I am thrilled, actually a little giddy, to have the opportunity to write on Tamara’s blog. I thought it might be appropriate of me to give you a glimpse into my life before we begin. Well, first, I love to write. Absolutely love it. Always have, so this opportunity is extra special for me. I am the mom of three amazing boys, 11 month old twins and a two and a half year old. It’s been, well quite a journey. A few things about me… I am very type-A, very. I guess that means I like to be in control- all the time. And I am very private. I never really “extended” myself and let few people “in.” Well, I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, “the Lord must have a sense of humor…”, but it is absolutely true.
It took us quite a while (almost a year, which to me was like eternity) to get pregnant with our first son, William (Will for short ). Around his first birthday or maybe a month or two before, I told my husband I thought we should start trying for baby #2. The thought process was that it took us months to get pregnant with Will so we should begin the process, expecting it to take just as long if not longer with #2. Well, it didn’t take just as long, not even close. And it wasn’t just baby #2… It was baby #2 and #3.
I know most of you probably don’t have twins (well, Tamara of course), but let me tell you having one baby is NOTHING like having two babies, nothing. And that is exactly why the Lord has such a sense of humor. NOTHING about twins has been easy for me. And NOTHING about twins is “by the book,” as I like to live. Let me back up. When I was twenty six weeks pregnant, my doctor put me on limited bed rest. I thought my world had ended. I had an eighteen month old at the time and a husband who traveled 80% of the time. My world, shattered. A few weeks later, the “limited” part turned to full so I was on full bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I can honestly say this was the hardest period in my life so far. But not only because bed rest is so incredibly difficult (especially with a toddler), but because I kept telling myself how awful it was and how “bad” my life was.
Will and I did everything together. It’s all I knew and it’s what I loved. Now, who was going to take care of my “baby.” I was angry because I knew I needed help, but inside didn’t want help. I wanted to make his meals. I wanted to pick him up out of his crib in the morning and lay him down in it at night. I wanted to run and play with him outside and I wanted to take him to his Little Gym class. I was so angry that I couldn’t spend these precious moments with him. I fought God hard. I outwardly said the right things and prayed the “right” prayers, but inwardly, I was in chains. I didn’t want to let anyone in, but I had to if I wanted to protect the two angels growing inside of me. It was so bad that I took a lot out on my husband and was “mad” at him when he was home and doing things with and for Will. I remember one time he let me go with them (which I normally did each week with just Will and I) to Little Gym and instead of being happy that I was out and got to see my toddler rolling around and doing summer-saults on the mats, I cried the entire class, cried. My husband was embarrassed. And this went on for the three months I was on bed rest. I cried every day I’m sure.
While on bed rest, I needed help- a lot of help with Will. God put us in the greatest neighborhood in the world. I had neighbors coming over from sunup to sundown to take care of Will. I had it all scheduled in time blocks and literally had “shifts” of neighbors all day long. I started to “soften.” I couldn’t believe how willing and loving these people were. They gave of their time and energy for nothing in return. I was such stubborn person, that I would never accept or even appreciate anything in the past. I remember when I had Will, our neighbors wanted to make us meals. I refused and said we were “all set.” I was “Natalie” and I could do it all- have a new baby, be in a brand new house, unpacked I might add (we moved in 4 days before I delivered Will), and take care of the family. Me? I didn’t need help. And this is how I lived my life- very self-sufficient, not needing or wanting help from anyone, ever. I did it all.
For the first time in my life, not only was I not in control, but there was nothing I could do for myself. I honestly wheeled myself in Dani’s rolling office chair to the bathroom. I had to rely on other people to help me, to do what I couldn’t do for myself and for my son. And for the first time in my life, I was broken.
For a long time, I lived my life on auto-pilot. Things went pretty smoothly. When I hit a trial (and I did), I sought God more, deeper. But other than that, I just did what I thought was right. I lived a good life and thought I genuinely loved God, but I was not living in light of the gospel. (Galatians 2:20)
Do you know what the chief purpose of man is? Say it. “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” How do you think we glorify God? It certainly isn’t through loving ourselves. We glorify God by displaying His glory through worship and obedience. And if we are obedient to God, then we will have a heart for others. And that heart will be genuine, not out of duty, but because we have the love of Christ in us. Love is what encompasses His character and if He is in us, it will encompass ours as well. God has made it crystal clear all throughout His word that our purpose here on this earth is to love others. And in loving others, we are showing Christ, which means we are glorifying God. (Matthew 22:37-40) God made us to have relationships. He wants a relationship with us first and foremost, but he wants us to share his love with others. He doesn’t want us to treasure possessions; he wants us to treasure people. He wants others to see Himself when they look at us. He wants them to walk away saying, “Wow, Natalie has been with Jesus.”
Bed rest was one of the worst, if not the worst experience and time of my life. But it taught me one of the greatest lessons anyone could learn. When we think we are in control, we are in a very dangerous place. When we think our world exists around us, our family, our friends, etc., we are in a very dangerous place. Our agenda does not matter. It is really that plain and simple. The Holy Spirit did such a work in my heart, that it is almost as if I am a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). It was through the trial of bed rest, that I saw my desperate need for Him; my need to look outside of myself (my agenda) and see a world out there that is dying for a Savior. I think for the first time, I understood what salvation really means in light of the gospel (that’s an important phrase not to miss). I do believe I was saved before this trial, I am not saying that, but I don’t believe I had an accurate picture of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s impossible if your heart does not burn for others and it’s impossible if you don’t live in light of the cross. (Philippians 3:13)
This has been lengthy I understand, and I apologize for that. Once I start writing, it’s hard for me to stop . But, I wanted to share a tiny bit of my heart. A tiny bit of the process of regeneration that God had begun in my heart because of the two precious babies he blessed me with. It took a woman being very in control of everything to being in control of nothing for me to understand that “getting it all right” and “having it all done” does not make me whole (and please understand, wanting to be organized and having a plan is NOT a bad thing. Having a type-A personality is NOT a bad thing, but when it rules your life, it IS a bad thing and it IS sin). It took opening my home day after day to strangers to show me that they need Christ’s love. It took releasing the grip on my baby and allowing others to do “my job” for me to understand that I didn’t have to do everything all the time, and things would be OK, life would still go on. It took me realizing that it doesn’t matter who, what, or where we come from. People matter. How I act and what I say matters, ALL the time. Others may just get one “picture” of me, will they be able to tell that I follow Him?
I have learned, the hard way, that nothing matters more than what we do on this earth for Christ and the mark we leave. I have died (and am dying) to myself (1 Corinthians 5:31). Some of the things I am called to do now are very uncomfortable, but that’s what makes them great. I still have hard days and tough times. But with a surrendered heart now, I can choose how to face each day and make choices that will honor God in my words and my actions. And no I am not perfect, not even close. I still make wrong choices and I still get discouraged (I am trying to raise 3 boys, under two and a half and have a husband who travels- my attitude is not always right!) But that’s the beauty of the gospel. We can never fail because He never did and never will. Whether our attitude stinks with our children or our friend that we just spoke wrongly to, God’s grace covers it all and we have a fresh slate every single time we confess. I have learned how to serve, whether that is my children or the lady next door. I can serve others and shine Christ’s light because of the work He has begun in me. There is no better way, there is no better life, and there is no better example I want to set for my three beautiful boys. Amen and Amen! (Philippians 1:6)