The Physical Posture of Surrender

I read once that changing posture can change emotions, and alter what is chemically happening in the brain.

For example, standing up straight with good posture can make a person feel positive and confident. Slouching over can drain energy and bring on a feeling of depression.

This fascinated me. I think everyone wants to be happy and feel better about life, but standing up straight is not usually the way we go about achieving these things.

That little tidbit of information stayed tucked away in my brain, and suddenly came out in a question one night: Could the same be true for spirituality? Does my posture affect how I feel about God and where my my relationship is at with Him?

WORSHIP

The reason this question came up was because I was participating in a worship event, and while I was praying quietly, I felt the urge to kneel. As I knelt there, my conversation with God turned in the direction of confessing and surrendering to God, and I felt as though I should hold out my hands, palms down – as a way of laying down everything before God that I had been hanging on to tightly and rebelliously.

I’ve never done that before, and it was such a powerful experience – it seemed to go on and on, as one thing after another bubbled to the surface, and I became increasingly aware of the areas of my life that I needed to surrender and lay down.

Finally, my mind and heart seemed to still, and I felt the urge to turn my hands over – palms up, to receive all that God was pouring out onto me. This, too, seemed to go on for a long time, as I waited silently before God, allowing Him to give to me everything I needed in that moment, to worship and be still before Him.

Now, all this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually get physically expressive about worship. It does not come naturally to me, although I have been learning a little bit about becoming a more free with it, in the privacy of my kitchen, when everyone else is fast asleep.;)

But all this makes me wonder – when we are told to bow down in worship to God, is it more than just a physical act for us? Did God create us in a way that makes it go beyond simply being a physical expression of worship, humility, and surrender? Does it change the way we feel about God? Can it change the way we think about Him?

Because if, like straightening our posture, using our bodies to express ourselves to God could affect us on a spiritual, emotional level, this would be enough to lure me away from what can be stiff, restricted expressions of worship.

It feels strange at first – I’ve been experimenting in small bits, and this physical expression can feel as foreign as pulling back my shoulders and standing up straight. Correct posture uses muscles I’m not accustomed to using, but it’s a habit which can be changed – muscles can be strengthened. Can my ability to let go, and find more freedom in physical expression of worship also be strengthened, and become an ingrained habit?

I’m curious…

Be Still, and Move On

I’ve been camping out on a passage in Exodus for a few months. I’m speaking at a retreat in March, and the Scripture passage for the weekend is Exodus 14, the story about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

I love how much I have to learn in order to prepare for speaking at a retreat. That passage has stayed with me for a long time already, and I’ve been chewing and mulling over it, digging into it and praying about it, begging God to give me His words to pass on to those wonderful ladies I’ll be sharing the weekend with.

In Exodus 14, the Israelites have finally escaped from Egypt, and are heading off on their journey to the Promised Land. But just when they think they’re safely away, they look behind them to see Pharaoh and his army coming after them.

I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have felt like, for a few reasons….

First of all, God had promised  Abraham that He would bring His people out of slavery, and after 400 years, they must have been very ready to see the fulfillment of that promise.

And secondly, to think their escape had finally come, they had finally gotten away, and then to think that everything was about to slip through their fingers.

The panic that must have set in! There were thousands of them, and the frustration, anger, and terror that must have swept over all those people is hard to imagine.

But then Moses says to them,

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Be still.

Do nothing, and God will take care of this impossible situation for you. Amazing.

But then, the very next verse is so interesting to me:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on….”

Be Still

That doesn’t seem to go together. But this is the thought that has stayed with me for weeks. Be still, and move on.

Can I come to such a place in my relationship with God? To become still before Him, trusting and surrendering so completely that my heart is still and at peace, and to remain that way as I move on? To keep taking the next step, keep moving forward, living each day with such faith and trust, that my heart remains still as I keep moving through life?

It reminds me of the Oswald Chambers quote I shared with you awhile back:

Trust God, and do the next thing.

It’s a different way of expressing the same idea, but for some reason, this description of actions is sinking in even deeper for me.

Often, throughout my day, when my thoughts are building with tension and busyness, those words come to me…

Be still…

I try to take a moment to focus, take a deep breath, send up a quick prayer, and then…move on.

Two simple-sounding actions that are so difficult to do! May God give you the strength today to find rest and stillness in Him, and move on with trust and faith!

How I Survived the Month of December

Well, my little December health challenge is over.

I wasn’t miraculously healed in December, but what I gained was worth it all! In fact, as I was thinking over the highlights of 2013, I realized that one of the biggest was this last month. I’m not sure if I can properly put into words what this month has meant to me, but I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned:

1) The end result hardly matters.

We live in a world where success is often measured by your end result, and I don’t think enough emphasis is put on the journey. Climbing the ladder may actually be the best part, instead of getting to the top….

