Friday, July 31, 2009

mir⋅a⋅cle

mir⋅a⋅cle

[mir-uh-kuh]

1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.

3. a wonder; marvel.


4. a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality: a miracle of modern acoustics.

“Every single time God makes childlessness an issue in the Word of God it is always in the context that He is about to perform a miracle. Every time. Sampson’s parents, Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, Zachariah and Elizabeth. Every single time in Scripture He made it an issue he was about to perform a miracle.” - Beth Moore

This quote by Beth Moore rocked my world when I heard it for the first time. A couple years ago a friend gave me one of the DVDs from Beth's Bible Study on Daniel and said that I had to watch it. In this particular lesson, she talked about people struggling with infertility and the examples given in the Bible. It was such an encouragement to me at the time!

Beth tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the miracle God performed in their lives and marriage by giving them a son in old age.

Beth goes on in her lesson to say: “God never receives more glory than when we can say beyond question, the Lord has done this for me.” She is referring to Elizabeth's statement in Luke when she gives God all the credit for her pregnancy.

I didn't know what miracle God would perform in my life, but I was praying for God to use my infertility to perform a miracle. And I wanted Him to get the glory!

And He did...He performed a miracle AND He received the glory for how Samuel came into our lives.

From time to time I think about this lesson by Beth and the truth that she spoke. I am thankful for the examples in the Bible that we can learn from. I am in awe of how, once again, God used our childlessness as preparation for a miracle. What a privilege to be part of a miracle!

We serve a God who still performs mir⋅a⋅cles today and for that I praise Him!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

He knows her name

Ryan and I still haven't come up with a name for our little girl. We have a couple good possibilities, and a few we really like, but we haven't for sure settled on one name.

We're saying names we like and partnering them with middle names and trying to find something that we love.

Everyone asks these days and sometimes I feel like we should have a name by now (although we won't share it until the birth). Honestly, it was much easier when we only had one day to name Samuel. Nine months gives us way too much time to discuss and debate our future daughter's name.

I read a devotional the other day that encouraged me and reminded me that God knows our names and he already knows the name of our baby girl. In fact, He has called her by name since He was forming her in my womb....weeks before I even knew she was there.

He calls the stars by name: "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." Psalm 147:4

Before we were even born, God named us: "Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name." Isaiah 49:1

If God has given a name to every single star in our starry sky, surely he has a beautiful name chosen for our daughter. Oh, to hear the Lord call her name. How sweet that would be.

Today I rest in the assurance that although we're still trying to figure it out, God already has her name carved into the palm of His hand. I pray her name is already written in the Book of Life. I trust that her name (and her life) will give glory, honor and praise to God.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A day in the life of Samuel

Actually these photos are just from 3 minutes in the life of Samuel....what a busy, curious, adventuresome little man I have! I neglected to move the cat food this afternoon and while I was not attending to my little boy, he discovered the cat food. Thankfully he had his nuk in or I know he would have eaten fist fulls of cat food! I took the nuk out for a picture....and in went the cat food. So gross!

Then he immediately climbed into the laundry basket.

And from there the dishwasher.

Now he's napping...and soon I will be too!
























I think it's time for a hair cut...we're looking a little shaggy around the edges :)





Monday, July 27, 2009

Stellan

Please pray for Stellan at http://www.mycharmingkids.net/

His parents were told a year ago he wouldn't survive to birth, but he did and they called him a miracle.

Today he is fighting for his life. He is just 8 months....younger than Samuel. I can't fathom as a parent watching my son go through such pain.

My heart and prayers go out to them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
One of the hardest parts of my day is when I hear a noise from you on the monitor first thing in the morning. I like to sleep in and, honestly, it's hard to get out of bed at 6 or 7 - especially these days when I'm not sleeping very well.

But one of the best parts of my day is one minute later as I walk down the hallway from our bedroom to yours. It is a short walk filled with loads of anticipation.

