June 3, 2017, marks the tenth birthday of our stillborn daughter Carsyn. I have written about her impact on our family a few times over the years. The most recent post can be read here: http://jeremypcarroll.com/celebrating2livesonjune3
My wife and I have tried to make the date of June 3 as a memorial stone on our family’s calendar. In Joshua 4 God instructs Joshua to have the Israelites take stones from the Jordan river to remind of God’s faithfulness and miraculous provision as they cross on dry ground. After collecting the stones, Joshua told God’s people: In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones? ’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24) We will find great benefit in life if we establish landmarks in our lives to help us remember God’s provision lest we fall into taking God’s graciousness for granted.
It is difficult for me to believe that season of our lives was only 10 years ago. So much as happened since then: lived in 3 different states, added 3 more children, welcomed into several church families, God has healed our family from that dark place in ways we could never had imagined at the time.
This year we were blessed to be able to celebrate in a special way with almost everyone from our extended family in TN. Just spending an evening of together. Enjoying each other’s company. God’s faithfulness was on display.
God’s faithfulness is most often on display during life’s trials. An interesting thing about life’s trials… they do not play favorites. Someone once said about the trials of life:
You are either in a trial, just coming out of one, or… buckle up because one is likely around the corner.
We all face them. This means we all have various opportunities throughout life to witness and be thankful for God’s faithfulness. In fact, how we deal with the trials of life reveals the depth of our own faith. In fact James said in the New Testament:
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. ~ James 1:2-3
Now, I have NOT reached the point that I can consistently rejoice in the trials I face in life, but by God’s grace and with the support of my wife, I have been able to find the strength to submit to His leadership through them. I am inspired by Paul’s dependence on God’s grace in the midst of his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12). God’s power is perfected in my weakness.
Whether you are in the midst of a trial, heading into one, or in a place of healing from the last one, may God’s grace be your abundant supply at all times!
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give.
But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.
Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:
- My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children.
- Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad.
- My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.
- My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife.
- My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked.
- My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families.
Each year, June 3rd brings 2 celebrations of life.
One life is my dad! June 3 is his birthday. He is a man who has seen struggles, some consequential and others circumstantial; but today, he is fighting hard to be the man God has called him to be. I am thankful for him and love him so much!
The other life is daughter Carsyn Marie. She was stillborn on June 3, 2007. This morning I have reflected and read through posts from 2012 and 2013. Some thoughts from previous years can be found below.
But this year, I am reminded that the fact that these 2 lives are connected to the same calendar day means a great deal to me. My ability to deal with loss and life’s struggles was, in a large part, learned from my dad. As I said, he is man who has seen many personal struggles in his lifetime, and today, he stands firm fighting against those struggles toward Christlikeness. His example, along with other’s I have seen, wrapped in the mercy and graciousness of God gives me hope. Hope to press on. Hope that God is working things our for good according to His purposes and glory (Romans 8:28). Hope “that He who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Finally, I would be negligent if I failed to mention the steadfast faith of my wife, Janna. Through an emotionally devastating situation, she exemplified the peace of God unlike any I have personally witnessed. Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). She lived this back in 2007. And I’ve seen it over and over again since then. She is one of my greatest heroes.
My encouragement to you is this: struggles come and go, some last a long time and some only a short time. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you have troubles, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
Original post: http://jeremypcarroll.com/today-she-would-have-been-6
Our daughter, Carsyn, would have been 6 years old today, had she not been stillborn. In one sense, it seems like a lifetime ago; in another, like only yesterday.
Each year, we try to set aside this day to be together as a family. We talk. We do things together, some fun – some somber. We pray. We remember. The goal is not to idolize our daughter but to simply be together and to remember and celebrate, as a family, the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of God in our life during a dark time.
May God encourage you by what we continue to learn.
