The Way to Contentment

I have tears in my eyes as I write this.

I am so vulnerable on this blog and I fear what that can to do me. Like this post where I wrote about getting my passport because I felt like I could be called to go at any moment. What if I never go anywhere? What would you think of me? That I have failed at discerning the voice of the Almighty? Or that I’m just making this stuff up to get a reaction? What if I’m just making things out to have more spiritual depth than they really have?

Well, I’m just me. A me that SO badly wants to be transparent enough for others to see Christ in me. That’s all. So when He prompts me to write something, I do it.

Here goes…

I sat on about the 8th row in the enormous sanctuary next to my mother-in-law. I expressed to her that I wanted to go to the orphan conference and she offered to pay for the two of us to go. Just 10 days after the completion of my miscarriage with the D&C, I found myself in the cold sanctuary as Shaun Groves took the stage to welcome us all to the conference. I was excited to hear from God, praying specifically for ways we as a family could be more involved in orphan care. I walked in with my heart already set on adoption. That’s been a topic of discussion in our household since Summer 2010. Shaun Groves left the stage and on walked Rush of Fools to lead us in worship, starting with one of my favorite songs “Here For You”.

I failed to tell you something vital to this story…the question that I was asked the moment I sat down on about the 8th row in the enormous sanctuary next to my mother-in-law.

“Would you be okay if you never had anymore children of your own?” said a still, small, quiet Voice.

I ignored it. God was talking, but I was ignoring. That can’t possibly be a question He is asking me this close to a miscarriage?!

Again, “Would you be okay if you never had anymore children of your own?”

Shaun Groves opened with prayer and left the stage.

“Brittany, would you be okay if you never had anymore children of your own?”

Rush of Fools began leading us in worship.

“Brittany, please let your heart listen. Would you be okay if you never had anymore children of your own?”

My heart finally answered yelled back. “NO!” in a quit-asking-me-I’m-trying-to-worship-you kind of way. I laugh at the irony of that last sentence.

Then I calmed down. Sort of.

“I’m not okay with that. Not at all. Absolutely, positively, 100% not okay with never having a child of my own again. It’s not okay. There is not an ounce of me that is okay with even the thought of never having a baby again. BUT…I know that if it’s what You have planned for us, you will make us okay with it. And I tell you something, God, you better have plans to fill our house with orphans if you aren’t going to allow me to have anymore babies on our own!” (You know, just in case God needs some ideas on how to handle this situation.)

I came home from the conference completely upset, as you can imagine.

I sit here tonight thinking, what if this is reality for us?
I have to move on immediately from that thought…too much to bear.

I hold on to the hope that it was just a question.

The enemy likes creeps in and mess with me, Is Lily not enough for you? Is she just not quite enough? You gotta have just one more, don’t you? Why don’t you go tell her that to her face? What do you think she would say? How would she feel? 

Yeah, Satan, you nailed it. You know me so well. (Please heed the sarcasm!)

I’m fearful of sharing this with you because what if I find out tomorrow that I’m pregnant? (I’m not and don’t suspect that I am). Some will think God is a liar. Some will think I do a horrible job of discerning the voice of God. Or maybe all of you will just think I hear voices in my head. Ha, who knows?!

This past week I shared these fears with one of my most precious, God-fearing friends. She’s the only person I’ve talked to about “the question” other than Brent. She shared that while she was single she felt the Lord asked her a similar question…if she was okay with being single for the rest of her life? Now she is married and mother to a handsome 16 month old. So does that mean God is a liar? Does it mean she never really heard God ask her that question?

She believes the question was meant to bring her to a place of contentment. It wasn’t a question that implied what her future looked like. It was a question designed to lead her to a place where she could say that she needed nothing and no one but Jesus to be satisfied.

I’m working toward that same contentment. Whether or not the question God asked me is an implication of our future, I want to be satisfied in Jesus alone.

What is the difficult question God is asking you? Are you ignoring it like I tried to do?

“Would you be okay if________?” It could be anything in that blank. Are you so content with God that you are okay with what is in that blank?

