Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

Episode 14

Today on the Heart Lessons podcast you will hear from my friend, Molly Timan. Molly and her husband faithfully serve in the children’s ministry at their church, but they also have a huge heart for foster care. Molly talks about her experiences as a foster mom and all the ways she has grown from these experiences. She also shares openly about the hardest parts of this journey, including what it was like to give back the first foster child they cared for and how she worked through the pain of realizing they couldn’t adequately meet the needs of another child they were caring for. And Molly’s heart lesson is one I’m sure we all need to hear – less of me, more of Christ. Listen and be encouraged and maybe, if the Lord leads, be brave enough to start your own journey in foster care.

Heart Lesson: 

More of you, less of me; He must increase, I must decrease (John 3:30)

Connect with Molly: website // instagram // etsy

Scriptures Mentioned:

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

John 3:30 – He must increase, I must decrease

Resources Mentioned: 

CPS/Human Services (Virginia)

Connect with a Wish

Bethany Christian Services

Related Material:

Showing Love: Foster Mama

Foster Parents Should Get “Too Attached”

Hearts Blown Wide Open: An Experience in Foster Care

If Not Us, Then Who?

Surviving Sarah Podcast: Sandra Stanley

John 330

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Life after learning of Evie’s fatal diagnosis was hard. It was hard because I faced a reality most unwelcome. It was hard because I cried so much and all that crying zapped my energy and motivation. And it was hard because I felt like someone had taken my faith puzzle – the one where all the pieces nestled neatly next to one another, forming a picturesque picnic scene, or something equally as peaceful – and dumped all the pieces onto the ground, and then stomped on them, and then scattered them in various dumpsters in the dirtiest cities around. And it was my job to recover them and somehow put these dirty, gnarled pieces back together.

One piece of my faith puzzle that felt especially abused during this time was the one with my understanding of peace, joy, and thankfulness. I had come to believe that the peace which passes all understanding, the joy of the Lord, and the ability to give thanks in all things were feelings. And I believed that, no matter what my external circumstances might be, I would always feel this peace, joy, and willingness to give thanks. That’s what being a Christian is, right? It’s feeling God’s peace and joy and giving thanks in praise no matter what?

Then why, with the reality of my daughter’s life-threatening situation, didn’t I feel those things at all?

Was I a bad Christian? Was I quenching the spirit? Was I not one of the ones who are blessed for walking uprightly? Where had I gone wrong?

I remember asking almost everyone who talked to me about my morbid situation if I was doing this right. I just wanted to know, am I doing this suffering thing right? And, if so, why did I feel so badly? Why did I cry so much? Why did I groan in agony at the thought of leaving the hospital without my baby girl? If there indeed exists a peace that passes all understanding, a joy that can only be found in the Lord, and if those two fruits lead my heart to thankfulness, why was I so incredibly sad?

The truth of it all is that peace, joy, and thankfulness do exist, even in the midst of a storm. But they are not feelings. They are choices. By God’s grace, these are choices we make despite how we feel.

The peace that passes all understanding? It was there because I was actively choosing to focus on the ultimate healing available to me and my daughter in Heaven through Jesus Christ.

The joy of the Lord? It was there because I was choosing to see His good hand and His blessing, even when such misery surrounded me.

Giving thanks in all things and for all things? This one I could do too. But it was because I was choosing to count my blessings and focus on what I had rather than what I didn’t have or wouldn’t soon have, not because my heart was overflowing with the feeling of thankfulness.

As a Christian inexperienced with great suffering, the thought that good feelings would be absent while I served the Lord and carried out His will was absolutely foreign to me. But when circumstances dictated, for the sake of my own sanity, that I still seek peace, joy, and thankfulness as remedies for my broken heart, it became so clear that feelings have little to do with obedience. Obedience is a choice. A very conscious choice.

