Faith, Life

Wrestling with the Noise

When I think of today’s climate, this is what comes to mind.

https://youtu.be/bM-beloWExE(Hint: it’s a orchestra warming up.)

Its loud and jumbled. Everyone is trying to be heard. No one is playing the same melody.

It’s exhausting.

I’m exhausted.

I’m confused.

I’m tired of hearing the shouts of so many different, impassioned opinions. I’m tired of seeing so much division. I’m tired of the hateful words and actions of people who are disagreeing with each other. I’m tired of wrestling internally trying to figure out my own thoughts and opinions in all the confusion—knowing that no matter what conclusion I come to I could face hateful words from people who came to other conclusions.

Our country is so divided. Between Covid-19, Racial tensions, and an election year, discord is everywhere.

I want my friends and family to be safe and healthy. I know people who have been impacted by Covid-19. My husband knows people whose family members have died from it. It’s real.

But I also don’t want to live in fear. It’s also uncomfortable for my freedoms to feel so fragile. It’s uncomfortable to know I will be judged by people who want to live life as normal if I am cautious or by people who want to isolate themselves if I am less cautious.

I know that every person was created with dignity in the image of God. Let that sink in.

In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

No one is any more or less valuable. No one is any more or less loved. The most quoted Bible verse, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God sent Jesus to die for our sins before we loved Him, while we were still His enemies, while we were separated from Him, and while we were unrighteous, and He did it because even then He loved us. If God loved the World even then, I think it is safe to say He loves everyone equally. Romans 2:11 says, “God does not show favoritism.”

It is sickening to me that people are judged and treated or mistreated according to the color of their skin. It is horrifying to me that people are killed unjustly by people who are responsible for protecting our communities and our laws. It breaks my heart that my friends and family members have experienced the ugliness of the sin of racism.

It is also saddening to me that our law enforcement officers are being unappreciated, judged, and threatened regardless of their individual actions, behaviors, and thoughts. It is also disturbing that uninvolved businesses have been vandalized and stolen from.

And then…there’s a whole political scene with opposing sides bashing each other, hanging on their candidate’s every word, and often putting their identities more in their politics than in their faith.

Can I sit somewhere in the middle? Can I be cautious while not living in fear? Can I love and value people who do not look like me, despise and denounce their mistreatment, and celebrate the beauty in the diversity God has created while also valuing and appreciating the just police officers in our country and also denouncing lawless acts? Can I be a responsible, law abiding citizen while remembering that my hope is not in a political candidate and that neither the United States nor this world is my home?

Ultimately, I want to be like Jesus. I want to live like He did, trusting God and submitting to the law of the land, which happened to be the Roman Empire for Jesus (His relationship with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law is a whole other issue because they were perverting God’s law). I want to love like He loved and to honor and value those He made in His image. I want to live at peace and to be a peacemaker. I want my words and actions to be glorifying to God. I want to live in light of eternity.

What about you? Where do you stand? How are you wrestling with the noise?

Faith, Momming

Why yes, my eyes are green(ish).

It has started again. That old familiar pang of jealousy. Familiar because I’ve wrestled with it my whole life. From being jealous of other kids with friendships, to being jealous of other young adults getting engaged and married, to being jealous of my friends having children, to people who live near their families, jealousy is no stranger.

It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends when they have exciting news, I really am, it’s just that…I want to be happy too. It’s not that I feel threatened by their happiness, as if there’s only so much happiness to divide up between everyone, it’s just that I don’t like waiting and can’t figure out why they get what I have been wanting and praying for.

While my friends and family members had always seemed to get pregnant with ease, I faced month after month of hope turned to disappointment. A sixteen year old’s pregnancy announcement brought me to tears. Newly married married friends’ announcement of an unplanned, years-before-their-timeline pregnancy left me hurt and angry with God. Why did they get what I wanted, and had prayed for, when they either weren’t prepared for it or didn’t want it yet?!

After praying and surrendering, I finally became pregnant—despite a diagnosed fertility issue. Then just six months after giving birth, I received the surprise of my life when I saw a second line on a pregnancy test. My research showed me that the odds of getting pregnant had been incredibly low.

My two pregnancies taught me that God is the author of life. Even when I think I’m in control and have a plan, He is sovereign. My lesson echos James 3:13-16, which says, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

I’m ready for baby #3 whenever or if God decides to bless us again. I trust His timing and His wisdom, yet, somehow, it’s started again. I found a little sting of jealousy when I saw a pregnancy announcement the other night.

Jealousy is a thief. It robs us of joy and thankfulness for what we have. Jealousy is also the sister of doubt because it carries questions about whether or not God can be trusted to meet our needs and whether or not He truly is good and loving.

