Friday, October 28, 2011

Titus2Woman: Nancy - Part 1

I have started dedicating Friday's to telling the stories of Empty Nesters and offering the advice that only comes from years of experience.  Last week, I introduced you to Lora.  Her battle with depression as a young mother touched my hearts and many of my readers as well.  

Today, I want to introduce you to another wonderful woman I am blessed to know.  Her life experiences will bring you to tears.  If you or someone you know has experienced the death of a child, please read and share this story.  Nancy and her husband, Doug, are elders at the church Tim and I attend.  They were instrumental in starting FFM.  Today, I am thankful that despite the private pain Nancy has faced, she was willing to continue serving both in her church and community.  I, for one, am blessed because of her!

Here's Nancy's story:

 My name is Nancy Schwartz.  I work at Centreville Elementary as a teaching assistant, and have been there for six years.  Twenty-six years ago, I married Doug.  He has been working as a mechanical engineer and engineering department supervisor for the past 25 years at Burr Oak Tool in nearby Sturgis.

First, let me tell you about our children.

Josh is 26 and we recently celebrated his marriage to Kalene.  Josh works at Burr Oak Tool as well and lives in Sturgis. 

Josh was my firstborn child.  I was pregnant at 20 years old and I believe to this day that Josh was "sent" to Doug and I to rescue us from the downward spiral of our worldly lives!  As a little girl, my dream was to get married to my Prince and have children!  Doug and I had done our share of "sowing our wild oats," so when Josh was born, it was the beginning of a wonderful journey together! 

I was ready to settle down, put God first, and become a family!  One of the things we decided early on was to give our children Biblical Names and a Godly Heritage!  Proverbs 22:1 says "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches; Loving favor rather than silver or gold." 

Joshua means "Jehovah Saves."  I felt that was so true of him.  Jesus saved us and the Lord also used Josh to "save" us.  Josh was my only child for 4 years.  We did everything together.  I was blessed to be a stay at home mother, so I took advantage of every moment.  When Doug came home from work, he picked up where I left off and we enjoyed Josh thoroughly!  His first word was "ball" and I knew there was something special about this boy! Josh was very gifted athletically but he also has a keen sense about people and knows who is real!   I thanked God daily for letting us keep him and "promised" to be the best mom I could be!  I honestly didn't know how a parent could love a child any more than I loved him....... then along came Sarah!

Sarah is 22 and is an LPN.  She is currently finishing Nursing school at GOCC and lives at home.  Sarah means "Princess."  When the Dr. told me I was going to have a girl, I didn't believe him.  I wanted a girl so bad, but between Doug's family and mine, girls were rare! Sarah came into the world fast and with a broken collar bone!  It was kinda like "here I am let's get this party started!"  

Josh could hardly believe we were bringing her home with us! Sarah was my little social bug!  She always had friends coming and going and could play "dress up" or hit a home run in softball all in the same day! Sarah has a prophetic gift and is a natural caregiver and nurturer!  She is our Princess; tenderhearted, creative, and sassy; beautiful inside and out!

Jesse is 18 and just left for Grand Valley State University this fall.  Jesse means “Wealthy.”  Jesse was born on Easter Sunday and I believe the Lord made a statement on that day to us!  Jesse was born during some of the happiest days of our lives and we felt very “rich” when the Lord gave him to us!  He was spunky and energetic and is one of the happiest kids I know!  He makes people smile and has always been our entertainer!  He also can be very stubborn and hard-headed!  One time when Jesse was three, he spilled some markers on the floor and wouldn’t pick them up.  It took a whole night of no supper and into lunch the next day (and several spankings prior to that) before he finally broke and picked them up!  I knew I had to win that battle!  He is very athletic, has a gift for music and leads by example!

Jonathan is our “Gift from God and our Little Warrior".  After having 3 healthy children, life turned a corner for us when Jonathan was born!  I felt like I had everything under control and I was sailing through life!  Why is it we can pray and ask God for anything, but when it comes to how many children we want, WE TELL Him?   

I was sure I wanted 4 children and that would be good!  Somehow, the thought of 5 children kept coming to me, but that was crazy! Five kids was a little much I thought!  So, I became pregnant with my fourth child and planned for another spring birth!  To my surprise and horror, I began to have difficulties at 19 weeks!  The Doctors were sure it was nothing, and told me to come in for a checkup the next day!  It was three days before Christmas.  We had just had an ultrasound a few days earlier, so we knew we were having another boy! Later on, I would be so thankful for that information.  As I went into the room for my checkup, I was devastated to find out that most of my amniotic fluid was gone and I would probably go into labor by the weekend and lose the baby!  They sent us home and told us to come back to the hospital when the process began! Wow!  A flood of emotions came over me!  This couldn’t be happening to me, I thought!  Not me!  To our surprise, we made it through the Holidays and Jonathan actually was doing pretty good!  We had tremendous Faith that this was going to be a Miracle Child!  I proceeded to go another eight weeks in my pregnancy and made several trips to and from the hospital.

