oh how He loves us :: #SheSharesTruth

What do you think of when you hear the word “marriage”? I think of Ben (of course), I think of my amazing parents, who modeled what a Godly marriage is. I think of our amazing friends who have shown us grace through our first nine years of this chapter. And probably more than anything, I think of Christ and the church.
Ben and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last week. The beginning of the week was great. We celebrated a few days early and my parents kept the kids overnight for us. We reminisced memories that have happened to us thus far, both the good and the bad. A friend of ours even made us a “Happy Anniversary” cake for church Wednesday night. But then, life happened, and some events came to light, and there was pain and emotion and a roller coaster of thoughts. All of a sudden, the beginning of the week seemed like years away. There was forgiveness that needed to happen, grace needed to abound, and love needed to transpire everything.

The #SheReadsTruth community has been doing a study on the book of Hosea for the past couple of weeks. When I found out that Hosea was the next study, I was very excited and anxious to get started. Hosea starts off rough. The Lord is not pleased with Israel and how they are not listening to anything He is asking of them. But, what they don’t realize is that all He is asking them to do is to come back to Him. When we follow Christ with all that we are, and want grace to abound in every area of our life, things fall into place. The sad thing is, is that we are just like the Israelites. I fail every.single.day. All of my friends, my husband, my parents, everyone fails every single day. However, Jesus doesn’t fail. Even in my weakest moment, Christ always is waiting.
Hosea 14 says

I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. (‭Hosea‬ ‭14‬:‭4-7‬ ESV)

I am more than thankful that He still is waiting for me. That He is longing for me. I pray that we do this for each other as we become more like Him.

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What’s In a Name :: #shesharestruth

I’ve been participating in a study on Ruth over at she reads truth. I’ve read Ruth lots of times over my Christian life, and it’s one of my favorite books, but this year, it’s taken on a whole new meaning for me.
My husband, Ben, is an elder at our church. He leads worship there and we pretty much love our church like we love our family. When I married Ben, I took on the last name Williams instead of continuing to be a Myatt. Now, when I was a Myatt, I thought a lot of things about myself. I thought I had to live up to expectations that weren’t even there, and at one point, really thought, “I wish I could just be myself instead of being a Myatt!” (I was dumb, if you’re reading this mom or dad!!) However, when Ben and I were dating, he was talking to one of the other elders at church and said “I just don’t know if I need to marry janie.” Walton looked at him and said (mostly because he works with my dad) “look. If you marry Janie Myatt, you’re making a wise decision.” He said that because my last name was Myatt.
Now, my last name is Williams. And many people say “oh you’re Ben’s wife!” Or “I’m so glad to finally meet Dillon’s mom!” And I’m so proud of that. The bad thing is that it is my identity though too. I have put my identity in many things…kids, my husband, my ministries, my friends (just to name the top 4). When we were pregnant with Christian and baby, I was so glad God entrusted me to have another child. I never would have imagined that my identity would be the same it was the year before, with still 3 earthly children. I don’t say that for you to say “poor janie. She’s such a good mom. I don’t understand it either.” I say that because had my identity been in my 5 boys instead of in Christ, I would be in the pits right now. Because my identity is in Christ, I will choose to wait on Him. I will choose joy even when it’s hard, and I will choose to be Janie, follower of Christ, lover of Jesus, even if my world is torn down around me.
Think about Ruth and Naomi. I can’t imagine Naomi’s heartache when she lost not just her husband, but both of her sons as well?! And Ruth, losing her husband, chooses to look after her mother in law even when Naomi is telling her to go! Talk about sacrifice and finding your identity in Christ! Not only does she care for Naomi, she also begs for her wisdom. She waits on Boaz, so that she can do the right thing. And I don’t think it’s just her saying “i have to be good.” I think she truly is waiting on her kinsman redeemer who will eventually be Christ.
I hope I can be that kind of woman. The kind that puts others feelings and needs before my own. The kind that always waits on The Lord. I hope when people see me, they see Christ. And I hope my children do too. She we named our kids, I believe their names came from Christ. They are each (except Christian) named for a grandfather or great grandfather, plus a name we liked. Dillon means faithful, Isaac means laughter, and Sammy’s middle name is Evan, which means “God is gracious”, and Christian Elias means “of Christ, Jehovah is my God.” I pray God uses my boys to live up to their name but that they ultimately look to Him and that their identity will be found in them.
I’m glad I’m a daughter of The King, who holds my life in His hands.

