Lessons from a Bouncy Seat

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To you, it looks like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, gender neutral bouncy seat.

To me, it looks like a flood of emotion and memories of tiny little babies wrapped snugly in blankets, holding my entire heart in their pudgy little fingers.

The price tag on all of that? $7.00 in my pocket.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Colossians 3:2

I get it, y’all. I’m not illogical. It will be twenty-ish years before my babies have babies. It is taking up prime real estate in the garage, where I could store more plastic pieces of emotion. It doesn’t make sense to keep it.

But, as I clean it up, write my consignor number in heavy black Sharpie, and affix the string tag that holds the price of my memories, a little piece of my heart is breaking. It’s final. This is for real. I’m tearing up as I write this, y’all. There will be no more babies in this house.

The tying of my tubes after baby number 3? That was stone cold real, and my heart hurt for a long while. To be honest, it still does a little. But, I didn’t have to physically let go of anything.  I wasn’t holding it in my hands, and setting it free. It didn’t have a price tag!

All the years of praying. All the tears. All the questions. All the positive pregnancy tests and empty ultrasound screens. All the prayers, prayed over swollen stomachs and full wombs. The hospital treks and nervous ORs. It’s all done. We are done. No more babies.

Now, when my logical mind gets ahold of this, it’s perfectly ok with me. Y’all. If it were up to Satan and his schemes to stop the will of God, I would have no babies. And yet, I have THREE! Three beautiful, perfect recreations of an amazing Creator, that live in my home and bless my life daily. I am thankful. If that’s all I ever have, that is enough.

We are getting older. Closer to old age. With older age, there are higher risks involved, to an already extremely high-risk situation. Medically, why would I tempt fate?

We are financially strapped. Three kids cost a lot, y’all. There are no leftovers at dinner anymore. It takes 2 packages of most every grocery to make a meal. All the extracurriculars! The bats and gloves and dance shoes and fees! Not to mention, private school tuition for three! Truly, I cannot afford another one, even if we wanted!

Our car will not even hold another person, y’all! I have three car seats across the back, and no third row. Where would I even put another baby?!!

Now, hear me out! I’m not saying that I don’t have a heavenly Provider that could handle all these details with the drop of a hat! He could, no doubt in my mind. But at some point we have to let go of the knob, and let Him close the door, y’all.

When I physically hang on to all the things….well, I haven’t closed the door in my mind. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s time, my friends. And as I sit here and tell you all of this, my brain is wrapping around the next season and envisioning it with the pretty little bow that God intended.

Having an almost 7 year old? It’s fun, guys! To see his personality emerge. He is becoming who God created him to be. And I have a front row seat. He is quirky, and funny, and smart. The look of excitement and love in his eyes when he looks at me makes my heart smile.

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Seeing my 4 year old love so big. Seeing him navigate the world of emotion and decisions and even disappointment…it’s amazing. I study his features, in the moments when he’s still, and I see how intricately perfect God created him. The one that survived my womb. He is a fighter, in so many ways!

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Seeing the baby, and how her world is consumed by her brothers. She would follow them to the ends of the earth. She thinks they are the best things since strawberries and cheese balls, y’all. She is just like her Daddy! We made that, y’all. Us and Him, we did it! She’s the finale!

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And as emotional as I am, when I think about that bouncer not sitting idly by in our garage any longer…I have peace in knowing that it’s time for my next season. I’m not a Mama of newborns any longer. I came, I saw, I did that. I was blessed with that opportunity. I loved {almost} every single minute of it, even on the hardest days. That’s the thing about infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss – the gravity of the best days and  the hardest days are never lost on you.

Now, it’s time to get excited about this next season. The one where my garage is filled with outgrown toys and sports equipment and maybe even a ballet barre.

That bouncer? I pray it holds for some young family as much love and laughter and promise of His promise, that it held for ours. Now that I type this, that sounds like a great prayer to pray over it, before I send it off along it’s way.

And my God…He’s so faithful, y’all. He will guide me through this season, just like He did that one. My prayer for myself, JW, and this entire house, is that we slow down enough to treasure it, the same way we did the last one. And when it’s time to sell the next set of emotional plastic contraptions, may I have the strength to let them go and embrace what’s coming.

What do you need to embrace, friends?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

 

Jesus Moved . Jesús se movió

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”
Matthew 18:2-5 KJV

These verses in the Bible were ones that I thought I understood for a very long time. I can now say that I only partially understood them. The past week spent in Guatemala has changed my life. I have been there before, and it truly impacted my life on that trip as well — but not like this one. When Pastor Bryan first approached me about taking Bryce on a mission trip, I wasn’t sure if he was ready. Leslie and I prayed about it, and something(One) told us he should go. Well from the very start of the trip, Bryce took the reins and never looked back.
After arriving Friday and settling in at camp, we went out to two villages to invite fathers and their children to an event we were holding the following day. After Bryce watched me speak to the first dad, he and his buddy, Greyson, then took over and invited two villages of people to come celebrate with us. 
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While we walked around, I got a treat and ran into my friend Brian (nicknamed Miguel). He is an amazing kid that I met the last time I was there. I had hoped to get to see him again one day, and getting to do so really touched my heart. I will always pray that one day I can sponsor him.

