Thursday, January 31, 2019

Transitioning to a Party of Six and the Space Between

Matt and I were lamenting tonight about how most days we don't feel in our late 30's and that we are not old enough or equipped to do all of the "adult" things we need to do.  I wonder if our parents feel the same way?!? :)

Doubling our family (from three to six) in just 2 years has not been easy but for sure a blessing.  Eight years ago (before our son Caleb was in the picture), I was crying out to God to bless us with a child.  The desire was so strong for me to have a child even though a few years prior I was not sure I even wanted children.  God had helped me see through good God-fearing friends/family and the Bible that children were indeed a blessing. In addition, raising children would be an opportunity to truly bring up the next generation knowing and loving God.

Parenting for me as been one of the most sacrificial and stretching experiences I have ever gone through in life.  It continues to be a challenge for me as we just added Keely to our family in late December.  In fact, in the past two months there have been many times I have thought, "Do I really have to do this God?"  Four children were never in the cards for me, or at least I thought and yet, God's plans are better than my plans.  Our pastor was recently preaching about what the idea of being fully surrendered to God's plan/will for our lives and praying 'SEND ME,' with no strings attached.

In Isaiah 6:8 it says, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?  And I said, 'Here am I.  Send Me!"

In a prayer journal that we were doing through our church, it said this about Isaiah 6:8:
What happened in Isaiah's life to make him willingly volunteer to be God's man in any tough situation?

First, his heart was changed by the presence of God.  God engulfed him with His holiness as he worshipped the Lord in the temple (vs. 1-4).  Second, his heart became aware of his sinfulness and his personal need for God's cleansing forgiveness (vs. 5).  Third, his heart was broken by the condition of God's people and their need for God's word (vs. 5).  Finally, his heart was touched by God's cleansing fire (vs. 6-7).
Our pastor then led us to Jonah 1:1-3 which says, "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:  'Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.  But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.  He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.  After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord." 

Never in my mind have I ever had anything in common with Jonah, until now...Now that God has brought us these four beautiful gifts of children, I am fleeing the Lord.  My mind loves them but my selfish heart is kicking and screaming as I continue to process the sacrifices and unknowns that are ahead in our journey as parents.  The feeling of being so ill-equipped and having to truly depend on God for each hour of each day as we bring these children up to know Him is daunting and so uncomfortable.  I would rather go and talk in front of 500 people at a conference than spend a whole day in my house alone with four children.  Crazy, I know but the unknowns of the day and my lack of control over them is very overwhelming to me in a typical day. 

As each day passes and I see that God is providing the strength and patience to give each child what they need and by me giving the older two more responsibility to help me, I am able to see God's goodness and provision.  Do you have an area of your life that just seems so overwhelming?  Do you doubt that you can do it?  Is it hard for you to truly trust God with it?

Switching gears a little, many of you know I am a highly relational person.  So...on top of adding a new member to our family in the past month, I would now call where we are at in our personal relationships the space between.  What this means is that we have built new relationships with people here in Waverly which we are very thankful for but we don't have a lot of depth in those relationships yet (likely due to our circumstances: changes in our family and the lack of time to socialize as much as when we had no kids or even one kid).  Secondly, we have been gone long enough now from our past home that some people don't seem to think about us as much.  It is natural that some previous relationships will start to fade.  It makes me sad to think about all this and yet I know in God's sovereignty, he knew this would draw me closer to him which is exactly where I should be.

"Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."  - John 15:4 

    

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Waiting.....is Not Easy and the Peace of Christmas

A favorite book of ours in our household is Waiting is not Easy by Mo Willems.  In fact, if you have not read this book, go grab it for a gift for yourself, your kids and your nieces and nephews.  It tells such a simple and true story about how waiting for us as humans is so hard and yet so worth it. 

As we are waiting for this little girl to arrive and join our family in the next week,  I have been so reminded of how this parallels how God asks us to wait patiently and in anticipation of Jesus Christ's birth during Advent and then the celebration of His birth at Christmas.

Do you know that God created every single person on this earth?  That he desperately loves you and wants to have a relationship with you?  In Psalm 139:13 and 14 it says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Today at our worship service at Riverwood Church here in Waverly, I was struck by our sermon that really focused on the truth that God is the only one that can truly give you peace.  One of the names that Jesus is called in Isaiah chapter 9 is Prince of Peace.  The world is constantly trying to find peace but because of sin and evil in the world, there will never be peace in the world until God returns and fully redeems His creation.  When Jesus was born into the world as both fully God and fully man and lived a perfect life here on earth and then killed on a cross and rose again, then we could be made right with God as a sinful human.  This gift of life and peace is so amazing!!  I never truly understood what God's peace was or felt like until my mom passed away from breast cancer.  During the first few months of her being gone, the verse that was the only thing that truly comforted me was Psalm 46:10, "Be Still, and know that I am God....."  In Philippians 4:7 it says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Do you know this peace?

