authenticity, community, discipleship, God's word, infertility, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, The body of Christ

Why I share vulnerable places…

Many people in the course of these years of blogging in infertility or teaching in the midst have come to me or commented on how my blogs have encouraged them in the weight of their journeys.  Some that I suspected might struggle, some who I had no clue were struggling…

Some of you might say, “I could not put that out there.:  It is not easy–it’s a vulnerable place and when publicized it makes it more vulnerable.  You open yourself to possibly hurtful comments made by others who mean to help but push the dagger farther.  You also open yourself to the gift of others praying for you…countless ones who may not even share it until much later. I totally believe that God brought Jack and this growing baby by the prayers of the saints who found out about our infertility through Greg and I being vulnerable and asking for help.

I have always journaled–since I became a Christian 25 years ago.  It is a tool that  helps me tackle the reality that is going on inside my heart.  It helps me share with God and hear what He shares with me.  It helps me to study His word and mark down what comfort and direction His word brings in the midst of my emotions and life.  So, why did I blog it?

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

I am not my own.  I have been given a hope and life in Christ that flows over into others.  I spend my time attempting to point others to truth and to help them to grow.  The point of my deepest growth is oftentimes the point of my deepest pain pressing into Christ and his truth.  My suffering was and is met with His comfort, and in sharing that with others, I hopefully can help them lean in to the Lord and be comforted and in turn they hopefully do that with others.

So, why do I blog this?  Because the reason I faced it is for the comfort for the Body of Christ…to share with them the depths and the treasure of Christ.  This is a tool to do that.    I want to treasure Christ more than anything I might have lost or may be losing and help others to do the same.  He is worth it.

I am not special in this…That doesn’t mean you have to blog it.  In the world of blogs where people become celebrities, that is not what the aim is.  The world does not need another mom blogger, but the world needs moms who struggle who are honest with those around them about where their hope is found–Jesus.  People around you are hurting and they need to know how you struggle to your hope–not perfectly, but in the truth of Christ.  If you struggle with perfection or an eating disorder or infidelity or singleness or jealousy or have lost a sibling or a child or a parent or suffer from depression or Pick any thing, God has a way for you to share with someone else.  We are a Body…with all different parts held together by the Head–Christ.  Where would God have you share?  Are you pressing into Him?

authenticity, discipline, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, thankfulness, transformation by truth, trusting God, Uncategorized

Remember

Life is hard. We forget the good at times. We forget where and how we have grown. We forget friends who were faithful along the way. We can major on our feelings of the crisis or the mundane we are in.
This is the human condition. That is why God reminded the children of Israel over and over and over in his word of their story and His faithfulness in their story.
When I was in the deep throws of infertility the first time(…thinking we would have no children and wrestling with all my emotions of that fact), I took time to write my life story in my journal. I was at the beach in January by myself. For hours I poured through the pages of my mind remembering joy and sorrow and God’s faithfulness. Many times I would say out loud “OH YEAH–I totally forgot that fruit or that growth or that miracle!”
This morning, as I was praying, I remembered that journal. I need to find it and reread it–TODAY. We are forgetful and are often driven by our feelings of pain in the moment.
We each have huge miracles and pictures of grace in our lives that we easily dismiss when the next pain comes along–just like Israel when they got hungry and tired right after God had parted the Red Sea.
Let’s take time to remember so that we may run this race with endurance.

discipline, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, prayer, rest, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, thankfulness, transformation by truth, trusting God

Hope In One Thing

We use the word “hope” often.  I hope my child grows to love Jesus.  I hope my husband experiences healing here with his rheumatoid arthritis.  I hope that you have a good day.  I hope you enjoy the holiday season.  I hope that I live fully to glorify Christ.

The only place to put my hope “IN” is God–Jesus–the Holy Spirit.  Where does my help come from?–from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.  If my husband suffers the rest of this life from RA (and thus, I feel that suffering) and my child rebels and never knows Jesus and I see unspeakable tragedy–My hope is still to be found IN God.  He is the only stabliizer, the only True One.  “The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our God stands forever.”