Obviously, I would like to be sitting here, pain free, and telling you about how Jesus healed all physical difficulties for me in some kind of completely awesome, inspiring way. But that hasn’t happened yet, and I’m okay with that. I’m not even sure this December challenge was really about that – it felt like it was more about obedience.

As I’ve obeyed, and spent the month focusing on God and what He wants for my life, I can truly say that “…the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” When I focus on Him completely, nothing else matters. I have enjoyed this journey.

Teresa of Avila summed it up well:

“Ever since I stopped obsessing about my comfort and ease, my health has radically improved.”

I think this is what I tasted, and can completely understand why it would be true.

2) Fasting from anything allows for a fresh start.

And really, this was a month of fasting. Fasting from food loosens the hold it has over us, and that’s what I feel like right now. All of the appointments, and everything I’ve been doing to pursue health in my life has lost it’s strong grip on me, and I feel as though I have a more balanced perspective of everything. I’m going to start going to some appointments, but I’m not interested in going back to the way I was living life before.

This month, I was able to see what my life can be like when I’m not focusing on a pain-free life. I had pain, and that was expected, and strangely okay. I acknowledged it, accepted it, and then went and thought about something else. Very refreshing!

And now, I get to choose what I’ll do next. I’m not controlled by the need to make my life as perfect as possible, and I will be able to go into this New Year with a stronger ability to make good choices.

3) I’ve surprised myself.

I’m tougher than I thought I was.:)

God is awesome, and can absolutely heal all, but I’m pretty sure He also wants us to do our part.

This month, I did my part.

I did stretching, exercises, and yoga every day, twice a day on most days, and it’s made a huge difference. I had no appointments to rely on, so I worked like crazy. Way back at the beginning, when I was asking God for guidance on how to handle all of this, I felt as though He said to me, “Act like a healthy person.” And that is what I tried to do. It is what I’ll keep trying to do.

Maybe I’ll have some pain, and maybe not everything feels the way I wish it did, but I’m tired of labeling myself as unhealthy, and I’m tired of carrying this weight of suffering around with me everywhere. I’ll give the weight to Jesus, and live a little lighter.

4) I’m ready for whatever comes next.

If God still chooses to heal me at some point, as I feel He’s promised, that will be awesome.

If He doesn’t heal me in this lifetime, that will still be awesome. It makes me anticipate Heaven more, and that is not a bad thing.;)

And the next time God asks me to do something that seems strange, I think I’ll be a little more ready to say yes quickly!

********************************

When I have shared my end results with others, I think some people are a bit disappointed. But once again, Teresa of Avila says it best:

I have clearly seen that He has never failed to reward me, even in this lifetime, for any of my good intentions. No matter how feeble or flawed my deeds may have been, this Beloved of mine has taken them and perfected them, polishing and giving them worth.

I offered the month of December to Jesus, and He took what I had to offer. I had weak, dark moments, but He brought me through, and it amazes me that what seemed so hard and scary just a month ago, could turn into a time of blessing, even if the blessing did not includephysical healing at this time.

Let GodAt the beginning of the month, I kept thinking about taking “a leap of faith”. It was always about jumping, and trusting God to catch me.

But about halfway through the month, I realized this wasn’t about jumping – it was about flying. It felt like soaring, to leave that cliff behind, and fly with Jesus.

Here’s to much more flying in the future.

God Goes Before Us (Or “My Last Prophecy Class”!)

Oh, friends!! I have so much to share, and don’t even know how to put words to it all, so we’ll see how this goes…:)

Way back in September, I shared with you that I was going out of my comfort zone, and attending a prophecy class at Church of the Rock. It has been such an amazing, stretching experience, and I feel as though I’ve learned and experienced so much. I could go on and on with all the stories, but the one experience that stands out the most leads up to the last class we had, yesterday evening.

About a month ago, I was paired up with someone I didn’t know, and we had to pray for each other. God gave this person an absolutely amazing message for me about how He is always with me, even if I pass through the flood and the fire.

About a week after that, my friend Sarah felt as though God was leading her to give me this song as His message to me:

It’s an incredible song, but when it got to the part about God being with us in the fire and the flood, I just burst into tears. I cannot even begin to describe that moment!

Well, last night I arrived at our prophecy class with eager expectation.

My secret wish: to be prophesied over by the pastor leading the class. And by “secret wish”, I mean a wild, passionate longing to hear from Jesus. I was really, really, really hoping something great would happen.

The pastor had casually mentioned a few weeks back that one time, he ended a class by prophesying over everyone in the class, and from that moment, I wanted the same thing! Really badly.

So it’s our last class, and he wraps up the teaching time, and says, “Now let’s move into the practical application part of this class.”

And I lean over and whisper to Sarah, “And….let’s prophecy over everyone in the class! Hooray!!”

She said, “Yeah, right, you wish!!”

Yes, I did wish!!

