Thursday, October 1, 2015

Remembering God's Faithfulness Today

17 years.  So much can happen in 17 years.  Today I looked at my phone and was reminded it is October 1st.  Do you remember where you were October 1st 1998?  For many of you, you were very, very young.  For me, I was 28 years old.  Had been on top of the world.  Had found out a month before that my husband and I were expecting our first child.  We were thrilled.  I had transitioned from full time teaching to full time at home.  So many wonderful changes.  Just returned a week ago from a trip of a lifetime – 2 weeks in Ireland – I was living the dream.  Then things changed on September 30th

…I had gone in for a routine appointment.  This being our first baby and just returning from vacation, I went alone – told my husband there was no need for him to attend the appointment.  Just routine.

I went in praying that the doctor would assure me that my extreme nausea would decrease – that had been a pain during traveling. But it was all worth it after all – I was so excited for the little one that was due to arrive in April. God was going to bless us with this precious little one.

So I went.  I sat and waited.  Went in to see the doctor.  I was brought into the ultrasound room, oblivious.  I had no idea what was happening.  Then the doctor told me that there was no heartbeat.  The pictures on the ultrasound led him to believe I had a molar pregnancy and he explained it to me, although I could hardly take in what he was saying.

“1 in 1000 pregnancies occur this way” he said.  “I see about one a year” he added.  My head was spinning. I couldn’t wait to get out of the office. He even said the dreaded word “cancer” – some women develop a treatable form of cancer from this type of pregnancy – where the cysts that develop can travel through the bloodstream and go to other areas of the body.  I sat with a scheduler to schedule surgery as soon as possible.  They couldn’t reach my husband.

The rest is a blur.  I remember going to the hospital and in the pre surgery area, hearing a baby cry.  My mind couldn’t think about the pain of that family whose baby was getting prepped for surgery – my pain and my loss was heavy on my mind.  Years later, I pray for that little one who is now a grown one – I pray he/she is well and I pray for those parents who had a little one who needed surgery.

I remember a friend who brought us a meal – even though it was just the two of us at home – she brought a feast to us – such a blessing – so thankful for her modeling this – to minister in physical ways to hurting people.

I remember getting to know women around the country who were grieving loss on an internet website – and later getting to meet some of them – they encouraged me day to day – what a blessing and I can still communicate with them as all of our families have grown over the years.

I remember going to get blood work week after week – the same lady being there to take my blood – the doctors were watching to make sure there were no more cysts in the bloodstream by watching my hCG levels.  I am so grateful that I never developed cancer – God’s grace and blessing.  And I thank God for the lady who took my blood work week after week – she saw my grief and my tears.  And 1 year later she rejoiced with me when I came in for blood work after conceiving our son Will. I can very clearly see her face and the room and the chair I sat in so often.

I remember the sweet grace the Lord bestowed on our marriage as we grieved together – not always easy as all individuals grieve differently – God was so good to bind us together in that grief.

I remember 2001 when I miscarried on October 1st – what was it with that date?  Grief knocked on my door again just after 9/11’s tragedy.  I thanked God for our son Will who was now 1 year old to care for and grieved that second little one who had gone to Heaven earlier than I had desired.

I have encountered a lot of October 1sts since then.  God is good and faithful. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Over the years, I have seen God’s faithfulness at taking the comfort He gave me through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, through His people who walked alongside me.  As I grew closer to the Lord through this grief, He gave me work to do for His glory – He put people on my path and a ministry in the church we attended to give me work to do to encourage other ladies who were hurting.  God is so good and faithful.  Abundantly good.

And now I sit at my computer, a quiet house because our 3 earthly children are at school right now.  Ages 11, 13, and 15.  I praise and thank the Lord for these great gifts He has given to my husband and to me.  And I ponder what it will be like when I enter heaven and meet the 4 children that were spared from the sin of this world that I never got to meet.  We have experienced 4 losses and through each loss, the Lord has taught me and grown me closer to Him.  I enjoy sharing with our earthly children about the 4 surprise siblings they have in Heaven.  It will be a great day when I can meet my Lord and Savior and then meet the children that I never held.  It will be a great big mama bear hug.  A group huddle of joy and love – all thanks to my Savior the Lord Jesus.

