Posted in authenticity, comparison, gifts and talents, insecurity, spiritual growth, The body of Christ, transformation by truth, Uncategorized

Encouragement to my fellow women

(These are notes from my last session this weekend…an open letter to my sisters in Christ.)

The more we KNOW him, the more we understand ourselves and who He created us to be.

I love to hear people’s stories. We think we know someone, but we do not understand them well until we know how they grew up, what adversity they faced, what their family is like.

When I start the discipleship process with people, I ask them to tell me their story. It opens my eyes to see where they are coming from, why they struggle with certain things and what truth we need to tackle with their hearts in order to grow. Divorces, abandonment, losing parents, eating issues and disorders, sexuality struggles, alcoholism, promiscuity, materialism. WE ARE ALL MESSED UP. WE ARE ALL IN NEED OF BEING STILL AND KNOWING THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSES. WE ALL HAVE BROKEN HEARTS BECAUSE OF SIN—OURS AND OTHERS.

Do You know what the common denominator with these women is? Their need for Jesus—the way the gospel has captivated their lives—changed them everyday, given them hope, given them love, given them worth. Do they still struggle? Yes, but the more they take time to be still and to know, the more in Love with the Lord they are, the more hope they have to journey on.

No one is from an ideal family. No one is issue-less. We all have struggles. If we take the time to look around, we might see the reality of the lives of those around us. We see the outside that we are jealous of or that we judge, but there is a deeper story and struggle there. God does not promise a pain free life. In fact, if we had a pain free life, would we even think about Him? Would we see the need to examine ourselves?

I cannot promise what will happen in the next day or 10 years. There will be heartache and joy. There will be things that rock our worlds to the point where we do not know what direction is up. There will be things that we choose to do and find ourselves involved in that will make us question who we really are in the first place. I cannot promise pain free. Here’s what I can promise. If we trust—if we keep stopping and seeking Him…He will never change. He will become bigger to us while these other things become smaller. We will find His promises to be true. We will find that He is our sure thing—not our family, or a relationship, or a husband, or a career, or children, or our talent, or our money or our status. HE IS THE SURE FOUNDATION. Build life upon Him. Seek His word. Seek His character. Savor His beauty. He will build deeper hope and love within us as we sort through our disappointment and pain.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5

See, the world has pain too. Pain is to point us to God, but Pain without His hand of guidance and without knowing Him is pointless. People strive to find a place of belonging—to be accepted, to arrive, to feel worthy.

We feel like to be worthy we have to be well known or recognized or look a certain way or be respected in a certain way. I pray that there are women that are captivated by Christ and learn who they are in Him. I pray that each of us learn our personalities and learn to accept who God made us to be—not our sin but our extrovert, introvert, organized, creative, thinking feeling. I pray that we would realize we cannot be everything. I pray that we would learn to live as God created us to be instead of trying to fit into someone else’s mold and end up being frustrated and defeated. Some of us are more inward and have a few friends that we will encourage deeply—do that. We do not have to be the center of attention to mean something. Some of us have mad organization skills—friends may make fun of us, but use that organization for God’s glory. Help others. Trust the Lord and draw near to Him with confidence, abide and remain in Him and let Him shape us and bring about our transformation to be more and more like Him. We do not have to perform to be this super Christian—ABIDE and OBEY that way. Love will begin to grow as we die to ourselves and live to God.

In my 30s, I have learned my giftings and have developed them more. I have become more comfortable in my own skin. I know I am never going to have a spotless house or a continually organized closet or be an accountant, but I have friends that do! I paint pictures and listen to people and encourage and flounder for last minute plans. What if we, as women, walked in confidence in who God made us to be? What if instead of always asking “why don’t people see me this way? Why can’t I do that?” Or even putting people down because we are jealous, we rejoiced in others’ gifts and cried with others in their pain? How would we treat each other differently? We need those people who are different from us. I need Greg. We get on each others nerves because we are so different, but we fit nicely together because we work together instead of in competition. We are all different in the Body of Christ, but we all need one another. Greg—master teacher, me an encourager/shepherd merciful person. One of my best friends from high school and beyond was also the hardest for me when we were around each other all the time because we are a lot alike. We competed and struggled. And after a lot of hard work, we know how to celebrate and cheer on the other…after 24 years. We have learned our personalities are similar but our giftings are different. There were some frustrating times, but with maturity in Him, we have learned to champion one another. When we practice being still and knowing Him, we will be changed. We will love with His love.