Although I did leave the conference quite upset, I also left with a desire to go to the orphan. After I got over my, “Brent, God said I’m never having another baby again!” crying phase, I moved on to the “Brent, God wants us to go visit the orphans” phase.

So we are THRILLED, EXCITED, ECSTATIC, and about to pee in our pants (that’s just me, actually) to announce to everyone (even our families…so don’t feel left out if you are family and didn’t know about this) that we are going to visit orphans in Papua New Guinea next May/June!!! The trip will last about two weeks and is going to be outrageously expensive, but we’ve been faithfully praying about this since we heard of the opportunity and we KNOW that if the Lord wants us there, He will get us there. You know I will have a detailed post about this later! 

My answer is still no. I’m not okay with never having another child of my own again. But I am okay with becoming content with the blessings He has already given me. And I am okay with praying with eagerness and excitement for my family’s future that is secure in His good hands.

Happy Five Years!!!

Five years ago on May 26 at 5:00 pm at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Vestavia Hills, AL Brent and I exchanged our vows! Hard to believe that it’s already been that long. It’s so much fun to look back and reminisce.

My favorite memories of that day (other than marrying my best friend, of course):
-The music. It was by far the most important detail to me. I was settled on the music before I was engaged and long before I had decided on any other detail. I refused to proceed down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride” and leave to the traditional wedding march. Instead, I walked down the aisle to a banjo and incorporated lots of modern bluegrass music, like Nickel Creek and Allison Krauss. All of the music was live. I had some AMAZING musicians that were able to pull of exactly what I wanted. It was perfect. 
-Since the wedding was so late in the day, I got to spent a lot of time with my bridesmaids prior to the wedding. 
-At my parent’s wedding, my dad wrote my mom a song. My grandfather walked my mom down the aisle a little ways while my dad sang to her, then my grandfather proceeded to take her down the aisle to give her away. At our wedding, my grandfather walked me 1/4 of the way down the aisle while my dad played the same song and my mom sang it. Once the song was over, my dad walked to me, my grandfather sat down, then I walked down the aisle. I was ADAMANT that the banjo must not start playing until I was ready to walk down the aisle with my dad. Again, amazing musicians, perfection. Not to mention I had a wonderful wedding director that coordinated every detail very well.
My dad taking me while my grandfather walked back to his seat. Such a sweet moment. 
My photographers were great and just added so much laughter and joy to the day!
-The flowers: pastel hydrangea and peony, my favorite in case anyone cares to know 🙂
-My reception with a 60 something year old man for a DJ. I danced the night away while my new husband stayed as far away from the dance floor as he could (with the exception of our first dance).
 My MOH and I singing Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at the top of our lungs

-My dress. I adore every stitch of fabric on my wedding dress. I love the men I bought it from, Gary and Clarence, at Bridal Bliss in Homewood. However, I do not recommend the person who altered it for me. SUCH A PAIN. So much that a week before the wedding I found myself at a fabric store frantically searching for something that matched the lace because the seamstress paid no attention to what I wanted and MADE MY DRESS TOO SHORT!!! No worries, God even cares about those details and provided the perfect match of lace. 
The worst part of the day: My hair. I hated my hair. Absolutely hated it. It was nothing like what I asked for. 
The whole wedding party

In five years we have:
-lived in FL and AL and in six different houses/apartments. Four years and five months were spent in our house in Huntsville, so you do the math at how much moving was accomplished in the other seven months of our marriage.