The pastor said we were all going to circle around one person from the class, and pray over them, asking God to give us a word for them. And then he called up a lady I didn’t know. I knew it was totally wrong to be jealous of her, but honestly, I think I felt a little bit like Charlie from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, when the other children kept getting golden tickets, but he didn’t….

I tried to set everything selfish out of my mind, and just focused on that dear lady in the chair. God did speak in awesome, powerful ways, and had all kinds of really great things to say to her through the rest of us as we prayed over her. So amazing.

And then….the pastor said, “Kendra, why don’t you go next?”

AHHHH! It was the moment I’d been waiting and hoping and longing for! I could have burst into tears on the spot.

But then….THEN he started praying and prophesying, and OH, MY WORD! God is so amazing!!

I cannot describe what it’s like to be surrounded by a bunch of people who don’t know you, yet they are saying all these things that have to be from the God who knows all. There is NO WAY they could make up anything that would fit me and what I’m going through right now, so perfectly.

The pastor and some of the people in the class spoke a lot about healing – not just physical healing, but all of me becoming new and changed. So much of it had to do with incredible new things happening in me and through me. And they didn’t know!! They did not know what this December has meant for me.

Then, the pastor started speaking those words from Isaiah – about passing through the flood and fire. WHAT?! That’s the third time those specific words have come up for me. I’d been crying straight through it all, but the flood and fire made me lose it.

And then, he started talking about how I would find so much beauty in the little things. He said I was the kind of person who found beauty in the bark of a tree, and in the shadows of a snowdrift.

Sarah said she lost it at the tree bark! And all I could think about was this:

treeAnd this:

snowAnd God said that I will find that beauty in the small things, and it will speak to the people around me, and they will see the beauty, too.

There was so much more, but it was pouring over me like a flood, and it was like I was cupping my hands under a waterfall, trying to capture even some of it, but there was just so much of it, I couldn’t hang on to it all, so I prayed, “Help me to remember this, God! Don’t let any of these words slip away! Let me remember…”

I could have cried all over again when, at the end of it, I saw that the pastor had recorded it all, and said he would send it to me. I feel like I can’t even fully chew on yet, because there’s so much I don’t remember.

Well. You’d think after all that, I would be flying. At first, I felt as though I would explode with sheer joy, but on the way home, it felt like I hit a brick wall. Suddenly, every horrible, awful lie that has ever crept into my mind was raging in full force. It was like this huge battle in my mind, and I knew it was all lies, but I couldn’t even get above it enough to remember any truth.

I felt so broken down and worthless, without one good thing in me worthy of love. I felt so insecure, I hardly knew what to do with myself, and suddenly I was questioning absolutely every good thing in my life. It was insane to go from so much good, to so much horribleness, in such a short time, and yet it makes sense – it felt as though Satan was trying to squash everything that had just happened at that prophesy class.

I needed Scripture to hang on to, and suddenly it hit me: the passage in Isaiah about the flood and fire. It’s been given to me three times, so you’d think I’d have looked it up by now!

Well, you’ll never believe what it says:

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

And then further down, it calls God’s people “precious” and “honored”.

Not only is He with me through everything, He has formed me, created me, loved me, and calls me precious.

How amazing are His ways! How awesome are the words that He speaks! I am so filled with joy because of His promise to bring about new things in my life, and I am so thankful for His presence in the midst of fears and doubts – He is with me! He summons me, and calls my name.

And He does the same for you!!

He speaks to you! He knows you – everything about you. If he can tell a complete that I find beauty in tree bark and snowdrifts, imagine what He can speak into your life!! He made you, and holds you, and delights in you being exactly who you are. I need to hang on to those words today, myself!

And that’s the end of the prophecy class…for now. The second level happens next fall, and you better believe I’ll be there, with bells on.

So that’s my story, and I have no idea how that can impact you, but here’s hoping that somehow, you can live vicariously through my experience, and that we’ll all keep our ears open for the things God longs to say to us!

Praying for a Stranger’s Nose, and Other Crazy Prayers…

Oh, what to say??! I have been so overwhelmed by the support, prayers, and encouragement passed on from all of you!! Thank you for blessing me so richly in this way!

I was very tempted to keep Wednesday’s post to myself, originally. When a friend asked me if I would blog about my December experience, I immediately said, “NO WAY!!!”

My thought was that I could write about it in January, when it was all over, and just let you know about all the awesome things that had happened. And if nothing ended up happening, you would never need to know!

But as I prayed about it, I got the sense, over and over again, that this is for everyone. It might be happening to me, specifically, but we all learn from each other. We share our struggles, and pass on encouragement, and God speaks to everyone involved.

Ann Voskamp wrote (long ago, in a post I can’t find anymore) that when we choose to share our stories, it heals twice – we are healed, and the one hearing the story is healed. This is why we share.

