A Heart of Thanks on Thanksgiving

I’m going to shoot from the hip, here. I’m conflicted. God has been doing a number on my heart lately when it comes to the holidays we celebrate, and it’s not been easy. I am a person who likes to see things in black and white. I don’t like grey area, because grey is too confusing. When there’s a lot of grey, there’s too much left to interpretation; and honestly, my pathetically human brain will always interpret in whatever way is easiest for me. That’s just how I am.

After everything my husband and I have learned, we have been able to see holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween as pretty much black and white, with no grey area at all. They are pagan. The rituals are pagan, they were created for and celebrated by pagans long before Jesus, and they have continued to be pagan even though many Christians have attempted to given them a spiritual makeover. God states plain as day in the Bible that we are to stay away from pagan rituals, and knowing what I know, it’s pretty cut and dry. God says stay away, so we will stay away. I like that because it’s simple, and in my mind there really isn’t any room for interpretation.

But then there are the things that aren’t quite so cut and dry. I’ve been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving, and I see no issues with celebrating it, since it’s not of a pagan origin. In fact, I’d say that the Lord had a starring role in the original holiday! That said, I don’t feel good about how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Correct me if I am wrong, but the whole point of the day is for us to be thankful for what God has provided us with, right? Contentment with what we’ve been given, no? So it seems contradictory to me, to go out and spend tons of money on special, holiday-specific food and decorations in order to show thanks for what we’ve been given. How does that show contentment? I don’t know. Call me crazy, but somehow it doesn’t sit right with me. The thing is, I have no idea what to do differently! Our culture has dictated the way we’re supposed to celebrate the holiday (and all holidays, really). It’s not about giving thanks, it’s about companies making money. Sure, there are a lot of great memories and family get-togethers, but why do we need a special day to show our love for our family and to spend time together?

I guess the big conflict for me lies in finding a way to observe the holiday without reinforcing the very worldly ideals of laziness, gluttony, greed and excess. I don’t have the answers, but my family is praying about it. We’re hoping God gives us some understanding soon, and gives us the ability to see the holiday through his eyes!

first thanksgiving

Afflicted But Not Crushed

It’s 3:30 AM as I sit here typing this. I should be asleep. I have tried, but I am in pain; and alas, sleep will not come. I have done some prayerful meditation in this time, and it’s really gotten me thinking. I am at a turning point in my walk with God. The Lord has nudged and prodded, and sometimes flat out shoved me right out of my spiritual comfort zone and out into the unknown. It’s a very exciting (and admittedly more than a little terrifying) place to be. He has allowed me to see so much more of his character, and his vision of my purpose is becoming clearer to me. He doesn’t want me to be a “Back Row Baptist” as we call them at our church. He wants me all in, completely sold out, ready to give up whatever it takes to follow him. As in the Bible series my husband and I are going through, Not a Fan. God doesn’t want fans with their Jesus fish bumper stickers and NOTW t-shirts. He wants us to take up our cross daily and follow him. (Matthew 16:24-26) What does that mean? What was Jesus doing when he took up his own cross? He was beaten nearly dead, and he had to carry that huge cross up to where he was about to be crucified. This is what he has asked of us, to take up our crosses daily and FOLLOW him, come what may. Jesus, I am there. I’m ready. Whatever it takes, whatever he asks, I am prepared.

And already, he has asked, and I have given. Already the Lord has been changing my heart and our lives as a family. Through seemingly small sacrifices for the Lord, our family is already seeing huge changes – all good ones!

However, at the same time as this amazing new fire was lit within my soul, I was physically afflicted. I cannot help but think of the Apostle Paul and his thorn that he wrote of. (Not that I am saying that I am anything like Paul, or his level of knowledge, his impact, or his spirituality – I can only wish!) I find myself likening this situation to Paul nonetheless, because I realize that God allows afflictions. I am praying for understanding as to why I am going through all this right now. Sometimes God allows it to reveal sin in our lives, sometimes it’s simply Satan throwing a hissy fit over seeing God work mightily in one of his children. And sometimes, as with Paul, God allows it to keep us humble. I am praying great deal on this, and I am pleading with the Lord to make his reasons clear to us. And if it is in his will, more than anything, I am petitioning him for healing! I would greatly appreciate any prayers you all have to spare for me! But no matter what, I will not lose my joy.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16-18)