-a collective amount of nine changes in employment, not including four jobs that I never accepted because something better came along just after I was offered them (yes, we sound like complete LOSERS who can’t keep a job!)
-raised a spastic Rat Terrier named Sanibel, named after our favorite vacation spot Sanibel Island, FL

 -raised a beautiful, compassionate, intelligent, hilarious, loving, wild almost 2/12 year old named Lily

-mourned the loss of our second child through miscarriage, but rejoice often that we will see our Heaven baby one glorious day
-had our only two memorable arguments over pizza and pancakes
-enjoyed discovering and making memories in a new city on our own
-poured our hearts into the lives of many youth at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church and loved every minute of it
-been forced by circumstances to be fully dependent on God from our first year of marriage. Incredibly thankful to be learning this so early in our marriage.
-spent many moments in prayer seeking His will for our marriage
-greatly rejoiced because of the joy that comes from obeying the Lord
-seen MANY prayers answered, big and little

When we got married, where we hoped to be in five years: 
-two kids
-after no more than 5 years of living in SW Florida, finally back in Birmingham with family. Huntsville was never on the radar.
-I would have 5 years of teaching 4th grade under my belt at Mirror Lakes Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, FL (this is one of those jobs I never had the opportunity to start because we moved before the school year started)
-Brent still with Ferguson
-a toy yorkie named Lola Mae (yes, I had my dog’s name picked out before my children’s names and Sanibel was named Lola Mae for less than 24 hours until Brent knocked some sense into me)

Where we are: 
-living in Birmingham
-landlords and renters
-Brent working as a banker
-I have 4 years of teaching experience at 4 different schools. Two of those years were at LLCA, a fantastic school. I’m totally spoiled now and don’t think I could teach anywhere else! I am now teaching 2 year olds at a church daycare.
-Lily has thankfully adjusted well to all the changes that have taken place in her life in the past 5 months
-Sanibel is living with my parents because, although we love her very much, we aren’t paying $500 dollars just so she can live with us

How we dreamed of celebrating this anniversary:
-a week long vacation on Captiva Island at South Seas Resort where we honeymooned

How we are actually celebrating:
-We are having a “staycation” since we are running walking the Orphan Run 5K, 5 kilometers for 5 years. But, this is no indication that at year 26 we will be running a marathon! We will celebrate with dinner at The Melting Pot, which has become tradition. 
After the race. I actually didn’t walk as much as I thought I would. Just a lot of slow running :). My unofficial time was 39:47 and Brent’s was 50:00. 

My family before the run

And after the run
I wish I had a pic of when I crossed the finish line. I caught up with my dad on the last K and we ran over the finish line holding hands. 5 years ago, he walked me down the aisle. Today, he pulled me across the finish line! The only thing missing was a banjo playing as we finished!

Where we want to be in five more years:
-Honestly, we have no clue. We are open to whatever and our “yes” is always on the table for anything the Lord chooses to do. We try not to make plans because, as you can see, they aren’t going to happen quite like we expect.
-We are passionate for orphans, so adoption/orphan care of some sort
-More kids either biologically or through adoption, or both 🙂
-We are currently praying about and hoping to go on an international mission trip next May with an organization that cares for orphans. We want to go for three reasons: we are commanded to care for orphans and want to go to them and meet them face to face, we’ve never been on one as a married couple, and we want to see if full time mission work is something the Lord has in our future.
-We love being back in Bham with family, but we are ready to go when and if He says go.

I recently found the audio of our wedding and listened to it. The pastor that married us prayed that we would fulfill the unique plan that God has for us as a family. It is a blessing to hear that prayer and then look back on five years of that prayer being answered. I love Brent with my whole heart. God chose him for me, that we would glorify Him as one. He is literally the most selfless person I know. He loves me as Christ loves the Church and he is a fantastic father to Lily. Looking back on our marriage, it is obvious that the Lord has been at work in every detail to conform our lives to His will. By His grace, we are focused on His plan alone and we are excited for what the next 55 years will bring. He is working in our hearts, constantly preparing us for our future. May we be used to make Him known!

Happy Anniversary Brent! I love you always!

Funny Thang ‘Bout Dem Hot Beef Samiches

Make sure you’ve read this post first! 

My mom was in Mentone for Mother’s Day this year visiting her mom. I got a text from my mom on Sunday afternoon (and if I had a iPhone I could just take a screen shot. Unfortunately, I have the world’s dumbest smart phone…):

Mom: We are having hot beef sandwiches for Mother’s Day! You inspired us. Just found out it is Birdie Momma’s recipe. We must feed it to Lily. Five generations of good eating. 

