Sunday, December 16, 2007

Grace meets Innocence

As many of you know, our daughter, Alyssa, who will turn 18 at the end of this month, is expecting a baby girl in April '08. Exactly 4 months ago today is when I found out I'll be called Grandma before even being close to being over the hill! I'm just so proud of myself that I can actually say the "G" word without breaking into hives! I've just come so far in 2 trimesters!

Lately, Alyssa's taste in TV viewing has changed from shows like Desperate Housewives to documentary programs that show moms having babies. The other morning while watching a young lady in labor, she asked, "Mom, do contractions hurt?" As I took a 30 second stroll down memory lane, my body recalled the painful, excruciating, hard contractions I endured during each of the 3 natural births I've had. Coming back to reality, I just smiled sweetly at her and with a twinkle in my eye said,
"No honey, contractions don't hurt."

When society looks at a teen mom, one thing that is not seen is innocence. When their name appears on a baby's birth certificate before it appears on a high school diploma, innocence is not even in the picture. All innocence once possessed by this child seems to have been lost and replaced by rebellion instead. And yet as I stood in my kitchen, my young pregnant daughter showed me that she still has some innocence left in her.
She still needs me.

As Alyssa heads into unknown territory and begins the last 3 months of her pregnancy, I thank God what He showed me tonight as I thought more about the contraction question she asked the other morning. He gave me a look into my teenagers heart under a different light as He spoke to me her unspoken needs. Guess it's His way of showing me how much she needs her mom as she soon becomes one. When I look at this beautiful, soon to be teen mom, I see so much more than society could ever see.

I see tears of fear fall from her beautiful green eyes as she cries herself to sleep because she knows she's rushed motherhood. I see a mom's pride in her smile when she lovingly studies the ultrasound pictures. I hear a testimony when she says having an abortion was an option she never considered. I witness strength when I see her get up every morning and go to school determined to graduate early in January instead of June. I hear love as she describes the sound of her baby's heartbeat over the phone to her friends after a doctor's appointment. I feel hope as she places my hand on her tummy to feel her baby girl kick.

One thing I've repeatedly asked God for since August 16th when we found out of her pregnancy, is grace. Lord, teach me how to show it to her. Through You, let me be it to her. There is 4 minutes between classes at her school. Somehow in that time frame which adds up to only 20 minutes a day, she is ruthlessly the target of ridicule by bored people. She keeps a lot of stuff inside, so I have no idea of the extent of the garbage she sees, hears, or feels at school, but at the end of her day when she walks through the door of our home, does she see grace in the way I smile at her? Does she hear grace in how I talk to her? Does she feel grace in my hugs? Is the walk to her bedroom any different than the walk to her next class at school?

I may not be able to protect her from the words she hears at school or how society views pregnant teens, but through Christ I can extend the grace to my daughter that she needs. I have seen so many displays of love & grace to my daughter over the last four months.

As together as Alyssa may try to appear, I know that I have a young, scared teen under my roof. A teen who wants to be signing up for college classes instead of Lamaze classes. A teen who wants to go shopping with her friends at the teen clothing stores instead of with her mom at the maternity store. A teen who wants to be going to basketball practice after school instead of work. A teen who has wondered out loud if she'll ever be worthy enough for some man to want to marry. A teen who just wants to go back to the days of having only one Mom in our home.

At the end of my day, I have a choice. What will I pour over my daughter's head when she walks through the door of our home? A bucket of shame or a bucket of grace?
I choose grace.

A teen Mom. Full of life, love, laughter and an innocence no one can deny.

"Mom, do contractions hurt?"

Yes, baby, but you were worth it all!

Thank you so much for my beautiful daughter Lord. I am beyond blessed to be her Mom.

~Many Blessings~


Robin said...

Lelia I am so happy and grateful to hear you speaking so frankly and lovingly regarding sweet Alyssa. I know exactly what you are going through and your words truly bring tears to my eyes. I know how hard pregnancy was on Amy Shay and I know that the fact that I chose to see our situation as a blessing helped her through. Now I just can not even imagine the world without our little Addie Mae. Amy is a beautiful, responsible, loving, nurturing Mother AND daughter!! I just know that you too will be bursting at the seams when that day finally comes and you will be even more proud and full of grace. God is great and life is good!! Make it a great day! (thanks for the quote you are an angel)


Susan said...

