Tag Archives: My Faith

A Little Update

I completed a milestone in my pregnancy.  I am out of that blasted first trimester.  The landing into the second one has been a bit rocky.  My stomach is still unsure and I feel like I’m tightrope walking between nausea and dry heaving at night right before bed, but I got a new medication that really does help with all of that.

But now, at 13 weeks, I’m entering the land of maternity clothes and ultrasounds, baby registering and gender reveals.  And this is also the stage in my pregnancy where my daughter passed away.  Things are different this time, but there are still some things that remain the same.

I’m having more ultrasounds done this time around.  I’m being watched carefully, having more tests done.  I find myself holding my breath every time they begin a test for the heartbeat or an ultrasound.  I think it will be better when I feel the sure kicks from the baby, but until then, I just keep taking each day as it comes.

Weirdly enough, although not that weird at all, I find myself mourning my daughter more this month.  With Mother’s Day, and entering into a new, yet familiar, phase of my pregnancy, my thoughts go back to my daughter all the time.  Hope and anxiety blend and overlap every day.

I know a lot of you are praying for me, waiting in expectation for the arrival of this new little one.  I’m so beyond grateful for all of you, walking this journey with me whether in person or from far away.  I do feel your prayers.  I appreciate the emails, texts, and comments.  But I am even more grateful for the One who walks with me and goes before me.  He knows what will happen and what I need and will need.  While I am hesitant to fathom the end of the pregnancy with a healthy baby, I do believe that no matter what happens, God will never leave my side.

And I rest in that.  I take courage in that.  Even in the midst of my anxiety, that is a constant reminder.  He loves me.  He calls me worthy.  And He will never forsake me.

A Thought To Ponder

When I meet someone new, the inevitable question is “do you have kids?” which would make sense in my surrounding culture.  I’ve been married now for almost 8 years.  I’m pretty upfront with my miscarriages, and it leads to great conversation most of the time.  But at some point, usually towards the end of the conversation, I get the statement “Well, you are going to be a great mom someday,” or something to that effect.

And then I slightly cringe inside.

Now, before I go on, I want to make it clear that my reaction has nothing to do with whether or not I believe God will give me children someday.  I know that the comment is meant to encourage faith, but I think that it can send the wrong message.

Because who I am right now is pretty great.  I volunteer.  I work with a great mission organization who supports spreading the Kingdom of God within relationships.  My husband tells me I’m a pretty awesome wife.  And my friends tell me I’m a pretty great friend as well.

But even if I wasn’t those things, I am for certain one incredibly awesome thing.  I am a daughter to the Most High King.  I am a beloved creation of God.  And that gives me more value than anything I have been, will be or am today.

I don’t think that message is communicated enough.  And it goes for any life stage.  If you are in high school, you have to be thinking about college.  If you are in college, it’s all about your career.  If you are single, it’s about getting married.  If you are married, it’s about having kids.  If you have kids, then it’s all about your kids and whatever stage they should be at, or how they should be behaving.  The cycle begins again.

You don’t have to prove the worth you already have.  God has a purpose for your life right now.  The things you are going through, experiencing or even missing, all of it can be used by God through you to further the Kingdom.  And your worth isn’t wrapped up in what you do but in who you are.  You are a beloved creation, a child of the Most High King.  You are loved.  You have value.  And you are enough, right where you are.

A Safe Place

Whenever we have a thunderstorm at night, our boxer mix, Loco, sits up on our bed, stares down at us and shakes until we wake up.  He doesn’t calm down until my husband takes him into our master closet, a room with no windows.  It’s his safe place.

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We also have safe places that we want to go to when things get really stressful.  When I’m feeling stressed, I like to organize my house.  Just cleaning off my desk somehow makes me feel secure when I feel overwhelmed.

What’s funny about Loco being in the master closet is that the closet isn’t really that much safer than our bedroom.  But either way, we don’t leave him alone in his moment of fear.  Michael will lay on the floor with him in the closet for the rest of the night if he needs to.

