Friday, November 16, 2012

November 2012 - His purposes

Disclaimer: for some people, in their current stage of grief, this topic will rub you the wrong way. It will feel wrong, mean, too painful; the enemy - the one who steals, kills, and destroys - the one who delights in your pain - he wants you to move further from God by reading this. 

However, this is truth. The gals who met last night had a great conversation about this topic, but I will point out that their losses, while still painful, are a little ways back. Time doesn't heal things. God heals things. But with God working in our lives, the passage of time brings increased comfort.

On to the post!  This is pulled from My Utmost for His Highest, November 10. I will copy it below:

Fellowship in the Gospel

After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy “world within the world,” and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being “frost-bitten.”

We talked about how it is ok to call out to God and share how we're feeling - just like the Psalmists did in the Bible, but that our attitude should not be one of expecting God to do things our way. At the end of our sadness, anger, and disappointment, we have to land on the truth that God is good, regardless of the bad in life. When we catch a glimpse of how short our lives are, and how long we will have in eternity, free from pain, we realize that however God chooses to use our lives for His purpose and glory is just fine. Pretty incredible that He would choose to use us at all!  

This is not meant to minimize pain or loss or say that what you're feeling is irrelevant. Rather, there comes a place in our journey when we are ready to hear that God is working His purposes in the world and His purpose in our lives, and that we can trust Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

September 2012

This month we read the blog post below, and then talked about each of our own struggles and questions we ask ourselves. We brainstormed ways to change our own questions to reflect faith, hope and love. I highly recommend this activity for everyone! It applies to all circumstances, most certainly including infertility or the loss of a baby.

Changing the Question

I met with a friend the other day. We have an interesting history that dates back to college, which was somehow over ten years ago. (How is that possible? Will I feel like a bonafide adult any time soon?)

She told me about a training she had a long time ago that dealt with the questions we ask ourselves. She said we all ask ourselves questions, and that our minds try to find answers to every one of those questions. But when we ask bad questions, or questions that only have negative answers, we are wearing ourselves out, depleting our energy and stamina, and causing stress.

There's a process for modifying/transforming our questions. It includes evaluating how the questions make you feel in your mind, body, and soul.  I'm giving it a try....

Original question
"What is wrong with you?"  (Asked of me, by me, about myself, accompanied by anger or frustration or disappointment or despair.)

When I ask myself this question I feel upset, feel like a failure, think I'll never change. My body feels sluggish, tired, tense, heavy. My soul feels guilty, dirty, ashamed, foolish.

The first transformation is to include faith in the question and make the question more neutral.  I'm not really sure how to do this, but here's an attempt: "How is God changing your life, showing His strength in your weaknesses?"

This question says that I believe God is here, is part of my life, and isn't just ignoring me as I repeatedly fail. I still feel sad, discouraged, and tired. Still somewhat guilty, but not ashamed or dirty.  Those feelings are not positive, but they are less severely negative. Step in the right direction....

The second transformation is to include hope in the question. "How is God changing my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"  The hope in this version of the question is found in the every day part. The idea that today is a bit better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a bit better than today. I'm not regressing, and I'm not stuck in this icky heart place. I'm moving in the right direction whether I can discern it or not.  Interesting to me that in this transformation I switched from the external "you" or "your life" to the personalized "me" or "my life."  Like I'm less accusatory and feel safe enough to acknowledge that it's me we're talking about here and not some dumb slacker. (Does that even make sense? Hmmm....)

This question says that I'm not stuck. Change is not just possible but is reality. My reality. I actually am moving in the right direction. All of this hard work is not wasted. I feel optimistic, encouraged, empowered, and on target because I'm moving closer to the goal of Christians - glorifying God. It's not about me or my actions, but about God and revealing Him to others as I bring Him glory through my life. 

The third transformation is to include love in the question. (  "How is God actively showing me love as He changes my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"

This question says I have value; I am loved by the King. Loved not just enough, but so much that He changes me and gives me what I need every moment of every day. I feel treasured and protected. My body wants to sit up straighter, pay attention, look straight ahead, and confidently take the next step. My soul feels at peace, not lacking in anything.

Once you have gone through these question transformations, you're supposed to ask yourself the final version of the question as you lay down and fall asleep. In time your brain will come up with an answer, and it will be a life-giving answer instead of a life-draining answer.