Me: No way! That’s hilarious!!! Please take some pics of the food and y’all eating it then send me the pics. I’ll do another post. 

So here’s another post on the hot beef sandwiches (HBS). Never thought those sandwiches would be worthy of a double post, but oh they are!

Apparently HBS are not just something my mom fixed when there was nothing else to eat. It’s a meal that her mom fixed because it was a meal that her mom fixed. Got it? Birdie Momma is my great-grandmother and the recipe (if you can even call it that, it’s so simple) is hers. And once I make it for Lily, five generations will have enjoyed the delicacy of HBS. I just have to strategically plan to make it on a night that Brent won’t be home for dinner because he has already made it very clear to me that he will not partake in HBS night at our house. Such a party pooper!

Look at the pride in her face at the slop she just mixed up in that pan! Haha! We call her “Mom” even though she’s my grandmother. This is Birdie Momma’s daughter. Looks like she has just the right amount of mayo and mustard…only a slight green hue. 
Here’s a close up. Just slather the mess on some good ol’ white bread. 
Pile it high on a plate
I see cheese…never had it with cheese. Hmm…
My cousin TH who stayed in Mentone just for these sandwiches. He had the option to leave earlier in the day until he heard what was on the menu for lunch. Thumbs up!
And brother Ben devouring the goodness of a HBS
Y’all I love my family! I can’t believe they actually ate that for Mother’s Day! But what dish is better than one that has been passed down through some amazing mothers?
Now, go try it for yourself if you dare :). 

Powdered Milk and Hot Beef Sandwiches

For Mother’s Day I thought I would share with you a childhood memory or two from my mother’s kitchen.

Mom and me at my Uncle Daryl and Sandra’s wedding when I was 5

Ben and I were raised to love milk. My mom and dad must have been raised to love it as well. The four of us could go through 3-4 gallons of milk in a week. We weren’t one of those families that drank it at dinner. It’s a sin to have anything other than a big glass of sweet tea with dinner. But somehow between the four of us having milk for breakfast every morning, a cup or two with cookies throughout the week, and replacing water with milk whenever we were hot and sweaty from being outside (ok, that’s just Ben) we consumed large amounts of milk. I remember drinking chocolate milk every single morning for breakfast. Not just any chocolate milk. Carnation Instant Breakfast. Every morning my parents would wake me up by bringing me a glass of Carnation in a fancy blue glass…because it couldn’t hold enough milk for the packet thus the drink was more chocolatey. That’s what got me out of bed everyday. Breakfast in bed every morning. A little spoiled, I guess. You can imagine how awfully terrible my mornings were if I woke up to, “Brittany, we’re out of milk,” and was then handed a glass of Carnation mixed with powdered milk and lukewarm water. Disgusting! My dad finally learned to start making early morning trips to the store to get a gallon of milk to avoid my bratty response. To this day, I CRAVE chocolate milk like no other food/drink. All the milk we bought, it probably would have been cheaper to buy a cow. But then I’d have to get up every morning to milk a cow and, well, bratty adolescent Brittany would have never done that.

Mom and me when I was 4, I think this was for a preschool play?

The nights we had hot beef sandwiches for dinner I knew there must be NOTHING else in the kitchen to eat. I mean, we must be out of butter and cheese because wouldn’t a grilled cheese be a better option than hot beef sandwiches? My mother couldn’t have possibly planned to have hot beef sandwiches for dinner. What about a yellowish green beef mixture on white bread sounds good? Hot Beef Sandwich night happened not by choice, because it could never be a purposeful part of the week’s meal plan. Well, I must be honest with you. I ate them every time. And not one ounce of complaining came from my mouth about those sandwiches. They are GOOD! Brown some ground beef, drain, mix in mayo and mustard, and spread on white bread. If you add too much mustard, it turns green and really loses its appetizing appeal (as if it had any to begin with). Delish…and apparently cheap and easy.

