Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From messes to masterpieces

This week I've been reading my journal from the first time I found out I was pregnant and the two years that followed my first miscarriage. It's been painful to read, but also good for my heart.

I smiled when I read these words:

"I know there is a bigger picture that is hard to see and I'm trusting you to reveal it in your time." - May 2008

Little did I know that Samuel was already about 16 weeks along...and we were just months away from meeting our miracle. 

When I wrote those words in my journal I was battered, bruised and broken. My heart was heavy, the journey was long and I was tired. I was striving to trust but it was tough.

I feel a bit like I did in May of 2008. The road is long and we don't know if we're weeks or months away from our next miracle. I am so thankful I have those words from 2008 to encourage my heart today.

God there are so many of us waiting for you to reveal the bigger picture in our lives. We're up close so we only see a few strokes of the masterpiece you are painting. But we know you are painting a picture that is more breathtaking than we can imagine. You did it for us once. You've done it for so many others. It's incredibly hard to wait but we know you make beauty from our ashes. You turn our messes into masterpieces. And we know that stroke by beautiful stroke, you are creating a masterpiece with our lives. Help me trust again that you will reveal it in your time just as you did before. Help each person reading this to trust that you are working out a masterpiece in their life as well. We love you Jesus.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Public speaking opportunity

So I have been invited to speak at a local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) on Friday, September 9.
I write.

I don't speak.

And by don't speak, I mean that public speaking makes me want to run to the corner and throw up my breakfast because I get so nervous.

Therefore whenever this opportunity comes to mind, I either have a mild panic/anxiety attack or I rapidly try to push it out of my mind and pretend that it's happening on January 9 and I still have a few months to prepare for it.

But in reality it's less than two weeks away.

As much as I don't enjoy public speaking, I feel like it is a God-given opportunity to share my story of waiting on God - both our previous season of waiting and our current season of waiting.

And to be honest, I don't completely dislike speaking, I just really really dislike the dread leading up to my speaking. Once I'm up there I do ok, but for some reason I don't like the thought of standing in front of groups of people and talking.

What can I say. That's why God made me a writer.

I have two prayer requests:

1 - Would you please pray that God would guide my preparation from now through September 9? I have 6 pages of my talk typed thus far and I'm working on it a bit more here and there. But I truly want this to be Holy Spirit-led and not what I think these moms should hear from me. Please pray God would guide my writing and that what I share would bring glory to Him.

2 - Pray for the hearts and minds of the women who will be listening. Pray that God might use my story to encourage them, uplift them, or impact them as He sees fit. Pray His will and His agenda would be accomplished through me. I am just a vessel. One of many ladies who will speak this coming year. But I know God can do mighty things through a small vessel if I am willing.

I'm asking God to grant me peace as I think about standing in front of all these women and give me a grateful heart for the opportunity to share. I am humbled. I am nervous. I am hopeful that our story, our life lessons, our journey might touch another.

Thank you for your prayers! I desperately need them!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

S & L showing off their dance moves...in their adorable PJs (thanks friends!).


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ovens, mops and irons oh my!

Today after I finished making homemade granola bars I went to turn off my oven. 

I hit the cancel button.

Nothing.

Try again.

Nothing.
Seriously?

The broil button works. The temp button works. The light button works. But the button to turn off the oven does not work.

We had to flip the breaker in the basement to turn off the stove (it was too hot to pull out from the wall).

And I had a serious moment.

Not a serious as in non-funny moment, but rather a m o m e n t where I was like, "Really? I mean really Lord? The oven?"

Here's the thing.....in the 15 months that Ryan has been unemployed

our iron broke

my hair dryer broke

my curling iron broke

our steam mop broke

and today the oven 'off' button broke.

Last Thursday morning I'm mopping my floors with Samuel about 7:30 a.m. (mornings seem best for mopping since that's when I have the most energy and Samuel loves when I mop....go figure!) and with just two rooms left, my mop stops steaming.

Hmmm. No steam from the steam mop proves to makes mopping a bit challenging.

And I love my Shark Steam Mop. With hardwood floors it is THE way to go.

But my mop no longer wants to steam. My oven won't stop heating. My iron won't iron. My curling iron barely curls. My hair dryer quit drying.

I'm not complaining. Well, maybe I am. But somehow I feel justified.

I don't think in 10 years of marriage we've had this many gadgets break.

I've got a feeling someone out there trying to discourage us. Trying to get us down. Trying to use things like mops and hair dryers and irons to break us down.

Some days I think it's working. I get ticked off. I get frustrated. I get discouraged. I get annoyed.

Other days I strive to choose gratitude and notice all the things in my life that aren't broken: our two cars, our A/C, our furnace, our refrigerator, our dishwasher, our toilet, our television, our computer and printer, our washer and dryer, our hot water heater.

