Monday, September 29, 2008
Lisa begins the chapter talking about the Great Sunday Morning Fakeout, and I’m sorry to say, “been there, done that!” I still remember the Sunday we announced we were expecting our 3rd child – the time leading up to our departure for church had been chaotic! J.D., 3 at the time was whining about his shoes, Joy, 18 months, was her strong willed self already demanding her way, I’m sure something had been spilt, someone’s clothes didn’t fit…and as we walked out the door, I recall telling Job, “What will people think when we are adding to this?” My worries only grew as Joy had a fit going into church, but still the church family rejoiced at our news. Though they did, I’m ashamed to think how often we’ve tried to play the game and pretend we have it all together. In one way or another, one of the kids always can find a way to keep us honest though, which really is a blessing. (Not just for us but others as well – makes me think of the Casting Crowns song – Stained Glass Masquerade.)
This chapter has really made me think and reflect – I especially like the closing story about Tiffany. I could relate with her desire to please everyone, especially my parents. On the outside it seemed things were all right for me – I had friends, good grades, was a varsity athlete, stayed out of trouble; but on the inside things were different. I struggled. It was a difficult task to be who everyone else thought I was and I made it more of a challenge when I told myself I had to play that role perfectly.
I battled depression my last 2 years of high school, during college and into my teaching career. Though I was hurt, my fear of letting others down kept me struggling in silence. It wasn’t until I reached the point of considering taking my life that I took the mask off and shared my pain.
This difficult moment not only revealed a bit of myself to a few select people, but was also a time when God revealed Himself to me. For 23 years I lived thinking my perfection would bring peace, but it wasn’t until that concept came crashing down did I realize that real peace is a result of His perfection. It has nothing to do with me and the things I do, but everything to do with Christ and what He did.
That was an amazing time and the 9 years since then have been no different. God continues to reveal Himself to me and as He does that, He is constantly changing me. As an individual who’s always been private and more prone to listen than talk, He is calling me out of my comfort zone and asking me to be real.
I’m thankful that I can look back and see that very thing has happened amongst my circle of friends. My friendships have grown because of the transparency and I’ve been blessed to grow closer to some wonderful girls. But yet I know His work is not yet finished because there are still times I play the game, put on the mask and pretend to be who I was. Why?
Because at times it’s easier. Sometimes it’s safer. And others I’m just afraid because I still want to please others and I know not everyone agrees with my faith, so they might not like who I’ve become. But like Tiffany, God has me at a place where I know, “Peace does not come from pleasing others, but from obeying God.”
As I continue on this journey that’s a thought I want to hold onto while I leave the Ms. Perfection costume behind because I know the only way Perfection equals peace is when it is His!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Not that it's an excuse, but it has led to some interesting thoughts today. This past Sunday a friend shared a CD entitled, "How's the family?" with me and the speaker suggested we really look at our children, husband and those closest to us. It seems I hear that constantly, "Mom, look at me!!" but how often do I really do that? Sorry to say these last two days not often enough. The speaker didn't just suggest we look at our children but when we do think about what we see...the image of God. That can paint a whole new picture.
The simple reminder led to three wonderful days to start the week, but then life started to take over - there were tomatoes to can, meals to make for men in the field, daily chores that never end, and on and on until work became my focus. Added on to that were worries about the unknown that consumed my mind at times and when combined with work and the chaos of life changed my perspective. Physically I was here, but seemed my heart wasn't always at home.
It hadn't went anywhere, but home wasn't the priority of my heart and that's not a good thing. A year ago I read Jill Savage's "My Hearts at Home" and as I get ready to give a copy away, I think I need to go read mine again!!
As I do that Lelia at Write from the Heart you can add this to your need to read list because you are the winner of the first ever contest of my blog! Congrats and send me your address so I can get it to you.
Remember check out http://www.hearts-at-home.org/ to learn more about keeping your heart at home! There's a wonderful website, great resources and terrific conferences to help you out!!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Though this isn't a post about chapter one, it relates to what's behind those eyes. It's amazing to look back and see who I was and think about who I lived to be. Rarely was it myself, but who I thought others wanted me to be. Here's what I came up with -
Just starting out…
It was 1994 and you didn’t know what the future would hold. Or really even who held it – yes, you knew of God, but you didn’t know Him. You had plans to enjoy the summer – babysit, play a little basketball, show sheep, talk to your roommate, spend time with HS friends, but also had fears of the unknown – you were afraid to leave home, didn’t know what you’d do with your life, and wondered if you could play college ball. You graduated with honors and had many friends; you made people think you had it together. You never got too upset, rarely showed emotion and seldom did you share deep thoughts, but you were always there to listen and at times put up with more than you needed to. You lived to please others, but deep down rarely satisfied yourself. You tried to be who everyone else thought you should be instead of being yourself.