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Once we finished passing out flyers on Friday, all we could do is wait and see who showed up Saturday. As the Bible says in Isaiah 45, “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:”. And that’s exactly what happened! We had over fifteen dads take off work & show up with their kids on Saturday!
Bryce helped with crafts and making sure the kids enjoyed the games we had for them. He found a couple good friends that day also— Jonathan and Carlos. He formed a bond with them stronger than anything I’ve seen, and they couldn’t even speak the same language! At the end of the day, we said our goodbyes and it was time to wind down.
We woke up Sunday morning and made the hour and a half drive back to Guatemala City to have church at Sembodoras Church. While there, Bryce and I got to teach a Sunday school class with two other team members. We had crafts that connected the kids to Jesus, and really got them involved. Then, something began to shift– Bryce made his first bold move for God. He sang “Jesus Loves Me” to the Sunday school class of 7-15 year olds in Spanish. After he sang it to them, he sang it again with them!
After church, we had lunch and then headed to do a couple house visits. The first went well- we prayed for protection and health for a family, and gave them a gift basket full of things they truly needed. Then we jumped on the bus and went to a family’s house that had attended our father/child day on Saturday. After giving them a basket as well, Mrs. Leeanne prayed for the grandmother that had Parkinson’s Disease. Right before we left, I experienced a moment that could be only from God — the moment when the trip started having a different meaning for me. Bryce voluntarily asked if he could sing “Jesus Loves Me” to this grandmother. As he sang it in Spanish to her, she mouthed the words and tried to sing it along with him. 
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When he finished singing, the grandmother hugged him for about 5 minutes… it was such a beautiful moment. Seeing your child make such a bold move (for them) for Jesus is indescribable.

After this visit, we headed back to the camp to prepare for the next day. Monday was—- let me hear it…. VOLCANO DAY!!!!! Yes, the day had come where we got to hike to the volcano and collect some lava rocks to bring home. Definitely a highlight for the boys. They loved it! 
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After a long hike back from the volcano, we finally made it back to camp. Us grownups were T.I.R.E.D! That afternoon, we went to the San Pedreros village for another great day of hanging with the village kids and doing crafts & Bible stories with them. We acted out the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible. I got to “beat” Bryce up!! This was a fun time, and the kiddos really enjoyed our acting & learning the story. 

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While there, we were able to install an oven in a home, which would help the family be able to breath fresh air while they cooked. This is a big thing in the villages because so many get sick from their homemade ovens that do not vent out of the kitchen. This was a cool learning experience for the kids, how differently things are from back home. 

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Tuesday started out at a home in the Veramina Village, putting another oven in a kitchen for a little girl’s family that Pastor Bryan and Mrs. Leeanne have been sponsoring for several years. Mrs. Leeanne even led this little girl to Jesus on a previous trip.
While there, we met Abner— the cutest little boy in Guatemala. We will be sponsoring him in about a month, once he is set up in the Clubhouse Guatemala program.
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After finishing the oven, we headed out to make some home visits in a village where there was a strong enemy presence. As we walked, we prayed over the ground we were walking on. This was a very moving experience that I had never actually encountered before. I handed Bryce my phone, and he read Scripture and spoke it over the village as he walked. 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 KJV
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After this, we went back to the village church and led the kids in more crafts & worship. Bryce got to be a worship leader, and did great! We also played out the story of Meshack, Shadrack, and Abednego, and how they survived the fiery furnace. The kids absolutely loved this story, and the acting was great to help teach it.

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The last day, we had a fun day in Antigua. We shopped and toured a coffee plantation. It was nice getting to just let loose and shop for souvenirs for back home.
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So, to get back to the very first part of this story— Bryce Brookshire stepped out in a way this week that I can only imagine doing. He constantly pushed himself into uncomfortable situations, where he knew God would get the glory for what he was doing. He was unashamed of the gospel.

So when the Bible says have a child-like faith, I truly got to see what He meant this week. Thank you, Father, for granting us this opportunity to serve You. We give You all the glory for this trip. 

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:”
Psalms 78:5-7 KJV
 
There is so much of this I know I’ve left out, like the great cooking and how awesome our translators were. But I’m not a writer, and even writing the little bit I did is a major accomplishment- so I’ll leave it at this! Thanks for reading!
-JW
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