My desire this Christmas is for everyone to read the Bible.  This book is a gift.  God gave it to us as a love letter and the coolest thing is that every time it is read, you gain new knowledge about who God is and how He works.  He is all powerful.  He is always with us.  He is good.  He desires communication with us (prayer)!  

This morning was a wake-up call for me personally.  The past two to three days I have started to be cranky about being pregnant and having to wait for the timing of her arrival.  I was convicted that I was not keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus and what God has in store for me.  His timing is perfect!  Have I not seen that with the creation of our family?  I was also humbled about how I needed to confess that I was trying to do things my way and was too focused on myself.  Each day I have with my boys is precious and especially this time to focus on Jesus' birth at Christmas.

I pray all can experience the joy that Christmas brings with the realization of what a gift Jesus is to everyone.  If you don't know much about this gift or need some prayer, please reach out to me. I would be honored to pray for you and share what God has done in my life and continues to teach me each day. 

Please check out this prayer:

Merry Christmas!!    

    

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Moving, Adoption and Community

With our move and being less busy, I have had a lot more time on my hands to think.  In many ways, this "slower" season of our life as far as commitments go has been nice because I have actually gotten some habits established in our home that I have always wanted to.  For example, introduce Fridays as pizza nights, actually do meal planning and try to be more intentional about making our home a welcoming haven with decorations and visible scripture on our walls to memorize. 

However, one of the things that I have learned about a move is that it can also feel very lonely.  Why is it so exhausting to get to know a person?  Why does it take so long to go deep with people?  Not really recognizing that after we had spent 13 years in one area, that even though we sort of new a little bit about our new surroundings from spending college there, we were still starting over from scratch with relationship building.  As someone that has a strong faith in God and values the need to find a church to get connected to as soon as possible after moving, I wonder how those that don't have a community survive through moves?  Our church here has been where we have connected the most and most easily.  I love how the body of Christ immediately unifies you!

Another piece of our move that caught me off guard is just how much I miss the area we lived in before. Since it is only 1.5 hours away and we get back there every so often, when I am there, my heart just aches and longs to be back there!  I know this will get better with time and I think it is mostly a comfort thing because I have enjoyed so many great experiences with friends etc. at places! 

Trust = safety.  The move has also given me a good reminder of what kids that have experienced trauma of any kind (example: adoption) experience as they go into any situation that is new or change.  Learning to trust when you have gone through many experiences where they did not have anyone to trust or someone was not trustworthy, can really make you hesitate to go down that path again.  Learning people's story, journey and not just judging their actions, behavior or choices is what we are called to do.   

November is National Adoption Month and so I have been thinking about how thankful I am for my two boys that we have that are adopted as well as their birth mom.  However, this awareness still is bittersweet at times because the journey of adoption is ever changing and sometimes rewarding and sometimes very hard!  One of the reasons I wonder if God gave us this little girl that is on the way is to help me remember how great a gift and sacrifice it is to carry a child for 9 months and then choose to place them in a home where you are entrusting them to another family's care.  It is so humbling and truly something so hard for us to fathom.  This is when I stop and thank God that he is sovereign and in control.  He moves mountains and knows how many hairs are on our head.  So...I know without a doubt that He placed our two adopted boys in our home, not because of anything Matt and I did.  What questions do you have about adoption?  We are an open book and are always open to share our journey.     

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Townsley Family....And then there were 6!

Yes....it is true!  God has chosen to grow our family once again...this time biologically!  As most of you know, we have struggled with infertility off and on for the past 9 years.  We always said, we would be open to another child naturally if God blessed us again after the adoption of our 2nd and 3rd sons.  So...here we are...7 years later with a baby on the way. I am due in late December and we are excited!

I have to say, when we found out, I was excited, nervous, worried and not sure I can really swing this mom of 4 kids gig.  Truthfully, I can't, but I do know that God's plans are best and what he wants from me is daily dependence on Him.  For several years early in our marriage, there were times I even wondered if I wanted children.  As I processed through the realization of all the things I would miss and the truth that children are truly a blessing from the Lord, we started down the journey of building a family.

