Thursday, May 5, 2016

When Mother's Day is not your favorite...

Over the last 6 weeks I've written several articles for publications and ministries that speak to those walking through infant loss and Mother's Day. I have been so thankful to see these outlets wanting to shed some light on this hard subject and give others suggestions for how to minister to women. The silence is being broken and it's so encouraging.

So, in thinking about my own resolution to not look at mother's day with dread, but with joy, I wanted to offer some thoughts here on my blog that I hope you'll share with someone that needs to hear them. Because even if you've not walked through infant loss, it's inevitable someone close to you will.

This framed scripture and picture of my daughter's feet sits on my nightstand. It reminds me that no matter the pace at which life moves, I am always going to miss my Ellanie and I will always need Him to catch my tears.

Isaiah 66:13 says, As a mother comforts her child, so I'll comfort you...

I have always thought that to be amazing- that the God of creation would compare his comfort to that of a mama's. I am certain it's because He knows its one of the most powerful things on earth. He understands the great measure of it and the impact it holds.

I still need His comfort. And while I love celebrating Mother's Day with the 2 beautiful living children the Lord has blessed me with, I'm always painfully aware of the gap between my children and Ellanie. And that's okay... because He comforts...

I want to share with you an excerpt from my book, 30 Days of Hope for Restoration in Infant Loss. I pray that this Mother's Day you will embrace your identity in the King and know that as time unfolds He will teach you to be content with what he has given you and what He has not. Let His peace settle on your heart this Mother's Day and in all the days ahead...

The year my Ellanie died, the spring holidays just didn't bring with it the usual feelings of newness and hope. The first holiday was Easter, a day filled with hope and victory, and I only felt defeat. Then came Mother's Day, which was followed by my daughter's original due date. It was a painful reminder, and I often wondered if I'd ever be able to celebrate normally again. Since then, Mother's Day and I have developed a truce. I now have two living, beautiful, healthy children who fill my days, my arms, and my heart and I love celebrating with them. But I also remember what it felt like as I held my daughter in my arms and watched her slip away. And I remember what it felt like leaving the hospital empty handed, knowing I would never know life with her here. And perhaps its survivor's guilt, but despite my many blessings, I found it hard to enjoy something that I wanted Ellanie to have too.

Once upon a time, I had a plan for my life. Then one day when I looked back down the road I had traveled, it seemed very unfamiliar, nothing like the plan I had made. And of course, it wasn't. Because my plan was never the reality, except in my own mind. It was, is, and always will be God's perfect plan, which is meant for good and not for harm.

You will always be a Mother. Death cannot steal that from you. If all of my children had died in my womb, during childbirth, after child birth, in whatever way, I would still be a mother. Though it may not be obvious to the world, if the only children you have are with Christ in eternity, you are still a mother. And Mother's Day recognizes that. More than a mother, you are a CHILD OF THE KING. Your identity is not wrapped up in a holiday. It is wrapped up in the Cross.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You Can't Force Peace

If there's one thing I have learned in my faith journey thus far, its that peace isn't based on a feeling. Over time, life experiences have taught this through parenting, relationships, and almost 10 years of marriage. Jeremy and I will celebrate 10 years this April and every day I am awakened to the truth that our ability to love is solely dependent on Christ. I'm completely loveless on my own!

There've been many moments in my marriage when I knew the Lord was calling me to sacrifice something for my husband and I didn't necessarily have a good, comfortable feeling about it. It may not have been the path I would have chosen if I were relying solely on my "gut feelings", but it was the best path in the end.

I heard someone say once, "Make right choices to honor God and eventually your feelings will catch up."

"But doesn't that make following God harder?," So I once thought. I am discovering though, that it makes our attitude and our hearts more in line with His, helping us to withstand whatever comes.

In other words, peace can't be forced. Its okay to be honest enough to admit that you don't want to obey whatever He is asking you to do. He will work in you to help align your heart to His will, if you'll just ask!

Philippians 2:12-13 says, Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Ultimately, He wants us to do what satisfies Him. So, if this is your prayer, even when your feelings don't want to take that step of obedience, He will eventually bring peace.

