Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You Are Better

I've recently been thinking a lot of a story in the Bible about Hannah & Elkanah.  With the year 2014 coming to an end, and my husband and I just celebrating our 10 year anniversary, I've been reflecting on our life together...I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic.

If you haven't read my past blogs, my husband and I have gone through infertility for 9 years.  So, we can defineitly relate to Elkanah and Hannah's story...except for the part about my husband having two wives (wink,wink).

If you haven't read the story, I'll fill you in a little, but I highly recommend you read it for yourself in 1st Samuel Chapter 1.  Hannah had been trying to conceive for many years, but wasn't able to.  Her husband's 2nd wife, Peninnah, had been able to conceive multiple times.  The bible says, that Elkanah loved Hannah.  The Bible refers to Hannah as Peninnah's "rival".  I think out of jealousy because Peninnah knew Elkanah loved Hannah even though Hannah couldn't give him children, Peninnah would tease, and taunt Hannah about her not being able to get pregnant.  In Bible times it was a huge deal to give your husband offspring...especially a son to carry on his name, and to receive his father's inheritance.  Also, if a woman was not able to get pregnant she was looked at as being cursed by God.

Every year Elkanah would take both of his wives and children to Shiloh to make a yearly sacrifice to the Lord.  The Bible says, every year Elkanah would give a double portion for Hannah "for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb."

On this particular year, Hannah was very upset, she didn't want to eat, or celebrate at the feast.  I'm sure it was very upsetting to Hannah that another year had gone by where she hadn't been able to conceive, and her "sister wife" was not going to let her forget it.  This is the part in the story I've really been thinking about.  Elkanah looked at Hannah and asked her, "Why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

When I read this part of the story after a couple years of trying to have a baby, and felt the grief of not being able to do what I felt I was created to do, and the greif of watching so many women around me, so easily it seemed, get pregnant I felt angry.  How dare Elkanah ask Hannah aren't I better. After all Elkanah had a second wife, and that second wife could give him a child seemingly without any difficulty.  How dare Elkanah ask Hannah "am I not better" when from 1st glance it might seem that Hannah wasn't better for him.

After 10 years of marriage, 9 years of infertility, and many ups and downs along the way, I am finally able to see this story in a different light.

My husband has been nothing but supportive through out our entire marriage.  Anthony, has never once made me feel bad because I haven't been able to get pregnant.  Most every time I've needed to cry, complain, or curse (I'm just being real) because I still haven't gotten pregnant, or because someone else has, Anthony has always listened to me, and tried to be supportive to the best of his ability.  I hate to admit, but I haven't always been appriciative of him for his support.  I haven't always received his support as a blessing.  Anthony has always felt like "it's going to happen."  He doesn't know when, or how exactly (naturally or with the help of doctors), but Anthony has always believed that I will get pregnant.  Anthony, has also, many times over the years told me that I am enough for him, that he didn't marry me to have children... he married me because he loved/s me.  Yes, he assumed we'd have the 4 or 5 children we discussed before we got married easily, but he didn't marry me to have children.

Because I was so hard on myself, and because I wasn't enough for myself, I didn't believe I was enough for Anthony.  I didn't believe he really trusted that I can get pregnant. I thought Anthony was trying to make me feel better, and he was tired of me being so upset all the time.  I pushed away from him.  I stopped telling Anthony how I felt, and how I was tormenting myself because of my inability to conceive.  I didn't need a sister wife to tear me down, I did all that on my own.  I accepted, and believed the lies I told myself, and the ones Satan whispered in my ear.  Satan has taken every opportunity over the years to try, and convince me that "I am less than a woman because I can't get pregnant, that I can't give my husband natural offspring, and that I can't give my husband a son to carry on his name."

I can totally relate to Hannah, and what she was feeling.  But, I couldn't see past my disappointment and anger to see what Elkanah really meant.  Even though in Bible times, Hannah was considered cursed, Elkanah still loved her.  Hannah's inability to give Elkanah children not only didn't change his love for her, but his love wasn't based on her abilities.  Elkanah loved Hannah for Hannah.  When Elkanah asked Hannah "Am I not better to you than 10 sons?" I think what Elkanah was really asking Hannah, "you mean more to me than ten sons, don't I mean more to you than 10 sons?"  Elkanah didn't need anything from Hannah except her love, Hannah was enough for him.

That is what has become so clear to me.  Anthony never needed, or needs me to give him biological children.  In fact, Anthony really doesn't need anything from me except for me to love and respect him.  Anthony married me because he loves me for me no matter what I do, or don't do.  