At the time you didn’t know how important it would be to let go of…
…the worry of what others would think.
…the idea that you had to be perfect.
…the thoughts that you weren’t good enough.
…the idea that no one would love you.
…the misconception that you had to do it all.
…the feelings of inadequacy that left you depressed.
…the lie that how you look on the outside is more important than who you are on the inside.
…the regret for things you had done.
…the lie that the more others know the less they’d want to be your friend.
You also never knew how important it would be to hold onto…
…your belief in something bigger than yourself.
…your faith that was beginning to grow.
…the importance of respect and putting others before yourself.
…your desire to work hard and make an impact for good.
…your ability to listen and really be a friend.
When you just started out, you had no idea what the future would hold and now 14 years later, that is still unknown. But you are no longer who you were, you don’t look the same, you don’t think the same and you don’t feel the same. You have grown and you have changed. You realize life isn’t all about you, but know God is all about you – He cares for you, He loves you and He has plans for you. He created you for a purpose all His own and thru the years as you’ve come to know Him, He’s increased your desire to obey. He’s blessed you and gifted you and expects you to share that with others. So let go of the ways of the world and forget their view of success, but hold onto the One who will never let you go and live to glorify Him.
My prayer as the study goes on is 14 years from now when I see a picture of myself, I will see a woman who is the person God created her to be!
If you have a minute, read below about a wonderful ministry that encourages us to be the mom God created us to be and the one our children need us to be!
The Great Lakes Regional conference will be held in Grand Rapids, MI on October 3rd and 4th while the North Central Regional conference will be held in Rochester, MN on November 7th and 8th. For more information click here.
I will be attending the conference in Rochester and like I said I along with others are counting down the days. This is a wonderful opportunity to be encouraged, refreshed, and spend time with girl friends. But it also provides time to reflect, focus and praise God. It's hard to even put the entire experience to words, but I will try.
This will be the 5th conference I attend and each year I come home thankful for the roles I play - wife, mother, friend and child of God. Speakers address each one of these roles and I'm encouraged and equipped by their words.
The event isn't limited to speakers as Friday night, known as Mom's Night Out, offers music, drama and plenty of laughs. This year Cherri Keagey is the worship leader and Ken Davis is the key note speaker. He was there a couple of years ago and brought everyone to tears, not because of pain or frustration, which happens for Moms, but with his humor. His stories hit home and I'm looking forward to laughing until my face hurts again!
The conference means many things to different people because the break-out sessions cover many areas. There are talks geared towards various stages of parenting, marriage, organizing, personal growth and spiritual growth. There is something for everyone. I have even seen it serve as a wonderful outreach event, which is wonderful!
If it's something that intersts you, I'd look into it - I'm sure you'd be blessed. My kids always cry when I leave and miss me while I'm gone, but someday I'm sure they will thank me because it makes me a better mom!!
If you've attended leave a comment about your experience, or if this is all new leave a question and I'd love to help you out. If you plan to be in Rochester this November let me know, it would be fun to put a face to the name!
Remember I'll be doing a drawing for "My Hearts at Home" on Friday, so be sure to leave contact information.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Growing up, did you ever see yourself as a mother – better yet, a professional mother? Please explain.
I had one goal in mind growing up…I wanted to be a music teacher. That’s how I envisioned my professional aspirations. I did see myself as a mother, but I felt that a teaching career would work well with motherhood (summers home, same schedule as school age children, etc)
Your organization’s purpose is to help mothers love their lives. Why is motherhood often looked down upon in today’s society?
I think we associate money with value. When a mother contributes to the family in a non-monetary way, we have wrongly assumed that the contribution isn’t as valuable as a monetary contribution.
Should a bright, intelligent, educated and professional young woman shy away from being a wife and mother if, in her heart, she desires to be?
We have the most educated generation of mothers we’ve ever had. We have more mothers with college degrees than any other preceding generation. That makes the decision to solely be a wife and mother an even harder decision to make. I believe however, that full-time motherhood is a valid career choice. A woman who desires to be at home for a season of time is not throwing her education away. As the founders of the former Mothers at Home group used to say, “She is simply applying her good mind and exceptional skills to the nurturing of her family.” And that is valuable!
