She Smiles at the Future

I’m trying hard to be brave this week and smile at the possibility of what each day may bring, although the past several days have not brought what I wanted. I have to admit, having a baby and having a mom who needs me so much has made me wonder about God’s timing of all that is going on.

I’ve wanted to be strong, although I am weary. I’ve wanted to be available although I’m pulled in so many directions. I’ve wanted mom to see me confident in God’s plans and trusting in His promises, although I’ve had my own set of questions and doubts. I’ve wanted to be gracious so she doesn’t ever feel like a burden. And I’ve wanted to be calm so she doesn’t worry about us worrying about her.

I thought it would be so much easier being out of the hospital. Physically it is, because we’re all at home. But emotionally it’s been a hard week for mom. She thought she’d be so much better by now.

On Wednesday mom did too much and ended up with a racing heart beat of 115. Even after resting for an hour it was 108 and she felt really sick! I ended up taking her to the ER that night. All they could find was a urinary tract infection so they put her on a new antibiotic and sent us home, at 3am.

This morning we’re heading to the hospital at 7:30 to get her prepared for her surgery at 9:30 to remove her kidney stone and stint. There are risks but it has to come out. We’re praying she won’t develop any clots in her legs (or anywhere) during surgery and she won’t have any problems with bleeding since she’s on Coumadin, a blood thinner.

The thought of it all makes my head spin a little. I know you probably have hard things going on, too, and may be wondering why God would give you so much to process at the same time. I’m praying for each of you that stops by, and those who shared requests in my last post.

This week God has taught me the power of trusting His plans that don’t make sense. You see, each day I look into the eyes of a baby girl I didn’t want at one point, because I didn’t think I could handle it. The thought of starting over as a mom at 43 with two teen/tween boys who occupy so much of my heart and my days was a bit overwhelming. But my heart rushes with gratefulness that God convinced me to trust Him.

He has helped me smile at the future – whatever it holds – by giving me the smile of a little girl who almost didn’t have a future. The sweetest, funniest, most happy little girl in the world.

As hard as it is to be a mommy of an infant while also taking care of my 73-year-old mom, I’m so glad that, in His wisdom, God knew there would be blessing in the burden when He gave us the joy Aster brings to our lives each day!

I wish you could meet her. If you were here, she’d be so excited to see you. She gets this excited every day, about something or somebody.
She’d give you a hug! Every morning she reaches out to give us each a squeeze.
Then she’d sit in your lap and do something silly. And looking at those bright eyes and silly grin, you couldn’t help but laugh at the day ahead!

Aster reminds us all of the strength God provides for those who are weak, the dignity He offers for those who are low, and the assurance of His goodness and mercy to follow us, because we choose to trust and follow HIM!

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25
About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.


  1. Praying for you and your mom Renee!

  2. He knows!!!! We can't, but He can….

    Bless you and your family,

  3. Renee, I am not unfamiliar with your struggle. Visiting dad daily in the hospital for 8 months and trying to be a great mom and a attentive wife all became a blur. Now that he's home, it is more convenient, but both mom and dad still require time and care. I honestly don't know how I would have handled it with an infant. May the Lord continue to carry you. I know He does.

    I too am leaving shortly for the hospital to sit with my sister while her husband undergoes surgery. It is scheduled for the exact same time as your mom's. I will be praying for you and your mom as I remember my family. So thankful that God can handle looking after two of His children having surgery at the same time and His presence be with us both.

    Hugs to you this day,

  4. Know that I'm praying for you as you love your mom and your family too. May you feel God's smile today.

  5. Anonymous says:

    She is precious. I am thankful you trusted the Lord. I will be praying for your mother, doctors and you and your family>

  6. I thought God sent you Aster so you could love her and minister to her. Now I think it might be the other way around. Praying for you as you navigate these difficult, tiring waters. So glad that Aster is there to make you smile. Watching the transformation in her countenance from the pictures you first posted until now is wonderful. What a testimony to the transforming power of love.

    Praying for you mom and her surgery. She's blessed to have such an attentive daughter at her side.

  7. I remember you praying for Aster's hugs and smiles to flow freely when you first went to get her. And now just look at the joy on her face. So glad you have her sunshine in the midst of all of the storms of right now.

    Sweet Renee, I am praying for your mom today. AND I am praying for you. That you would be able to relax in His embrace. You do not have to keep it all together…not even for the sake of His name. Through your weaknesses He will be shown strong. You glorify Him in all that you say and do. I love that you are honest when things are too tough for you, cause we all face things that are too hard. And we need to know that God is indeed enough. And you always show that He is.

    Okay…that's way long for a day when you certainly don't have time to read.
    Love you,

  8. Oh Renee. Please know I have already prayed for you. I'm sick today…taking care of two little ones…so I will be lounging around…. and as I do so, I'll be praying for you and your Mother 🙂

    Hugs to you,

  9. Loved this post Renee– thanks for sharing pictures. Can't believe I haven't seen Aster yet!!

    Just remember "Do the next thing."

    And another one that helps me: "This too shall pass."

    Praying today goes well.

  10. Praying for your Mom's health and strength for your journey. Aster is a joy! God is smiling at you,

  11. I love that verse Renee.

    Praying peace and comfort and joy over your precious family!


