Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What does being crabby do for you? - Nothing!

In the past few days I have been really crabby.  Nothing seems to put me a better mood.  I have had a bad attitude toward everything and everyone.  I feel bad for the people who have been around me during this time because I know that I have not been pleasant company. 

Yours truly has felt like I have a right to be angry and mad at the world.  I know that I struggle with this every year around my birthday; I don’t “feel” like I am in the “right” place in my life.  Then again, I have been so wishy-washy that at times I feel absolutely wonderful where I am.  I just can’t seem to find that peace.  I have decided that it is time to make a new birthday tradition.  A tradition rooted in gratitude, hope and joy.  I don’t want to complain about where I am at or compare my life to others.  I want to be at peace in Dana time.  For those of you that have read this in the past you know that this is something I struggle with and I am sure you are asking, “ok, so what’s the deal, why does this keep coming up?”  I’ll tell you why, because the Devil knows that he can get me with this.  He schemes every year and pounces when I am weak.  Right now, I am committing to changing my attitude before my birthday arrives and I’ve got two whole weeks to prepare for it.  With Christ, I know I can do it. 

 Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

In so many of my posts I write that I choose joy and that it takes a conscious effort to remain joyful during times of trial.  For the past few days, I admit that I have not chosen joy.  This is most evident in my relationship with my husband.  He can tell that I have been crabby and upset and he has tried to stay “out of the way” and let me have my time alone in my wallowing.  In the time that has passed my health has deteriorated (in only three days!) proving that bitterness in your soul truly affects every aspect of your life. 

Today I have finally come to the conclusion that self-pity, bitterness, anger, frustration and jealousy serve absolutely no purpose in my life.  They only make me more miserable.  I don’t even like being around myself these days so I am positive that my husband and others close to me don’t enjoy it either.  

Thankfully, God has said, “Enough!  I’ve let you go on like this for three days and now, don’t you see?  It is ruining you.  It is ruining your joy and negatively affecting your relationships and your health.  You are not honoring your husband by sulking like a child.  You are not honoring me by walking around grumbling and complaining.  This is not the life I have called you to live.  Life is so much more abundant when you choose to walk in my grace and be joyful – no matter what your circumstances are.  You are going to be 27, why are you complaining?  I have given you 27 years of life.  I have given you 9,855 mornings of breath and life.  Enough I say.  I am working in your life – just trust me and let me lead you.  You have no idea what is to come so I want you to understand that I am preparing you.  I am preparing you and I am preparing Jake for my plan and my purposes.  Please, just seek me and follow.  I will not lead you astray.”

Well folks, God has put me in my place.  I am ready to blow this pity party and head for higher ground.  Yes, I went on a little detour for a while but now I am back on course and I look forward feeling better mentally and physically.  Thanks for listening.  The pity party is now over and now it is time to move forward.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Glimpse

You know those time when you think you are having just a regular conversation with a friend and they say something that really is good advice and you smile, acknowledge it, think about it as it applies (or how you think it applies) to your life and then store it away in a memory bank of conversation.  I JUST had one of those conversations Wednesday evening.

My dear friend Heather and I go for walks every week.  We are cheerleaders for each other, confide in one another and God has blessed us as friends.  She is the type of woman and mom I aspire to be.  Her honesty and faith are an inspiration to me and I am blessed to be able to walk and have fellowship with her on a weekly basis.  She is one of the most genuine people I've ever met. 

Yesterday we were walking and of course, I brought her up to speed on my fertility numbers and she said, "You know what I think, God was giving you a glimpse.  He was showing you that He does have that plan for you but it's not right now.  Now is just not your time.  You have that hope and He wanted to show you that, but it's just not for right now."

"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:14

I completely agreed with her and it was a nice way to look at how God, even when we feel hopeless, gives us hope in the midst of trials.
"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31 ESV
I fully understood how it applied to our journey trying to have a baby and then we moved onto other topics of conversation. 

Something I may not have shared on here yet is that I am pursuing a certificate in Trauma & Crisis Response.  I honestly can't tell you why God has called me to study this because in my heart of hearts, and looking at my past history, I don't feel like I am equipped for that field.  However, out of obedience, I am taking the classes and God is preparing me for something.  I, as well as my entire family, can sense that God is stirring in my heart and preparing me for some specific path.  What that particular thing is no one but God knows at this point.