What does it mean to professionalize motherhood?
Most moms answer the “what do you do” question with “Oh, I’m just a mom.” That answer alone speaks volumes about the lack of value she feels about what she does everyday. However, when a woman thinks of motherhood as a valid profession, she carries herself differently. A professional sets goals, seeks out continuing education, and sees her contribution to society in a positive way. When this woman answers the “what do you do” question, she responds with “I’m a wife and a mom and I love my job. I’m a woman committed to the profession of motherhood.”
What is the meaning of the name “Hearts at Home?”
There are so many good things that a mom can do---not just in the workplace, but also in the volunteer arenas. Before we know it, our heart is tugged in so many different directions. We encourage women to keep their heart at home---making their family their first priority---because we only have one chance to raise our kids.
Briefly describe your ministry and its purpose.
Hearts at Home is a Christ-centered organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. We offer encouragement through our conference events, website (www.hearts-at-home.org), published resources, bi-monthly magazine, and our newly launched radio program. Our National conference alone, held in Central Illinois every spring, hosts over 5,000 moms each year. The women who attend represent over 30 different states.
Monday, September 22, 2008
My first contact with Hearts at Home was thru Jill Savage's book "Professionalizing Motherhood." I had just made the decision to leave my career as a middle school math teacher to stay home with my son, so the book was put into my hands at the right time. Jill, also a former school teacher, shared her experience of leaving the work world to be a Mom. Her words reminded me of the value of my new profession at a time when others questioned my decision.
A year later, I was able to attend one of Hearts at Homes regional conferences and was truly blessed. I am looking forward to attending my 5th conference in November of this year. I have grown and been encouraged by listening to speakers including Jill Savage, Julie Barnhill, Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Whelchel and Ken Davis.
Come back this week to hear more about Hearts at Home and what they have to offer. Until then check out http://www.hearts-at-home.org/ I also encourage you to leave a comment, possibly how you keep your heart at home and on Friday I will draw a winner from the weeks comments to receive a copy of Jill Savage's latest book, "My Hearts at Home."
We started the evening with introductions. I was able to go around the table and individually e each one of my friends and share specifically what they had done for me. It was a great opportunity to share my appreciation and a wonderful reminder that little things make a big difference.
Then after opening with prayer we focused on the celebration of life as we shared the following verses Ps 127:3 – Children are a gift of the LORD. Psalms 139:13 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Listened to Watermarks "Glory Baby" song and had a time to share. The conversation was filled with compassion, stories of sorrow and a few tears, but through it all God was glorified. And we were reminded of His endless grace and perfect plan.
As we transitioned from the celebration of life to that of sisterhood, we listened to one of my all-time favorite songs - "Blessed Be Your Name." The give and take away lines had taken on new meaning once again over the last few weeks, but God presented another idea last night as I sat there. How even when He takes away, He gives - it's not necessarily an even trade, but He is a giving God. And I realized how in the midst of my loss and pain, He still provided - strength, encouragement and wonderful friends. So still I will say...
We moved onto the celebration of sisterhood with 2 verses Prov 17:17- A friend loves at all times. Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work, If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! And then listened to Point of Grace's song "Circle of Friends." It was an honor to sit there in my circle and thank God for each one of these very special "sisters" He has placed in my life. We once again were able to follow up with wonderful conversation, which lifted me and I assume others and I pray honored God.
I closed the night by lighting a candle and giving one to each of my friends. I felt there purpose was three-fold - 1) a gift for my appreciation for all they have meant to me, 2) a reminder of my child, who I will never forget and I pray they don't either and 3) a visual that reminds us to let our light shine.
I'm grateful for my circle of friends and how their light has brightened my life. I wasn't sure how this night would go, but I knew God had impressed it on my heart. Yesterday morning in Sunday School we talked about how when we obey, God will bless and that was the case last night as we celebrated life and sisterhood. Two wonderful gifts our Father has given us.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Three weeks ago tomorrow we had a miscarriage and exactly a week later God put this idea on my heart. That Saturday was the worst day I had, just overwhelmed with emotions, feelings of depression and in a constant state of sadness.
My husband recognized my need to just be alone, so as he put the kids to bed, I found time to be quiet and talk with God. All day I knew I had let my thoughts run, which had caused me to fall even farther down than the circumstances had already pushed me. Anyway I asked God to help me take my thoughts captive and see good in what seemed so bad.
