Monday, August 30, 2010

Lessons from a little one...

I am constantly amazed at the lessons I learn from my children! God can speak to me through them in so many ways and this past weekend I've been reflecting on and reminded of the many lessons He's taught me through one of my children in particular.

The child I never held in my hands, but will forever hold in my heart. The little one we lost to a miscarriage 2 years ago today. At the time we'd only known we were expecting for 15 days, but the reality is in those 15 days we came to know this little one as our own - we had dreams for her, hopes for her and a heart full of love for her too.

At times this weekend has been difficult - memories from 2 years ago have come back quite strongly. I recalled the events of that weekend quite vividly and as I did, I found my mind wanting to ask the question. You know, the question that has no answer - "Why?" Again I found myself following the advice Lysa TerKeurst shared in a recent Bible study; the question to ask is "What now?"

So as that thought came to mind, I asked God to show me. "Lord what do I do now? I'm sad and grieving this little one, but yet I know You are good. What do I do now?" There was no voice, but it was as if Iheard, "How was I good in this?"

Before I go on, I want to admit this is still hard and if you're walking in the pain of a recent loss, I know your emotions are raw and the pain is real. You may be thinking there is no good in this (I've been there), but I want to encourage you - circumstances change, life is hard, but GOD is GOOD! Two years later I can say that and if you seek HIM and trust in HIM someday soon you will too.

Now, "How was God good in this?" Well, the first answer that came to mind was my little man Jed - 6 months after our loss, God blessed us with another pregnancy and this October we'll celebrate Jedidiah Jay's 1st birthday!! God is good!

Another lesson my little one has taught me is that God does provide - as memories flooded my mind these past two days I was amazed to see how God provided a listening ear, an encouraging word, a warm embrace, a friend to share my tears, a song to change my perspective, strength to face another day...

He also provided an opportunity for us to grieve as a family. At that time our other kids were 5, 3 and 1, and we didn't explain to them what had happened. After spending the day at their grandma's house because mom needed to rest they came home for the evening and I worked to keep things together as we prepared supper. It was then that we discovered Dorothy, the goldfish we'd had for over 2 years had died. I can remember J.D. and Joy just crying. They crawled onto my lap and we all grieved - them for a fish, but me for the sibling they wouldn't see until this life was done. Those moments were hard, but yet so precious - God is good.

God also provided some answers - answers to the questions, "Was this baby a boy or a girl?" and "What was his or her name?" In April of '09, when I was expecting Jed, we were discussing names and I always came back to Jenae Hope Beran. Jenae means "God has given" and Hope, well that's obvious, so together I thought "God has given HOPE" was very fitting. So needless to say in June when the ultrasound said I was carrying a boy, I was surprised! I was for sure I'd be holding another little girl in the delivery room; a little Jenae Hope actually! I can remember asking God, "What about Jenae?" And He whispered to my heart, I'm already holding her.

Knowing this was good, my baby had a name! But yet it was hard and in a way I grieved all over again. But God is good - He gave me time to grieve; prior to this we'd never even had an ultrasound with our other children. This time the Dr. recommended it and though my husband didn't want to know the sex of the baby, God knew I did. (I did keep the secret!) And I'm thankful HIS ways are higher than mine - you see I don't know how all of these emotions combined with those that accompany a new baby would have all played out. God knew I needed time and He provided.

This little one, Jenae, has also taught me that God really does speak to us and work in ways we never expect or fully understand - the story of her name is proof of that! He is good!

Her little life has taught me that I serve a God who is faithful! He keeps HIS word - when I am weak, He is strong. When I can't, He can. When I fall, He will lift me up. When I'm in need, He will provide. No matter what the situation, I can put my trust in HIM. He is my hope!!

My trip down memory lane has shown me that Psalm 139:10 is true, "even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." During those first few days and even weeks there were moments I wondered if this was true, but looking back I know it was and better yet still is and will always be!!

One final answer to the question, "How was God good in the worse loss I've ever experienced?" He provided strength and peace I'd never felt before. He drew me to Him, even when at times I tried to push away. He comforted when no one else could! He taught me what HOPE is all about!

Two years ago, because of Him I could say, "blessed be the name of the LORD." And today though my heart still grieves for my little girl and I've experienced first hand how the Lord gives and takes away, it is a privilege and honor to bless HIS name. HE is GOOD! Thank you little Jenae HOPE Beran for allowing Him to use you to teach your mom so much!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Heavy Heart

Last night while I was leading our women's Bible study, I missed a call from my sister-in-law. After returning home, connecting with my husband and getting the kids to bed I called her back. It was then she asked if I remembered the principal from my time at North Fayette; I said, "Yes, Mr. Haught." And then she went on to tell me he had taken his own life.