And why do I sit here and write this to share with you?  First of all, please be encouraged that God takes the junk that comes from the sin in our world and He works it out for His good and for His glory, which in turn is also good for those who seek His face and know Him. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:26-30

Secondly, I seek to encourage those of you who have experienced/are experiencing grief – especially the grief of a little one.  This grief can be misunderstood in our culture – our culture values people who show success – our culture values money, success, good health, good outside body image, making a difference on the outside to the world.  Our culture does not value life from conception.  These moms and dads who grieve little ones, grieve the opportunities and hopes of how they imagined their life to be in the future.  I still sometimes ponder what life would be like now with a junior in high school – was it that older sister my daughter has often wanted?  Would it be another tall basketball player,?   A musician?  These ponderings are normal and I don’t ponder these things all that often this many years later – but it was very tough in the early years to not ponder the future that I had imagined, and to grieve the loss of that future  – these things are normal, be encouraged you parents who are still heavy in grief.

Thirdly, I seek to educate those of you who are wanting to understand friends who are grieving, especially infant loss.  I encourage you to bring a meal, offer to babysit kids at home to give that mom a break, send a card to encourage her (and her husband).  Pray and ask God for the right words, the right actions.  A hug and I am sorry goes such a long way – for deep friendships, an “I love you and I am sorry you are suffering” is a great way to encourage.  Ask God to guard your mouth from hurtful words.  And remember moms and dads won't stop grieving or missing until they get to their eternal home.  Don't put a timeline on grief. 

Lastly, I encourage any of you who are in a trial – and if you are not now, you have just come out of one or you are heading into one in the days to come.  We all have trials – keep your eyes on the Lord and His goodness – get into His Word – it is salve for your soul – He is so good and faithful.  I have seen this faithfulness and testify it right now.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:21



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tears in the Journey

Psalm 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 29:11-14

It's been 11 years. Eleven years ago yesterday I went for a routine OB appointment after a great vacation with my husband to find out there was no heartbeat. Eleven years ago today I had a D&C and it was confirmed that I had a partial molar pregnancy and could develop cancer from the molar pregnancy. It was 11 years ago that my tears were full of grief and pain and worry.

Nine years ago today my eyes were full of grief and pain again. I miscarried again. The same time of year as the first loss. It was hard. I was so thankful for the little one year old we had who kept me racing around the yard after him, but there was still a lot of pain and tears.

Here I am in 2009. We've experienced two more times where we've lost little ones and experienced those tears of pain and tears of confusion - we have asked so many "why" questions of God. Yet, over these now 11 years, we've been blessed with 3 wonderful births which brought tears of joy. We are abundantly blessed with the 5, 7, & 9 year old at our home. God is so faithful
And as I've journeyed on this road, I've shed tears for ladies I've known who are grieving - and tears for many ladies whom I've never met. Tears have been shed over their pain and over my desire for them to see God's faithfulness and the healing balm of God's Word as He has shown me. I still shed those tears for ladies today. I praise God that He keeps me sensitive to that pain of those ladies.

So today as my tears fall, I am overwhelmed with tears of joy - not only for our three children here on earth - not only that I have 4 or more surprises in heaven waiting for me to meet one day - but also tears of joy for what God has taught me - how He has molded me through those losses - how He has given me the opportunity to encourage hurting women and their families through a ministry at church.

Yes, over the years there have been many tears. Praise God that He bottles our tears and that He will take the ashes of our lives and turn them towards beauty - eternal beauty. So today I praise Him for this journey that I've now walked on for 11 years and look towards the rest of the journey He has for me and for our family. He is so faithful.