Parenting has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and there are many days that I struggle on a minute by minute basis to choose to love my children and point them to Jesus.  Being a parent is self-sacrificing in so many ways.  I am constantly asking for God to give me wisdom and understanding with our children as they make me angry and frustrated when they seem to make such unwise choices that cause them pain or more work for Matt and I.  However, the reality is, Matt and I are the only ones that have the opportunity to love, serve and show our kids that we are all sinners in need of our Savior Jesus.

So...with all that, we are excited to welcome another blessing into the Townsley family.  Are we all praying for a girl??!......maybe. :)

Just like us all here on this earth, God is never finished with changing, growing and refining us to be more like his son Jesus until we leave this earth.  Parenting and having another child is where God wants me to be right now so that I can fully depend and trust Him even more during this time in our lives.

We covet your prayers for our family.  Adoption is a beautiful thing but brings a lot of different dynamics into a family.  Pray that we would be intentional on loving both our biological and adoptive children equally and understanding their needs.  Pray for unity in our family and that we would always show Grace to our children, just as God has shown us grace.    

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Year of Silence....

This past year with my mom being gone has definitely had its ups and downs.  I was trying to think through why I never felt compelled to blog during it and think I finally discovered that it was part of my processing of life.  My mom was my outlet.  She was who I would talk to and process things that I was thinking, learning about God and what He was teaching me and always my biggest encourager in whatever I was doing, including blogging.  So...in a sense, without her, my blogging never felt quite right.

After a year absence, I can say that I have missed it and feel that it is time to continue.  It helps me grow and view my life and its purpose in fresh eyes. 

Continuing on with the theme of a year...we just renewed our Homestudy to adopt domestically for another year through our Adoption Agency Bethany Christian Services of Central Iowa.  This past year has gone so fast and yet we keep waiting to see when is God's perfect timing for another child to be apart of our home.  I knew the waiting would be hard but it has been even harder than I anticipated.  My husband and I started a book called "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges.  One of the sections of the book talks about obedience versus trust.  It says, " Obeying God is worked out within well-defined boundaries of God's revealed will.  Trusting God is worked out in an arena that has no boundaries.  We do not know the extent, the duration or the frequency of the painful, adverse circumstances in which we must frequently trust God.  We are always coping with the unknown."

To be brutally honest, some times I just want to throw the towel in and say I am done with this Trusting God part of life.  I feel like as a child and even all the way through college, I had such an easy and "good" life.  Then through experiencing infertility and now the death of my mom, life can get me down pretty easy.  The great blessing in all of this pain and waiting though, as been that I am uncomfortable and desperately cry out to God and must depend on Him!  We keep praying and asking for God to bless us with a child in his timing, however He chooses.  It is so crazy that God can put such a strong desire in our heart and yet we never know when it might be fulfilled, if ever on this earth.

The other awesome thing in my faith is that our church just finished up an 18 week series on the book of Revelation from the Bible.  I was not super excited about this but also figured it would be ok.  Wow!  Digging into this book was just what my heart needed.  It helped me to understand so much more about heaven and what we all will experience as followers of Jesus.  It is amazingly awesome and nothing we can fanthom until that day when it all happens.  It also awakened my heart to be excited and way more intentional to share with others about why having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and trusting God to lead you in this life is so needed and exciting!!  We can so easily get surrounded by others that believe the same thing faith wise and then we miss the opportunity to allow God to use you to build His kingdom!  If you are reading this blog and do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, please email me at cmtownsley(at)gmail(dot)com.  I would love to share with you about what it means to know Jesus' great love!

To end this post, I want to leave you with a song that has been so powerful in my life the past two months.  It is called 'Thy Will" by Hillary Scott and Family.  Click Here to listen.  

Philippians 1:6:
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Waiting.....With No Expectations!

Matt and I started the "waiting" period of our adoption journey in mid-June.  Our homestudy is all done and approved and now we are patiently waiting with many other resource families that are adopting through Bethany Christian Services as well.  What this means is that we really have no idea when God will bring us a baby to welcome into our family.  It could be months or years, only time will tell.  What we do know is that God knows just the right baby for us to parent and we can trust in His perfect plan.

I was just thinking back to my childhood and how most of the time being the third and last child of the family, I did not have to wait for many things.  Since I had two older sisters who were both much older than me, I always got my own room and was able to do most of the activities growing up that I wanted to do, plus I was the only child left at home when I was in 7th grade.  Therefore, I had my parents attention most all of the time and they were able to come to all of my activities etc.  Let's just say....I was a very blessed child and for this I am thankful.

