Thursday, April 27, 2017

Psalm 116, a Journal Entry

Putting me in my place, so to speak. I feel ashamed of my thoughts, and even words, about you lately - feeling like you hear, but don't answer - or, do so randomly. But, in spite of my FEELINGS, the TRUTH is:

"I love the LORD because He hears
& answers my prayers." (Ps. 116:1)

So, the natural response is:
"Because He bends down & listens,
I will pray as long as I have breath!" (Ps. 116:2)

Maybe it's like last night, getting Gracie to bed. We left and she cried and cried, even though everything was okay. We need her to trust us and rest. We were intently listening and watching her on the monitor, and hearts ached to hear her cry, but we knew what was best, even though it felt to her like we weren't listening, or didn't care. Maybe it felt random, but we knew exactly how long we'd let her cry before we came to comfort and reassure her. Eventually, she did settle down, and she's learning to sleep in her crib in her own room. It'll probably be a battle again tonight, but she will learn to trust us that she's safe. That's beautiful. Thank you Father. I have SO MUCH to learn. So much more of my trust to give you. I'm sorry for doubting you - your heart - when:

"How kind the LORD is! How good He is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The LORD protects those of childlike faith...
Now I can rest again,
for the LORD has been good to me..." (Ps. 116:5-6a, 7)

What should I do?

"I believed in you,
so I prayed,
'I am deeply troubled, LORD.'
In my anxiety I cried out to you..." (Ps. 116:10-11a)

"What can I offer to the LORD for all He has done for me?
I will lift up the cup symbolizing His salvation,
I will praise the LORD's Name for saving me.
I will keep my promises to the LORD in the presence of all His people...
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving & call on the Name of the LORD.
I will keep my promises to the LORD in the presence of all His people,
in the house of hte LORD,
in the heart of Jerusalem." (Ps. 116:12-19)

"He has saved me...
And so I walk in the LORD's presence as I live here on earth." (Ps. 116:8a, 9)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On Infertility



The other night I watched this video about infertility in the church. Dr. Best describes what infertility is, what couples struggling with infertility should do, and what the church should do to care for those couples. It's a 15 minutes worth spending!

What drew me to the video is our own struggle through several years of longing for children but waiting for the Lord to answer that prayer. I hesitate to even call it "infertility", though by medical definition (more than one year of trying but unsuccessfully conceiving) it was, because I know so many people have struggled longer, tried more avenues, or even found out that they could never become pregnant. Nevertheless, the struggle was real. Enough that even now that word is a painful one. So I watched the video to see what she would say to the me of a year ago. And, to see what I should say to my friends and my future friends who will struggle with this, too.

What most struck me was her reminder that children are a BLESSING from the Lord. They are a GIFT. Now, I already believed that. I look at Gracie, and even in her name, I'm reminded that she is a GIFT. But, Dr. Best followed that logic out---if children are a gift, then it means they are not, as we often presume, deserved. Even though our culture, and even our churches, well-meaning as they may be, talk about children as if they just fall into the laps (or wombs?) of couples who just decide they're ready, it's just not the case.

The Lord opens and closes the womb. He gives gifts. Really good ones. But since He's the gift-giver, He also gets to be the one who decides WHEN and TO WHOM those gifts are given. Throughout our time of unfulfilled longing for children, what we came back to time and time again was this promise: "No good thing does He withhold from the righteous." What a painful, but sweet lesson to learn. So, now, as we care for our gift, our Gracie (grace=gift), we still cling to that promise. Because there will be a million more instances of having to trust in God's heart of love for us, and His desire to bless us, and His perfect timing, even when it looks to us like the answer comes too slow. Lord, help me. Even as I type, I feel the anxiety of "what could be". Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him. Soul, believe this. He IS good.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Unless the LORD builds the house...

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over
the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 
2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. 
5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.  (Psalm 127:1-5)

The first night home from the hospital was pretty terrifying. In the hospital, nurses come in the room every few hours and they're never more than a phone call away from coming to help you in between. You don't even think to check baby in the night because all the medical resources in the world are on the other side of your door. Then, you come home to your house and everything once familiar is now scary. Is that bassinet really safe? Is the temperature too cold? Too hot? How will we know if she stops breathing in the middle of the night?

Fortunately for us, we have the most amazing friend who do things like drive to your house at 10:30 that first night to let you borrow their "is baby still breathing?" monitor. Also, more so, we prayed till we couldn't think of more words. Because monitors really only bring so much reassurance. We ingested massive amounts of scripture, lots of psalms. 

Psalm 127, though familiar, became dear in a fresh way. We could stay up all night worrying over her, but would it do any good? Unless the LORD watches over a city, its watchmen stay awake in vain. 

The next morning, on the way to that first pediatric appointment, Casey and I reflected on some ways God had cared for us on that first scary night. We remembered psalm 127 again, and for the first time, it made absolute perfect sense to me that the second half of the  psalm is about children being a heritage from the LORD. I honestly think that psalm is for new parents! It's like, hey, stop worrying about this little girl as if you love her more than the LORD. Don't you remember he's the one Who gave her to you in the first place? A heritage from the LORD. 

And, remember this God is the same God of psalm 121, who never sleeps. He watches over all three of you while you all sleep. He guards your life. He guards hers. And so it goes, we keep meeting God in the scary hard places, and it's not the way we'd choose, but it is good. Thank you Father. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Desperate

Desperate. That is the word of the week. 

Desperate for some sleep, yes. For a hot shower. For a massage maybe?

But sooo much more, desperate for God. Desperate for all of who Jesus is to be lived out in me. Desperate for the Holy Spirit's power and love and joy and peace to rule me. 

Desperate for knowledge I don't have. For energy I don't have. For love I don't have. For the fight I don't have in me. So desperate. 

But He keeps saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5)

Thank God. Because I am poor. It is so clear now. 

And He keeps making the kingdom show up. He keeps giving Grace. His people keep bringing food and texting at the right moment and giving advice and praying and offering living words from His word. He is sustaining. I've been Elijah out hiding in the wilderness and He keeps sending ravens to feed me.

"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:10)

It hurts. My pride. My heart. My eyes, from crying. But He's doing surgery on my heart. And I'm trying to quit fighting Him and fight against the lies instead. The ones that say he isn't listening, or doesn't care, or is getting tired of my neediness. 

I think maybe that's really his favorite thing for me to say. "I need you. I know you are good, and I want you. Please give me you."

Even typing it, I'm afraid. That it's gonna run out -his Grace, his patience. So I'm praying this for me:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15:13)

Please, pray it for me, too. I'm desperate for you to keep walking with me. 

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