Heather told me about an opportunity in which I may be able to use my new certification and initially I told her I would pray about it but once my insecurities resurfaced, I didn't believe I would pursue anything.  In the next couple of days I sought prayer from the people who know me best, my husband, my parents and my sister.  We all knew that this would be a big step for me and a large change.  The first day, I just asked people to pray for me to simply see whether or not God wants me to move toward this opportunity.  I prayed the same thing but I was still fearful.

One of the very first things I learned in my crisis class is that when God calls you into crisis and trauma care, He is calling you to be his very hands and feet to people in the midst of some of the deepest, darkest, most intimate struggles of their lives.  Talk about heavy!  I also learned that when God calls you to join in those moments, He knows you are capable and will equip you to be able to handle it.   

On my second day praying I could feel in my heart God wanted me to follow up on the opportunity out of obedience.  All of the usual concerns came to mind and my personal sanity and well being was at the forefront of peoples' minds.  More than once I was told that "it probably just isn't the best environment for you to be a part of.  Knowing how you can be affected by the littlest of things, it may not be the best idea for you to be the one to carry these peoples' burdens."

It was after those comments that God revealed an amazing truth to me.  Those people are absolutely right.  On my own, I know that I would not be able to handle this stuff.  I know that I would struggle with the hurt that others are feeling beyond my control.  I know that I would get angry and have to wrestle through some injustices.  BUT at the end of the day God said to me, "Dana, my child, they are right.  You can't handle this on your own but I would never ask you to.  I am calling you to this because I know that I can give you strength.  If you, as someone who knows my heart, can't come to defend and be a warrior for my kingdom for the saddest of my children, who will?  Can I call on you to carry them with me?  Will you count on me to carry you?" 

To everyone who has ever thought that they couldn't do something on their own, you are absolutely right.  You can't.  But thank God, literally, He never calls us to do anything on our own.  In every step of our walk, in every breath of our lives, God is there.  God sustains, strengthens, empowers, comforts and protects us.  Do you believe that?  Do you know that in your heart?  Believe it! KNOW it!

I found out today that the opportunity that I was pursuing was no longer available so I know that it was not my time.  That is where the GLIMPSE comes in.  Heather was absolutely right but her wisdom doesn't just apply to having a baby.  God gave me a glimpse into what He is preparing me for.  God gave me a glimpse and in that glimpse revealed an everlasting truth to me.  When He does finally call me into the field I am studying, He will already be there.  He will have already created a path.  He will walk me to that point, walk me through those fields and directly on the path that He created in advance.  And most importantly, He will not expect me to travel alone.

Today I want you to rest in the fact that God is preparing a path for you.  Whether or not you are in the midst of a struggle of a hard time, you are not alone.  God does not expect you to carry this all on your own.  Remember, He is always by your side but also remember, if you don't go or do the things you are doing on God's behalf, who will?

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Galatians 6:9 ESV

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Strength in Numbers: A Love Note

For the first time, Jake and I both had real high hopes for pregnancy.  This time, he and I BOTH have really experienced disappointment.  Jake has been my rock throughout this and still continues to be.  Without God and without Jake's strength from the Lord and the encouragement he provides me, I would not be who I am at this moment.  While Jake and I dated for a long time before we got married, it has been in this past year that I feel we have grown the most as a couple.  This growth has come as a result, not of our trips or activities together but as a result of our faith in God.  We both realize that this is our testimony.  We both realize that we will not be the only people this happens to and we both realize that God is walking us through this.  However, there are times when the sense of loss and disappointment is so great, all you can do is seek God with one another.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." 

Jake and I try to make it a point to pray together every single night.  I believe this is a foundational part of our marriage.  The fact that Jake allows me to hear his most intimate conversations with God truly unites us.  The same goes for the fact that I trust him so much that I am willing to let him hear my concerns and conversations with the Lord.  God is my number one but Jake is my number two.  To speak to both of them at once and let them simply hear me means the world to me.

Because both of us choose to seek God during our trials and struggles, it strengthens our marriage.  As you can see in Eclessiastes 4:12 a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Between Jake, God and myself, we grow stronger each day.  I sincerely believe that if he or I had our focus elsewhere this year would have been WAY harder and entirely different.  Instead of being hopeless, we are hopeful, instead of being sad, we choose joy.  Instead of turning our backs on God in frustration, we turn towards him for grace and patience.  Before this year I didn't know what it was to truly seek God with my husband.  To seek Him as a unit.  Now, we have learned what it means to submit to him as one.  We have more strength together than we do alone.  We have strength in numbers, we have strength from God.