Mom and me on one of our MANY outings to the mall

On this Mother’s Day I want to say thank you to my mother who always had powdered milk on hand so that I did not go to school unhappy and on an empty stomach (because I refused to have anything else for breakfast). And thank you for all the hot beef sandwiches you lovingly prepared for me so that I didn’t go to bed hungry.

Mom and I being silly at Christmas

Thank you also, Mom, for allowing me to sarcastically share these memories with the rest of the world. Thank you for your fantastic sense of humor.

Mom and I at my rehearsal dinner

But most importantly, thank you for always pointing me to Christ. Feed me powdered milk every morning and hot beef sandwiches every night, I don’t care, for you showed me what I truly need…Christ. 
Mom and I the day my parents moved me into my condo in Auburn

Thank you for always making me see the other side of the argument when I was mad at my friends. Thank you for being involved in every aspect of my life. Thank you for being friends with my friend’s moms and building a community of fellowship for me. Thank you for being a wonderful grandmother to Lily. 
A favorite pic of my mom and baby Lily
Thank you for letting me borrow your red Toyota Previa when I turned 16 to drive to show choir practice until I got my ’97 Camry…that, by the way, we still own. Thank you for sharing a bathroom with me for 18 years so that I would always have your glaring eyes on me in the mirror teaching me to just barely touch my eyes with lotion to avoid a thousand wrinkles. I’m sure your mother taught you the same. 
4 generations: Mom (grandmother), Mom (mother), me, and Lily
Thank you for not letting me shop at Abercrombie & Fitch and Limited 2, for I learned that my identity and confidence is not in the clothes I wear and the crowd I fit in to, but in Christ. Thank you for teaching me to be frugal with my money. Thank you for encouraging me to be less like the world and more like Christ. Thank you for living a life worthy of the calling you have received with humility, gentleness, patience, love, and selflessness (Eph. 4: 1-2). Thank you for the hours upon hours we have spent laughing. I have a six pack of abs somewhere under the flab thanks to your merry heart! 
One last thing, thanks for going spelunking with me when I was in the womb because I’ll never go outside the womb. 
Love you Mom! 

Pray for Noah

I had plans to get some things done tonight after Lily went to bed, but I saw a picture and now I just can’t continue with my plans.

Lily’s favorite bedtime routine is for me to lay my head on her stomach while Brent and I pray over her and sing “Jesus Loves Me”. Soon after she fell asleep I proceeded with my to do list. Of course, that included catching up on facebook/twitter first :). I saw an update for a child whose story I’ve been following for a while. Many of you probably know him or know of him. Noah Crowe. He has been suffering from a brain tumor since 2009. I’ve never met him. But once you become a mother, you can picture your own child being in the shoes of every single other child out there and you hurt for that child as if he/she was your own.

So when I saw the above picture of Noah and his parents just after I put Lily to bed, I pictured my head on her stomach in that hospital bed instead of in her bed at home. And that’s when my to do list when out the window. And my heart sank.

Why is Lily not sick? Why is Noah the one the Lord chose to have this disease? Why are his parents the ones that have to suffer the pain of watching their son in helpless pain? Why are Brent and I not the ones laying in the hospital bed, pouring tears to God over our sick Lily?

I don’t know. I don’t know why one family suffers, while another doesn’t. God’s ways can’t be understood. They are higher and wiser than anything I can fathom. His purposes are always good. His peace surpasses all understanding. His comfort and presence is real and powerful. His love is consuming.

And since I don’t have a child sick with cancer, I can do three things:
1) Pray for Noah and his parents.
2) Give God my grateful heart for a healthy child.
3) Give every moment of her life precious attention. Life is short, and sometimes shorter than we think it will be.

My words can never ever suffice the hefty load of gratitude in my heart and because of that, my actions must complement my words. May my life, my behavior, my obedience, my love be a display of the overwhelming gratitude in my heart for a healthy Lily.

From the deepest parts of my heart, Father, thank you for entrusting to me a healthy girl. May my journey as a mother bring glory to Your worthy name, in sickness and in health. 

Love you, my sweet Lily.