He answered that prayer and gave me the idea of a celebration. All day I had struggled with the fact that some people hadn't even recognized the loss of our child's life and that hurt. I knew we wouldn't be having a funeral, but still God impressed on me that that didn't have to mean we couldn't celebrate this life.
This child may have only been here for 6 and a half weeks, but God worked thru him or her and taught me things thru this little one that He never will thru my other 3. Though it's been hard I am grateful. That night in the midst of my sadness, it was like He told me to celebrate the life of this child - my baby is important to me, but is even more loved by God, our Father.
The thoughts didn't end there as He reminded me of another reason of celebration - my sisters in Christ. Eight people instantly came to mind who had carried me thru the week that had led to this point. I know they were all praying for me, some had brought meals, others watched our kids, some shared their story and strength, they all had listened, some just sat, hugged and cried. Whatever they had done was important and after these 7 days I had a whole new appreciation for this circle of friends.
Now in the two weeks that passed since that night, God is conintuing to teach me, comfort me and guide me while my circle of friends surround me, lift me up and help me focus on Him. And at the same time He's already using this hard time from my life to help me minister to others as one of my friends is twelve days behind me on her walk thru a miscarriage.
So we not only celebrate the life of my child, but my friends as well. I'm not sure how this night of celebration will look or what it will hold, but I trust God put it on my heart, so I know it's in His hands. On the invite cards I said it was a night for healing and prayer along with sharing and praise, so I pray that will happen and we'll all be blessed and He will be glorified.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This last chapter is entitled "Every Promise Fulfilled." And it's true, that is what God does - He is a promise keeper! And his promises aren't the ones we enjoyed as a child, they are much bigger than that! He promises to strengthen us, never leave us, nor forsake us.
Though I realize these promises why do I doubt? As I walk this road of faith, God is directing me in directions I never expected and leading me through situations I never envisioned. At times the walk is lonely, but He is always there - that promise is true. At times the pain is hard to bear, but His strength is sufficient - that promise is true as well.
He has proven faithful time and time again, so now as I approach a new bend in the road, why do I worry? Because I don't know what lies on the other side - it may be joy, but it might be pain, only God knows. Really the question shouldn't be "what's on the other side?" because that's not what it's all about. The question I need to ask myself is "Do I trust Him?"
If I do, I will go because no matter what's over the hill, He promises to work it together for good. Another promise I know He will fulfill!
So I'll close with Lysa's words, "Continue striving to become a woman who looks back on her walk with God with no regrets. For that, my friend, is the real dream." And one only God can help us reach, so trust in Him and let the journey continue!
Friday, September 12, 2008
A month ago today I found out I was pregnant, not our plans, but obviously God's. After wrestling with the overwhelming news for a couple of days, I embraced God's plan and welcomed the gift He had given.
Two weeks ago tomorrow I was forced with returning the gift He had sent because of a miscarriage. The pain was and at times still is indescribable, the questions have no answers and thus I don't understand. I know God is in control, but it's hard...
Then this past Tuesday I was faced with an opportunity that most people would be ecstatic about - a publisher wants to publish my book. Rather than excitement I have fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what other's will think as they read personal thoughts straight from my journal, and fear of how my mom will react when I tell the world about the importance of spiritual mentoring and the role my "spiritual mom" plays in my life. I don't understand how an answer to prayer has me feeling like I'm in a place of despair...
Finally, last night a close friend who's only child is 3 days younger than our little Jaylyn, called to tell me we have something else in common. She experienced a miscarriage yesterday and now rather than experiencing pregnancy together again and watching our children grow up together, now we have playmates in heaven. I don't understand...
So what do we do when we don't understand? A question I've asked all too often here lately, but I was reminded of the answer today on Lelia's blog - we praise Him. Our circumstances may change, but He never does. Even when life seems bad, He is working for our good. He is worthy of my praise even though I don't understand.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Some of you are aware of the struggles we have encountered in the last 10 days and I'm grateful for your kind words and prayers. I have a new appreciation for my wonderful circle of friends that surround me in living color and those of you I have come to know in bloggy land. God has worked thru you to encourage me and keep my focus on Him when it would have been easy to doubt, question and turn away. So with that said, I'll continue on...