I know where you'll be when I open the door: standing up, leaning against the edge of the crib that faces the door. Mostly likely your nuk will be in your mouth, and there will be a huge smile squeezing out from behind the nuk. You'll look so big and so tiny all at the same time. Sometimes you give me your goofy smile and I can't help but laugh.

Your hair (finally you have hair!) is so soft and sweet. Your eyes sparkle with joy. You continue to be so happy. And you always look like you grew overnight.

Sometimes when I get close to you, you jump up and down. Other times you drop and crawl to the other side of the crib. It's your little game. You're so excited that you crawl away from mom and dad. It's precious. I love it.

Mornings are hard for your mama because I love my sleep. I need my sleep! But having you makes them so sweet because I get to see your face and you greet me with an abundance of love and happiness.

Thanks my little man - seeing you is worth getting out of bed for....every single morning.




























Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Words on waiting: defined by service

In April 2006, Ryan and I spoke at our church and shared our story of loss and waiting on the Lord. The sermon was titled, "When God says No."

During the course of that talk, Ryan communicated a decision that we had made about our marriage: "Our relationship was not to be defined by waiting to have kids, but defined by serving others."

We had discovered in our waiting period, that it would be so easy to just sit back and, well, wait. It was easy not to schedule vacations or trips for the future or make plans for upcoming months or seasons, because...what if? What if we were pregnant and I couldn't fly? What if we were pregnant and we were saving money for the baby? What if we had a newborn? What if I committed to something and then I couldn't fulfill my commitments?

What if?

We had many opportunities to volunteer and serve within our church - both locally and abroad. We had to decide what we would participate in and what we would pass up.

In January of 2007 Ryan signed up to go on a 10-day trip to the Dominican Republic in June. He felt like he had let the opportunity pass him by previous years and this year he wanted to go. So I signed up also wondering what would happen if I got pregnant and couldn't go on the trip in June.

June came and went and we had a life-changing time in the DR.

Then January 2008 rolled around. What should I do? Ryan wanted to go again. And I did too. But to be honest, if I went that would mean I still wasn't pregnant. And the thought of that was heart breaking.

I reluctantly signed up and hoped with everything in me that pregnancy would soon become a reality.

June rolled around and off we went. We had another amazing time in the Dominican. We got to love kids whose parents were too busy or too sick to love them. We got to share with children that there is a great big God who loves them. We got to play games, color, play sports, sing and do VBS. I didn't have my own child to love, but God gave me many little ones to love on for those 10 days.

Ryan and I committed to continue to serve on the leadership team at our church and volunteer with various activities and commitments.

We both knew we couldn't just sit around during our wait.

If you remember, our story of Samuel joining our family begins with us serving in NE Minneapolis.

It was a cool fall morning, October 4, 2008, and Ryan and I each had a garbage bag in hand and gloves on. Our teams were walking down Central when I got the call.

We were serving.

We weren't just waiting.

Depsite our loss, grief, heartache and longing, we chose to serve.

We had made the decision two years before not to let waiting define us. It was what we felt God was calling us to do - wait on Him - but not to just sit by and do nothing during our wait.

I believe God honored our committment to serve and although our birth mom could have gone into labor any time and delivered Samuel any time and we could have gotten the call any time, we got it during the two-hour window one Saturday morning while we were serving.

Isn't that just like our God?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Treasures of the trial

A friend sent me a song with beautiful, powerful lyrics. It's called, Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer. I cannot stop listening to it!!

As I read the lyrics I can look back on my journey and see myself in each phrase.

It's a wonderful reminder that we will all face storms and we choose how we respond to them.

Will we follow though we're worn? At the end of our testing will we be made more into the likeness of Christ? Will we find blessings on our journey that we could have never anticipated? Will we be able to gather the treasures that we discovered through our trial? Oh what a wasted storm it would be if we did not allow God to do his work within us...and form treasure after beautiful treasure from our trials.


