Knowing Peace

cloudHello friend.

How are you? How is your heart? Are you finding peace among all the darkness this week? Or maybe you’re really struggling & need His peace more than ever.

There are few things in life that take such a toll on our bodies, minds & hearts as spiritual unrest does. When my spirit is stirred, when it senses a battle or is a part of one, my whole world feels… heavy.

I think it can be a very good thing. It causes me to pray harder, stretch my faith further & re-prioritize things that really matter in life; focus on the eternal, not the dirty dishes in the sink. But it can definitely become overwhelming if my eyes wander off of Jesus & focus on the world.

There is so much happening right now, on our own soil & around the world. No matter where I am, I hear stories of riots, violence, persecution, fear. I see pictures of hurting faces, angry mobs, innocent children being targeted by evil. There are moments where I feel like my heart & mind just can’t “go there”. I can’t think about it for too long, because it’s just so…scary. I want to feel safe, both physically & mentally.

But I know it is important that I do allow my heart & mind to “go there” sometimes. We do not need to focus on evil or meditate on fearful thoughts. But we do need to stay focused on praying for our persecuted brothers & sisters, asking God to protect the innocent, to bring light to a very, very dark world. It truly is a matter of life & death.

The truth of Ephesians 6:12 becomes more raw when I hear their stories, see pictures of their faces & am faced with the realization that this is actually happening to regular families like mine.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

The last few weeks have been a challenge for me. I want to know what is going on. I want to know what is happening. But with that information comes a lot of other elements. I do not want to get wrapped up in fear. And if you’re like me, I have plenty of other things happening in life that cause me to battle anxiety & fear. I have to constantly guard my heart & mind so anxious & fearful thoughts can’t take root.

But I’m learning that there’s a difference between staying informed & meditating on fear. It can be a tricky balance indeed.

So as we are praying for our brothers & sisters around the world & asking God to change hearts & protect the innocent, may we also guard our hearts & minds against fear. Let us praise Him for His sovereignty. Let us thank Him for His steadfast love.

May we focus on His peace.

May we remember He is greater than any evil.

May we cling to His truth.

Our God is in control.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Life’s Broken Promises

I was recently told, “Thank goodness you’re out of the scary part of your pregnancy.” I replied with a smile & a “yeah”, but to be honest, that’s not how I felt. When we lost our first baby, we were past the “scary part”. I know painfully well that making it to a certain day doesn’t guarantee anything in life – whether it’s with pregnancy, a job or a relationship.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

I don’t want that concept to be discouraging or fearful, like it doesn’t matter what we do in life because the chips will fall wherever anyways. My point is this. God’s faithfulness & my desperate need for Him do not increase or decrease depending on whether or not my circumstances look safe.

Relying on Him fully, trusting in Him fully & declaring Him faithful fully, isn’t a backup plan or a safety line when my heart hurts or my circumstances are shaky. Instead of making it optional to acknowledge God’s control & faithfulness, it needs to be the foundation on which I do my entire life. Jobs. Relationships. Dreams. Family. Everything.

I rely on Jesus every day. And as easy as it can be to sit back & loosen my grip on Him when it looks & feels like things are going to be safe or reliable, I want my grip to stay desperately attached to Him.

We are not guaranteed anything if we can just make it to a certain point in life or wait a set amount of time. Even if we reach our goals & get to the comfortable, safe & reliable circumstances we work so hard for, we are not guaranteed to keep them. It doesn’t somehow secure us in life.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Storms will come. Hearts will break. Circumstances will change. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will fail. Dreams will fade. People will leave.

But instead of focusing on avoiding the storm, let us take refuge in our God who promises to protect us. It won’t matter how hard the rain falls, or how powerful the storm becomes – because we are covered. We are covered by His protection. We are wrapped in His safety. We are filled with His steadfast love.

…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Life will break it’s promises, but our God will not break His. Our only guarantee is through Him. He is the only anchor that will hold fast when the waves get higher & the storm gets violent.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

So today, at this very moment, whether you are in a season of abundance & happiness or walking through a valley of drought & despair, desperately cling to Jesus. The Lord your God is in every detail. He is fully present in it all, so be confident in His sovereignty & refuge.

