Isn’t That Enough, Lord?

37067597 - young woman showing her denial with no on her hand

It’s enough, Lord. You can stop.

They’ve already had two miscarriages, isn’t that enough? They had a less than ideal childhood, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that cancel out anything bad in adulthood?  They already have a child with a disability, shouldn’t the rest of their children be perfectly healthy? Lord, their marriage is hard enough, can’t You heal it now and not allow any more brokenness? Lord, they’ve had one child die, will You please excuse them from having anything else tragic happen? They’ve already lost one parent to cancer, isn’t that enough? Lord, isn’t one tragedy enough? One diagnosis? One death? Why must some people endure so much, Lord?

It’s as if I think there should be a limit on our suffering.  A place we get to when there is no more because we’ve been. through. enough….and then I am reminded of God’s truths:  none of this pain, sin, suffering and death was in God’s original plan.  It all entered when the forbidden fruit was consumed.  He is not the one to blame, question or be angry with. His Word tells us we WILL have trouble (John 16:33) and to not be surprised at the fiery trials we are going through (1 Peter 4:12). He warns us about this world, which is good of Him.  Because in Him is no bad, just good. So while He allows “life” to happen to His people, people that love and honor Him, He can use it for our good and His glory. In this world we WILL have trouble.  In this world we will suffer and have tribulation and much affliction. And because God is good, there is a place, not of this world, when God says, “OK. That’s enough. It’s time to bring them Home.” And we enter Heaven. A place where sadness, death, sin, sickness, lying, cheating, addictions, pain, etc. are NO MORE.  Trials are part of this life but not part of our eternal home. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So until then, when we see people going through trial after trial after trial, or we are in that place, we can remain hopeful and remind ourselves and others of God’s mighty truths and promises.  He loves us.  He is good.  This isn’t our home.  Our world, our bodies and our lives are fallen. Broken. Sinful. Never to be truly whole, perfect and complete until Heaven. So we endure. We persevere. We remain steadfast under much trial. We have hope! We can trust God to act and work things together for good. We can rest in His love that is bigger than we can imagine. We can know that we know what we know, but we must not only know it, we must live it because others need this hope, too.

I recently read a book* that said instead of asking God “Why?” (which I do often) ask “What now?”. We usually don’t get an answer to our “Why?”, but our “What now?” can be answered.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we can know what now.

I like to tell God how to do His job and make little suggestions here and there that show how feeble my faith is.  How tied it is to the here-and-now, to circumstances and sometimes even people.  As Christians, our hope and our faith can only be in Him.  Because- (I’ll say it again) In the world you will have trouble! But take heart He has overcome the world and can overcome us!  When He overcomes us our faith will rest solely in Him.  Not in anyone else, not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances.  Our foundation must be laid on Him with hope in Him, expectant of Him to shine light in dark places, to bring something, anything good from tragedy and to show us who He is and how loved we are.

Thy will be done, Lord.  Not ours, Yours.  Everything we go through can be turned into good- for our good and for His glory…to make Him known. Relationships can be healed, we can seek Him more, and people can be saved.  We are talking eternal purposes here.  Things we cannot see or make sense of.  We have to trust. To stay in the place of trusting in who He is when we can’t even see through the tears.

What if, with my hand up asking God to “Stop, that’s enough”, I’m not only building a wedge between my Savior and me but I’m praying against the very things that could actually bring freedom, healing and wholeness this side of Heaven?  What if what He has for us on the other side of this suffering is better than anything we can imagine? What if He can really use us amidst our afflictions?

I have a dear group of friends that I am so grateful for, but as a whole, we have lived a lot of life in our 30-something years.  So I say to God, “That’s enough. We’re good. We have learned and will continue to persevere with one another’s help, but can’t this be enough?” I don’t always laugh at the future like the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to, especially because I know we will experience more pain and heartache. More death. More sin. So, often, I fear the future.  BUT THEN…I’m reminded God holds the future and He holds each one of us. He will hold us up, strengthen us and give us the grace we need to put one foot in front of the other in faith and in life. He has also given us each other to walk through this life with and that is something we can praise Him for daily. We will see more bad…but we will see more good and we will see Jesus as we endure.