And I wonder what lessons the Lord is trying to teach me through these pieces of metal and plastic? And I wonder if I'm stopping enough to listen to what He might be trying to say.

And I'm reminded of something I read years ago and think it applies perfectly to this season of life:

Too blessed to be stressed
"I'm too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed. I refuse to be discouraged, to be sad or to cry. I refuse to be down hearted and here's the reason why: I have a God who is almighty; who is sovereign and supreme. I have a God who loves me – and I am on His team. He is all wise and powerful; Jesus is His name. Though everything else is changeable, My God remains the same. I refuse to be beaten or defeated. My eyes are on my God. He has promised to be with me, as through this life I trod. I am looking past my circumstances, to heaven's throne above. My prayers have reached the heart of God and I am resting in His love. I give thanks to Him in everything. My eyes are on His face. The battle is His; the victory is mine; He will help me win the race. I repeat, I'm too blessed to be stressed!" (Author unknown)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I have decided...

...to follow Jesus

...I have decided to follow Jesus

...I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

I taught the kids this song last week. It is one of my favorites. The lyrics are so simple, so sweet.

The cross before me, the world behind me, the cross before me, the world behind me....

Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow...

My greatest prayer, my strongest desire, my deepest hope for them is that they will make a personal decision to follow Jesus. And it truly does have to be their own decision. They can't follow because mom and dad asked them to or because we love God. They have to decide to follow because they realize the deep yearning and longing within their soul is because they were created to be in a personal relationship with the God who knit them in two separate womb's and brought them together to be in the same family.

Following Jesus isn't about their parent's religion.

Following Jesus isn't about them being 'spiritual.'

Following Jesus isn't about them attending a church service on Sunday or reciting prayers.

Following Jesus is about accepting an invitation from the outstretched hand of our Almighty God and clinging to it tightly through the peaks and valleys of this life.

Samuel and Lauren, every day I pray that you will decide to follow. And then I pray that you will always run hard after Him.

You can listen to the Selah version of I Have Decided here, or the Samuel version below....


video

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Infertlity support

I'm thinking this is a fabulous new resource launched this past spring:
A blog called Held

Check it out!

I'm hoping to contribute.....someday!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

God's no...



When God said 'no' to our first two babies, He was just redirecting us....to Samuel. As God says 'no' to us now, we're striving to trust He is redirecting Ryan to something bigger and greater than we could ask or imagine.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Community

When Ryan and I moved to Minneapolis three years ago, we had no idea how important it would become to be part of a community of people who live near us and love Jesus a whole lot.

I have been part of many faith communities before, but I have never experienced living so closely in community with those people. We know multiple families who live within 10 blocks of us....and many more who live within a mile or two of our home.

And that has made an incredible impact on our lives and how we live on a weekly basis.

My friend and pastor asked me this summer what difference it makes that I live in the city, in the community where we go to church and where we serve people.

In thinking about that question yesterday, I got tears in my eyes.

Here's how I would answer him today:

This is what it means to me to live in community...

A friend stopped by and worked on our front door for us this summer. He fixed a broken piece, put on a new screen and changed some hardware. Every time I use my front door I am so thankful for his handiness and willingness to help us.

A friend brought us groceries this week when Samuel came down with a 102 fever. Ryan has been in Belize on a Mission's Trip all week and we were out of milk and eggs and bananas. That act of service was a big gift to me.

A friend offered to watch Samuel and Lauren one morning this week while Ryan is in Belize so that I can get a break and run some errands. She's a mom and understands how grateful I am for that offer. 

Our community brings meals to each other and invites one another over for dinner. We stop at one another's homes when we go for walks and bike rides.

Our kids know and love each other's kids because we see them weekly and even sometimes daily.

We share in life together - park nights, play dates, parades, ice cream, walks, and so much more.

We care. We pray. We are intentional. We serve. We love. We listen.

We are community.

And we learn from one another what it means to love each other in the name of Jesus. I learn by how others have loved me. And I am inspired to love others in the name in the Jesus because I have been so loved.

Sometimes it's in big and amazing ways. Other times it is so small...but incredibly impactful to our hearts and minds and lives.

Due to living in the city, we have an older home with a one-car garage and tiny closets. But I wouldn't trade living in close community for big closets and a three-car garage.

Because big closets haven't changed my life or how I love Jesus or how I have experienced His love. But community has changed us. Community has changed our marriage. Our family. And the way we love Jesus.

And I would have it no other way.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dear Samuel

I couldn't let today go by without writing you a letter my little man. You make my heart so full and I don't want to forget the many many things that you do that make me smile.

That said, you're testing my patience and pushing your boundaries daily....even hourly. We are working hard on listening and obeying, but I know you are little and those lessons take a lot of practice.

Just minutes ago I heard you on the monitor and I thought you were asking for me. Then I realized you were singing. I paused what I was doing to listen and heard your sweet sweet voice singing, "I'm in the Lord's army, yes sir. I may never march in the infantry..."