I was thinking of all those people Jesus went around healing in the New Testament, and realized that by healing, He blessed those who were healed directly, but He also blessed everyone who witnessed it, because it was such a display of His awesome power. He used His words and His actions to communicate with people, and they were all amazed.

Sometimes I wonder if we all just need to be amazed a bit more often. He is as amazing today as He was back then.

I was recently blessed with being part of a healing experience for someone else, and it was incredible.

A few weeks ago, at the prophecy class I’m attending at Church of the Rock, the pastor said he had paired us all up with someone before the class started, but he wasn’t going to tell us who we were paired up with. He asked us to sit where we were, pray for this person we didn’t know, and write down whatever God said to us.

Because I was extremely skeptical about how this would go, I turned to my friend and said, “And after that, we’ll do palm reading and get out our crystal balls!!”

She said, “Oh, Kendra, have more faith!”

So I sat there, trying to focus, asking God to take away my snarky attitude and to increase my faith.

Gradually, my mind seemed to slow down and become quiet, and I waited for what God would tell me. A verse from Romans came to mind, so I wrote that down, and then I got a few different pictures in my mind, as well as some words.

But what stood out the most came when I asked God if this person needed healing for anything. Suddenly, all I could see in my mind was a nose. I had a really bad cold myself, so I brushed it off at first, thinking I must just be thinking of my own nose. But again and again, this picture of a nose seemed to be in my mind.

So I began to pray for this nose, asking God if this nose needed healing, and it seemed to me as though this nose was very congested. There was a hard mass that was blocking it.

Still feeling very uncertain and skeptical, I wrote on my paper, “Nose? Healing? Congestion?”

After awhile, the pastor paired us up with the person we had been praying for. As I sat down with my partner, it was very obvious that he did not have a cold. I began to feel very foolish about this whole nose business.

I told him about the verse, and the other things that had come to me while praying. Some of them were very meaningful for him, others not so much.

Finally, I could avoid it no longer, and confessed that I felt led to pray for healing for his very normal-looking nose.

He started smiling, and he said, “Believe it or not, I’ve actually had chronic congestion in my nose for years, and it bothers me a lot.”

What??! So I prayed for him.

And then for the next two weeks, I kept on praying for him, because his nose was continually brought to me mind.

If he had just asked for prayer for his nose, I would have done it, and then probably not thought of it again. But God had made that nose my nose. I owned that prayer need. I prayed like I’ve never prayed for any nose before.

Well, at the next prayer class, I couldn’t wait to ask about his nose!! And guess what – he said his nose was much better! Not completely healed, but much improved. I’m not sure why I doubted God’s answer to my prayers for this man’s healing – God told me to pray for it, so it would make sense that He would do it!

It wasn’t my nose getting healed, but my joy and faith increased because of that man’s experience.

That is my wish for all of us – that our joy and faith would increase as we see all that God is doing, everywhere around us.

I would obviously really, really love to be healed, and live a life free of all this pain, but if I remove myself from that, I realize there is just a growing desire in me to see Jesus glorified. If He wants to use me in that, awesome. If not, I’m sure He’ll find another way! But I don’t want to hinder Him in any way. I will share my story, and I will take leaps of faith, and put myself out there in scary and vulnerable ways, because really, all I want is for Him to be glorified. What else truly matters?

So thank you for your prayers, thank you for sharing in this with me, and thank you for standing with me as we all wait on Him to act in powerful, unexpected, awesome ways, whatever they might be!

Things Are About to Get Crazy Around Here…

Well, friends, it’s time for a hard post.

Hard, because I love to share openly after I’ve gone through a struggle – I don’t mind telling you the deep, difficult stuff on this little blog, but I prefer to wrestle through it privately before sharing it publicly.

This time, however, I have an urge to share during struggle. I have a feeling there will be a whole lot of joy in the struggle, as well, and that’s the part I don’t want you to miss.

Here’s the deal:

I’ve written before about how I deal with different health issues. I live with constant pain, which is so normal to me that I can’t actually imagine not being in a ton of pain, every moment of every day.

In order for me to keep the pain under control, I go to a lot of appointments. Each week, I’m juggling a schedule of massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and reflexology appointments, as well as some exercise and movement classes.

It’s slightly crazy, and really expensive. About a quarter of our monthly budget goes into keeping my creaky body running as smoothly as possible.

For the past few years, I have felt very strongly that God is going to heal me, at some point. He has told me so, numerous times, and I’ve been prayed over on a number of different occasions. I’ve had some amazing experiences of hearing different things from God that have filled me with a lot of hope and joy.

But no healing, as of yet.

In spring, I had another such experience, and I felt as though God was asking me to trust Him for healing, by stepping out in faith and stopping all of my weekly appointments. I pretended I didn’t hear Him. I don’t really know how I would survive without my little team of therapists, each of whom I really love.

