In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. Today I am honored to introduce you to my lovely friend Veronique! She is a wife, mother, photographer, and a poet. I still treasure the poem that she wrote and gave me for my 18th birthday! She is also a twin sister to Vanessa who shared her story with us recently. Let’s join our friend as she tells us what it is like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G
“Lord, may your Joy be my strength today.” Every morning I begin the day with those words. It’s a reminder and a prayer.
It’s an anchor.
I don’t have any wise words or deep thoughts, but I can share what my Lord has taught me in this journey through motherhood so far.
The greatest desire of my heart had always been that I might be a wife and mother of children. My childhood’s understanding was that it was a high and worthy task; a job with an eternal investment in God’s kingdom. He gave me the desire of my heart and made me the wife of a godly young man when I was eighteen, and our first born son was given to us when I was nineteen. My view of motherhood soon transformed from high and worthy to hard and weary! Our blessing was colicky and constantly crying for the first three months of his life. We lived in a tiny studio apartment at the time and since there was nowhere to put him we shut the pram in the bathroom more than once. Sometimes that wasn’t even enough! I have a clear memory of me, in my pajamas, playing with him in the car so his daddy could get some sleep!
By his first birthday we had moved to a little house on a 3-acre orchard just a mile from Grandma and Papa where our little man started walking, talking and growing up. We were blessed with two more sons in that house and also took up the task of home education. As our family grew, my husband continued pursuing a degree at the local university. Working full time and taking two classes per semester, he graduated nine years after we were married. I soon learned that my husband could not fulfill my happiness. My joy had to come from God alone, because it was not a natural response in my over tired, natural self. The fruit of the Spirit has to be watered with the Word in order to bear; so when I realized I did not like the mother I was, I purposed to pray Scripture daily; over my life as a mother, over my children’s lives, and also over my husband who was more often gone than home. The results were astounding! It wasn’t an over night transformation, but we experienced a closer marriage even though my husband was still away so much, and I found a steady joy and peace in Christ.
“Thou hast put gladness in my heart.” Ps 4:7
Time together as a family had been rare and treasured; now we felt like we could relax and enjoy our young children. Three months after graduation our first daughter arrived and tinged our world with pink! After three boys she is a delight.
Holidays and family gatherings always centered at Grandma and Papa’s house with an abundance of food, cousins, music, and love. Our daughter’s first Christmas was spent home alone with me, however, as she had a case of pneumonia at just four months old. When she had recurring pneumonia at eight months old we realized she needed constant breathing treatments with every common cold to keep her asthmatic response at bay. Between her bouts with pneumonia, our eldest son suffered a ruptured appendix. His symptoms seemed like the stomach flu for a week until one night he vomited every hour and passed nothing. We took him to the ER and a team that was called up from UCLA children’s hospital saved our son’s life in a 45-minute procedure. He spent the next week in the PICU recovering. I had a nursing infant, so we relied on family and friends who showered us with love and help.
Later that year, just after our daughter’s first birthday, we found out we were expecting our fifth child. Surprise! It had been such a difficult year that I wrestled with accepting this divine gift. One week later I suffered a miscarriage and for two days fought guilt for feeling relieved. When I woke up feeling definitely pregnant, I took advantage of a free ultrasound at the local Community Pregnancy Center which confirmed that I had miscarried, but was still expecting! We had lost a twin. From that moment we loved and wanted that baby and eagerly welcomed our second daughter into our family. Our son was still experiencing discomfort and our first daughter still needed breathing treatments, but the Lord had spared the lives of our children and blessed us with our miracle baby. We were learning to trust our Heavenly Father with our children.
“You who fear the Lord, trust the in Lord; He is their help and shield.” Ps. 115:11
One day when the baby was about six months old, my husband asked me, “What do you think about Oregon, babe?” and I knew our lives were about to change! My husband’s company relocated us to Southern Oregon to open a branch office. After two survey trips we had fallen in love with the area, made friends, found a home church, and signed rental papers. Before the baby’s first birthday we left our home of eleven years, all of my husband’s family, everything the children had ever known, and moved to a 75 acre farm in a beautiful valley in the Siskiyou Mountains.
We have been here for a year now and this has been a wonderful place for us, but the last part of our year here has been extremely difficult for a different reason. On a beautiful January afternoon our eldest son was woodworking with my husband and the little ones were outside with me enjoying the sunshine when a terrible accident happened. I’ll never forget hearing my husband call out “Oh, my God! He’s lost his thumb!” My body couldn’t get from the backyard fast enough and part of me didn’t want to. Our son’s back was to me, but I reached around him and grabbed what was left of his hand and held it above his heart while applying pressure. The hospital was only ten minutes away so we piled all of the kids into the van and my husband drove coolly though quickly while I prayed out loud over our son. It wasn’t until I gave his hand to the nurse that I saw the extent of the damage. He was also missing his pointer tip and knuckle. My heart became a puddle and I shook uncontrollably for hours afterward. I escorted my son to emergency surgery while my husband took the children home and packed a bag for me. Alone in the waiting room, the tears finally came and it hit me that I had just seen part of my son thrown away. I don’t expect to ever get over that.
“My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me” Ps. 63:8
In recovery, pre-surgery, in the ER and later on the floor, our family held a testimony of God’s presence, hope, and peace to the medical staff that would make comments and ask if we were Christians. He is our ever present help in trouble. There was no Joy in that situation, but there was peace that God was with us and hope looking into an eternity with Him. How do people cope with tragedy without the hope of Christ? He is all we have.
Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.” Ps 51:8
The next week held two surgeries and a dressing change under anesthesia. Then our journey began of bandage changes, occupational therapy, and healing. Our son will never have full range of motion again, though he does have full use of his hand. He’s starting to joke with his amputations and look forward to advances in prosthetics of which he could be a part. Looking back, our precious son has counted blessings of even the small things, like he was grateful Daddy had left the car out of the garage and we could load everyone up quickly.
I found that as my son healed, so did I. My strength returned as his wounds closed, yet I am dealing with a level of anxiety that I’ve never known before. I have testimonies from others to the peace and hope that is within us, but I am struggling to regain Joy in the day to day as we recover. I am struggling to hear the Joy in my children’s play and not interpret their sounds as emergencies.
I am learning to daily, hourly rest in the sovereignty of God and pray that whatever He allows into our children’s lives brings them closer to Him.
And I am learning that Christ is my Joy in all circumstances.
“Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Ps. 51:12
To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.
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