Grounded Podcast

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Learning Surrender through Parenting a Special Needs Child, with Tracy Lane

Do you know what it’s like to let go of your plans and dreams? Tracy Lane was twenty weeks pregnant with the girl she’d been praying for when she learned her daughter had only half a heart. She shares how she learned the beauty of surrender through the challenging journey of loving a special needs child. Her story will inspire you to embrace a life of surrender to Christ, even in difficult circumstances.

Connect with Tracy

Instagram: @heartforannie

Website

Episode Notes

The Kindness Challenge

“‘God Only Gives Special Needs Children to Special People’ (Or Does He?)” by Sheila Gosney

“Ministering to the Special Needs Mom” by Sheila Gosney

 

Introduction

Dannah Gresh: Welcome back to Grounded. Oh, Erin, It feels so good to say that after two weeks away. Grounded is a podcast and a videocast produced by Revive Our Hearts. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Erin Davis: I want to become a woman who embraces instead of resists the beauty of surrendering all of my life to Christ. I know Tracy Lane is going to show us how, so I expect to be challenged this morning and inspired by her like I am being inspired by these sweet little girl campers where I am this week. But before we hear from Tracy, let's open our Bibles and get Grounded in God's Word. And for that, we need our girl, Portia. 

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Grounded in God’s Word (Exodus 2: 1–10)

Dannah: Hello, Portia.

Portia Collins: Good morning, friends.

Dannah: Listen, being on the videocast view today is worth the price of admission, which is free admittedly, just to see your phenomenal hair. 

Portia: Oh, well, thank you. Well, we always want to help you start your week grounded in God's Word. And today we want to read a passage from Exodus 2. Exodus, the second chapter, we're going to be looking specifically at verses 1–10. When I think about surrender, and learning surrender through the lives of our children, this story is top of mind. 

Let me just set the stage here. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt and Pharaoh, mean old Pharaoh, was not happy with their flourishing numbers. He called for the murder of all the baby boys that were born to Jewish mothers. I mean, just saying that, thinking about that . . . just let that sit for a minute. He called for the murder of all baby Jewish boys. He specifically ordered the slave owners to drown the boys in the Nile River. Here's where we meet a woman who was surrendered to God's plan for her life and her baby’s life. 

I want you to pick up with me. We're going to be reading starting in verse 1 in chapter 2. It says, 

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.

Now, I just want to pause there. Can you imagine the faith of that mother? What surrender! This Jewish woman put her baby, whom we know to be Moses, in the basket, and placed him in the very river that was intended to be for his death. Your powerful story this morning, we want you to be thinking, What is your baby in the basket? What is it that God is asking you to surrender? It might be your children. It might be your marriage. It might be your job or friendship. Or, in my case, it might even be your health? What do you, in a sense, need to put in a basket and float down the river and trust that God will take care of it?

And God will take care of it, friend. Listen, as I continue reading to hear how God took care of that baby in the basket. If you can get past your flannel graph memories of this story, you'll realize this sure wasn't what Moses and his mom was probably imagining and praying would happen. Let me pick up an Exodus to reading in verse 4: 

And his sister stood at a distance [that would be Miriam] to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.”

Can you imagine the fear of Miriam at that moment? Verse 7 says, 

Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 

What quick thinking for this little girl? 

“And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” 

You know, that mama's surrender of her baby was the beginning of the rescue of an entire nation. The word for “basket” in the actual Hebrew was the same word used to describe the boat Noah built, “ark.” It was an ark. Moses, his mother's faith, surrender, her faith-filled surrender was an ark for the next generation of Israelites. She didn't know that. She only knew that she’d trust God and surrender the baby in the basket. As Tracy prepares to join us, would you share this broadcast, let others know, I'm sure there's something there in the midst of surrendering.

Guest Tracy Lane on Surrender

We're going to get some hope and perspective about the things that we need to put in the basket. I'd love to welcome our guest today. Her name is Tracy Lane. She's a writer, a good writer at that! She writes for FamilyLife today and on her own blog. She's also a mother with a riveting story of surrender. It invites all of us to trust the Lord. Hey, Tracy, thanks for joining us today.

Tracy Lane: Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be with y'all. 