Two weeks ago, it happened again. I was home alone, planning a relaxing evening of watching Downton Abbey, but while I was waiting for it to download on my computer, I felt God telling me to get down on my knees and pray. So I did, and it was awesome, and when I was finished, I got back on the couch.

But God said, “Do it again.”

So I did. And then sat down again.

And God said, “You’re not done. Do it again.”

The third time was the most intense time, and that time, God gave me a very specific message. It came to my mind, one word at a time: “Sheddai….will…..heal….all……..Trust….me.”

It was amazing. I can’t even describe it, because my feeble words would ruin the moment. It was awesome.

So I sat there, thinking, “Now what? God, how do I trust you?”

And immediately, the thought came, “Cancel all your appointments.”

To which I immediately said, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. I’ll keep trusting God WHILE I go to the appointments, and I’ll stop going after He heals me.” Totally shoved that thought out of my mind, and moved on to more comfortable things.

Until a week later, at the weekly prayer class I’m leading. A lady came up to me and told me an amazing story about her relative who had felt God saying He would heal her eyesight, but when she prayed, nothing happened. When she asked why, she felt as though God said, “You never took off your glasses.” When she did, her eyesight was immediately healed.

The moment the lady said the part about taking off the glasses, I felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach.

I knew. I knew, like I knew that Ben was supposed to go to B.C., and I would give birth to our baby without him. I just knew what I was supposed to do.

I went to an empty Sunday school room in our church, and fought it out with God.

First, I cried for a really, really long time.

Then, I started coming up with excuses. But it didn’t matter what I came up with, I knew what God was saying to me.

And that’s the thing – I’m not saying He heals everyone, and I’m not saying that everyone should stop wearing glasses, or stop going for physiotherapy. I just know what He said to ME, in that moment. I felt as though I was supposed to give up ALL appointments for one month.

So I said, “God, if this is for real, tell Ben, too. I can’t do this on my own. He needs to be in agreement with this.”

After church, I told Ben the whole story, and asked him to pray like crazy. I said, “If I’m going to do this, I need God to tell you, too. If I’m wrong, and this is crazy, there is no chance I can go through with it. We both need to hear it.”

And Ben said, “I’ve actually felt a number of times, over the last while, that if we truly believe in God’s healing, that you should stop going to appointments.”

So that was that. And we’re doing this.

Part of me is wicked scared. I don’t want to live through the pain that could build up over the next month. I don’t want to be disappointed if God doesn’t show up and do something awesome.

But I guess I don’t really need to worry about that, because I feel as though He is ALREADY doing something. The peace and joy in my heart when I finally surrendered was already worth whatever comes of the next month. I’m so excited.

And I need your prayers. I need prayer like I haven’t needed it for a long, long time. I’m doing this in the faith that God will heal me, but somehow, it doesn’t seem to really matter what happens. I want to live in complete surrender and obedience to Him, and the more I do this, the more awesome life becomes.

Last night, I asked Ben, “If prayer is the only thing I have to face the pain this month, can you imagine how much harder I’ll pray?”

It’s like a huge month of fasting, for me. It’s stripping away everything I’ve come to depend on.

I don’t know how much I’ll share about it along the way. I have no idea how this will go. But if you think of it, and want to pray, please pray that the pain would be gone. Pray that I wouldn’t get cranky at my family, as I often do when things are hurting a lot. Pray that I will have the strength to hang on to Jesus and nothing else.

The other day, my friend said to me, “Sometimes the truest prayers come during the times of deepest suffering.”

It seems slightly idiotic to purposefully put myself in the place of deep suffering, and yet, that’s what fasting is, right? It’s going without what we truly need, to teach ourselves to truly need Jesus.

Oh boy, am I ever going to need Him. It’s like jumping off a cliff and trusting that He’ll catch me.

Any words of wisdom out there from those who are experienced with jumping off cliffs in faith?!

Gracefully Let Go

I’m not in the habit of quoting Buddha, but I came across this quote on Pinterest recently, and could not resist:

Buddhasource

That last part of the quote is what grabbed my attention. It sums up perfectly what’s been on my mind recently….

When Ben and I were dating, we would talk about kids – how many we wanted, and what our family might look like.

I though four children would probably be necessary, but Ben said two.

I asked if we could compromise, and have three, and he said, very Ben-like, “We’ll talk about it when the time comes.”

So I never really decided how many kids we would have. Because I knew there was a good chance it would be hard for us to have kids, a bit of me wondered if we’d have ANY.

Well, Anika came along, and life was so awesome, there was no doubt we wanted more where that came from. But when it took so long for us to have Kaylia, it made me not only desperate for two kids, it made me quite certain I wanted three.

However, after Kaylia was born, it became clear that three might not be possible. For a long time, I remained hopeful that my physical limitations would heal up in time for me to squeak one more baby out before I turned 35. After that, I said I would give up. (In case you’re wondering what Ben thought of all this, his opinion was that he would be sad if we never had another baby, but he was happy with the family we had.)

