By Jenni Funk
I think my journey started when I was a little girl. As far as I can remember, I always wanted to be a young mom; my plan was to be done having kids by the age of 26. So when I met my husband at 15 and got married at 19, I thought things were going great. After getting married, my husband Tas and I searched for a church that would be more family oriented and Southland seemed to be a good fit. We started our family right away and a couple months after our first anniversary we had a beautiful baby girl, Kasia. Motherhood didn’t seem to start as blissfully as I had hoped. I had a beautiful baby girl and a husband who was going through some health issues who both needed me and I was recovering from an unexpected C-section. I chose to lean on God and let Him be my support when I was frustrated, when nursing wasn’t going right or when I simply didn’t know what to do as a new mom. Thankfully, Kasia was a wonderful baby and an amazing sleeper.
We seemed to get the hang of things quickly so we decided to have another baby only 4 months after having our first. My plan for having kids was to have two close together, take a 2-3 year break and then have two more. But things didn’t exactly go as I had planned. At my 20 week ultra sound we found out that our precious baby girl had a diaphragmatic hernia (which means that her diaphragm did not close around her esophagus properly so the stomach and bowels could move up into her chest cavity potentially hindering her heart and lungs). It was a heart breaking blow. The doctors had told us that there could be an 80% chance that she could make it through this if she had surgery right after being born. I was very hopeful and believed that God could heal her, even before she came out of the womb. So my mind was set and nothing the doctors said after that really phased me. I had gone on believing that she would be healed and could be made healthy and whole by the time she was born. But in all this I never really went to God and had a heart-to-heart conversation with Him. I knew the Bible said He was a good God and that the Bible said that by Jesus’ stripes we were healed, so it should be a done deal. Right? Well, not exactly. When she finally did come, 2 days late, it was an experience filled with excitement, stress, hunger and exhaustion. After 30 hours of labour, Sierra Mercedes Funk entered this world and before I could hear her cry, touch her skin or see what color her eyes were the doctors rushed her away to sedate her so that they could do surgery as soon as possible. The next 48 hrs were a blur of doctors, waiting rooms, family and friends. We stayed at the hospital waiting for her to stabilize so they could do surgery. They had even called in a team to put together this machine that would help her heart do its job. But after a while they realized that the machine was doing all the work for her so we had to make the very hard decision to pull the plug on the machine and trust God no matter what the outcome would be. She ended up passing away shortly after.
I was never angry at God but I did wonder what His plan was in all of this. It was difficult to figure out a new normal afterwards and I was very thankful that I had Kasia who gave me a reason to get up in the morning and a husband who was understanding and compassionate. A close friend at the time was able to help me talk though my emotions and feelings. She really helped me through the grieving process. I am forever grateful for her. I view this point as where God was getting my attention and showing me that I wasn’t in control and didn’t have to be perfect. But I would only begin to understand that a few years later.
A few short months after Sierra’s death I got pregnant again. And God blessed us with a baby boy born, Merrek, exactly a year later on Sierra’s birthday. It definitely felt like a blessing and a time to rejoice to finally have a baby in my arms after almost two years of pregnancy. But now things didn’t look like how I had originally planned for our family. So instead of waiting to have more babies, we went ahead and had two more girls within the next 3 years. This was a very intense time, having had five babies within 6 years and three of them still in diapers. Thankfully after Merrek was born, I had started getting into the routine of getting up early and doing devotions before everyone woke up. And it was only possible because my babies were very good sleepers. But I found it gave me sanity when I felt like I had already lost my mind. During those years, I dealt with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks. My desire to control everything and make sure everything was perfect was not working so well for me. Around the time I had my last baby, I started Selah which was a breath of fresh air and gave me the hope of becoming the mom I actually wanted to be.
I had always been the mom that said I would never homeschool. I figured that when the kids were old enough to go to school I would be singing “FREEDOM!” But never say never. While Kasia went to kindergarten, God was slowly softening my heart to the idea of homeschooling. And by the August before she was starting grade 1, He had changed my mind and we were going to homeschool. It was definitely a year of character growth for me. But I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. Learning that I am not enough on my own but that I need Jesus everyday, and every moment in order for me to be the mom He designed me to be and point my kids to Jesus was worth all the heart ache and challenges that have come. A verse that I clung to then and still do now is:
“Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” Galatians 6:9
Since then He has continued to grow me as things don’t always go as I plan and children don’t always act the way I thought I had trained them to. But God is showing me that as I seek Him more and more, and as He refines my heart and will, that there is hope in motherhood. It’s not about anything I am or do, but in Him who made me and the wonderful children He gave me.
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