Let's give this a shot :)

August 2012

Pam Ramsey shared with us this month - a blessing as always! Below are some of the things she mentioned.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts usin all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

There is a purpose in pain. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything - a time to mourn, and a time to choose thankfulness.  We have a turn to comfort others because of our pain.  If we allow the grief to continue longer than we should, it will paralyze us and become a stumbling block. 
**We are not suggesting anyone in particular is allowing grief to continue longer than it should, just reminding ourselves that while God is ultimately for our healing, the Enemy would love to keep us in one stage longer than is best for us. 

Linda Dillow wrote a book called Calm My Anxious Heart. In it she describes a teacup theology. The basic idea is that God gives you a portion of your life each day - just the right amount, containing just the right blend of experiences, knowing what is best. While we may not like everything placed into or allowed to be in our cup each day or each season, when we trust God we can turn to Him for comfort.  Jesus asked for His cup to be taken from Him, but God said no. So Jesus accepted it. We would be void of hope if He had NOT accepted it!

In our cups there are many roles and many aspects of our lives. We as women are made to be nurturers, made to be relational. We may have desires, even God given desires, that aren't in our current role. Will we accept that or kick and scream? Sometimes God fulfills those desires or roles in ways that don't seem obvious or expected or even usual or normal.

In relationships, we have the ministry of presence - just being with others and giving them space to process life and learn about God and others.  In our abilities, we need to focus on what God has given NOW, remembering that we cannot redo today. There are many good things that may not be for us to do in the current season.  In our physical being, we have to realize that most of how we are physically is unchangeable. We need to accept how God made us and have confidence in God instead of in our bodies.  Finally, in our circumstances, it is what it is! Our choice is in how to respond and react. Sometimes we expect ourselves and others to get to a better place more quickly than is reasonable or realistic.

We can't bring God glory if we're focusing on what ISN'T what we want. What will we choose to do when we start to struggle with something? Lean on God or go down the bad spiral? Would we truly be happy or content if we had what we're unhappy about today? And honest reflection reveals the answer...probably not.

Philippians 4:11
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Matthew 10 tells us that Jesus came not to bring peace, but a sword. If you love __________ more than Him, the Bible says you're not worthy of Him. Are we more consumed with or passionate about anything besides Jesus? If so, we are out of balance. Perhaps we need to confess that we've allowed other things to supersede our priority of God in our lives.

Leslie Weatherhead said that the opposite of joy is not sorrow; it is unbelief.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book Lies Women Believe, said "God's will is what we'd choose if we knew what God knows."  Often, God's grace and mercy come in a different package than what we'd expect.  Luke 22:42 reminds us of the choice Jesus made "Not my will, but Yours be done."

(DeMoss) "God lives in a place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address."  "I've learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can't worship without giving thanks. It just isn't possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others."

We can minister to others when we choose to bless the Lord as we accept and praise Him in ALL things. (Notice this says IN all things, not necessarily FOR all things...there is a big difference!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 2012 - God is bigger than...bedtime routine?

Thanks to a caring and wise friend who gently shares truth with me, I am contemplating applying one of the basic things a Christian should do on a regular basis. Are you ready for it? I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I couldn't reply to her with "yes, you're right, and I'm already doing that."


I need to forgive.  It helps me, frees me, opens up communication between the Lord and me, not to mention making it millions of times more likely communication will open up between the other person and me.

Since yesterday's post I've really been thinking about what I can do differently in how I react to things that I am fully convinced I am right about. I'm sure that sounded prideful; I didn't mean for it to be prideful.  One CONSTANT conflict at our house is bedtime routine for the kids. We've agreed (many times) on the window of time they should be in bed, and we've discussed (many times) the parts of bedtime that have to occur before they are in bed, including about how long each of those components last.  However, when my husband is involved, the kids consistently go to bed late. And I feel like I suffer the brunt of the consequences that night as the bad guy, as well as the next day, as they generally don't sleep longer if they go to bed later. No, they are just cranky, whiny, dramatic, and less obedient than usual.

The 400 tactics I've employed thus far to remedy this situation have failed miserably.

Then tonight I had this revelation.

God is bigger than bedtime routine.

Thanks again to the book Kisses From Katie.  Tonight I read her take on how God used ordinary people and did amazing things. And do we think He no longer does those things? If we ask Him to do big things, shouldn't we expect big things, even if they look way different than what we expected?