You can listen to a sample of it here. You can download it on iTunes here. Go download it now!

Here are the lyrics:
"Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer"
Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I'll follow, though I'm worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go -
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend recap

1 Family Reunion
3 days

400+ miles
100 family members
1 sick little boy
15+ messy diapers in 24 hours
1 major case of diarrhea
1 super sore little bottom
1 call into the triage nurse
1 trip to the emergency room
Little sleep

Lots of tears by mom and baby

On the road to recovery now....

P.S. Thanks Jenn - perfect timing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Words from a new mom

I was asked to give a devotional at a baby shower last night....here is what I shared from my short 9 months of mothering:


I am in the midst of parenting (as you know) so I want to encourage you Jill with a few words from my own – very brief – personal experience. Soon you’ll be in the midst of motherhood as well!

My first piece of advice is to “BE PRESENT”

Parenthood is for such a short time. Yes being a parent is forever, but the 3 a.m., dirty diapers, runny noses, crawling, bathing, feeding….that kind of parenthood is for such a short time. And you’ll hear from everyone that it goes by fast…it really does. So don’t wish it away. That might be hard to imagine now, but you may find yourself wishing for the next stage….as soon as he sleeps through the night, as soon as he eats table food, as soon as he crawls or walk or sits up or rolls over or talks or can feed himself or is potty trained.

“As soon as” will be here before you know it. And then it will be gone.

In the coming months you might find yourself saying such things as: we don’t eat pet food, we don’t climb on the dishwasher door, what’s in your mouth? Or my favorite: “There is only one mom in this house and it’s not you!”

Laugh at yourself, your son and remember….it’s for such a short time that you’ll be able to guide and influence his every action. Having little ones is exhausting and busy and a new adventure every day. But it is only for a season. So be present….in the hard, funny and joy-filled moments. Don’t wish them away….thank God you get to experience each and every one.


My second piece of advice is “NO GUILT”

God gives us these beautiful little babies to hold, love, encourage, teach, and raise to the best of our abilities. But they are his children. They are a gift from him and we have the privilege of pouring into their hearts, minds and lives all that we can. But that takes time and energy. In order to do this well, you won’t be able to do everything you are doing now.

I was recently listening to Dr. Laura on Dobson’s Focus on the Family program and she had some strong thoughts about the role of motherhood in the family. Dr. Laura has books, awards, and degrees, but always introduces herself as “my kid’s mom.” She said, “To my dying day I will say that the most import thing I’ve ever done, that I almost missed out on, is to be my kid’s mom.”

Saying no, allows you to be your kid’s mom. Saying no allows you to do the important work of raising your child. Saying no to other things means you’re saying yes to little Marky Mark. Saying no – and not feeling guilty about it – provides you with more time and energy to give to your little guy.

There’s no guilt in saying no. There’s no guilt in going to bed while it’s still light out. Almost every night in fact Ryan and I go to sleep while it is still light out. For awhile I felt lazy….old….disappointed in myself….but then I reminded myself that this is just for a short time. To be the best mom I can be, I need to go to bed early so I can get up early to love and care for my little man. There’s no guilt in limiting my commitments, because as I said before, this season will be gone in the blink of an eye and soon our boys will be sleeping in until noon.

My third piece of advice is “MARRIAGE FIRST”

I heard an author say the other day, “The strength of your parent/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship. You can try to be a sacrificial mother, but you will never be a better mom than what you are as a wife.”

Again, I think it is worth repeating, “The quality of mother/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship.”In order to be the best mom you can be Jill, first strive to be the best wife to Mark that you can be. Love him, respect him, keep him a priority above your babies, and your children will know what it means to be raised in a stable, loving home environment. They will not question whether or not mom and dad love each other – they will observe it in the things you say and do.

Your son will need you – he will be very dependent on you. But Mark needs you too. In order to maintain a quality relationship with Mark, keep your marriage first. Go on dates. Spend time sitting on the couch together. Talk about things other than the baby (even though that’s really hard) and ask him questions about his work and other relationships.