He is God. I am not. He is sovereign. Mighty. Loving and kind. All that we go through, good or bad can be used for His glory and our good. It’s a place- a mindset and a heart-set we must stay in to be victorious until we see Him again. When we are reunited with babies we never met, those that were gone way too soon, parents, grandparents and siblings…everything we have endured here will be gone. What will remain are the crowns we will receive.  Because we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share with Him in Glory (1 Peter 4:13).

Rereading this I am reminded that one tragedy, death and ‘diagnosis’ was, in fact, enough. How tragic was Christ’s death on the cross? I can’t imagine what everyone was thinking.  But God knew.  He knew what would soon happen and how beautiful the discovery of Him being alive forever would be.  His is good and can take really, really bad and make good.  For you and for me, for all who believe.  Both of these events, Christ’s death and resurrection give us hope for now and eternal life to come.  What Christ endured for us is enough for us to have hope in the middle of suffering and enough for us to meet Him face to face one day.

Christ’s death on the cross, the resurrection…ok, that’s enough, Lord.

Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

 

*Safe in the Arms of God, John McArthur

 

Isn’t That Enough, Lord?

37067597 - young woman showing her denial with no on her hand

It’s enough, Lord. You can stop.

They’ve already had two miscarriages, isn’t that enough? They had a less than ideal childhood, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that cancel out anything bad in adulthood?  They already have a child with a disability, shouldn’t the rest of their children be perfectly healthy? Lord, their marriage is hard enough, can’t You heal it now and not allow any more brokenness? Lord, they’ve had one child die, will You please excuse them from having anything else tragic happen? They’ve already lost one parent to cancer, isn’t that enough? Lord, isn’t one tragedy enough? One diagnosis? One death? Why must some people endure so much, Lord?

It’s as if I think there should be a limit on our suffering.  A place we get to when there is no more because we’ve been. through. enough….and then I am reminded of God’s truths:  none of this pain, sin, suffering and death was in God’s original plan.  It all entered when the forbidden fruit was consumed.  He is not the one to blame, question or be angry with. His Word tells us we WILL have trouble (John 16:33) and to not be surprised at the fiery trials we are going through (1 Peter 4:12). He warns us about this world, which is good of Him.  Because in Him is no bad, just good. So while He allows “life” to happen to His people, people that love and honor Him, He can use it for our good and His glory. In this world we WILL have trouble.  In this world we will suffer and have tribulation and much affliction. And because God is good, there is a place, not of this world, when God says, “OK. That’s enough. It’s time to bring them Home.” And we enter Heaven. A place where sadness, death, sin, sickness, lying, cheating, addictions, pain, etc. are NO MORE.  Trials are part of this life but not part of our eternal home. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So until then, when we see people going through trial after trial after trial, or we are in that place, we can remain hopeful and remind ourselves and others of God’s mighty truths and promises.  He loves us.  He is good.  This isn’t our home.  Our world, our bodies and our lives are fallen. Broken. Sinful. Never to be truly whole, perfect and complete until Heaven. So we endure. We persevere. We remain steadfast under much trial. We have hope! We can trust God to act and work things together for good. We can rest in His love that is bigger than we can imagine. We can know that we know what we know, but we must not only know it, we must live it because others need this hope, too.

I recently read a book* that said instead of asking God “Why?” (which I do often) ask “What now?”. We usually don’t get an answer to our “Why?”, but our “What now?” can be answered.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we can know what now.

