Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crisis of Faith

So it is no secret that we went through a crisis this summer, and looking back it was as though the event at the end was the crescendo. So many little things led up to it, and then BAM. I had so many deep questions coming into the summer, but going out I was most certainly in a crisis of faith. You know that spot, I am sure. Where nothing seems certain anymore. Where nothing makes sense. Where you feel like you can't voice anything to anyone because they will certainly write you off as a heathen. Or you will cause someone else to stumble because of your own unbelief. So for the most part, you hold it in. Except I had these amazing friends. People that know me so well and that saw past the hurt and the questions and the crisis of faith, to my heart. They encouraged me, loved me, blessed me, talked to me endlessly, cried with me, told me truth in the face of lies, and refused to let me give up on what God had called me to. I will forever be grateful for these people. I want to be what they were to me, to anyone else who is ever in that spot. It was as though they were the hands and feet of Jesus. Really...they made Him feel tangible to me...His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His grace, His tenacity...all of it.

During that time I listened to truth at every chance I had. Christian music spoke more to me than anything else. One of those dear friends made me a mix cd of songs that she thought were for her, but ended up being meant specifically for me. I have everyone of them memorized. But as I started to come through, I have stopped listening so intently to music. It began to remind me of the person and the season that was last winter, spring and summer. I realized this in the past few weeks. That I had developed an aversion to the very thing that got me through because of its association with the person who put me in that spot. And then I realized that if I let that person take my music, it was just another victory for them. Yet another thing that they stole from me. Because God has always used music to speak to my heart. So I put Pandora on this morning...on the docking station. And I even turned it to the old channel that meant so much in August and September and then grew so cold in October and November and December. I turned it up LOUD, and Everett and I listened all morning. The memories did pour in, but I pushed through. These songs were meant to encourage my heart. And they did.

I remember going through a tough time in high school around the time that Twila Paris's song, "I Will Listen" came out. I think I may have just seriously dated myself, but ah well. Anyway...the lyrics of that song ministered so greatly to my heart during that time. Recently, someone posted about the song on facebook. I had all but forgotten about it. So I jumped on itunes and bought it, and as I listened to it, the words had the same exact effect on me that they had all those years ago.
Hard as it seems standing in dreamsWhere is the dreamer now?Wonder if I wanted to tryWould I remember how?
I don't know the way to go from hereBut I know that I have made my choiceAnd this is where I stand until He moves me onAnd I will listen to His voice
This is the faith, patience to waitWhen there is nothing clearNothing to see, still we believeJesus is very near
I cannot imagine what will comeBut I've already made my choiceAnd this is where I stand until He moves me onAnd I will listen to His voice
Could it be that He is onlyWaiting there to see?If I will learn to love the dreamsThat He has dreamed for me
Can't imagine what the future holdsBut I've already made my choiceAnd this is where I stand until He moves me onAnd I will listen to His voice

See...I am through the crisis, but the wreckage remains. I recently had a dear friend ask me how I came through that crisis of faith because she is in it. I think about her question every day, and have yet to owe her an answer. At the end of the day, I just made a choice. Either Jesus is Who He said He is, or else everything is meaningless. All of it. Everything. I would rather be deemed a fool for believing, than live my remaining years in the hopeless meaninglessness of this life being just about me and my 75 measly living years. So much does NOT make sense. It never will. Which is, I guess why He asks us to have faith "like a child." If we could answer every question, there would be no reason for faith. I know that it is so much more complicated than that...but there is a peace in my soul that God is Who He says He is, in the face of the uncertainty of this world and the confusing, earth shattering, death and dying tragedy that occurs in this world. I don't think God causes it, but I choose to believe that He is in it and over it. I have made my choice. 

Can I encourage you today that if you know someone questioning, or hurting, grieving or in pain, to MEET THEM THERE. Don't lecture them, or inundate them with should's. Support them. Love them. No matter how long it takes. Speak truth in love, but show them tangible grace and mercy and love. In so doing, you may have the awesome privelege of being part of the bridge that crosses the gap for them. No matter where you are today, listen to His voice, in whatever way that comes through for you.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Its Worth It

I had grand intentions of enjoying this pregnancy to its fullest extent. I wanted to cherish it, knowing that barring something totally unexpected, this will most likely be the last time I will ever experience this. I never thought I would be ready to say that, but as the pregnancy sickness started rolling in, the deal was pretty much sealed. I have decided, I just can't do this again. And I don't want to. I feel inexplicable peace with 4. I am SURE I will have baby fever again, but to the greatest extent that I will ever feel done, I feel done. But then again...I am in the throws of barfing...

So yeah, the enjoying went out the window...oh, around a month ago. The first week of being sick (started at 5 1/2 weeks), I tried to talk myself out of it. But after a week of it, and week after week getting a bit worse, I just succombed. I am not enjoying this. I am a slave to food. If I don't eat it, I get sick...but if I do eat, the wrong thing (and I have NO good foods this time), I get sick. I can't even hear Jonathan getting a glass of water without having the urge to gag. So, I am down to drinking white cherry gatorade and cranberry juice. And I fight myself to get those down. I have only lost 2 pounds, but with Everett I was able to gain in the first trimester. I have been hibernating in my home for this entire break and its made this manageable. But the kids go back to school tomorrow, and reality is going to quickly settle in as I start work the week after next. My busiest semester yet. Yeah, I didn't exactly plan this beautifully. But again, I dropped the control aspect, so it is what it is. I am teaching 17 credits this semester, and that includes my first time teaching for Cedarville, online. If your a praying person, I can use the prayer. At this point, I know I WILL do this, but I have no idea how. I have already talked to the school about barf bags hiding outside my classroom, and a closer parking spot. I wish I was kidding. I also wish I was like normal women and this would be over in three weeks. I can't even imagine. I am still holding a shred of hope that it WILL go away after the first trimester, but if my last three pregnancies were any indicator...I am in this for the long run.

