The light of the eyes…

I just got an amazing compliment today.  A person visited my office – a copier salesperson whom I have met with before.  He is connected with the churches in the Indiana Conference, and is typically at conference gatherings like Annual Conference, Our Life Together, etc.  At one of these events, he was speaking to one of the pastors in my district, and that pastor told him that I had been having some bad health issues.  He didn’t go into detail (stroke? four miscarriages? pick one…), but this person had been praying for me ever since.  He happened to be in the area today, so he stopped by the office.

“How have you been feeling? You’ve had some health issues, right?”  I confirmed that I had, indeed, had some bad health issues, and I informed him that I’m doing well and thanked him for asking.  He told me how he came to hear that I had been having issues, and told me that he had been remembering me in prayer.  “I almost didn’t believe it when I saw you today. You look fine!  Your spirit seems so great – I would never guess that you were having trouble.”  He then referenced the proverb below, and told me that I have great light in my eyes.

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshest the bones.”  -Proverbs 15:30

I was struck, then, by the strength that God has given me to handle this life of mine.  I know that the past few years have been really tough for me.  The past three years have been full of grief and pain and heartache.  BUT the past three years have also been filled with peace and love and hope and mercy and grace.

I listened to a fantastic podcast this week.  The JV Club is hosted by Janet Varney, and I just adore this show!  I’ve been listening for most of this year, and have enjoyed every episode.  Last week’s show with Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley on Community) touched me so much.  Yvette really shared her faith on that podcast, and it was so refreshing to hear the way she talked about our Lord.  At one point in the show, Janet commented that she wished she had the peace and joy in her life as Yvette does in hers.  Yvette gently said to her, “It’s available to you too…”  She went on to explain that God is a gentleman.  He doesn’t push himself onto anyone.  I loved that.  You really need to listen to it: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-jv-club-with-janet-varney/id507523105#

And so with Yvette’s podcast, and the copier salesperson’s comment in mind, may I be so bold as to say something to you about God?  He is available to you too…

I’ve heard so many comments about my trials: “How do you do it?” “I couldn’t handle this if I were you.” “I don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning.” “Don’t you just want to give up?”  To all of those comments, and many more that will surely come, I say, “He is available to you too…

I know.  You’ve tried church.  It’s just not for you.  You hate getting up early.  It’s a hassle to get the kids ready and get anywhere on time.  People judge.  Churches are full of hypocrites. Christians are so fake.  Christians are so hateful.

To that I say this: I know.  Christians suck.

Shocking, right? To hear a Christian – a pastor’s wife even – say that Christians suck…that’s just insane!  It’s true though.  We suck.  Because we’re people.  And people? We mostly suck.

But God doesn’t suck.  I am on this journey because I love Him – I strive for my heart to beat with His, and because of this I like to think that I suck a little less every day.  For 16 years I have been on this journey of faith, and I have gotten lost many times.  The Lord continues to call me back though, and guides me along the path of not sucking so much.

I know that my life is different than it was before.  I am different.  And I know that others can see it too.  My brother, in the midst of an argument, admitted as much.  That little fight I had with my brother is one of the best moments of my life, because I knew then that someone had taken notice for sure.

So even though I suck, you may notice something in me – a light in my eyes perhaps.  And you may even say to yourself, “I don’t know how she gets up every day. I don’t know how she doesn’t just give up.”  I want you to hear me today when I say, “It’s available to you too…” Find someone of faith you can talk to.  Find a church. I know churches are full of hypocrites, but you know what? So is the mall.  And you probably go there all the time! There is LIFE to be had in this short life of ours.  It’s available to you.  It’s available to all of us…

Thank you Jesus for this strength and peace you give me to handle it all and suck a little less every day.  Your good news definitely does refresh my bones, and I hope the light in my eyes rejoices your heart.

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Disconnect on Easter

This post is going to be difficult to write.  A big part of me feels as though I’m not allowed to feel some of the things I’m about to tell you – that I’m supposed to be 100% sure 100% of the time.  That I’m going to be ridiculed for sharing this with you, or worse – condescendingly encouraged.  But share I shall – I’m not typically a girl who lets fears or rules keep her from saying what needs to be said.  And this is my blog after all – I’ll write what I want.

For some time I have felt a bit disconnected from the Lord.  I can’t explain what it feels like – it’s almost as though I had eaten something funny, and my heart just wasn’t settling well or something.  I just didn’t feel good.  A few weeks ago, I finally was able to identify this unsettled feeling, and I quickly talked to Matt about it.  I informed him that I thought I was having trouble really connecting to God in worship.  I’m not sure what it’s from.  I really do enjoy his sermons, and learn from them every week.  I’m not sure if it’s that I’m not connecting with the worship style at our current churches or if I don’t feel I can truly be myself or what.  I just know that something isn’t connecting for me.