I like to tell God how to do His job and make little suggestions here and there that show how feeble my faith is.  How tied it is to the here-and-now, to circumstances and sometimes even people.  As Christians, our hope and our faith can only be in Him.  Because- (I’ll say it again) In the world you will have trouble! But take heart He has overcome the world and can overcome us!  When He overcomes us our faith will rest solely in Him.  Not in anyone else, not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances.  Our foundation must be laid on Him with hope in Him, expectant of Him to shine light in dark places, to bring something, anything good from tragedy and to show us who He is and how loved we are.

Thy will be done, Lord.  Not ours, Yours.  Everything we go through can be turned into good- for our good and for His glory…to make Him known. Relationships can be healed, we can seek Him more, and people can be saved.  We are talking eternal purposes here.  Things we cannot see or make sense of.  We have to trust. To stay in the place of trusting in who He is when we can’t even see through the tears.

What if, with my hand up asking God to “Stop, that’s enough”, I’m not only building a wedge between my Savior and me but I’m praying against the very things that could actually bring freedom, healing and wholeness this side of Heaven?  What if what He has for us on the other side of this suffering is better than anything we can imagine? What if He can really use us amidst our afflictions?

I have a dear group of friends that I am so grateful for, but as a whole, we have lived a lot of life in our 30-something years.  So I say to God, “That’s enough. We’re good. We have learned and will continue to persevere with one another’s help, but can’t this be enough?” I don’t always laugh at the future like the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to, especially because I know we will experience more pain and heartache. More death. More sin. So, often, I fear the future.  BUT THEN…I’m reminded God holds the future and He holds each one of us. He will hold us up, strengthen us and give us the grace we need to put one foot in front of the other in faith and in life. He has also given us each other to walk through this life with and that is something we can praise Him for daily. We will see more bad…but we will see more good and we will see Jesus as we endure.

He is God. I am not. He is sovereign. Mighty. Loving and kind. All that we go through, good or bad can be used for His glory and our good. It’s a place- a mindset and a heart-set we must stay in to be victorious until we see Him again. When we are reunited with babies we never met, those that were gone way too soon, parents, grandparents and siblings…everything we have endured here will be gone. What will remain are the crowns we will receive.  Because we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share with Him in Glory (1 Peter 4:13).

Rereading this I am reminded that one tragedy, death and ‘diagnosis’ was, in fact, enough. How tragic was Christ’s death on the cross? I can’t imagine what everyone was thinking.  But God knew.  He knew what would soon happen and how beautiful the discovery of Him being alive forever would be.  His is good and can take really, really bad and make good.  For you and for me, for all who believe.  Both of these events, Christ’s death and resurrection give us hope for now and eternal life to come.  What Christ endured for us is enough for us to have hope in the middle of suffering and enough for us to meet Him face to face one day.

Christ’s death on the cross, the resurrection…ok, that’s enough, Lord.

Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

 

*Safe in the Arms of God, John McArthur

 

Sweet Surrender

35822694_mSurrender. It’s been my word of the year.  A word so prayerfully chosen at the end of 2014. A word sent straight from God because He knew how much I would need it in 2015, He knew the struggle I would have with it this year.  It’s no coincidence, either, that my verse of the year was Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”

Reflecting on 2015, I failed a lot with this word and this verse, but looking back I did learn and can see God’s unending grace in those places I didn’t surrender or allow His Spirit to help me.

Surrender: to cease resistance and submit to God’s authority (yield); to abandon myself entirely, give into Christ, to submit

It’s very easy for me to surrender when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, whether it’s 2 am or 6 am…but what happens to my surrendering when my littles are up and the rush of the day starts?  It often goes out the window with the first (or second or third) confrontation or cross word from a family member, or even a frustrating inanimate object (anyone else know what I’m talking about!?).  Ugh.  How I wish I could stay in a sacred spot of sweet surrender instead of letting life’s chaos, circumstances, and my to-do list sweep me out from that place, but as the Bible tells us, “…the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 26:41b) Oh yes it is.

