I’m a Christ-following stay-at-home mom with 4 kids under the age of 13. When I am not wearing my mom hat, I enjoy getting away with my husband, studying my Bible with a cup of coffee by my side, and catching my breath from the demands and stresses of life. In my spare time, which is pretty much never, I have grown to love writing and speaking about what the Lord is teaching me in His Word and through the trials that He has allowed in my life. I have had the privilege of writing for Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Revive Our Hearts, Christianity Today, Unlocking the Bible, Crosswalk, and Challies.com, and have co-authored (along with Kristen Wetherell) Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (2017). And I am thrilled to announce that my husband, Jeff, and I are releasing a follow-up book for marriages navigating the trials of life, called Together Through the Storms: Biblical Encouragements For Your Marriage When Life Hurts (May 1st, 2020).
Less than three years into our marriage, we excitedly wel- comed our first child into the world. All was going well until he spiked a fever and was hospitalized with a severe infection at seven weeks old. After five days in the hospi- tal with terrifying, inconclusive reports, we were sent home without answers. We thought it was an isolated incident, but over time it turned into years of life-altering neurolog- ical challenges that have forever changed our family’s lives.
Every day, we helplessly watched as our sweet, smart, funny little boy would turn into someone else, displaying behavior that was extremely difficult to control and navigate.
Countless consultations, tests, and evaluations left doctors shaking their heads, and all we were left with in the end was an increased financial burden, a stressful home life, and growing fears for him and us.Along with that, my health was rapidly declining, and with each of our four children that I bore, I was increasingly unable to function through my chronic pain and illness. On top of that, an ankle injury that I sustained in high school has now led to five surgeries and an inability to do much of what I love anymore – and increasingly losing my ability to walk.
As our son’s disorder continued to intensify, and as I grew sicker and our younger children began to exhibit their own chronic pains, my husband’s job as a consultant to orthopedic surgeons often kept him from being home. Our marriage began to suffer under the weight of it all.
In 2015, we were led to a group of doctors who connected my many symptoms to Lyme disease and, over the following year, the growing symptoms in each of our children led to testing that revealed the illness had been passed on to each one of them. The medical community gave us conflicting advice and very little support, but the growing neurological and physical ailments in each of our children were impossible to deny, and became increasingly confusing and expensive to navigate.
We were at our lowest point, and convinced that we couldn’t endure anything else, and so it became clear that Jeff could no longer sustain his on-call job. So he left it behind, along with half of our income. We sold our dream home and downsized to a smaller rental home.
A year later, his new company began to struggle and suddenly was without a job—leaving us with no income at all. Our family was in crisis. Most of our time spent together as a couple consisted of doctor appointments, navigating challenges with our son, soothing crying and hurting children, discussing what treatments we could afford, healing from each of the nine surgeries undergone between the two of us, dealing with Sarah’s chronic pain, and stressing about our draining finances, all the while being too exhausted to address the tensions that were building within our marriage.
We were both broken and both wondering where God was and why he was allowing such deep and layered suffering. As we endured one loss after another, we found ourselves battling despair and hopelessness, and being confronted with deep questions of faith that neither of us had faced before. We were surviving, but we—and our marriage—were hanging on by a thread.
But we’re still here. Still together. And, somehow, stronger for it all.
God held us up and enabled us not only to survive, but to see the good gifts he had given us along the way. Though it’s been harder than we ever imagined, there have also been moments of laughter, sweet memories, and undeserved gifts. Somehow, in each moment of each day, God has helped us press on, has held our marriage together when we haven’t had the strength to fight for it ourselves, and has taught us to find joy, even within the sorrow. And by his grace, he continues to hold us up each and every day, despite many of our circumstances remaining the same.
Although we often feel alone, as if no one can imagine what life is like for us, God tells us that nothing is new under the sun. We all know pain, in one form or another. Therefore, my hope is that the Lord will use my pain and heartache to encourage others to come to know Him as their Savior and point them to His all-sufficient grace for whatever road they are on. I pray that He will speak through me to those who need to be reminded that there is a greater hope than anything this world can offer. As my hope in this world has increasingly faded, my hope in the Lord and promised eternity in His glory has increasingly grown.
Moment by moment, God is teaching me to let go of what I think I want and need and, instead, fix my eyes on things of eternal value. I often fail and, at times, feel like I’m holding onto faith the size of a mustard seed. But Christ will be faithful until the end. Until then, I take up my cross daily and seek to follow him as He writes a story in my life that is so much bigger than me.
Clinging to Christ,