Monday, November 25, 2013

Gladness of Heart

"He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Ecc 5:20
I don't know if you have noticed but, I have been having a few life challenges lately.  And they have sort of been kicking my butt.  And so I have told you that life is hard because lately my life has been HARD.

I find it is always worst right before it gets better and I am happy to report that I believe I hit my bottom this week.  And having spent hours over the past few weeks crying out to God and praying with friends and seeking wise counsel, I feel like I have sprung back out of the hole I have been in.  Not because anything has changed but because I changed.

I am reading through Ecclesiastes right now.  I know people say it is a depressing book of the bible, and in many ways it is, because you see the hopelessness of life apart from God.  Honestly, without God it is all meaningless, there is no hope, we work, we die, who cares.  But I know how it ends, I know there is a God who gives life meaning and purpose, we work, we die, we leave a legacy, we live in Glory for eternity.

Today I read, "He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."

Life is still hard, we work, we die, who cares, but...we can either reflect on that fact, the burden of life, the hard, the challenges, or, we can let God occupy us with gladness of heart.  Remembering His Glory, seeing His Blessings, being Thankful for His Provisions.

We tend to not want to brush problems under the rug these days.  Once upon a time that is all we did.  Hide problems and put on a happy face.  Today it seems we have almost gone the opposite, brush the good under the rug because we don't want to deny the problems.  Being true to yourself means you can't say you are doing good when everyone knows your life has challenges.  But if we trust God and let him occupy us with gladness of heart, then challenges and joy can co-exist within us.

It is Thanksgiving week, what a perfect time to come out of my hole.  I have been reading all the thanksgiving posts on facebook.  And my friend Jody has been hosting "30 days of Thanksgiving" and while I have been happy everyone else was thankful this month, I haven't been really feeling it.  Not that I couldn't come up with things to be thankful for but I just didn't care.  However, I have sprung out of my hole just in time to celebrate this great holiday and today I share a few things I am thankful for:

  • Boxes unpacked and feeling settled in my beautiful new home.
  • New friends for Isabelle.
  • The closing of my first sale (in which I wasn't the buyer or seller.
  • The hot tub at our new place.
  • Family that stands by you through it all.
  • Friends who love and pray for you.
  • A husband who will get on a ladder in the cold misty rain to hang a for sale sign for you while you sit in the warm car.
  • The contrast of black on blue walls.
  • Teaching my daughter to sew her first barbie dress.
  • Fabric glue to handle the finishing touches.
  • A flexible schedule to enjoy Thanksgiving break with Izzy.

I pray God occupies your heart with gladness and thankfulness during this Thanksgiving week and throughout the year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Infertility sucks. God has a plan.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Prov 19:18
I  have been thinking lately about our years of infertility.  A couple we know is struggling to get pregnant.  Whenever I hear of someone I know, or even someone I don't know, going through that same struggle we experienced for so many years my heart breaks.  I remember the pain and sorrow.  The constant monthly grieving.  The confusion and hopelessness.  It was not good.
You put on a brave, happy face and keep going through the day to day of your life because you realize you can't just give up on life and become one with the couch.  But you aren't sure you are living.  You are really just going through the motions.  Because nothing in life makes sense.  And the overwhelming sense of powerlessness you suddenly realize you have over any aspect of your life is more than you can comprehend.

Other people seem to be able to do whatever they want.  They plan their life, they plan when they will have children and it all falls right into line exactly the way they planned.  But you can't get pregnant and that was not in your plan.  And there is no willing it to happen.  There is nothing you can DO.  I mean you can try lots of different things, you can pursue lots of medical options but ultimately there is this realization that life really is not created by man's will but by God's and clearly he is not on your side when it comes to this.  And you can't seem to make Him change his mind.  And you want to hate God for it but really, what does that get you?  You believe, you don't believe, you are mad, you are happy, you still won't get pregnant without Him.

AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  This is a good time for a big tantrum.  It feels good but still changes nothing.

It has been 18 years since we last used birth control and 8-1/2 years since God blessed us with Isabelle and finished our family.  So I have had a little time to gain some perspective on this topic.  And one thing I have seen is that the lessons I learned going through infertility have helped me with other challenges in my life and have helped me to understand other people who are struggling not just with infertility but with any challenge that makes you feel powerless and takes away your dreams.

When people are struggling we tend to feel uncomfortable with them.  We are uncomfortable with other people's grief.  So we try to say things to make them feel better, which so often actually makes them feel worse.  (Helpful hint:  If your friends have been trying to get pregnant for 3 or maybe 6 months, suggesting looser underwear and cold showers might be helpful.  If they have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years and are seeing specialists, it is insulting.)

People grieve.  Jesus wept in front of Lazarus' tomb even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead.  Life is hard and it is OK to experience the emotions of the moment.  We can still grieve and believe that God will give us a child or whatever other desire of our heart is currently unmet.  It is OK to struggle.

We can trust God.  Recently I was thinking about the idea of having the "mind of Christ".  It is a Christian saying that we throw around but, what does it mean?  It sounds godly so when someone says they are having the mind of Christ on something we just nod our heads because it sounds good and spiritual.  I started thinking about what it means and while I don't know what it means to other people, what it means to me is to have an eternal perspective.  While I can only know what is going to happen at this very moment, Christ is concerned with eternity.  So while he understands that we want a child RIGHT NOW, he also knows what we need for eternity.  The growth and reliance on Him that infertility will bring, the perfect child that he has waiting for us at the perfect moment.  The plan.  Our story which will be like no one else's story.  And again, not just a truth in infertility but for any area of your life where you are struggling to see God's plan.

Today I can see in our family how God's plan was perfect for us.  We got to have Jake alone for several years of his childhood before Isabelle came along.  A blessing for us all.  Then we got to meet and bring Sam and Lauren into our family along with Isabelle.  We have a daughter we adore and her birth parents and sister as a bonus which we are blessed beyond words by.  At no point ever in my life would I have made this plan, could I have seen what a blessing, joyful and loving experience this would be.  And because of the pain we suffered through infertility we have been able to love others who are struggling and process new trials as they have come our way.  Not that we don't still grieve and struggle but we know we will make it through and we know Christ's plan will be infinitely better than ours.

If you are struggling today I don't want you to read this and hear, "stop struggling", "don't worry be happy".  If you are in the midst of struggling go ahead and grieve.  It SUCKS.  Nothing changes that.  But I hope this gives you hope that eventually, in ways you can't see right now, it will get better.  God will redeem this moment and bring you joy and completion beyond what you could dream.  Keep going.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb 11:1

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Friend or Two or Three

One of the selling points of our new place was discovering that a friend of Isabelle's from school also lives in this building.  How fun, I thought, for Izzy to have a friend here.  And what a sweet bonus that across the hall from us lives a 6 and 3 year old.  She will never be bored. Plus she won't be the only loud one. And while it is great, somehow I think I got 3 new kids in this move who are just as goofy as the one I already have.  And she is definitely not the only loud one.

And with all of them running between homes my door seems to be always hanging open.

Add dorm living to the college experience we are having.  Elementary school style.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Beauty that Surrounds Me

Today as I am sitting at my dining room table/home desk I looked over to see this out my window

And even though I am still enduring hard days, and I still don't like it, I am trying to continue seeing the beauty that surrounds me more than worry about the problems that God is handling.

And so even though in this month of Thanksgiving I am struggling to feel thankful, today for this moment I am thankful for a new home with a beautiful view.

Today my friend Jody over at Even the Sparrow is sharing this message on her facebook page
And even though I want to resist it I am trying to rest in it.