More Than We Can Imagine: The Sadler Triplet Story

The greatest tragedy in life are the prayers that go unanswered, simply because they go unasked.
— Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle
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 Well, our secret is out: Ryan and I are pregnant with triplets! My mom always cringes when we say, “We’re pregnant!” because of the obvious anatomical error in this statement.  However, after about a thousand of Ryan’s late night runs to the grocery store on behalf of the four individuals I now represent; multiple weekly doctors’ visits; and the emotional toll of coming up with three names, while trying to predict which triplet could react to what in regard to name fairness… I’d say that Ryan is about as pregnant as I am pregnant!

However, the positive pregnancy test is far from where our journey began. Our triplet story started about a year and a half ago when Ryan and I sat down together as a couple and listed 20 things we were going to pray for multiple times a day until God answered. The final prayers on our list were for God to bless us with multiples, for God to bless our family with three biological children, and for God “to do more than anything we could imagine” (Eph. 3:20). Ironically, we never imagined God’s answering all three of those prayers in one miracle!

Mark Batterson states in his book Draw The Circle, “The greatest tragedy in life are the prayers that go unanswered simply because they go unasked.” We were tired of tragedy. We were tired of not getting results. We started asking, and God started answering.

How did we end up with triplets?

I remember the moment we found out we were having triplets. We were going in for my first sonogram after getting a positive pregnancy test. Our doctor performed the test in about two seconds before starting her sentence with the following, “I don’t want to scare you, but… there are three gestational sacs.” I started celebrating as if I had won an Olympic gold meal, pumping my arms and cheering, thanking God, and giving Ryan a majorly corny high-five, though it took Ryan a second to switch mindsets after the “I don’t want to scare you…” opening to comprehending the best news of our lives. We were thrilled! To answer the major question, no, the triplets were not IVF. But even if they had been, does that make three lives any less a miracle? God either opens the womb or He doesn’t, and there is nothing less miraculous about God working through science, medicine, or a memory lapse in taking birth control than carefully timed family planning. After three miscarriages, it became necessary to see specific doctors, and we would recommend anyone going through that heartache to do so, as well. We ended up with triplets because God ordained their lives and answered our specific prayers.

Were we surprised when we found out?

People have countered when we say, “We wanted multiples.” with “Be careful what you wish for…” but the truth is we didn’t wish for anything. We asked, pleaded, and begged God for this very specific prayer, and He answered as only the God of the universe can answer: timely, specifically, and powerfully. Our doctors and countless people since then have asked, “Were you surprised?!” We always respond, “No, we weren’t surprised because we asked God and truly believed He would answer, “Yes.” We have already heard incredible stories of people being able to use the triplet’s lives to tell others about the goodness of God, and we pray this continues to be the theme of their lives-- pointing others to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Are we scared?

While announcing the triplets to our student ministry, church family, and social media world was a blast, after three miscarriages in a year it is hard to ignore the deep-seated fear of “What if?” What if God doesn’t let these babies live? What if we announce the triplets as this incredible miracle and then lose them like we lost the others? What if we announce the triplets to our student ministry but then have to provide grief counseling for 300+ students? If something happens, does that mean God isn’t good? If something happens, does that mean the triplets weren’t miracles? If something happens, will we stop following God? No, it doesn’t mean any of this because God is good, even if any of these things happens. As my father, pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, says, “Faith is not believing God will do what we want Him to do. Faith is believing God is who He says He is and acting accordingly.” God’s goodness is not dependent upon our getting what we want; God’s goodness is the very nature of who God is and encompasses all He does-- regardless if we understand or agree.

We truly believe the triplets are a miraculous answer to our specific and persistent prayers. The triplets are not our story. The triplets belong to a God who is able and who did more than we could imagine!

 While triplets are rare, the true rarity is not in God’s answering big prayers but in our asking big prayers! What big prayer do you want to start asking God today?

We so appreciate continual prayers for The Sadler Triplets to make it to 34 weeks without health or medical issues for babies or mama! Thank you for sharing in our journey! To God be the glory, great things He has done!

How to Talk to Your Child about Suicide

 

“How do I talk to my child about suicide?” has been the most frequent question parents have asked me following the release of the hit TV show 13 Reasons Why. I’m so thankful parents are asking this question, instead of trying to figure out how to push this heartbreaking topic under the rug. Teenagers want to know what they are supposed to think about suicide; and, luckily, many children and teenagers are looking to their parents for answers.

