Last Weekend of the Summer

This last weekend, we felt the moment when summer turned into fall.

We were at the beach and the sun was shining, but we could feel it coming – the air smelled like fall, the yellow leaves were peeking out, and we knew we were near the end.

The sun went behind a cloud and never came back.

The rain started later that evening, and the rest of the weekend was cool and cloudy, making me crave naps, books, and movies inside. Which is very nice, too, but I’m so thankful we got in one more beautiful afternoon!

It was only 13 degrees the morning we left, but my dad wanted to go for a ski. He’s been waiting hard for this! He broke both his legs in a car accident last winter, and has been going for physiotherapy for months. He finally got the go ahead for water skiing, and I’m so glad I got to be there to see it! I felt so proud of him. Life has changed a lot for him since his accident, but he’s never complained, and worked hard to push all the limits. I’m so happy to see him enjoying the things he loves once more! I asked him if it was okay to share this, and he said the part he likes to talk about is God’s ability to do miracles, and bring about healing, which is so true! It’s amazing to have days like this when we can celebrate how far God has brought him – I think He was smiling as my dad zipped around the lake.:)

It was a great way to end the summer! What did you do with your weekend?

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Struggling to Life

My body hurts.

As I’ve shared before, I’m going through the painful process of strengthening my weak muscles which were injured from having babies. According to my therapist, this strengthening phase is exciting progress and I’m doing well, but unfortunately, when it comes to exercise, “doing well” can actually be really painful. These creaky muscles are being challenged to do things they’re not used to doing, and there’s no easy, fast way around that.

The good news is that I’ve been at this long enough to start experiencing some of the benefits. Although I hurt all the time, I can feel certain movements getting easier, and am noticing how my body feels stronger, which is outrageously exciting.:)

But sometimes, I just get tired of hurting. On one of those days, some dear friends were praying for me and the pain I’ve been trying to push through. One  friend said, “It’s like a butterfly trying to get out of it’s cocoon – you’re struggling to life!”

That resonated deeply with me, because years ago, I read about a man watching a butterfly struggling out of a cocoon. After a long while, he couldn’t stand watching helplessly, so he carefully cut the cocoon and instantly freed the butterfly. But what he didn’t realize was how necessary the struggle was – the butterfly lay there, unable to fly, because the fight to be free was what strengthened its wings.

The struggle is necessary and life-giving.

Our culture is all about instant gratification, but the struggle to true strength and health does not come instantly. I really wish it did. I’ve prayed for a miracle for years. I believe God could heal me instantly, and this would be convenient and awesome. But one day, as I was asking God to take all the pain away in a moment, it became clear to me that I was asking Him for something I could really do myself.

God made my body to work well. There is nothing permanently broken in my body – there’s just a lot of weakness and muscles out of balance. And while I know He could fix it all in an instant, I also know that I could get my butt off the couch, and go use my muscles the way God intended me to use them.

I still ask Him to take the pain away, but I also ask Him to give me the strength to push through this season of pain and struggle. I ask Him to help my body work the way He made it to.

I’ve lived with pain for so many years, I don’t remember what it’s like not to have it. Right now, though, the pain I’m experiencing is different – before I hurt because I was weak and my body was not working right. Now I hurt because I’m getting stronger and pushing myself to new levels. Totally different kind of pain! Can we call it “exciting pain”?! The pain of progress? A friend suggested I find a new word for “pain”, just to remind myself how this present pain is different from the old pain. I like this idea, but I’m still working on finding the right word!

For on the days when I get discouraged, and wish this was all a lot easier, I’ve been putting together a little collection of quotes. Since I’m doing a lot of squats these days, I found it fairly amusing to come across this quote: “No sweat, no beauty. No squat, no booty.” When I shared this with Ben, he said, “That’s my life  motto, really….”

Here are a few of my other favorites, in case you are also in need of a little inspiration!

Hopesource

Strugglesource

Weaknesssource

Changesource

And when I can’t make it seem pretty or inspirational anymore, and I’m just down to pure desperation, there’s always this one:

Pukesource

 Anything you’re struggling through right now? What’s your motivation to keep going?