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thankfulness :: my family

I’ve been reading through Titus with a group of women over at She Reads Truth. It’s been such a fulfilling study on unity in the body and what we do with discipleship and love for each other. 

Titus 2:1-8 says 

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

My spiritual mothers have always played a huge role in my life. God seems to bring an older lady into my life just at the right time. The great thing about these mentors is that they’re also some of my greatest friends. They’re women that see me where I am and want to be a part of my life. These women are not all from the same path of life. One has 10 kids, two of them have 2 children, and one of them has only spiritual children. I also see where Titus exhorted the church to just do life together. My life has been filled with a mom who loves The Lord, and with a sister who loves God more than her next breath, and who happens to be my best friend. 

Because of all of this encouragement, I have a desire to share that with younger girls, who I also get to do life with. Some of these girls are moms now as well and we get to share in the joys and sorrows of motherhood. Others are well on their way, and I get to see them love on my family like they will one day love on their family. 

God created us to be together. To encourage each other. To share in the joys and the sorrows. To be real with each other. If I didn’t have mentors in my life, I’m not sure where I would be today. Several years ago, my friend and mentor Kathy, told me she would never stop learning from older women. At the time, her husband was the pastor of a very small southern baptist church with the main demographic being senior citizens. Kathy had already been mentoring younger girls and could have seen her life as not needing those older women to encourage her. However, she saw it has the opposite. She wanted to learn from them and embrace their knowledge  because they really did have so much more wisdom than she did. I hope I never grow tired of learning from older women and from sharing in community with my sisters in Christ. We need each other and we need to embrace each other in our strengths and weaknesses to sour each other on for the gospel’s sake. 

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A year without Christian

It’s June 10, and we are at the beach. Our family of 5 instead of 7. That’s a really sad way to start. We are having a great time. However, it’s a sad day. Today, last year, I was preparing for Christian’s funeral. I was trying on my sister’s dresses to see which one looked ok in my post-pardum body. I was hoping I wouldn’t be where I was. This year, I’m at the beach, and yesterday was the best day. I rode the skim board, I rode the waves with Isaac and I got sunburned. Everyone had a great day. Then I woke up this morning, and I remembered it was June 10. “It’s just another day. Enjoy it.” I kept telling myself. But it’s not just another day. Because I have 2 little boys that should be here with us. And I miss them terribly. I don’t just want them to know their brothers. I’m sad because they’re never going to know their grandparents, aunts, or uncles, much less their cousins, who are all amazing. I’m sad because they won’t know Mr. Brian and Ms. Cindy. I’m sad because this side of heaven, they are missing out on the abundant life God has given me.
Isn’t that so strange? That I go from being sad and missing half my family, to realizing that I have the abundant life in Christ. That’s why we named Christian what we did. It was all we could do to speak the name of Christ over him. Elias means “Yahweh is my God.” As parents, all we want for our children is for them to know Christ like we do. To love Him more than anything else in this world. And it does help me to know that Christian Elias is already worshipping Christ for all eternity.
At times, I’m very jealous of Christian, and at times, I just want him here. That’s what today has been. I want to see him and his brothers play in the sand. I want to see who his friends would be. I miss him so much. I just re-read the letter I wrote to him to be read at the funeral. I thought I would include it, just so people know it’s ok good to grieve and all at the same time, you can point to Christ and say you don’t understand why. I never will know why God chose Christian’s days to be short. And I will never apologize for talking about him or for grieving the way that I see fit. But. I will say I trust God and that I know He has given me 5 precious boys. And I don’t take any of them for granted.