Lysa's words always leave an impression but this comment went straight to my heart, "There is no way to interpret this event in a way she can comprehend, but tell her I love her, and that she will understand. Isn't God amazing? Yes, indeed, God is good. Even when I can't understand His timing and His ways, I do fully understand His love and that is enough." I will never comprehend our miscarriage, but yet I am aware of His love, what a blessing!
She also spoke about ministry and said, "Ministry that makes the biggest impact...is the hard stuff that is void of glory but full of guts." Again, that's where I am at. Two years ago, God put it on my heart to write a book about spiritual mentoring, I doubted I could, but finally submitted and last Christmas I finished the book. Then I had the struggle of Him moving me forward, but me doubting I could publish a book. I realize I can't, but worries about putting myself out there and wondering what the world (my family) will think made me want to think that even God couldn't.
Eventually I realized I had to submit and send this off and see if He could really do it, almost hoping He couldn't. Well last week after a conversation with someone, I finally realized we were at two different places with our faith and I couldn't let her thoughts hold me back from obeying God. God had convinced me I was going to do this. At the time that was a nice thought, it felt good to finally say, "OK God this is yours, do what you want." But at the same time, I still didn't know if things would progress.
Well, today I came home from a Dr.'s appointment that told me the miscarriage was complete, I had a message from a publisher. Honestly I was shocked to hear her say they were excited about the possibilities of my book. Lysa's words about lack of qualification came rushing to my mind, but then came words from chapter 19, "regardless of where you are today, God is with you." What a comforting thought!
I have no idea how this will unfold, but realize "walking closely with God gives us a more keen insight of our desperate need for Him." The events of the last 10 days have solidified the importance of my faith and desperate need for Him and have given me more reason to believe in who is and trust what He says. Thoughts of what lie ahead scare me a bit, but reflections from the past prove He has never disappointed me. I trust God will bring dreams to life, maybe they aren't the ones I had as a child, but the thought of achieving His dreams is an honor.
Monday, September 8, 2008
He is there, we (I) simply have to recognize Him, seek Him, reach out to Him and let Him carry my burden. Not always the easy thing to do, but obviously the right thing and in the end the best thing.
I have always had an analytical mind, enjoying math as a student and challenging my students with logic as a teacher, but I have yet to figure life out. This past week convinced me I never will!!
A week after experiencing a miscarriage, I hear a guess musician at our church say, "God's will is never bad." Though I was in the midst of the most painful experience of my life, I had to agree. Was it fun? "NO!" Was it hard? "YES!"
Thru all of this though, the hurt, the tears, the anger, the emptiness, the loss, the misunderstanding, the questions, God's intentions are not bad.
I don't know why this has happened and honestly I've given up trying to figure it out, but I know and trust God is at work. He's already proven that with Him I can walk thru something I never thought I could. He's revealed how critical my circle of Christian friends really are. He has drawn me closer to Himself and that is good.
His ways are not my ways, but He has a plan...one for a future and a hope.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I went to bed that night sensing something wasn’t right with our pregnancy and as the night wore on, sleep became non-existent. It was then I got up and God brought the verse Lysa had shared to mind, so like her I put it to prayer. “Lord, I don’t know what is going on, but you do. I trust You know best and no matter how this unfolds, teach me Your ways.”
When morning came, maternal instincts continued to tell me something was wrong and as I read our morning devotions God started to answer my prayer and teach me His ways. We were reading from Luke 22, a passage I’ve read and heard numerous times, but as I spoke the words they took on a whole new meaning. As I said the words Jesus prayed, I felt they were my own, “Father if thou art willing, remove this cup of suffering, never the less not my will, but thy will be done.” I choked up, paused and knew it was true – my life was about His will, not mine. The thought of a miscarriage was hard and I wanted more than anything to know our baby was all right, but still I knew God was in control. I never felt more connected to Jesus experience ever in my life and like Him, I didn’t want to walk the path it seemed God was setting in front of me, but like Christ, I had to submit. So August 30, God started teaching me His ways.
And as the visit to the Dr.’s office confirmed what my mother’s intuition already knew, the lessons continued. I walked away with tears in my eyes, pain in my heart and loss in my life, but at the same time I had a new appreciation for life and the 3 children God has blessed me with. Children truly are a gift from God.
This little life that lasted six and a half short weeks continues to teach me more than I ever imagined. Our little “J” reminds me that this life is a vapor, literally here today and gone tomorrow.