I know I have a choice: I can embrace the jealousy or I can recommit to trusting God and thank Him for what I have. I’ve seen the path jealousy leads me down, and it is miserable. There’s a reason One of the Ten Commandments is not to covet!

When jealousy reared it’s ugly head the other night, I chose to remember that God is trustworthy. I chose to remember that He gives good gifts. I chose to remember that He knows what I need, and when I need it, so much better than I do. It may be a struggle for me, but I’d rather fight than succumb to jealousy and distrust. My physical eyes may be green(ish), but I’m choosing to trust instead of letting the green eyed monster take over.

If you are struggling with jealousy or comparison, remember what God has done in your life. We can trust God with our dreams and desires. His timing is perfect, and He is all loving.

What color are your eyes?

Faith, Life

Dear Younger, Single Me

Dear Younger, Single Me,

I know what you’re feeling. I know the questions you have asked over, and over, and over. I know the ache, the loneliness, the fear, the doubts, and the longing.

You started praying for him at the ripe old age of 11. Over the years, you’ve prayed for him almost daily. Oh, how you’ve prayed. Prayed for his health, safety, wisdom, his work, and for God to bless him. You’ve prayed for his family to be prepared for you and you for them. You’ve prayed about his relationships—keep the other girls away! You’ve prayed, more times than you could count, that God will allow you to meet him soon. You’ve questioned why it’s taking so long. Is the delay punishment for your past mistakes? Will you ever get the chance to give him those letters you started writing him at the age of 15? With the passing years, there are a lot more of them than you ever imagined there would be. You made it through four years of Bible college between two schools, and you never got your “ring by spring.” Does he even exist?

Let me set your mind at ease: he does exist. Not only that, but God so graciously answered your prayers.

Life doesn’t look the way you dreamed it would, but you are, by far, happier than you had ever hoped. No, it’s not all sunshine and roses (although you do love it when he gives you flowers), but God knew just who you needed. He’s not who you would have pictured yourself with. He’s quirky and goofy, he does weird dances (even on your first date, in the middle of Dunkin’ Donuts), and…he’s a drummer. Oh, and he likes his cookies crunchy…If you knew him in his younger years, you probably would have disliked him and thought he was obnoxious. He’s mellowed with age, and through the trials you’ll go through, you’ll see his depth and the wisdom God gave him in answer to your prayers. You’ll balance each other out, and he will keep you laughing. You will be completely comfortable with him right away, just like you prayed for when you were 9 years old. God is good.

Until you finally meet (and that’s a story worth telling), please rest. Please, trust God and fully surrender to Him. You put so much energy into worrying, wondering, crying, and questioning, energy that could have been spent elsewhere. Rest, trust, and surrender.

Until you meet, take full advantage of your ample free time. You might feel busy and tired, but just wait until you have a one year old and a two year old! Dive deep into God’s Word. I know you dream of serving with your husband, but Paul was right. In 1 Corinthians 7:34 when he said, “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” Take advantage of this time. Life gets busy, and while you won’t want to trade your husband or your babies for anything in this world, you will miss your ability to spend hours in the Word and in prayer.

Until you meet, be content and be confident. You feel inferior and like you don’t quite fit in with married women. Being married doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t make you feel any differently. Once you’re married, you won’t view singles as inferior or as though they don’t belong. Don’t wait impatiently until you’re married and finally belong. Be confident and content now.

Life goes so quickly, please don’t wish today away. God is faithful and so gracious to you, and you know you can trust Him, so do it.

Love,

Older, Married You

Faith, Life

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE! OR IS IT?

If you’ve ever been a part of any sort of group, you’ve probably played the game Two Truths and a Lie. It’s a fun. We get to learn obscure facts about others, and we are encouraged to lie. The strategy of the game is what makes it difficult. Do you share your strange but true facts or do you share the commonplace, basic facts? What did the other people in the group do?

Since this is a new blog, I’ll give you a little bit of about me. Five statements are true, five are not. See if you can tell the facts from the fiction!

  1. I have had work done by a plastic surgeon.
  2. I have flown on a tanker while it refueled A-10s.
  3. I am an avid cross stitcher.
  4. I have lived on a Portuguese island.
  5. I speak Portuguese fluently? Fala Português?
  6. My middle name is Elizabeth.
  7. Late Spring is my favorite season.
  8. I enjoy shoveling snow.
  9. I know how to drive a stick shift.
  10. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are my favorite.

1, 2, 4, 7, and 8 are true. The rest are very much lies.

How did you do?

It can be hard to decipher between fact and fiction, truth and lies. Sometimes the truth seems hard to believe and the lies seem so plausible.

We live in an age in which lies are readily available. They’re able to be wrapped in pretty, well produced, seemingly credible packages. In the past few weeks, my head has started spinning with all of the information being thrown at us.