Video: Our Miracle Baby

Today is Everett’s birthday! He is currently stuffing his face with pancakes and turkey sausage, so I think he’s enjoying the day so far.

birthday boyI’ll share his birthday favorites on Monday, but for today, here’s a video I’ve been working on – the story of how God gave us our miracle baby. If you’ve been a regular reader for awhile, you’ve probably read parts of this story before, but I wanted to tell it from the beginning. God is so good! Feeling so thankful for our sweet boy, today and every day!

He’s Got it Covered

I have such a great little story to share with you today! But it didn’t start out so great…

About a month ago, Everett had a little incident with a very tight pair of socks. By the time I rescued him the next morning, he had very intense, angry red lines on the backs of his poor, chubby legs. I didn’t think much of it, other than feeling the need to get rid of the socks.

legs

But then, the red lines didn’t go away. And didn’t go away.

After a week of wondering about it, and Ben reassuring me there was nothing to worry about, I googled it, and discovered there’s actually a name for very red sock lines that don’t go away…and it’s permanent. For whatever reason, a baby’s delicate skin can get scarred for life by wearing tight socks just one time. They’ve done studies on it, and from what I read, it can take over a year for the redness to fade, and eventually turn into a lighter scar.

I cried and cried. My poor seven-month-old baby was scarred for life already!! I was very thankful that he wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, but it was really hard for me to accept that those red lines weren’t ever going away.

I was praying about it that afternoon, trying to get a grip on the fact that this was just the way it was, when I suddenly got this really clear picture of Everett lying on his stomach, and Jesus had His hands on the backs of Everett’s legs. I felt a very strong urge to pray for healing, which I felt kind of weird about, because in a world filled with so much pain and suffering, it was just red scars. But I did pray that God would heal Everett’s legs.

I told Ben about this experience later that evening, and he asked me exactly when I had gotten this picture, because he had felt the exact same thing that afternoon, as well. We prayed together for Everett’s legs, and for the next few weeks, every time I started worrying about Everett’s legs, that picture of Jesus covering Everett’s legs came to my mind. I kept giving it back to Him, choosing not to worry about it, knowing that Jesus was holding my sweet boy.

And guess what – those marks are almost gone, one month later. Joy fills me every time I see those faint lines, because now they remind me that Jesus knows and cares, and He’s got it covered – all of it.

legs

Would the marks have faded, even if we hadn’t prayed about it? Maybe. We’ll never know. All I know is that Jesus gave me peace when I had none, and I was able to give the situation to Him.

I was sharing this with a friend, and she said, “It’s about so much more than Everett’s legs. God wanted to heal your heart – to take away the fear and worry, and show you there is nothing in this world He can’t handle. You can live in joy and freedom.”

I live with a lot of pain every day. A great amount of healing has already happened in my life, and I’m very thankful for that, but a bit of me was really wondering why all of the remaining pain in my body couldn’t fade away as quickly as those scars. But I know that what my friend says is true – regardless of the state of my body, I can truly live in joy and freedom.

And if the scars hadn’t faded, God would be just as able to cover it all. But it’s such an awesome gift to me, a constant reminder that He continues to hear us, and delights in surprising us.

When I share stories like this with people, I’ll sometimes hear them say things like, “I don’t get clear pictures like you do.” And I don’t always, either. But it’s started happening a lot more since I started asking for them. I’ll ask Jesus to help me see where He is in a situation, or reveal to me how He’s working so that I can pray along with what He is doing. When I get a clear picture in my mind, it is awesome and exciting, and I love it. When I don’t get anything, that’s okay, too – it means I need to just trust that He’s still there, still listening, still working on something amazing.

What needs covering in your life right now? I’m praying for a covering a peace, and continual confidence and assurance in His presence today!

Four Ways to Fight Fear (Or “How I’m Surviving Pregnancy After Miscarriage”)

I want to write about fighting fear today, but here’s my warning: while I believe that these tools can be used to fight fear across the board, I’m going to be writing about mine in terms of pregnancy and miscarriage, because that’s where my life has been at for the last two months.