Here is a video of Crystal Lewis singing "Beauty for Ashes" - a song that ministered greatly to my heart in 1998 and encourages me today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Romans 8:28 Part 3 God's Plan is Active

And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Today I'm going to focus on one word - that word is "work." The Greek word used for "work together" is "sunergei" "Sunergei," from which we get the word "synergy" means an active involvement - God is actively working - and even when to us it seems He is silent, He is actively working to bring about His good.

Let's look at a time when it seemed that God was silent. In John 11, the story is recounted of Jesus' friends Martha and Mary. They had sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick.

John 11:4- 6 says: When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

Marth and Mary had surely heard of the times when Jesus healed instantly; yet, Jesus waited. He waited 2 more days until he traveled to Martha and Mary. And in the meanwhile, Lazarus died. Scripture does not tell us what was going through the minds of Mary and Martha, but I can imagine how they felt. They may have felt let down by Jesus. Perhaps they were wondering if Jesus truly loved them. Perhaps they wondered if Jesus can really heal. I'm sure there was lots of emotion and thoughts in their minds and coming out of their mouths. I'm sure they were wondering why Jesus was silent.

When Jesus came to Bethany, scripture tells us that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days (v17). Verse 20 says that when it was known that Jesus was coming, Martha went out to meet Jesus, but Mary stayed home. I've not noticed that part of this story until tonight. Scripture doesn't tell us why she stayed inside. Just something interesting for us to ponder.

After speaking to Martha and Mary, Jesus asks to go to the tomb of Lazarus. They take Jesus to the tomb and Jesus enters it.

40Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus was silent for a few days. Was He not working? Did He take a vacation or a break? No, His plan was a greater plan - to reveal greater glory to those who saw this miracle and to those who heard and we who can read it. Jesus chose to wait - to seem silent - before he amazingly rose Lazarus from the dead.

God is active - He is working - when we can't see it right now in our life, He is still working. Be patient. Seek Him. Spend time with Him. Study His Word. Confess sin. Seek His face. He cares for you. He is actively working in your life.

I am praying for you as you memorize Romans 8:28 and internalize what you can learn about God's character and God's ways through this verse.

God is active - even when He seems silent. I am praying that you are seeking His anchored hope today, even when you find yourself in the midst of grief. God doesn't ask you to not grieve. He loves you - he bottles your tears - God asks you to look to Him and to trust His plan. Even when you can't see any good in the moment - trust His eternal plan to be working out good.

Here is a song which reminds us about God's character and for us to trust His heart.

PS - there is another blog posting called "Jesus Wept" which talks about John 11 more if you'd like to read it here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Romans 8:28 Part 2 God's Plan is Beneficial

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In Part I, we looked at who God's promise of all things working out for good in Romans 8:28. The next four posts will look at four promises for those Christians who have a purpose from the Lord. Those four parts are:

1. God's Plan is Beneficial.

2. God's Plan is Active.

3. God's Plan is Inclusive.

4. God's Plan is Harmonious.

**Please note that these four points are from the book Spiritual Maturity by J. Oswald Sanders - you can find it here.

Now that we know the "who" of Romans 8:28, let’s look at the "what" – what does God promise in the beginning of this verse – I am amazed at how much richness is in just six words – “All things work together for good.”

All things work together for good.

Let’s first focus on “for good” right now. J. Oswald Sanders spends much time in this chapter about what “good” means. What do you think of when you think of a “good” day? I think of my kids behaving well – being loving to each other. I think of my house being clean (and staying clean) all day. I think of lovely weather – of doing something fun with my kids during the day with no conflict involved. I think of lovely family time after my husband arrives and a well cooked meal that was planned weeks ahead of time on my menu plan. I think of no money problems - no recession. No work stress in my husband's life. I think of no stress in family relationships. I think of serving God and all around me working harmoniously. Most of my “good” (if I were in charge of the universe, which thankfully I am not) surrounds lack of conflict, no work, ease, comfort, and pleasure.

I have heard it said that Christians from lower economic parts of our world who visit the US claim that US Christians are so impoverished in their spirituality due to the comforts we enjoy in our culture –comforts we grow to expect and subtly accept as being the norm for those who love and follow the Lord. This way of thinking is not how God views the concept of "good" in the lives of His children. We live in a culture that wants it and wants it now (which has led to the recession, but that's a topic for another posting another day).