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One year later…

One year ago today, I got the diagnosis of placenta accreta, and had to begin coming to terms with the reality that Annie would be my last baby. While the news both shocked and deeply saddened me, I have had peace all along that God was and is in control, and all of this is only a small part of his huge plans for our lives. I always knew that when we gave God the control of our fertility, it meant not only that He would have the say in how many children we had and how often, but also that He had the say in when we were done. I just never thought we would be done so soon! Though some may consider four children to be a large family, to us it seems quite average. I longed for a truly large family, with many little “arrows” in our quiver! I am happy to report that God is faithful, and although this was not in our plan for our lives, it was part of God’s plan all along. He has given me peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and I have been able to remain joyful, and we are truly enjoying our four precious daughters. We are also praying that God will open the doors for us to adopt another child in the future! Only God knows what’s in store for us, but I am very much looking forward to seeing His plans unfold!

Another Lesson in Trust

After making the decision to become Quiverfull in our beliefs, my husband and I decided it would be best to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), even though I had 3 previous c-sections (all of which, I feel, were medically unnecessary – but that’s a post for another day). Since we didn’t know how many more children God had in mind for us, we felt this was the best way to ensure that we could safely have more. I found a great midwife who was willing to let me try for a VBA3C (vaginal birth after three cesareans) here at home. I understood the risks involved, but I also understood that my risk of complications with c-sections goes up significantly with each one I have, so much so that I am at a higher risk of complications to have a fourth c-section than I am to try for a natural birth after three c-sections.

So far my pregnancy has been a breeze, but way in the back of my mind, an unnamed fear always whispered to me. My response has always been to pray. I constantly asked the Lord to reveal to me whether or not I was meant to do a homebirth. I never, ever want to jeopardize myself or the baby, so I asked God that He would make it unmistakably clear to me if I was safer in a hospital with a c-section.

Now fast forward to this past week. I had just turned 31 weeks pregnant and had not had any pregnancy complications. In fact, this has been my easiest pregnancy of them all! I became very ill with what I believed was strep throat. I went to the urgent care and after various tests were performed, I was told it was viral. They advised me if I had trouble swallowing to head to the ER. Sure enough, the next morning I was unable to swallow Jello or even take Tylenol due to the severity of the swelling in my throat. I went to the ER and was given medication to help. As part of their routine protocol when seeing pregnant women, they sent me up to L&D (labor and delivery) for monitoring. Everything looked great with the baby, but the nurse started asking a lot of questions and seemed concerned about my risks for something called “accreta.”For the most part I blew her off, but she kept pushing me to have an ultrasound. I wasn’t even in the hospital for pregnancy-related complaints. I couldn’t understand what she was so concerned about; I had never had any issues with that pregnancy! However, since I hadn’t had a “real” ultrasound (only one to determine the baby’s gender) because my midwife doesn’t do them, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a peek at the baby, so I finally agreed. After a very long ultrasound and lots of looking at my sweet girl on the monitors, the ultrasound that confirmed I do in fact have placenta accreta. A high risk OB was immediately called in to speak to me. She explained to me that my placenta is growing across the previous c-section incision, and is now actually growing through the incision and into the uterus itself. This rare complication means that the placenta cannot detach at the time of birth; the only solution is to perform a hysterectomy after safely delivering the baby. There’s roughly a 10% chance of misdiagnosis, but that means there’s about a 90% chance that this baby will be my last. At first I didn’t believe the doctor and brushed her off. She finally got right in my face and told me that if I attempted a home birth, that I would end up bleeding out before I could even make it to the hospital. Finally, it sunk it. Understandable, I was initially devastated at the sudden loss of my fertility; however, the truly scary part is that if this had been missed (which was very likely, had I not been to the hospital for that illness), I would have bled to death in childbirth here at home. (The doctor informed me that it takes only 30 minutes to bleed out through the uterus, which is nowhere near enough time to get to the hospital and into surgery.) I must admit that in hindsight, I’m actually incredibly thankful that I became as sick as I did, as this virus may very well have saved my life.