Dannah: Hey, if you don't mind, I'm gonna dive right in with a really sensitive question because I don't know how to ask it without seeming offensive, at least in my own heart? But when I read your riveting story the other day, I actually thought of Pharaoh’s order to have the Jewish baby boys killed in Egypt, because he thought those babies had no value. They at least had no value to him. And when I read your story, there were doctors who felt the baby you carried in your womb (I am imagining it was about eight years ago) had no value. What did those doctors see? And what did they recommend when you were carrying Annie?

Tracy: Yes, the doctors didn't think she mattered. At our 20-week ultrasound, they told us that our second baby was going to be a girl, which I was so thrilled. I wanted to have another little girl. The only problem was, that baby had only half of her heart. They told us that outside of my womb she would be incompatible with life. The doctor said, “Go ahead and take care of that today.” He told us it wouldn't be worth carrying her. He'd said that I wouldn't want to experience what I was going to have to experience. What he recommended is to terminate the pregnancy. 

Dannah: Not many women have to hear words like those words, that horrific. I'm hearing the juxtaposition of the joy that you're having the girl that you dreamed of. and the horror, with the doctor suggesting that you abort that precious girl. You chose life. I want to know, what has life with Annie been like?

Tracy: Yes, we did choose life. It was absolutely the right decision. It's not a choice you ever think you're going to have to make in that type of situation. You know, Matt and I wanted to have a baby. It was what we wanted. So it was very shocking to hear her diagnosis and the recommendation from the doctor. 

But I'm so thankful that Annie has been here with us. Yes, she turned seven in April. So, you're right. It was almost eight years ago. It's been challenging. There have been a lot of very scary moments. Her health has been down at times and up at that time. She's had three open-heart surgeries. We actually had to move our family across the country to be closer to the care that she needed. So, we could say Annie's health has dictated so many things in our life. But we can see that it's really what God has used to guide us to where He has us and to give us the story of His grace and His strength. Annie’s such a joy. I would love for you to meet her. She just shines light.

Dannah: We have some pictures of her. She's beautiful. Her face is joyful, pictures of your whole family. I’ve got to ask my question. I'm wondering what those open-heart surgeries did—were they able to repair her heart? Does she have the rest of a heart now? Or is she still operating on less of a heart?

Tracy: She still only has half of a heart. 

Dannah: Wow. 

Tracy: It's really miraculous what they can do. They just make the right side of her heart work for her whole body. So, it's obviously not nearly as efficient as your heart or mine. But I'm so thankful that God gave wisdom to the doctors. There are just these wild medical interventions that can be done to give a vibrant life to our sweet little girl.

Dannah: And here she is seven-and-a-half years later. Herhalf a heart beating against the doctor's recommendations. 

All right, fast forward to 2020. What a year!. We're at the height of the pandemic. You're pregnant again and at an ultrasound appointment alone, because it's the middle of the pandemic. Was there apprehension about that baby's heart? And how did it turn out? 

Tracy: Yes. You can see that there's a little bit of a gap between Annie and our baby Davis, because I never wanted to have another baby. Because how could I ever go into another ultrasound again and wonder what I would hear? 

So the act of us saying yes to another baby (Matt was pretty persistent) but I never said yes to Him. It was a huge act of surrender to God, that we could trust the size of our family and the health of our family to Him. So yeah, we got pregnant with our third. And they scheduled an ultrasound at 20 weeks, looking at his heart, because of Annie’s heart. 

I actually wasn't worried because it's kind of funny the way that you make these deals in your head with God, like, oh, He wouldn't do that to us again. Right? 

Dannah: Right. 

Tracy: So very naive to think you can kind of bargain that way. But at the 20-week ultrasound appointment, I had Matt and actually Audrey and Annie on FaceTime, since no one could go with me. The ultrasound tech said, “Oh, his heart looks good. He has a healthy heart. That's great. So, I hung up the FaceTime thinking we were done.” 

Dannah: Yeah.

Tracy: But we weren't done. I've been in those rooms enough times to know when something isn't going right. So, I wasn't sure what it was, but I understood that it wasn't going to be good. After the scan, I actually had to go into the doctor's office who should have been there, but because of the precautions he was at his home, with the safety, and he called me. He said, I don't even know how to tell this to a mother like you, but your son has spina bifida.