It is my hope and prayer that whatever you might be facing in your life, these ideas can be of help and encouragement, even though we don’t all fear the same things….

How I Got into This Mess

When Ben and I talk about my issues with fear, he often expresses how helpless he feels about not being able to make things better for me. He would love to help me, but he just doesn’t understand how I think. He doesn’t get why I worry or feel fear. I’ve had a tendency to pick the worst-case scenario, and then imagine how I would deal with it, thinking this would prepare me for whatever might actually happen.

Over the past few years, I’ve gone to war with that kind of thinking, slowly and painfully trying to change old, bad habits of thought patterns. I’ve been told it works a bit like a beaten path through the forest – our minds follow certain trains of thought, until they become well-worn, and difficult to break away from.

My fears over these last couple of months come from the fact that after Anika was born, we went through two miscarriages, and three and a half years of fertility treatments. During this time, I was very weak physically, mentally, and spiritually. All three tie together so tightly, one tends to bring the rest out of balance. I went to see a counselor during that time, but she focused only on the mental aspect, while I needed balance in the other areas, as well. Things only started improving once I was also seeing a naturopath to heal my physical issues, and found some friends who were able to support and mentor me spiritually. I also read a ton of great books, which is one of my favorite ways to learn and grow.

Before this could happen, however, I become pregnant with Kaylia, and felt so gripped by fear, and experienced such terrible morning sickness, I stayed in bed for hours each day. I could hardly function, those first few months. It’s kind of a blur to me now – I just remember it being a very dark time.

It was hard to recover from it – Kaylia was a few months old before I felt as though I had finally gotten over the fear and trauma of that pregnancy. In the five years since, it’s been amazing to see how God has brought healing, strength, and stability into my life. I’ve learned a lot about choosing my thoughts carefully, and fighting fear. I am not the same person I was back then.

Kendra and Kaylia

However. When I found myself unexpectedly in that dreaded first trimester all over again, I was terrified that I would regress. I did not want to go back to my old way of dealing with things, but it was incredibly hard to be faced with those old fears, and NOT slip back into the well-worn paths in my mind.

I cannot claim to have been completely victorious, but I can say that this time around, things were very different.

Here are the tools I used to fight fear:

1) Hang on to Scripture.

Like your life depends on it. I chose a few verses that directly applied to my situation, and I said those verses over and over and over again. I wrote them out repeatedly. I meditated on them. I prayed them.

When I went for counseling years ago, I was told that the best way to redirect the pathways in the mind is to come up with an alternative thought – something truthful and logical that replaces the fear.

But they were still just words. It worked to a point, but it didn’t have anywhere near the same strength that Scripture has.

For this situation, these are the verses I chose:

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27

I chose these verses because I needed to remember that this baby’s life is in God’s hands. My worrying and fear could not extend that life. God already knew how long this little life would be, and I needed to surrender to His perfect wisdom, knowledge, and plan.

No, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll get what I want. I wanted this baby to live, with everything in me. I wanted comforting verses that would assure me God would only do what is good and wonderful. But it’s not true. Babies die and bad stuff happens, but if my focus stays on Jesus, suddenly even the worst possibilities fade from my sight, and all I care about in that moment is hanging on to Him. He doesn’t take the bad stuff away – He just captures my focus so I don’t see the fear anymore.

2) Live in the moment.

In these last two months, God did not give me strength to survive losing this baby, because I didn’tlose this baby.

The problem with worrying is that you put yourself outside of this present moment, and Jesus isn’t giving me strength for my imaginary scenarios. He’s here. I firmly believe that He will give me strength to go through whatever life brings my way, but He WON’T give me strength for things life DOESN’T bring my way. I don’t need it! But I do have everything I need, for this present moment.

3) Get prayer support.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed about my issues with fear. I don’t want people to know, because I want to appear strong. I feel foolish about some of the things that worry me. I know better, so I don’t want to admit my struggles with something I know I shouldn’t be struggling with.