Thirty-five rolled around this summer, but it turns out, I still didn’t want to give up my baby dream. There was a part of me that still desperately hoped of Baby #3. We had all that baby stuff sitting in the basement, and I was unable to part with it.

I felt stuck and frustrated. My therapists said “No.” Pregnancy would not be a good idea, and I didn’t want to wreck my body any further – I wanted to be strong and healthy to enjoy the children I have been blessed with.

But my friends all talked about how when you’re done, you KNOW you’re done.

I didn’t know. I never got to choose.

I wish I could know what it feels like to be DONE. I wish the baby clothes could get shipped out victoriously, speedily followed by the crib and stroller. I don’t want to be sad about this.

One mom who had decided to stop at two said she felt a pang of longing every time she saw a family of three, even years after making the decision.

I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering “What if…?” I didn’t want to have regrets when I was eighty, thinking we should have had more kids.

But I didn’t get to make the choice. I still feel as though I need every person to know that we only have two because we couldn’t have more, not because this is what I wanted – I’m not sure why I feel the need for everyone to know that.

I don’t want to see our family as incomplete, and I most definitely don’t want to be discontent. I praise the Lord for these sweet girls of ours.

“Gracefully let go of things not meant for you…”

Isn’t that beautiful? It’s what I want in many areas of my life. I feel as though God is teaching me to find it in this situation, as well. In the last month or two, as I’ve prayed about it, and tried to release it to Him, I feel as though He’s giving me such peace and contentment.

He knows the longing I’ve had, and He holds it. It is safe with Him, and I am safe with Him, and there are so many other ways to live and love and do family. If we can’t have more children, we will find other ways to reach out and share life with those who are lonely.

God is surprising me with His ability to make my life seem full and good, even when I can’t have exactly what I want.

familyMorgan Jane Photography

He will not leave me longing. I want to let go of my desire for another baby so there is room to desire Him, and all He has for me.

Is there anything in your life that needs to be gracefully let go of?

Say “Yes” Quickly, Part Two

Thanks so much to everyone who left encouraging comments about Friday’s post, and my new prayer class challenge! I thought I should give you a little update – it was one of my favorite weekends ever!

My new prayer class began on Sunday, but the pastor of our church encouraged me to attend the prayer event that was happening at church on Saturday morning, so that is where I headed on a chilly fall morning this last weekend.

I wasn’t outrageously excited about going – that whole comfort zone thing was getting in the way again, but I was trying to ignore it. Little did I know what was in store for me…

We started the morning off with some singing, and during that time, our pastor encouraged us to pray quietly, or for someone else, if we felt led to do so. Immediately, a lady’s name popped into my head. And like usual, I said to myself, “No way! I am SO not going to pray for her right now! She will think I’m weird, and everyone else will think I’m just trying to be extra spiritual because I’m leading the prayer class tomorrow. Nope. Not doing it.”

But the thought kept bugging me, and finally it occurred to me that the only thing holding me back from obeying what seemed to be an urging from God was my worry about what other people might think. It became crystal clear to me that this was between God and me, and no one else. I needed to stop caring what other people thought.

Before I could change my mind, I jumped out of my seat, and headed over to her.

Praying for her was amazing. No idea how it impacted her, but it was amazing for me, because I was obeying God.

I went back to my seat with this huge, incredible joy in my heart. I said to God, “Whatever you tell me to do this morning, I’ll do it. Even if I don’t know for sure that it came from You, I’ll do it. As long as it’s good and in line with Your Word, and not illegal or sinful, I’ll do it.”

Oh, my goodness. Those are interesting words to say to God. I did things that morning that I have never done before. Someday, I might tell you all about it, but for now, I have to say that if you want an adventure, tell God you’ll do whatever He says!

It was completely awesome. One of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

I started getting really excited about what He might do on Sunday…

But I was still really nervous before my prayer class began. I didn’t have a plan. I ALWAYS have a plan. I have never taught a Bible study or led a session without knowing exactly what my plan was. I kept feeling that God wanted me to STOP having a plan, though, and just follow His leading on Sunday morning.

So I did, and of course, it was amazing. People shared their stories of how God was speaking and leading them, and I loved hearing it all. I got goosebumps many times over. There is just something incredible about hearing a whole bunch of testimonies about what God is doing here and now, in the midst of our “ordinary” days. He shows up in the simplest things, and suddenly the simple becomes miraculous, and it’s awesome.

We spent time praying that God would show us what He has for us this week, and I can’t wait to hear everybody sharing their stories next Sunday.

Are you having any adventures with God this week? Keep looking for Him, even in the smallest things!

 

Say “Yes” Quickly!

Last spring, a pastor from our church called one day to ask if I would be willing to make a meal once a week for a lady in town who was dying of cancer.