John 15:9-12 As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep his commandments, you will abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “

Being Still and knowing God Allows you to obey Him. Obedience breeds obedience. We obey by stopping to be still. We obey studying His word Then we begin to know him more, love his character more, treasure him more He changes us and we respond differently to others . We want to share his character with others and we  love them because ywe are being changed. Then we have to learn to bear with others so we go back to him and seek him again. My fellow women, Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. And you will bear much fruit depending on Him and knowing Him. You will become more like Him in his timing and you will learn to love those around you…and help to encourage them to love the LORD.

Posted in 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?

Posted in 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.

Posted in music, random thoughts, thankfulness, The body of Christ

The strength of a melody

       Music is powerful.  Nothing can transport me faster in time than listening to a song.  Music is so intertwined with our lives that a song brings a memory of people and experiences I have not thought of in years. 

    Yesterday, music was a time machine for me–almost a montage of pictures from the last ten years of life.  I was driving to Athens to meet my dear friends and listening to some songs.  I found myself weeping.  These songs were songs I have helped to lead in worship from the last five years with Jacob Winn.  These songs released tears that I have not cried sufficiently.  Jacob will no longer be at Fellowship past the new year.  He and Beth are dear friends of ours, yet  he has also touched me very much in his profession. 

       After my dad died five years ago, I wanted to try out for the worship team to honor a part of him and to also use a gift that I had not used for a long time.  Jacob was there fascilitating my try-out and there for the long haul as he helped me grow in skill and confidence as a worship leader.   Not only for me, but for many others, he has helped them grow as musicians and in confidence and excellence to lead well.  He has also ministered to me and countless others leading week in and week out at Crossroad and our Sunday services.

       The songs I listened to yesterday, simply took me back to think of all those times of preparation and leading.  We forget so easily–time marches on in a way that robs us of cherishing memories.  Weeks become months and years, but music can take us to specific times to remember.   I am so thankful for the season that God placed Jacob at Fellowship Church–my tears are not finished in honoring Him.

        On the way home, I found an old CD in the car of Refuge.  Refuge was a service in Nashville that Greg spoke for in the first years of our marriage.  Dave Hunt led worship, and they so enjoyed working together.  These songs swept me back to the nights I would be there to worship at Refuge.  Refuge is where Greg really morphed into the teacher he is today–teaching verse by verse.  It is also the place where a passion to teach the word to college students was birthed.  Without Refuge, there would have been no Crossroad.  Amazing memories!

       There were other songs on that CD of Refuge songs that transported me back to summers of camps where I traveled with Greg to Student Life and other camps across the country. (He traveled full time in our first two years of marriage).  I smiled as I thought of the rich array of opportunities afforded us in our marriage to travel and minister together.  We will be two months shy of ten years of marriage when little baby Pinkner is born, but we have not been barren in that time. 

       Yesterday Patti and Leah (who both birthed a church ministry to college students in us), Student life staffs, Justin and Nick (who helped at the beginning of Crossroad), Refuge bands and greeters, Crossroad bands and greeters, Bible study girls, and countless college students from Crossroad floated through my memory.  Thanks be to God for these gifts.  We are afforded sometimes brief but rich seasons with people.  In those memories, I am reminded to be thankful and look for those opportunities in the now.  I am also reminded that for eternity the whole montage of people who know Christ will be together–all those rich relationships and conversations and worship in one place for one purpose. 

        I am so thankful for music and for specific people in my life that are a part of our tapestry of life and ministry.

Posted in community, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, prayer, thankfulness, The body of Christ

A Beautiful Symphony

         My heart is full, pondering, and noisy at times.  These last few weeks have been full of well-wishers, buzz, and a continued sickness.  I have thought often of Mary “pondering all these things in her heart.”  (I am not comparing myself to her–cannot imagine pondering the immensity of that gift of life!)   I have decided that my ponderings are best suited for a blog.  Not only do I share with others what is on my heart, but blogging and journaling helps me sort out these thoughts that tend to swish around in my head and heart. 

