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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

My Journey: Instant Motherhood

By Jordan Schrandt
May 12, 2013

When I was a little girl, my baby dolls were worn out from head to toe as I affectionately attended to their every need. My dream job was to become a wife and a mom. I babysat through high school, was the second of four children, and after college (and three summers of working at a kids camp) I traveled to New York to be a nanny for a year. All in all, I love kids. Yet none of these experiences could have prepared me for what God had in store for my life.

In January 2010, I began studying for my master’s degree in teaching. It was a snowy evening on my Springfield, Mo., college campus as I browsed on a Christian networking and dating website. Soon a chat box popped up on my screen and a man named Doug Schrandt from Michigan said hello.

I had no idea I was talking to my future husband, but many things about him intrigued me. During the coming weeks, Doug unveiled to me his life events. I fell in love with his character, unwavering faith and determined heart.

Eight months prior to our meeting online, Doug’s wife, Kim, had passed away from breast cancer. She not only left behind a grieving husband, but five small children for him to parent alone. Brianna was barely 9 when Kim died, Luke, 7; Kayla had just turned 5, Emma was 2, and Nathan was only 3 months old.

Both Doug’s and Kim’s parents, along with their siblings, stepped up to host Doug and the kids for weekends, as well as coming to stay during the week. Kim’s parents, Jim and Cheryl Baker, were especially involved. They stayed at the house for two or three nights a week — all the while grieving the loss of their only daughter.

The church and local community stepped in to help with meals, house cleaning and in-home haircuts. Kim’s death was a life-changing event for so many people. And I was in New York working as a nanny while my husband-to-be and children were going through a living nightmare.

After three months of phone conversations, trips to and from Michigan, and meeting the families, Doug proposed on May 2, 2010, less than a year after he became a widower. The children were a part of the proposal, saying, “Miss Haymes, we want to call you Mommy,” and, “Miss Haymes, our daddy has a question for you.”

What grace this family extended toward me, and what a huge culture shock I experienced to step into a family that had endured so much grief. I had no idea what it was like to lose someone.

Soon, with a ring on my hand and a wedding to plan, I moved to Michigan. I lived with a family close to Doug’s home.

Doug returned to work, and I started watching the kids. That first morning I faced a kitchen with cereal and milk everywhere, cabinets flung open, chairs spread out, spoons and bowls all over the place, and not a child to be seen. So it began.

The kids started calling me Mom that day. I became the full-time caregiver, all day, every day. Jim and Cheryl stepped back and let me move into the role of mom for their daughter’s babies. How gracious they were to me.

Suddenly, at age 23, I was raising children, and I didn’t know the full extent of the responsibility. Doug and I married in Springfield in September 2010 and moved to Missouri that December. Doug and I soon started planning to have a baby. I prayed that God would give us a child, although I felt somewhat guilty when I already had five precious ones who greatly needed my love.

I lost pregnancy after pregnancy, while in the midst of learning how to cook for seven people, organizing play times, and meeting the emotional needs of five children who no longer had their loving, home-schooling mother. And I was a wife for the first time to a husband who had lost his wife of almost 13 years. The emotional mountain of that alone was sometimes more than I could bear.

Often I felt sorry for myself. I felt bitter that I wasn’t Doug’s first everything. Bitter that I couldn’t be a “newlywed” because of having children in tow from sunrise to sundown. Bitter that I was caring for children I hadn’t borne, while losing the fruit of my own womb. And even bitter toward the whole Baker family as their presence reminded me of Doug’s past.

But God! He is our strength. His Spirit so gently rebukes, teaches and guides us. God instructed me how to be soft clay. He asked me to let go of my bitterness. I said no. But in December 2011, after failed reproductive treatments, I let go. I realized babies are formed by the hands of God, and His hand can’t be forced. God had given me five children to love, and I was determined to love them.

I asked God to forgive me and change my heart — and change it He did! I recall seeing my five kids through tear-stained eyes and falling in love with them all over again.

I called the Bakers and asked for their forgiveness. We agreed to get together for Christmas. They, along with Kim’s brother, Jim Jr., prayed for my womb. As they prayed, I also prayed for God to completely free my heart and to help me to love this whole group of people unselfishly.

In 2012 I resolved to be the best mom I could possibly be. I wanted to be fun, creative, pleasant, patient and generous. Three weeks later, I was pregnant. We never went back to the specialist. God helped me follow through with my resolution as a mother as He so gently formed a baby girl in my womb.

Calvary Faith came into the world on Oct. 23, 2012. She has taught me natural love, but God taught me supernatural love. He is so faithful to teach us in this short vapor of a life. I pray I continually improve as a mother to all six of my children. I thank God for them, for Doug, and for the Baker family for being living examples of God’s grace.

JORDAN SCHRANDT is a frequent writer for the Pentecostal Evangel. She and her family attend Crossroads Assembly of God in Harrisonville, Mo.

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