Below are some excerpts from last year’s post (to read in full: http://jermpc.com/?p=505)
My dear, sweet daughter Carsyn. Today would be her 5th birthday (2012) had she not been stillborn. Her birthday serves as a reminder for our family of one of the darkest seasons we have encountered. In a moment like that, there are no words of comfort for someone who has just been told “I’m sorry; we cannot find your baby’s heartbeat. She has died.” There is grief. Even though, we never heard her laugh or saw her smile. Even though, I never comforted her when she was crying or read her a book or played with her and her dolls…there is grief. There is sadness. She is, to this day, part of our family, though. Her picture hangs on our wall with the rest of the childrens’ pictures. She come up in our conversations.
I find myself reflecting often on the circumstances of 2007 in hopes that the Lord will not allow me to become complacent and stagnant in life. Of course, I do not desire that to return to that valley, but I, also, do not want to forget the lessons that God taught me during that time.
What did I learn then that I do not want to let go of? (note: this list is certainly not comprehensive)
1. Life is in God’s hands. Pretending I have any control or hand on life and death is pure foolishness. Furthermore, I do not need to understand death any more than I need to understand birth. I should not ask “Why did Carsyn die?” any more than I should ask “Why was Carsyn’s life created?”
2. Circumstances change; God does not.
3. Contentment in the Lord must be of highest importance to my family. Paul writes, “I have learned to be content in all things.” and so must I (1 Timothy 6). Not just contentment with stuff but with His power over the ebb and flow of life.
4. One of the most often misquote…and misapplied verses in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (HCSB)
I’ve heard it many times with this verse as support, “God will not allow anything to happen to you that you can’t handle.” This verse does not say this, nor does the Bible, in any other place, teach this idea. This verse is talking about the temptation to sin not the trials of life. The whole point is that we can’t handle many (perhaps argument could be made for all) of life’s circumstances. We need God. We need to Him as focus of our praise in the good times lest we think too highly of ourselves, and we need Him to sustain us during the difficult times by His peace.
5. The peace of God really does surpass all human understanding.
Why is this so important to me? Because as difficult as that season of life was for our family, God has shown us great mercy & grace over the last 5 years since. He has added 2 more amazing children our family and granted us loving relationships from our amazing church staff and church family…to name just a couple. God has shown us His kindness in more ways than I can name…and that is something I never want to forget!
Like many of you, our family has much to be thankful for this year! We have been humbled by God’s graciousness to us over the past decade.
I began this post last Thanksgiving and dropped the ball on posting it. I thought I’d pick it up today and see if I could finish.
When we moved to Keller, TX, in 2007, we were in the middle of the darkest years of our married life up to that point. Moving to Keller was the answer to much prayer, and we had no idea how refreshing the years that followed would be. During our time in Keller, we were blessed part of an incredible church and community. We have so many friends who have had dramatic impact on our lives. When we moved to Keller in 2007, we were a small family of 4. God graciously added 3 kids to our family in those 7 years.
Growth was not only familial; there was spiritual growth, as well. I had the great honor of being ordained into the gospel ministry by our church family and baptize 2 of our children.
The deep friendships we made during our time in Keller continue to have a meaningful impact on us even today.
September rounded out our first year in Tuscaloosa. While we miss our friends from TX, the Lord has been gracious to us over the last year. Here are some highlights:
- Moved to a new town
- Moved into a new house
- Began a new ministry
- Lovingly welcomed into a new church family
- Began new homeschooling endeavors
- New soccer opportunities
- Began new friendships
- J: soccer (being able to continue to play after our move and for new opportunities)
- C: 10th birthday
- R: our home
- H: our family (“& that I can draw a ghost on paper” Haha!)
All the way around, we have so much to be thankful for. We are grateful to have had another year together and know that we owe our gratitude to Jesus. We know that many have not had a great… or even a good year. Many of you have faced incredible challenges in 2015. To you, know that my family is praying for God’s sustaining grace and mercy be present and evident in your life. We pray that God will engulf you with His faithful love during this holiday season.
One of the verses that hangs in our home is Philippians 4:12-13, and it is one we pray envelopes our family.