Sweet Christian boy,
When your daddy and I found out you were going to be a part of our family, we were ecstatic. We told your brothers and we were all pretty convinced you were a girl. Little did we know that our family is just made to have boys, and as your momma, I couldn’t be happier about that. 
When daddy and I found out we were only going to have a little time with you, I had a million thoughts go through my head. I didn’t understand why we would have such little time, why I couldn’t rock you, sing to you, watch you grow up with your brothers, and I would never know what color hair you have. Then, I reminded myself that God’s plans are better than mine. That sometimes I don’t have to understand His plans, but as scripture says, we make our plans and God directs our paths. In the past few days the path God has chosen for our family has been hard. It’s been filled with moments of deep sorrow, of grief, and pain, and it’s also been filled with joy. 
The day we found out that God had already called you to His side, I was lead to psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of His saints.” You are precious, and thats exactly what i told you the first time i held you. You’re not only precious to your family but to Christ. I know that. That gives me more joy than I’ve ever known. It will continue to give me joy as long as I’m living, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m so grateful I had time with you to count your fingers and toes, to rock you and sing to you. I’m so glad and proud that you are my little boy. Thank you for being a part of our family and for being a part of my discipleship. You’ve brought me closer to Christ, and that is something I don’t take lightly. You’ve allowed me to feel Christ’s love through His body more than I ever have before. You, my son, are a gift. I love you so much. You are my sunshine, and always will be. 
Love, mommy.

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two years ago

i still can’t believe it’s been two years. TWO years. our first angel baby has been gone for two years.

we never did name this baby, so we affectionately call him Baby, or our first Baby. i have learned so much since we lost him (even though i’m not certain he was a boy…i’m just assuming). i feel as though i’ve learned more since we lost christian about how i really felt about our first miscarriage than i did in the year between the two. i’ve read a few blogs, talked to a few women who have experienced the same thing, and through it all, all i can think is how much it hurts, but more importantly, that this is my story. this is the path that God has laid out for me. this is my discipleship. my boys that are living are getting bigger. they are enjoying sports, friends, and i’m enjoying having a little more freedom, honestly. however, i would trade all of that for having him here. it’s just what the Lord has given me. my faith is stronger than it was, and our loss of Baby gives me more compassion on anyone who is hurting. it’s amazing how much i use my grief daily. it impacts me to listen instead of solve, to just say “i’m so sorry it’s like this.” instead of trying to make them feel better. or just to hug someone who is hurting. and for that, i am extremely thankful.

but. i do miss my baby. i miss not being able to see him grow up and get a personality. i wonder who he looks like, or how much hair he would’ve had. i wonder if he would’ve slept through the night early like his oldest brother or if he wouldn’t have slept at all. i wonder how differently our life would look, and i wonder what our future holds.

however, today i’m choosing joy in the midst of sorrow. i’m choosing to love others even when it hurts so badly. i’m choosing to try and not dwell on him (as much as i want to sometimes) but also realize that one day, we’ll be reunited. one day, he will rise with Christ into the heavenlies, along with his brother, christian, and Lord willing his other brothers, and us. and i’m choosing to realize that i can do life in happiness and joy even in my sadness. i don’t have to live in the past, because i have a wonderful life as it is. could it have been better with him? probably. would it still be joyful? i can almost say a for sure 110% yes. but is my life wonderful? YES! it is so good. and i’m so thankful my baby is a part of my story.

19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 

-Philippians 1:19-20

 

 

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The Week I Thought Would Never Come

