Monday, March 25, 2019

[insert perfect title here]

I've been avoiding reading the familiar story of Hannah and her struggle to have children. Just seems cliche. "You're having trouble having children, yea you should read about Hannah." ...maybe I'm just stubborn.  Well, I caved. Call it weakness or call it needing a break from Leviticus. Either way. I ended up here.

And guys.
This story.
Go read it.
1 Samuel 1-2.
Read it for the first time.
Read it for the 100th time.
Read it in a different translation.
Read it.

There's so many things I want to highlight.
It's good.
I've never felt more understood.
Such strength.

1) Elkanah had two wives. Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children. Hannah did not.

When you have difficulty getting pregnant you often have trouble emotionally being around children. And people with children. And conversations about children. And pregnancy announcements. Etc. You name it. You feel guilty that you feel this way. And deep down you are happy for people. And deep down you want to be openly happy for them and around them. But it is often just hard. I hear it time and again in the support groups I'm in. It is probably one of the biggest struggles. Thankfully the Father has really been my strength here that I have few hard days like this.

But Hannah. And Peninnah. Not only is Hannah around this one who has children while she doesn't. But this woman is the other wife. Can you imagine? How deeply that must pain Hannah. Hannah understood.

2) But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children.

Ladies in my support group constantly discuss experiences they have with people in their lives not understanding their situation and being insensitive. I haven't experienced this too much..I attribute it to the idea that people just don't know what they don't know, so you have to tell them. You can't expect them to understand if you don't make them aware. And so I try to talk pretty openly about things so people know and understand. As a result, I haven't experienced insensitivity..and if I have I'm convinced it's simply a runoff of something else in their own life that they are walking through themselves.

But Hannah. She was the prime example of experienced insensitivity. Peninnah taunted her. And not only that...yea go ahead and throw in, "God hasn't given you children." I'm sure Hannah was already wondering, "Why God? When? Ever?" I can't even imagine.

3) This went on year after year. Everytime she want to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted.

Year. After year.
And in the sanctuary of God?
Honestly, it just seems unfair and cruel.

4) Hannah was reduced to tears. Hannah entered the sanctuary. Crushed in soul she prayed to God and cried and cried inconsolably.

It's hard. And it's okay to be hard.

5)  Oh God. If You'll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you'll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I'll give him completely, unreservedly to You. I'll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
I've been pouring out my heart. It's because I'm so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I've stayed here so long.

I...kind of think Hannah is crazy here. Not the pain and heartache..that part makes sense to me..but the offering of her son that she had asked for. I mean, keep reading. You'll see what I mean.

6) Hannah gets pregnant like right away after Eli essentially blesses her (HOLY AWESOME!) And Hannah weans her son Samuel and brings him back to the sanctuary where he will stay as she and Elkanah go back home. And it says the child was so young to be sent off.

What?! You finally have your son and now he's gone? I mean, yea, you're keeping your promise. But that was quite a bold promise. And Hannah says "I prayed for this child and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He's dedicated to God for life." Then and there they worshiped God....I...don't know if I could do that.

And Elkanah and Hannah would make the annual trip to the sanctuary and see Samuel. Annual. Annually seeing her son that she so longed for. Hannah. You inspire me.

And just when you don't understand where this story is going. God steps in in His faithfulness. Again. In his faithfulness and love.

7) And Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah.
"God give you children to replace this child you have dedicated to God."
God was most especially kind to Hannah. She had three more some and two daughters.

5 more children?! No children for years and years. And now 5 more. 6 total.

I am just so struck by His faithfulness.
By His love.
By restoration of all those years.
By Hannah's strength.
Yes strength even in tears and pain.
He sees.
He knows.
He understands.
He loves.
And He is good.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Here We Go

This is more for me than it is for you. It helps to talk about it.
To process it.
So if you're not interested that's okay.
If you are, then I'm happy to have you along for the ride.

Today we received our packages of meds for our first (and I'm so hoping only) IVF cycle.

I'm so scared.
I don't know how to express to you how much I'm not exaggerating.
This is the most scared I've ever been.

But I can't back out now.
These meds alone cost almost $6000.
And I don't waste money.
So we're in whether we like it or not.

It's hard not to sit and count how many needles they sent. These packages came with a total of 34 injections ready to pierce poke and prod. I don't mind a quick shot a the doctor's office. I wish these were that.

I'm also scared it won't work.
Scared I won't have enough eggs.
Scared we will go through all this and not even end up with an embryo to transfer.

Someone said recently (actually two someones) they were praying for a miracle for us.
For lots of eggs.
For a healthy embryo.
If you're reading this please join that prayer.
I know He can.
Because I know He loves us.
But I also know He loves us even if a miracle doesn't come in that way.
And for some reason that makes it hard for me to process.

