Hope and Fear

It was chilly December evening so we decided to duck inside a quaint coffee shop to continue our conversation. After settling in with our warm drinks, I asked him again.

"Are we sure we are done trying for any more children?"

Our youngest was out of diapers and soon to be sleeping in a big girl bed. We had settled into a fairly regular routine as a family of five, and I wanted to make sure that we were confident that we wanted to move past the baby stage completely. After all, we were not getting any younger!
After discussing the pros and cons of any more pregnancy attempts, we decided that we were comfortable with our two boys and a girl, and unless God impressed something different on our hearts, we would move ahead into the new stage of parenthood leaving the strollers and spit-up behind.

It's funny how easy it is to take the reins of life from the One who is truly in control thinking that we can predict what may be coming around the bend and guide ourselves accordingly.

A couple years passed after that conversation. Surprisingly, I felt no baby fever symptoms when I cuddled a friend's newborn. We donated baby and toddler clothes to an orphanage in the Philippines and were thrilled to see pictures of the children there unboxing their new wardrobes. I was a little sentimental when we took apart the crib in exchange for a full size twin bed. It was the end of an era. Overall, though, I was excited to see what was in store for our family with three "big kids." It was a relief to be in a season with regular seatbelts, kids who shower themselves, and a newfound sense of freedom.

March 3, 2019 

Shocking and surreal......I sat on the couch in the early morning hours before the Sunday chaos began (not the wisest time for a pastor's wife to take a pregnancy test I might add).

When we tried for children before, it was not particularly fast or easy. We would pray for months that God would add to our family. How did it just happen by accident this time?

How are we supposed to “go back” to the beginning? Strollers and bottles and sleepless nights.....    
That’s not to mention the toll it will take on my body to have another baby. I felt beaten up after my last pregnancy. How am I supposed to do this with a body that is five years older?

All I could repeat to myself is that if this is His gift then He will have to provide the strength and resources for us to steward it well. 

Those first few weeks after finding out about this new addition to our family were strange. I needed to finish our homeschooling year, but felt increasingly worse as the hormones began to surge through my body. We told the kids early because we knew they would notice how strangely I seemed to be acting, and they served me in such sweet ways. They became experts at making their own lunches and playing quietly to let me steal an afternoon nap and asked me almost daily how I was feeling. 
Before other pregnancies, I let my mind dream about what it would be like to add another child to the family. I had names chosen and nursery themes bookmarked.  This time hit me out of nowhere. It became almost humorous when another memory from the baby days would pop into our minds. We'd be overcome with the realization that we are doing this all. over. again. 

The mental fog is lifting now as I approach the halfway mark in this fourth pregnancy journey. My appetite has returned, and although I still collapse into bed way too early each night, I am able to make it through the day without a mandatory nap.  Now with a little more
brain power in order to reflect, I am realizing that the last eighteen weeks have been an exercise in faith. 

God has been gently unpeeling my fingers from their tight grip on the plans of my life. He is reminding me that His ways are always best. His gifts (even when accompanied by sleepless nights and financial strain) are always good. This child will be used to conform me to the image of Christ. He has already gone before us to lay out the perfect path for our family. We may have been caught off guard, but He certainly wasn't. 

It would be a lie to say that I don't still feel uncertainty and a slight amount of dread as I see what the rest of this year will hold, but I am also increasing in hope and anticipation as the due date slowly arrives. I'm learning that hope and fear are often paired together. I think of friends who have and are experiencing the painful path of miscarriage and infertility. I have been praying for some walking through hurt leading to difficult life transitions. Some are dealing with unfaithfulness in their marriage or isolation from true friendship. Others are desperate for answers to seemingly unanswerable health issues. Each is fearful of the unknown future, yet hopeful that it will all turn out in the end.

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you 
and worked for those who take refuge in you, 
in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19

Each one of those fears (and a thousand more) can be swallowed up by true hope because of the One who conquered death and separation from God forever.  The eternal wrath of a holy God is the most fearful reality known to man, and it was turned to hope at the cross. Now every twist and turn of life can be filtered through the reality of our new life through Jesus. He is our refuge, our salvation, and and His plans for our life are very good even if they don't appear to be on the surface. They are preparing us for an enduring inheritance in heaven. As Peter wrote: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 
I Peter 1:21