Well, I’ve dreaded writing this post. And it’s probably going to take me several days to write it.
The question of why keeps coming to my mind. I don’t understand God’s plans for my life…for our life. I don’t know why I have two angel babies instead of 5 living children. I don’t know why I get angry at my children when I’m really just sad. I don’t know a lot of things right now.
What I do know is that I miss our baby and our Christian. I do know that I don’t know how to talk to people about either of our babies (unless they’re good friends). I do know that I wish death was something we could talk about openly, even though it’s sad, instead of it feeling like it’s a no no. I do know that not a day has gone by that I haven’t longed to have more time with both of our babies.
I can’t imagine what my life would look like right now if I were still pregnant. I try and imagine it, but it’s so hard. I wouldn’t be able to help out in Dillion’s classroom like I have; I wouldn’t be helping out at preschool like I do; I wouldn’t be teaching Sunday school; I wouldn’t be getting rid of baby clothes and bath tubs and bumbo seats. And everything I’ve been able to do because I’m not pregnant has been a joy (except the baby clothes part), but it pales in comparison to even just more time with Christian and our other son.
I also know the truth. God is faithful to what He has called me to do and to be. He has called me to be a mother to all 5 of my children. He’s called me to be a wife to Ben, a good church member, a pastor’s wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend. And He’s called me to bear the burden of the death of my children. As I work through all of that, I know that He gives me everything I need. I know that He is so much more able than I am. And I know that this is now my story. I also continue to know the love of Christ like I’ve never known before through His body…whether they go to church with us or not. And I know that Christian’s death has already moved people to love Christ more and to want to be more like Him. I love that. But, I miss my baby. I miss my babies. I long to hold them, to rock them to sleep, and to make things for them. I long for other people to know them. I long to see what their personalities could have been.
BUT, the fact of the matter is that they are never going to encounter sin. They never have to know evil. They will only know heaven, and not earth. That’s such a joy to know that my children are protected from the woes of this world. Do I miss them? Of course. Do I wish they were here? More than ever. But, I will continue to rejoice in The Lord, because He has give me good things. He has given me gifts. He has made me who I am because I get the privilege of parenting Dillon, Isaac, and Sammy, and the privilege of having two other children. I praise God for the body of Christ. I praise Him because He loves me, because He cares for me, and because I trust in Him more than anything else in life. I’ll close with the verses that are on Christian’s headstone. I cling to these and truly believe them with all my heart.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

Thank you, Lord for my five children. I praise you because they are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

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Repost :: thankful

I posted this last thanksgiving, but thought someone might want to do the thankful tree as well. I have a lot of work to so today ;)

this past week was thanksgiving. it has been a full, busy week. my husband works for a magazine in memphis, and they were in their busy time, but my family was in from out of town, so it kinda made everything better and easier. the cousins got to play together and everyone knows that my mom’s cookin is the best! 

last thanksgiving, we began the tradition of the thankful tree. about 2 weeks before halloween, my oldest started asking about the thankful tree and if we were going to do it again. that made me so happy and i hope to do this every year. usually we write down whatever it is the boys say, which makes it pretty fun to read through, because you have things like “hawks” and “the elmo basket” and “medicine”. ha! all i did was find some sticks that looked good together, cut out leaves and punched holes in them (from scrapbook paper), and gathered lots of little pumpkins for my vase. then, each night, we all took a turn saying what we were thankful for. i think daddy won the prize of people being thankful for him the most. i know i am!!

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i also got to help out at the boys school with their thanksgiving party. this party is so cute because they sing a few songs and dress up like pilgrims and indians. i was in charge of pumpkins, the thankful tree, and a take home treat. i ended up making these cornucopias for all the kids (tutorial coming up next!). then, i found some printables that said “gobble till you wobble” which i thought was hilarious.  Image

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the table scape for the party. we had popcorn, pilgrim’s hats with apples in them, chex mix, pumpkin muffins, donut hole acorns, cheese cubes, and cute little orange water that looked like pumpkins.Image

one mom made this paper bag turkey that was so fun, then we used our thankful tree and various pumpkins.Image

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2012 has definitely had it’s moments, but i couldn’t be more thankful for these three amazing kids and their amazing husband. life is good.

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What I wore

Ok. I have taken some time to think about this new segment. I still have mixed emotions about it, but I’m going to roll with it for now. One of my favorite blogs is jones design co. Emily has done this same idea, and come to find out, it came from another blog and about 300 other women have done this, too. Well, I might just be another one on the list, but my reasons for doing this are simple. One, I want accountability to blog. Also, I want accountability to not wear my toms everyday, or a button down shirt everyday. Also, I want to look cute, but also know I’m a mom who has to be on the go. Is this vain? Maybe. Do I care? Not right now. Will I later? Probably, but for now, we’re going with it. So, without further adieu, here is what I wore.