Dear Lelia,

This is my first time to your awesome blog!

Oh my, what a touching heartfelt post.

Your daughter is beautiful. My sister had a daughter the same age who gave birth to a son 4 years ago.

As difficult as things were at times, this child has been such a source of healing and pure joy for her family. Her daughter is a wonderful dedicated mom that adores her son. (And still needs her mom!)

God uses everything in our lives to bring glory to him!

So nice to meet you,


PS Can't say I relate, as a mom of 5 sons! But I did have a grand-daughter out of wed-lock. My first, and what a joy it was!

Amy Shay said...


this made me cry because i truly know what alyssa is feeling. It's a scary feeling knowing that your life is going to be different forever, and at such a critical time in your life. My life has had to change quite a bit, but i love Adeline so much that i truly wouldn't change anything. And you "pouring a bucket of grace" instead of shame will make her feel so much better at night. I had many nights full of soaking wet pillows and no sleep, but once i realized that my mom was behind me and not ashamed, it helped. I'm so happy that you have found it in you to write this. It touched me. Thanks Lelia.

Lelia Chealey said...

Amy Shay~
Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I was just with my sister about an hour ago & we were looking at pictures of when you & Alyssa went with her to Texas & Mexico. Beautiful pic's of the 2 of you with the orphan children. You both looked just so beautiful serving the Lord by loving on His children. This road that you & Alyssa have chosen definitely isn't an easy one, but if you walk it following Jesus you will both do just fine. These little girls deserve the best from both of you. Give her your all. Before you go to your mom with things, go to God. Pray over your Addie. Enjoy her. Cherish everything about her. Do your best so when you're my age you'll have no regrets because you can never turn back time. Support each other in this. You & Alyssa have something huge in common-the love for a child. If you have lost friends since becoming a mom then you have lost nothing. Instead you gained insight on true friendship. You know I love you girl & I am proud my daughter has a friend like you. You both have beat all the odds. Keep dreaming Amy,just dream for 2 now.
Love & Blessings~

Lizerd said...

What a beautiful post and a lovely daughter! I love your honesty and outlook - what a testimony to God's love and grace! Your daughter's courage is wonderful and I know she is worth it and so will be the baby girl coming in April. I am praying and excited for the blessings that are certainly coming your way!

Cindy said...

Hi Leila. I started to read more of your blog and this post touched me so deeply. My four daughters are only 6-11 but I have already prayed the same thing you shared here- that IF we deal with this down the road, that I will be grace to them. You wrote so beautifully. I wish more moms had your same attitude and heart!

And your daughter is stunning.

Tami Boesiger said...

This is a beautiful post. Truly grace is the thing your daughter needs more than anything. Amen.

Wrinkled Shirt Ministries said...

I know that I am posting a month late but I just found your blog. Wow, this brought tears to my eyes and a knot to my throat. My dear sweet niece is also 18 and due in April. Out of 7 nieces and nephews we really thought she would be the one to keep her head on straight. Not sure of her future or her relationship with the baby's father she is pressing forward to be a mommy. At first we were so shocked and disappointed but God whispered in my heart to remember how I felt when I found out I was pregnant. I was 25 and married, life was joyous. I received affirmations and congrats at every turn. Not so for my niece. She was receiving ridicule and scolding. I took your approach. I showered her with grace and excitement. I even bought her lots of maternity clothes, much to her shagrin. She thought she would never have to wear those kangaroo pants, oh but she's in them now. As the day is quickly approaching we are growing more and more excited. We're no longer looking at a girl who has ruined her life, we're looking at a girl that had endless possibilities and the awesome opportunity to share that with another human being.
Sweet Blessings
Paula G.<><

valerie said...