I was in shock, just like anytime I hear news like this. Thoughts went to his wife and family. Then to fellow c0-workers and all the students he had led through the years. With every thought that came to mind, my heart grew heavier. Situations like this are so hard to understand and really there is no answer to the question, "Why?"

So why not focus on the question that has beneficial results, "What now?" As God shifted my thinking I was reminded that we are all in need of hope. Not wishful thinking, but hope that really makes a difference, hope that only God can give. I don't know where Mr. Haught was spiritually, but regardless of the strength of our faith or lack of it, life and its circumstances can bring us down. We must constantly seek God, draw closer to Him and share that hope with others.

As I grieved for all those who knew Mr. Haught, God took my thoughts a step farther and I shared with my husband, "11 years ago next month, people could have easily been making those same calls about me." You see back in Sept. of '99, my second year as a junior high math teacher and Mr. Haught's first year as principal, I was struggling with depression. At the time I had religion, but no relationship. I was hurting, lonely and on the brink of giving up. It hurts me to think about how close I was to ending it all, but I'm so thankful God intervened and has me where I am today. As my husband responded last night, "Praise God."

So back to the question, "What now?" When our hearts are heavy with grief, when things happen that we don't understand and life is hard, "what now?" We seek HIM, trust HIM and praise HIM. For me, God is using this to remind me; to remind me of what HE's done in my life, to remind me that we never fully know what's going on in another's life and to remind that there's always a need to shine HIS light in a world that is dark.

Friends, please join me today in lifting the family and friends of Ken Haught today. Only God can provide what they truly need in a time like this and in the days ahead. Thank you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's more than...

The other day we were doing morning devotions and my husband read from Luke 12:24-27, "He (Jesus) said to them, 'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'

"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'

Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.'

"But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!"

As he read, I really thought about these words and simply said, "That could happen to a lot of people." I know I use to be one of them - I went to church, did more good than bad and believed Jesus died on the cross. But I didn't KNOW HIM.

But now I do and I'm so thankful! My heart rejoices at where He's brought me and I look forward to where He's taking me. I'm thankful I have the privilege to know Him more daily and the responsibility to make Him known is a wonderful opportunity.

How about you? Do you know Him? Is your faith more than a religion? Jesus, the savior of the world, wants to know you!! Friend if you have questions about this please let me know. Email me at jillberan@yahoo.com

And if you do know Him, how are you making Him known? Share your story with someone today!

As I've thought about this I've been reminded of a poem I wrote years ago and as I've read the words God's shown me though they are true, the amazing thing about this walk with HIM is it's always more than I ever think it could be!

"It's More Than"
It’s more than going to church,
It’s needing to.
It’s more than spending Sunday morning with God,
It’s knowing you’ll be with Him forever.
It’s more than believing there is a God,
It’s knowing Him.
It’s more than reading the Bible,
It’s believing what it says.
It’s more than praying in times of need,
It’s praying always.
It’s more than singing “Jesus loves me”
It’s knowing he always will.
It’s more than loving your neighbor,
It’s loving your enemy, too.
It’s more than following the rules,
It’s obeying God’s will.
It’s more than being a good person,
It’s knowing God forgives you when you’re not.
It’s more than faith in Christ,
It’s a relationship with Him.
It’s more than being thankful,
It’s constantly giving thanks.
It’s more than asking “Why?”
It’s knowing God has a reason.
It’s more than serving others,
It’s expecting nothing in return.
It’s more than thanking God for blessings,
It’s praising Him through the storm.
It’s more than being baptized,
It’s accepting Christ as your Savior.
It’s more than knowing Jesus died on the cross,
It’s knowing your sins put him there.
It’s more than saying, “I’m a Christian.”
It’s living a life that proves it.
It’s more than a religion,
It’s a way of life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Too much to say...

I've taken a bit of a break from my blog and it's not just because summer is busy. That's so true, but there's more. There have been times I've had things going through my mind and I've thought I should write about that, but it didn't happen. Sometimes it's because there are 4 kids in my house who need me quite often, but primarily it was because God was simply talking to me. I needed to process what He had to say before I could share with someone else. But the reason for my hiatus doesn't stop there - He didn't simply want me to process the truth on my own, He expected me to apply it and live it out. He wanted me to make it my own!!

