Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Do you ever feel like you are putting up a front?"

Earlier in my blog I wrote about how I don't like to be seen as weak.  I have often felt like it is a negative reflection on me as a person and my strength.  Ever since I wrote that post however, I have felt myself working on that and focusing less on personal strength but rather focusing on God's strength.

In our small group recently we were talking about joy and how sometimes it feels like it has to be a choice rather than something that just comes naturally.  Sometimes there are days when you just don't feel happy.  For me, joy is different than happiness.  Joy is looking at the things around you and seeing the blessings God has put in your life in the past and present regardless of any negative things happening at the current moment.  It is focusing on those things instead of focusing on negativity.  When I was sharing that sometimes I need to choose joy my friend asked me a really convicting question.

He said, "do you ever feel like you are just putting up a front?"

Suddenly I understood how what I was saying could come across the wrong way.  Luckily, my wonderful husband jumped right in and responded saying he doesn't think anyone could pretend if things are really that hard.  If you have a heavy enough burden there is no way you can just pretend to be joyful.  It is something that comes from the Holy Spirit and through God's grace.  Trust me, there are times when I have felt weak and it is apparent but it is also during those times that I seek God and try to focus on the blessings in my life.

This friend that asked the question is very aware of the fact that we would like to have a baby.  He knows what our struggle has been and he knows us both as individuals very well.  His question convicted me, not because I was putting up a front but, because I realize how important our reaction and our response to this trial in our life is.  Our walks will be a reflection of our faith.  It also convicted me in the sense that I know I need to be very real throughout this journey with those that are close to me because I know they are watching.  It is important that I be a witness to God's plan for my life and let people witness my walk with God on the good days and bad days.  I don't want people to think I am just pretending or acting like I am happy.  I want people to know that in spite of what my someday hopes are, my true hope is in my Savior, Jesus Christ-always.  Our friend's question will hold me accountable to letting God work through Jake and I as individuals and as husband and wife.  Hopefully, while we may not know what God's plan is for our personal life, we are doing everything we can to be active in His plan for reaching those around us. 

May God bless you today.  May you realize that while you feel like you can't see the movement in your life, there may still be movement in someone else's life as a result of your walk with God.  Be strong in your faith, be faithful in your walk and be real in your testimony.  Be a witness for Christ in good and bad.  You never know who is watching.  God is faithful. 

Encouragement through Irony

I haven't been to service at our church in a while and today I took some time to catch up a sermon that I had missed.  It was titled Caution: Expectations They Change Everything.

Ironically, everything in my life lately has been based on expectancy or the hope of expectancy or pregnancy but that is not what this was about.  The pastor spoke about change and how we need to be open to change and let God work through our lives.  We should expect God to use us every day.

The main portion of this sermon that stuck out at me was the line (or something similar to this) "God doesn't change but our expectation of His spirit and His presence does."  He referred to the fact that when people go on mission trips and church camps that they always come back with this incredible spiritual awakening and noted that it makes you wonder why it isn't like that all the time.

He then asked, "when do you have a heightened sensitivity to God's spirit?"  My alternative to this question would be, when do you try to block God's spirit?  For a few months I had been thinking, poor me, woe is me, because I am not getting what I want or Jake and I aren't getting what we want.  I fill my head with so many thoughts of my own that I can't hear the Words of God.  Then I think about how God feels so far away and He probably isn't too worried about what I am going through right now so He is just being silent.  The fact of the matter is, I am just making too much noise myself that even if God tries to speak to me, I drown Him out.

There are days or weeks when I feel incredibly close to God and those times are because I am seeking him continually.  If I have a spare moment, I pray in it rather than check facebook or go on pinterest.  Yes, I'm guilty.  Or, I look up devotionals or spend more time searching God's word or looking for meaning in my life.  The truth is that sometimes I am just more interested in my faith than others.  How does that sound?  Awful.  How would I feel if my husband said to me, "sometimes I'm just more interested in you than others."  I've recently thought about how that makes God feel?

I mean, this is the God that pursues me 24/7.  He wants me all the time.  He loves me all the time.  He cares about my well-being all the time.  It's time for me to stop blocking God's pursuit of me and to keep up that heightened level of sensitivity.  I want to begin to expect to meet him on a daily or even hourly basis.  