Websters defines "good" in the following ways (I am not listing them all due to how many definitions there are for "good") - "possessing desirable qualities; adapted to answer the end designed; promoting success, welfare, or happiness; serviceable; useful; fit; excellent; admirable; commendable; not bad, corrupt, evil, noxious, offensive, or troublesome, etc."

In researching Romans 8:28, I have found two different Greek words for "good." One word is "kalos" - this is a good which is appearance related - "what is beautiful, or what looks good, outward goodness, outward beauty, surface good;" however, the Greek word used for "good" which Paul uses in Romans 8:28 is "agathon" - which means "good in the purest and truest sense." God is concerned with the inside - not the outside. He is creating an internal beauty that no easy life can create. God is working out His agathon - His good.

Paul, the writer of Romans suffered greatly. He spent much time in jail. He did not receive creature comforts while in jail. He had people who were seeking his end everywhere he went. 2 Timothy 2:10 says "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." He suffered and continued on so that more could know the plan of salvation - so more could know the Lord Jesus Christ as savior.

Paul also says in Phlippians 3:7-9 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

Paul knew full well what suffering meant. Yet, his seeing the Lord working out good in Paul's life - the fruit of Paul's ministry to others - he saw the Lord working out Paul's sufferings for good. I am sure that it took time. How do you think he felt the first time he went to jail? How do you think he felt the first time he heard someone was out to kill him due to his spreading the gospel? Yet, God equipped Paul through Paul's sufferings for the work God had for Paul to do. God had work in Paul's time (evangelizing then) and beyond Paul's time (the scriptures God wrote through Paul) which God prepared Paul to do.

God is preparing you for work He has for you to do. Now, each person's work is different. And God can grow you for multiple works during a trial. In my case, as I look back on the past 11 years since our first loss, I see how God has used suffering to grow my love for God and His Word. God has used my suffering to grow me to be a better mom (who is still in need of growth there and in process). God has used my suffering to reveal sin in my heart. God has used my suffering to pass on God's compassion to those who are hurting. God's purpose can cover multiple areas of your life for now and for down the road.

I encourage you today to seek out learning about God's agathon - His good. Ask the Lord to give you His comfort, His peace in this process of growing and learning. Look to the anchored hope that is only from the Lord. I pray that today you are able to see glimpses of that hope - that agathon - that good - He is working in your life.

I am praying for you. Have you memorized Romans 8:28 yet? Print it out - put it in your pocket - tape it to your bathroom mirror. Write "agathon" down and place it around your house - perhaps someone will inquire to its meaning and you can share about what you are learning about God's goodness today.

Romans 8:28 Part 1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is a verse I hear quoted frequently in the Christian community. When I ponder our past losses, I remember things friends said – dear friends – some who had not had a loss – and sometimes from friends who have had losses. It’s a cliché that often pops out of the mouth of caring sisters in Christ. “It was not God’s Will” – well, obviously it was not God’s Will for the baby to live; otherwise, it would have lived – sometimes I wanted to scream that in their face – obviously I did not and obviously they did not intend to say something that did not help me in my grief. I often encourage those who are grieving to continually give their friends grace. Overlook well meaning things people say that don't really help.

Yet God's Word is full of healing balm for your grieving soul. Romans 8:28 is full of the richness – of the fullness of God and His plan – His hope. Let’s look at it more closely today.

Before I break down this passage, let me reference a book that I just started reading with a group of ladies at church. It’s title is Spiritual Maturity by J. Oswald Sanders. Chapter one “The Overruling Providence of God” is where I am getting this content in regards to Romans 8:28. If you’d like to purchase a copy, I like to use – here is the link for this book on their site.

First, let’s focus on the “who” of this verse. Who is it that things work out for the good? Is this something every person on earth can claim? This verse does not mean that everything works out for the good of everyone. No, it says “for the good of those who love him” and those “who have been called according to his purpose.”