But amazing things happen when we open up and share. Our vulnerability often opens doors for others to let down their guard, as well. I’m always amazed by how many other people also struggle with fear. Satan loves to lie to us, and convince us we’re alone, but we’re NOT!!

Opening up to my wonderful friends opened the doors for beautiful times of prayer and being strengthened. On one of my weakest days, a friend gripped my arms, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “You are not that person anymore. You do not fear. You are strong, and God has not made you a woman of fear.” And then she prayed until all the junk had been cleaned out.

Don’t ever stay alone in your fear. If  you really don’t think you have someone to turn to, then pray like crazy that God will bring someone your way who can pray with you and speak those words of truth into your life.

4) There is no condemnation.

I felt very guilty about my fear sometimes. I didn’t want it, I was ashamed of it, and I felt guilty for allowing it to cloud what should have been a happy time in my life.

When people heard that we were expecting a baby, I was asked many times, “Are you excited???!!” And the answer was “no”. I don’t know if I ever actually said that, but that was the truth. I spent two months protecting my weary heart, and I was petrified to get attached to this baby. I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even want to tell people that we were having a baby, because I was annoyed that they were more excited than I was!!

I fought with everything in me not to lose control and enter a complete state of panic. I fought to keep my eyes of Jesus, and to get through the first trimester without losing faith. There was no room for getting excited.

So I felt guilty. And I worried that I might not get excited, at all!

But I need not have worried. When I heard that heartbeat for the first time at the end of the first trimester, I was set free. I was suddenly overcome with excitement, and I wanted EVERYONE to know!

Ben always says, “It will be what it will be.” And this is completely true with baggage. I am on my way to freedom in Christ, but it’s a journey. He understands that, and He just keeps loving me and waiting for me as I keep learning and working it out. He doesn’t condemn me for what I’m feeling – He just keeps offering peace.

It was my own expectations that brought guilt and condemnation into my situation. One day, I finally sat myself down, and had to say to myself, “I am not excited, but I will be. I can’t change what the past held, and I’m learning to face a lot of old fears. It is what it is. So I will keep giving it to Jesus, and I will not expect myself to feel certain things. I will accept the past, trust Him with the present, and hope for better things in the future.”

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

And here we are. I made it through one of my greatest fears. There are many, many other fears that could potentially creep in – there are no guarantees, even after the first trimester is over. But I’ve gotten stronger. I’ve practiced controlling my thoughts, and grown in my ability to trust God, and now we just keep going!

Same tools, different circumstances.

I’d love to hear what tools you use to fight fear in your own life. Share, and bless the rest of us?:)

How I Survived, Part Two

Well, friends, turns out the story wasn’t quite over. (Maybe it will never really be over, because I’ll be learning and growing for many years to come!)

I thought I had covered all the important stuff in my last post on how I survived my December challenge.

And then Wednesday happened, and now I just have to share a bit more with you all!

After going for an entire month without any of my usual appointments, I felt the freedom to return to the most important ones. I have no desire to return to my old schedule of craziness, but I picked the three most important appointments to go to this week.

First up was Nigel, my extremely unconventional massage therapist who basically beats all the tension right out of my muscles. That was quite the appointment. I have no desire to repeat that experience again anytime soon, and am very thankful to return to my regularly scheduled beatings, when the pain doesn’t have quite so much time to build up.

But here’s the awesome part: Nigel was surprised and pleased with how well my body held up. He said I wasn’t nearly as tight as he had expected, and was “impressed” with where I was at. (And that’s coming from someone who is very sparse with praise!)

So that was really exciting, but then I went for my physio appointment, which I was supposed to be going to once a week, and my physio therapist was also very amazed with how well I was doing. She said I don’t need to go back until March!!

Last of all, my family joined me at the chiropractor, where I go once a week, and he said I only need to come back in three weeks, like Ben and the girls do.

