I am to take my place at the foot of the cross with them in disciplining them. Even though I am in God-given authority over them, I am not to discipline them from a position above them but from the position of needing mercy along with them. Third, although I may need to correct them many times daily, the ethos or atmosphere of our home must be grace. Fourth, I would freely share with them, in age appropriate ways, my own walk with the Lord, including my struggles with sin, fear, unbelief, waiting on God to answer prayer, and more.