“For the good of those who love him” shows us that those people who love God and are in relationship with God are those people whom this verse refers to. How do you know if you love God – if you are in relationship with God? Do you believe that God is holy? That He is the great creator? Do you believe that all humanity sins – that you sin – that you are not holy and that God cannot allow anything unholy into His presence? Do you believe that God sent His son, Jesus, to die for your sins – and that He raised on the 3rd day because He has power over death? Have you asked Jesus to be the front center of your life? If so, you are a person who loves God. God loves and cares for His people.

Secondly – those “who have been called according to his purpose.” Being a child of God doesn’t just mean only that you are a child of God – God has a purpose for you being in His family. There is relationship. Now, suppose and earthly father is quite rich and has many children. Those children could, due to their earthly father’s bank account, sit around and have fun and do nothing; however, a loving father gives his children jobs to do - He gives them a purpose. God does this. Everything that occurs in life will eventually bring about the glory of God. He has given you a purpose – a job to do. If you are a child of God, He has a purpose and a plan for your life. Part of His purpose in my life has been to encourage women, especially women who have suffered the loss of babies in their lives. He equipped me for this purpose by allowing me to experience four losses. It takes time, but for His children, He eventually works out hardship for good. Claim that promise right now!

So, now we know who it is that claim the promise of Romans 8:28. If you are still wondering if this promise is for you, I encourage you to check out this site here to go through the plan of salvation. I encourage you to seek out a friend, a pastor, a church who is committed to the Bible as being God’s Word and to ask questions about becoming part of God’s family – accepting Christ as your Savior.

Next we will look at the first of four promises for those who are in God's Family - four points of hope which you can look towards in your grieving. Please know that your grieving is close to my heart and I am lifting you up to the Lord in your grieving. I encourage you to dig into His Word and to choose one verse to put around your house to focus on - if you'd like some examples, you can look at my posting on verses of hope here. And I encourage you to start memorizing Romans 8:28.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Press On

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

I am planning on writing more about this scripture later today; however, feel led to post the scripture, song and lyrics this morning before I head out with the kids.

I am praying for you in your grieving. I encourage you to spend time in His Word and in prayer with the Lord today.

Press On performed by Selah

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
To press on

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lifter of My Head

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head (Psalm 3:3).

There have been times that only the Words of the Lord are what lift my head. Are you finding your head down today? Look to the Lord. He is a shield around you. He will lift your head.

When King David wrote this Psalm, he was running away from his son Absolom who was trying to take the throne from King David.

Charles Spurgeon, a great English Pastor spoke on Psalm 3 in a sermon titled "The Treasury of David. You can find the entire text here.

Here is what Spurgeon says about Psalm 3:3

Verse 3. Here David avows his confidence in God. "Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me." The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh! what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast. Thou art "my glory." David knew that though he was driven from his capital in contempt and scorn, he should yet return in triumph, and by faith he looks upon God as honouring and glorifying him. O for grace to see our future glory amid present shame! Indeed, there is a present glory in our afflictions, if we could but discern it; for it is no mean thing to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. David was honoured when he made the ascent of Olivet, weeping, with his head covered; for he was in all this made like unto his Lord. May we learn, in this respect, to glory in tribulations also! "And the lifter up of mine head"—thou shalt yet exalt me. Though I hang my head in sorrow, I shall very soon lift it up in joy and thanksgiving. What a divine trio of mercies is contained in this verse!—defence for the defenceless, glory for the despised, and joy for the comfortless. Verily we may well say, "there is none like the God of Jeshurun."

My prayer for you today is that you would know that the Lord is the shield for you and the lifter of your head. The following song touched my heart this past Sunday at church (wish I had a video of our church choir - they are amazing). I pray the song touches your heart. Remember - it's not your job to lift your head - look to the Lord - He is the true lifter of your head - you cannot do it in your own strength.

I am praying for you.


Thou, Oh Lord by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Thou, Oh Lord
Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no helpe for him in God

But thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head


I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

Repeat Twice