I declare my God as faithful!

Beauty in the Brokenness

This was not how I thought I would be spending Christmas Eve. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of how I thought Christmastime would unfold this year.

I was excited for our daughter to be a little older around the holidays. She even picked out her own Christmas Eve pajamas this year.

But the days leading up to Christmas were not wonderful.

Only two weeks prior, my husband & I were surprised, but overjoyed to find out I was pregnant.

Because this lovely surprise was just that – a surprise, I immediately felt a peace & confidence that this child was supposed to be ours. That specific little life was destined to be a part of our family.

A few days after we shared the exciting news with our families, it became obvious that something was wrong. Because it was the weekend, my OB referred me to the ER but also told me that there really wasn’t anything that could be done since I was only 6 weeks along.

So I waited. And I prayed. Over & over & over & over. There was a constant battle in my mind. I have never been in a situation where waiting without answers tore so violently at my heart & mind. Hours dragged along ever so slowly.

I refused to give up. However, allowing my heart to stay hopeful was also very painful. I don’t quite know how to explain it. My heart was flooded with 2 extreme emotions that I wasn’t sure what to do with.

The next night, I knew the life that was inside of me no longer was. I was so angry. As I walked downstairs to tell my husband & my mother, a rush of emotions like I have never known poured over me. I began punching the stairs. I was not angry with God. I was not angry with myself. I was angry because this attack felt very personal & intentional. I was angry with the enemy. I was angry that he thought he could use this to pull my heart away from my God. I was angry that I would not know this baby here on earth.

My husband & I spent most of Christmas Eve in the ER. It was beyond surreal. This was the same ER that I went to when we lost our first baby. As we were led to our room, the environment was all-too-familiar. It was the strangest of feelings.

As we passed the room I was in 2 years before, I thought, “Lord, this is where you changed our hearts & lives 2 years ago. This is the exact ground that we discovered what ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding’ really looks like. This is where Your truth altered my life & solidified in the core of my very being- You remain faithful & unchanging. Always.”

Shortly after the ultrasound, the doctor confirmed what we already knew.

I’ve seen God redeem the ugliest of situations, the most painful of heartaches & bind the most shattered of hearts. And that has been my prayer since the moment we knew we had lost our second baby – “Redeem this, God. You have done it before & I know you will do it again. Please, just redeem this.”

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1

Although this dark valley was familiar territory, it has felt very different too. But the things that have remained the same have been God’s tender love, sweet comfort & obvious signs of His faithfulness.

God’s presence has once again, been undeniably evident. Our parents & siblings have been so wonderful, helpful & encouraging. We are so blessed by them. My mom took care of our daughter at home while my husband & I spent hours at appointments & in ER rooms. What a gift it was to know she was having fun with grandma. Thank you, Momma. We also had a handful of precious friends that have walked alongside us & been there for us night & day. They spent their Christmastime loving on us & mourning with us. They are treasures & my soul is forever imprinted with their selflessness & unconditional love.

I have numerous stories of how God has remained so faithful to us throughout all this, but I want to share one in particular with you. I cry as I share it because it’s so close to my heart. But I want you to know how closely the Lord listens to us & how loving & active He is:

After we lost our first baby in October 2011, it was so important to me to find a Christmas ornament for our baby to hang on our tree. I wanted him/her to be a part of our Christmas. I needed a tangible way to incorporate that precious little one into our holidays; something I could look at & touch. So as soon as Christmas displays went up in the stores, I began searching. I went to every store I could think of that would have ornaments. But I just couldn’t find “the one”. And I didn’t want an ornament just to have an ornament. It had to be the right one.

I was desperately praying that the Lord would lead me to the right one. I told Him how much I needed it & that I knew it was important to Him too. But I couldn’t find one.

I got a package in the mail from a very, very dear woman. She & I have mutually adopted each other as family & she has played a huge role in my journey as a woman seeking after God.

As I opened the little box, I couldn’t believe it. There it was. The most beautiful, perfect, remembrance ornament. It was white & in the shape of a heart. I hadn’t shared my longing to find an ornament with anyone except my husband & my God. It was as if God himself was saying, “Here is your perfect ornament, my precious daughter. I know your heart needs it. Here it is.”

