Faith, Life, Momming

Is It Well?

Fun fact about me: I’m an Air Force brat. My dad was in the Air Force until I was 16. I’ve moved a total of 11 times, and lived in 5 states (6 if you count college) and two countries. Nine out of the first 13 years of my life were spent living in base housing (two of the houses we lived in were either condemned or torn down right after we moved out). So we never really settled in, and we knew those houses weren’t truly going to be home.

The year after we got married, we moved out of the house my husband bought when he was 24 (by putting the down payment on his credit card via a cash advance……..) and we bought our first house together. It’s a split level with four floors, and after finishing the basement, we’re sitting at about 2,200 square feet. We’ve done a lot to this house. We’ve refinished the kitchen, replaced the flooring on the main level, refinished the fireplace with shiplap, replaced the windows, replaced the hall bathtub and surround, replaced the vanity in our tiny master bath, finish about half of the basement, replaced the back door, relocated the door to the garage back to its original location, and replaced or refinished a few lights. The projects seem endless, and so many places in the house don’t quite feel finished or fully decorated.

Our master bedroom had been untouched until last year. We had the mismatched chest of drawers we had each brought into the marriages, and hand-me-down decorations on our walls. After I refinished our headboard and a matching set of dressers we found on Marketplace, our room felt so much more cohesive. The newly refinished furniture necessitated a new wall color, which meant new wall decorations were required. I found a couple of pieces I loved at Hobby Lobby for our room, and one that was perfect for our bathroom (did I mention how tiny our bathroom is?). It wasn’t until last month that I realized just how perfect the artwork was for our bathroom.

If you know my story, you may remember it took us a lot longer to conceive our firstborn than I had expected it would. We received a male factor infertility diagnosis the month of our first anniversary. It wasn’t what we had hoped for, but it was good to have some clarity. On our anniversary, we made a stop at IKEA. As soon as we got off of the escalator, my husband pointed out a family not too far from us and asked if that was the associate pastor of the church I had attended and worked at before getting married. It was. We were an hour from home, and they were two hours from home, and some how we were in the same place, at the same huge store, at the same time. They had been a blessing to me while my husband and I were dating, and knowing they had dealt with infertility, I confided in the pastor’s wife. Before we said goodbye, they prayed for us (specifically that we’d have 100 babies). Later that week, I spent time praying and surrendering to God, knowing that I needed Him to do something—whether that was healing me/my husband, taking away my desire for children, or at the very least assuring me that He was with me through the desert of infertility. I heard from God, and I knew He had either healed us or that He was least with us.

Two weeks later, I cried my eyes out when I saw the second line that I had prayed to see for so many months. When my son was six months old, I was shocked to see another positive pregnancy test. I love my two little ones! I think they’re pretty cute and special.

I’ve been on both sides. I’ve experienced the exhausting roller coaster of hope and disappoint, the frustration, the jealousy, the questions, and the waiting that infertility brings. I’ve experienced the surprise, fear, and bittersweetness that an unexpected pregnancy brings. Both experiences solidified my conviction that God is the author of life, and whether I’m trying to conceive or trying to prevent pregnancy, He is the giver of life, and it comes in His timing.

A little over two years after our surprise positive pregnancy, we’re back to dealing with infertility. I’m back to seeing one line, when I have hoped and prayed to see two lines. Today we received a test result that shows our fertility has decreased since we were trying to conceive the first time. The doctor suggested we see a reproductive endocrinologist, which seems to say IUI or IVF are the next steps to take medically.

My heart is heavy. This is month ten, and I’m weary in this wait. This feels hopeless, medically speaking. My heart and arms long for another baby. While I was still pregnant with my second, I believe God gave me a vision of a third, a little boy in a blue and white striped romper. It sounds crazy, but I saw my older two sitting in front of me and the tiny little boy I held, and while I never pictured myself having a blonde baby and am still surprised that I have a blonde, my daughter had light hair.

I know nothing is too difficult for God. I know God is the giver of life. I know if the vision truly was from Him, He is able to give me a third. I know He has a good plan. I know He has perfect timing.

And yet, I’m still heavy hearted. I still feel like crying. I’m frustrated and disappointed in myself for feeling this was despite my faith and knowledge. I remember that Jesus cried at Lazarus’s tomb, despite His power and plan to raise him back to life.

Infertility is like exercise for my faith. It isn’t fun. It hurts. I don’t enjoy it. But I know that it’s good for my faith. I know that when my faith is put to the test, I get to see God’s hand at work.

And so, the artwork hanging in my bathroom is unintentionally perfect. As I wait for the tests to show one line or two, I see the words, “It is well with my soul.”

After I read the test and my hope turns to disappointment or to joy, I read the words, “It is well with my soul.”

Whether or not it feels good, “It is well with my soul.”

Whether or not I feel it in that moment, “It is well with my soul.”

This is one of those times it doesn’t feel good, and I don’t feel like “it is well”. But I know the truth is that God is faithful, able, sovereign, and so good. Despite my feelings, it truly is well.

Faith, Life

A Drive Through the Flint Hills

Currently we are driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas on our way to visit my grandparents. I’ve been a lot of places—the Gulf Coast, the Rocky Mountains, the Grant Canyon, the Ozarks, the Azores, and a flight over the Alps—and yet the Flint Hills are still an area I find breathtaking. They stretch as far as I can see, in every direction. The varying heights adds to the interest, and on top of that, my stomach isn’t in knots while we drive through the Flint Hills, unlike while driving through mountains. And then, there’s the lush green. Gorgeous.

You know why the Flint Hills are so green? Because they are burned and because they are rained on. These two things, things that can be devastating, produce lush, green, gorgeous hillsides. 

While I was growing up, rainy days were always disappointing. I couldn’t play in my backyard or in my neighborhood with my friends, I couldn’t go swimming—basically my plans were ruined. As an adult, rainy days mean my kids are confined to the house, my patio furniture will be all wet, any outdoor play dates or zoo visits get cancelled, and if we go anywhere, I have to stand outside getting soaked while putting kids in car seats. Bleh! Rainy days can be disappointing and they can be dreary. 

I’ve had a few rainy days the past month and a half. From conflicts, to sickness, to an unexpected surgical tooth extraction, to yet another negative pregnancy test, I’ve been feeling like the rain just keeps coming. It’s wearisome. I’m ready for sunshine. 

As we drive through the beautiful Flint Hills, I’m reminded that rain is needed. Without rain, my backyard turns brown, and without rain, my garden would die (because let’s be real, when the temperature hit the upper 90s and mosquitoes declared war on me, I started making my trips out to the garden as short as possible, and dragging the hose out and watering my garden didn’t fit in the time span I was willing to spend in my backyard). Yes, there is such a thing as too much rain; it’s called a flood, and no one needs one of those. But rain is needed to help things to grow and to thrive. 

Without rain in my life, I grow complacent, I get comfortable, I’m not challenged. When I’m not challenged, I don’t grow. 

Over the past month, I’ve been challenged. I’ve felt my strength tested, and I’ve had to depend on God. I’ve had my patience tested, and I’ve had to surrender and trust God (this one still trips me up sometimes). I’ve had my actions, my character, and my faith questioned, and I’ve had to walk in obedience to resolve it instead of walking away. It’s been a rough month. But I know I’ve grown. I know my endurance has increased. I know my faith has increased. Not because it’s been sunny and beautiful, but because it’s been rainy.

I’m still ready for at least a few sunny days! 

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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, 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!