Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lessons in Grieving

As we enter into what would have been the birth month of our third baby, due date July 30, there have been a few things laid on my heart to share regarding living with grief.

The best way for me to describe grief would be in terms of a fog.  Fog can be debilitating and cause you to stop in your tracks, it can be distracting or disorienting in the sense that you no longer see the lines that typically guide your path, and it can be dense enough to block out everything around you so all you can do is just focus on where you are at right in that moment and take one step at a time to proceed to your destination.

Grief works the same way.  Throughout the last few months I have experienced all of the above and the key has been to simply keep taking the next step.  The tricky part about grief is that it sneaks up on you in the most unexpected moments.

Please hear me when I say that grief and joy are not directly correlated.  It is possible to still be joyful and yet have grief be a very real and present emotion in your life.  Proverbs 14:13 says that "Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains."  Additionally, grief and gratitude are also not directly correlated.  In what I consider to be one of the most powerful chapters of the Bible, Job, Job 1:20 states "Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship."  This imagery hits directly into my soul.  The most powerful thing I've been able to do during this process is worship despite my grief because that is where the Lord meets me and brings me joy. 

For anyone who has lost someone, the fact that they are grieving does not negate their gratitude and appreciation for the loved ones that remain here.  While there is comfort drawn from those loved ones - it does not take away the pain of the loss they have experienced.  I write that because there have been many moments when friends or family note how blessed I am to still have my sons and yes - I am extremely blessed to have them, however, it doesn't mean I didn't still love and long for that third child.  As Jeremiah 10:19 states, "My wound is severe, and my grief is great.  My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it."  Grief is not curable, however, it does change, it does become more manageable but its not going to be according to any personal timeline.  It just takes time.

While my loss appears differently than the loss of others, these are lessons within the grieving process that I feel are applicable and unless spoken they will not be understood or recognized by those who have never been in the trenches of grief.

Finally, I know that it is uncomfortable to ask people about their loss because you are afraid of stirring up some negative emotions or sadness but can I ask you to do something?  Don't be so afraid of someone's tears that you aren't willing to see their heart.  Yes, it can be uncomfortable to see people cry but when people who have lost someone don't feel that they have the ability to be vulnerable or honest about their emotions, it can be an incredibly lonely feeling.  While I appreciate the fact that you care enough not to hurt them - can you care enough to be willing to help them bear their hurt?  For many people, being able to talk about the one they lost brings healing.  It may not be in a way that you understand but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is to willingly bring it up, talk about it, and ask questions.  If they don't want to talk about it I can bet they will tell you that and ask for grace in giving them their space.  I know that even if I am not in a place to talk, I do appreciate the effort made.  While no one else on this side of heaven got to know my baby the way I did - it doesn't mean that it didn't effect me. 

God has been faithful to redeem the heartache of my loss one step at a time and I can genuinely say that I am in a good place with a peace that surpasses my understanding.  I know Jesus in ways that I never knew him before and I am continually learning the strength that is found in weakness, loss, and vulnerability.  Today I challenge you - have the tough conversation and ask the hard questions, your temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the lifetime of grief that person will experience.  Move forward with a Holy Confidence that there is healing in the hard and wisdom drawn from hurt.

Thanks for your time. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kingdom Dreaming

I have been convicted lately in feeling that I've been highlighting the negative of my life more often than I have been giving praise for the good that exists right now.  While I believe in transparency and being honest with my thoughts, I also believe in pressing into the positive and I'm tired of not being able to do that so this is my active effort to shift into positivity, joy and hope.

I wrote a while ago that Jake and I were functioning in SERVE-ival mode and I'm happy to say that while we are still in a season of seeking our daily bread on a daily basis, the Lord has given us the ability to dream once again.  Although, this dreaming is not in regards to our personal lives but in regards to dreaming of how WE can make a positive impact on God's kingdom with our time here on earth. 

I believe Brian Houston would refer to this as kingdom dreaming and it is far better than any dreaming I've ever been able to do on my own.  These dreams that are laid upon our hearts are dreams that are not of us but ones that we are called to participate in.  We have no idea how they will happen, when they will happen, or our exact involvement in them besides the fact that we are called to steward them and when the time is right work with in the Lord's strength and provision to make them happen. 

Kingdom dreams come from hearts of complete abandonment and a deep deep desire to simply honor God with all that we are.  All that we have. All that we can do.  In the pursuit of God's calling on our lives He has highlighted giftings within us that almost feel foolish yet, we can be encouraged that they are there because our Creator has put them there.  Do you know what it feels like to have a spirit-filled self-worth?  Amazing. 