I know, I know. She's talking about a huge ministry in Uganda and being mom to 13+ children (each time I write about the book the number will go up, as I keep reading about more she adopts!!), and I'm talking about bedtime routine. Cut me some slack, ok? We're starting small and working our way up....

So the revelation was that God can multiply the minutes my children are sleeping. He can make them wake up rested and ready for the day. He can do that regardless of what time they go to bed and regardless of how much or how little my husband cooperates in the bedtime routine process.

Wouldn't it be better if I drop the expectations, anger, hurt, bitterness, and cold shoulder and instead respect him as leader of this home? Even if I totally don't agree with him?  Even if it feels there's a much larger principle at stake here that is being completely overlooked?  Yes. Yes it would be better.

After all, my husband cannot ensure a quality night's sleep for the kids. Neither can I. Neither can the most brilliantly crafted bedtime routine or meal plan or activity plan. (Not that I really have the latter two items...just carrying this idea a bit further!)

I've been doing one right thing while simultaneously doing a wrong thing. At best they cancel each other. And at worst I'm making it all but impossible to make any progress.

So I'm going to do my best to let go of bedtime routine. Let go of my opinions, ideas, researched facts, proven techniques, etc., and let my husband be the leader. It's pretty dumb to keep getting so upset about something. I can't change him...and I've known that for a long time...I can only change myself, and I can change how I react. That requires a shift in focus. My husband is no longer thwarting my plans. God can deal with him if he is wrong. And God can deal with me if I am wrong. Ok, so God can KEEP dealing with me as I KEEP being wrong.   :)

Did that make sense? I hope so. And I hope to apply this idea to a bunch more pressure-filled areas of marriage.

God is bigger than bedtime routine.
God is bigger than planning ahead.
God is bigger than having regular time as a couple.
God is bigger than generational curses/hardships/trials.
God is bigger than doctors and diagnoses and ailments.
God is bigger than clutter.
God is bigger than the boogie man, He's bigger than Godzilla or the monster on TV...and He's watching out for you and me. (Thank you VeggieTales)

I can act and react with love and respect, trusting God with any necessary heart change. It's not my job to point out principles or truths or nearsightedness.  At least not right now. Not until I can do it while still trusting that God is the only one in the business of heart change.

It's not my job.  I could write an entire post on that idea alone. And maybe one day I will.


On the topic of forgiveness - even if we are ok with God, we need to forgive people who were hurtful, insensitive, or neglectful during and after our losses. Forgiving doesn't say that you are ok with the offense, nor does it imply that you are at peace with your loss. 

When we forgive another person, we can pray for them authentically. God can heal in an instant what we think could never be healed.

April 2012 - A Little Mad and a Lot Confused

The following devotional was the basis of our conversation at the April gathering. 

Proverbs 31 Ministries
Lysa TerKeurst
April 5, 2012
God, I’m a Little Mad and a Lot Confused
Lysa TerKeurst
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
When God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers it can be hard. Sometimes, down right awful.
One minute I’m determined to trust God.
In the next, I feel myself slipping. The “why” questions tumble in so hard. My heart hurts. My eyes leak. And in those raw moments I just feel a little mad and a lot confused.
Ever been there?
I don’t want to oversimplify what to do in these times. I know from prayer requests I’ve received over the years many of us are facing really tough issues. Situations where the answers aren’t easy or clear cut.
But I have discovered a few things that help me when God seems silent …
* Press in to God when you want to pull away.
When I really want to hear from God but He seems silent, I sometimes find I want to disengage from my normal spiritual activities. Skip church. Put my Bible on my shelf. And let more and more time lapse between prayers.
But the Bible says we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart. Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). All my heart includes the parts that are broken. Bring it all to God.
He can handle your honesty and will respond. But we have to position ourselves to go where truth is. Go to church. Listen to praise music. Read verses. Memorize verses. And keep talking to God.
* Praise God out loud when you want to get lost in complaints.
In the midst of what you’re facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don’t mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things still in the midst. A child’s laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next.
Psalm 40:3 reminds me God will give me a new song when I make praise the habit of my heart and mouth. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (NIV).
* Put yourself in the company of truth.
That friend that speaks truth? Listen to her. Stay connected to her. Let her speak truth into your life even when you’re tired of hearing it. Stand in the shadow of her faith when you feel your own faith is weak. Let her lead you back to God time and time again.
Proverbs 12:26, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor …” (ESV).
It’s okay to feel a little mad and a lot confused. Our God is big enough to handle our honest feelings. But don’t let your feelings lead you away from God or away from His truth. Press into Him. Praise Him. And put yourself in the company of truth.
As you stay with God in these ways, you will become ready to receive His answer when it comes.
Dear Lord, thank You for hearing every ‘why’ my heart sends up to You. Forgive me when I retreat from You and Your Word. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