So please just be with us.
Pray with us.
And right now, in the next two to three weeks I mainly need courage and hope.

I've been thinking a lot about the story of when the leaders go to scout out the land. Caleb and Joshua are a part of that group.

Numbers 13-14

God spoke to Moses: "Send out men to scout out the country of Canaan that I am giving to the People of Israel."

... When Moses sent them off to scout out Canaan, he said "Go up through the Negev And then into the hill country. Look the land over, see what it is like. Assess the people: Are they strong or weak? Are there few or many? Observe the land: Is it pleasant or harsh? Describe the towns where they live: Are they open camps or fortified with walls? And the soil: Is it fertile or barren? Are there forests? And try to bring back a sample of the produce that grows there-- this is the season for the first ripe grapes."

...When they arrived at the Eschol Valley they cut off a branch with a single cluster of grapes-- it took two men to carry it-- slung on a pole. They also picked some pomegranates and figs.

"We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well-fortified. Worse yet we saw descendants of the giant Anak..."

Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, "Let's go up and take the land-- now. We can do it." But the others said, "We can't attack those people; they're way stronger than we are." They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, "We scouted out the land from one end to the other-- it's a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants. Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers."

Joshua said, "The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land-- very good indeed. If God is pleased with us he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he'll give it to us. Just don't repel against God! And don't be afraid of those people. Why, we'll have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Don't be afraid of them!"

They were asked to scout out the land that He already planned on giving them. He asked them to assess what they saw. Not in order to decide whether or not to enter the land, but...I don't know I guess to be aware? And at the very least to see the fruit there. I mean, those grapes! Assess the land to determine reason to enter it. Not to determine reason to not enter it. "Let's go up and take the land now. We can do it!" Caleb and Joshua saw both the scary and the good and they still said yes. The fruit was worth conquering what needed conquered in the process of possessing what was already given to them.

And was it not to Joshua that Moses said, "Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people...God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; He won't leave you. Don't be intimadated. Don't worry."

Please be with us as we enter our land of parenthood. Love you all.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I AM brave

You may read this and think this isn't a big deal. ...but it is. Trust me. This is no small victory.

I have dealt with deep fear in various areas of my life, for as long as I can remember. There are too many examples to even begin to tell you. Fears that make living inconvenient and even annoying. Fears that make me so anxious and tense that I ugly cry, get a migraine, and it just negatively affects my relationships.

This year I've faced two of those fears.
I drove on the highway.
I rode roller coasters.

The first I have faced to the point of not being anxious at all anymore. I don't even think about it...I just do it.
The second needs more practice. And some might say is not a valid fear that needs overcome. But for me it was. And in several conversations with the Father I hear Him tell me how proud He is of me.

There's freedom on the other side of fear. There's life on the other side. We walk through fear. With Him.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Now, see Me.

...That's not who I am.

That moment.
When you realize you've messed up.
When you realize that place you haven't been in for years is now only a few seconds behind you.
All too familiar faces of guilt and shame come and sit beside you.
It feels righteous to stay seated beside them.
It feels like what you're supposed to do;
Feel guilty.
Beat yourself up.
Hold back.
For you couldn't possibly be justified to give anything of value in this position.
To not feel guilty.
To not beat yourself up.
To not hold back;
Would be a statement that you believe you are allowed to do anything you want.
That what you do, say, and think don't have consequences;
Don't have effect on anything or anyone.
That in order to rid yourself of sin, you must put your attention to it.
That if you take your attention away from it, you'll find yourself in it's midst again.
That feeling is strong.
So strong that even an intentional look away still somehow keeps a part of you in that place.
It's ingrained in us.
That guilt and shame and pulling back are a healthy part of the process.

But that whisper...
I hear it.
I hear Him.
Something different is on His lips.
It's counter.
And it, in many ways, actually feels wrong.
But I've known it to be true.
Known it in a place much deeper than feelings;
in a place more real than feelings.

Pulling back.
Child, you know these aren't Me.
If you are feeling these things it just means you're trying to deal with sin outside of Jesus.
Stand back up.
As far as the east is from the west;
I've already removed them from you.
Now, see Me.
Just like that?
Just like that.
But that can't be the right way to process this.  Without giving this enough attention I won't feel bad enough about it; I will find myself right back in that place.
The problem isn't being in that place.
It really has nothing to do with that.
Your heart simply hasn't been fully turned to Me. 
Just come be with Me.
Sitting in guilt and shame does nothing for you or for Me.

Stand back up.
I need you.
I know your heart.
I know who you are.
How you respond here sets a precedent for those to follow you.
I don't want the next generation to be stuck here.
Now, see Me.