Dannah: Wow. 

Tracy: Yeah. 

Dannah: So again, were you faced with a decision? I mean, knowing your heart, you didn't have a decision? Did the doctors also make a recommendation that time?

Tracy: He did. He told us that Davis likely would never walk and that he would likely be significantly cognitively impaired. Since my husband wasn't there with me, he said, “Why don't you go home? Tell your husband what I said. Don't Google anything yet. But let's have a Zoom call this afternoon, and I'll recommend what you should do.” And of course, his first recommendation for what he calls treatment was to terminate.

Dannah: Wow. What did you and your husband say to that? What do you do?

Tracy: Yeah, so it's interesting, because with Annie when we were in that room when the doctor suggested it, I was the first one with an immediate no. You know, I was carrying her and I could feel her kicking. This time with Davis, I felt like I didn't have the fight anymore. 

Dannah: Oh wow.

Tracy: But thankfully, Matt still did. He was the immediate, “No, no, that's not an option for us.” And of course, I agreed with him. I would want nothing else. But I didn't have the strength to say at that time, and God gave it to him. It was actually a really sweet journey for our marriage too, to just be able to see what God would give each of us during each different day parenting these two children, plus Audrey who's our healthy child. He really has just given us what we needed every moment of every day.

Dannah: I love how you see the treasures in this surrender. How's that sweet baby doing? How old is he, and what's his health journey been like?

Tracy: Yeah, he's nine months, and he is adorable. 

Dannah: He is adorable. 

Tracy: I cannot imagine life without him. I don't know why I never wanted to third baby, because he's such a joy. I mean, he really does complete our family. He was born at the Children's Hospital. He spent a week there. You can see us outside the NICU, that was last week at his checkup. But when he was born, I didn't get to meet him. He went straight into the hands of a neurosurgeon to remove the big bubble on his back. That was a very difficult day for us. 

You want to meet your baby, you want to hold your baby, and I didn't even see him before the surgeon did. I met him later that night. But God has just healed him so much. His prognosis at this point is very, very positive. He's crawling. He's pulling to stand.

Dannah: Praise the Lord. 

Tracy: Yes, it’s so fun. 

Dannah: I love the faith that's still in your heart, in your mind. This isn't easy. You know, even just last night we were going to record this earlier, but we had to cancel that because you had sick kids through the night. And sick kids for you is probably a very different journey than sick kids for the rest of us. But you look beautiful today; your spirit is bright. What a life lesson you are for all of us, a living life lesson in surrender. I wonder, what you'd say to a woman listening right now who's facing surrender, maybe in areas of her marriage or her health, but it could be in the health of her children or her grandchildren? What encouragement would you give to her today?

Tracy: Surrender is hard. I think it's fair to say that. That's a big part of encouragement I would give. Because sometimes in the faith community, we want it to seem really easy. Like, if we just trusted or if we just prayed harder, but really surrendering what we want, and our dreams through our life, it's very difficult. But I think it's important to remember who you're surrendering to. At times, I felt like I was having to surrender to different diagnoses for my kids. But that's really not what I was surrendering to. When we surrender, we're surrendering to a good God, and He cares about us. 

Dannah: Wow, yes.

Tracy: He knows what we need. I need to keep that in the forefront. Again, surrender is never easy. But if I keep that in the forefront, it makes the surrender worth it. And I'm not alone in this surrender. I have that good God asking me to surrender, walking with me through the surrender. And He gives us what we need. We can trust Him.

Dannah: I love that. That's two good pieces of advice. One, remember, surrender is not easy. You have permission for it to be hard. It wouldn't be surrender, if it wasn't hard, right? 

Tracy: Right.

Dannah: No matter what you're facing, it's okay to say, Jesus, this is so hard. I can't believe that I'm having to do this again. And the second thing, remember what or who you're surrendering to, it's not that circumstance. It's not that sickness. It's trust in the Lord that you're surrendering to.

Now, I imagine your story is probably like mine. When the Lord asked me to surrender, I surrender. It's all over and my heart is perfect. They're on. And I never have to re surrender again, because it's all settled with the Lord, right? No, it doesn't work that way. So what do you do on those days, when you're like, I feel like I'm starting over today, I have to re-surrender to this?