The first thought that popped into my head was this:

“Feed the orphans and widows.”

The next thoughts went along these lines:

How could I get the girls and a hot meal loaded up in the car, get over to the lady’s house, while getting our own supper ready and on the table by the time Ben got home from work at six?

Would she be okay with eating a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet like the rest of us, or would I need to make two different meals on those days?

Had I already booked appointments for those days, and wouldn’t be around for bringing her a meal?

The list of details to figure out went on and on in my head, so finally, I told the lady on the phone that I would think about it, and call back once I figured out if this was something I could fit into our already busy schedule.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I called Ben to talk things out with him. I gave him all my reasons for why I didn’t think it was a great idea, but then I told him, “I still think I’m supposed to do it. God told me to feed the orphans and widows.”

And Ben, in all his wisdom, said to me, “You would have many reasons not to do it, but if God told you to, then you should. I don’t know how you’re going to make it work, but you should do it.”

I hung up the phone, and started praying. I really couldn’t see a way to make it fit into our schedule, but I prayed anyway.

And suddenly, the solution popped into my head. It would take a bit of planning, but it was completely possible. I knew it was what I was supposed to do.

I quickly called our pastor back to give her my answer, but she was out of the office, so I left a message.

The more I thought about the opportunity, the more excited I became. It was as though God was filling my heart with joy for this small way in which I could bless this woman during the short time she had left on earth.

When our pastor returned my call the next day, I was eager to tell her I was ready to commit to helping out, but she surprised me by saying, “Don’t worry about it! I found someone else to do it! I understand that you’re busy, so thanks for being willing to consider it!”

I hung up the phone, and I felt awful. There was a very keen awareness that I had missed out on an opportunity God had plunked down right in front of me.

The woman would still have food to eat.

I could continue on with my busy life.

But I would miss out on the chance to live in obedience to what God had asked me to do.

That made me sad. I missed the blessing.

The lady died two weeks later. It would only have taken two meals for me to care for her in this way.

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I had thought I needed to know exactly how I was going to obey God before I said “yes”, but really, all I needed to know was that He was asking me to do it.

I decided that the next chance I got, I would say yes even before I knew how to make it all work.

Well, wouldn’t you know, I got my chance….

Ben is in charge of finding Sunday School teachers for the adult classes at our church, and one day a few weeks ago, I happened to notice an email he’d received about needing a leader for the prayer class our church is offering this year. As soon as I saw the email, something inside me said, “Lead it!”

And I thought, “No way!”

A few days later, I was sitting in the prophecy class I’m attending with a friend this fall, and suddenly the thought popped into my head: “Lead the prayer class at church!”

And I thought, “Oh boy, I guess this is my chance to obey.” But I conveniently forgot about it.

A few more days passed, and one evening Ben and I were at home. I was checking email, and there was another message about that prayer class. Before I had much of a chance to think about it, I quickly asked Ben, “What are the qualifications for leading that prayer class?”

He said, “Yes. You have them. Do it.”

So I am. And guess what? I’m scared, and I don’t have all the details figured out, and whenever I sit down to try to make a plan so that I’ll feel better, I feel as though the Holy Spirit is saying to me, “Trust me.”

I have no plan.

But I said yes. We start this coming Sunday. Oh, mercy.

The strange thing is that while I occasionally feel like vomiting out of sheer nervousness, I also feel very exhilarated at the same time. I have no idea what will happen. Scary! I have no idea what will happen. Awesome! There will be tons of room for the Holy Spirit to move in and teach me a thing or two.

Should be interesting.

I’ve learned one thing already, so I’m ahead – I said “yes” this time.

What do you need to say “yes” to, before you think yourself out of obeying God?!

This Awesome, Special Life, Full of Rainbows and Unicorns…

I came across an amazing blog post recently. It was called “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy”, and if I were the boss of this world, I would make it mandatory reading for everyone. Or at least everyone born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.

This article seems so brilliant to me, because it’s something Ben and I have talked about a lot since moving away from camp, so I kinda wish I’d written it myself, because it gives words to many thoughts and questions I’ve had, plus it’s got awesome graphs and illustrations. You should most definitely check it out.

For those of you who won’t read it, I’ll give a basic summary: The idea is that because our parents, the Baby Boomers, have lived such awesome lives, they’ve been really  happy – life has exceeded their expectations. So we’ve been taught that life will be even better for us. Plus, we’ve been taught that we’re really, really special. Well, just me. I am special.

But you’ve been taught that you’re very special, too. So all of us are apparently very special, but in reality..we’re all pretty normal. We’re just people.

So anyway, we think life will be AWESOME, and we are soooo special, and we will fulfill all the dreams we have for our future.

But then…life isn’t always awesome and magical, and sometimes we don’t feel very special. Life doesn’t exceed, or sometimes even meet our expectations, so we feel unhappy.

