Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 22}: A Secure Woman

This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the book thus far.  Goals and lists are my greatest loves and these two paragraphs are filled to the brim with both.  The practicality of the words below make me feel empowered to live my life free of insecurity, just as the Lord intended.  

from page 107:

Secure women know their strengths and aren't afraid to own them.  They also know their weaknesses and aren't scared by them.  Secure women can easily admit when they are wrong but don't beat themselves up about it.  Secure women take risks.  Secure women fail but try again.  Secure women can be vulnerable with their friends.  Secure women don't have to know all the answers.  Secure women can say no.  Secure women believe that love multiplies and that they can give lavish love and affection away because there will always be an abundance for them.

Truly secure women find their worth and their strength in Christ.  They give up on the empty promise of worldly security, and in doing so, they find the deep love of true life that Jesus offers.  Secure women are beautiful, powerful women because of their deep ability to love - not because they do it perfectly, but because they are loved by a perfect God, who will, "equip you with all you need for doing His will" (Hebrews 13:21).


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 15}: Issues and Infant Loss


Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  One in four women in the U.S. has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or infant.  One in four, 25%.  That's quite a statistic.

I'd like to take some time to put a bit of a different spin on PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss), and speak to how profoundly this loss can change a mother.  Specifically, how it changed me in these six "issues" areas.  

The almost twelve months following Evie's death were a struggle.  A serious struggle.  Up was down, black was white, here was there.  I was completely out of sorts.  Life made no sense.  And any progress I had made on the staircase of life, whether spiritually or otherwise, was lost.  I was knocked down to the basement.  Except this time my arms and legs were broken.  And my motivation was shot.

Slowly but surely over that year I started to heal, to relearn myself and the world and how to once again relate to others around me.  But it took a year.  And a new pregnancy. 

Truthfully, I think I am still healing in some areas.  Here's a little glimpse into my heart the year following Evie's death.

Control:

The first thing that comes to mind was my need to control my environment.  I needed to be careful who I was around and for how long and what we talked about because I had no idea when the waterworks would start or when my still healing heart would just need to "check out".  And so I spent many days just alone with my little man because then I could control the factors of my day a bit better.

I am happy to be a living, breathing testament of God's restoration in this area.  I am much more social and able to interact with others less tentatively.  I still have my days, but it's not the same as it had once been.

Insecurity:

About my body.  Here I was, toting around 20 extra pounds of baby weight with no motivation to get rid of it.  I mean, I wanted it gone, but if running the vacuum was hard, you'd better believe running on the treadmill was out of the question.  Not to mention I had that baby weight but no visible baby.  At times I just wanted to scream, After my son I lost all the weight and got back into my size 6 jeans ... this time my baby died.  She died!  And it has been hard to do anything ... 

I'm still working on this one.  I have been working hard to get my weight down, but I am still feeling the consequence of baby weight from Evie.  Dwelling on it brings me down so I just try to remind myself that I am trying my best and leave it at that.  

Comparison:

To what I used to be able to do.  I had to remind myself that I was grieving and healing.  I needed to be patient with myself and let my heart become whole again.  It wasn't easy, but it was a good lesson.

Fear:

Um, hello.  Yeah.  The question is, what didn't I fear?  Losing another baby, losing Micah, losing my husband, not being able to have another baby, of being misunderstood, that Evie would be forgotten, and the list goes on.  Fear has long been my pet issue and it is a continual struggle.  And most of the reason why, as evidenced by my Netflix instant queue, I am a pre-teen girl with a pension for Lindsay Lohan tween dramas.  And the Office.  And, let's be real, Phineas and Ferb.  Gotta keep things light.

This really is a daily battle and I must make a conscious effort to live in right now and not what if.  

Anger:

Towards life and the general feeling of angst that was present on a daily basis.  I wanted to be "normal" again and I so wasn't.  And it didn't seem to be coming anytime soon.  I'm not proud of this, but there are telltale dents in my floors and doors that bear evidence of my anger - the need to throw something - to give my anger some sort of outlet.  I wanted to run and escape my body and my reality and was so angry that I couldn't.  

It is true that overcoming anger leads to peace.  I had to bow to the idea that in God's plan for the universe, Evie was always meant for Heaven.  Surrendering to His sovereignty was really the only way the anger stopped.  And it's not really a struggle anymore, praise God.

Unforgiveness:

Toward God for doing this to me.  I had to slowly learn to trust Him again.  It's really hard to kiss the Hand that takes from you, but no longer striving is necessary for healing.

Towards people whom I felt misunderstood me.  Towards others who handled Evie's passing in their own way but, in the process, hurt me too.  I remember having a talk with one of our pastor's wives and saying, I can't believe I have to deal with people too, on top of all this!  She said she knew it was hard, so very hard, but that I still needed to be thankful.  That was foolproof advice.  Unforgiveness and thankfulness are somewhat mutually exclusive, and I found my heart sort of melting and trying to see things their way.  It was a real blessing.