I heard a counselor say one time that when couples are having trouble with their kids, he always asks how their marriage is doing. Clearly, there is a direct correlation between your marriage and your relationships with your kids. One of my favorite quotes is, “Marriage is hard but good marriages are harder.” It takes time and effort to put your marriage first, but your kids will love you for it.

My fourth piece of advice is to “ASK FOR HELP”

The only way you’ll be able to be present, have no guilt and keep your marriage first is to ask for help. And I don’t mean help from grandparents (which is wonderful) or from friends, but I mean asking the Lord for help.

I recall hearing one time that when Ruth Graham Bell’s children were little, the prayer she most often prayed as she was running up and down the stairs was, “Help me Lord, Help me Lord.” It’s a prayer I utter almost daily. Seek to have ongoing communication with the Lord – whether that’s praying in bed, praying in the shower, praying while changing diapers or praying in the kitchen. The challenges of motherhood should keep us talking to our creator.

There are many more pieces of motherly advice, but these are just a few things I’m learning as a young mom. Jill, I’m thrilled for you and Mark and I look forward to meeting the newest member of your family!

Monday, July 13, 2009

9-month photos

Samuel turned 9 months on July 3. Wow! He crawls everywhere (very quickly!), opens doors and drawers, loves the dishwasher, pulls himself to standing on nearly everything, and loves, loves, loves to eat. It is a joy to watch him learn and grow and see the wonders of the world.

I'm truly exhausted every day caring for him and his curious little body, but I love so very much that I get to be home with him.

Here are his latest numbers from his 9-month appt on Friday:

30 1/2 inches (95/97th percentile), 18 lbs (10/25th percentile) - he is l o n g and l e a n!!

Just a few snapshots I took last week:





















Friday, July 10, 2009

Not if, when

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:2

I am currently reading When Love & Sorrow Embrace by Beth Forbus. It's about God's grace through the heartache of miscarriage.

Thus far the author has referred to Isaiah 43:2 a couple times. And she points out something very key that I hadn't noticed before.

The word....when.

Notice that the passage says, when you pass through the waters. When you pass through the rivers. When you walk through the fire.

Not if, when.

This passage seems to indicate that we all will, at some point in our lives, walk through fire. Pass through stormy waters. Trudge through deep rivers.

And when we do, God says, "I will be with you."

When you face that divorce - I will be with you.

When you can't make your house payment - I will be with you.

When your diagnosis comes back - I will be with you.

When anxiety, fear or dread overwhelm you - I will be with you.

When failure is looming on the horizon - I will be with you.

When death comes knocking at the door of a loved one - I will be with you.

Three years ago today, death came knocking...and took my little one from my womb.

The waters of grief engulfed me. The rivers of tears flooded my eyes. The fires of anger threatened to overtake me.

Yet God was with me.
He knew about the waters, rivers and fires that I would face. In fact, He had already told me in Isaiah...not if, when. And He promised that when the time came, He would be with me.

As I look back on those days, the pain and heartache are still so very real. And the promises of God are so very sweet.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fight for freedom

Originally posted on July 17, 2008:

This week we’ve talked about recognizing a bitter root, finding freedom from living in bondage, confessing it, and choosing forgiveness. Much of what I’ve been writing about this week is based off Ephesians 4:31 which tells me to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

So in studying this passage, I asked myself, “If I am getting rid of those emotions, what am I replacing them with?”

Verse 32 says to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I decided to make a list of everything I could find in Ephesians that told me ‘how to be.’

This is the list I came up with:

Be…
an imitator of the Lord
filled with the Spirit
completely humble and gentle
patient
made new in the attitude of my mind
kind
compassionate
forgiving
careful how I live, not as unwise, but as wise
strong in the Lord and in His mighty power

As we work to rid ourselves of bitterness and resentment, we can replace those unhealthy emotions with things like compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience. We can choose to be an imitator of the Lord. We can pray to be filled with the Spirit. We can strive to live carefully and wisely.