Something that might be a huge factor in this is that I am a little too involved in the “doing” of church, instead of the “being.”  We talk about worship planning; I help set up for prayer service; I keep an eye out for visitors or late-comers; etc.  Let’s also remember that my professional life is all about the church as well.  I am surrounded by church on all sides!  Perhaps this constant exposure to it has made me a little callused to church.  There’s not much that can be done about this though.  I’m not about to quit my job or divorce my husband!

Yesterday during Sunrise Service, as I listened to one of the scripture readings, a tiny doubtful thought crept into my mind and immediately derailed me.  “What if this story is just made up?  It all seems so far-fetched, doesn’t it? I mean, of course all the disciples died defending this story, so it must be true, right? Oh my goodness – what am I thinking?” I just couldn’t shake the doubts out of my mind.  This isn’t supposed to be happening, right?  On Easter especially!

Last night I confessed this to Matt.  I was shocked that he admitted that there are times he questions as well.  He then shared that in those times he reassures himself by remembering that even if this is all just a fairy tale, that he’d rather spend his life living as though it were true instead of in the void of it being false.  That’s a great point.

I then admitted that perhaps this is all my fault to begin with.  I mean, my lack of personal bible study and personal prayer time could certainly have something to do with this momentary lack of faith.  Also, I am sadly without a group to study and share with.  When we were in seminary, I seemed to be surrounded by wonderful women of faith who were great for discussions, prayer, study, etc.  When we moved to our first appointment, I locked in with a group of women who knew how to have fun and love the Lord together in very real ways.  I have had a hard time coming up with something here in Veedersburg that measures up to either of those things.  There is a very small group of women that I was meeting with regularly, but busy schedules and complicated life events have really put a damper on our meetings.  Now Matt and I are getting ready to move, and I’m going to have to somehow find a whole new group.  It’s all very exhausting to think about.

After I wrote my last post, I told Matt that, even though we spent hours talking about it, writing a blog post helped me to see things more clearly.  Today I’m experiencing the same sort of clarity.  Somehow writing about this makes it pretty clear that my personal faith isn’t going to just happen.  I’m going to have to put some work into it to deepen it and strengthen it.  Doubts and distance can be dealt with if I would only just devote some time to God.

As I type this, I can’t help but think of an old Nichole Nordeman song, “What If.”  This video is quite terrible, but it’s nice to have the lyrics with it. Perhaps I’m not the first person to think “What If?”

So thanks for hearing me out today.  I hope you all had a great Easter!

Here I raise mine ebenezer…

It’s funny how quickly my emotions can shift.  One day I’m plugging along with life, happy with my place and station and circumstances.  The next day I’m weary from the crying, from the wondering, from the frustration of it all.

It’s my husband’s fault, really.  He’s the one who chose the scripture for prayer service this evening.  He’s the one who leads us through this lectio divina practice of meditation and prayer.   He’s the one who read these words over and over and over again this evening:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
-Psalm 22:1-5 (ESV)

I closed my eyes, and tried to meditate on these words – tried to glean what God wanted me to from them.  All I could think about was the fertility situation we find ourselves in.

Six and a half years of trying with no success. Four miscarriages. Countless nights of anxiety and worry and wondering and WHY? The better part of a decade spent welcoming babies belonging to siblings and friends – giving away pieces of my heart to each of them wondering each time if I will have enough heart left for any children of my own.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

Matt and I both feel confident that God has promised us a family.  It’s been years since we both heard this promise, but aren’t God’s promises unchanging?  To be counted upon? Is our God not the same yesterday, today, and forever? Our faith should not be moved! But then there are nights like tonight.

For months I have felt myself thinking thoughts like, “If we never have kids, that’s okay. I like it just being the two of us,” or “I’m so glad we don’t have kids. Our life would be so complicated!” With each thought I have been carefully arranging stones in order to build a wall of resolve.  I have been resolving my heart to our current circumstances – steadying myself for the future my “what-ifs” have built for me. What if we don’t have kids? What if this never works out? What if we can never pay for an adoption or expensive fertility treatment? What if we become that couple who never had kids? What then?

“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”

Tonight in prayer service, I felt like God was making me look at that wall, and recognize it for what it was: Me hardening my heart against him and his promises – one rocky statement at a time – heaved with great sighs and plaintive resignation.

So this is where I am tonight. Weary from crying it out with God and talking it out with Matt. Sore from the hauling of stones never meant to be thrown. Still very unsure about where this road takes us, but certain again that God has our route planned.

“Yet you are holy…”

More prayers. More faith. More leaning on the promises.  Perhaps it’s time to knock down this wall of stones, and build an ebenezer instead? Hither by thy help I’m come…