It’s totally okay to hope for things…but our only hope “In” can be found in Christ.  Everything else fails and fades and disappoints.  He IS MY ROCK AND MY HOPE.

community, doctrine, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, infertility, suffering in joy, thankfulness, The body of Christ, trusting God

Lots of Thoughts…

      It has been a long while since I have posted a blog.  Many times I have thought of topics to write about that are swirling in my head and heart–I just have not. 

        Life is full of different seasons.  My thirties, to this point, have been about pain, struggle and immense growth in knowing Christ.  An overarching sadness has plagued circumstances (see the history of this blog).  Now, I am in a season of the joy of pregnancy–preparing to let go and preparing to embrace a huge new role and responsibility in life.  Soon, (3 months and coming faster) I will be a Momma and Greg a Daddy. 

        God has been unbelievably gracious to me in the last few years to lead me through heartache and struggle while providing friends around me who have prayed deeply on my behalf.  Even aquaintances and strangers have taken up the mantle of prayer.  He now has me in a season of having the privilege of doing that for others.

      I have NEVER experienced a season where so many around me are so heavy in pain and struggle–NEVER.  He has traded my personal struggles with struggling with the body.  My heart breaks for many around me who seem to be in the sadness and wrestling phase I had been in for so long.  No, it is not about infertility for most of them, but it is the same concept.  We, at one or many times in our lives, will find ourselves in situations and circumstances where we have NO CONTROL.  We are hurt by others and ourselves.  We see people moving toward utter destruction, and nothing we say can pull them back or change their hearts.  Like infertility, we cannot make new life happen.  We find ourselves at a crossroad of trusting ourselves and what we can make work of this life (good luck with that one!) or choosing to know and trust God in the midst. 

       I thank God that He is using everything I have struggled and learned in the midst of the last years to pour out to others (2 Corinthians 1).  This is not that I can give people answers–cause I cannot.  This is so that I might journey and struggle with others pointing them to the ONLY hope–Christ.  Pointing others to Him that they might taste and see that He is good no matter what the circumstantial outcome. 

         He has given me opportunity to pray and hurt with others just as friends prayed for and hurt with me.  There is nothing more comforting when you are in deep heartache than to know someone is faithfully praying for you.  Many times when we hurt, we are exhausted and do not even know how to pray (let alone feel like we have the energy to pray).  God is so gracious to give us opportunities to serve in the gracious ways we have been served.

       We do not know when times of heartache and struggle will come into our lives–we just know they will.  Though we war in every way against struggle, especially in our culture, without it, we wallow in shallow existence.  We choose the lesser things every time.  We choose to trust ourselves.  We choose to try to control our lives.  We choose worshipping the idols around us over the ONE true, beautiful, gracious, loving, just God.  When we are broken, we finally can see Him  and our need for Him clearly.  Though my heart is breaking and my knees are bruised from prayer for those around me, I do not want to take the pain away.  I know that pain and struggle are purposeful to bring us to deeper life in Him (Hebrews 12).  My prayer is that that life in Him be embraced fully–that they learn and grow in waiting on Him for their strength to be renewed. 

         I also think about this little boy growing in me.  So many times in the last month, I have already felt tugs in my heart to surrender him fully.  I do not know what his personality will be like or what struggles he will have or what decisions he will make.  I only know that he will struggle and I will not be able to protect him and heal him and shield him.  But, I know the One who has his best interest at heart every time.  My prayer is that I let the little one face struggle and adversity and know the ONE who is the only hope.  I pray that I can let go and let him wrestle with hard questions and circumstances and know God in ways that a “safe,” “disinfected life” does not bring.  It is not easy to say and pray now as I cannot imagine how hard it will be to follow through with. 