      Let’s rewind to the fall of ’97 through the spring of 2000.  Picture less wear on my face and body and more cluelessness.  I graduated from UT Knoxville in the spring of ’97, got a job with Delta, experienced difficulties with my heart which made it impossible to continue with Delta, lived with my parents for two months unable to drive, moved to Nashville to nanny my sister’s children, worked for Centrifuge in New Mexico the summer of ’98, met my future husband (a three year journey), waited tables, moved to Dallas, Mom got cancer, experienced deep depression,  then moved back to Knoxville for grad school in school counseling.  (Life moves much slower than that in the midst, but you get the picture.)  In the many months of loneliness in this period, I longed to be known.  I wanted a plan, and God said “wait on me.”  I wanted deep friendships and rootedness, and God said “wait on me.”  I wanted to walk into a room and be valued, and God said “wait on me.”  The word roots screamed from my journal.  I prayed for them, longed for them, thought that I wound be a roving wanderer my whole life.  I embraced each new adventurous move thinking that the answer was on the other side.  In the last months, I have seen those longings and prayers answered in very unexpected ways.  I thought I had seen the answer seven years ago, but I keep seeing God’s work roll out…I thought He was on to the next thing on my list–He simply added layers to the list. 

  Because I have been open on this blog and with friends along the way, I knew people were praying for Greg and me on this journey.  Because of Greg’s position at Fellowship,I know there are people who feel like they “know” us when we do not neccessarily “know” them.  They show a love and care and pray for us when we are unaware.  I know that God has laid people on my heart throughout the years to pray for not even knowing their struggle–just knowing the urgency to pray, and He has laid us on people’s hearts to be the object of petition in prayer. 

           These past few weeks, I have felt the culmination of all of those prayers from friends, aquaintances, church members, strangers.  There have been Facebook messages, comments, conversations, notes that individually were beautiful.  However, they have not come as individual instruments.  They have been a beautiful symphony.  The tears of women that have been praising God for his work in our lives, in my womb–I cannot fully comprehend.  The way God has taught others about Himself in the midst of this is beautiful.  The way He has been the One to call them to prayer and perseverence is another testimony of His grace.  The fact that I get to hear this is a gift.  To hear His praise on the lips of His children is beyond what I can process.  I love that they are not praising the doctor or Greg or me or modern science or circumstance–they are praising the Giver of Life, the Raiser of the Dead, God with Us–Immanuel.  Praising with a symphony–individual instruments moving together for the expressed purpose of  creating something more than they ever could on their own.  They do not play for their own glory–this glory is too big for them. 

         As I reflect back, I see that the longings that I shared with God as a 22, 23, 24 year old for roots, for being known, valued,  loved, for deep friendships.  I see the evidence of HIs rooting me, His knowing me, valuing me, loving me, His deep fellowship with me have spilled out from the body.  Little did I know that pain that would come to get to this place–pain that is real but is of no comparison to Him–the richness that I can see dimly right now.  I do feel unspeakable joy, but I cannot comprehend or ponder it all.  This is a brief glimpse into eternity where the culmination of all of our prayers and longings and desires will be completely fulfilled in the richness of His overflowing kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 

         This, my friends, is so much more worthy of praise than a baby’s birth.  This is what we are created for–to know Him, to treasure Him, to love Him fully and completely, to speak His praises. 

          In the coming months, my goal is to put together a scrapbook of stories that are shared with me, comments on here, on Facebook, notes, encouraging words, so that this child may hear and know and learn of God’s character and work in his or her conception and life from a young age.  I long for them to know that He alone is good and He alone is where their help comes from…that He alone is the reason for their Momma and Daddy’s life and purpose.  I thank God that He has given me the gift to look to Him more than this child–He is where my hope comes from in whatever circumstances, tragedies, joys, triumphs, trajectories this little life will have and bring.   To Him be honor. 

           This is just a measure in the ongoing symphony.  My heart is heavy for those who have lost loved ones to suicide this week, who have lost jobs and are looking at unknown transitions, who have deep crevases in their heart from losing a loved one, who are in the throws of depression, who have loved ones who are battling and perhaps giving in to drug addiction, who are trading their birthright for a cup of the soup of the day…We continue on trusting God, asking Him, serving those alongside us.  I am thankful that He has been so gracious to call others to prayer on our behalf, and I am honored that He calls me to prayer and care on the behalf of others.