In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
My readings this morning came from Psalm 36 and Psalm 100. Both focus on God’s faithful love but from different angles. Psalm 36 seems to look on God’s love with admiration and awe while Psalm 100 sees God’s love as humbling to thankfulness. These do not stand in opposition to one another but lead to the same place: praising God.
I was struck by something this morning, that I probably had thought of before, but never really stopped to ponder over. It’s nothing profound, just a thought. Psalm 36:5 reads, “Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the skies.” In the ancient times when this was written, this had to be nearly absurd. With modern technology over the last 60+ years, some of the magnitude of this statement may get lost. Hundreds of thousands of people “reach the skies” every day in airplanes, and we have even gone beyond the skies into “the heavens” with space exploration. Stop, then, and catch what the psalmist is saying. Said with sincerity, he is portraying God’s faithfulness and love as completely unmatched, unthinkable, inexplicable. Paul would echo this praise with similar thought in his letter to the Ephesians, He “…is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to [His] power that works in us – to Him be the glory…” (v. 20-21). God’s love is not confined the finite understanding of man. Even though our understanding of our world has increased tremendously since the writing of the Psalms, God’s faithful love is still reaches far beyond our understanding. In Paul’s day and certainly in the Old Testament time, soaring through the skies was nonsense. No one could “reach the skies” except Him who created all things (Genesis 1:1, Colossians 1:16).
I really don’t know what a modern equivalent to this statement might be (perhaps “reaches to the ends of the universe” or “encompasses all of the vast galaxies”), but I encourage you to take a moment today and ponder that God’s faithful love is just as unmatched, “above and beyond all” today, as it was in ancient times. In fact, this is exactly what the psalmist is declaring in Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.” And it is this consistent, faithful, unwavering, unmatched love that bids us “Come, follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Today, my wife and I celebrate 13 amazing years together as husband and wife and the beginning of our 14th year. 156 months, 676 weeks, 4,749 days…not that I am counting. Those 4,749 days have brought a wide variety of emotions and circumstances. We have had 6 pregnancies which brought us the births 4 of the most incredible children I know and the loss of 2 in my wife’s womb. We’ve moved our home more times than I care to admit, living in both Tennessee and Texas, purchasing our first home together a few years back. We have had the privilege of serving 4 different churches in various roles and capacities, and celebrating 5 years at First Baptist Keller las Fall. We’ve had next to nothing; we’ve had more than our fair share. We’ve walked with dear friends and family through marriages, births of children, loss of jobs, loss of family members, and so much more. We have been blessed by the communities God has placed us in over the years and are incredibly blessed where we are today.
My prayer for our family in 2013 is to take the attitude of Paul in Philippians 4.
…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret ⌊of being content⌋ — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
As long as I have known my sweet wife (nearly 20 years now), she has been as close to a Proverbs 31 woman as I have ever met.
10 Who can find a capable wife?
She is far more precious than jewels.11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will not lack anything good.12 She rewards him with good, not evil,all the days of her life.13 She selects wool and flaxand works with willing hands.14 She is like the merchant ships,bringing her food from far away.15 She rises while it is still nightand provides food for her householdand portions for her female servants.16 She evaluates a field and buys it;she plants a vineyard with her earnings.17 She draws on her strengthand reveals that her arms are strong.18 She sees that her profits are good,and her lamp never goes out at night.19 She extends her hands to the spinning staff,and her hands hold the spindle.20 Her hands reach out to the poor,and she extends her hands to the needy.21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,for all in her household are doubly clothed.22 She makes her own bed coverings;her clothing is fine linen and purple.23 Her husband is known at the city gates,where he sits among the elders of the land.24 She makes and sells linen garments;she delivers belts to the merchants.25 Strength and honor are her clothing,and she can laugh at the time to come.26 She opens her mouth with wisdomand loving instruction is on her tongue.27 She watches over the activities of her householdand is never idle.28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.Her husband also praises her:29 “Many women are capable,but you surpass them all! ”30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.31 Give her the reward of her labor,and let her works praise her at the city gates.
A few more pics from our Family Photo Day