Even in times like these when I am having to come to terms with not being able to have anymore children, I can’t help but see the Lord’s power and protection. I had prayed without ceasing that God would make it abundantly clear to me if I was meant to have a home birth or not, and there was my answer plain as day. My prayer was always that He would make is so very obvious that I would not question it, and boy, did He ever! You can’t really get anymore obvious than being told to have a c-section or face certain death, you know? God is so good, He really is.

Another lesson learned from all this is that He exercises sovereignty when we allow Him to. When we decided to leave our fertility in His hands, we were also leaving it up to Him to decide when we had reached the perfect number. Truth be told, I pictured myself with at least one or two more beyond this baby I am carrying now, but clearly God knows that four is the perfect number for us. While I am deeply saddened that this will be the last time I get to experience pregnancy and having a new baby, I trust the Lord’s plan for our lives. I also realize that now this opens up a possibility for adoption, which has always been something my husband and I planned. I do not know what the future holds for our family, but I know the Lord has wonderful plans and will do great things with our lives. Of this I am certain:

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Click here to read my Placenta Accreta birth story. To learn more about Placenta Accreta and find support, please see the Hope for Accreta website.

Christianity and Feminism: Are They Biblically Compatible?

First of all, allow me to preface this post by saying that I realize it will probably make many people angry. Please know that is not my intention. This subject has been on my heart lately, and I felt a pull from the Lord to write this in response to what He has put on my heart. I have prayed a great deal about what I should write, and it has been edited to remove things that were more my thoughts and less of the Lord’s. If you feel outraged by anything I have to say, I would encourage you to take it to prayer, as perhaps the Lord is trying to speak to you personally on this matter.

I also feel it necessary to point out that this post is directed toward Christian women. Naturally, those who do not care to seek God’s will for their lives will find many of the Biblically-based points that I make to be irrelevant, and perhaps even irrational.

On with the post.

I have blogged before on the subject of wives being submissive to their husbands, and just what that looks like from a Biblical perspective. (That post is located here.) This post is more specifically geared toward feminism, and whether or not it is compatible with the Bible and God’s perfect plan for us.

I believe that men and women are created by the Most High. He has a wonderful plan for us that is unique to our gender, and when we follow that plan, we are able to reap all the rewards and treasures therein. When we fight against that plan or try to recreate a new plan that WE deem appropriate, there are consequences that come with it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” When we trust in the Lord’s understanding, He protects us and guides us. When we lean on our own understanding – which the Bible makes clear is very flawed and rarely good for us in the long run – we find ourselves in trouble and in need of God’s help.

God’s perfect design is for wives to submit to their husbands, and likewise husbands are to love and cherish their wives. That does not mean women are to become mindless drones whose only purpose is to serve their husbands as slaves. We are still individuals with our own thoughts and needs, and the Bible very clearly commands our husbands to love us as Christ loved the church. Jesus loved us, the church, so much that He gave his very life for our salvation; that kind of love from a husband would not result in abuse or domination. What Biblical submissiveness means, is acknowledging that our husbands are the spiritual heads of our households, and that they are accountable to the Lord for that role. (Personally, I would NOT want that level of responsibility!) So what does that look like when practically applied? One example is that when a decision needs to be made within the family, and the husband and wife cannot come to an agreement together, the ultimate decision falls on the shoulders of the husband; and as I said before, he is accountable to God for the decision he makes. It should be a decision, prayerfully made, that is in the best interest of his family as a whole, not just in his own best interests or in the interest of appeasing his wife or children.

The problem with feminism is that its core values fly in the face of Biblical principles. When we seek to redesign God’s plan for our lives, not only do we cheapen ourselves as women and lessen our true value, but we also undermine God’s authority by telling Him that we know better than He does. If we profess to love the Lord and seek after His will for our lives, then we should be compelled to apply Biblical teachings to the way we live. If we desire things for our lives that are not in line with what the Bible teaches us, then it is time for a re-evaluation of our hearts.