Surrender is a constant redirecting of our wills to align with God’s. My will is pretty strong so this isn’t always natural, easy or consistent, but I know so many good things come out of a surrendered heart.  Surrender gives me the ability to love, forgive and give grace in the most difficult circumstances.  Surrender is love, it is forgiveness, it is grace. It keeps me in the place and position to love and not criticize, to forgive and not grow bitter or angry, to give grace and not judgment.  Surrender is freedom.  It’s life, victory, peace, joy, purpose, etc…It’s so many good, good things from a good, good God.

In surrender we trust God. It’s sanctification at it’s best and in it we are under the complete authority of our Creator and are greatly guided by Him.  He doesn’t force us to surrender, although sometimes I wish He would.  He leaves it up to us, it’s our choice;  a deliberate commitment necessary to live the life He has called us to live.  A life in tune with Him, a life devoted to Him, a life made abundantly full, whole and complete by Him and through Him.

Surrender: to give control to someone else, to allow something to influence me, to give myself over to Christ

Surrender is taking everything I hold on to so tightly and laying it at my Savior’s feet, giving it to Him- my children, my husband, my marriage, this pregnancy, my fears, strongholds and insecurities. It’s trusting Him with my prayers and dreams and believing He will answer them according to His plans, not mine.  It’s letting Him have me. It’s choosing to breathe and ask Him for help when my kids are not listening and driving me crazy and all I want to do is yell at them.  It’s doing what God has called me to do, even if it goes against the flow; seeking His approval above all else (agh, a tough one for this trying-to-be-ex-people-pleaser). It’s letting go and letting God; saying “YES” to Him and knowing that He has equipped me for whatever He is calling me to do. It’s slowing down and being in the moment, each moment and breath a gift from God to be used for His glory, not my fleshly desires.

Surrender: to agree to stop fighting, hiding or resisting because I know I will not win or succeed

Surrender is choosing to stop and think before responding to someone, because a lot of the time what I really want to say doesn’t line up with what the Lord would have me say.  It’s choosing to pause before reacting in a harsh manner towards someone who has offended or misunderstood me and letting God give me the words to say- or not say.  It’s letting Him guide me, knowing He is always fighting for me, I just need to be still.  It’s giving Him my thoughts and emotions and allowing Him to drive my actions, not my fickle feelings, keeping my eyes on Him, not on what’s going on around me.  It’s knowing this life is fleeting, just a vapor, and we are only here a short time. Bottom line, surrender is allowing God to not only be Lord of my life as I claim but to be Lord, King, Ruler, Decision-Maker of my day, my to-do list, my schedule, my relationships, my words, my thoughts, my all.

A friend recently asked when Jesus became real to us, and for me, Jesus becomes real when I surrender.  Not that He isn’t real when I’m not surrendering but His awesomness and power are extremely evident in my heart, soul and life when I get out of the way and let Him move and work and mold and do His job.

“Then Jesus said to His followers, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:24-25

As I end this year, I am hopeful.  Hopeful that the lessons learned on surrender throughout 2015 will be stored in my heart with gratefulness, knowing how perfect and strong our God is and how imperfect and weak I am.  Never forgetting that God can bring good from any situation, even the worst of them, and committing to staying surrendered even if this good might not look exactly like I thought it would.  I do pray for my mind, heart and soul to surrender more consistently and deliberately in 2016.  Knowing my prideful independent self will at some point resist Him, I am grateful that He will guide me and my strong will back to the spot of sweet surrender never ceasing to give me abundant grace along the way.

A prayer for today~

Dear sweet, sweet Jesus…You made the ultimate surrender when You came to earth, lived, died and rose again for us.  You came to do your Father’s will…oh that we may do the same!  Your will, not our own.  Our lives are Yours!  Use us, guide us, direct us and keep redirecting us as we find this place of surrender to You, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has a plan of our lives that is far greater than anything we could ever imagine.  May we surrender it all, not just the places that are easy or comfortable.  We are thankful for Your grace, Your kindness and Your love.   How can we ever repay you but to live wholly for You and You alone.  Help us get out of the way, help us to only hear and heed YOUR voice and no one else’s.  We thank You for the freedom and fulfillment you bring in surrender.  In Your Holy name, Amen.

