Sunday, October 7, 2012

Growing Pains

It's tempting to think that after 25+ years as a Christian, I should be at a place where I've finally "arrived". Sure there may be some tweaking here and there, but the major adjustments should already be taken care of. But as time passes, it seems that I become more and more aware of my sin, and, conversely, I see the magnitude of God's grace.

I have not arrived yet. God is still working on me.Unfortunately, the most recent season of growing has been very painful and is taking forever.
6 months of growing? No problem. 
A year? Ok, I can handle that.
A year and 1/2? Wait a minute, that might be a bit of a stretch.
2 years? Um, not fond of that one.
2 1/2 years? God, what's going on here?

Those who know me understand that I have a strong personality. Whatever God is trying to accomplish in my life right now, He's up against one impatient, stubborn, controlling idealist (which explains all the kicking and screaming).

During this last round of trying, my husband and I had been praying for safety over all of my fertility organs in addition to a healthy pregnancy. However, knowing the intensity of grief that overcomes me each month I discover nothing happened, I also have asked God to help strengthen me emotionally if this month it didn't work out.

We still are not pregnant, but I have seen God answer my prayers by encouraging me in the midst of this in different ways.

1) Reminding me that great things can happen far beyond what I can create when I give God the reigns of my life.
I've got a new favorite song right now called "Steal My Show" and in it TobyMac describes this idea of letting God take over. We all have a show and we all have a choice: We can hoard the control of our lives or we can surrender it to God to do as He wills. When I imagine what things could look like if I just let God take over, it's freeing and intriguing. We'll see where he takes this, I guess.

2) Reminding me that my circumstances don't need to control my joy.
I've been really depressed lately because it seems like everything we own is breaking. In the last month, I've had to replace my husband's SUV, our vacuum, our toaster, and my car battery. Some of these things we originally bought with the future of family life in mind, yet here we are having to replace them without ever having used them in the context of their planned future purpose. On top of that, I'm still working full time and have no children. This was not my plan.

God spoke to me through some people this week to help put my negativity in perspective. The first person mentioned that I can still use the time God has given me now to invest in the people around me. The second person shared how weshe had asked God to help her be content in the midst of an unpleasant situation because she knew she did not have it in her own strength to do so.

3) Reminding me that He loves me and wants the best for me, which is why I'm experiencing this season of "pruning".
This week's sermon at church was one of those "God is talking right to me" sermons. The pastor gave an introductory analogy about plants, which for those who know me, know that I am addicted to plants and the joy that comes from planting them and watching them grow. Then he went on to talk through John 15, which was summed up in three points:
  • God wants us to be fruitful people (becoming the best that we can be to advance the kingdom).
  • Fruitfulness comes through being conformed to the image of Christ (discipline [or pruning], obedience, etc ).
  • When we are conformed and are fruitful, we experience fullness of joy.
Listen to the sermon here. It's called "Finding God's Dream for My Life."

Monday, September 3, 2012

O, How the Years Go By

When nothing in your life ever really changes, time stands still. It's only when you think about what has transpired over the years that you can actually notice a difference.

Recently, I've been dealing with the reality of time passing as one by one, women in my life are announcing their second pregnancies or having their second child, all while I am still childless and pregnant-less. It's a situation I have mentally played out in my mind over and over, thinking through scenarios of the significant child-bearing-age women in my life announcing, yet again, that they are expecting. They never happen as I anticipate, but nevertheless I'm still faced with having to react to the news, usually on the fly.

It's an odd combination of emotions--sadness, joy, numbness, regret, self-pity. I would not wish this situation on anyone.

Most people are clueless when it comes to being sensitive to women who are struggling to become pregnant. I can understand. I used to be one of them, and I still am in some regards. But, that is why I make sure to help educate others when the opportunity arises.

For example, I'm at my sister's wedding surrounded by lots of little children, when someone comes up and asks me, "So, when are you going to pop one out?" In these moments, lots of responses run through my head, stemming from both logic and emotion, like: "Do I go into the whole mess of trying to explain all of my history behind my current childless state?" to "I think I want to punch you in the face." I didn't want to be rude, but also wanted this person to understand things aren't always that easy, so I opted for saying something more widely understood rather than getting into the actual details. As concise and matter-of-fact as possible, I responded: "Well, once my body stops having miscarriages, maybe I'll finally pop one out." The person was very apologetic afterwards, which wasn't my intent. I just hope she will think twice before asking someone who has been married an extended period of time and doesn't have any kids when they plan on having children.