I am so incredibly excited!! This takes a huge load off of my schedule and our finances, and is such an answer to prayer! I felt as though the month went much better than I’d expected, but I never thought my therapists would see such a difference.

I’ve thought about this a lot – how I didn’t get an instant miraculous healing, but how God has been calling me into something new. He’s leading me through a process, and really, I think it’s better this way. Not as flashy, and much more work on my part, but He’s changing me bit by bit.

He’s teaching me to make good choices, and work hard. The thought came to me one day that if we’re called to work out our faith with fear and trembling, the same could be said for health –it takes work. I believe God heals, and I also believe that sometimes healing happens when we get to Heaven.

But I also think there is so much that we can do right now, and we don’t. I don’t, because I get lazy. I want to sit on the couch, watching TV and eating chips, and I forget how I really want to be spending this life of mine.

So I’m getting off the couch, and I’m doing the work, and God’s blessing it, and we’re going to do this well! I have such a sense of hope and joy and excitement.

Ben shared this song with me last night, and it just hit the spot – “Could a garden come up from this ground?” God can do such wonderful, fantastic things that we wouldn’t ever imagine on our own. I am so excited to see my garden growing, and feeling many things in my life becoming new – physical, emotional and spiritual.

Here’s wishing you many new, beautiful things growing in your own garden!

Do the Next Thing

Since first writing about my December challenge, I’ve had many, many people share their words of encouragement, as well as thoughts and opinions. I was aware of opening myself up to this when I decided to make this challenge public, and I was a little nervous about whether I was strong enough to weather all the wise words that would come my way, without losing sight of how this all began, and what I most wanted to focus on, personally.

I really appreciate all that people share with me, but it definitely has given me a lot to chew on, and I have gotten a little confused, at times.

Some people are completely sure that I will experience healing by the end of December.

Others think I will experience spiritual and emotional healing, but don’t really think physical healing will necessarily be a part of it.

Some people think I should never go back for another appointment again, because I should just have faith I will be healed.

Others think this month will be a great month for me to relax and rest without having to run around to a million different appointments, and I will have the chance to learn more about myself and about Jesus.

A friend came over last week on a day when I was feeling super confused about everything, and we had a good talk about it all. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know much, and I’m not even sure what I believe myself, but it comes down to this:

Trust God, and do the next thing.

Is that not fantastic?! It’s what formed in my mind last winter when I was learning a lot about what I believe about God’s will for my life, but my pastor shared this Oswald Chambers quote with me last week, and it may be what will save me, now in December, and forever after.

It’s simple, really. Do what you know. Right now. And then stop worrying about everything else.

For me, right now, it looks like this:

1) God said He will heal me. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I just know He can, He will, and I’ll trust Him.

2) I felt God telling me to stop my appointments for the month of December. That sounds so specific, and so “I have a direct line to Heaven”, and I don’t even like putting it into words, but there it is. So I’ll do what I know, for the month of December, and then I’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll be healed. Maybe I’ll go back to all my appointments. Maybe I’ll only go back to some of them. I have no idea.

3) God didn’t tell me that He would heal me in December. He said He would heal me, I should trust Him, and then 2 weeks later I felt like He was asking me to give up my appointments for a month. I can do all of those things without actual knowing what needs to happen next.

I probably don’t have enough faith. Maybe I should be waiting joyously all month, just knowing that healing is coming my way within a matter of weeks. I don’t know. I was feeling really guilty about not having enough faith, and my pastor said, “Give Him your guilt. And then do the next thing.”

The song that keeps coming to my mind is “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. It gives me peace every single time I think of it, because it’s true – when I’m focusing on Him, worshiping Him, and dancing in my kitchen, or crying on my couch, just trying to surrender every hard moment to Him, I’m able to get past all of it, if only I fill my mind with Him.

Then nothing else matters – I could have pain for the rest of my life, and it doesn’t matter to me in that moment. I just see Him, and everything’s good.

That applies to pretty much everything in life, hey? Trust God, and do the next thing. I can do that. Little bits at a time.

So, I’m curious: What does “Trust God, and do the next thing” mean for you??