As I struggle with the loss of my child, I have a new appreciation for my faith. Romans 5:3-5 has been one of my favorite passages, but my focus has always been on the beginning. Now the end carries a new significance. Paul tells us that hope does not disappoint and that is so true. Though I cry, I don’t understand and I hurt, I still have peace because I know who God is and I’m comforted with the fact that my little one is in His arms now.
Another lesson I have learned deals with the cross. After losing a child of my own, I have a better understanding of the depth of God’s love – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son… The pain I feel is unexplainable, but God chose to do this because He loved me and you.
I’ve also been overwhelmed by the strength of fellow believers. I have been blessed with kind words, hugs and prayers, which brings new meaning to we are the body. God didn’t create us to walk alone and in the dark times I understand why.
In my struggle I’ve also been touched by God’s strength. As I spoke with someone just hours after this had happened I was able to comfort them, something the other person did not understand. But I did, I knew the strength was not my own, but the Holy Spirit working thru me just like 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 says.
Finally in a week that God has been teaching me His ways, I understand the verse in Proverbs to be true – His ways are not my ways. I would never choose to walk this road, but He has and I know He’s been with me every step of the way. His word tells me that He has a plan for me and He works all things together for good, so as the journey continues I will always pray, “Lord, teach me your ways.”
Lord, when I’m hurt
And just don’t understand –
Teach me Your ways.
When I’m sad
And just want to cry –
Teach me Your ways.
When I’m confused
And tempted to give up –
Teach me Your ways.
When I’m put down
And not sure I want to go on –
Teach me Your ways.
When I’m angry
And on the verge of losing control –
Teach me Your ways.
When I’m recognized
And receive praise that is Yours –
Teach me Your ways.
Lord, today and always
Thru the good and bad –
Teach me Your ways.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I have really appreciated the positive comments left by readers and I’ll admit to being amazed when I see radio stars from Proverbs31 have visited my blog. Both wonderful things, but I now know that’s not why I write.
I realize the connection I share with and encouragement and prayers I receive from others is a real blessing. I’m so grateful for sympathy extended and similar stories others have shared as I walk thru a dark time, God’s light is shining thru you.
The answer God has really provided for the question though actually surprised me a bit. So why do I write? I write for myself. Now that might sound selfish, so let me explain…
Saturday we experienced a miscarriage and it hurts, at times it hurts bad. I can’t say that I’m angry with God and I don’t blame Him, but opportunities exist that could shake me faith. In my sadness I don’t understand and at times all I want to do is crawl in bed. I know who God is and trust He has a plan, but when I can’t comprehend the why’s and how’s occasionally His plan seems messed up.
That’s where my writing comes in – the other day as I worked to process things, I read thru some entries that led up to Saturday. Honestly my words surprised me, not because of how they were written, but because of the truth they hold. Let me share a few…
That is a constant process especially as some problems become bigger before I even see God's hand at work, but as I reflect on my life I know His solution has always been the best. That's the truth I must hold onto as life continues to unfold - He has carried me thus far and will continue to do so. I think Lysa described this philosophy real well when she said, "Take your eyes off the problem and focus on the good and loving God who has great plans for you." It's easy to get caught up in the emotions, feelings and worries that life creates, but we must keep our eyes on Him.As I walk this road of faith I know the storms will come and at times I will veer off the path, but I can't allow setbacks to affect my vision. I must constantly "keep looking up" and as our Pastor says, put the blinders on. Focus on God and God alone.
Whatever the loss, our experience will draw us closer to Him. As I let go of my plans and the things I think I control I realize it's all about Him. Experience has taught me that the less I rely on myself the better off I am. I'm sorry to say I need to be reminded of that fact all too often, but God provides and continues to show me His ways are higher than mine.
As I do that I am reminded to simply trust because He is perfect! Everything about Him - His strength, timing, plans and the peace that He provides.
So when life throws a curve ball and plans don't go the way I have drawn them up, what do I do?All too often my answer is wrong as I take things into my own hands and worry about all that I can't do. If I'd simply surrender it to God and believe, things would be better, maybe not easier, but there would be peace.So as I sat there last night in the midst of a struggle with worries about the unknown I was reminded what I needed to do - believe. God has a reason for the storms, the unexpected struggles, everything and it's not my place to figure it out. At times things don't make sense, but His word tells us - He works all things together for good.