You make me smile.

You make me laugh.

You make me thankful to be your mama.

I created a little corner in your bedroom that we are calling your reading nook. It has blankets and pillows and is perfect for you and Lauren. Tonight as we sat there reading books you looked at me and said, "This is so awesome." It is awesome Samuel. I love snuggling with you and reading to you and praying with you and singing to you.

On Friday we were in the car praying for daddy and some of our friends who are going to be having babies soon. You didn't want to pray so I just prayed. Then you wanted to know why we pray and after I told you, you responded, "It makes God sad when we don't pray."

So wise. So insightful.

Today when I dropped some ice on the kitchen floor and it shattered everywhere I said, "Oh stink." From the other room, I heard a little voice say, "We don't say stink mommy." You're right Samuel. Thank you for reminding mommy to be wise with her words.

Yesterday I took you to your first movie in a movie theater. Winnie the Pooh. It was only 60 minutes so it was the perfect length for you. You loved the theater. You loved the popcorn. You loved sitting on my lap (I think you were scared to sit in your own chair). But I loved watching you take it all in.

I love that you sing with me and talk to me and ask me to play with you and tell me stories and help me notice things I wouldn't normally notice. I love that we tell each other secrets and you always whisper to me, "I love you so much."

I love YOU so much Samuel. What a blessing it is to get to be your mama. 

Love,
Mom

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Questions about infertility

A college student named Rebekah contacted me recently. She is a theology major at a small catholic college and is spending her summer doing two internships focused on infertility. Her long-term goal is to counsel couples going through pro-life fertility treatment. She desires to learn as much as possible and asked if I would be willing to answer her questions.

I told her that I would answer her questions and that I would also post the questions for all of you to consider answering as well. You can either respond to the questions in the comment section below, email your responses to me at stacyjmay@comcast.net or email me and ask for Rebekah's address if you want to send your responses directly to her. You can answer whichever questions you are comfortable with - Rebekah is appreciative and grateful for any insight you are willing to offer.

I will send my answers to Rebekah directly (for now) but I will plan to post my answers later this month. I don't want to impact the responses of anyone else by posting my thoughts today. I am hoping that at least 10 of you would be willing to share your experience with Rebekah!

And I want to say one more thing: I think intentionally pondering these questions is an absolutely necessary and therapeutic process for each one of us that is struggling or has struggled with infertility (which, to my knowledge, is defined as not being able to conceive after one year of trying). May I please suggest that you sit down with pen and paper or computer and keyboard and work through these questions. All at once, or one question at a time...it doesn't really matter. It will be good for your heart, good for your marriage and good for your faith journey whatever that may be. Some of these questions will be hard to think about or process, but rather than stuffing the hurt of things people have said or your deep frustrations toward the Lord, put it on paper. I will be a powerful part of your healing -- I promise.



1. Did you share your infertility struggle with your family members? How did they react? What did they say?

2. How did it affect your family and friend relationships?

3. Did anyone ever tell you to "just relax and it will happen"?

4. Are there any specific reactions from others that have stuck in your mind? What was the best thing anyone every told you? What was the worst?

5. How did your infertility struggle affect your marriage relationship? How did it impact your sex life and intimacy with your husband?

6. In what ways has your faith been impacted?

7. How did you learn to discern the Lord's Will in the midst of everything?

8. What types of fertility treatment have you sought out? Were they of any help to you? Please elaborate.

9. What was the most frustrating part of your entire infertility struggle (aside from not achieving)?

10. And perhaps, if he wouldn't mind, does your husband have any advice or insight from the husband perspective? Is there anything that he would like other husbands to know about struggling with infertility?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Letting God write our stories

Here is a story.

A story that could only have been written by God.

I think my adoption story is pretty amazing.

This adoption story is incredible because it demonstrates the beauty of waiting on God and the provision that could only come from God. 

What I love most is not just the miracle that God provided in raising funds to bring a child home to a family, but rather the timing. This gal waited on God, set aside her own desires, gave to other adoption funds and when they felt God saying 'yes, it's time' they moved forward with their dreams.

And God did a miracle. He moved mountains. But only because they were faithful. They were obedient. They trusted the future of their family to One who could do more than they could ever ask or imagine.

How often do we move forward with our wants and desires without even asking God what he has in store for us? Are we in the habit of waiting on God to give us the 'go ahead'? Are we asking God about the future of our families? Are we asking Him to direct it through biological children or adopted children or foster children or whatever children He brings into our lives? Have we truly asked God to direct each of our steps so that it's not us pursuing what we want and instead letting God write our story...direct our timeline...build our families?

I believe God wants to bless us. And often times He will give us the desires of our heart. But what if our desires are not His perfect plan? What if we went ahead with our plan and missed out on God's best?

I believe this story is a beautiful example of God's best.

You can read the entire story here.