My John MacArthur study Bible's commentary on this verse says: "God energizes the believer's desires. The Greek word for "will" indicates that he is not focusing on mere desires or whimsical emotions but on the studied intent to fulfill a planned purpose."

I LOVE that! Praise God His planned purpose is not dependent on my whimsical emotions.

When we were praying through whether or not to homeschool Emmalyn, I was a mess. My emotions were all over the place. One day I was all in, eager to tackle the challenge. The next day, I was hiding in my prayer closet like a scared little kid, afraid to even think about what it all would entail.

And then the Lord brought me back to this verse in Philippians and I knew that it was a matter of obedience, not feeling. Do I follow His leading for what He's confirmed is right for my child, or do I follow my feelings, which at the time, were not confident in my ability to give my daughter what she needs? After all, I was also working a part time job, writing a book, and had a 2 year old. There's no way, Lord...

In surrendering to Him, despite my feelings, peace eventually did come and my feelings did catch up. Now, I am thankful that I said "yes" to Him and "no" to my feelings. Emmalyn is thriving, and everything I considered as a road block, the Lord removed and cleared a path for His will. And now, despite my feelings and inadequacies, my heart is fully confident this was the right direction for us. And there is peace...

Peace can't be forced.

I believe that eventually if we make enough of these right choices despite our feelings, that we'll be so close to the peace of God it'll seem as if we can feel His hand in ours, moment by moment. When your soul reaches out for God's perspective in the daily choices- big and small- and grabs hold of the certainty of His peace, rather than your feelings, your belief in God changes. And He is so pleased!

Truly, it's better to walk in obedience and eventually move toward His peace, than to live in fear of stumbling, relying on our emotions along the way.

So, Einstein had it right when he said "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Understanding that His ways are always best. And He's promised us He'll never let us fall.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Why I'm tired of noise...

It's been 3 month since I last wrote a blog post. In remembering why I started a blog in the first place, He reminded me that it was because I felt He had given me something significant to say. Something worth speaking out for and worth the time and energy it takes pouring prayers out over each word.

Beyond what I could orchestrate or manipulate, He's developed this beautiful little ministry that I don't think would have ever come about had I had my own personal agenda of self-significance.

I'm walking through a 4 week inductive Bible study called Everyday Love with my wonderful group of homeschool mamas. And I'm being stretched in every good way to examine what I do- and why I do it. Is it out of an overflow of my love for Him, or my own selfish gain?

Am I seeking Kingdom significance or my own?

I think somewhere along the way, the motive behind our actions (even the good, well-intended ones) can become lost. I think mine did. Unknowingly, I just wrote because it's what I needed to do for the messages of hope God was giving me to be noticed right? Because after all... He needs me. And He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything... Acts 17:25

He doesn't need my honor, or my words, or my service, or every good effort I can muster. He does want it though. If it is rooted in love, that is. He desires it for me more importantly because He knows that in dying to myself and doing everything out of an overflow of love for Him, my heart will be molded to be more like His... making me an instrument for His glory.

Because when my aim is love, gospel love, He can shine His grace and beautiful redemption through the ugliest of faults, failures and frailties.

When I serve my husband , my kids, my family and friends, or my colleagues... is it to receive recognition or simply as a love offering to Christ?

I think we're all seeking to be found significant. In many ways. But He's created us to find that significance in Him. Not in our performance. Lord knows I'd be in trouble because man, some days my performance in every area stinks!

A big part of my career has been about helping Christian authors enlarge their platforms. For good purpose of course- to expand the gospel message He's given through their stories. I've even led conferences and webinars on "self-promotion" and "elevating your platform."

The problem with that is this- if not rooted in a deep desire to be an "image bearer" of Christ, we can all quickly become just loud white noise.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I'm like a noisy gong or clanging symbol. 1 Corinthians 13:1

Am I bearing His image of love in my everyday life? Or simply adding to the noise?

Lately, I'm increasingly aware that this faith journey we're on- its alot less about the places He'll take us and more about our relationship with Him along the way. It's less about our big moments of significance and more about our small everyday moments of bearing witness through loving well. In all that we do...