Today I was given an incredible opportunity to stand before the congregation of my church and share my faith story. It was such a blessing to be able to share how Casey and Connor have changed my life and how much God has blessed me with.
The following is the exact talk I gave.
A few weeks ago Pastor Katie asked me if I would be willing to come up here and share my faith story with all of you. Since such a HUGE part of my story is about my sons I jumped at the chance because to be honest, there is nothing in the world I like talking about more than Casey and Connor!
I guess like a lot people my faith story has a few parts. When I was younger I went to church with my mom when it was something I felt like I “should” do- I went on the major holidays but never more than that. I was never active in the church though I maintained a close, though quiet, personal relationship with God. I would pray and talk to God. I would lean on Him when things got challenging or when I felt overwhelmed with being a teenager and all the drama and angst that goes with those years.
When I got to college, my roommate was a girl from South Dakota. Her parents were both Christian ministers in their small south Dakota town and she and I would have some interesting discussions but I always felt like I needed more so I also explored other religious schools of thought and different philosophies. I still maintained my relationship with God and He was always there- like a best friend and I found comfort in Him and in my faith.
Throughout the years I went on in much the same fashion. Checking in with God daily but not making any more of a commitment to my faith or to the church. I was content in my spiritual life to an extent but maybe felt there was something lacking.
Things really changed for me when my sons were born.
Before I get to that part of my story I should tell you the back story.
I met my husband in 2008, while playing on a coed sand volleyball team at a bowling alley. I was brought to the team by a mutual friend. At first I did not like Matthew. And he will tell you that the feeling was mutual. Even though I didn’t like him there was something about him that made me keep looking.
After a few months of playing volleyball or whole team went out one night and it was that night that made me think there was more to him than I had previously thought. Matthew and I went out a few days later for lunch and after that lunch I called my mom and told I was going to marry him. There was no question.
2 and a half months later I did just that. I feel like I was led to Matthew and that God definitely pushed me toward him. If I had listened to my initial impressions I would have missed out on the best decision I ever made.
I was well aware that my husband was not overly interested in having children. I loved him though and was willing to live my life without kids if it meant I could be with him. As much as I knew where he stood on the issue I would pray everyday to God and say, :If we are meant to have children, just let it happen. If that is your plan, I trust you.” In April 2009, 6 and a half months after we were married I found out I was pregnant.
God had a plan.
Matthew and I were ecstatic about our baby and we went to my first doctor’s appointment excited to see our first ultrasound. It was then that we found out I was carrying twins. It was also the day we told the doctor that we would be declining all prenatal testing explaining to her that nothing they found in a test would make us terminate the pregnancy. She was understanding and supportive.
Because I was carrying 2 babies I was given several ultrasounds so they could monitor their growth. Every time- everything looked perfect. We were ready to meet our sons.
At 36 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy I was taken in for an emergency c-section. There was very little fluid around the babies and Connor was not moving much. I prayed that everything would be ok and I felt comforted by God.
After the boys were born I wanted nothing more than to see them, to meet them and to know how much they weighed. It was not until I was in the recovery room that anyone would tell me anything.
I was approached by a sweet and soft spoken doctor and she told me that my sons were doing well. She said they were adorable. Then she told me that she strongly suspected that they both had Down syndrome.
I will never forget that moment. I can honestly tell you it was the worst moment of my life. Every plan I had ever made for my sons went out the window, every dream- gone in that second. I was devastated but managed to get out the word “ok”.
At that point a nurse wheeled in my boys in a tiny, clear plastic isolet and I fell madly in love. I looked at those little faces and kissed their tiny heads and knew it would be ok.
When I finally got a moment alone I did break down. I remember clearly looking up at the ceiling and thinking “what are you THINKING, God? I can’t do this! YOU MADE A MISTAKE! I am not strong enough for this. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let them be wrong.” I reasoned with him that I was only 29. I reasoned that there was no family history of Down syndrome. I begged and pleaded and bargained. A few days later it was confirmed.
They were not wrong.
And, once again, God had a plan.
It was Mathew that pulled me up when I was so down. He looked at me and put his arm around my shoulders as I sobbed. He said to me, ‘Hun, they are perfect.’ He said exactly the thing I needed to hear and he said it with such love and such conviction that I felt this huge weight lifted from me and I knew he was right. They were perfect.
Once again, God knew. He knew that Matthew was the right husband for me. Matthew’s gentle spirit and deep love for our boys was exactly what I needed to view our boys as the gifts that they were and that is how we both view them to this day. As gifts- never a burden. NEVER a mistake. NEVER less than perfect.
It has been nearly two years since Casey and Connor were born. In those 2 years I have prayed every day and thanked God for my boys, my husband, my family. And in the last year and a half I have added thanks for my FAITH and my CHURCH.
See, after the guys were born it became VERY important to me to belong to a church. I wanted the boys to have a foundation of faith in their lives so that if and when things got difficult for them- they would have a place to turn. It also became very important to me to have a place to go where I could say THANKS to God every week, where I could have a sense of community and belonging in what was a scary world for me at the time.
Since becoming a member of Clague RD UCC I have explored my faith in so many ways. I am closer to God now than I ever was and I find that I listen more closely when I feel led to do things or when people need someone to reach out to them. My relationship with God is stronger than ever and I feel more connected to my faith. I no longer feel like I am just leaning on God in tough times but taking the time to thank Him everyday for the countless blessings He has given me.
Pastor Katie asked me “If you could inspire the faith of others what would you say”. I have given the answer to this question a lot of thought and this is what I have come up with.
I would say that God always has a plan in our lives. There are times when we feel lost and alone and we should know that God is there- waiting for us to reach out so he can guide us.
I would say that, God shows us His love everyday, we just need to slow down and notice the amazing things He does to show his love.
I would also say that we all need to remember that the times we think there is NO PLAN, that God has made a mistake and we are on course destined for disaster- God is there, with a plan AND that he doesn’t make mistakes.
There are many people that think those with disabilities are mistakes or are not perfect or are not worthy of life. They are wrong. Casey and Connor are my miracle men. Every second they are alive makes this world a better place. They bring out the very best in everyone they meet. They are PROOF that God does not make mistakes.
My faith is stronger than ever. I fear fewer things and I feel more strength in all my relationships because I know that everyone I meet has a purpose in my life. And now that my husband and I are expecting our third child in June, I am comforted by my faith that we will have the baby God intends for us. I don’t know if this child will also have Down syndrome or will maybe have something more challenging. All that I know for certain is that God has a plan and He knows exactly the baby we are meant to have. I find that very comforting.
Before I close I want to share a quote I think of almost everyday- It goes If you feed your FAITH your FEAR will starve.
So I ask you, What will YOU do to feed YOUR faith?