I challenge you to have a heightened sensitivity to God's presence for an entire day and see how it affects your demeanor, your mood, your entire day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Unanswered Prayers

Let me explain my absence.  The thing that has been convicting me most in my life was something that my husband I had decided not to share with everyone but we've recently changed our minds. Actually God changed our minds.

Have you ever had a God moment?  A moment where there is no other possible explanation for what just happened besides the fact that it was God using someone, some thing, or some experience to speak love into your life.  My husband and I had one of those a few weeks ago and that is what changed my mind about coming back to this blog.  (I'll go into the God moment in a different post.)  You see, my husband and I are trying to have a baby.  I won't say how long, I'll simply say that it has been long enough that because it hasn't happened yet, we have been getting worried.

Let me be completely open with you about this.  God has given married people the blessing of sex and intimacy within marriage and it is an incredibly wonderful thing!  Being intimate as husband and wife is a way to show your love for one another in a way that no one else can see or be a part of.  It is the most intimate thing in the entire world.  When you are trying to have a baby and at some many other times that I won't go into, the devil can try to steal that from you.  God isn't dumb and He wasn't messing around when He designed the way our bodies create another human being.   Knowing that is how it happens though makes it very difficult to focus on the intimacy aspect of sex rather than the technical aspect of sex when you want a child.  Especially if it's taken you longer than you were expecting it to.  At one point for me, sex wasn't exciting because I so focused on "doing it right" or "making sure it worked" that I wasn't longing for my husband in the loving way that I normally would.  Thankfully that has changed but my attitude had to change first. 

For a while, we didn't want to share that we were trying to have a baby because 1. we didn't want to be like "hey everyone, we are having lots of sex and hoping to make a little human" and 2. in case it took longer than expected, we didn't want people to know it "wasn't working" or want everyone to know something "was wrong." 

First of all, yes, we have sex and we are allowed to because we are husband and wife.  So there it is! It's out there.  :)  Second of all and to address my quotation marks, there is nothing "wrong."  You know what, our bodies may not work the same way others people's do or on similar timeframes but they are still our own and God created them the exact way they are supposed to be. God will use them, if He chooses, to create life when we are supposed.  For those of you that can't have children, please know that God has a plan for you.  Please don't discount yourself or your place in the kingdom of heaven because, according to medical definitions, something is different about you. 

Let me just say that it hasn't been easy for me to come to the conclusion I just wrote above.  I have been going through a continual spiritual warfare because of this.  I serve an awesome, powerful, loving, and all knowing, God.  He has always been faithful in providing for me and creating a path for me.  Right now, because this is a prayer He is choosing not to answer in MY time, does NOT mean that it won't be answered but the Devil sure does like to tell me that.  There has been so much disappointment and brokenness associated with this journey and I am done hiding it.  I want women to know that there are other people that struggle with this and that there is HOPE. I am going through this experience, you are going through this experience, because God has it in the plan for our lives.  While there have been times, lots of them, that I don't understand and hurt, there are times when I am joyful because I know that my life is going according to His plan and not my own.

I think back to all the times in my life when I tried to take control and I am happy they didn't work out the way I was expecting or wanted them to.  I am POSITIVE that this will be one of those things I look back on and then understand why His timing worked out so perfectly.  Today I challenge those of you who still have unanswered prayers from God to look back on your life and look at the timing that things have happened in.  Are you happy that some things did not work during the time frame you wanted them to?  Apply that to this situation.  Yes, I know, this is SO hard to understand but the fact of the matter is that we are not supposed to have all of the answers.  I know you ask why isn't it our turn?  Why are some people receiving this blessing and we are not?  Do we not want it bad enough?  Is something "wrong"?

I understand, I'm there with you but I want to realize that JOY is a CHOICE.  I beg you, just as I have to do on a daily basis, CHOOSE JOY.  CHOOSE HOPE.  SERVE GOD through ALL of your circumstances, the good and the bad.  DON'T be ASHAMED of your emotions at this time but rather cast your cares upon the Lord and let Him work in your life right now as He so longs to do.

If you struggle with this, please feel free to email me your prayer requests and I will pray for you.