Feminism tells women that it’s okay to have their cake and eat it too. We can have everything we want as women – having babies, being treated lady-like, having men open doors for us and pay for our dinners, etc. – but we can also reap all the rewards of being men, too. This concept of living life in such a way as to have every single thing we desire is not Biblical. In fact, God calls us to live in such a way as to only seek after His desires for our lives, and often times that means giving up our fleshly desires in pursuit of a higher calling. One look at society as a whole shows a believer that living only to fulfill one’s fleshly desires is of Satan, the Great Deceiver, and it leads us neither to true happiness nor God’s will for our lives.

One place to look when trying to understand God’s perfect plan for men and women is the Garden of Eden. Initially God created just man, but he saw that Adam needed a helper, so he then created Eve. He did not create Eve to be a slave, nor did he create Eve to preside over Adam. They were equals and given their own roles that were different, yet equally important. One issue with feminism is that it tells women that living out our God-given roles makes us less than men, so we must take those roles for ourselves, when in fact, being different does not make us lesser or greater, it just makes us different! Our different roles are necessary, and they a wonderful, pleasing thing in the eyes of the Lord!

Please know that I am in any way trying to imply that women should not be permitted to work and men should not be allowed to stay home with their children. While I do feel that in ideal circumstances, women can best fulfill their roles while staying at home, I also understand and fully respect that at times God has different career callings for different people. This is a heart issue more than anything. We can still work full time while being submissive wives, likewise husbands can be stay-at-home dads while still being the spiritual heads of their homes. Time and time again the Bible addresses matters of the heart. God does not judge us by our outward actions, but on where are hearts truly are. If we as women are seeking to have ultimate control in our lives and are not honoring the Bible’s command to submit to our husbands, whether we are at home with our children or out in the working world, then we are in direct defiance of God’s commands.

The sad fact is that within a century of the introduction of the feminist movement men have become irrelevant and unnecessary. The Great Deceiver has successfully convinced us that we do not need men to procreate, nor do we need them to have our ideal family life, nor do we need them to work hard to provide for their families; we can do all that ourselves. Women get dominate the work force, the home, churches, and even political structures. The result of this has lead to a massive decline in moral values. We can now have premarital and promiscuous sex without consequences thanks to the feminist-led birth control movement. If we become pregnant, we now have the option of abortion because, naturally, we should not have to be tied down with the burden of children before we are ready. We don’t even need a man to become pregnant! Thanks to the wonders of in-vitro fertilization and sperm donors, women can have the family they want without the need and bother of a husband. The morality of all this, or lack thereof, is no longer called into question because as the family decays within our nation, so does religion. Religion is becoming as obsolete as the need for men.

Since this is a fallen world, there has always been sin and corruption; however, I do not think I stand alone when I say that sin and corruption are at an all time high, and much of that can be attributed to the natural consequences that have ensued as a result of the feminist movement. If we want to win back family values and morality in our country, a good place to start is looking within our own hearts and analyzing our motives. If we want more “power” as women, we should embrace the unique and very special role God created for us. True empowerment comes not in trying to be like men or be more important than them, but in embracing our unique value as women.

There will be terrible times in the last days…

I have had lots to think about lately, and much of it has been disheartening. My eyes have been opened more and more to the very sad state of our world, and I am torn between wanting to change it, and wanting to run far away from it and protect my children from it for as long as possible.

In the Bible, we are told that this world belongs to Satan. It is also prophesied that in the end times, this world will become a terrible, ugly, sinful place. 2 Timothy has this to say about those final days:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”  (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

I am now more aware of this than I ever have been. Everywhere I look, I see these things. People in our world are consumed by greed, selfishness, and living only to fulfill fleshly desires. Morality is gone, and in its place has come a requirement that we all live and let live. “Tolerance” is all that matters now. Who cares if our neighbor is knee-deep in sin? Leave him alone! Let him do what makes him happy, and never, ever “preach” to him about what’s right and wrong. People want to define their own right and wrong.