           I have to remember what has brought me true life and teach that to my child.   Greg and I want to be truthful and point to where true life comes from.    It’s a joke for me to think “I’ll deal with that when it comes.”   May I prepare to speak the same truth to Jack that I do to my friends who are hurting and girls that I disciple.  It all comes down to–do I really trust Him?  May I remember that He is trustworthy now and He will be then.  He calls me not to fear and to remember that ” He is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not grow faint or weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”   Isaiah 40:28

      Greg often says that the time to begin to  talk about the Sovereignty of God in all things is not at the casket…it is now.  I have been in a study of Isaiah in Precepts, and you cannot deny the complete Sovereignty of God studying that book or the Bible in general.  What comfort there is in His character!  I am wrestling with this truth over and over again as I pray for friends.  I am resting in Him over and over again as I pray for friends and think about the future when troubles come my way.  I do not have this life figured out, but I know the only place to go for Shelter and Refuge.  My prayer is that I teach that to Jack and model that for Jack.  John Benjamin is his name–meaning “God is gracious” and “son of my right hand (favor).” He is a gift that we did not earn or deserve and favor that we certainly did not deserve.  May we be faithful to preach the word to Him in and out of season–to love Him and disciple Him and let Him go.  I know I am going to royally screw up at times–may I continue to rely on God’s grace.  When I do screw up, may I go to God and model trusting Jesus to Jack. 

       In all things, even in the pain of my friends, God is teaching me about His beautiful character and His redemptive hand and HOPE.  I am blessed beyond measure, and I know this is not the end.  It is certainly not the end of my learning of our Gracious Father in all circumstances–soon to be parenthood.  I know it is not the end for my friends and family who are in pain.  We have no control over His timing, but we are called to know Him in the midst.  I cannot wait to rejoice in things He does that we have no clue about that will come from the midst of this pain now in their/our lives.  Thanks be to God for who He is.

authenticity, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, suffering in joy, thankfulness, trusting God

Reminders of His Grace and Love

This has been a sad morning. Sadness has creeped back into my heart and taken hold this morning. Sadness, that chasm that I did not want to be a part of–that friend in which I wanted to be estranged–it is here. It is easy to run from that dull ache of pain, but sadness can be a gift which tells us that we need someone and something more than ourselves.

As I wrote these words in my journal during my prayer time this morning, my friend Cindy texted this:

“Discouragement is the enemy’s highest goal, but praises spoken in adoration of the Lord change feelings of defeat into glorious triumph.”

Hmmm. What a gift. In whatever emotion–sadness, longing, loneliness, the Lord, My Shepherd, is there caring, loving and growing me. The Great “I AM” is with me. He is good. He uses all things to make us more like Him. Without today’s sadness, I would be trusting in myself and miss the gift that He is.
Psalm 22:24

“For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard when he cried to him.”

Oh, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead. Christ is my life, my hope, my all.

eternal things, infertility, suffering in joy

Raw, empty and hopeful

Four years ago, during the Christmas season, I lost my dad. For some reason, I thought that would be the numbest Christmas–the weirdest–I would ever experience. By experience, this year I am discovering this is not the case, and there may be harder Christmases to come. This is not our home.
We like to think we can create magical reproductions of childhood at Christmastime. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” We try to create a heaven on earth only to remember…this is not our home.
We practice the anticipation and plan and dream only to experience the let down when things do not go our way–family spats, unfulfilling gifts, unfulfilling reactions to gifts, sickness, busyness that wears us completely down. This is not our hope. This is not our home.
This week, Greg and I have come to the end of our part in the fertility quest with our infertility doctor. A disappointing not pregnant after three rounds of injectable hormones and IUIs. When I went off birth control nearly five years ago, I would have never pictured this outcome. My heart is heavy–when I am not trying to crack jokes and make it okay for everyone else around me. This is not our home.
This heaviness ironically fell deeply upon me as I helped to lead worship for our Christmas eve service last night. Christmas is a lonely time for those without children–I am beginning to realize. As I saw the excitement in the children’s faces last night, the beautiful dresses on little girls, the packs of extended families, my heart felt raw. I honestly felt like life moved on and left us standing confused. I know this is not the truth, but it is what I felt–what I continue to feel today. Christmas is one of the only if not the only times where there is such a concentrated family connection in your face. It seems through this whole process that the not pregnants have come coupled with joyous times for other people. An opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice while I mourn. This is simply one of the hardest of those. This is not our home.
Greg and I are alone this morning with our sweet sleeping dog, Bailey, and will feast with my family later today and see his tomorrow. I pray for strength to be weak but not full of self-pity. I pray for strength to respond in kind and in courage when people talk about stories of others who got pregnant after a spell like this or who have an incredible story of adoption or who say this is not the end. This is not to say any of those are untrue–just not what I need to hear right now. I need to hear just what our dear friend and pastor, Rick, shared with me last night–take the time you need to mourn to grieve in truth as a couple. I simply cannot keep this monthly roller-coaster up. God is in charge of my womb. I put my hope in Him in whatever His plan is. I trust Him, but I have to let go in my heart of hanging on each month. My worth and purpose is not found in this. This circumstance is not my comfort. This is not our home.
What a gift in the last few days to talk with young women old and new who need love and comfort and truth to be shared with them. I am thankful God has given me eyes to see this opportunity and gift He has given me to love them in His truth and His name. What a reminder that others are in deep pain and need–we do not exist apart from others. He has called us to love Him fully and others as ourselves. To remind them that this is not our home.
My prayer is that I rest in the truth of the gift in Christ–the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness poured out on us in Christ Jesus. May I mourn as one with hope, not for a child, but for fulfillment in our Eternal King. May I remember, this world is not my home. My home is a place where mourning is no more–where I will be made whole.