In the same way, even when I’m looking for security in other things, God is standing beside me.  He doesn’t leave me alone in my moment of fear.  He waits with me, through every minute if he has to.

Sometimes I use that thing that I think will give me security to try to prevent storms.  I have turned to my schedules and plans to try to create outcomes that I have absolutely no control over.  Like trying to get pregnant, or trying to avoid making mistakes at work, or trying to have a perfect marriage.  I do every ritual I can think of to stop the storms from coming.  But they come anyway.

That’s when I realized that organization isn’t my safe place.  God is.  It’s not family, friends, husband, home, job or hobbies that can ultimately protect me from my pain and suffering.  Only God can fully heal my hurts.  Thankfully, he’s patient with me when I forget and long to be in control once again, using tools that will break on me every time.

But sometimes, when I finally remember that God’s love is my true safe place.  And I let him take the lead.  Something really amazing happens.  He doesn’t just walk with me in the storm, but together, we dance in the rain.

What is a safe place that you tend to go to when things get rough?

A Moment in Sadness

Picture from Pexels.com

            [Picture from Pexels.com]

I am a pretty upbeat person.  I love laughing.  I love encouraging other people along their journeys.  I love to see the brightness in life, even in some of the stormiest moments.

However, this past week was rough.  We got confirmation that I wasn’t pregnant.  We had to say goodbye to our foster puppy who was adopted.  There were just a lot of little things that added up to a pretty stinky week.

And I’ve felt guilty about it.  I like the idea that people see me as a positive light, a smile when they feel down.  I like being that person that people know will cheer them up.  To have a storm cloud above doesn’t seem to fit into this persona I’ve grown attached to, and I’ve been doing the best I can to try to shake these feelings away.

But I’m having a difficulty shaking it off.  However, shaking it off might not be the answer.

Instead, I realized yesterday that it’s not a sin to be sad.  It’s uncomfortable, for sure.  It’s a place we don’t like to stay in.  But it’s not wrong or selfish to be frustrated.  It’s what we do in the depth of that sadness that makes the difference.

I was thinking about this in one of the best thinking places, the shower.  I get the greatest epiphanies there.  I was thinking about how Jesus was sad – at Lazarus’s death, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  And then I realized something else.

No one was attracted to Jesus because he was perfect.  They were attracted to Jesus because he didn’t require anyone else to be perfect in order to be in relationship with him.  No one followed Jesus because he was perky or positive all the time.  They followed him because he spoke truth into the lives of those around him.

It’s okay for me to be sad.  It’s important to share these kinds of feeling with others, because it’s okay for others to be sad too.  It’s okay for me to be frustrated with today, because it doesn’t change the faith I have in tomorrow.

Solomon was right.  There is a time to rejoice, and there is a time to mourn.  It’s what helps me get through these low points.  I can dive deep in sadness because I know that eventually I will surface again, holding the hand of the Heavenly Father.  The One who sees me through both the shadows and the sunlight.

The Recipe for an Authentic Relationship

We live in a society where there is this odd pressure to perform, to be “on” all the time.  It’s hard with social media using edited snapshots of our lives as the effort to connect to other people.  It makes it easy to hold people at a distance, and for them to hold you at a distance as well.  It feels like the more “connected” I am, the more lonely I get.

So, I want to share the four steps I tend to use when pursuing an authentic relationship.  And you don’t have to use them, but if you are feeling frustrated in this culture in finding close relationships, perhaps this will help.

1. Be the kind of Authentic Friend that you want to have.  Typically, if you live life surrounded by passions that truly move you, you will find like-minded people in that same field.  But it’s not just about interests.  It’s also about the level or depth of authenticity I want to have.  If I want to be around non-judgmental, “here’s all the dirt” kind of friends, then I have to be that kind of person.  If I want to be accepted where I am in the journey, then I need to accept others where they are on their journey.  And make sure you are the same person wherever you go.  You never know where those interactions may lead or who is listening, because you might be missing out on those friendships you desperately want.