~Do you do a Word of the Year?  My friend, Heather Patterson, first gave me this idea and I’m so grateful!  Click here to read her blog series about a Word of the Year!

~If you enjoy music, Touch the Sky by Hillsong United is a beautiful song about what happens when we surrender     …I found my life when I laid it down…I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground… 🙂

I Shout for Joy

“You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Surreal.  It’s honestly how I feel about all of this.  We are a few weeks into the second trimester and are completely overjoyed.  The fact that this is happening is such a miracle in more ways than I can explain.  God is so good and faithful!  He truly amazes me at His works, His timing and His love.

You see, I just knew God had promised me another baby; I just didn’t know when.  I tried to hold on to the sign He had given me but it got hard and I doubted I had heard Him right.  But then, when I least expected it, a baby.  The fulfillment of a special promise He made to me; a precious gift I cannot wait to have placed on my chest.  Maybe then it won’t seem so surreal, maybe then I can breathe…because I’m not going to lie, the anxieties still creep in from time to time.  But my, how the Lord is teaching me during this time about my anxieties, where to cast them and where to turn with any worry no matter how big or small.  I am grateful for this time of teaching and dependence solely upon Him, His promises and His peace.  May I take away lessons that last my lifetime.

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:5

I am praying the further into the second trimester I get, the more my energy returns.  Although this season of rest has been good, it has been difficult to function some days and my meeting Jesus in the mornings (or anytime) hasn’t happened as much as I desire, and my how that affects things!

As I get back into some consistency, I hope to encourage you with several posts from myself and family members about someone we love very much who we lost 9 years ago this month.  Someone whose legacy will continue in our family as we will name this precious baby after him.  Oh God is so good.

As always, friends, thank you for the prayers.  This baby is not only a testament of God’s faithfulness but also the power of prayer.  I cannot thank you enough.

Panic

“My heart pounds in my chest…fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.” Psalm 55:4,5

It started the minute I put my car in park at the doctor’s office.  A wave of nausea not associated with the pregnancy but with pure anxiety and panic.  I had 30 minutes before my appointment and already couldn’t breathe.

Praying and practicing breathing techniques kept me from throwing up or passing out but the panic overwhelmed me.  It wasn’t mental either, but something physical overtaking my body.  I realized in hindsight this is normally the week the baby’s heart has stopped beating with previous pregnancies and possibly what brought on the mini panic attack.

At one point my 4 year old put his hand on my leg and said, “Oh Mommy, it’s going to be OK.”  Jesus had him say that I just know it (out of the mouths of babes…).  I kept praying for peace and for the feelings to stop…finally they did.  When I saw a gummy bear-looking image on the monitor with a steadily thumping heart.  “Praise Jesus!” I kept saying.

I have the same ultrasound tech each week, and bless her.  She’s been in my shoes before and I’m so grateful God gave her to me this pregnancy.

I don’t mean to put so much hope into this tiny baby’s heart, but I do.  I know my main hope is in Jesus Christ and His Word but there is so much in this sweet baby growing in my belly, too.  And not just for me, but for my whole family.  Jesus is the one to complete our souls.  This baby is the one to complete our little family.

God’s word tells us over and over not to fear (because it is a huge, natural emotion), but what to do when a physical fear overtakes your body?  I realize as I get older I struggle more with anxiety and fear…I don’t like this about myself but I know God can use it and work in it and make me more dependent upon Him.

I go back to the doctor today and I am prepared now for a panic attack but praying I am armed enough spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically for it to stay away.

I know God is good and He is for me and this baby.  He knows what He is doing and I cannot forget that in any and all situations.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10

To Him Who is Able

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“There’s no heartbeat, is there?” First words out of my mouth as I saw the ultrasound on the screen.

