"It was God who sent me here…"

I’ve been through a few hard things in my life, and I firmly believe that God has allowed me to walk those roads for my good.  I never thought much about the fact that He might use my challenges for someone else’s good as well.
I was reading in Genesis today and this struck me…
Joseph says to his brothers at their reunification, “And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. 7 God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.  8 Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”  Genesis 45:5-8
Joseph was able to see God’s bigger plan in his brothers’ jealous act of selling him into slavery.  He was a slave and spent two years in prison because of their sin.  Yet he was able to say, “it was not you who sent me here, but God.”  When I’m hurting as a result of another person’s actions am I able to forgive them and trust “it was God who sent me” there? Can I withhold my frustration and pity party in the midst of a terrible life circumstance and trust that “it was God who sent me here?” He recognized that God sent him there ahead of others to preserve life!
We’ve struggled with infertility, thus far unresolved.  We have long-term depression in our family that has us wading in deep waters.  I have three sets of food allergies to cater to in the kitchen. I’ve had extended family upheaval I never thought I’d see.  But you know what?  The Lord has allowed me to be in places to share this hurt with others who are in the thick of it themselves.  He’s brought me women begging God to carry their own little one, friends and family stuck in the shock of a new diagnosis as they try to navigate new (very long) lists of foods to avoid, friends I knew long ago who are going through family situations the likes of mine, and the list goes on.
Because I’ve been there, I can share that it gets better.  God will draw you nearer to Him if you allow it.  He will shape you in a way you’ll never imagine, if you’ll give Him full reign in your heart and hang on with all your might.  He will give you wisdom in places you’d never look.  And then when it’s time, He’ll use you to share His love with another hurting child of His.  It will be your turn to say, “it was God who sent me here” so you can bless a sad heart and be a balm to a troubled soul.
Let Him take you there.  Press into Him and let Him heal your wounds.
Let Him use the horrible place He sent you for His glory by loving others who are there too. He just may have sent you there first for their sake.

Moving on

God has said it’s time to move on.  And I told Him I’m willing, but I can’t do it alone.  
About three years ago I felt like the Lord told me a very clear “no” in response to my asking for more children.  I was pretty sure that’s what I heard, and grieved as if He’d written it on my wall.  I wept at the loss of my dreams, struggled through a few months and a few more options, and got rid of some baby stuff, though I saved a lot “just in case.”  Slowly, though, I began to question if that’s really what I heard.  Some well meaning friends said they didn’t really think that’s what I heard.  I noticed many times in scripture where God gave children to a woman who prayed long enough.  I thought maybe this was just “no for now” and justified my continuing hope with that.  But under all of it, I knew.
I wasn’t angry or bitter.  I was just sad.  I was afraid that if I stopped asking it would make Him think I’d stopped hoping, and if I stopped hoping He’d forget how badly I really wanted this.

Last weekend through some sweet fellowship with women, teaching and communion with Him, God made it clear it’s time to move into a new chapter.  It’s time to put this hope of another pregnancy behind me and look ahead at what He has for me.  Maybe it is just “no for now,” but I can’t live in the “for now” anymore.  I have asked Him to show me what it looks like to accept that gracefully.  What do I do differently?  
Does it mean I stop wondering?
Does it mean I stop contemplating?
Does it mean I stop hoping?

I do know it means I’m to pass on all of my stuff I was saving “just in case.”
I did that yesterday.
And I didn’t even cry.
I know it means I’m to stop asking Him for my miracle and graciously accept His answer.  And yes, it means I’m to stop hoping.

I believe it means I’m to stop perceiving myself in the middle of the wilderness of infertility.  I believe He’s brought me out of the wilderness, it’s just that the milk and honey don’t taste quite like I expected.

I have a few things I’m asking of Him:
Show me, God, that You know how much this hurts me.
Redeem my pain and heartache. Help me use it for Your glory and others’ good.
Help me see Your sweet face.
Give me courage. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do for You.

It wasn’t about me / It really will

Robert took me to “A Night with the Chapmans” last night.  He knows I have loved Steven Curtis’ latest CD, Beauty Will Rise, and offered to take me.  (He doesn’t really like concerts, so this was totally for my sake.  He’s a good man!)  It was quite a thoughtful evening for me.  Beauty Will Rise is a project that was written in the midst of their family’s journey of healing after the tragic loss of their four year old daughter.

It wasn’t about me ~
As I sat there listening the songs about pain, heartache, trust, and faith I wept.  I know these songs well, and they almost always bring tears.  I was singing along, weeping at the truths of goodness woven in.  I was weeping for a sweet young friend hurting desperately as she is just in the beginning of the heartwrenching pain of infertility.  And I was weeping for a couple I know well who is still in the ashes of marital unfaithfulness, but knowing there is hope. 

Then I had a very odd thought.  I realized I wasn’t weeping for me.  I was crying as I thought of the pain I know the pain of infertility well, but I wasn’t crying for me.  And frankly, I was just kind of thankful, because I wasn’t sure it would ever really hurt any less.

It really will  ~
A little over two years ago the Lord led me to study the different names and attributes of God with Jacob.  I felt in particular I was supposed to study that He is our Healer.  I learned quickly the study wasn’t for Jacob at all… it was for me.  He was preparing me to be steadfast in my conviction that He is Jehovah-Rapha… He is our healer.

Within a month of studying this, I was all too close (though not in my own marriage) to the horrific pain and heartache caused by marital unfaithfulness.  The study wasn’t for Jacob at all. It was for his mama.