2. Be intentional about the relationship.  When you get to know a person long enough, and realize that you want to have that open, authentic friendship with them, tell them.  Have those awkward conversations.  In the past, I’ve ideally thought that just spending a lot of time with people, or telling them a deep secret, will communicate the intentions of a deeper friendship.  But I find that a deeper friendship truly develops when I lay all the cards on the table and say, “Look, I really like hanging out with you, and I want to have the kind of friendship with you where we share all the skeletons, secrets and struggles, and we react with encouragement, support, and acceptance.”

It doesn’t always have to be that deep though.  It could be as simple as, “I’m wondering if we could hang out at lunch every Monday and just spend time together, get to know each other more.”  I find that laying out the expectations helps the friendship more than vague games of will they, won’t they be a real friend.

3. Accept rejection for what it is.  It is hard to put everything out there only to be shut down in the end.  However, that rejection is so much more honest than dancing around the relationship until someone stops returning the other one’s calls.  Sometimes the rejection may just be bad timing.  One person may just have a lot on their plate, or is going through a transition, or just simply needs to work on internal issues before accepting that request.  Authentic relationships are vulnerable and require work from both people involved.  It’s hard to really open up when you feel swallowed by life in general.

And it’s just as important to be honest in rejecting others, too.  I’m sometimes afraid to say no because I don’t want to hurt the other person or be left out of something in the future.  However, it’s important to communicate where you stand as it is to know where they stand as well.

4. And of course, bring God into the relationship. I would put this at number one, but really, it fits into all three of the above steps.  We learn to be authentic from our God who is the author of authenticity.  We are intentional because he showed us intentionality in his pursuit of us.  He handles rejection pretty much on a daily basis, and can be there for us when we go through our own rejection.

Friendships are messy, whether on the playground, at our jobs, or in our communities.  But authentic relationships are another way God is glorified in how he works through brokenness to restore us.  And those relationships can help us continue the journey together, living life in the Kingdom.

My Journey with Jealousy

Over the past month, I’ve been on a journey with jealousy.  Now, I have dealt with jealousy throughout my entire life.  Sometimes it’s been overwhelming.  Other times, it’s been a brief, passing thought.  But last month, I got that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start to get jealous, and frankly I was tired of it.  I want it to stop.

Jealousy is the beginning of an unhealthy path for me.  It starts with wanting something someone else has, whether it’s a material thing, an experience, or an accomplishment.  It leads to a desire to invalidate that person (embracing a judgmental spirit) or try to one up them in some way (embracing a competitive spirit).  And once I’ve acted on that desire, whether in conversation with other people, or even just in my own head, I’ve altered that relationship in an unhealthy way.

I know this is not what God calls me to do.  God calls me to be in healthy relationship with others.  I realized that this judgmental or competitive spirit was only personifying the entitled pride I had lodged in my heart.  For the last couple of years, I’ve turned inward to try to fix myself.  I looked to the internet, people in my life, and books to find that magic cure for the insecurity and jealousy in my life, but the reality is that I was doing this self reflection without including God.

Then, this past week, I was led to a verse that made my whole journey with jealousy become clear.  In John 21, Jesus is telling Peter the path Peter will take, even predicting the “death by which Peter would glorify God”.  And right after that, Peter turns to see John and asks Jesus what will happen to John.  In verse 22, Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me.

If that girl on Facebook announces her pregnancy, what is that to me?  I must follow Him.  If that Instagram picture pops up of yet another perfect looking family outing, what is that to me?  I must follow Him.  If someone buys a new house, new car, if they go on expensive trips or give all their time to the homeless, what is that to me?  I must follow Him.

I decided to try something to help remind me of this bigger picture.  Whenever I see good things or bad things happening in my life or the lives of people around me, instead of trying to figure out how they connect to me (and ultimately lead me, at times, down a path of jealousy), I want to see how these thing connect to the story of God.

So, before I go on social media, or head into an interaction in person or on the phone or through text, I will intentionally stop and pray that God guide my heart and eyes to what I will witness in that interaction.  When I do find out news, good or bad, I will write down (either physically or mentally) three things I see God doing in that person’s life.  When I feel that pit-of-my-stomach jealousy coming, I will add two more things to the list.  Then, I will pray for guidance from God on any further steps I need to take (like share a word of encouragement or support to that person).  And then let that jealousy go, embracing that I am a broken person redeemed by Jesus.

