Friday, February 25, 2011

Grace and Mercy

Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

There have been many times in my life when I received God’s grace – none more important than when I was saved. The intent of this post is in no way to downplay or overshadow the Grace and Mercy shown to me on that day. It is, however a post to marvel at how the Lord continues to bestow his Grace and Mercy on me.

I have written many times of my struggles in coming to terms with the timing of my pregnancy with Andrew. As most of you know, finding myself 3 weeks married and 3 months pregnant was devastating to say the least. I wasn’t ashamed of getting ‘caught’, but rather of not staying true to my convictions. It took many, many months to overcome that shame and I still struggle today. It is very hard to watch people’s faces when they begin doing the math!

I struggled with so much shame that I couldn’t even figure out how to love my child once he was here. I went through the motions of motherhood, but didn’t really feel like what I thought a new mother should feel like. Slowly, overtime, I realized that I did indeed love this child. Then I got up the next day and it was a little stronger. Stronger still the next until the realization and panic hit me all at once. I was going to get up every day loving Andrew more than I did the day before. And then one day my heart would explode. Cause of death: Heart failure for loving her child too much! Is that possible?

Around Andrew’s one year birthday, I realized how gracious God had been toward me. I deserved no Grace to be shown to me, but Andrew was pure Grace in my life. When I look at him, even in the most frustrating of moments, I can literally feel God’s Grace like sunshine on a warm day. There are times I am feel frozen in awe and grateful that God knows my heart and how truly thankful I am for this precious gift of Grace in my life. I pray that Andrew will always know that even in disobedience, God can make all things beautiful and he is living example of this truth.

With the acceptance of God’s Grace came the realization of all that I had missed because I chose to live in shame. Once my sins had been repented of, I should have turned it loose and lived free of the same, but being human, I suppose, I couldn’t. I missed out on the joy of being pregnant with Andrew, the joy of birth and all the firsts that come in the first year of life. Sure, I have many memories, but mostly I have worry & anxiety of how I would explain having a 6 month old on my 1 year anniversary! I never felt I deserved to enjoy motherhood the way other mothers did. I always felt that if I enjoyed it or embraced it that would give the impression that I wasn’t remorseful for the circumstances. How absurd!

Mercy: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

We always knew we wanted more children. I wanted 4 and George wanted 2, so 3 seems to be a nice compromise (although now George wants to halt at 2, which I find borderline breach of contract!). When Andrew was 18 months old we started talks of trying for baby #2 with the hope that they would be around 3 years apart in age. Within a few months we got the news… baby #2 would be here by Christmas!

I recall the night before I found out I was pregnant. I thought I had missed the window and we would have to see if the next month held hope for us. I was disappointed and saddened thinking Andrew may be an only child. Now, this, if nothing else proves that I am indeed a product of the ‘microwave generation’! We had only been ‘trying’ for 1 month and I felt that I would NEVER get pregnant – get a life Libby! I sat in Andrew’s bedroom as he played with his blocks and vowed that if he was the only child God ever gave me, I was thankful for him and would satisfied with just him – and I meant it. To my delight, however, I found out the next morning that I was already 5 weeks pregnant!

I couldn’t wait to share my joy with everyone I knew. Finally I got to call home with the wonderful news of pregnancy. I was able to call my friends with excitement in my voice. I found out about Landon at 5 weeks and I was able to enjoy every moment of my pregnancy.

The first trimester came with some morning sickness – nothing major, but it was there and I hated it. Oddly, I loved being able to hate it. I loved being able to chose how I felt about being pregnant – the good and the bad. I counted the days until I felt the fist kick. Trying desperately to compare this pregnancy with Andrews, but I kept saying ‘I just don’t remember…’

The second trimester came with the passing of morning sickness, the arrival of heartburn and the news that my baby was A BOY! Ok, at first I wasn’t thrilled but within a few days I was very excited about having another boy. I mean, after all saying ‘The boys…’ has a much nicer ring to it than ‘The kids…’. Day after day we tried to pick a name until finally we agreed on Landon – and to this day we are trying to decide if we should keep that name! I guess we must now because sure enough, the kid is starting to grow into the name ‘Landon George’!

Landon was born on Monday December 6th at 8:02 am. The birth was much like that of Andrew’s birth (dreaded c-section), but this time I was able to see Landon as soon as they pulled him out. He had the loudest cry (which he still has) and lots of dark, curly hair. I remember looking at him and noticing he was smaller than Andrew (a full pound) and thinking “Who is having a baby in here today? That is not my kid!” But it was… that curly haired screamer was my baby boy… baby boy #2. Instantly I loved him. God has shown me such mercy... a second chance to embrace all that is motherhood.

Landon’s birth put an order in my life that I hadn’t had before. Suddenly, my priorities aligned as they should. I am a wife and mother… and I am confident in those roles. I know I make so many mistakes, but God has entrusted these boys (all 3 of them) to me. I love them. I love the dirty diapers, the 3 am feedings (a little less love for that), watching Andrew turn bath time into pool time, the celebration we have when he goes a full day in his big boy underwear. I love it all… even when I am so tired and the look on my face says I hate it. I love it. I love them.

I have been home with Landon for 12 weeks now. Today is my last day at home with him before he enters the cruel world of day care. OK, Andrew is proof positive that it isn’t a cruel world. But, honestly, I am very sad and torn about dropping both kids off Monday morning. I kind of want to stay home and bake cookies and do arts and crafts with them. You know, all the things that my mama did with me. HAHA… that was a joke. But seriously, she took me to Burger King every Monday for chicken tenders and a coke. Those are fond memories and that’s what I want for my boys.

God is good. That is a complete and truthful statement that doesn’t change based on our circumstances. God is gracious and he is merciful. It is a truth in my life and in yours. I don’t know what Grace and Mercy look like to you. But, for me, Grace and Mercy look like Andrew Nathan & Landon George. They are gifts.


JenniferPena said...

Libby, I had tears in my eyes as I read this because I went through the exact things it seems. I was afraid of whether or not my pastor would Even marry us with me being three months pregnant. He did and I was grateful. But it killed me and I was extremely offended when I heard comments such as "that's what she gets for having premarital sex" (as though my child was punishment???) or "I'll pray that your child doesn't commit the same sins and is taught better by you."
I knew what I had done was a sin but I quickly forgot the negativity and basked in the fact that a baby was growing in me and that baby was a beautiful display of my love for my husband.
It is people that get us down because they judge. Why else would we continue to worry and be ashamed when we know God has already forgotten our sin once we confess and repent?
My second child took four months to conceive. I was extremely nervous about infertility issues...after only four months of trying! How silly.
I have enjoyed every second of this pregnancy and I seem to enjoy Brayden even more every day because of this. He's already a big brother in my eyes and I am so proud of him already!!!
I love you Libby! Thank you for sharing. It's nice to know there are other Christian women who have the same struggles as I.

JenniferPena said...

I had tears in my eyes reading this because it seemed like everything I went through! I was three months pregnant on our wedding day. We had planned our marriage a year earlier but I was afraid our pastor wouldn't want to marry us. I was extremely hurt and offended when I heard things like "that's what she gets" (as though my child was punishment??) and "I'll pray God forgives you and that your child doesn't live in your sin.". It's people that make us ashamed. Otherwise we would have been fine knowing God had forgiven us.
I have enjoyed every minute of this pregnancy because I'm determined to. Its overflowing onto Brayden because I treasure him more everyday! He's already a big brother in my eyes and I'm so proud.
Btw, it took us four months to get pregnant with this one and I was already worrying about needing fertility treatment. Haha talk about impatient!!