Don’t wear a mask. No, you need to wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask.
We need to open up! We need to stay closed!
Be responsible and stay home! Don’t let them restrict your freedoms!
It’s like a flu. It’s much more dangerous than the flu!
The death rate is high! The death rate is not as high as they’re saying.
Only the elderly are high risk. Anyone can get it.
Bat! Lab!

Is your head spinning yet? What do we believe? How do we respond?

I’m so glad you asked because I have all the answers.

Back in 1979, Bill Gates moved Microsoft from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Washington. Why? Because in 1978, he had taken a trip to Carlsbad, and while there he had a rendezvous with Vidip, a powerful being from the planet Pluto (he claimed it was a planet at least.) Vidip instructed Gates to move to Bellevue, Washington because Bellevue means Beautiful View, and Vidip had his sights on Washington, Washington DC. While in Bellevue, Vidip provided Gates with a vial containing enough of an infectious disease to bring the world to its knees and the plan for world domination. His goal? For Pluto receive the recognition it deserves as a planet. As with all beings from Pluto, Vidip has the ability to assume other forms. His most recent form is a human man. You may know him as Dr. Fauci. You don’t need to wear a mask. You don’t need to stay home. Just post, “Pluto is a planet.” and you will be protected from Vidip’s virus.

Okay, so maybe I don’t have all the answers. I’m every bit as confused as the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. I don’t like not knowing who to trust and what to believe. It makes me uncomfortable.

In the midst of the confusion, lets do our best to keep our eyes on what we know is true: God’s Word.

Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

Before He was arrested, Jesus prayed for His followers (including all who would follow Him in the future). John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth, Your word is truth.”

In 2 Samuel 7:28, David prayed and in his prayer, he said, “Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth”

God’s Word is true. We can trust it.

In the midst of uncertain, confusing times, lets rest in the truth of God’s Word. Let’s flood our hearts and minds with something that is solid and trustworthy.

While we’re at it, let’s also do our best to speak and post the truth. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Whether you think this is a valid threat or that it is overblown, or if you think it occurred naturally or intentionally, whether you wear a mask and stay home or live your life as normal, please do your best to share truth with others. Do your homework before you post. Know your motive before you speak or post.

Ephesians 4: 29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

What is your motive? Is what you are saying or posting helpful or beneficial? What is the desired outcome of the information you’re sharing?

Lets focus on what we know is truth and speak and post what is true!

Faith, Momming

On This Day In History…

It started one year ago today. The darkest, most nightmarish time of my life started one year ago. A joyful trip to the zoo, for the first time as a family of four, resulted in a nauseatingly horrifying intrusive thought that propelled me into months of panic attacks, heavy anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.

I have never been as terrified or felt as broken as I did last summer. My foundation was shaken. I questioned myself, my perception of reality, my future, my faith, and my ability to love and protect my children.

When the intrusive thoughts first began, I remember wondering if I was suffering from postpartum psychosis. When I finally did some research, I quickly realized my symptoms matched the symptoms of postpartum OCD. Postpartum OCD can involve intrusive thoughts about harming your children. A few of the people I spoke to about my thoughts said they’d had similar thoughts in the past, but quickly shrugged them off, while I was horrified by them and couldn’t shrug them off. I felt like such a horrible person that the thoughts remained at the forefront of my mind, taunting and terrifying me. The fear of what I was capable of triggered thoughts of ending my life before I might act on the intrusive thoughts and harm the children I adored.

One night, as the thoughts and anxiety were intensifying, I cried to Thad, “I don’t understand why this is happening. I am so happy right now. I love my life.” I had just gone through postpartum hypertension in the days after my daughter was born. While I waited for my blood pressure to return to a normal level, I had been terrified that I would have a stroke and die. Who would love my children as much as I did if I died? I didn’t want to die. My experience only two months earlier made that crystal clear.

One year later, I’ve gone through therapy. I’ve been on medication. I’ve learned to fight the intrusive, lying thoughts with truth. I’ve seen just how blessed I am with an amazing support system. I’ve learned the power of having a mind fixed on God and filled with His Word. I’ve also gained a level of empathy and understanding for those who suffer from mental illness that I did not have before.

Looking back on the darkness that began a year ago makes me want to cry. I’m a million times better than I was, but I’m not completely back to normal. I don’t know if I ever will be. I have scars that weren’t there before. I am fully confident that God can redeem my nightmare, and make my scars into a story worth sharing.

One of the ways He redeems my story is in its sharing, because when I share it, others can see that there is hope. Life can be so much better. The nightmare can give way to dawn.

If you are struggling with postpartum mental illness, please reach out for help. I know it’s scary. I know it’s uncharted territory. But there is hope. You are not alone. Reach out to your doctor or midwife. Find a therapist you trust. Don’t give up. Keep fighting.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. #BreakTheStigma