discipleship, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, persecution, suffering in joy, the cost of discipleship, trusting God

Living Life…

“Whoever find (her) life will lose it, and whoever loses (her) life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

What does this look like in our day to day life? I am studying Matthew and have been in Matthew 8-10 today. I am reminded again about the cost of discipleship. We are not promised anything different than our Master, Jesus. Let’s evaluate His life…he was popular with the masses when He was healing, casting out demons, forgiving sins (the “what can we get from this” philosophy). He reached out to the forsaken and foreign and sick (place any name here that might cost you to reach out to:)–including us–hello!). He was homeless (we are aliens/strangers in the world–this is not our home). Then, He was rejected in His hometown (hmmm–I have been rejected by those who claim to be on the same side as me). The religious leaders of the day hated Him because of His message and compassion (standing for truth is not popular–nor does it tickle the ears of self-righteous men or women). He was tortured, killed and as an innocent man punished with God’s wrath for His enemies (our) sins (In our freedom in Him, He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him). He teaches that His message will divide families and that our love for them is not to overshadow our love and devotion to Him.

A few months ago, I memorized Phil 3:7-11.

‘But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as RUBBISH, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurection, and may share his sufferings , becoming like him in his death that by any means possible I may attain the resurection from the dead.’

I struggled mightily with that last sentence–memorizing in my heart to really mean it. The power and the resurection part–yeah…on board. The sharing in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death–that’s where the big crowds for healing and forgiveness leave–including me. This all hinges on the ‘surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ When we KNOW him for who he really is–we count everything as loss. We are ready to lose our lives here–reputation, status, things, vanity, dreams, self-righteousness, family–because we see his surpassing worth and an eye for eternity with him. This life is a blip, but oh how I treat it as the end all, be all. IT. IS. NOT.
The Spirit has spoken through the Word–take up your cross (die to yourself) and follow me. He is a good shepherd who has compassion and mercy like no other. He takes my dreams and rearranges them and breaks me of my blinded will to weave a tapestry of beauty that points to Him. He says,

“Jennifer, die to the American dream of being comfortable, of having kids to build your life around, of fixing your kingdom here in houses that fade, and of spending on momentary pleasures. Look at the bigger picture. I have created you to be a light for Me–for My glory. Do you know what a privilege that is? Do not cry over scraps of this life when I have called you to the surpassing worth of knowing My Son, peace that passes all your understanding–that fills more than good food, wine, new outfits, awards, attention for beauty, entertainment, accolades for ministry. Your momentary tears will be dried, and you will spend eternity in joy and fellowship and great treasures in Me. You do not have any idea, my daughter–no idea. For this time, I teach you patiently–again and again of My worth. I teach you to die to You and live to Me. My good really is your good–surrender, my child. For in surrendering to Me, you will find All–real life, true life, abundant life. This will look so different to the world–foolish–something to be pitied. Don’t worry about what they think–fear Me–the Almighty God, Creator of this Universe, the One who holds the keys of Heaven and Hell. I have got you–proclaim the life in Me.”

So, today, I surrender. And, I pray for the strength to do so tomorrow. I am weak–but in my weakness, I pray that He make me strong in Him. I pray the same for you.