March 2012 - Unmet Longings

When God says yes, can we receive it? Or do we fear we'll lose it? Don't listen to the enemy's lies.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
Lysa TerKeurst
March 1, 2012
Unmet Longings
Lysa TerKeurst
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached with each thought of it? It seems life would be so much better if you had that.
There would be more happiness.
More contentment.
More fulfillment.
More satisfaction.
More peace.
We can envision ourself with this thing, this person, this opportunity. And all things are better. So, why doesn’t God give us this longing of our heart?
Because He wants us to willingly release it to Him.
Not the answer we want. Why would God let the aching desire linger and not make things happen? He could. He’s certainly able. But when He doesn’t it seems unfair. Not good. Confusing.
It’s easy to get down when we’re constantly let down.
We hope this thing will happen… we’ll meet this right person… we’ll get this job… we’ll finally be healed… we’ll get that chance… we’ll see that family member turn their life around. Time and again it doesn’t happen. That’s when it’s easy to slip.
We can so easily slip into feeling a little distant from God because we feel hurt by God.
That’s what happened when the man I thought I was going to marry told me he met someone else. That’s what happened when I didn’t get the job I was so certain was going to be the answer to all my financial problems. That’s what happened when my son didn’t get into the charter school we were so certain would have been perfect for him.
But, in each of these things, I eventually had to make a choice. I could either become consumed with my unmet longing or comforted by trusting God.
As an offering of trust, we must give up that which could so easily bring us down.
Not give up as in discouraged surrender. But give up as in placing this desire in the hand of God and saying, “Either way, I will see Your answer as the good answer and walk in trust.”
Remember the Scriptures promise, He rewards those who honestly seek Him: “And without faith is it impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”(Hebrews 11:6 NIV)
Sometimes I get so consumed with seeking my unmet longings, I don’t earnestly seek Him. But then I miss out on His reward. And His reward is the only thing that will fill the void in my heart.
Yes, I still struggle with unmet desires.
But not as much today as I did yesterday.
And that is good. Not easy. But good.
Dear Lord, I sacrifice chasing this so I might more fully and with more focus chase You. I release this grip of desire. I praise You for who You are, what only You can bring, and how You will fill whatever gap this release might leave. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


God is outside of time. That means He sees past, present, and future all at the same time. He sees NOW how pain and trials and suffering of the past and present WILL work out - He sees them as already worked out. It's not like He's in heaven thinking through options until He creates a good one for us. He already KNOWS. We just continue to walk in faith and we will walk into the existing answers to our current problems and trials.

Friday, March 9, 2012

February 2012

This month we again read a post from the blog, posted Jan 19, 2012.


a place for your soul to breathe
the kind of faith that can change your life
January 19, 2012
“If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves.”
-Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

I stare out the morning window, the outline of my tired head stares back at me, wispy hair out of place, wild. The sun isn’t up yet, only the faintest, faded line of pink lingers over the trees out back. This slow rising happens every morning, I think to myself. As I wrap my hands around my warm cup, I can’t help but rush ahead into the day. Even though the house is quiet, I’m running on the inside as if things are in full swing. My feet haven’t moved but my soul is rumbling.

Mercifully, the Lord whispers His presence with me and I’m pulled back to this minute. I consider how God called the light day and the dark night, how He spoke the days into being just one at a time. He still does it that way, evening and morning and evening again. And the days roll into one another in a watercolor line of elation and planning and laughter and frustration. Sometimes it feels like my life is a gray arrow right through the center, pushing ahead to get on with the next thing, desperately wishing I could see far off ahead.
It isn’t usually the big things that cause the most trouble and doubt. With the big things, it is so obvious I’m out of control – the diagnosis, the job insecurity, the safety and well-being of my family. Instead it’s those everyday things that are covered with my fingerprints. I try to get things I already have, things like acceptance, worth, security, love. Maybe everything we do is to get one of those needs met. Finish the list – I am important. Apologize for my messy house when the neighbor comes over – I need your acceptance. Don’t let them see my weakness – I need your approval.