Posted in God's sovereignty and goodness, grace, healing, infertility, prayer, thankfulness, The body of Christ, trusting God

A thankful heart that He has given me…

      When I was in 8th grade, I went to an aerobics class where we listened to a Mylon Lefevre song “Thankful heart” while we did abdominal exercises.  An ironic lesson for choosing thanks in pain (who likes sit-ups?).  An ah-ha moment–exactly what I have been learning the last few years–learning to think on truth and choose thanks  in the midst of hard feelings and experiences.  “I have a thankful heart that You have given me and it can only come from You.”

         As Thanksgiving approaches fast, I have a full and thankful heart.  I spent time this morning reading over past blogs of our journey of infertility.  What pain, what loss of control, but what richness of God’s love and provision and character we gained in the midst.  Learning where our hope comes from, learning where our treasure is, learning the all-sufficiency of Christ.  Oh, how I have come to love Christ in deep ways and treasure Him above earthly pleasure and circumstance.  In the deepest places of pain and helplessness, He has been so good.  I’ve seen His faithfulness, His love, His truth, His purposes–o the depth and the riches of the Love of Christ–how deep His knowledge and His ways.

          About 6 -8 months ago, when we thought we were through with any kind of fertility treatments–we were really thinking about what  a life of childlessness would look like.  One day praying,  I felt a prick in my spirit that said–“Our story is not over.  He is not finished.  He has us where he wants us.  Thanks be to God.”   I wrote this on our pantry which is covered in chalkboard paint.  I also wrote  Psalm 33:20-22,  “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.  Let Your steadfast love be upon us even as we hope in You.”  Then the words:  wait, trust, hope.  This “message” to me was about infertility but not neccessarily about a child–I know it can seem weird.  In the midst of all of this, it has always been about finding our hope in the LORD–not in what He would accomplish in circumstance.  Those are two very different concepts.     

          Today, it is with great humility that I thank the Lord for His grace–favor neither Greg nor I deserve–first in salvation–and secondly, for the growing baby in my womb. 

          In late August, we started the Invitro Fertilization process against great odds.  Our doctor gave us less than half the chances (20%) of those undergoing IVF to make it through and deliver a child.  Through prayers and prayers and prayers and God’s power, my body produced the exact eggs we would need.  Through more prayers, every one of those four eggs fertilized and became an embryo.  (We only chose four because we did not want to risk destroying embryos during the freezing process–this limited our chances, but after prayer and consideration,this was our decision).  The Doc told us that he had never seen a couple even have triplets using four eggs, inseminating them and implanting all that made it to the embryo stage.  It would be like winning the lottery.   We, of course, joked we would need to win the lottery again to pay for them:). Through more prayers, each of those 4 embryos were top rated in strength (one was just a bit behind the others).    The morning of our implantation, he came to us soberly and said we risked the chance of having quadruplets if we implanted them all–this then endangered their health and survival.  After looking at each other with the all-knowing  “how the crap we gonna raise four babies at a time with one of us with a chronic disease” look, we knew that the odds of survival of each of those babies was better if implanted in twos.  Two embryos were implanted,( two frozen to be implanted in us or donated for adoption for another couple) and we waited and prayed.

           God has gifted us with beautiful friends and family who have been prayer warriors on our behalf.  You are a part of our journey.  God has blessed us with you and hopefully you have been blessed to know Him more deeply during this process.  Thank you–you are a huge gift and part of our story.

         Two weeks later, a positive test came.  We discovered a few weeks later that we were just having one baby Pinkner.  I have been very sick since 4 1/2 weeks.  So much so that I have pretty much been at the homestead.  It has been challenging, but I know God is beginning to break me of convenience and schedule even in the now.  At 35, I have a lot to be broken of…

        Today, we got the clearance to share our news from our infertility doc after we got to see the ultrasound.  I am almost 11 weeks along, and He said that everything looked great–we now have about the same chances as everyone else for delivering a healthy baby.  We do not deserve the gift of this healthy growing child.  It seems we have a dancer on our hands with little hand and foot buds that were moving along today.  This is the first day I felt I could relax and rejoice.  For so long I have been guarding my heart over and over again against disappointment.  God did not “owe” us a baby–he never promised one.  He has been more than good in giving us Himself–the greatest gift.  It is with humility and great dependence on Him that we begin this journey.  Keep praying for us.  Pray for this child that God might call he or she to himself to serve Him and serve others. 

