Life, precious life

Yesterday was a very special day in the Freeman family...we welcomed a new niece Miss Joslyn Reece to the world! I can't think of a better way to kick off my day today than to blog about this thing called life. Life. It is meant to be appreciated, cherished, valued, lived fully and with immense joy! I remember the day we welcomed our first born daughter Rylee Ashton into the world, and it seemed as if nothing and nobody else mattered in that moment: life kind of stopped. Everything was a whole lot brighter, softer, more fragile, more precious. Fast forward to the day we welcomed our fourth child into the world, Miss Chloe Grace, and I remember feeling some of the same things, but then on the way home as I stared into her beautiful eyes, something heavy hit my heart like a ton of bricks. I just wept. I'm talking sobs, ugly cry, the kind of crying that you are so glad you aren't wearing any makeup and you need a kleenex box because your nose is running like crazy, and you hope the people in the car next to you don't notice and think what is wrong with that woman? I don't know, I guess it just hit me, the reality of it and when Ryan asked me while glancing in the rear view mirror and driving us home, "What are you thinking about?" all I could think about and what I finally choked out of my mouth was, "I just want so much for her!" We were in the beginning of a very difficult season at that time, and I think I was more terrified than any other time in my life of how I was going to take care of her, hold it together for her and let her see Jesus in me in spite of how I really felt. I didn't want to ever have to tell her life sucks, and often times you will get hurt and fall down more than you will find joy and success. I felt guilty too because in those first months of her life, I couldn't grasp God's presence and fullness of joy because I was so weighed down by our circumstances and how we were ever going to get through this. I'd like to tell you a light bulb moment occurred, that we found peace and healed, that all was right with in a matter of days. But it wasn't. Ryan and I had many months, which turned into about 2 years in which we both struggled desperately to find our footing again in our faith walk. God was always there, no doubt about it. But for whatever reason, He allowed us to be heartbroken, angry, frustrated, lost in uncertainty for a time if for no other reason than to teach us to release our grip on the lack of understanding and need for answers, to lean into Him and see clearly that He is Here. He is Faithful. He never fails! He is our Rock, when all else fails us. He is our Comforter when all we can do is cry out, "Jesus!" in the dark, as we struggle to find sleep each night. He is our Provider, and often in the final hour and when we are most desperate. He is our God, bigger than any dark valley we find ourselves lost in, and greater than any force on earth that could threaten to knock us off of our feet.

I can look back over my life and pinpoint when He reached His hand to me in the darkest moments, and I found Him just when I needed Him. When we moved to Missouri from California, I was 13 and pissed off. I didn't want to move and I didn't understand why God would do this to me. But God had a plan, He provided friendships at school and at church, a supportive and loving home and church environment to help me transition from those dark moments into a new season of life in a new place where He very clearly called my Dad to serve as senior pastor at University Heights Baptist Church. High school days were some of my toughest, as I struggled to find my identity, to find worth and looked for a large percentage of that in the desire to have a boyfriend. Junior/Senior year was a time when I found myself in a relationship that never should have been, but God allowed it for my good apparently. Innocence was lost, I gave far too much of my heart to a boy who didn't deserve it, and it ultimately isolated me from friendships at school and at church. Somehow God's mighty plan prevailed, prayers of many I didn't realize were being offered on my behalf helped break through and I made the choice to end it. The road to recovery and finding any shred of worth in myself was a long one and would take years to restore. I was blessed to encounter unconditional love and support from my family, my friends and through the help of therapy found some sense of stability emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The college years arrived, and I still struggled with my sense of self-worth and looking for happiness in a relationship, a boyfriend. At some point in my junior year, I found myself in a place of release. I made up my mind, I can't make this happen and I need to release this and trust God to provide for me fully and completely. I needed to know at that time more than any other time in my life, there is a God who loves me and knows me far better than any human can, and no relationship on this earth can bring me the joy and fulfillment that He does. My life needed to be re-set, I needed to stop and look in the mirror, consider that now more than any other time in my life, I had to truly discover how deep the Father's love is for me! I decided then, no other relationship mattered, and I wanted to be content in myself, truly love the person God made me to be, and if I never met the man of my dreams, if I never fell in love then that was okay. I was ready to embrace life single and let go of whatever idea I had in my head that I was destined for a Mr. Right to come along and make me truly "happy".

I was studying Child and Family Development, working toward my degree to eventually teach preschoolers, heavily involved in the Baptist Student Union, singing with the worship ministry traveling team, and served summers on short term mission projects locally and abroad. My faith increased, I found myself in a very comfortable place in my relationship with Christ, ready to go where He called me and actively pursue opportunities to serve and further the Kingdom of believers. In the Spring of 1993 God caused my path to cross with a very handsome, extraordinarily gifted musician-Ryan. I wasn't looking for a relationship, I didn't see it happening and yet, it did. God used an ex-boyfriend to point it out to me. Somehow, the stars aligned, God's hand was evident as the conversations began, phone calls, first dates, courtship and eventually a beautiful engagement. We were married December 30, 1994 and the journey into life with my amazing partner began. I can't possibly sum up nearly 20 years of marriage in one blog entry. But I will say this, life is never dull, it is painful, terrifying and absolutely unpredictable all the time! Marriage is not easy and it takes a lot of effort from both partners to make it lasting. I cannot imagine my life without Ryan, and even though there are brutally hard days when I feel like giving up, going it alone....I don't know how I'd do it. I believe through our experience, years together, we have learned to love each other more deeply, always unconditionally, because that is how the Father loves us! I know no matter how deep and dark the places my mind may go when life is hard, God will never leave me or give up on me. I am worthy of His love because of what His Son did for me. I am worthy of His time and care and purpose, because He created me! And He loves you the very same way!

1 John 3:1 Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.

Life is far too precious, too brief for any one of us to waste a single moment lost in a dark place for any number of reasons. The power, life and love of the Holy Spirit resides in you from the moment you choose a relationship with Christ. Know He is here, always, and ready to embrace you in your time of need. If you struggle with finding your way back to Christ, reach out to someone you trust, or you can even message me to encourage you back to Him! We are the body of Christ and we are here for each other.

Welcome to the world, sweet Joslyn Reece! I am praying for your heart for Christ one day!
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