Husband, Jesus, Ministry

The Waiting Space

It is the time between death and resurrection, the already and the not-yet of God’s kingdom, that is often the most painful. We wonder when our answer will appear, wanting desperately to have a clear picture of what God is doing in this waiting space. And each of us has been there, haven’t we? Perhaps you’re waiting for the cure, waiting for the hardened child to return, waiting for the baby to be born, waiting for your loved one to pass in peace, waiting to conceive.

03_29_15 You are My God

But isn’t it during the dry, barren days of life that we cling most to Jesus? Are we not transformed by the Holy Spirit through the painful pruning away of our fleshly desires as He imparts grace? In my husband’s sermon this Palm Sunday he talked about that grace. We often mistake “grace” for that prayer we say before a meal or behaving with quiet kindness. But God’s Grace does the transforming work in our lives. It is God’s grace that meets us before we’ve repented or even recognized a problem. God’s grace is poured out in every corner our lives in gifts we don’t deserve. God’s grace is Jesus taking the form of a servant for our salvation. God’s grace is Jesus entering into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, never demanding anyone bow to his deity. And yet it is at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11). We bow because we’ve encountered Jesus, and we’ve been changed.

And now we approach Good Friday with somber hearts, confessing our sins and encountering once again the glorious sacrifice of Christ’s body broken. And then we wait. In the dark nights we can still hope, we can beg God for comfort and clarity. We can know He is only good.

Then it’s resurrection day – the pinnacle of our faith, the turning point of human history. God became flesh, lived servanthood, bore our transgressions, and conquered death. There is hope in the waiting space.

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Adoption, Confessions, Dear God, Infertility

Due

Dear God,

I can’t sleep. Maybe it’s the mild flu I’m fighting and the fact I can’t breathe through my nose. (I can’t stand a dry mouth.) Maybe it’s that hot cocoa I drank. Or maybe it’s the racing thoughts, swirling round and settling on the calendar date. Today was our birth mother’s due date.

We found out on Saturday that she had given birth last Wednesday, and through a series of unfortunate events that little boy is now in the foster care system. Our hearts broke in two.

I keep wrestling with the messages you’ve given me. I wonder if I’m just a crazy person for thinking that you, Maker of Heaven and Earth, would impart unto me sweet prophecies. Perhaps I am. But if those words scribbled in my journal really are divine, then I’m waiting with shallow breaths wondering what your next move will be.

In the midst of thoughtful encouragements and heartfelt prayers by friends and family, there’s the lady who stops in to tell me “some things that might help you get pregnant.” I had grace for this woman because, really, it’s wonderful that anyone should spend even a moment thinking about our situation, let alone caring enough to drive over to share with me. But it was all I could do to keep my tongue from spewing, “You really think that after five years of trying to conceive we haven’t heard or tried every remedy or wive’s tale in the book?!

This conversation came on the heals on my going-to-sleep thoughts last night. When we went to the reproductive endocrinologist last spring he told us the last step, the invasive decision would be surgery. Oh my gosh, this will never come to surgery, I thought. Or if it does surely all my problems will be solved and we’ll be able to get pregnant right away.

My heart grieves the loss of those dreams, those months when I assumed outcomes.

And here I sit, in the dark, still house, late at night, with the tick of clock reminding me of my numbered days, wondering what in the world you have in store for me, God? Is it truly good?

Facebook Cover - Eph 2

But God.

That conjunction changes everything. There is no greater mystery, that God would come to rescue me from who I was (lyrics from The Gospel Changes Everything by Meredith Andrews).

“And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

And then verse 10 goes on to say, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

I have no room to complain, Lord. For it is by grace I have been saved from a life of sin and separation from your goodness. Pour out your green hope into my life.


 

 

Scripture passage: Ephesians 2:1-10, the NET Bible

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Adoption, Confessions, Contentment, Dear God

Feeling the Love

Dear God,

We were well-loved today. Thank you for the evidence of your truths from Jeremiah 31:2-3.

Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

02_05_15 Everlasting Love

These were reminders of your faithfulness in the midst of these wilderness days:

1. A gift card to Lisa Leonard Designs (in that beautiful “you am loved” envelope.) This was one of the most thoughtful gifts I could possibly receive. Would you believe that one of my dear friends remembered a blog post I wrote in January 2013, where I shared the story of a necklace? In August 2011, I had wanted to use my original Lisa Leonard gift card for a necklace with my baby’s initial on it. But in an act of surrender, I ordered a necklace with only mine and Kevin’s names. Today, this gift card was given to me to replace that original one, for the intent of adding that child’s name, believing God will do this one day.

2. Two different cards from our Albion family, sharing heartfelt concerns and prayers for us during this time of hurting and waiting on God. In one of the notes was an incredible message:

I have received no enlightenment as to how and why God works as he does. But this very small check represents my confidence in His goodness and perfect plan for your lives. 

I am encouraged by the confidence others are having in God’s plan for our lives. He is only good.

3. Another ($200!) donation to our adoption fundraiser. Thankful for friends who aren’t giving up on us or on our God.

4. Deep, meaningful phone conversations with our grandparents. Kevin and I spent about 20 minutes talking with Grandma Arvidson then Grandma & Grandpa Eccles and then Grandma Simmons. Our family is incredibly blessed to be led by these rooted God-followers. Their examples of faith mean so much for us. Their support and sharing in our heartbreak is soul-stirring for us.


 

I could believe the lie that this adoption didn’t go through, God must not love you, or maybe He’s punishing you. But, God, I am experiencing your lavish love even now. Just as you told Hosea to pursue Gomer, just as you pursued your people Israel and called them to freedom in you.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

Hosea 2:14

I love you, too, God. And I’m hearing your tender voice even in this wilderness.

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Confessions, Dear God

Grace Sightings

Dear God,

I have been angry with you. Why did I my heart need to be dragged through this…this…adoption miscarriage?! I have been so, so sad.

But somehow I have seen your graces made evident, even in these dark days. I remember something I wrote about in February 2011 as I was reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts for the first time. And for even this memory, I am thankful.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving for the graces.

It starts with the gifts God gives.
We offer our thanks.
And we receive that miracle of joy
– the full life.

“Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life” (p. 39). Eucharisteo precedes us experiencing our fullest salvation in Christ, being saved from the bitter, angry, resentful qualities of sinful living.

And all these years later, I’m still on that Grace-Hunt, the looking for God in the mundane, the good, and the bitter times. And He shows up.

In watching a young leader latch on to his new-found knowledge.

In producing a church website in the midst of the personal mess.

In long, tight hugs from friends.

In the polish that covers the nails bitten through the stress.

In worship team members who respond to my leadership, and prepare with passion.

In the lives being affected by my little story of honest pain and deep faith.

03_04_15 He Gave Thanks

In all these things – God’s graces made evident, I give thanks. Because of Jesus we give thanks. We commune with saints through the ages as we drink the cup and eat the bread, reminding us of His pain. We remember He gave thanks so we, too, must live in eucharisteo.

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