This summer Anthony and I sat down together, and talked about both of us still wanting to have more children biologically, and by adoption.  I finally opened up to him once again about my fears, and disappointments.  Anthony, once again did like Elkanah, he let me know I am enough for him.  Anthony, also let me know he is still trusting in the Lord that the Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly more that we could ever ask or think (Eph 3:20).

This has also made me think about God's love, that His love is unconditional, and nothing can seperate me from His love.  God's love isn't based on my abilities, and more importantly my inabilites (Romans 8:35-39).

As 2014 draws to a close I pray you know that you are enough for the Lord, and His love for you is never ending.  I pray if you do not know the Lord that you would except Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and know that nothing you have done can separate you from the love of Jesus Christ.

Happy New Year.

In His Grip,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Turn On My GPS

I was driving to a an appointment the other morning about 40 minutes away.  Although I had never been there, I didn't bother to put the address into my GPS because I thought I knew exactly where I was going.

As I was driving, I was asking the Lord for more faith in some situations in my life.  Then I remembered a book I had been reading about a month ago, and the author was talking about faith, and how it says in Romans 12:3, that we all have 'a measure of faith'.  The author went on to say, "While it appears that some may have more faith than others, the reality is we all have the same measure! This means that we all have the same potential to walk in the fullness of what Jesus died to give us, and also the same ability to act on what we believe to see God's power released to change our life, and our natural circumstances."

My thoughts on faith had to stop because I realized, I actually had no idea how to get to my appointment, and even though I was in the right vicinity, I was lost.  I'd like to tell you I stopped right there, put the address into my GPS, and then found my destination with no problem.  But, what I actually did was drive around, and get frustrated because I was lost.  I finally ended up asking two different women for directions.  One of the women sort of knew where I was headed, which really didn't help because, essentially, I was still lost.  Thankfully, the 2nd woman knew where I was going, and pointed me in the right direction.  All the while I had my GPS with me, and would have saved myself time and frustration had I just plugged the address into my GPS.

When I parked my car, I had one of those "ah ha" moments.  The Lord used my getting lost to teach me about wanting more faith.  I had my GPS with me the whole time that could have told me the right places I needed to turn, onto the correct streets I needed to be on, so I would have never ended up lost, or frustrated.  My faith in the Lord is much the same.  The Lord is always with me.  I have His Spirit living in me, His Word that I can look to, and my faith in Him to lead me (like my GPS) to where I need to go.  But, often times, I have a plan, or I think I know how the situation will play out, so I set out to do something, and tell the Lord "I got this", not realizing I'm not willing to put my faith in Him.  And, most of those times, I, usually end up lost and/or frustrated because my plan didn't work out; and, too many of those times, I want to blame the Lord.  When all the while, the Lord was standing back, and letting me work my plan.

I realized I don't need more faith.  I understood what the author was saying, when I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior, the Lord gave me all the faith I'll ever need.  What I need to do is rely on Him more and more...even in the small things when I think"I got this".  And, every time I rely on the Lord my faith will develop more, and it will be easier and easier to trust Him.

I feel sort of silly for writing this because I have been a christian for almost 14 years, and I would have thought that I would have grasped, and held on to this lesson a long time ago.  But, God is so good, and He's so patient that every time my faith needs a recharge, He doesn't condemn me.  The Lord patiently waits for me to "turn on" my GPS (aka- allow Him to lead me to the place where He wants me be).

In His Grip,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Letting Go Is Not Giving Up

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a lady.  Well, it was like more like a heated conversation.  The lady felt like because someone fasts to get pregnant their prayer would be answered, and it would be answered in a timely fashion.

I chimed in having walked my own journey through infertility, and said, “God doesn’t always work that way.  Just because you fast doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the way you want it, or when you want it to.”  Let’s just say, the lady did not like what I had to say, and just about wouldn’t let me speak anymore.  I think the lady thought I was saying fasting doesn’t work.  Or, she thought I didn’t believe enough because I had been walking through infertility so long.

Having gone through almost 9 years of infertility.  I have battled A LOT of emotions, and handled them, A LOT of the time, very poorly.  I have been angry, bitter, devastated, depressed, felt isolated, and most of all felt very out of control.  I didn’t like not having a say-so over my own life, and my own wants.   I had plans, and God was getting in the way.

I have also felt very “in-control”, and all knowing when I’ve had a surge of self-strength run through me, and I think I’ve got it all figured out.  As I mentioned in my 1st blog, I can be a bit of a control freak.  I get an idea in my head, and I want it done yesterday. 

But, you see my friends infertility doesn’t work that way.  More importantly God doesn’t work that way.

