Hope Continues

Hope Continues

A few days ago, I wrote a post about my miscarriage nineteen years ago.

Since writing that post, God has profoundly reminded me of his sweetness and his faithfulness in my life. I didn’t know that there would be a continuation to that blog post, but there is.

Because hope continues!

To explain this story, we have to go back to the day nineteen years ago that would end up being a pivotal day in my life. I went to work with the knowledge that I was about ten weeks pregnant. We had told our family and friends our news. Our baby was due in April and there was a secret delight in my heart. Because isn’t April the BEST month to have a baby?!! (that question reveals a little bit of my heart at that time!)

I was working in phone customer service at a bank in Chicago at the time and during a bathroom break, I noticed something concerning. I called my husband and he encouraged me to call my doctor. I was relieved when the doctor told me that it was likely not anything to be concerned about, but he encouraged me to come to the office anyway just to make sure.

On the way to my doctor’s office, we were listening to a Christian music radio station and the song “God is in Control” by Twila Paris came on the radio. Later I would look back on that moment as God preparing me for the news I was about to receive.

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here
Carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together
God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control
The words from the bridge, “He has never let you down, why start to worry now?”, were the very first words that I thought of when my doctor came into the room with a tissue box. It was true. God had NEVER let me down. I had gone through difficulty, but he had always been faithful. Always. “We will choose to remember and never be shaken”. I realized in that moment that I had a choice to make. Either I was going to be consumed by the sorrow of losing my baby OR I was going to choose to remember God’s faithfulness and his promises to me.
I chose to trust.
After writing the “Hope” post last week, my husband and I spent some time in prayer and in tears. We are brokenhearted for the way the coronavirus is battering our world and shaking the faith of so many. And we are facing a personal struggle that threatens to shake us and pull us under the waves. And so we continue to run to the only place we know. Our Refuge and Strength. Our faithful God.
Later, I was scrolling through Facebook statuses and one of my longtime friends had posted a song that she had listened to with her boys that morning. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the song was “God is in Control”. I started sobbing.
It was no mistake that this song came on the radio at the very moment I needed to hear the words all those years ago and it is the absolute sweetness of God that he would place that song on my friend’s heart on the very day I needed to be reminded of it.
It’s no mistake, because God truly is in control! It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face loss and heartache. It doesn’t mean that our loved ones won’t die or that situations won’t go the way we think they should.
But it does mean that our lives are held by the Creator of the Universe, our great God and Father of all, our Sustainer and Protector. And when we know His faithfulness and His promise to never leave us or forsake us, we can walk forward in confidence, not in fear.
Hope continues in the most dire of circumstances. As my husband preached in his sermon this morning, these sufferings we face are for “a little while”.  “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
We might not see his restoration here in this life, but we have the promise of eternity when we trust in Him to be our salvation.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
God is in control and because of this, hope continues!

 

Hope

I cried this morning.

I read a post from a friend about her son who is a 2020 graduate. And she referenced the fact that most of these students were born in the aftermath of 9/11. Born into adversity and now facing adversity at a time when they should be able to focus on the adventure life holds for them.

It made me sad. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I lost my first baby at the same time that those planes crashed into the World Trade Center, changing our society forever. At a time when our world was reeling with the ramifications of our own soil being attacked and the eeriness of the skies with no planes flying overhead and the uncertainties that we were walking into, my husband and I were facing our own personal tragedy. The life that we had been anticipating with great joy was suddenly gone before he or she ever had a chance at this life.

My baby would have been a 2020 graduate.

I don’t often think about those things these days. At the time, we were shaken, but we also knew that we could hold tightly to God’s faithfulness. He had always been faithful. We knew this to our bones. We never lost trust in this even though other doubts crept in.

We named our baby “Hope”.

And hope we did! We longed for children, but we had to go through a year long process of testing and heartache before I was given the go ahead to try again. God has given us more than we could have ever thought possible in our dark days. Our four children fill our home and our lives with love and laughter (and endless challenges, let’s be honest!).

And so I don’t think of our loss very often.

But it hit me hard today. Our country is once again in a time of adversity, facing a foe that we are uncertain how to fight. Trying our best to join together in love and compassion and not allow panic and anxiety to have any foothold. And once again, I am going through a personal crisis that feels just as devastating. I have no control over a situation that I so desperately want to make right.

But if I have learned anything through the struggles I have faced in life, it is this: when we are most out of control, God does the work that only He can do to change our hearts, to bend our wills to His and to make us more like Him. And as hard as this is, it is always good!

And so we don’t have to fear the suffering or the difficulty or the unknowns. Because He goes before us. And He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

This is hope!

As my youngest and I worked through her reading curriculum later this morning, she read the word “hope” for the first time. And I was struck by the joyousness of that moment! In our darkest moments, we must never lose hope. Hope spoken from the lips of my surprise blessing!

I lost my first baby. Had I not, I would be hurting right now for my oldest who would be missing out on all of the great parts of senior year. It doesn’t change my compassion for those who are facing this; rather it makes it more real to me.

However this crisis is affecting your life and your loved ones right now, I pray that you would hold tightly to hope in the midst of it. God is not surprised by this and he can see the other side. We may suffer for a little while, but there is hope for what He has for us on the other side. Hold onto that hope!