The good: I am so thrilled to be pregnant. I know this is a privelege not to take lightly. I also know that this will pass. After 39 weeks, I will get my life back and a precious baby to boot. I am not fighting for my life, and I have the privelege of carrying a life. That is a lot to be thankful for. So I am trying to savor the little when I wake up in the morning and for the first moment, before I move...I feel nothing. I treasure that minute. Or moments like this picture I just posted on facebook where Everett and I say "Cheers" and knock our squeezable applesauces together while cuddling in my bed. Yes, I wish I could feel better, but for now I am still able to bask in the awe of what my body is doing, and the privelege that I have been given.

So we didn't make it to church today. Instead, we listened to my favorite pastor, Alistair Begg on Truth for Living. He gave a great message on Jacob and his personal encounter with God. Got me thinking. So often when we encounter God, it is NOT a great, amazing experience that we want to live through again and again. Most often, God uses suffering to get our attention. Note, I did not say causes suffering...but uses it. So often, this year I cried out wondering where God was in the events of our lives. It felt like so much was crumbling. And in many ways, I feel like I was on a crash course headed straight for what came my way. So many different things played together to make the awful crescendo that finally occured. We don't know that we are in on the brink of crisis, until that moment when it happens. So often I have gone back in my mind to the moment before I knew what I now know. It was as though I was on a cliff and had no idea that in 2 seconds I would step off. I have debated, sought counsel, and read so many books on the source of pain and suffering. Who causes it, what the purpose is, where God is in it. I decided that Satan meant it all to destroy me. And it almost did. I almost gave up on nearly everything I believed to be true. It was an attack on the core of who God made me to be. For a few weeks, I even decided that I didn't want to care about people anymore. It felt so much safer to only love those closest to me. And that even felt risky. But God showed up. He met me in the darkness. He didn't let that which He gifted me with, to be stolen. But He did prune me. I wrestled with so much (and still do). I wrestled with God. I wrestled with myself. What am I getting at? Well, I am not sure who caused what and how much human free will played into it. But this I am sure: God used it. And He got my attention. And I am different because of 2012. I don't want to relive it. I would do it all VERY differently. But that is because I learned. Pain causes us to move. Jacob came through his struggle with God a changed man. Everyone knew it. He was changed on the inside, but it came at a price. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life. But it was worth the change. And I felt that this morning as I listened to Alistair. I felt that it was worth it. And that, my friends, is huge. If your not there yet, its ok. I needed people to remind me of that when I was in the throes of disaster. Be patient. Your only responsibility is to be obedient. Whatever that looks like in this moment. Moment by moment.
I by no means have this all figured out. I am largely still in the middle of the mess in my head and heart. But I wanted to share the little tidbit of encouragement I received this morning while laying on my couch. After all, its the little things that keep us sharing applesauce with your almost 2 year old while listening to his sweet voice saying, "Cheers Mama!" Yep...its worth it. ;-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Good Riddance 2012, Welcome 2013

I have been trying to figure out how to usher in my new blog. I wanted a cool template, and for everything to be perfect before I went "public" but nothing seems to be working and no one seems to have any idea how to actually install a blogger template that works with the new this will have to least for now. One day when I have oodles of time on my hands...I can figure out how to make an updated header and/or a cool template.
A new year is as good as time as any to start blogging again, right? I have never been more ready to tuck a year behind me as I am 2012. It was a year full of losses in many ways, and one that I feel echoed in so many of my friends lives. If I actually have the time and energy to really start blogging again, I am sure that the stories will eventually come out. For now they are tucked in my heart, still processing through my thoughts. But the great thing about difficulty, is that it brings with it the possibility for redemption. 2012 was not a great year, but it was a year of tremendous growth. Jonathan and I are stronger for it. I am stronger for it. Going through it, I just wanted out. But now I can see how I had so many necessary things to learn. I still regret some of it...wish some of it could be erased. But looking back, we didn't lose anything we could not afford (ie...we are all alive), and while what was done was meant to harm, I believe that God has and will continue to redeem it for His purposes. You see, while what happened had nothing to do with Jonathan and I or our relationship, directly, it did all culminate on the day after our tenth anniversary. So on the evening of our anniversary, August 9, we tried to go out to dinner, there was such anxiety and turmoil about the day ahead that I couldn't eat a single thing. And I ended up going to the car before the bill even came. There was no grand celebration. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. Unfortunately, It was just another thing this person stole from us...our tenth anniversary. But God is in the details. I have always believed that, but for the last two years have begun to question just how far into the details He really is. The events of this year threatened to take those questions to an even further extent, but God in His mercy, whispered just enough Truth to fight the lies. He has redeemed much of what was taken...but there is still a lot of growth to come. Still so many unanswered questions. But if you ever doubted that God is in the details...or the business of redemption, then take note that the month I thought I would forever hate because of the association with what happened last August, has been redeemed. For what threatened to destroy life as we knew it last August is gone...and new things have come. Namely, this beautiful baby... due...get this...August 9, 2013, our eleventh wedding anniversary. How is that for redemption?

Welcome 2013. I pray it will be a year of redemption for us all! Open your eyes and your ears and your heart...listen for the whispered Truth...let Him fight the battle that was never yours to fight...and you will see the seeds of redemption...slight here on earth...but ever so abundantly and fully in Heaven. This baby is my figurative Isaac. A desire that I laid upon an alter. Instead of making it my alter, as I did for so long, I laid it down. The Lord has granted life, and we are so very excited to complete our family in this most amazing way.