I bought the Beauty will Rise CD for this woman, as I’d loved it and cried through it a lot of times!  It has such a message of hope I wanted to share.  I don’t even know if she has ever to listened to it, but I pray this hope over the situation regularly.  It’s been a long time, and it seemed like healing was nowhere close, like it was stalled, like it was just stuffed deep in a bag that no one would look hard enough for.  I want the healing for them so badly, but I can’t make it happen.  All I can do is pray.

Then the Lord made a big connection in my mind… I’ve been encouraging them to dig in, keep fighting through it, don’t let it go stuffed away.  I’ve been sad as I watch the pain rob days of joy, energy and hope and rob relationships of depth and growth.  Sad for their sake and for mine.  But it wasn’t lost on me that last night, at the same time I arrived at the concert that would speak to issues of hurt, loss, hope and healing, they were attending their first counseling appointment at a new counselor in over a year… one I’ve pushed for and prayed for a very long time.  And I don’t know if they needed the reminder at all, but I did.  God saw my need, my discouragement and sadness and was thoughtful enough to put both events at the same time.  He just loves me that way.


My Progress

I figured I’d sit down here and procrastinate awhile. Make yourself a warm cup of coffee and join me!

After I wrote on Thursday I headed upstairs to go through all of the baby things. As odd as is may sound, it’s a bit of letting go of a dream, I think, for me. It has nothing to do with wondering if we can afford to buy it again should the need arise. But more like, “Why should I get rid of it if this month might be the one??” But it’s where I am right now, and some days it’s hard to be here.

But here I am, and I have some things to do. We have the storage here, so it’s been fine to just leave it up there in closets, but in our new house, there’s isn’t as much extra space. And baby paraphernalia is so bulky! So I went upstairs Thursday morning resolved to make some decisions… and I did it all without crying!! On the FIAR board, several people suggested I just go through and pass on the stuff that I’m not emotionally attached to. Rather than push myself to do it because I “should,” I can just do it a little bit at a time. There’s no reason it all has to be gone by next week!

I took a few big toys to the consignments store and got some cash! And I took my infant car seat, maternity clothes (except a short stack favorites), and crib bumper set to our local crisis pregnancy center. I do still have a bucket of linens and lots of clothes, but I can only do so much going through before we move, so that stuff will have to wait. (The boy clothes are being used by nephews, and there may be a niece here soon to use the pink stuff!) But it does feel good to have let some of it go.

So I’m headed upstairs to pack more stuff today. Robert just took a trailer of stuff to the dump, and our garage is very clean!

Getting rid of things is hard…

So we’re moving… in 3 weeks. That means going through, pitching, passing on, etc. All good things! I’m not a packrat by nature, but there is one set of things is so hard for me to let go of! My baby things.

I have a major longing for more children. But it’s been 9 years with one conception… we had no idea what a miracle Jacob was at the time! (Mattie is adopted for hose of you who don’t know that.) Anyway, I’m still hanging on to baby things because I hope there will be a day where we can use them again whether through foster or adoption or physical healing, but I’m wondering if that’s just plan foolish. This is definitely an emotional thing for me.

I’m hanging on to the crib (saving this), changing table, bouncy seat, tub, tub seat, burp rags (I made all of mine), blankets, too small clothes (nephews/nieces are or will be using these in the meantime), maternity clothes, baby toys, crib bumpers and stuff. I guess also toys that my kids don’t love but others might. I’m wondering if I should get rid of the things I don’t have an emotional connection to like the bathtub, and save the things I loved (love hearing those same little songs on the bouncy seat). It’s just hard to let it go, I think. I think in my mind, giving it all away is resigning myself that it’s not going to happen and that makes me sad.

Just thought I’d share what’s on my mind today.

Becoming more like Jesus

I have prayed for as long as I can remember that God would make me more like Him. Sometimes I pray specifically, sometimes I just pray that generally.

I have also been praying for years now that the Lord would give us another biological child. (Not that adoption isn’t satisfying, but a major part of my desire is to experience pregnancy and giving birth again.) Thus far at least, He has said no despite my persistence.

In October I was reading in Luke 22 about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He says in verse 42 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Yet not my will but Yours be done.” Obviously, God told Jesus no. He did not take the cup of death from Jesus. God had a plan that involved Christ dying for us. That was the plan.

Do you ever have one of those days where a spiritual light bulb goes on? This was one of those days for me. There are a lot of ways I’ve asked God to make me more like Him, but allowing me to experience God telling me “no” was not something I thought of. In being denied my desire, I was being allowed to experience something similar to Jesus. (Not saying that my denial is anything like Christ’s crucifixion, except that we both asked something of God and His answer was “no.”) He won’t take this cup of infertility from me for now, apparently. He has a plan that includes this particular struggle.

So, God is answering yes to one prayer by telling me no for another. He is making me more like Jesus by denying a great desire of my heart. Was this how I wanted him to make me more like Him? No way. But does God have a plan for me? Yes. Does He love me more than I can possibly imagine? Yes. Does He know what’s best for our family? Yes.

To be quite honest, this is something I wrestle with. I know this very well in my head. Does my struggle shake my faith in my All-powerful God? No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get sad about it. It is a “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) situation for me. Because it doesn’t always happen like in the movies. God doesn’t always heal; He doesn’t always perform a last minute miracle. But I can choose to be joyful in the midst of my sadness. I can choose not to be bitter, angry, or resentful. I have to guard my heart from these things, and I have to trust in the God who loves me. Trust that He knows what’s best for me. Trust that He has an amazing plan for us. Even when He says, “no.”