It won’t happen overnight. But friends, if we persistently and faithfully seek the Lord, and desire to be all He is calling us to be, I strongly believe that we WILL be made new in the attitude of our mind.

Note: Last week I offered up these two questions.... Do you want to be well or do you want to cope? Do you want to accept God's invitation for healing? Remember what my pastor said: "Most of us would rather cope with our problems than do the hard work of getting well and being free."

I know God desires to bring healing to each one of our hearts. Take the first step today and tell Him you want to be free from whatever hurt is in your heart. If you are struggling with a heart of resentment, anger or bitterness toward a family member, friend, co-worker, ex-spouse, or toward God, please let me know - I would love to pray for you! Or if God has revealed an area of unforgiveness in your life, I would consider it an honor to pray for you as you work toward healing and forgiveness. You can e-mail me confidentially at stacyjmay@comcast.net.

Thank you friends for letting me share what God revealed to me and taught me last summer. Thank you to my dear friend K who asked me the hard questions that led me on my journey to freedom. God continues to teach me about healing, freedom and how easy it is to cope rather than work to be free. I am so grateful that when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed (John 8:36).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two months from today

Tomorrow I'll get back to the topic I've been posting about for the last week.

But for now I have to acknowledge what today is: July 7.

Big deal huh?

What's so special about today?

Let me tell you: Exactly two months from today is my due date. Two months?!

I'm not gonna lie....it's scary. Just today Samuel climbed onto the door of the dishwasher while it was open. He dumped out the cat food. He's had about 5 dirty diapers and cries every time I change him because his little bottom is red.

Life around here is, well, busy. Hard. Crazy. Full of adventure.

And it's only going to get crazier, busier and harder.

People say I'm going to have my hands full with two. Well my grandma (who just recently passed away and was a mom to 13 children) told me to tell those people that my hands are already full - they are just going to be a little fuller.

Isn't that the truth?

I completely agree that my hands ARE already full with a growing, curious, active, strong little man to look after.

But that doesn't mean I'm not nervous wondering how I'll feed two babies....change two sets of diapers....dress and bathe two bodies....chase after two little kiddos.

I don't know how I'm going to do it, but approximately two months from today I'm going to find out. I'm very excited. And quite terrified. And trying to trust God every day for the grace, wisdom and strength I'll need to parent 2 babies 11 months apart.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Choose wisely

Originally posted July 16, 2008:

I heard this statistic recently: 70% of people are angry about something. As we’ve discussed this week….bitterness is the unharvested fruit of anger.

In Andy Stanley’s book "It Came From Within," Andy says that the antidote to anger is forgiveness. “Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a decision. Forgiveness is a way of life for the man or woman committed to keeping their hearts free of anger and bitterness. Forgiveness is the means by which we are to do away with our bitterness, rage and anger.”

Forgiveness is a tough topic.

Forgiveness requires action on our part.

Forgiveness cannot take place unless we have a genuinely repentant heart.

I so desire to immediately be rid of bitterness, anger and resentment in my heart. I want to wipe my hands and be on my way. But in my desire to deal with these emotions, I need to reconsider my motives and determine if I truly have a heart of repentance.

Wikipedia says that resentment will often manifest itself through the lack of forgiving, the unwillingness to let go and forget.

I talked with a wise older friend today and she encouraged me to look beyond the symptoms that are appearing in my life and get to the root of my bitterness….there could be issues from my childhood or my past that are causing me to respond with an attitude of bitterness and resentment. What am I unwilling to let go of and forget from my past? What hurt and pain am I clinging to?

The more time I spend reading, writing and learning about bitterness, the more I want to run in the opposite direction.

