A story of how God changed a mother by revealing His love to her.
By Charissa Barnard
[Charissa has been a Selah mom for 5 years and part of the Core Team for 2. She has headed up our Tots program for the past 2 years and does a remarkable job of leading this area. She also homeschools her 3 boys and works at the Steinbach pool! We appreciate her high energy and creative ideas that help make our ministry awesome.]
My first minutes as a mom came after being awake for almost 48 hours. I was beyond exhausted! To be honest, I may have even told God that I was ready to die to escape the pain. But then it was over. And it was all worth it when I finally saw Eric. He was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and I could hardly believe he was mine for keeps!
We got out of the hospital as soon as possible. I was so happy to be home and was looking forward to getting some much needed sleep. But, my baby didn’t sleep for more than an hour and a half at a time! Between diapers, feeding, and burping I was getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night in 20-30 minute snippets. Part of the problem was that even when my baby was sleeping I would wake up in a panic, terrified that he was dead and have to get up to check on him.
One night I was crying out to God because I felt so tired. I couldn’t even bring myself to get out of bed. God made His love for me so real right in that moment. Then He showed me how much He loved Eric. I knew then that I could trust Him to take care of Eric and even had the sudden realization that He could actually do it better than I could! It was still a nightly struggle to give my baby to God, but over time it did become easier. By trusting God’s love, I was able to relax and fall asleep as soon as I lay down. I still wasn’t getting more than 4 to 5 hours a night in 30-45min portions and I kept waiting for it to get better. Finally at 8 months old, Eric started sleeping for 3 hours at a time. By 14 months he was sleeping through the night. I learned that I can trust God with my kids and rely on Him for strength and energy to get through my day.
When Eric was a year and a half old, I had a miscarriage. It was one of the most agonizing times in my life. I was completely taken aback by how sad I was. But once again, God poured His love on me. Even through my tears, I could so clearly see God’s tenderness. I will never forget how He met me exactly where I was.
My next big test came with my second son Judah. He was the best birthday present I have ever received! He also slept 3 hours at a time from day 1, so I was feeling unbelievably good about that! Then when he was 2 or 3 weeks old he got a super high fever. The doctors in Steinbach couldn’t control it even while overlapping Advil and Tylenol and they were constantly on the phone to Health Science’s. Again, God revealed Himself to me in a big way. Initially the doctors were really worried. I still remember sitting on the bed after the nurse reprimanded me for holding him because my body temperature would keep his up. I just stared at my baby crying alone in his crib, not knowing if he would live or die. God gave me a very clear picture of Judah at a specific age doing a specific thing. I then knew that until I had seen that moment in his life, his death was not something to worry about. That picture has been a comfort to me many times since then too. I was finally able to commit myself more fully to God; even if He took my family, I would still follow Him. I learned that God’s promises are true, and I can trust Him.
Eventually we were transferred to the Children’s Hospital, which turned into a 3 week stay with IV antibiotics. This was so hard on our family and terribly confusing for my 2-year-old. He couldn’t understand why mommy wasn’t taking care of him anymore. In the hospital, I again didn’t sleep for more than a couple hours a night and felt I couldn’t take anymore. I missed my family and my bed and felt so incredibly lonely sitting alone in a small room afraid to take even a 2-minute shower worried they might mess up his medications again. I also found that I needed to work through the anger that was creeping up towards Judah, which made me feel so incredibly guilty. When Judah was healthy and we were finally together as a family again, I had to work so hard to curb my fear of losing my kids. It was (is) a long process, but God is faithful and thankfully, He knows I take a long time to change.
The thing that changed my day-to-day life the most and gave me the most joy was when God challenged me to forgive. It was and is hard. Little by little (since 2005) I have been able to forgive people that hurt me. Then in the fall of 2016, God challenged me to forgive others before they hurt me. It blew my mind! I started forgiving others for the hurt I knew was coming. It completely changed my heart and my marriage! Through this I learned that God has such good gifts for me, and forgiveness is about my heart, not anyone else.