           It is also with great humility that we “announce” this.  For years, facebook has been the cause of many days of heartache for me.  Seeing random announcements of yet another baby being born or milestone in pregnancy being reached can rip the heart out of one struggling in infertility.  I am torn because I want to share with others, but I so have on my heart those who want children and are unable to have them at this time.  I am still continuing to pray for friends who are hurting in infertility.  Forever I am changed by these last few years and my heart will always connect with those in that struggle. 

       My only hope through all of this is continuing to treasure God more than His gifts–my greatest prayer is to pass that on to my child(ren).  Thank you for your continued love, support and encouragement to Greg and me.  You are a gift!

Randomly, Greg wanted to make sure I get his line in here–“don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk.”  Don’t read too deep for meaning…

Posted in community, discipleship, rest, spiritual growth, The body of Christ

Layers

         It seems that everytime I post something I am learning or convicted with, the week following gives another chance to learn even more.  The last post was about need–and I have been driven to even more need this week.  Physically I have been in need from the way I feel on hormones.  Emotionally I have been in need as I see friends and family members grieving over loss.  Spiritually I have been in deep need as I pray for discernment in leadership with WDC.    The physical, emotional and spiritual needs have drained me mentally. 

        All of this to say, there are always deeper layers to our need.  We understand we are in need, and we feel that we then have that concept under control.  The Lord continues to show us that our need is eternal for Him. 

        We are made to need, and it is so good for us to need Him.  He is our source.  I do not think we grasp the beauty of Him being our source–that we never get to the bottom of Him.  When we need, we are always looking for the end.  For example, “when this is over…when I feel normal again…when the pain ends…when I have control again.”  He says, ” I Am–I am the it, Jennifer.  I am the answer–I am all you need.”  My flesh tells me what I need is resolution.  He tells me all I need is Him. 

         He even ordered our week and commanded our time to see this need and be refreshed in Him.  The Sabbath is time to be with Him, enjoy Him, rest in Him, be filled in Him.  The Sabbath need is continual–not something we get through to go on with our lives. 

        He tells us in His word that we need others who are filled in Him.  The picture we are given of a body that is one and connected yet each part serving different functions is a picture of our need for one another with Christ as the Head. 

       I get SO frustrated with the thought from others that they can do the Christian walk alone.  IT.  IS.  NOT.  POSSIBLE.  We were not created in that way.  We cannot function in that way.  We kill ourselves in trying to live that way. 

       For those of you who know me, you know I spend my time pouring into young women in disciple-making relationships.  I know this is an important aspect of their growth.  Do you know what is blaringly obvious to me?  If they do not have deep friendships with those who are in Christ calling out the places in them to follow Him deeper, it is practically pointless for them to be in relationship with me.  Why?  Because we NEED the body–we are fickle and weak and adulterous–and we need to be spurred on continually to truth and love and good deeds.  That doesn’t happen when those all around us are “conforming to the pattern of this world.”  We need others to spur us on to “renew our minds” in His presence and truth.  We need to be integrally  involved in a church that lifts the truth that we need Him.  We need to serve others and learn to be served as we carry one anothers burdens.  We cannot do marriage or family or singleness or business or pleasure alone.  We need Him and we need those who are in Him in order to make His name known and spread His love in the world. 

       What would I have done in the past several years without dear friends in Christ lifting me up in prayer, sharing scripture with me, calling out places in me?  I would not have survived and thrived in growth.  God gives those beautiful gifts of others to show a fuller picture to me of His love.  He uses me in the same way to show His love–not for my glory, but for His. 

       I am learning that in our need, it takes effort to follow Him.  It takes effort to create friendships and be vulnerable.  It takes effort to study His word and set aside time for prayer.  It takes effort to serve others in order that they might know Him more.  That effort is not in vain–the fruit of it is exponentially multiplied by the Spirit in the growth that occurs.  There is a sense of living in Him as we were created to live–functioning as a body as we were created to be.  It is good, but it is not easy.  We are not promised ease, but we are promised rest in Him.