Add to that….social media. Now we have countless ways to see how other people are living the awesome, magical, special life we expected, so we feel even more unhappy. Meanwhile, there is a very good chance that they aren’t living it either, but are putting lots of effort into making it look as though they are living that awesome, perfect life.

It’s all a bit of a mess. And I didn’t use any stick figure diagrams or unicorn graphs to help explain all of this, which is why I really recommend reading the original article.

But in the meantime, I’ll give you the version Ben and I discussed when we left camp:

First of all, I thought we ended up at Red Rock Bible Camp because we were “special” – Ben was hired because God must have some amazing purpose for us there that no one else could possibly fill, and we would do great and wonderful things. (Ben says that makes him sound very cocky and full of himself, but that’s not what I mean. What I’m trying to say is that I had totally bought into the idea that God did have a really amazing plan for us, and obviously we must have been created for just such an opportunity, and of course it would be more than we could ask or imagine, and all that other stuff we’d been fed in the Christian culture.)

But when we felt it was time to leave camp, and I looked back on our time there, nothing stood out as being earth-shatteringly wonderful. We had done our best, we weathered some hard times, we loved the good times, we enjoyed that season of life very much.

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God definitely did some great things, and we enjoyed many wonderful relationships full of blessings and growth. But there were no unicorns.

I had always thought that when we left camp, we would move on to bigger and better ministry opportunities, because that’s how it goes, right? Always onward and upward.

But then we felt called to do something other than full-time ministry.

So Ben started working with his dad, which was good…but not magical. He spent a lot of time at a desk, and learned a ton of stuff, but it didn’t make him feel very special, or very miraculously gifted. He wasn’t really changing the world, although he was bringing home a paycheck.

It was a hard transition to go from a job that was easy and natural for him, involving tons of interaction with people, to a job that was completely unfamiliar for him, and didn’t provide the social interaction he had grown so accustomed to at camp. It wasn’t something we’d dreamed about, and it didn’t have anything to do with the full-time ministry opportunities we’d imagined for our future.

During those first months, we talked a lot about how work has changed over the years. It used to be that if your dad was a farmer, you’d grow up to be a farmer. None of this “What was I created for? How can I fulfill my unique, special, awesome purpose?”

It was as though we needed to learn that life is what you make it, and getting a paycheck is actually a huge blessing. And maybe Ben was not fulfilling every rainbow-coloured dream behind a desk, but he was learning, and spending time with his dad, and he was stepping forward in the opportunity that presented itself. Fortunately, building houses is something he was interested in. If it hadn’t been, could he have been content?

It feels as though we’ve been bombarded with this message that success means having a really good paying job which you love so much, you’d do it for free. It means God will bless you wildly, and life will always exceed your expectations, and your influence will know no bounds, and you’d better have huge dreams, because God will fill them all.

And this seems to be a common idea – Ben and I have had many conversations with people who truly believe that if life isn’t wildly awesome, they must be in the wrong place.

But on Sunday, the speaker at church shared about how 150 doctors recently felt called to go Syria to serve. Less than 40 of them have survived, and now another 150 have stepped forward, saying God has called them to go, as well. What future awaits them? It doesn’t seem to look too promising.

How does that fit with this awesome life we’re all supposed to have? If God would call me to go straight into danger, right now, and I would know there was little chance of surviving, would I go? Would I feel as though my life-purpose had been fulfilled at the age of 35?

I’m having trouble figuring out how to fit this all into my brain.

Basically, it comes down to this:

1) I don’t have a clue.

My spoiled, sheltered, comfortable life has gotten me thinking that this is the way it is – that all this wonderful, super privileged life may not even be good enough for me. I need to dream bigger dreams, and expect better things from God.

What??! Tell that to doctors sacrificing their life, because God asks them to. I have much to learn.

2) I’m not special.

I’m a regular person, living life with a lot of other regular people.

But I’m God’s child. Whatever happens to come my way, whether it’s what I hoped for or not, will pass through His hand, and that’s more than enough for me.

3) God is in everything.

We’re not living the flashy, dramatic, awesomely exciting ministry-filled life I dreamed about. Normal life seems to keep happening, and blessings keep coming, but sometimes they’re really small. We have to keep our eyes open, or we might miss them.

Ben’s job is a blessing, his paycheck is a blessing, this normal life is a blessing, and this last year and a half has shown us that we can be joyful anywhere, no matter what we’re doing. Our dreams for the future may come to pass, and they may not. There may not be unicorns or rainbows. And that’s okay. “Normal” is actually quite awesome. “Flashy” can be very overrated.

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Now I’m curious: What are your thoughts on this? Is there too much emphasis on being special, and living a big, exciting life? Are you able to be content with very normal, everyday circumstances, or do you find yourself wishing for more rainbows and unicorns?