Tracy: Well, I will say, I think that's every day. Especially with our kids, it's very hard, because every day demands something different from me than it would if that wasn't the case. But what I do is just ground myself in who He is. I mean, I like to meditate on Scripture and just think about Psalm 56. There's the verse, “When I'm afraid, I will trust in You.” And I'm afraid to surrender every day again. But I just remember who I'm trusting and, and really, I look back on God's faithfulness, the surrender has been okay, it's never failed me yet. Because again, I'm surrendering to Him. He hasn't failed me. And if I can focus on that, I can surrender this day, this moment, over and over to that good God.

Dannah: I love that, Tracy. Wow. You said Psalm 56, right? Psalm 56, “When I'm afraid, I will trust in you” (v. 3). That's the verse you probably need or the chapter you need to dig into. On the days when you're feeling like you have to start all over with your surrender again, Tracy, you know what I hear from your heart? It's an understanding that we can surrender all of our lives to Jesus every bit. Even really difficult, ongoing circumstances, like having a daughter with half a heart. Or those nights when the babies are sick, and they're throwing up, and we just have to have the energy to make it through. We can surrender to the Lord and those things because He's promised us good things, and we can trust Him. Thanks for being with us today, Tracy. God bless you.

Tracy: Thank you for having me. 

Video on Surrender

Dannah: You know, I need to be reminded to surrender and trust God every single day, just as you just heard Tracy say. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been a friend that God's used to help me live more surrendered to Him. And we've got a short video clip of Nancy teaching at a True Woman conference on walking with the Lord. In miserable circumstances, let's watch together.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Sometimes our circumstances are just the natural byproduct of crummy choices we've made. But sometimes you've been walking with the Lord, you've been waiting on Him, you've been trusting Him, you've been trying to serve Him, you've been trying to be faithful to Him. And yet, you still have these really miserable circumstances. Paul had been a faithful servant of the Lord. Now he's at the end of his life and ministry, and you think maybe you'd have a chance here on this earth to get some of the reward of his ministry. But he understood the reward is not here, the reward is there. And then, in the meantime, he was going to have God's view of his circumstances in his life. He was a servant of the Lord. Whatever it was that God had for him, he was going to receive.

The “Good Stuff” on Surrender

Erin: Ooh, I'm still tearing from hearing from Tracy. I keep having to blot my eyes. I got what I came for today, which is not to focus on what I'm surrendering, but to focus on who I am surrendering to. I can surrender it all to Him. He's so good. So, love, love, love hearing from Tracy.

Hey, it wouldn't be Grounded if we didn't point you to what we call the good stuff. And that is tools to help you stay grounded after you finish watching this episode or listening to this episode. We know there will be opportunities for you to need to stay grounded. So, the first thing we want to point you to this week is something we're calling The Kindness Challenge, we're actually gonna do a whole episode of Grounded on this coming up, and man, it's gonna be great. I'm looking forward to it. But we just think kindness can matter. Kindness can make a dent in the darkness is what I keep saying. 

And so, we are challenging people to be kind in the month of July and beyond. Portia and I were going to do a special live video every weekday in July at 10 a.m Eastern. So if you feel like you need more than the Portia and Erin that you get on Grounded, we're going to give you some more. I hear Emmy in the background, we’ll probably have Emmy in some of them. So 10 a.m. Eastern, you're going to hear a short devotional unkindness. We've got some great Bible teachers lined up. And every day we're going to give you a simple idea for how to show kindness to others. So, join us on The Kindness Challenge. That's the first thing we want to tell you about.

Portia: Yeah, I've really been working with Emmy lately on kindness. You know, she's an only child. And so …

Erin: She doesn’t like to share?

Portia: Oh, not at all, not at all. We have a friend of ours, her daughter has been coming over to hang out with us. It's been kind of tough trying to teach her kindness and sharing. And so, I need this, I need to get recharged and get some more resources under my belt so that I can help my daughter. 

We want to recommend two blog posts to you. The first is one from a mom of a special needs child. This is written by Sheila Gosney. Her son has autism. And in this blog, she shares some profound lessons that she's learned on her journey. We’ll drop that link. 

