Longing for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of ChildlessnessLonging for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of Childlessness by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

It was amazing. My own journey through childlessness began ten years ago as a newlywed, and this book described so many of the challenges and blessings I experienced throughout that it was uncanny. Chelsea Patterson Sobolik determined that the dearth of resources available to those struggling through childlessness was unacceptable.

This book is written for those dealing with childlessness (singles, those struggling with infertility, those who have lost children) and for those who wish to minister to them.

There are references to books dealing with suffering and other pertinent topics; scripture verses and prayers to address the different topics and struggles, and the book is written in a winsome way that proves the woman who wrote it lived it. Those struggling will not be disappointed by this book. Those who know nothing of this struggle will be blessed by it.

There were so many passages I want to share that it makes more sense to just point you to the entire book. May it bless you as it blessed me.

View all my reviews

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Thank God for Roller Coasters

Last week, following the first week of school, my mother and I took my two children to Knoebels Grove (you pronounce the “k”). For my children it was their third trip to the park this summer. For those of you unlucky enough to have never heard of such a place, you must know that it is a hidden paradise in Central Pennsylvania. It’s free to enter, free to park, and my six and three year old children rode a huge variety of children’s rides for $9 each. That’s right – unlimited amusement park fun for less than $20 for the four of us.

Anyway, before the night ended at 10:00PM, I indulged in one single, $1.50 roller coaster ride. I stood in line for about five minutes in the special line for those who like the very first car, and then entirely on my own, I went for a roller coaster ride on the Phoenix.

What is the Phoenix? A beautiful wooden roller coaster originally built in 1947 as “The Rocket” in a San Antonio amusement park and moved in 1985 to Knoebels, it is known for it’s airtime and the delicious sensation of a wooden structure that shakes, sways, and rattles.

The ride begins with a short ride through a tunnel, which at 9:45PM is pitch black. The night was cool. The sky was clear. As we made the ascension in the comparative light, I stared up at the dark night sky and I said “Thank you God, for roller coasters”. And then I held on.

It’s been a good summer. I have had much to be thankful for and I love expressing my gratitude to the Father for each wonderful moment. But on that last day of my summer, I felt His presence most at the top of a rickety wooden hill, and I smiled.

<image credit themeparkreview.com because I was afraid to photograph while riding>

 

the pursuit of you

This idea, that God pursues us, has been stuck in my heart and mind of late. It could be from the incredibly catchy TobyMac song Love Broke Thru, which is all over Christian radio right now. It could be that he started putting people I care about in front of me and saying “I love them. You love them. I want you to pursue them.”. And it could be knowing that God has created the desire to be pursued within our hearts. Mine. Yours. I know what it is to have the Holy Spirit calling out, to have God pursuing me. And better yet, to be caught.

So when my friend from high school, who has the greatest heart for reconciliation I have ever seen, started asking me how we could reach out to those people from our past, I realized that my unsaved friend was not only asking me to pursue her with the truth, but to come together and be reconciled with people we both care about so that we can pursue them with the truth as well. She is a dear friend and the one brilliant example of my desire and effort to pursue someone. I wronged her once upon a time and it took many attempts to receive forgiveness and reconciliation. She was worth it. Our friendship is worth it.

I know that my mission field is riddled with broken relationships and long forgotten friendships with people God still loves. People I still love. Hearts I must pursue. I’m grateful that when people see me, they see something different. Now I must prepare myself to give a reason for my hope.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:8-16 NIV

 

 

There is beauty in the bacon

In my walk as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am inhabited, overcome by, the Holy Spirit.

I’ve come to understand this to be a larger vision of “God with us” than a God who is always watchful. Instead, He is a God who is always present. This means to me that every conversation that I have, every thought that fleetingly exists in my manic mind, is shared with Him. It means that although I believe it is important to make time for God where we are altogether dedicated to Him, that every moment of my day (and night) already belongs to Him and is already sacred to His purpose.

He doesn’t mind that I spend time in the mundane. He knows those chores are dedicated to His Glory as I serve faithfully in my role as wife and mother. He knows that I see Him in the beauty around me. I hear a bit of music, read a sentence in a book, look at a sunset, watch a television show, and I see the work of His hands through the millions of people on the Earth who show God to me.

And in the hard times, I know that the yoke He asks me to carry feels heavy, but He is carrying the bulk, and is training me to endure, to persevere. He is developing a character in me that is worth ten times the yoke I have borne. He asks me to carry nothing He does not carry Himself. His burden truly is light.

My great pleasure is found when the Holy Spirit in me is most awakened. The bridge in “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns, reading the introduction to “Mere Christianity”, the returned smile of a tired stranger. These have all awakened that Spirit in me this week.

My great passion is in finding ways to awaken that Spirit in others. For me it might be cooking bacon for my husband’s breakfast, or writing a blog, or teaching my Bible study. Whatever it is, I know God is there with me, in the middle of it all.

 

American Girl Book List

I went looking today for a list of the American Girl books – you know, Samantha, Molly, Felicity etc.

Because I am the curator of my daughter’s library and I’m trying to be organized so that when she can read, she will have access to the kind of books I think she will love.

I didn’t find an easy answer. However, this community thread directed me to a helpful website:

Source: American Girl Book List – K-8 Curriculum Board – The Well-Trained Mind Community

And I then took it a bit farther and pasted them into a document for myself. Something you could use?