Satan can use pain and death to distract us and make us ineffective for what God has planned.But, if we focus on God and the truths His word reveals, He has a reason for the hurts we don't often expect or even enjoy. That is to draw us closer to Himself and like Lysa said that will "never disappoint." It still hurts, but when the pain has a purpose He provides peace.As we move to chapter 15, Lysa focuses on death and how God is NOT surprised. Actually it's been part of His plan since the beginning! So why is it so difficult for me (us) to embrace something He will work through? Because it's hard and it hurts and often times my focus is on the here and now, not the eternal picture that He can see.
So though the pain doesn't always make sense and death hurts, I know there is a reason. Obviously it is never mine, human nature never wants to experience pain or loss, but God knows best. These hard times change me, help me grow, cause me to mature and draw me closer to Him!! So as Mercy Me sings, "Jesus, bring the rain," so like Casting Crowns, I can "Praise You in the storm!"
So as I said my words impressed me, don't take me wrong - that is not a boastful statement, but when I wrote these words I had no idea what the future held and how true some of my remarks would be. But God did and He has prepared me - as I read about my confidence and trust in God over the last couple of weeks, I think to myself if I praised Him then, I still have to now - He has NOT changed. He is here, holding me, drawing near to me and providing peace and comfort thru His word, my husband and children, and wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ.
So though at times my to-do list grows and there's still dust on the shelves, I'm thankful that I write and I'm grateful God has let His light shine thru my words, I just never knew I'd be the one sensing that.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This desire has grown stronger the last few days as my mentor, whom I’d rather call my spiritual mom, and I have crossed paths once again. Leanne has been someone I’ve looked up to, respected, laughed with and cried with, but thru the years she has been someone I have learned from. The lessons include parenting tips, marriage advice and everything in between, but the key to our relationship is our faith.
As our friendship has grown, we have grown closer to one another, but more importantly we have each grown closer to God. Leanne’s honesty, humble heart, listening ear, unconditional love and shared faith have helped me grow. Because of the things she has shared I am a better mom, a more loving wife, a real friend and a child who wants to obey my heavenly Father.
Granted others have impacted me as well, but it’s Leanne who is that soul-mate or kindred spirit. Never in my life did I think I could possibly be friends with someone who graduated the year I was born, and I was right, we’re not just friends, I consider her my best friends.
Though we do share a friendship that is honest and real there are moments when she is more than a friend. Moments when she’s more like my mom than my friend, but that’s OK because then I can ask the questions I’m afraid to ask and get advice from the steps she’s already taken.
We’ve experienced that aspect of our friendship numerous times, but none of those experiences have been as critical as the events of the past few days. This past Saturday I experienced a miscarriage and the pain and emotions are unreal, there aren’t words to describe the emptiness and loss.
It is hard, it hurts, I don’t understand, I cry, my body aches, every once in awhile I feel OK, but then I feel bad for not feeling bad – it’s truly an up and down experience. Definitely a walk I couldn’t go alone. I have been blessed with prayers and words from many especially Leanne.
She has walked this road, she understands the pain, the mixed emotions and has advice to share from her experience. With her I can cry and even just be quiet, but I can also share what hurts and what I don’t understand. I can ask questions others might think are weird or even gross, but she listens. She encourages me when I’m down and reminds me of what I have, she adjusts my focus when circumstances overwhelm, life consumes and the pain shatters my perspective.
Though the days have been dark, Leanne shines light in my life. The light is never her own, but when it seems all is lost, she reminds me of what I still have – 3 wonderful children and hope that comes from Christ. A gift I will never lose, something that holds me up when I just want to fall down.
And I thank God for that gift He’s given and for Leanne and all the special people in my life who remind me of Him and strengthen my faith in Him.
In honor of Leanne and all you spiritual moms -
His eyes, His eyes welcomed with peace and love.
He cared when no one else seemed to notice.
He listened while everyone else continued to talk.
His arms embraced when others were too busy.
He was honest while the world tried to pretend.
He felt my pain when others didn’t know I was hurt.
He loved me as family because God is our Father.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Someday, when the questions are answered
And the pain has passed –
You’ll be there.
Someday, when I smile
Because of the beauty I’ve never seen –
You’ll be there.
Someday, when this all makes sense
And I understand God’s plan –
You’ll be there.
Someday, when I walk towards the gates
And enter my eternal home –
You’ll be there.
Someday, when I cry tears of joy
And embrace the ones I miss –
You’ll be there.
Someday, when I enter heaven
And forever praise the Lord I love –
You’ll be there.