The second blog post that we want to point you in the direction to go check out gives you some practical ideas for ministering to special needs moms. Okay, so think about it, we have mamas who need you to lift their arms up to support them. I'm sure there is a woman in your church, in your neighborhood, in your family who is caring for a special needs child. She could use your encouragement. And so, this blog post will give you some simple ideas for how to love on her.

Conclusion

Dannah: Well, friends, thank you for being with us today. We have so enjoyed considering this topic of surrendering to the Lord. I wonder if you'd leave a comment, we love praying for you. We have a whole prayer team for Grounded that loves praying for you. Leave a comment and tell us what is it that the Lord is calling you to surrender right now? Remember, it can be small, or it can be big. Everything is practicing. 

It's good to practice the skills God calls us to live out. He calls us to live surrendered lives so even those little things matter. Now that I got the cross the swimming with the sharks off my bucket list, I have new things the Lord is asking me to surrender. He's been asking me for about 18 months to surrender my beloved home and farm. And it's a new surrender every day. What is He asking you to surrender whether it's practice or the big things? Tell us. Is it hopes? Is that your dreams? Is that your expectations? Erin, Portia, what's the Lord asking you to surrender right now? How is he teaching you in this area? 

Erin: Well, I’ve got a friendship that's on the rocks. It's hard because I want to deal with it. I want to have the conversation. I want to hug each other. I want to move on. And the person on the other side of the relationship isn't there yet. So, I am daily having to surrender to the Lord. I have to trust that the Lord is going to bring reconciliation in the right time. It's been a tough path of surrender, frankly.

Dannah: So, surrendering relationships. I don't know that anything is more difficult other than maybe the health of a child, then surrendering relationships. What about you, Portia? You're surrendering that child to the Lord right now, aren't you? I saw that with that mama bear look.

Portia: Definitely my baby. Just being a mother is the most beautiful thing, but it is something you don't get a playbook for, you don't get anything. And so, it's something that I have to trust God to teach me how to do every day. I think the second thing would be my health. Just surrendering and trusting that God knows what He's doing. And so, I'm going to hush now, cuz I'm about to cry.

Dannah: Okay, if you do because remember what Tracy told us? It's okay. Surrender is hard. And when you cry Portia, when your tears come out, that doesn't mean you're not surrendering. It just means you're acknowledging that surrender is hard. But I hope that you and everyone listening to my voice right now remember, we're not surrendering to the health diagnosis. We're not surrendering to the rocky friendship. We're not surrendering to losing the home of our dreams. We're surrendering to a God who loves us and has a good plan.

Erin: And a God who surrendered His life for us, right? 

Dannah: So true.

Erin: Hey, we have got such a great July planned. I can't believe it is July, but it is.

Dannah: I don’t mean to brag about it but we do. I’m so excited.

Erin: Erin: Erin: Well, we can brag about it because I feel like the Lord lines these guests up. I know I’m excited about every episode. So, Ruth Chou Simons is going to be with us next week. You have probably seen her stunning artwork around. She's not here to talk about art. Next week, we're going to talk about how to use these lazy summer months. That's what they're called. They're not all that lazy at my house. But how can we use them for intentional spiritual formation? Especially in our families? I can't wait. 

Portia: I'm excited. I love Ruth. She is so sweet. I think she's a mom of all boys, too. 

Erin: She is.

Portia: So that's something in common. I can't wait. But guys at home, don't forget about the Kindness Challenge. Like, I'm super excited about it. I hope you are too. It's gonna be right here at 10 a.m. Eastern Time every week day.

Dannah: It’s coming up in just a few minutes. Friends, let's start a kindness revolution right here on social media. Boy, do we need it there. nd let's wake up together with hope next week on Grounded. 

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guest

Tracy Lane

Tracy Lane

Tracy Lane—wife to Matt, mom of three, writer at FamilyLife—is trying to juggle the dream. She enjoys cheering on her husband's baseball team and encouraging others with the truth of the gospel. With Tracy you get what you see: a mom who carries the weight of caring for a chronically ill daughter, but is also doing her best to teach her family how to make the most of every day we are given for God's glory. Follow her motherhood journey online at HeartForAnnie.wordpress.com.