I was reading another person's blog (Sita) and read your comment and decided to look at your blog.
I haven't even finished the first part and clicked on the part about grace and your daughter. How precious! I had just thought when I saw your picture...."she's not old enough to be a grandma!" :)
Your daughter is beautiful and God is going to bless your family with this new life from Him.
I'll continue reading now before I need to go back to work.
Your family will be in my prayers.

Shari said...

Dear Lelia, I was reading the postings for the She Speaks contest and I clicked on your link to Teen Mom...oh my, I now have black mascara smudges down my face and across my fingers from wiping them. I was single and pregnant at 34 years old and still felt such shame but can't imagine how I'd have felt at 18. Please tell your precious, precious daughter that one day she will look back at this moment in time and know that God allowed it to happen so she'd have a different story to where she will be able to stand in front of other teen moms and give them hope. I pray I see you at She Speaks. Beautiful blessings, Shari Braendel, P31 speaker team

Julie said...

I remember years ago, when we went to meet with our pastor and our pregnant, unwed neice. He looked her straight in the eye and said, "First of all, this baby is not a mistake." "This Baby is a gift."

It caused me to stop in my tracks. After all she did conceive out of God's design. It shifted my thinking. The baby was not a mistake.

I see grace in your words, so I am certain your daughter sees grace in her day to day life with you.
God's got something really great for you all, I just know it.

Many blessings,

Jenny said...

What a picture you paint, as a mom to three girls, I hope I would show the same grace and love!

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful!!! Thank you for your honest, heart felt post!!! When I found myself pregnant out of wedlock, I was scared to death to tell my parents!!! Boyfriend's parents were missionaries overseas and did not find out about their grandchild until his birth...Later, I became very close to a young mom who had her 1st child at the age of 17...Now, 10 years later, we are extremely close, having traveled similar paths...Our boys are best friends. She did not marry the father of her child, but later married an amazing man of God. I did, however, marry the father of my first child and we have been blessed. I love seeing how God can use every situation for his glory!!! You are blessed...thank you for showing GRACE to your daughter!!!

Tamara said...

Leila, I am Tamara and I linked to your site from Sumi's. I just read your story about your daughter and it struck a chord with me. I got pregnant at age 18 and gave birth at 19. My oldest daughter is now 18 and is about to graduate highschool. I've often wondered how I would handle it if she became pregnant. IF that were to happen, I would follow your example and pour out grace on her.

I married the man who is her father and we have 3 other children together. Steph (oldest) knows she was conceived out of wedlock, but we've always told her, "God doesn't make mistakes and you were NO mistake". She's been a blessing. I remember feeling that shame at being pregnant at such a young age. I was already out of highschool, so I didn't have to go through that ridicule your sweet daughter endures, but I did end up quitting college and I've never been back.

My family was not Christians at the time, so there was no Grace poured out on me. It was so hard. My mom was embarrassed and my grandma (who IS and WAS a Christian) was so disappointed in me. I felt like I let everyone down and I was out to prove that even though I was young, I would be the BEST mommy I could be. And I'm proud to say that I've tried hard to live up to that expectation I put on myself.

Your daughter is very blessed to have you. Pour out that grace that only comes from Jesus. Your daughter needs it.

Grace said...

We've walked this road with several friends. Yes, you are showing Grace and also Love, Compassion and Mercy. Of course you wish different choices had been made, but there is a Reason for all things. We will pray for your beautiful family.

Amy said...

That is one of the most touching posts that I have ever read.

I am humbled.

I know how proud you must be of your daughter, and let me just say that your "Father" must be beaming at the mother you are as well.

People can be so cruel. Judging us by only what they see on the outside.

Thankfully and mercifully God only looks at what is on the inside.

1 Samuel 16:7 is a verse that I cling to everyday in my own life.

Thank you for your honesty.
And congratulations on being a grandmother!:) There is definitely a blessed little girl on the way. What an awesome family that God has placed her in.:)

In Christ,

HisPrincess said...

You are most definately showing grace, and love, and kindness...I could go on and on.

I could have used your help around 20 years ago.

You are an example to us all.

Sandra said...