This is a tough one for me.  I know I will fail at times and forget, but I want to keep trying.  I’m so thankful for the grace that God extends all of us.  And I am so thankful that each of you are walking this journey with me.

Today

Today is my due date.  Was my due date.  Today was supposed to be met with excitement, nervousness and anticipation, but instead it’s met with reminders of my grief, loss and empty womb.  Though I thought my world was going to stop today, the sun still came up, people are still on the roads going to work, time still moves on.

I have learned a lot of lessons in these last four months since I lost my daughter.  I learned that I have an amazing protector and caretaker of my heart that is my husband.  We have learned new facets of our marriage relationship when it comes to crisis.  He has given me space and support when I need it.

I learned that I am truly blessed with the friends and family surrounding me.  Sunday night, my small group surrounded us in prayer as we faced this day.  I still receive cards in the mail from family members who are praying for us.  I have friends who still check in, still want to know how I am doing and what they can do to help.  I have the support of my online community who continually encourage me with every post that I write.  I know not all women who go through things like this have such an amazing support system, which is why I continuously acknowledge them and show my gratitude.

But there are other lessons I have learned that have been a lot harder to swallow.

I learned to let go in my grief.  One of my first reactions when I lost my daughter was to hold on to everything else around me very tightly. I was so scared of losing anything else.  It’s because I was faced with the fact that everything on this earth is temporary, and we aren’t guaranteed any of it, even motherhood.  But I realized that holding on tightly to temporal things was like trying to hold sand in my hands, eventually it will fall through my fingers.  Instead of trying to hold on to everything in my life like a hoarder, I needed to be okay with letting it all go and being grateful for what is given to me in the moment.

I learned to become more grateful for the moments in my life.  When I had my first miscarriage in 2013, I promised myself that if I got pregnant again, I would appreciate every moment of that pregnancy because I may wake up one day and not be pregnant anymore.  Little did I know that it would come true.  However, I appreciated every day that I was pregnant, every moment of morning sickness, every little kick, every feeling of uncomfortable growth.  When I had to give her back to God, I still grieved my loss, but I appreciated all those moments, and so my grief is interwoven with hope and peace.

I also learned that though this pregnancy came to an end, my purpose did not.  Though I desire motherhood, I desire to glorify God more.  I believe my ultimate purpose on this earth is to glorify God in my high points and especially my low points.  I may not understand all the whys that life will bring me, but what I do understand is that this world has been hurting long before I did, and understanding that pain on such a personal level has given me a compassion and a longing to reach out to those who don’t know this peace, so that one day they may feel the comfort for themselves.  I have discovered that I don’t need to go across oceans or to locations of extreme poverty to carry out this purpose (although I know some are called to do so, and I support their calling as well).  God has called me to speak his truth into the hearts of the people around me, in my own backyard.  I believe God put me in this place, with these specific experiences, so that I may reach out with compassion, kindness, understanding and truth.  Jesus lived in the moment, ever present in his relationship with God and others, and I hope to do the same in my own life.

Through all of this, God has never forsaken me.  My life didn’t stop on November 26th, and it doesn’t stop today.  It continues and grows stronger with new hope.  Someday, I hope to become a mother.  I long for the day I cradle my own child in my arms.  But my life is not on hold until then.  I still have work to do every day, a life purpose to carry out.  No matter what happens in my life, that purpose will not change.  One day, I will meet my sweet little girl in heaven, but until then, I am going to let go in my grief and hold on to my gratitude in the moment, sharing that truth of God’s comfort and peace to those around me every day.

The Journey of Worth

Having a miscarriage evokes a lot of feelings.  Grief.  Loss.  Pain, both emotional and physical.  Frustration.  Confusion.  There are a lot of lessons I’ve learned as well, and I’m so grateful and encouraged by all the connections I’ve made on this path.