American Girl Book List PDF

Further thoughts & clarification re: my post on Planned Parenthood

I recently sent a note to friends and family regarding a mention of my post in the newsletter for our local crisis pregnancy center. The newsletter, written by director Kathy Leamont, sums up the responses I received to the original post and also allows for her understanding of my later clarifications. Allow me to share an excerpt here:

I had written a letter here about our move and the expansion of our “tent” and of our services and it was all ready for printing… then a young lady I know posted something on Face Book that inspired me to make a change …

Many are outraged at the recent story regarding the selling of body parts from aborted babies. I am too. I have spent many years being outraged at the practice of abortion. I do not like it that my tax $$ are used to fund abortion. I have voted my conscience to help change the system. I have contacted my representatives. I have prayed.

That FB post spoke about loving the women facing unplanned pregnancy, showing them love and helping them in a way that allows them to see that they do have options for LIFE. And some folks were being kind of negative … my response was to thank her and to pray about helping her in her plans…

I have no direct control over the government or the abortion industry but I do have control of my personal actions and my personal financial decisions. My suggestion is for all of us to pray, seek God and let’s make our response
POSITIVE ~ PROACTIVE ~ PERSONAL
You can do something… every bit helps…
[You can read the recent blog at SOMEJENSHINE.COM ]

I forwarded along the newsletter and included this open note:

Some of you will recognize the website Kathy mentions in her letter here as my own.The facebook post she mentioned is mine. In it, I do not defend Planned Parenthood. I certainly don’t defend abortion. I hate Planned Parenthood and abortion in a way that I can’t even express with language. Many of you know my personal story. I’ve lost four babies during pregnancy and my heart is so damaged every time I read about someone choosing to end a life. My heart truly breaks for what breaks His. What I believe and attempt to express is that the only way to stop abortion is to reach the women having them – with love and options, not hate and shame.

here’s the link if you’re so inclined. as Kathy mentions, many Christian readers didn’t approve of my opinion and were vocal about it.

I plan to write a future post clarifying and further explaining practical steps I think we can take to make a real difference. I hope to have you alongside me as I try to reach every single woman who doesn’t know the reality of her options – and to help all women (and men!) find the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
God bless
This is the future post. Believe me when I say that every commenter who thought I was defending what happens to a million unborn babies a year was wrong. That might be my fault – perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been.
I hate abortion. I hate every single instance where a woman feels that taking the life of another person is a valid and acceptable choice. As I mentioned above, I personally have lost four babies in pregnancy. I have two beautiful children. I value human life greatly.
I can remember a time in my life when a pregnancy wouldn’t have been desirable. I can understand to an extent the pressure and hopelessness and I am grateful beyond words that I was never in that particular position. That doesn’t mean I’m better. My sins may be different shades of evil, but they condemn me just the same. The grace I receive from Jesus Christ is enough to cover any sin in my life and is freely available to every single person.
I believe that defunding Planned Parenthood is nearly impossible. Take away the money the government (by which I mean, we the taxpayer) gives them. I agree with that. Money will come from somewhere else. Make abortion illegal – it will still happen. It will become less safe and more expensive. I’ve seen smart people talk about how best to remove the influence of Planned Parenthood from our government. I believe they have good ideas. I also believe that God is truly able to do anything. But it is His perfect plan to give us freedom of choice. I therefore stand by my original post.
The only way to prevent an abortion is by the pregnant mother choosing not to have one. I see one way forward. Inform and care for every woman who’s dealing with a pregnancy and doesn’t know what to do. Ultrasounds (not mandatory, just available) are one of the best ways to start this process. Intercede for and love these women and their babies. We need clinics that offer life affirming choices. We need to surround those who have had abortions with love and help them heal, to be redeemed and made whole in Jesus Christ. You with me?

Why attacking Planned Parenthood is a waste of time – and what we should do instead

I want to suggest something radical and I imagine at first, unpopular. I want to suggest that defunding Planned Parenthood is a waste of time. It won’t stop abortion. I want to suggest that there is no crime heinous enough to prevent a significant portion of the population from supporting the services provided by Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations.

When I first realized this, hope swelled. That means a different approach is necessary. A Christ-like approach. What Christ did was love people. Unborn people. Horrible people. Broken people. Poor people. Christian people and Catholic people and Muslim people and so on.

It became clear that something extreme must happen to make a difference. First, we must show love to the women and families and children who become pregnant and need care. Next, we must fund the centers that provide care. Care, defined by Google as the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.

Care must include a respect for the sanctity of all life. Care must allow that while a right to choose exists, there are eternal consequences for that choice. Care must provide choices that respect the most fundamental freedom of all—freedom to live.

This is the revolutionary part. I believe that we are capable of funding our crisis pregnancy care clinics beyond the level that our government funds Planned Parenthood. I believe we can raise $360 million to provide care. I believe we can find a way to help people—all people—live the lives they’ve been endowed with by their Creator.

This post is a statement of intent. I plan to actively pursue my funding goal by helping people who feel angry and hopeless do more than share on social media. I plan to raise 360 million dollars for crisis pregnancy care that does not include abortions.

Help me—help me organize and track our progress. Help me connect our community centers and our community resources. Share this post with every single person you know. I am not attacking Planned Parenthood, not shaming women who make and have made hard choices. I am asking for the opportunity to love and care for every human life, and I can’t imagine a better call to action.

With great hope and much prayer,

Jennifer

“If anyone then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 NIV