Mark 5:7
How satisfied you are when you demonstrate tender mercy [merciful to forgive]! For tender mercy will be demonstrated to you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Go back.

The thought will come.
And I'll immediately dismiss it.
Not wanting to again know the pain or experience the feeling of stupidity that came with the event.
The dismissing actually masquerading as wisdom.
I thought--
the dismissing equivalent to not dwelling there.
But He told me to look right at it.
He told me to go back to that place;
to that feeling.
I can't just run.
I can't just ignore.
In the running;
in the ignoring;
I'm running from the importance of that moment.
From the Lord in that moment.
"No," He says.
"Go back there."
"Go back to that place.  Find Me.
Begin to associate those hard feelings with Me.
You must look right. at. it.
Ignoring this will only force you to face it later."
I. Feel. Stupid.
I feel stupid all over again.
Going back there will make me not want to step out again.
Will make me not want to take risks.
Will make me favor not wanting to get it wrong and be stupid over possibly releasing You.
"What if it doesn't matter?
What if it doesn't matter if you're wrong?
What if each moment you're actually seeding something greater?
Go back.
Relive the feeling of stupidity.
Relive it right there in My presence.
Relive it knowing and seeing Me there.
Relive it aware."
We can no longer be afraid to look our feelings in the face.
To stand in their presence;
to feel;
and to see Him.
Stop running.
Go back.
The importance of each moment;
it's too great.
When we decide to look away from the hard thing;
the painful thing;
we miss Him.
He is right there in the center.
We think we are actually protecting ourselves.
We think we are being wise.
We think we are preventing ourselves frin getting down.
Instead we are doing the opposite.
Go back.
Go back to that place.
See Me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I am important

I can almost hear them.
Debating what to do.
They want to get to Jesus;
But the crowd is so thick, 
There's no space squeeze through.
The paraplegic, in his state of great need;
Consults with his friends, I should wait my turn. 
My need is no greater than anyones in there.
His friends see through his humble excuse.
You are important.
You are worth it.
You deserve the attention of the King.
He is reminded of his value.
Not greater than any of those inside;
But not less.
If he wants to see the King,
He will have the King.
They start creating a plan to get past the crowd.
All the while trying to reconcile the idea of, who am I to make my way to the front?
No; I am plenty worth it.
Just as worth it.
Then one of them had a genius yet ridiculous idea:
The roof.
They crawled their way onto the roof. 
They dug their way through the roof, through the tiles.
And they lowered the paraplegic and his mat,
Right into the middle of the crowd.
Right smack dab in front of Jesus.
For a brief second the doubt rolled in.
Wasn't this terriblly selfish of me?
Who am I to place myself right in front of Jesus?
Bypass the crowds?
Who am I to think myself in enough need?
Who am I to think myself important enough?
Just then, Jesus' eyes turned to him.
His attention, directed full on.
"My friend,"
The paraplegic felt His love.
"My friend, your sins are forgiven."
I am important.
I am worth it.
My need matters.
I matter.
It's not about who matters more.
It's about that I matter.
That I'm important.
Holding the attention of the King.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

This beauty that houses the Lord.

I used the word, "vision."
And I felt so stupid.
I felt like some wacko who believes aliens are walking among us and going to take over the world.
Like I see and talk to ghosts.
Like I was describing a foreign concept.
Like I was pressured to describe it differently;
Downplay how powerful and real my experience was;
Downplay how significant the object of your question is to me.
Because I'm afraid.
Afraid of what I'll look like.
Afraid of how others will see me.
Afraid of what they'll think.
Afraid they won't understand.
Afraid I'll be misunderstood.
Afraid I'll be identified as a Christian;
which means I'll be identified as a judgmental, bible pushing Jesus freak.
That's not me.
I love Jesus.
But it's real; raw; genuine.
It's beautiful.
It's different.
It's new.
It's not weird; it's beautiful.
I don't want to be misunderstood.
But I can't keep risking shutting up what's inside of me;
Cutting off a world that is so desparately hungry.
Whether they yet know they are hungry or not.
They are worth the risk.
The becoming of the Bride is worth the risk.
If I am perceived as weird and foreign;
if I'm misunderstood;
May the oddity that lingers be an opportunity for another to think on the Lord.
A seed of thought.
Not return void.
I pray they ask another question.
I pray they open another opportunity to expand my bravery.
I pray I see it.
I pray they allow me another chance to practice expressing my heart where Jesus and our beautiful Father reside.
I pray they knock;
Open my door;
And see.
May I learn to respond to hunger with the beauty that is me.
This beauty that houses the Lord.