I feel like God prepared me a lot for this season in my life. especially in the past seven years, I have been on a journey of realizing my own worth.  Realizing the truth that seems to get lost somewhere in our living life.

It stems from the statement that I’ve said and others have said to me, “God has a plan for you beyond your imagination.”  It’s a statement of encouragement, a hope that someday, as I’m holding my own child in my arms, I will look back on this time in my life with gratitude, knowing that my faith led me to motherhood.  That I didn’t give up because God had that plan for me.

This statement means something else to me, too.  I believe it’s a challenge for my faith.  God does have an amazing plan for me, but that plan may not include having children of my own, and if that’s the case, would I still follow that plan or would I deny Christ?

Now, I fully intend on continuing to build our family.  I want to have children of my own.  I want to know my daughters or sons on this earth.  I want to encourage them on their own paths to having a relationship with God.  I want to experience the happiness and heartache of motherhood.  Most definitely.

But I also know that my relationship with God is more important than my chance to be a mother, not that the two are isolated from each other.  I can be a mother and have a relationship with God, but if it came down to choosing between the two, then I want to choose Him.  I want to honor God in every stage of my life and every step of my journey, not just when good things happen.  I want to depend on Him when things aren’t going my way and when they are.  I want to find my worth in Him.

All throughout our life, we are measured and compared.  We are judged by how we look, what we accomplish, how we behave, and what we manage to collect (whether material or relationships).  Somehow it is translated that these things used to judge us are the same things that give us worth.  It happens in our communities and even in our church families.  We may put a “godly spin” on it, but it still comes out the same.  We have to earn our worth by being involved, by knowing the right words, by acting the right way.

But we don’t earn our worth.  We don’t add to it or subtract from it.  We are given our worth at the moment our soul is formed.  God gives us that worth, and its value is so great that he sacrificed His only son so that we may have the opportunity to be in a relationship with Him.

That’s why I continue to speak my story, the story that God has placed on my heart.  Once I realized how much I was worth to Him, how much He longs to be in a relationship with me – a careless, prideful, perfectionist sinner, my life changed.  And I knew that I had to tell others.  Others who think that they are worthless or that feel like they don’t fit into the Christian community.  Others who have walked the halls of the church building, barely putting one foot in front of the other from the pain in their lives.  There is a hope in Christ that can heal, that can bring joy to your despair.

I don’t always live with the knowledge of my worth.  I get scared, and I let fear lead me instead of God.  I cling a little too closely (okay, a lot too closely) to the comforts of my boxed-in life, knowing that God never meant for me to live in such isolation.  I don’t always run to God when I’m seeking answers or peace.  I have dark days filled with the grief of loss and the longing for my daughter.  I’m a flawed human being, which makes me that much more in awe of God’s view of my soul and His desire to be in my life.

It’s why I take each day as it comes.  It’s why I have hope for my future.  It’s the same story for you.  We can live without fear but know that God wants to do amazing things with our lives so we can live it in an abundance of joy, strength, and peace.  It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’ve done.  It doesn’t matter what labels you have received or what choices you have made.  It doesn’t matter your failures or your successes.  God loves you, and He longs to be in a relationship with you, to walk with you in your journey through this life.  And that’s all that truly matters, and to me, it’s definitely worth it.

Legacy

I’ve been getting a lot of wonderful feedback from my posts.  To say that it’s overwhelming, well, it would be an understatement.  I don’t know how to take all these compliments gracefully in the moment.  I never really know what to say.

It’s not the fact that I’m at a loss for words, but more so that I have too many words to say in that moment.  So, I thought I would take a minute to say those words (and perhaps take the easy way out the next time someone says something to me, and just refer them to this post).

The entire reason that I am able to say the things that I say, to react to my circumstances as gracefully as I can, to show the perspective of life that I have, is because of the legacy that has been given to me by God through the men and women in my life.