Overcoming the fear of having another screwed up pregnancy to try month after month only to be met with nothing is trying. It's a daily battle to remain positive and teachable. Recent advice given to is that I may be suffering in this way, but there are others suffering in other ways. It is true. Each of us is suffering in some way. Likewise, I am blessed in ways that others are not blessed. So, I am focusing on keeping my mind filled with truth and caring about others so that I am not tempted to wallow in my self and self-pity (it is not a pretty place at times).

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Scarf on a Plane

One of the things on my list of things to do before having kids is to learn how to knit. I received some knitting needles and yarn a couple years ago for Christmas and began a scarf but never finished it. Recently, I decided to start attacking this goal. Last week I took a business trip to Arizona and spent a total of 7+ hours in plane travel. Knitting is the perfect activity to keep busy when you can't go anywhere or do anything or talk to anyone (I sat next to a guy who couldn't speak English). Needless to say, I had enough time to complete my scarf.

Unfortunately, we're one the verge of summer, so it will be awhile before this gets much use. I've started working on a crocheting project that I started a few years ago as well. If I get ambitious enough, I may even try knitting some baby items. I have a friend who has inspired me with her creations in that arena.

Since I actually finished this early on my return flight, I decided to do a little reading for the remaining of the trip and grabbed a little book from my backpack called "A Sweet and Bitter Providence" by John Piper. He goes through each of the four chapters in the book of Ruth, reflecting on the significance of the different events and how they point to the overall sovereignty and providence of God not only personally in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, but also as it relates to the genealogy of Christ the Messiah.

I love the story of Naomi and Ruth! God takes a sad situation and by the end of the story works it together for good. Of course, the whole time I was reading this book, the author would make comments that, upon me internalizing them, would make me start getting all teary-eyed and sniffling. Comments like:
"Just as surely as God brought the famine, God took it away. Naomi could see that. But she could not see all that God was doing. Later she will be able to look back, in the same way we can when we read the book a second time, and see the pointers of hope."
 "One of the main messages of this book is that God is at work in the worst of times."
"Not only does God reign in all the affairs of men, and not only is his providence sometimes hard, but in all his purposes his purposes are for good and the greater happiness of his people."
These sounds like some of the Christian cliches, but as I was reading this story, I could see how God was working in the lives of these people. Knowing the end of the story probably makes it easier to see.

The text that most caught me off guard was at the end of the book of Ruth. At the beginning of the story, she had been married for 10 years when her husband died, but they had never conceived. For all intents and purposes, she was barren. At the end of the story, she gets married to Boaz:

"So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went into her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son." (Ruth 4:13)

The Lord gave her conception.

That statement just made me think of how conception occurs under many different circumstances:
  • The teenage couple messing around and accidentally getting pregnant. 
  • The young married couple that got pregnant before they had a chance to think about it.
  • The established couple who made calculated choices to get pregnant.
  • The divided couple where one didn't want children and the other did and they got pregnant.
  • The woman who was raped under horrible conditions and got pregnant.
  • The barren couple who tried for years and when they had finally given up, they got pregnant.
Why does he give it to some and not others? And why does he give it in situations that are not desirable? Why not reserve the barrenness for the situations in which it is least wanted? I do not know. But no matter how it happens, one thing is sure. God gave the conception. It was not going to happen without His providence and purpose.

So, in my case, if it's in God's plan, he will do it. Oh the waiting...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


So I was washing dishes over my lunch break the other day and started remembering songs that I listened to as a little girl. One of my favorites was this song called "Masterpiece" by Sandi Patty. As I thought on the lyrics, I couldn't help but imagine myself in the future singing this to my child(ren). I think it will be a song I sing to them even before they're born. Of course, first I need to get pregnant.

Sandi Patty - Masterpiece from bobmarshall on GodTube.