Rest in a Restless World

I’m tired.  I’m tired of pretending that I’m not tired.  I’m tired of getting up each day and going to a job that I know exists because people abuse and neglect their children.  I’m tired of worrying about whether or not there will be enough families out there who want to take in kids who have suffered great trauma.

I’m weary.  I’m weary from trying to shield my children from the news of the day.  I’m weary from the knowledge that humans willfully damage each other, kill each other, and downplay the importance of one another.  I’m weary from the frustration that Christians often worry more about politics than people, or at least, give that impression.

I know that part of my weariness comes from the ups and downs of the human experience.  People are killing each other for their ideologies, perversions, or greed.  Children are left abandoned on the streets to suffer at the hands of evil.  Fathers are turning away from their families to seek what they perceive as greater things.  Mothers are choosing wickedness over their own worth.  People are forsaking compassion for their passions.

Weariness has been on my mind all week, and yet, I fully recognize how lucky I really have it.  I’m not a single mom working three jobs to keep food on the table.  I’m not a small child living off of scraps in a third world country.  I’m not homeless.  I’m not sick.  I’m not hungry.  I am loved.

While meditating on these things, I looked up Scripture that specifically address weariness and rest.  I know there are many more, but here are just a few that I’d like to share.

Exodus 33:14 – 

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28-30 – 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

Psalm 62:1-2-

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:5-

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”

John 14:27- 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

Psalm 37:7-

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

In my opinion, the last verse I am sharing is the one that turns that fading flicker in my heart into a flame.  It is the one that renews my hope for things to come, and strengthens my resolve to continue yearning for a world where compassion leads.  It causes me to strive to live a life that continues to breathe love.  It especially reminds me that in this world of chaos and confusion, the only true rest and peace in this restless world is found in the glory of the Lord.

John 16:33-

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Thank you Father for the Blessed Assurance of You.

Waiting on God

photo (32)I prayed today for concrete answers to multiple situations going on in my life of which I’m trying to keep my anxiety level to a minimal.  I asked told the Lord to let today be the day that I got ALL of the answers I needed to hear.  Quite selfish, I know, but I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately with all of the “stuff” going on in life.

The stuff I’m referring to consists of (1) wanting an answer for something I’ve been working on for years, and feeling so close to getting, and, (2) needing to hear with clarity what the Lord intends to do with a situation involving a family member.  In the middle of these things lies my normally busy life consisting of children, work, and a home to tend to.  If the truth were told, I would eliminate the work part and focus on the home and family; thus, leading me back to wanting answers!

Even as I write this, I’m daydreaming a little about it all.  As the day grew into evening, I did not receive that phone call or that email with an answer.  I did not receive a letter or phone call telling me what the next steps will be regarding a family member.  The Lord did not break through the clouds declaring the answers I am yearning to hear.  However, as the day went on, I started to realize that He has waited on me multiple times throughout my life, and will continue to as long as I am breathing Earthly air.

He’s waited on me to open the Word instead of opening my Facebook page. He’s waited on me to have a heart pursuing Him with the same passion that I have pursued others and things of this world.  He’s waited on me to write that check in full faith the He will use it for good; instead of writing a check for something temporary that I desired.

He’s waited on me to relinquish my fear of the unknown, and let Him lead my life. He’s waited on me to understand infertility as a part of my life story, so that He could unfold the script.  He’s waited on me to give the same amount of grace for the indiscretions of others that He’s given me.  He still waits on me to let His peace be the answer I need until He moves the mountain that seems insurmountable, or opens the door to the next step in my life.

Today I found myself thinking, “I’m just waiting on God for answers.”  In essence, though, the Lord answered my prayer today.  He answered it with the vision of those times where I’m sure He stood quietly waiting.  He answered it with the sobering remembrance of those moments in my life where I refused to listen.  He answered it with the knowledge that I know is true – He is the keeper of my past, the shepherd of my present, and the lantern for my future.

He answered it with, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Visions of Pregnancy

Before the adoption of my children filled my home and my heart, and before the Lord’s revelation in my life, I used to wonder what I would look like if I were pregnant.  Here is another excerpt from my memoir in a chapter where I talk about the deep longing that existed when walking around with the feeling of emptiness.  I cannot believe I am admitting this, but…deep breath…here it is:

I secretly envied my pregnant friends.  I wanted what they had.  The joy, excitement, and love they shared with their spouses throughout their pregnancies were clearly obvious and I was jealous of it.  It felt really childish for me to think “why can’t I be like that?”  Or, “why does she get to have more children when I cannot even have one?”  It was almost shameful for me to think that way, or at least I felt ashamed of having those thoughts about them.  I love my friends and I love their children and I know it is wrong for us to covet what others have, but I honestly did.

