I love God’s Word! But sometimes I find it a bit confusing – not the words – but what it REALLY MEANS to live it out in REAL LIFE. My favorite response to the Lord as I read something like: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” is “But what does that LOOK LIKE?”
Everything I teach has been learned in real life as God has patiently taken me by the hand and shown me more of what it means to trust in Him rather than myself, to walk by faith rather than sight (still working on these by the way). His lessons always seem to come back to faith, hope, and love – and what it means to have the courage to stay in step with Jesus – every day, in every situation.
I have to add – My favorite thing is when the Lord teaches me through the funny stories of life – one of the most embarrassing stories of my life is included on the DVD.
God’s plans began to unfold in unexpected ways.
The first thing you need to know is that we’d told everyone we knew we were going to wait five years to have kids. About 5 years later, we’d had 4! (Proof that even though we make lots of plans, “the Lord’s purpose prevails.” Prov 19:21)
Lee was stationed in Kunson, Korea for a one-year remote tour. It was during his deployment, that our beautiful first-born daughter, Kayla, was diagnosed with profound deafness. That was a day of the deepest heartbreak I’d ever known and the first time I understood that grief and hope could reside side-by-side in the same heart.
Pouring out my heart to the Lord, I laid out all my questions, hurt, and confusion. In His great love, God drew near, covering me with a sense of His presence and gently reminding me of promises in His Word.
Romans 8:28: In all things, He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Deuteronomy 31:8: For the Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you,
so don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged.
He reminded me of the story of Joseph and how God had taken something that looked bad and supernaturally transformed it into something very good.
I met Lee many years ago in Lubbock, TX. I knew right away he was the man God had chosen for me, but it took a little while longer for the Lord to convince him. He finally got on board and we married the day after I finished Physical Therapy school. We moved to Hill AFB, UT where Lee was a Captain in the Air Force doing what he loved – flying F-16s.
I was surprised by hope as God filled my heart with a deep sense of the truth that He would bring purpose out of our pain. I knew that Kayla’s deafness had not taken God by surprise. I rested in the Truth that He would work in and through our heartache and somehow bring glory to His name.
God showed off a bit that day and I saw His faithfulness in a miraculous way: I ran into a woman who had a little boy who was also hearing impaired. Not only was she able to offer a compassionate ear and hook me up with the phone number of a school her son attended, she also promised to pray for us. She said, “For some reason, we decided to go out tonight. We’ve never even been here before and I had no idea why we ended up in this particular restaurant . . .” She paused to look me in the eye and added, “but now I know.” As I walked out the door that night, God said, “See Kelly, I will never leave you or forsake you.” God was making it very clear that He was the One who had gone before me that day and orchestrated a divine meeting at a pizza place.
We moved to San Antonio.
I had an ultrasound when I was about 5 months into the pregnancy – TWINS! Biggest surprise of all! Twins don’t run in my family! God was really showing off now.
Throughout the pregnancy we prayed that the twins would be able to hear. God spoke to me through John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Even though God didn’t tell me how things would turn out, through the gift of His peace, I was able to trust Him for the outcome.
When our twin baby girls were 2 weeks old, we discovered that they too were profoundly deaf.
In a few months, our little family was reunited. Lee was stationed at Luke AFB in Phoenix, AZ. We had a second child, David. It was during this pregnancy we discovered this “deafness thing” was probably genetic. Even though we had no family history of deafness, we had a 25% chance of having more children with a hearing-impairment. We prayed and I had peace throughout the pregnancy. Shortly after David was born, he startled to the sound of ice falling into a cup, and we rejoiced that he could hear.
After much prayer, we decided we wouldn’t have more children. But before my husband could have that little surgery that would make our decision permanent, I discovered I was pregnant again.
God surprised me with hope once again . . .
I process pain verbally – therefore, I have to talk about it … a lot – with the Lord, with family, with friends, and even with strangers in a grocery store. (I’ve felt a bit sorry for the strangers – but they survived). I simply have to get used to saying the words out loud in order to wrap my mind around the reality of a situation. So I called some ladies in my Bible study. The first woman I called was stunned by the news.
“Kelly, they can’t be deaf, because there’s this verse that says if you pray and really believe, God will give you what you asked for … and that’s exactly what I did – I really believed.”
So here she was having a faith crisis right in the middle of my crisis. I wanted to comfort her and help her understand that God could be trusted even when our prayers aren’t answered the way we want. But before I could even formulate a response, words came flying out of my mouth – words that had not been in my mind a second before. “Beth, you don’t need to worry. This did not take God by surprise. He allowed these little girls to be deaf and He is going to work in and through their lives and bring glory to His name. It’s going to be good – very good – and we are going to get to see God’s goodness up close and personal. Our family will be very blessed.” I sat there amazed – that was quite a speech – but those words brought supernatural peace to my heart.
God preached some truth to my heart that day and the most surprising thing of all is that He did it through my very own mouth.
More than 20 years have passed since that day. We have moved every 2-3 years because of Lee’s busy Air Force career. We’ve had to live apart for long periods of times due to deployments, special schools for our girls, and year-long schools required for Lee’s career. If you add up all the time we had to live apart in the first 21 years of our marriage, it adds up to about 6 years. The challenges have been OVERWHELMING at times – to say the least.
But what has literally brought me to my knees in amazement – is that God has taken things that should have destroyed a marriage, torn apart a family, depleted our faith, and destroyed our hope – and He has done that thing He’s so famous for – He has brought beauty out of the ashes. He has written beautiful stories of His faithfulness and glory all over the pages of our lives. I have fallen more in love with Jesus than I ever thought possible.
We are not at the mercy of our circumstances . . .
Our God is bigger and more powerful than any obstacle we will ever face. This is really the foundation of Courageous Faith. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He created the stars and called them by name and He knows my name and He knows your name. He is our sweet Savior who ministers to the deepest needs of our heart, even when we don’t know how to put them into words. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask, think, or even imagine. I think we’ll spend the rest of our lives and all eternity trying to grasp the truth that our immensely powerful God is also intensely personal.
Here’s a glimpse of our family (taken in 2012) at our son’s college graduation:
Much of our lives continue to be lived in those impossible places – between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army. God keeps taking me deeper into intimacy with Himself and teaching me more of what it means to place my hope solely in Him. Courageous Hope, which I’m currently writing, will contain these next lessons of courage, faith, and hope.