It starts, of course, with my parents.  I remember all throughout my childhood, around bedtime, I would see my dad pouring over his Bible with the black leather cover.  I remember the conversations I would have with my mom about life, and how God always seemed to be in the center of each of those conversations.  My dad taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and to build those beliefs on a foundation of knowledge and understanding in God.  My mom taught me to always look for the God connection in my relationships with other people, and know that I’m representing Christ in my words and actions.  My parents gave up their free time to support the church and do mission work in India, Panama, and for several years in Jamaica.  They taught me the importance of spreading the gospel.

There’s my extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents who have God as the center of their lives.  Their example has inspired me to always keep God in the forefront of my life and to believe in the power of prayer.

Then, there was the first church family that I can remember – Hickory Knoll Church of Christ.  I still to this day consider those people as part of my family.  I learned from them about love and acceptance, trust and obedience.  I fell in love with hymns in that church.  I learned about the Bible, memorizing the books and verses.  When I went back for a visit on our first anniversary, it felt like I had never left.  I am so proud of that church and everything it signifies in its community.  They truly taught me what it means to be part of a church family.

Of course, there were other churches that helped me along my spiritual path – Macland Road, Burnt Hickory, Downtown, Highway.  Of course, when Michael and I moved here and we became a part of Greenville Oaks.  That’s when I received a lot more clarity on my life as it relates to the Kingdom.  I learned that I was placing my value and security in things that are temporary, and started on a path to begin placing my value and security in the permanence of God.  It affects every part of my life – how I am as a wife, daughter, friend, woman, blogger, and Christian.

So, when you read the words on my blog, know that they are mere echoes of the legacy of people throughout my life that have brought me to this point.  It doesn’t feel right to take the credit for what all these others have done for me.  So, I just want to say thank you.  Without your love, acceptance and guidance, I would not be where I am.  I know that God has worked through each one of you to help me along this journey.  I praise and thank God every time I think of you.  You are all such incredible blessings to me.

Letting Go

I love my husband. You guys don’t even know half of the amazing things this man has done for me through the course of our courtship and marriage, but especially in the last two months. We have become so much closer over the last year than we ever had before, and I’m so grateful for that.

The reason I’m grateful for it is because God is the one that has given this man and this relationship to me. I don’t deserve it on my own. Before Michael, I made a lot of bad decisions in the romantic area of my life. I was manipulative. I used and was used by guys. I took pride in not crossing a particular physical boundary, but my behavior still led me to do things that didn’t honor God, myself or my future husband. I had to hit rock bottom to finally pry the fingers off my dating life and give it over to God. God took it and gave me Michael. I am eternally grateful for that.

People are sometimes shocked to know who I was before Michael. It would be easy to hide that part of me away, especially since we moved to a place where no one knew us after we got married. Our marriage would still be a great story, but it would be missing parts of the vibrant colors of a powerful God working through flawed humans to create something beautiful. Telling the whole story also allows others who may not have made the best choices in their own life know that there is redemption and hope for them as well.

Sometimes we communicate a different road to redemption and hope. We think if we follow all the rules, then we will have strong marriages and successful families. If we don’t have these things, then it must be something that we have done, and we are being punished for it. Also, if we do mess up, we try to overcompensate, hoping that we do enough right things to avoid punishment for our wrongs. What are we communicating to the rest of the world? The worldly success of our life does not dictate our holiness. And doing everything “right” does not control the path of our journey.

We need to be responsible with our choices, words and actions. But responsibility and control are two separate things, and I think that’s where we get caught up. My miscarriages are not punishments. They are reminders that I am not in control. They are opportunities for me to lean on a God who is in control, a God who loves me and grieves with me.

It is my responsibility to be obedient to God. It is my responsibility to honor my marriage and to take care of the things given to me on this earth. But that doesn’t mean I have any control over the things in my care. It’s such a scary thought to know that I don’t have control. But that is where trust comes in. Trust that God has got this. He knows what is best for me, and His plan is greater than anything I could imagine.

God has a plan for my life, a plan that is already in motion. I see the places where he has taken my flawed, selfish messes and turned them into something wonderful. Because of this, I know that there are some pretty amazing things in store for me and for my family. So, I’m giving my desires for my family up to God, along with the messes and frustrations and failures. And I can’t wait to see the beautiful masterpiece God will unfold.