I want to take a moment and just express my gratitude and love for my husband.  He is the strongest, most capable man I have ever met in my entire life.  He lights up a room with his humor and is the center of my world.  He is a solid man of God and continues to seek God with his whole heart (probably the biggest turn on in the world).  He works harder than anyone I know and has a zest for life that is hard to compete with.  He is easy going but is passionate about his family and his faith.  He is a protector.  He is compassionate, loving and has a heart for the least of us.  My husband is the head of our home.  He is the most important person in my life and I adore him.  I will always strive to provide him strength, encouragement, love and acceptance.  I hope to always encourage him to be the best man that he can be and allow God to work in his life.  I do my best to release his care and life to God always.  I am so blessed that God has given me this man on earth to share in sorrow, joy, and everything in between.

I realize this is a cheesy post but there are times when you need encouragement.  Today is a day that I want to encourage my husband.  I want him to know, baby or not, he is the best man I know and I'm blessed to call him my husband.  I am honored to be his wife.

I love you, Jake.  I thank God for our trials because we wouldn't be the man and wife we are without them.  Thank you for being there for me through all of this and thank you for sharing in this journey.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for my husband.  Thank you for drawing us closer together and nearer to you throughout this past year.  I pray that we continue to walk through these trials together and I want you to know that I am grateful for each day that passes.  I do not wish any of this time away because I know that this is your will.  Thank you for the one-on-one moments I get to share with my husband without any other distractions.  Thank you for letting us focus entirely on one another.  Thank you for giving us strength.  Thank you for our faith and thank you for preparing our hearts so that we will be ready for our someday baby.  I am so grateful for this time, I am so grateful for this struggle.   In your powerful name I pray, amen. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Revelation in deep disappointment

As you know, Jake and I both did the Daniel fast earlier this month.  We completed 19 days.  Throughout the fast God answered a lot of my various prayers and concerns and I was hoping he would answer our prayer for a baby. 

You see, the month before the fast we received great news that my body was finally headed in the direction of healing and being able to conceive.  In previous months we were told that we wouldn't be able to conceive until my hormone levels were right. 

It was on January 2 that I received news from my doctor saying that my body was at the right levels, there wasn't a pregnancy this month but there was at least the possibility of it (for the first time in over a year).  As such, Jake and I were extremely hopeful that we would get pregnant in January.  We decided to do the fast for many reasons but I know that both of us were praying fervently for God to answer our prayer for pregnancy.

In the week building up to finding out whether or not I was pregnant God gave me a few revelations.  Lesson 1, I realized that I was hoping to be pregnant because we were obedient and did the Daniel Fast, and in recognition of our obedience I thought God would give us a baby.  I was wrong.  I was wrong because I had considered a baby to be a "reward" for our good behavior, for our obedience.  God reminded me that it is not by works that we are saved but through Christ alone.  Jesus Christ, God's son was a gift to each of us.  He reminded me that children will not be a reward but rather a gift, a blessing.

Upon our arrival home from vacation I called my doctor to find out what my results were.  I was hoping to hear that there was a pregnancy and it was time to schedule our first ultra sound.  It was devastatingly painful to hear that my numbers had reverted back to their abnormally low levels again.  The doctor had no idea what could have made such a difference in one month. As a note, during the month of December I did a special fertility diet.  It was an extremely healthy, clean eating regimen in which I cut out a substantial amount of my normal eating habits.  This was the main difference.  On this diet I felt good.  You know those times when you just feel healthy and feel good?  During those few weeks that is how I felt.  During the month of January, we did the Daniel Fast and then we went on vacation so my fertility diet went out the window.

Lesson 2, I realize how sensitive my entire body is to my eating plan.  The only difference between December and January was my eating plan.  The medicine did not change at all.  As it is, I have had so many "health" issues during the last year that have been unexplainable and it was incredibly frustrating.  God in His plan and grace has shown me now that I need to really take care of myself and be eating well.  He knows that He has my heightened attention with regards to my body and He took the time to really reveal to me what I need and how to take care of myself. 

Now I know that eating healthy has an effect on my whole well being.  Now I know that I need to treat my body as the temple it has been created to be so that I can sustain and produce a child.  God wants our children to grow in a place that is healthy and ready to carry them someday.  God hasn't brought us a child yet because He knows my body is not ready for it.     

While the pain is still there, I realize that we need to, once again, choose joy because God is still changing us.  He is still molding us, He is still preparing us to be the exact parents he wants us to be.