The majority of parents I have worked with after a child’s suicide have said they never saw any warning signs. This absolutely breaks my heart and is the major reason I dedicate so much time speaking to students, teachers, and parents about the tragedy of suicide. While it is often true that parents don’t see the signs of suicide in their children, statistics tell us that four out of five teenagers who attempted suicide gave clear warning signs they were planning to do so. What does this mean for parents?

As the primary influencers in your child’s life, here are the top 5 things to remember when addressing the issue of suicide.

1. Keep communication open, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Do not just take children at their word that they are okay. They often don’t know if they are okay. They may be hurting, confused, and needing a safe place to process their grief and feelings. In relation to 13 Reasons Why, instead of being angry or punishing your children for watching the show, ask what parts of the show connected with them. Very few parents are aware if their child has been bullied or sexually assaulted. You can make 13 Reasons Why work for you. If you have a child opening up to you about this show, about a friend’s suicide, or about the topic of suicide, resist the urge to correct or condemn. Let your child talk for as long as they will; and use non-judgmental, open-ended phrases and questions, such as “What was that like?” “Tell me more about that,” or  “What do you think about this?”

1. Watch for signs of depression and suicidal ideation.

People who are already struggling with depression and suicidal ideation can have an especially difficult time after someone commits suicide. Even if you do not think your child struggles with these issues, a recent suicide is upsetting for anyone. People in a location with a recent suicide become especially vulnerable because, in some way, suicide becomes a viable option.

Signs of depression: change in sleep pattern, sadness, anger, change in appetite, apathy, loss in interests, withdrawal, anxiety, self-harm, excessive crying, trouble concentrating, substance abuse.

Signs of suicidal ideation: irritability, depression, hopelessness, giving possessions away, apathy, withdrawal, losing interests, joking about death and suicide, saying things like “I’m a burden” or “If only I weren’t here anymore” or “I just want everything to be over,” getting in fights, sudden happiness (as a result of resolving to end their lives), saying goodbye, recent trauma, bullying, eating disorders, etc.

3.  Get professional help.

This cannot be stressed enough. Getting professional help for your child does not mean something is wrong with your child. Getting professional help is a way for your child to gain skills to help them process the trauma they have been exposed to through another’s suicide. Very few people actually like seeing a therapist, so do not take it as a bad sign if your child is not enthusiastic about going. Encourage your child to go to a therapist at least a few times to help them bond with the therapist, even if your child claims they aren’t learning anything.

4.  Try not to answer the “Did they go to Heaven or hell?” question.

This suggestion goes counter to my Southern Baptist, evangelical upbringing. However, I have worked with many, many teenagers and young adults who refrained from committing suicide because of their belief it would send them to Hell. The Bible teaches we are “Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.” Eph. 2:8-10 The Bible teaches the way we go to Heaven is through a relationship with Jesus Christ and that the reason people go to Hell is because they have not trusted in Christ as their Savior.

While we don’t want to lie or to teach wrong theology to anyone, it’s pretty tempting for a Christian who is suicidal to hear that if they commit suicide, they will definitely go to Heaven. Therefore, the best option is redirecting your questioning child to two concepts: 1. What the Bible says about life (Jeremiah 29:11). 2. The truth that nothing they have done and nothing that has been done to them can separate them from the love and the plan of God (Romans 8). I also use John 10:10 with students and adults, so they remember who is ultimately responsible for suicidal thoughts. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest.” Suicide is used by Satan to kill people. Suicide steals a Christian’s life, shortens their ministry, and hurts their witness. Suicide causes non-Christians to die without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Suicide is not God’s desire for anyone.

5.  Let them know that nothing they can ever do is ever so bad that the only answer is   suicide.

If you counsel and discipline your child as if what they have done is the worst thing they could possibly do and as if there is no room for grace or redemption, you have set your child up for failure. If you act as if their problem, screw-up, sin, or mistake is the worst thing possible, they are likely to believe you. While discipline is necessary for children, it must be coupled with the truth that God has a plan for us, even when we mess up. Colossians 3:21 states, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” You hold more power than you know as parents. Even when their headphones are in, even when their eyes are glued to their phones, and even when they constantly roll their eyes; they are listening. Children need to hear they are unconditionally loved and accepted by their parents and by God. They need to hear that there is always hope, always forgiveness, always redemption, and always grace.