However, after getting married to a wonderful man, God has challenged me in many areas of my life and waiting for things that I have desired has been one of them.  At first when I found out about my infertility and the realization that there was nothing that I could change....I was angry with God.  These are natural emotions and feelings and I believe God wants us to cry out to him when we have these emotions as many of the Psalms are like this in the Bible.  Also, in my 11 years of being out of college, I have had quite a variety of jobs and workplaces....Panera and Chick-fil-A doing marketing/catering, a year in a middle school as an assistant in the library, working at our church and at a coffee shop.  Many times, especially during my first 5 years of employment, I was not always content in where God had me and I was always looking for something more.  I believe that one of the main reasons that I was discontent was because I did not find my fulfillment as a person in my savior Jesus Christ.  Even though I had been a follower of Jesus since I was ten years old, I don't think I really thought I needed him as life was pretty good already. When I am not consistently reading my Bible, everything and everyone else's life around me often looks so much better. 

Now as we wait to see what God is going to do through this adoption journey, I am excited.  That is what trials like infertility, my mom's death and so many other hurts and struggles in the past 6 years have given me.....a trust and peace in God's plan and not my own.  The brokeness that I have experienced at times have brought me that much closer to my savior Jesus Christ and I am the most content in my life as I have ever been.  I have no expectations because I know that what God's will is for our family is also my will.

I love what it says in Mark 2:17:

"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

We are all people in need of a relationship with Jesus.  When we have lost hope....that is when we find hope in Him!   

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Tribute to My Mom

"Grief never ends...but it changes.  Its a passage, not a place to stay.  Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith...it is the price of love."  - Unknown

As many of you know, my mom passed on from this world to be with her Savior late on Monday, May 18th.  She died from cancer a horrible disease which was hard to see her suffer through.  It has been exactly two weeks from today and yet everything is still so raw.

Some of the hardest thoughts to work through are ones such as, "I feel so overwhelmed, who can I call?"  "My mom will never meet any other children that we will have or adopt."  "Why am I going through all of this?  First infertility and now my mom dieing.  I don't think I can handle much more."

As I sort through all the emotions and thoughts going through my head it has helped me to also really think about death.  Death is a horrible and terrifying thing as it should be because it is the final consequence of sin in this world.  It says in an article entitled, "Die Well" on the Desiring God website:

"For the Christian, death is not gain because it gives us something great, but because, even though it takes away everything else, it can’t take away Jesus. Death is gain because when all is lost, we still have all we ever really wanted, and now we have him in a deeper, richer experience that, as the apostle Paul says, is “far better” (Philippians 1:23)."

As I am grieving, I can say with all truth that this is what has been made more clearer....the only thing that matters here in this life on earth is the depth of our relationship with God and our relationships with others.  Isn't this what it says are the two commandments that God gives us, to Love Him and Love others?  One of the places it says this is in Mark 22:

 "37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Life is so full of distractions, comparisons, entertainment and pride.  We are broken people in need of a relationship with God who wants to fill us up so we can be made whole.  All this requires of us is to openly admit that we cannot control our life and don't know what is best for us.  I do know this is not an easy task but such a rewarding one when finally humble our self and ask for help.  

As I was reflecting on the last few months of my mom's life here on earth on the way home this evening, I was thinking about how thankful I was to have so much time with her, serving her and taking care of her with my dad.  It was extremely hard and many times I thought....it would be easier to just stay away and try to forget this was all happening.  And yet...so many people kept telling me that this time was so special and the process of walking alongside her and ushering into heaven would be a blessing to me and that I would see God working.  They were all right!  In fact, God even had it worked out for our family to be in Des Moines the afternoon of when my mom really started to be unresponsive.  I was able to go and talk to her and hear friends of hers sing worship songs to her and pray over her during her last hours of life on this earth.  She was surrounded by so many people that loved her that evening before she passed onto glory!  

My mom touched many lives.  She loved kids and cared for everyone that she met.  She taught my sisters and I so much about taking care of our home, cooking, sewing, eating healthy and she and my dad were/are always our biggest cheerleaders.  Most importantly, my parents pointed us to Jesus and helped us to learn what having a relationship with God meant and for that I am forever grateful. 

As much as this grief and loss hurts...I am forever grateful for that love that I received from my mom.  All glory to God, great things he hath done.