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From left to right, top to bottom, you have
Monday: gray jeans – gap, chambray shirt – target, scarf – target, black flats – target
Tuesday – jeggings – target, pink polka dotted button down – old navy, scarf – old navy, shoes – toms
Wednesday – skinny jeans – mossimo, heart sweater – target, boots – rocket dog
Friday- boot cut jeans – mossimo, gray turtleneck – gap, boots – rocket dog
Saturday – skinny jean – mossimo, flannel shirt – target, shoes – toms

So, fail on the button down shirts, but a win for only wearing toms two days!! We’ll see how I do next week.

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First Day of School

So. My baby starts kindergarten tomorrow. KINDERGARTEN. You might remember this post. So, the day is here. I thought I’d embrace it and set my mind to think I’m going to love this year.
Part of loving the year is loving Dillon’s teacher. I decided to put together a little care package for her for the first day of school.
It simply includes a pencil cup, pens, pencils, and post-it notes, along with some nail polish for her, and an apple, of course. We just wrote a little note that says “I’m so glad you’re my teacher!” Love, Dillon. Simple, but means a lot…hopefully.

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thoughts on :: school days

So, my oldest starts kindergarten, in like 10 days…but who’s counting?! This momma is for sure! I think I’ve been dreaming about this day from the day Ben and I started talking about having kids. And here we are, 8 years later, with our first going to kindergarten. Be still my heart.
Ok, so enough of the sappy ;) I have had many conversations with people about where my kids will actually go to school. When all the common core stuff came out for the state of Tennessee, Ben and I kinda freaked out a little. We didn’t know what it was or if our boys would be so digitalized that they wouldn’t know how to carry on a conversation. However, we stopped. Prayed. Thought about what we really felt like God had laid on our hearts. And remembered…

Our heart is to reach out to our community
We want our kids to be multicultural
We want to be a part of other people’s lives that we wouldn’t normally associate with because of church, neighborhood, or life
We were raised in the public school system and we turned out great (seriously, this one is number 1)

Then, we calmed down a little and called my mom, who is a part of Union University’s teacher education program. She has recently told me that she thinks the common core is one of the best things our education program could do for the state. More confidence is building.
We also looked at homeschooling. My super awesome sister (read hero in every way) home schools not one, but 4 kids, and another one of my mentors/BFF has homeschooled about 6 kids at one time. So,I have it all around me. I talked to them about how and why they decided to homeschool. And they both said “we just knew it was what our family needed.” And I thought “well, why can’t you decide what’s best for my family?” Not really, but kinda. Anyway, we decided to start off by just checking into the public school that we are zoned for. It actually is the same elementary school I went to. We had also checked out one private school here in town, and liked it, so we had a little comparison. When we went, we didn’t see anything different in the public school from the private school we looked at. All of the kindergarten teachers had great classroom management. They had very hands on station type things. The kids were all well behaved. And we went right to the office and were welcomed.
So, we said, “let’s remember why we wanted to do public school in the first place and why we moved where we did (to be zoned for this school), and just go for it.” And so we are.
I have a special Ed degree and had the amazing opportunity to teach for several years prior to having kids. And I hope to teach again someday, but I hope more so to instill in my kids why I am called to be a teacher. To love on the unlovable, to teach the unteachable, and to share the love of Christ with everyone I know.
My prayer for Dillon is just that. That he would be teachable. That he would want to love and be loved. That he would remember everything we have taught him about Christ. And that he would share Christ’s love with everyone he comes in contact with. Not because I think he’s a rock star (even though he is) and I want to throw him to the wolves, but because I believe…we believe…this is the path God has for us at this moment. It may change, and it may not. But we continue to live just like we always have. We live for today because we’re not promised tomorrow.
Here’s to you, Dilly Bar!!!

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