“Now calm down,” the tech responded, “…I see a heartbeat!”

“And the yolk sac?! Is it smaller!?” I asked anxiously after noticing the circular sac looking smaller than last week.

“It’s perfect,” she said with a smile on her face.

WHAT?!  Wow.  JOY. Relief. Praise. Tears.

Even though my insecurities rose to the surface initially, I really did think we would see a heartbeat.  What I didn’t expect to see was a normal sized yolk sac.  I, of little faith, had honestly gone through every scenario except the one that actually happened.

In early pregnancy, the yolk sac is responsible for providing nourishment to the growing fetus.  At my ultrasound last week, the yolk sac was enlarged which isn’t always a good sign.  This was the red flag that gave us a 50% chance with this baby.  We’ve experienced this before and it didn’t end well; I will share more about that one day.

I truly believe the Lord performed an amazing miracle and we are overjoyed!  I thank each one of you for your prayers.  I don’t know what next weeks ultrasound will show but I do know that God in His awesome grace and love gave us tangible hope by lifting this “red flag”.

I couldn’t quit thinking of Ephesians 3:20 after seeing the beautiful sight I saw.  The Lord went above and beyond my human thoughts and did what He is best at, miracles.  I think sometimes we forget He still does this.  Everyday.  He is able, we just doubt.  He is willing, we just don’t ask.  He is able to do more than we can think or imagine, in any situation.  Let’s start asking Him to do something bigger and better with our prayers than our minds can grasp.

Now to Him.  Be the glory forever and ever.

Just because God can doesn’t mean He will. But just because He hasn’t doesn’t mean He won’t. The bottom line is that He is able~Pricilla Shirer (God is Able)

 

And So We Wait

Waiting: stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens; used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen.

A few weeks ago, I was up at 4am busily getting ready to travel to a conference. I had almost forgotten about the pregnancy test I had taken that early morning, but thankfully, I happened to glance at it before walking out the door. Expecting to see only one line, I did a triple take when I saw not one, but two obvious pink lines. I didn’t even have to tilt it a certain way or put it under the kitchen counter lights to kind-of-maybe see two lines, but there were two lines, as plain as day, staring back at me.

Shock was my initial reaction coupled with great fear. But then I found myself smiling at Gods amazing timing of it all. I then reminded myself of my past and immediately would be fearful again, not allowing myself to get excited or hopeful.

You see, I’ve had experience studying pregnancy tests (anyone else?)…this is my 7th pregnancy. I hold two of my precious babies here on earth while Jesus holds the rest of them safely in Heaven.

The road of miscarriages is not one I would wish upon anyone, but through it all God has been good and faithful. Even when I’ve wanted to turn my back to Him through the pain, He is good, full of grace, and loves me more than I can comprehend. Even when I have lashed out in anger at the loss I have felt, I know I am not alone nor do my tears or prayers fall empty. They fall into His mighty hands that hold all of me. 

We’ve gone through miscarriages publicly and we’ve gone through them privately and either way it is hard. But I know when I don’t talk about what is going on in my life or when I’m not real about my hearts desires or the pain I have experienced, God can’t get the glory.

So. There is a tiny heart beating inside of me; a life growing rapidly inside my body. This life is a precious gift from God. Just in the few short weeks we have known, this pregnancy has been such an amazing blessing, such a joy; and for that I am grateful. Grateful that the Lord chose me to carry this baby. Whether it be to full term or just a few more weeks, it is a life. A God-given, God-ordained life. And I will praise Him no matter what. Of course my prayer is that this is our baby #3 to have and hold, but I know that God’s ways and plans are not always my ways and plans. I trust Him in this journey. No matter what.  Even when the doctor says there is a 50/50 chance this baby will make it, I will put my hope in the Author of life, leaning into Him and not my own understanding.  I will remember the beautiful sound I recently heard of a strong thumping heart and will never forget the awesome sight of it beating away.

And so we wait.