In kingdom dreaming, the Lord highlights how past experiences and current experiences are leading you and forming you for something greater than you could imagine.  My friend so beautifully prayed yesterday, "thank you, Jesus, for giving us God-sized dreams as humans because we know that they can only be accomplished by you working through us." 

The best part is that our Kingdom dreams almost take us entirely out of it and we can wholly put it on God to help us foster and steward their development in His time.  It takes one step of obedience at a time.  One day of serving at a time and a faith-filled boldness that seems foolish to the world but yet - God is faithful.

We are in another season of waiting to see exactly how God will bring the evolution of these dreams to pass. My goodness, you guys! There is some seriously exciting stuff that God has planned for someday and such a time as this.  God has such a heart for us all and even more excitingly he is calling my husband and I into these dreams together.  What a sign of faithfulness to the covenant of marriage.  God is so good. 

Today I simply write to express my gratitude for the ability to kingdom dream and to do so with my husband.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to sit front row and watch my husband's heart and passions evolve into something that will revolutionize relationship.  Thank you, Jesus, for this life and showing up in the midst of the trenches. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Missing the Miraculous

The last few weeks have been difficult for me emotionally.  Yesterday I couldn't hold back tears that came for what felt like no reason.  As my sons played in their toy room upstairs I stood at the kitchen sink doing the dishes and cried.  Finally I simply uttered, "Lord, help me.  I feel weak.  I don't have any strength in this on my own.  I need you.  Be my strength."

Our pastors over the last two weeks have been discussing creating margin and taking time away from distractions so yesterday I decided to take that into consideration and switched up my devotional time.  It is no coincidence that I haven't been in the word much over the last week and my emotional load has been heavier, just saying.  

As I walked away from my sons' bedroom I simply asked, "Lord, what do you want me to read today?"  I simply heard, "Luke."  Spontaneously I grabbed my husband's Bible instead of my own and opened up to the Gospel of Luke.  I literally SHUT OFF my phone, no do not disturb, no ringer on vibrate, I shut it off completely - what a concept.  Before I really got to dig in my four year old son came in and tried to delay his inevitable nap but I told him, "Buddy, mommy's attitude hasn't been very good lately.  I really really need my quiet time with Jesus today."  He immediately understood, gave me a hug and walked back into his room.  Thank you, Jesus, for moving in that moment and granting him that understanding.

The thing about my husband's Bible is that it is not a commentary Bible or "study" Bible unlike mine.  Its just the word.  God's word.  As I read, I simply said, "Lord let your word speak."  I read Luke 1-7 and realized exactly why the Lord had me there.  This book of the Bible records Jesus' conception as well as a large number of miracles he did among the people in his time on earth.

I knew what he was telling me.  He was reminding me of his faithfulness to so many others and of all the miracles he has performed.  He was reminding me that I am not forgotten and He will continue to work for my good - I just can't see it right now.  This is all for a purpose.

You want to know my initial thoughts after reading it?  I miss the miraculous in my life.  I realized that I have clung to my pregnancies so firmly because they have been such a living testament to the MIRACLES that God has done in my life.  I miss the pregnancy, not simply because I miss that baby that I will not meet but I miss the tangible example of the miraculous in my life.

Hey guys, guess what I realized this morning!?  I have two living, breathing, daily reminders of the miraculous in my life.  I have a husband that is a daily reminder to me of someone's capacity to love without end, even in my worst of moods.  Our home is tangible proof of God's hand over our decisions and finances.  The food on our table, the heat, air conditioning, and cars in our garage are proof of the miraculous provision from him over the past couple of years.  Even my husband's job is an answer to prayers and circled back into our path in a miraculous and unexpected way.  Are you tracking with me on this? 

What I realized this morning is that I don't need a human growing inside of me to see God's hand and covering over my family's life.  My pregnancies are not the only miracles I've ever experienced.  Yes, they were some of the biggest and most apparent but they aren't the only.  I just need to open my eyes to the goodness surrounding me.  The miraculous is always around - if you open your eyes to see it.

Today I am grateful that the Lord took me to a place in His word that reminded me that miracles don't always come in the ways that we comprehend but that the miraculous and God's presence are there in the subtleties of life.

Being able to write this week feels like being able to actually breathe again. I'm so grateful for the subtle grace of God showing up in times of extreme weakness.  Can you feel it today?  Can you see the miracles?  There can be strength found in the subtleties of your life.  Look for it.  The miraculous is there, I promise.