This was one of my last journal entries about Jonathan:
"Sunday February 8th- Little did I know this would be our last trip to the hospital.  The Dr. did a quick ultrasound and to his and our amazement, you had turned head down!  The Dr. said this wouldn’t happen without fluid.  We told him just a few days earlier, that we had prayed that you would turn and you did!  The Dr. said this time we wouldn’t be going home!  Grandpa Lahman was having surgery on Friday the 13th and both of you were fighting for your lives!  I had a wonderful time with all my family and friends visiting me.  Time went so fast!  Grandpa came through fine and so were you!  I planned on at least 8 more weeks for you and me in the hospital.  I knew we could do it!!!
Monday  February 16th (4:30 am) Your heart was beating strong.  At 8:00 am, my little Jonathan, my life changed forever! Sometime in those last few hours, Jonathan, you had fallen asleep and awoke in the arms of Jesus!  The nurse tried for many minutes to find your little heart beat, but none would be found. You were with Jesus! It’s 8:30 am and I am sitting here all alone. Grandma Lahman is coming and daddy will be here soon.  I feel so alone, but somehow, in the way only God can do, He is holding us both now!  How I long to hold you and tell you I am sorry. You, little Jonathan, have not lost, but have won the battle!  You have won the prize! You are with the Heavenly Father my little one and you will know no sorrow and no pain!  How I envy you! 

February 17th (1:31 am) – I finally held you in my arms and seen how wonderfully God had made you!  Your tiny fingers and toes were such a joy to behold!  To me you were perfect.  Daddy and I held you in our arms- not really wanting to say goodbye, but knowing God had chosen for you to be with Him!  Oh, how I loved you Jonathan for these 6 short months.  I will never forget you and the impact you had on so many lives!  I know it won’t be long and we will be together forever!  Good-bye Jonathan my little lamb from God- Good bye!   I love you!  Mommy."   

I became pregnant with Seth 11 weeks later……………

Seth is now 12 and is in 6th grade at Centreville Elementary.  Seth means “Appointed”.  He is my “Healing Balm of Gilead!”  I was not planning on having another child so soon, but I am so glad I did!  Seth helped bring Peace, Rest, and Promise into our lives!  What a joy it was to hold a healthy baby boy in our arms less than a year after our dear Jonathan!  Seth is affectionate, charming and our little comedian!  His aim is to try and make everyone laugh- whatever the cost!  It does cost him quite often!  He is very much like his dad!  He can be found drawing, playing piano or indulging in video games! If no one is around, he will entertain himself!  He has the gift of Giving and loves to pick on people!  Sorry if you have been a victim!  He was definitely appointed by God!

One of my specific goals as a mother was to be at home.  I was blessed to have a husband who felt the same, and I was able to stay at home for twenty-one years to help raise our kids.  I will never regret it!   

Reading to them and praying for them was a huge priority when they were little. Most every night they would be found with us reading a story and tucking them in with prayers and kisses!  I have always wanted them to know and believe in Jesus as young children and never wanted to hear out of their mouths,“ Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus?” when they got older!  I have made it my lifelong profession to call out the gifts of God that He has planted into my children! I take the time to write to them and about them and I want them to believe and to be confident in who and what God has called them to be in His Kingdom!  You may hear quite often in our house “Don’t bury your talents in the ground!”  I believe everyone has gifts from God and it is our job as parents to uplift and encourage these gifts in all of our children! 

Some of the unique challenges we have faced besides losing a child, is balancing family and responsibilities. Shepherding is a huge calling on anyone’s life, whether it is your own family or your family at Church!  I have struggled with this for years and I really don’t have an answer other than praying and discerning the voice of God!  I have felt many times that I have let down my husband and children by being involved in so many “good” things.  I have a gift of Serving and Mercy that can get me into trouble if not Spirit Controlled!  I have learned many lessons in this area and I am still learning how to say “no.”    

If I could have a conversation with myself at 25, I would say………
  • Don’t worry and fret!  
  • Trust God!  
  • Keep praying and loving your family!   
  • You are doing a good job!   
  • Will this really matter in 50 years?  
  • You are not fat!  Lol   
  • Treasure these days because they go by way too fast!  
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your Paths!” Proverbs 3:5.

My advice to mothers today is: 
  • Love your husbands and your children!
  • Remember to forgive as Christ has forgiven you!   
  • Choose your battles carefully and work together as a TEAM!  
  • I am a believer that your children will be your friend someday, so work hard now and build a relationship that will last forever! 
  • Be patient and long suffering with your children, because you may be all they have someday! 
  • Be humble and ask for forgiveness when needed.   
  • Take the time to tell your children how much you love them, tomorrow might be too late!!!!