God recently had my paths cross with a young woman contemplating suicide. She had experienced incredible hurt and trauma that had contributed to her depression and despair. On the very night she had decided to die, God moved heaven and earth to have five complete strangers interrupt her plan and to tell her of God's purpose for her life. On the night she had decided to end her life, she instead chose to give her life to Jesus Christ. In an instant she went from being completely hopeless to completely hopeful. If this is the impact five people can have on a stranger, imagine the incredible opportunity you have as parents to encourage and speak life to your child. The child-parent relationship has been proven time and again to be forever the most influential human relationship. While it's painful to admit when your child is struggling, you're the best chance they have to choose God's plan of hope and redemption. What an incredible responsibility. What an incredible privilege.

3 Tips for Dating God's Way

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With multiple sex partners becoming the norm among Christians and non-Christians, Dallas being in the top 10 cities with the most positive STD tests, and Texas being ranked the number 5 state for teen pregnancies; I would say there is a substantial amount of harm being done in the name of “love.” #Everyonegetsarose was the hash tag for the Valentine Day girl’s ministry event I organized this past February.  This idea was a play off of the popular TV show, The Bachelor, where in the end only one girl gets the rose. In case you are unaware, the premise of the show is one guy or girl dates about 30 people at the same time and ends up picking one to propose to after narrowing the selection through “fantasy nights” in a romantic location. Before you close out of this page because you are a fan, don’t worry, this is not a viewer bashing session!

I am known amongst the girls I minister to for verbalizing my opinion about shows and songs portraying false expectations regarding marriage, dating, and sex. You may be reading this and thinking: “What’s the harm?” “Aren’t you being hyper-spiritual?” I care so much about these false portrayals of love because it is setting men and women, girls and boys, married and single up for failure and eventually heartache. When I started writing this blog my inclination was to address teenager girls. But the truth is I see teenagers and adults of both sexes who ruined their lives because of believing the lies that sex equals love and monogamy is an outdated idea. The problem is not exclusive to 16 year-old teenage girls.

My absolute favorite topic to speak on is Dating God’s Way-Following Christ in a Kanye world. I have found that many people want to follow God, want to stay pure, want to date God’s way but find it difficult to do in today’s culture. I believe the number one way Satan attacks Christians is through their dating and sex life. We all know there is a war and it’s time to give Christians the ammo to be able to win the battle for their hearts!

3 Tips for Dating God’s Way:

1. You marry someone you date.

This may seem like common sense but I often hear teenagers and young adults admit that their current boyfriend or girlfriend is not someone they would ever want to marry. While only dating people that you would consider marrying narrows down the options, it also protects you from wasting your time and settling for less than God’s best. The trajectory of picking less than God’s best in marriage, is settling for “best right now” or “best considering everyone else has a date” while single.

2. Quickest way to end a relationship is to have sex.

A lot of times the fear in dating is that the relationship won’t last. With the average age of marriage being 27 for women and 29 for men, I would say that is a valid fear. So many women and girls think they will have a binding deal if they are having sex with their boyfriend. However, having sex does not make you different, special, or unique; it actually makes you just like everyone else. If you want the relationship to last, actually make him (or her) wait to have sex until after marriage. The most important thing in marriage is friendship and the best time to develop that is in the dating period. Having sex before marriage breaks God’s design for sex and demands that He steps in to set things straight. If you really like the person you are dating and want them to stick around, put your relationship in a place where God can bless you by committing to purity.

3. The bait you use determines what you catch.

I got this saying from my favorite dating book Dateable by Hayley DiMarco, Hayley Morgan, and Justin Lookadoo. I hear so many people question why they attract the kind of people they end up dating and eventually marrying. I hear girls barely dressed wonder aloud why a guy only is interested in her sexually. What we use to bait a significant other is going to determine the kind of person we end up dating. If you never talk about or live out your faith, you are probably not going to attract a Christian. If you only go to parties with alcohol on the weekend, you’re likely to attract alcoholics. This truth can also work in your favor. If you walk with Christ at your school, you are likely to attract a Christian to date. If you dress modestly (still cute!), you are showing there is more to you than just your body and heighten your chances of “baiting” someone interested in getting to know you.

In the end, there is nothing romantic about a person barely picking you through an elimination process. You want a man who knows you and says without reservation, through denying all others, “I want that girl and I’m going to become the kind of man God has called me to be in order win her heart!” Women; wait for the man who deserves you, proving it through his sacrifice for you. Men; wait for the woman who is not in love with love but is in love with you!

(As seen on Elevateyouth.org) 

Source: http://jsadler