The following year, she sent me another lovely ornament for my daughter’s first Christmas. The 2 ornaments are always next to each other on our tree. They mean the world to me. They symbolize my babies. They remind me that God hears me & He loves me like a daddy. He knows my heartaches & knows my needs, even the ones I cry & whisper to Him at night.

As my husband & I were driving back from the ER this time, I immediately wanted to get an ornament to include this baby’s life into our Christmas too. As soon as we exited off the highway, the hustle & bustle of last minute shoppers was overwhelming. Traffic was at a standstill. Physically & emotionally depleted, I decided to just come home because I didn’t have it in me to be around people, much less fight crowds.

We got home & as I walked to our front door, there was a little box on our front doorstep from my “adopted aunt”.

Guess what it was?

An ornament. A perfect, beautiful ornament.

It had the same kind of look & ribbon as my first ornament. It was white & heart shaped. She hadn’t known what was going on. But my faithful & loving God knew. He knew days prior what I would need at that exact moment; what would comfort my heart.

“Here is your ornament, my precious daughter. I love you & I remain faithful.”

He will cover you with his feathers, & under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield & rampart. Psalm 91:4

No matter how dark the valley is, His light will find you. No matter deep the valley feels, His arms can reach you. He promises to stay faithful through it all. Come to Him & allow Him to be your faithful God.

Knowing that my 2 babies rest in the perfect arms of their Creator until I can embrace them myself, I declare my God as faithful.

IMG_0414

 

 

 

 

 

Movement in the Silence

One song can change a moment, one idea can change a world, one step can start a journey, but a prayer can change the impossible. -Unknown

I was recently reminded that the God that holds the universe together, is also working in the smallest of details in our lives.

After meeting a girl years ago, she & I were recently reconnected. I step back & look at all the details & elements that caused our paths to cross again & the fingerprints of God are obvious. She & I had no idea that we would ultimately become so close after only spending a couple hours together many years ago. I know God is doing this in every situation of our lives whether we’re aware of it or not; whether we can see it or not.

There are prayers that I have prayed for months- even years, but have not yet seen anything change. After a while I begin to feel discouraged when I don’t see all the loose ends tied up. I know that the Lord hears me, but if I’m completely honest, I get frustrated sometimes when I can’t physically see Him working. I want everything to come together perfectly, in my timing. Put it in a box, tie a pretty little bow around it & call it answered.

But I’ve realized something. If I have faith that God hears me & is working, then the silence I feel just means He is patiently orchestrating details behind the scenes where I cannot see. I could try to force random pieces of a puzzle together, but it would not look anything like it was meant to. It takes time, patience & knowing what that puzzle was created to look like. Only God himself knows that about our lives.

May we never confuse silence for idleness. We can be confident in the fact that God is moving, even in the silence.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for & assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Casually crossing someone’s path today could bring about a strong friendship years from now. A decision we made months ago could lead to an extraordinary opportunity today. A loving word spoken to someone could eternally impact that person’s heart. These things happen because He is in our every situation, every detail & every breath.

He is arranging every moment of our day to complete a beautiful masterpiece of our lives. It would seem to me that a perfect God would not want to dirty His hands in the messy details of our imperfect lives. But He does. And the reason He does is almost too great to comprehend.

He LOVES us.

He loves YOU.

He is in the midst of your situation & He is working.

He isn’t blindly grabbing at unpredictable details to put them together & attempt to make some sort of sense of them. No, His fingerprint & sovereign grasp is on every element & He is lovingly holding & using them to bring you good. He is bringing you closer to His heart & directing your feet to step into the greatness of your destiny.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Precious friend, even though you cannot see or understand everything that is going on, be confident in knowing that your God does. He has strategically placed you where you are. He has set you among the people you know for a reason. He is walking with you through this situation & He is working it for your good.

He sees you. He is right there with you. He delights in you. And He is tying it all together to wrap His goodness & love oh-so-tightly around you.

I declare my God as faithful.