I wish I could say there was an easy way – a way to follow feelings right into peace and joy and thankfulness in the midst of pure torture. There is no easy way. But there is a simple answer. The way to find those good things in the midst of the bad is to choose. It will be a tiring fight, keeping your thoughts focused on Christ. But choose it. Choose it, for it is truly the only way.

every thought captive

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Episode 13 - Holly

In episode thirteen of the Heart Lessons podcast, you will hear from my friend, Holly Colonna. Even though I went to youth group with her husband and attend the same church as her sweet in-laws, I didn’t actually connect with Holly until a little over a year ago, when she and her husband received some worrisome news about their first baby in their twenty week ultrasound. At the time, it wasn’t 100% certain that baby Benjamin’s condition was fatal, but Holly and I were still able to connect over just having to get through those months of uncertainty.

Sadly, baby Benjamin did pass away at two-and-a-half months. As you can imagine, losing her sweet baby boy has been so incredibly heartbreaking for Holly. She speaks so candidly about her journey with him, and shares all the parts – the sweet moments as well as the deeply painful ones. She also shares her heart lesson about the discipline – the choice – to surrender to the Lord’s will. She speaks so much perspective-changing truth in those few moments, you definitely won’t want to miss it.

Heart Lesson:

Surrender is a discipline, a conscious choice.

Connect with Holly: blog

Resources Mentioned:

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, Sara Hagerty

Holding Onto Hope, Nancy Guthrie

Holly’s Advice:

Find community. This is not something you can do alone.

Sarah’s Related Blog Posts:

The Hard I Wanted

I Wish Life Came with a Remote

Anything

Other Related Material:

Faith Through Fire, by Holly

Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes

When God Gives Us Too Much to Handle

About CHARGE Syndrome

 

Holly

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Episode 12 - Sarah Ann Rogers

In today’s episode of Heart Lessons, you’ll hear from Sarah Ann Rogers. Sarah is a wife, mama, blogger, and now podcaster! Her podcast, Tell Her Story, launched last Thursday so definitely head over to itunes and check it out. In this episode, Sarah shares about her experience with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Sarah talks about the fact that, what really surprised her most is that she was even walking in darkness at all. She shares how the Lord brought her out of that darkness, through meditating on Scripture, taking every thought captive, purposely pulling back and giving herself time and space to heal, and taking the medications that were recommended and prescribed by her midwives. Sarah can speak from a place of experience and a place of feeling victory over this struggle. I hope you will listen and find encouragement and, as always, your own heart lesson to help you draw closer to the Lord.

Heart Lessons:

God’s processes are not like mine, but He is still good through everything and He will draw us back to Himself.

The truth of God’s word trumps emotion or anything I might feel.

Connect with Sarah: blog // instagram // twitter // podcast // ebook

Scriptures Mentioned:

Isaiah 58:9 – Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry and He will say, “Here I am.”

Job 23:8-10 – Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Resources Mentioned:

Get Out of that Pit, by Beth Moore

Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

My Related Blog Material:

What Do I Believe God Can Do?

Strength to Strength

Heart Lessons Podcast | Episode Two | Anxiety and Fear

Other Related Material:

Digging Deep

Risen Motherhood Podcast, Episode 2, Motherhood & Self-Care

Choosing Jesus in the Brokenness

Postpartum Progress (resources for Postpartum Depression)

Sarahs’ advice for mothers struggling with postpartum issues:

1. Talk to your doctor.

2. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time.

3. Talk to others walking in similar circumstances.

4. Find a support community with those who know the Lord, who can be life-giving, and who believe in you.

5. Don’t believe you will always be like this or feel like this.

6. Free yourself to “hibernate”.

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I remember my first Mother’s Day. Or at least the first time I felt allowed to celebrate. As always, it was a Sunday. It wasn’t on purpose because of the day, but we had just announced at church that we were expecting our first baby. I was somewhere in the seven to eight weeks pregnant range. Our friends were all abuzz with our news and I was just over the moon excited. The gentleman who was passing out the little baggies of chocolate for the mothers handed me one with a smile.

“For me?” I asked, surprised. I mean, technically I wasn’t really a mother yet.

“Of course!” He said, as he handed me the cellophane baggie full of treats.