There is no doubt in my mind that losing Evie changed me.  Losing her allowed me to learn some life lessons I would have otherwise missed.  While it has not been easy, I hope I am better because of it all.  

If you know someone who has lost a baby, please extend as much grace as you can.  Her heart is trying to make sense of the world again.  And it is quite a process <3 



Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 10}: The Other Side of the Story


This week I started reading on a new issue, the issue of insecurity.  My name is written all over this one.  I always feel awkward and struggle to say, be, and do the right thing.  I never feel like I've "nailed it".  It's frustrating and it's a struggle.  I did love this quote though:

What if we began to think of our insecurities not as shameful places to hide but as opportunities to see God working in our lives?

God can certainly use insecurities and feelings of awkwardness and jumbled up words to His glory, and I am thankful for that.  And I have a really great story for you.

A very dear friend of mine is also participating in this 31 day writing challenge.  She entitled her series, 31 Days with Friends, and earlier this week she wrote about me and a time when I touched her life.  Her words are very sweet and I am humbled that the Lord used me, but I absolutely can't take credit.  You see, I know the other side of the story ...

Amy came over to my house one morning to pick up something we had borrowed.  I immediately felt badly because I knew we had kept the thing too long and oh my goodness I should have been the one returning it to her and not the other way around.  Not to mention I was working in the yard and I was sweaty and stinky.  And my child was equally sweaty and stinky and probably wearing clothes inside out or backwards or some other creative combination of the two.  So there was that.

So Amy comes over and we chit chat a bit.  I asked her how she was doing and she shared a bit of how life was pretty packed right then.  Her son was moving out and getting married soon - pretty big life changes.  I don't know why but I felt moved to pray with her.  And by moved I mean my heart started pounding fast and I got butterflies in my stomach and I didn't want to do it at all except that the Spirit was moving me.  And so pray we did.

I don't remember one word of what I said, probably because I was so self-conscious about the entire process.  And after Amy pulled out of our driveway I felt so ... awkward.  My internal dialogue went something like this:

Oh my gosh that was so awkward.  Sarah, you are sooo awkward.  And you were so close to pray with her and you stink and your breath was probably really bad.  Oh my word.  Well God, I did it.  I obeyed and there it was.  Now can You please let her forget that ever happened?

But instead of forgetting about it, Amy remembered.  And it touched her heart.  And she talked about it in Bible Study.  And then she wrote about it on her blog.  Unbelievable.

If there ever was a story of God using insecurity and weakness for His glory, this is it.  I am living proof that even when you feel like you've completely messed up and dumped awkwardsauce all over the party, God can use it.  God can work in it and through it and in spite of it.  

Amazing.  I am truly humbled.  Really, truly humbled.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 9}: A Lifelong Endeavor



from pages 56-57:

Choosing to lay down our kingdom is a lifelong event.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could just get this right once and for all, and then never think of it again?
Do you see how even good motives lead me to independence?

This was a wonderful "a-ha" moment for me, a wonderful realization about me trying to control my life in a way I had never realized before.  

You see, before reading those statements I always expected that one day I would have arrived.  I thought I would get to the point where I had grown so much spiritually that I wouldn't feel like I needed God's help anymore.  I thought that's what He wanted me to strive for.  Admittedly, I sort of apologize to the Lord when I need His help, again, for the same struggle, again.  I would pray, Lord, I'm really sorry but I need help again.  Sorry ... maybe I'll eventually get better.

But you know, that's exactly where He wants me to be, always.  He always wants me to be in the place where I depend on Him for strength and never in my own strength.  He doesn't want me to "arrive" to the place where I no longer need His guidance and can operate independently from Him.  Grow spiritually?  Most definitely.  Become confident in my own ability to lead my own life?  No.  

Paul wrote these words straight from the heart of God Himself:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

This weakness, the need for the Lord, will never go away.  He doesn't want it to.  Three cheers for weakness ... and the Strength that will most assuredly shine through.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 8}: Don't Lose Control After You've Lost Control



The truth about control is, some control is good.  For the safety and benefit of my children it really is necessary for me to control their environment, their nutrition, their playtime/bedtime/bathtime.  It's important and a thousand parenting books will tell you as much.  And I love me a good schedule.  Can I get an amen!?

Where I struggle though, is maintaining self-control once above-mentioned control has been thrown out the window for one reason or another (staying out late, running errands during naptime, appointments cutting into "quiet time", etc.).  I really get bent out of shape when our schedule gets messed with and my kids start falling apart.  I get snappy and anxious and short-patient and flustered and downright unpleasant.  It's after midnight and the coach has turned back into a pumpkin.  A really grumpy pumpkin.

I don't want to be that way.  Now that I've admitted this issue to myself and the Lord I am really hoping my attitude can change the next time the clock begins to chime midnight.  I've identified the problem and hopefully next time I've lost control, I won't actually lose control.  

Hopefully ;)  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 7}: Beauty from Ashes



This quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, which came to me through the Issues bookspeaks such truth to my heart.  

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen."

Let's not let our desire to control our circumstances to prevent heartache prevent our hearts from becoming beautiful.