Romans chapter one has a great deal to say about the depravity of the wicked. I can see it happening all around me. People joke that they’ll be having a party in hell when they get there, because they truly do not believe such a place exists. It’s shocking, because I realize that hell is very much real, and it’s not going to be a wonderful party. It’s a horrible place of eternal torment, and worst of all, without the presence of God. I cannot imagine an eternity without God’s love and grace. The thought of it pains me. It is for this reason that I desire to protect my children from the wickedness of this world, until their foundation is strong and their hearts are prepared to face the sin and ungodliness of this world. Even turning on the TV is exposing them to things their little eyes should not yet be seeing! Nearly naked men and women are on every channel, and no one bats an eye. Sex is spoken about, joked about, and shown in such detail that it leaves nothing to the imagination. My children should not be seeing such things! The Lord’s name is used in vain, along with countless other profanities. Things that the Bible clearly defines as sin are put on display, and we are told to accept as normal, even though the Bible tells us to stay far away from it. Satan is having his way and fulfilling the Biblical prophesies that the final days will be “terrible times.”

My biggest struggle is how to respond to my new-found awakening. I am not sure whether I should stand and fight against what I know is wrong, or if I should do what it says in 2 Timothy and have nothing to do with it all. I realize that would mean cutting a great number of people out of my life, people I could perhaps minister to, if their hearts were receptive to it, and that’s what makes me want to stay and fight. I truly don’t know what to do. What I do know is that my exposure to Satan’s world needs to be much more limited than it currently is, otherwise I fear I may again fall victim to sin, or at least fall victim to desensitivity, which really is just as bad.

There is much to think and pray about indeed.

Overcoming Fear

One of the biggest hurdles my husband and I have faced since we decided to put our fertility in God’s hands is overcoming fear. While I love being a mother, I have my fair share of doubts about what I can handle. My husband, being the provider for our family, has fears about whether or not we will have enough money, food, clothing and other such essentials for our growing family. We often wonder just how many children God has in store for us!

One verse I came across recently that directly addresses our concerns is Isaiah 41:10. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Another passage is Matthew 6:25-34, when Jesus speaks directly to us about our anxiety:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

That last one is so straightforward, so honest, and so in-your-face with truth, it is enough to take our fears and throw them right out the window! And how true is it, that tomorrow has its own set of fears? There’s no need to fear about what may or may not happen tomorrow; we have our hands full enough just dealing with today!

It’s amazing to see how God’s promises to provide have been put into action. I have not posted in a while, so the announcement was never made here that I am expecting again! Another beautiful baby girl (this will be number four!) due in May. My older three were all born in December; so, while we have plenty of clothes for the baby-to-be, we do not have much for a baby born in the summer! I prayed about this and asked the Lord to provide some clothing for her. I have been checking Craigslist and thrift stores to find deals, but have yet to come across much of anything for a newborn that is summer-appropriate. Then, just a few days ago, a very sweet mother in my church said she was looking to give away all of her daughter’s baby clothes – her daughter who was born in the summer! She offered everything to me! While I know I should not have been surprised, I admit that I was to an extent. I always find it pleasantly surprising to see how God comes through for us when we trust in Him.

Another example happened just today. Two days ago our shower broke. We only have one shower/bathtub in our home, so you can see how this would be problematic! Rather than worry about the cost of a plumber, I immediately went to prayer and asked for the Lord to provide a solution. It was put on my heart that my husband should call his father, who lives nearby and is very good at household repairs and such, and ask for his help and guidance. I immediately contacted my husband and told him what God put on my heart. He called his father, who came over today, and they looked at the problem. Amazingly, it was very minor and they were able to fix it with a part that cost less than one dollar! I’m sure that, had I not listened to what God put on my heart and we called a plumber instead, it would probably would have cost us the better part of a hundred dollars or more!

I am thankful beyond words at just how God meets our needs as they come up. Truly, He knows what our needs are. He knows what problems will arise long before we ever see them coming, and He has already figured out a solution. What we need to do is work on trusting Him more, and waiting on His answers in His perfect time!

Making Tough Choices

My husband and I have had to make many tough lifestyle changes lately to keep with our convictions. Some are tough because they push us out of our comfort zone. Some are tough because they are forcing us to let go of our worldly attitudes and mindsets. The toughest of all, for me, are those that effect our children.

Among the things we have been convicted about recently is the need to make the Lord the focal point of our household. That means not just talking to talk, but also walking the walk. Our children need to see us putting forth a Godly example. One thing that has been on the hearts of my husband and myself is the issue of Christmas, or more specifically, Santa.