  12. Jill Herald says:

    Good Morning Renee. As I read through your post I wanted to be able to leave you words of encouragement. Funny thing was, when I came to the end, I realized you had written your own best encouragement! I've had that happen a few times and it usually makes me smile that my written view of my situation is so full of hope, smiles and encouragement and completely opposite of what my mouth or head may be saying. So my encouragement for you during the coming days, re-read your post, it's a beautiful, strong and smile filled view of your life right now, and best of all it's your own point of view!! Love to you! Jill

  13. Aster looks absolutely adorable sitting on sweet Sylvia's lap. What a special moment for all of you has you celebrate Aster's #1 birthday. I know she has brought your family SO much joy and created a beautiful space in your heart that you didn't even know existed.

    Love you!

  14. My babies were just two and three when our family packed up everything and moved in with my husband's grandmother who had just lost her husband. That was Feb 2008. So for almost 2 yrs. I have been balancing preschoolers with caring for an elderly person in POOR health. It's the most challenging, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g thing God has ever allowed in my life. It's HARD. I will be praying for you and your family as you learn to balance both ends of the care-taking spectrum. GOD is GOOD. and thanks for the verse– I needed to be reminded to "smile at the future."

  15. Smiling at the blessing of Aster and praying for your mom.

  16. God never puts more on us than we can bare. God will take care of you and give yu the physical and mental strength you need.

  17. Renee, I love your words and the pictures too. As I read your post I thought of Aster's name – though you didn't see it coming and it is hard, she was put in your life for such a time as this. Thankful she is bringing joy to your days and providing another area of focus – even though those little ones can be demanding, they teach us and remind us of so much. Keep taking one step at a time, He's walking with you and I'm praying for you, your mom and all involved. Love, Jill

  18. Hi Renee,

    I've been following your journey of the heart more closely since Aster has arrived. I must say that even though times are tough right now, I think it is so "Just Like God" to encourage you each day through the presence and joy of baby Aster. What a blessing in the midst of heavy loads. From the P31conference, it's simply RemarkABLE. 🙂

    Praying for and with you,

  19. Anonymous says:

    Reading your Blog and understanding how hard that it is. We have had multiply immediate family members in the hospital all at the same time and at the same time trying to hold down a full time job and be a mom to a college student and a high school junior. Wondering why God would throw so many bad things at us all at one time. So maybe your life is so complicated at the moment, just so I would read it and know that it isn't just our family. I love seeing the pictures and hearing about your family. Hang in there. Enjoy those smiles and cuddles and be sure to continue to share them with us thru your blog.

    Lisa Bunner – Elizabeth, WV

  20. Praying for you and your mom. I'm so sorry you have so much to juggle right now. I know it's hard. I was shedding a few tears this morning as I remembered the days of my mom being in the hospital (she broke her hip and had continued health problems for many years)when I had an infant. It feels as if the rest of the world is oblivious to your situation. But He is not. May His comfort and grace surround you today and through this special season.

  21. You and your family are in my prayers. The smiles on the faces of both your Mom and Aster are precious reminders of our God's love and grace. May His strength fill you and His love surround you each day.


  22. Girl, you know you are in my prayers… but thank you for this post. It really touched my heart. Thank you for always being so open and honest with us!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I'm praying for you and your mom.
    You have such a sweet daughter!
    Blessings, Connie, Canada

  24. I am praying for you, your mom and your family during these days of ups and downs. Remember He said "a child shall lead them." Last year this time I was grieving the death of my much loved mom, moving 100 miles from our home and friends of 23 years, and ending a 20 year "career" I had enjoyed. In the midst of this I was at my daughters side (while her husband served in Afghanistan) to witness the birth of a new granddaughter. I am sure the angels heard us rejoicing. Abigail reminded us that God is good and He will provide in all situations. Aster will do this for you.

  25. Hurting for you & praying with you!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for praying for me and my household. I wanted to let you know that things are so much better at home. I know that even if things get rough again, nothing can come against us with Jesus on our side. Just know that I wish you and your family all of the best and my prayers are with you.

  27. Renee, I continue to pray for you and your dear family. please know that someone in Texas is lifting you up daily!

    I know how hard you are trying to keep it all together. I am trying to hold it together right now myself. Tomorrow markes the 10 yr. anniv. of the passing of my mother…and to this day, I feel the pain. It did help to blog about it…thank goodness fr blogs.


  28. This has nothing to do with this post and honestly I am not sure which one of you said it… but I heard "Renee's blog" at the end of the radio stint. It was speaking about aking healthier eating choices and how the lady made the heathier choice by throwing 1/2 her french fries away. When so many people are starving in the world and when 1 in 3 in this our own country are going hungry are CHILDREN… how can your throw food away??? Shame on you!!! Really. Be good stewards like God called you to be… like He has called us all to be. Know how much they are going to serve you by noticing how much they serve others while you stand in line. It's not that hard. Actually, you shouldn't be eating there at all. It is gross, unhealthy to begin with.

  29. Renee:) what a precious Angel, God bless you and yours.

  30. Praying for your momma, and of course excited about your new bundle of joy. Love Phil and Jennifer

  31. Renee, the things that endure are faith, hope and love. You have these in your family and in God. I see Aster smile and it is God's pure love smiling on you. I see your Mom smile and I see genuine happiness. May God bless you and keep you. May His countenance shine upon you and give you peace.

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