“We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18,19

The In Between

Everyone went with me to take the oldest to play practice yesterday. As we pulled up to a stop sign in our neighborhood, I looked to my right and the sky was dark and stormy. Then I looked to my left and the skies were blue and the sun was shining bright.

As we continued on, I was overwhelmed with the extremes and struck by the immense beauty of the contrast. The striking difference between the view out the left side and the right side of our car caused a stirring of wonder in me. The dark skies somehow made the sunshine more breathtaking.

As we looked toward the lake, we could see the streaks of rain in the sky, but instead of turning on my windshield wipers, I put on my sunglasses. And since sermon illustrations seem to follow me, I couldn’t let this one pass by. I told my kids that this is where we live, in between the storms and the sunshine.

The difficulties of life weigh heavy and sometimes it’s all we can do to hang on. We can’t see the sun. Dark clouds stretch as far as we can see. We feel hopeless.

Other times, life is joyous and everything seems touched by brightness. We can’t imagine the storms ever chasing us again, because we feel so happy.

But most days, we’re in the in between. The storms are looming AND the skies are blue. But when we recognize this, that life is hard AND full of delight, the darkness actually makes the light more vivid and stunning. Our struggles, our storms have a way of working in us a deeper and abiding joy than we ever could have imagined.

A song that has been particularly meaningful to me is “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson. Perhaps it will encourage you too!

 

“When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet
Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been sold out by my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm”

Whether you find yourself in a season of storms or in a time of joyous sunlight, I pray that you would rest in the Lord’s goodness. He is faithful to walk with us in the storm and in the calm. May our response always be “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

One Word for 2020

Sometimes you just need one person to believe in you.

Our family has a plethora of traditions that we look forward to every Christmas. Picking out the Christmas tree, decorating while listening to Christmas music and eating Buttermilk Cookies, reading through The Advent Book, and a Christmas light viewing adventure complete with hot chocolate are just a few of our favorites. But we also love watching movies and one of my favorites is “Rise of the Guardians” which is not technically a Christmas movie, but one we enjoy watching annually at Christmastime.

Jack Frost is my favorite character in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, Jack has no idea what his purpose in life is. He creates frosty adventures for children and havoc for adults, but he doesn’t know where he came from or why he is able to do what he does. The most painful part of this for Jack is that no one believes in him. He discovers this when he first wakes from what should have been an icy death and as he tries to talk to people in the nearby town, they walk right through his ghostly form.

The movie traces Jack’s personal quest to find his purpose. “North”, aka Santa, explains it as “finding your center”, the thing that gives you pleasure, meaning and purpose. As Jack joins the guardians to fight against a darkness that threatens to take over the childlike delight and wonder in the world, he discovers that his center is bringing joy and laughter to children. It only takes one child to believe in Jack Frost and to see him. With this new purpose and the knowledge that he is seen, Jack is able to stand up to fear and of course, save the day.

I feel like this year I lost my center. It’s not that my identity in Christ has been shaken or that I don’t have purpose, but I have felt like I am living under a cloud of fear. It has caused me to question all that I do. I find myself second guessing everything and as you can probably imagine this has stifled any shred of creativity in me. I have started many blog posts that have never been published. I have written countless emails that have never been sent. I have cried rivers and have found myself drowning under the weight of heartbreak, wanting desperately to set things right, but feeling completely incapable of doing so.

One of my gifts this Christmas was not under the tree, but in my inbox; a link to the Kindle edition of “Adorning the Dark” by Andrew Peterson. The gift was accompanied by a note from my husband, a reminder that he cares about my writing and his hope that this book would spur me on.

It only takes one person to believe in me.

I finished reading my new book this morning and it has inspired me and challenged me in exactly the ways my husband intended and ultimately in the ways I believe my loving Heavenly Father purposed. In the book, Peterson talks a great deal about the importance of having “resonators” in your life, those who understand where you’re at, who see you, and who get you (he mentions that C.S. Lewis was a resonator for J.R.R. Tolkien and I love this!). I resonated with so much of what was said in the book, because the fear of being irrelevant, of my words being silly and obvious, is something that haunts me and keeps me from stepping into my purpose.

This quote especially jumped out at me- “I confess, a mighty fear of irrelevance drove me to this vocation, a pressing anxiety that unless you looked back at me with a smile and a nod and said, ‘Oh, I see you. You exist. You are real to me and to this world and we’re glad you showed up,’ I might wither away and die.” He claims that this is not a noble reason to share your creativity with the world, and I certainly resonated with that, but what I’m realizing is that this uncertainty is what keeps me falling before the Throne of Grace. What little I have to offer! How weak I am! But what a good and gracious God I serve who has given me purpose and meaning and who promises to give me strength in my weakness.

One person has believed in me and so I am prepared to fight back against the fear that has threatened to consume me. I have found my center. My heart has been redirected back to my life verse, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

My center is knowing that my labor in the Lord is not in vain. He will use my efforts for His glory when I am abounding in the work of the Lord and seeking His will.

And so, my One Word for 2020 is STEADFAST.

I can’t wait to see what this new year holds!

 

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