Just once I wanted to know what it would feel like to carry a baby in my body, or hold a baby and believe that he or she was mine.  Every so often, I dreamed about being pregnant.  I do not know what made me feel worse – the dream itself or waking up.  Often, I stuck a ball under my shirt, stood in front of the mirror, and just stared at myself.  I surveyed the shape from every angle.  This was the closest I would ever come to seeing my “pregnant” belly.  I always thought I would have made a cute mom-to-be.

It is a mistake to assume that women who cannot have biological children never wonder what their pregnancies would feel like.  Most of us, although sympathetic to those going through it, would give anything to know what morning sickness was like, or to have the moment when a slight kick is felt from the inside.  We would give nearly anything to have an ultrasound done that reveals the life growing inside of us.

Most of us have dreamed about pregnancy.  Most of us have had visions of ourselves pregnant.  Many of us still do.

I never, ever told anyone close to me that I used to stand in front of the mirror daydreaming of being pregnant.  It was embarrassing and I felt as though I should not have even considered it.  But, why not?  Why not wonder what it would feel like to be pregnant?  This is not wrong, silly, or senseless.  It makes perfect sense to me.

If your path to pregnancy is jagged right now and you find yourself hiding away in front of a mirror staring at your belly, it is okay.  Do not be embarrassed.  Do not feel as though you should not be doing this.  Give yourself a break and daydream all you need to.  I get it, and my guess is that nearly every one else who is struggling with infertility or barrenness gets it to.

May His vision of you fill your life with love, peace, and understanding.

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Well With My Soul

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”  

These lyrics are part of a classic Christian hymn by Horatio G. Spafford (1873). Mr. Spafford wrote this following a series of tragic events in his life that included losing his entire investments in the Great Chicago fire, and the sudden deaths of his four young daughters in an accident at sea.  His despair put into words has brought comfort to generations of Christians.  Out of one man’s tragedy, a song was written that continues to this day to bless people and bless the Lord.

This song has been on my mind for a several weeks.  We typically sing contemporary songs at church; however last Sunday, the worship minister closed the service out with It Is Well with My Soul.  I stood there and smiled at the Lord’s perfect timing in everything.

Years ago when singing this song, I did not always believe, find solace, or live out the words coming out of my mouth.  I was “well” with my job, education, husband, parents, friendships, etc; but I was not “well” with infertility.  The sorrow I felt was deep as if it came from the inside of my bones out to the rest of my body; the kind of sorrow that literally aches.  There is a line in the song Absence of Fear by singer/songwriter Jewel that goes “This vessel is haunted, it creaks and moans.”  That is how I felt.  I was living in a haunted vessel.  My body creaked from the hardship that it had endured, and it moaned for what could have been.

Since my foster parenting experience and the adoption of my children, I have been completely overwhelmed with the sense of peace with all that has happened.  It is difficult sometimes to put into words as there are not enough to describe how nothing else can replace the peace-maker that He is.  His peace does surpass all understanding.

It is an experience that begins with the full acknowledgement of who He is in our lives and what we choose to believe about Him.  Is He a father?  Is He a maker?  Does He offer His love freely to us or do we have to earn it?  Does He truly plan our lives with purpose far beyond our imaginations or understanding? I once questioned these things and wondered how a father, maker, love-giver, and planner could, or better yet would allow pain and loss in His children’s lives.  My earthly human instinct is to protect my children and prevent pain in their lives, so the vision of God allowing tragedy to happen has been a struggle for me to wrap my head  and my heart around.

However, full acknowledgement of who I am in Him has led to further understanding of the dark times.  The revelation of God in my life and how He has planned it has only brought me closer to Him.  I look at my situation now and see His Hand working in all of it.  Total acceptance of my infertility has been possible because of Him, not me.

I wonder sometimes if peace amongst each other could be a possibility if everyone were able to truly say “it is well”.  It is usually not the violent act, illness, or ruined relationship that lingers on in our hearts and minds.  It is the bitterness and resentment caused by these things that stain us.  It is our expression of whatever is ailing us that can cause great strife.

I am so thankful to be able to live life without resentment about infertility.  I am so thankful to know that I am His.  The song It Is Well with My Soul has a deeper meaning for me now.  My singing it is an act of saying to the Lord “whatever Your will is, I accept it and trust you”. 

My writing and speaking about infertility is a testament to the Lord’s faithfulness.  Whenever I am able to share just a bit of my testimony, it affirms me that the Lord can take tragic situations and turn them into ones that will bless others.  Thank you Lord for carrying me along the path where I can not only sing, but shout, it is truly well with my soul.