But as a woman striving to live wisely, I have no choice. Tom Drout says, “We cannot live with bitterness because it will first manifest itself in our spirit, then in our emotions, and finally in our bodies.”

If I want to build my home, build my family, build my relationships, I must deal with the issues of the heart. I must ask God to show me where I have unforgiveness lurking in dark corners. If I do not choose to forgive, I will walk in bitterness and that bitterness will affect my spouse, my family members and my relationships with those I care about.

Lets determine to be among the 30% of people who have chosen to replace their anger with forgiveness. Lets walk in the peace and freedom that comes from choosing forgiveness. It’s not a feeling. It’s a choice.

Lets choose wisely today.

Red, white and blue



Friday, July 3, 2009

The bondage of bitterness

Originally posted July 15, 2008:

Yesterday I shared a little of my own journey in discovering and dealing with the bitterness that has taken residence in my heart.

How can you tell if you harbor bitterness? Here's a simple test you can take. Ask yourself these questions:

"Is there someone who, when I think of them, I feel hurt and wish revenge?

Is there someone who, every time I see the person or think of the person, a sharp pang of resentment flares up as I perceive how they have done me wrong?"

Now don't just keep reading. Stop and really ponder these questions.

Is there is anyone in your life (or past) who still brings hurt to your heart?

If you are like me, and you take some time to really dig deep, you just may find there is a bit of bitterness lodged in your heart with regard to that person(s). You may also discover that you've been pretty good at covering it up. I've learned that bitterness lies just beneath the surface....just like roots. You can't see them, but they are there. And man can they be powerful!

Ephesians 4 has been a guide for me during this process of discovering and dealing with bitterness. Verse 31 says to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander.

Do you see the command there? Get rid of.....

To get rid of we need to dig out the bitter root. We need to recognize if we have bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. We need to confess it.

After weeks of reading about bitterness and resentment and praying about it and talking about it, I finally got down to the business of confessing it. There is freedom in saying out loud, "Lord, I confess I have bitterness toward _____ for _____."

I know that people live in bondage to a lot of things: alcoholism, drugs, pornography, greed, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. But it didn't dawn on me that I was living in bondage too.

Remember that bitterness toward another person affects you more than them. While you might view your anger as justified and your hurt and resentment as your way of hurting the one who hurt you, bitterness will ultimately harden your heart and affect your relationships.

When I read that I could be free of the bondage of bitterness I almost cried for joy. Dear friends, lets claim the beautiful truth that Christ has come to set us free....lets walk in freedom together.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A root revelation

For the next few days I will share a series of postings that I wrote last summer on another blog of mine as I worked through the realization that I was drowning in a sea of bitterness, anger and resentment.

This was originally posted on July 14, 2008:

If you're reading this and don't know me personally, my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about three years. We've been diagnosed with unexplained infertility and although we had a miscarriage two years ago, we haven't been able to get pregnant since. If you're interested, you can read more about this from a series of postings I wrote last year.

Recently a friend asked how I was doing in this area of my life and I shared with her that while I am fine with being around babies (for the most part) it is very difficult for me when friends and family are pregnant. I told her "I just really have a problem with pregnant women."

She looked at me with kind, loving eyes and asked, as a good friend should, "Do you think there is something you should do about that?"

My first reaction was to stubbornly say, "No!" I didn't want to deal with whatever hurt or pain was in my heart that causes me to struggle with being around pregnant women.

But her question started me on a journey that I never expected to go down.

During the last few weeks, as I have I pondered her question, I have come to realize that I have allowed the pain, hurt and anger of three years of infertility to harden parts of my heart.

God has brought to light the people in my life that I am resentful toward - for achieving pregnancies easily, for not being sensitive to my struggle or for never acknowledging what I am going through. I realized I was also angry at God for allowing every person in my life (or so it seemed) to get pregnant - except for me.

This realization hit me with full force when I read the following question one morning during my devotional time: "Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful? Am I proud? Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?"