We are terrified of the mystery. We want our manager hats to remain firmly on our heads, skirts smoothed, shoes shined, plans lined up in neat rows. At the least, the suggestion that we are not in control is laughable. At the worst, it is offensive. I have a degree, you know.
And so I stand there next to the window, pink sky lighting up with each moment, and consider the invisible place in me where my Spirit and God’s mingle together. I used to think that a mature faith would bring with it clear pictures, thought that as I walked with God I would see life big, wide, and spacious. But that is not what is happening, and if you expect that, it can feel like perhaps your faith is shrinking. Because instead of being lifted up on a cloud to see the big picture, instead of tilting back my head and laughing at those silly things I used to worry about, I am shrinking down into a small place, a place where I can barely see two feet in front of me, much less into next week.

Everything in me wants to fight the unveiling of the anxieties that threaten to overwhelm, push them back from showing up in my day. Christians aren’t supposed to be anxious, right?  I want to ignore the smoky unknown; it is counter-intuitive to let the anxieties rise up to the surface.
But we must let them rise up, so that we can release them into His hands. Speak the fear out loud, so that He can give words of truth. Don’t run away from those places where it seems your faith is small. Run into them, look around, be honest about how it feels as you stand there. And know we have a God who can handle it.
I put my cup on the table, breathe in deep the air of a new day, pray without words to a God who knows. I become aware of His acceptance of me, and not because I finished everything on my list. Truth can be a slow rising, making no difference at first. But as each moment weaves itself into the next, as we believe Him in the great right now, His truth becomes a strand woven into the fabric of our minutes. This moment living is sweet. This moment living reminds me of who is in control and who is not. This smallness is to be celebrated, not despised. I dare not trust myself with the next step. A mature faith says I am desperately in need of a source outside of myself. I always have been, but now I know it.

January 2012

This month we read a blog post from, posted Dec 13, 2011.

"'One of the most important lessons I have learned over the past few years is how important it is to have time and space for being with what's real in my life - to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed my tears, sit with the questions, feel my anger, attend to my loneliness.'"  Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms

"I may know the importance of holding the truth of my life in my hands, of looking at it from all angles, of seeing what is. But there is a distinct difference between knowing the importance of being with what's real and actually being brave enough to resist reaching for what I wish to be. It takes courage to sit with the reality of the questions, the desires, the sorrows and the joys and to simply let them exist on the surface in the presence of God. It takes time, a willingness to see, and the discipline to rest in the midst of it.

That's what we practice here on Tuesdays. We take this day, whatever it holds, and look for the gifts. sometimes it's easy and quick, the gifts bursting from every common meal and conversation. Other times, the gifts seem to be hiding under deep piles of dust and broken things. But it has been my experience during this practice that we generally find what we're looking for. Might you join us in looking for the gifts today?"


After reading the above post, we talked about several things:
1. what is your reality?
2. what do you want it to be?
3. fully experience the difference between #s 1 and 2, then decide what to do - how to reconcile them in your mind.

When you can't make your goal happen - when it's largely out of your control, focus on the truth of today and how to experience abundant life right now.


We also read an excerpt from the Zondervan Daily Inspiration from Dec 14, 2011.

"...I did learn some valuable lessons about unanswered prayers...  First of all, I came to the humble conclusion that our prayers are often misguided simply because we're not omniscient. I'll be the first to admit that I've drawn some prayer circles around the wrong things for the wrong reasons, and God didn't answer those prayers the way I wanted Him to!  If we were absolutely honest, we would have to admit that most of our prayers have as their main objective personal comfort rather than God's glory. If God answered those selfish prayers, they would actually short-circuit the purposes of God in our lives. We would fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to shape in us....  I also learned that we shouldn't seek answers as much as we should seek God. We get overanxious. We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God's timing. But here's an important reminder: If you seek answers you won't find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you...."  (The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, by Mark Batterson)


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nov/Dec 2011

We had an unusual couple of meetings in November and December.  Nobody came!  We heard from several gals each month who had wanted to come but had sickness in their houses or had prior commitments.  We're thankful for email, which allowed us to keep in touch with everyone.  We miss you guys!