Since my oldest was born I have always gone out of my way to make Christmas a big deal. (Probably to make up to her for the many Christmases I spent as a child feeling unloved and unwanted, but that’s a story for another day.) After 5 years, the result has been a rather spoiled child who only cares about getting “stuff” on Christmas, and couldn’t care less about the real meaning of Christmas.

My husband and I have spoken together at length about what to do here. While we want to shift her focus to what’s truly important on Christmas, we also don’t want to break her heart or permanently scar her. We have talked, prayed, talked some more and prayed some more. Finally, we made the decision that Santa will no longer exist in our household. I was worried about how my daughter would take the news, but in my heart I knew I was doing what was best.

This afternoon, as we sat around the table eating lunch, I let her know the truth about Santa. Much to my surprise, she was not the least bit bothered by it! Actually, she seemed to already know, though I’m not sure how! I explained to her that Mommy is always the one who bought the presents, and Daddy is the one who eats the cookies and drinks the milk that she leaves out. This prompted other questions from her, about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. I was honest with her about everything. She was so mature about it, and didn’t get upset once! She then asked what we would do for Christmas from now on, since there’s no real Santa. I told her that, since Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, would bake a bake a birthday cake on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas day we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have eat the cake. (She was very excited about that!) I also assured her that we would still exchange presents, but there would be far less, because getting presents is not what the special day is all about. She took it all amazingly well! I have been so worried and anxious about having this conversation with her, but she is just fine! I thank the Lord for that because, truly, I do not want to break her heart or sadden her in any way.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have never felt right about Santa Claus anyway, because when she would ask me direct questions I would have to tell her lies to keep the “fun” going. (I do not like having to lie to my children, even if it is all in good fun.) I also feel optimistic knowing that from here on out we can put the focus of Christmas right where is should be: on the birth of our wonderful Savior who died for us, so we might have a place in heaven with him.

When you are not privy to the plan

A very wise friend told me something today that struck me as rather profound. When I made the very sad announcement that I was miscarrying the baby we recently found out we were expecting, in part of her reply my friend said, “Sometimes going along with a plan you aren’t privy to isn’t easy.”

This is one of those well known truths that randomly hit home for me and suddenly take an all new, very personal meaning. I have no clue what God’s plan is for me. Even when it seems like I have an inkling as to what’s happening, something comes out of the blue, or we take a sudden turn, and once again I am left wondering what is next.

I am very thankful for the comfort the Lord gives me, and the assurance I have in His plan (albeit unknown) for me and my family. We were just getting used to the idea of having our very first baby due in a month other than December (my three older girls were all December babies, but this baby was due in February). We had begun talking about names for him or her, and wondering if perhaps this would be the boy everyone was waiting for.

Despite all of those thoughts and the sadness that we have experienced since the bleeding began, we have peace and comfort. I do not understand why this happened, but I know there is someone out there who does, and in time He will His plan. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I may not understand everything now, but if I continue to trust in Him and follow Him, He will make sure I am headed in the right direction, and He will bless us more than I ever could have imagined. That I know for sure.

Changes

When I stop and think about it, I am so amazed by the direction the Lord has taken my life. I hardly recognize myself when I look in the mirror! Gone is the arrogant, self-centered, self-serving, provocative young girl I used to be. Instead, I see a woman who is trying very hard to bring glory to the Lord, to please her husband, and to raise happy, well-rounded, God-fearing children. I thought that perhaps I might miss the way that things used to be, but truth be told, I have never felt happier and more complete than when I stopped trying to fill the void with meaningless “stuff.” Once I decided to hand over the reigns of my life to the Lord and stop the endless power struggle for control, suddenly I found a peace and contentment I had never known before.

My life is not perfect, and I’m not always bubbling with happiness. In fact, there are days when I am downright sick with anxiety or stress, but those are the days when I get that gentle nudge from God to let things go and let Him be in control. Even on the worst days, I still have contentment and joy. One of my favorite verses of all time to remind myself of when I begin to fret is Philippians 4:6-7:

” Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

So, even though this time of growing and stretching in my faith can be more than a little scary and overwhelming at times, I know that when I pray and give it to God, He is faithful and will always guide my way, and will give me peace that “surpasses all understanding.” What a seriously awesome God we serve!