While all those questions are important, did you read the last one? "If so, what am I doing about it?"

Well for three years I haven't done a thing about it. I have just clung to my hurt, pain, longing, and anger. I felt justified in holding on to these feelings and they became a crutch that I clung to in tough moments and on hard days.

My crutch came tumbling down when I read this quote: "Bitterness will end up affecting you more than anyone else."

I doubt any of the people I hold resentment and bitterness toward have any idea that I feel this way. I am very good at covering it up. While in my mind I might have been thinking "I'll show them," I have discovered that it hasn't really affected anyone but me.

Did you know that bitterness is the unharvested fruit of anger?

My bitterness toward other people and toward God is really displaced anger. Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Friends, I have allowed a bitter root to grow in my heart. I identify with the author who wrote, "I hadn't intended to let bitterness grow within my heart, but I hadn't actively prevented it either."

It was painful when I discovered that bitter root. It's deep and I don't want to let it go. But I also don't want to live a life of bitterness.

This week I'll be sharing the things I'm learning about recognizing resentment and bitterness in my heart, and how to begin dealing with it.

Today I'm wondering: is there any part of your heart that feels bitterness toward another? Someone who has wronged you? Someone who has hurt you either intentionally or unintentionally? A parent, spouse (or ex-spouse), a sibling or other family member, someone from a past relationship, a co-worker or boss, a neighbor, a friend, a trusted leader or role model in your life?

Let me ask you this question:
Is there ANYONE whom you fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what are you doing about it?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A heart at peace...

Although the majority of my journey toward healing (as it related to infertility and miscarriages) took place last year, it started in the fall of 2006.

I clearly remember sitting on an airplane headed to California. Ryan and I were taking a trip to visit our friends who were living out there for a few months. I was excited to see them and spend time together, yet it was hard too.

I had miscarried in July and a month later my dear friend told me - just days before she headed to California - that she was pregnant. I won't lie: it was tough.

I struggled with how I would watch one of my closest friends live out my dream of pregnancy. I worried about seeing her growing belly and watching her celebrate her miracle as I grieved the loss of mine.

I could only hope that I would get pregnant again quickly so we could share in the joy of expecting together.

Well there I was on the plane to California in October. Not pregnant. Feeling sorry for myself. Wondering how I was going to react to seeing my friend pregnant. And, to be honest, I was very jealous. I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to watch my belly expanding.

I opened to the book of Proverbs as our flight took off.

It was the 14th day of October so I turned to Proverbs 14. I started reading and stopped when I came to verse 30: A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Right there I had a choice to make: I could choose peace or I could choose envy. One gives me life the other leads to decay.

The Amplified Bible puts it like this: A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.

The NLT version tells me that jealousy is like cancer in the bones.

So I prayed right then and there for peace. I actually begged God for peace toward my friend and not envy. I loved her and didn't want to be filled with envy. I didn't want cancer to eat away at me - I wanted to celebrate her and the miracle of life growing inside of her.

That day next to Proverbs 14:30 I marked in the margin of my Bible 10.14.06. I knew I had a long road ahead of me toward choosing peace rather than envy. I knew it wouldn't be easy. But I didn't want to be filled with envy and jealousy. I wanted to walk through my days with a heart of peace.

I also knew I couldn't do it alone. I needed God's help - His strength - so that I would make the right choice. It was a daily choice.

When I opened my Bible today to look up this verse in Proverbs, I saw another date written next to it. 9.24.07

I have no idea what was happening in my life on that day. All I know is that nearly a year later I was still struggling with choosing peace or envy. I was still working through the decision to be healed from my pain, my jealousy, my longing.

I am so thankful I didn't know on 10.14.06 that 11 months later I would be reading that verse and writing another date next to it.

Because choosing healing, choosing wholeness, choosing life and health is a daily choice - no matter what the future holds.

I leave you again with the same two questions: Do you want to be well or do you want to cope? Do you want to accept God's invitation for healing?