Hi Lelia,

I found your blog through Lysa's over the Oprah controversy and I'm so glad I did. I, too, have a teen daughter who just gave birth to my grandbaby, Ava Elizabeth on 1/25/08. I didn't even bother with the Oprah video. I came straight to this post to read about your daughter. I cried when I got to the part about what you see about your daughter because it's what I see in mine. I, too, choose grace. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more.


LynnSC said...

Hi Lelia,
I had to come back to your blog today. I read your info profile and went straight to this post. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I love your heart. The face of Jesus is what your sweet daughter has seen in her mom!! I can see the image of Jesus standing there drawing on the ground while others hurled insults at the adulterous women, while in His heart the only thing he felt was love and mercy. His love outweighed anything that they could hurl at her. Grace... without it, where would WE be??

Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us in blogville. I will be back.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Wow. I just read this from your link on yesterday's post. I'll also read the other links under your daughter's story.

Lelia, you indeed are a WONDERFUL mother. I hope you know and feel through this trial of your daughter's that it is nothing you have done but rather human choice and your daughter's choice.

As I use to tell my beloved who raised his daughter in church up to age 12, she will return. Your daughter will return to the roots of what you taught her.

Rest my friend in the power of Christ.

Cindy Swanson said...

What a moving story, Lelia. Your daughter is indeed beautiful, and I love the grace that you're giving and being given. I have no doubt that God will use this for His good.

Jenny said...

This. Is beautiful. And changed me.

I have never experienced teen pregnancy, never known anyone to, and so why am I so affected? I do not know except that I think I see Christ's Love in your love, Lelia.

It's amazing.

Glad to meet you, I'm reading more. :)

Jenny said...

oops, that was my comment above, I used the wrong account :)

Thanks for visiting my blog! I am captivated by your writing, I'm off to take in more.

Shanda said...

Lelia~I found your blog through "Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving."

I loved this post-loved the heart behind the post. I see your grandbaby was due in April of this yr so you have probably just experienced the joy of your first Thanksgiving with her.

Although my children are young, it still reminded me about the "messages" that I am sending to their hearts on a daily basis. Am I showing grace to them as they walk in the door each day? Thank you for the reminder. I hope you are greatly enjoying being a grandma. Your daughter is blessed to have you in her life.

Dawn Ward said...

Oh Lelia, I can hardly see to type for the tears that fill my eyes. I just found your blog through Tammy at Not Mine But God's Story.

My daughter is only seven, but I pray if we ever face the same or similar situation, that I will bring to her and it the grace and love so evident in this post. How blessed your daughter is to have you as a mother as she faces this next challenging road in her life.

I faced an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 20. However, unlike your daughter, I did choose abortion. It haunted me as my deep, dark, guilty secret for 12 agonizing years. Praise God, I am free now, though!

Bless your daughter and your family for choosing life.

In Him,

Alison's Heart Sings said...

Bless you dear one, for extending grace to your teen daughter, I only wish I could do the same for mine. We lost her 5 years ago to depression-related suicide. God is healing us but it's a long road. verlene

Adry Viola said...

I am taken back by your strength and grace with your daughter. Your kindness and love shows in more ways than you know. You are a mother that I look up to. Thank you for sharing.

Racquel Simone said...

Whew! I was not prepared for tears when I came to visit your blog after reading the comment you posted on my blog! This is wonderful and phenomenal. You have a strength that many other Christian moms in this situation don't have. THIS attitude and spirit is what's going to help her get and stay wrapped at the cross! No matter how long or far away that time is! Stay focused and speak the Word of God only and His promises over her AND the grandchildren as well as the father. Praying that He continues to strengthen you as you are pruned and living out how to LOVE like He loves!


Sandra King said...

I just stumbled on your blog. What a beautiful testament to His grace and your daughter's courage. I can identify. We walked through many fires with our own daughter at 17, and I, too, now have a granddaughter "out of season." We share the care - me with about 90% of that. The birthdad is not in the picture, and she is in college right now. She's come a long way.

Our granddaughter will be 7 in October. And her name? Grace.

Blessings on you and your family.