As everyone prepares to head back to school (myself included) and let learning resume, this summer I'm thankful class was in session on the Beran farm! The teacher is being praised! And the learner, well daily she's being tested!!

In the days ahead I hope to be able to share a bit of what God has been doing; as I share the lessons I've learned, I pray He will teach you as well. For now I will close with a passage I just read out of Lysa TerKeurst's participant guide for Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl,

"The more we see our life's purpose unfold...
...the more we'll be secure in the person God has created us to be.
The more we become secure in the person God created us to be...
...the more we'll be able to make peace with liking who we are.
The more we make peace with liking who we are...
...the more we'll be able to untangle self-distracting thoughts.
The less entangled we are...
...the more effective we'll be for Christ."

The process of moving through these stages is not easy and really it never ends, but as I reflect on the last few months I know it is worth it. Press on my friends, press on!

Monday, August 16, 2010

We have a winner!!

Thanks to all who have stopped by, left a comment and entered the give-away! Honestly I wish I could send you each a book, but since that can't happen I'm excited to say Joy is our winner! I will be in touch with you soon and for those of you who's name was not drawn if you're interested in ordering a copy of the book, click on the link on the sidebar.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Never too big...

In a house with 4 small children someone is always too big - too big for their clothes, shoes, car- seat, toys...you get the idea! But that's the way it's supposed to be; their change in size is a sign of growth and for that I am thankful.

This is just the beginning of things that my kids will outgrow - if I look ahead ten years they will be too big for most everything we have in the house at the moment. I take it a step farther and think about all I've outgrown over the years, that list almost seems endless!

Over the last month God has shown me there are some things I will never be too big for with one of them being spiritual mentoring. No matter where we are on our walk of faith we have not arrived yet and never fully will this side of heaven. On this earth there will always be more to learn and I don't know about you, but I have a ways to go in the be like Christ department!

Someone is out there who is a step ahead, she (or he) has walked the road I'm on and God wants me to learn from her. Her experience and encouragement can teach me. He can show me things thru her example.

This past year, Leanne, one of my spiritual mentors, and I co-published a book, Letters from Leanne, that chronicles our spiritual mentoring relationship. And through this process, God has shown me so many things - He is in control, He can use ordinary people like me and His ways are wonderful. He has also reminded me that I always have room for improvement and He is constantly working in me. Some of these lessons are hard and the melting and molding can be painful, but it's all for a purpose, HIS!!

As I walk this road, I'm grateful for the constant role spiritual mentors play in my life - these people help me, they listen and keep me focused on what and who the journey is all about! My kids are growing physically and I'm grateful I'm maturing spiritually (and they are too - being a mom also means you are a spiritual mentor, but that's another post!), but I'm thankful I will never be too big for the blessing of spiritual mentoring!

And now as I see my 3 year old influence our little guy, I realize we're never too small for spiritual mentoring either, but that's a thought for another day....

Now for a give-away, leave a comment sharing your thoughts and be entered to win a copy of Letters from Leanne! We pray our story will encourage you to create one of your own!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spiritual Mentoring and a Weekend Give-away

A special welcome to those of you visiting from Wendy Blight's blog! Thank you for stopping by and please be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of "Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship."

Spiritual mentoring is not a new concept or idea - it was present in the Old Testament with Naomi and Ruth and also in the New Testament with Mary and Elizabeth. It is also a way of life Paul calls us to in Titus 2:3-5, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

Some individuals can read these verses and think the older woman can hold a six week class for the younger woman and her job is done, but I don't believe that is the case. From my experience, spiritual mentoring is all about relationships and sharing life together. In Letters from Leanne, you will see how God grew our friendship and worked through it to mature our faith.

This road to maturity has had ups and downs, smiles and tears - much like the road you are walking. There have been times of joy - babies, weddings and new jobs; along with trials - injuries, the loss of a parent and a miscarriage, but because we've journeyed together the good times have been better and the burdens lighter. The words of Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 are true, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up."

Regardless of where you are on your walk of faith, spiritual mentoring is for you - someone is a step ahead, learn from her, and someone else is following behind, share with her. I have been blessed by how God has worked through spiritual mentoring in my life and it is a privilege to share that gift with others. I pray you've been encouraged to make it part of your life today!!

Now for the give-away - How about you, has spiritual mentoring made a difference in your life? How? If not, how do you think spiritual mentoring could bless you as you walk in faith? Have you asked God to put an older woman in your life? If not, do so now and please share your requests with me, I'd be honored to pray for you. Share your thoughts and enter to win a copy of "Letters from Leanne." Please remember to leave your email address so I can contact the winner!