God’s timing is perfect.  I know…that sounds like one of those generic answers Christians use when they don’t have an answer.   I believe without a shadow of a doubt that prayer and fasting really works.  I fasted, and the Lord brought my husband.  I did a fast for God’s favor with the adoption of our daughter, and He came through exceedingly and abundantly.  But, I have also fasted many times to become pregnant, and it hasn’t happened.  I fasted many times for my dad not to die of cancer, but he went home to be with the Lord 3 years ago. 

What I am trying to say is this, that even though ALL THINGS are possible with God, ALL THINGS don’t happen in our timing.  And, many times through a fast, I believe, that while we pray for His provision, and favor, the Lord is wanting inevitably for us to decrease while He increases.  And, that doesn’t always mean our plan works out when, or how we want it to.

In a book I’ve been ready about infertility.  The author describes infertile as being like fallow ground.  She goes on to say that, “fallow ground can be described as cultivated land allowed to lie idle during the growing season.  ‘Allowed to lie idle’ suggests that the One who cultivates this land has made an intentional choice, for a specific purpose.  ‘To lie idle’ implies a period of resting or temporarily waiting, but not death or permanent stillness.  ‘During growing season makes it clear that, although other fields may be producing, it is better for this particular field to rest and be renewed right now.”

I think this description goes far beyond infertility.  Most of us at one time, or another, have been in a season of rest and renewal.  And, when you describe waiting as “rest, and renewal” it doesn’t sound so bad does it?

I am friends with a couple that walked through many years of having a promise from God, but it didn’t happen exactly when they wanted it to.  My friends felt very called to be pastors.   They walked through many years of heartache and disappointment, and even a couple of years of getting ahead of God’s timing.  At one point during their journey, my friend decided he would do a 21 day fast.  I believe this is when God truly started moving because my friends began to decrease while God began to increase.  No, they did not become pastors when the fast ended.  They were however, lead to a different state, and that is where the husband began training under some pastors to be discipled, and where he and his wife got ordained.  Almost 3 years ago they started their church.  Even though God laid the promise of becoming Pastors on their hearts 11 years before they became Pastors, God knew they needed to go through a season of rest and renewal.  They also needed to go through a season of tilling, weeding, planting, watering and growing.  Because you see, once you have your promise you then have to take care it, and that is not for the faint at heart.

How does their story apply to infertility?  My friends had a promise from God, and had to go through a long season of trying, hoping, waiting, and surrender. 

Please hear my heart about anyone going through infertility, or anyone going through a waiting season in their life.  God does have a perfect plan, and His timing is perfect.  But, it is not always easy.  We are not at the end of our journey, but I can say, and hope we remember for another season, that if we stay focused on the fact that God is allowing us to rest and renew, so we are ready for what lies ahead, then I pray our waiting won’t be so hard.  I hope we view our waiting not as a curse, or as a punishment, but we view it as God has a wonderful plan for our family.  

I never knew when Anthony and I stopped trying to prevent pregnancy after only 4 months of being married, to put all our trust in the Lord, how much our trust would be tested. 

I believe that God hears our prayers, and sees when we fast.  I believe that some prayers are answered much faster than others.  I believe that in a world where it’s taught “your way right away”, God doesn’t work like that.  And, I believe that when God makes a promise He keeps it, it just may not happen when you want it to. 

“He may not come when you want Him but He’ll be there right on time.  He’s an on time God yes He is.”  It’s a great song, and a great reminder.

God doesn’t want you to give up on Him, or your promises.  We all go through storms at times.  After all, a tree grows most during a storm.  And, you can grow during your storm too by trusting in the Lord. 

Have you ever asked yourself whom your struggle is with?  Is it with God, or is it with your self?  God wants you to trust Him with all your hopes, and all your dreams.  God wants you to trust Him with the promise that He gave you.  God gave you a promise so He can complete it, not so you can take charge of it. 

In the early years of our infertility, when we had been trying to conceive for about a year or more, I was lying on our bed after starting my cycle, once again, very upset. I told the Lord, “If I don’t get pregnant I am just going to die.”  Well, here I am 8 years later…I’m not dead yet. ;)  What I realized, unfortunately many years later, is I had been trying to control God.  I was trying to manipulate the situation. 

God is so good that even when our faith is small, and our hope seems lost that He still has His arms open to us.  He wants to be our source of Strength.  He wants to be our Rock. 

Please hear my heart.  I believe in prayer, and I believe in fasting.  I believe that God can move any mountain.  And, I also believe, because I’ve seen it in my own life, that when we pray and fast, we need to be prepared for God to change us, and maybe not our situation…at least not at the vary moment we want Him to.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.  Knowing the the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1: 2-4