I shrugged and smiled and said thank you. I mean, who would say no to lindt truffles, am I right? As I unwrapped the little purple ribbon from the bag I felt so happy. A mother. I’m a mother! I popped one of the milk chocolates in my mouth. And then I decided to eat the other two. I was indulging for two now, wasn’t I? Gotta take this mom thing seriously …

My second Mother’s Day, the one where I actually had a little person with me, I remember Josh bought me a big gift basket from Bath & Body Works. We spent the afternoon at my mom’s and ate and chatted. I tried to ignore the fact that I was so sleepy. Micah was about five months old, but nowhere near sleeping through the night. Still though, he was my dream come true and I loved every minute of motherhood. Every sleep-deprived minute …

May2011 010

Micah, Mother’s Day 2011

The next Mother’s Day, I was almost into the second trimester with our second baby. Josh let me spend the day alone at the mall. I think I bought myself lunch from Taste Unlimited. It was a really relaxing day and I remember feeling such excitement and contentment for this second baby. I mean, having one baby makes you a mother but two? Two is like, real mom life. I patted my belly as I walked through Barnes & Noble dreaming about what next Mother’s Day would look like with two sweet babies to snuggle …

My fourth Mother’s Day was hard. I had just lost Evie the previous fall. A friend told me she hoped I had stood up when they asked all the mothers who had birthed babies since last Mother’s Day to stand and be recognized. I smiled kindly, but only with my lips. Because my eyes told the truth of how I had avoided entering the sanctuary until the question had been asked. Yes, I had birthed a baby since the last Mother’s Day. But she wasn’t with me. She wasn’t blissfully celebrated and doted over like most babies. She was held and kissed and then grieved over and laid in the ground in a tiny ivory-colored coffin. Standing to be honored for birthing a baby since last Mother’s Day was just so incredibly painful. Nothing was simple anymore …

The next Mother’s Day I was pregnant with our rainbow baby. Our sweet Jocelyn Evie. We were only about six weeks away from her due date and I was so anxious to bring her home. We took some sweet pictures in the backyard of Micah, a picture of Evie, and my 30-some week pregnant belly. I felt hope. I felt like my pain was behind me and motherhood was moving forward as it should be. Loss, I hoped, was a thing of the past …

IMG_8411

Last year on Mother’s Day, I remember breaking down unexpectedly in the shower. I could not control the tears. I had my sweet Micah and baby Joci to hold, but I wept for how much I missed Evie. I wept for all the memories I wouldn’t get to make with her. And I wept because of fear. Fear that the little baby I was carrying could also be unwell. And, just a couple of weeks later, we found that to be true …

And this coming Mother’s Day? I expect to fully celebrate with the two little faces I smooch precisely one thousand times per day and who call me “Mom” or “Mommy” or “MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!” But I also expect tears. I expect to feel deeply my losses, the most recent of which happened only eight months ago. I expect to avoid the sanctuary while all the standing and honoring and clapping are happening because it doesn’t feel good to be recognized and it doesn’t feel good to be forgotten. It just doesn’t feel good.

I realize it might be the same for you as well. For some reason or another, Mother’s Day might carry a weighted bag of mixed emotions for you. Losing children, losing mothers, dreams of motherhood unfulfilled or dashed, strained relationships, or painful upbringings, these (and certainly more) can profoundly impact the way we feel about this celebration of mothers.

It is true, though, that motherhood is something special. Those who are privileged enough to be called someone’s mother deserve a special word of thanks and recognition on their special day.

So to all the mothers out there actively mothering and pouring themselves out day after day … Happy Mother’s Day.

To all the mothers who have lost children and your arms ache to hold them again … Happy Mother’s Day.

To all the daughters who grieve that their mother is gone and they have no one to call or hug or buy flowers for … I honor your mother and say, Happy Mother’s Day to the wonderful mother I’m certain she was.

To all the women whose dreams of motherhood are heartbreakingly out of their grasp … Happy Mother’s Day.

And to those whom, on this day for honoring mothers, are reminded afresh of their own mistakes, their own painful childhood, their own strained relationships … Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day … to all the mamas <3

Mother

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