Patience in the Waiting

Well, I have been putting off writing this for some time now. I don’t think, well actually, I KNOW that I was not ready to write this. Even now, I’m sitting here staring at the screen with a lump in my throat. But it’s time.

We are taking it back to March 2016. Derrick and I were in Disney. I was having some weird symptoms: nausea, dizziness, weird stomach pains, vomiting, etc. You get the picture. I was on birth control, but I had a feeling. I hadn’t really thought of trying for a baby yet. We had only been married 5 months and had a goal of waiting at least a year to start trying to get pregnant. On our trip home, we stopped into a store and I grabbed a test and ran to the bathroom. Of course, it was negative. We journeyed back home. I felt…empty. I didn’t understand it at first, but slowly this feeling of despair creeped through my body, cracking my foundation. In that car ride home, I knew that what I wanted most was to become a mom.

The next month, I started feeling weird again, so I decided to come off birth control to see if I was pregnant. I ended up going to the doctor and getting a blood test on a Friday morning, but they wouldn’t get any results from the lab until Monday morning. I got the call bright and early that it was negative. She seemed so happy on the phone, but I dropped to the ground, thanked her through gritted teeth, and cried.

And so begins the monthly breakdown. The time every month that my husband had to hold me tight so I didn’t break into a million pieces. The times where I didn’t know what I did wrong to deserve this kind of punishment. The times where I thought, “What is wrong with me?” If this sounds depressing, it’s because it was. Trust me. I didn’t WANT to feel that way. I wanted to let the disappointment roll off me. I pleaded with God to take away the hurt. I fought with God daily about it. It would go from pleading to shouting to reasoning. And while all of this was going on? Pregnancy announcements, maternity pictures, baby showers, and births. I was getting slapped in the face with it. Honestly? It felt personal. Obviously it wasn’t, but boy did it feel that way. Not only that, I would get the occasional, “It’s your turn next.” or “When are you going have one of these?!?” or the ever famous, “Just relax. You want it too much. Once you stop trying, you will have one!” Yeah, If you do this to young married couples, or anyone for that matter, please just stop right now.

(By the way, if you had a baby shower in the last year, and I didn’t attend, I am SO SORRY.)

Here recently, I have started to have a little bit of a different outlook on it. Instead of getting upset, or mad at these announcements, I have started trying to feel their joy. After all, I couldn’t blame them for their happiness. I wanted to, and I did for the longest time, but the real problem was me. I was stewing in anger and resentment while those around me were rejoicing. People were walking on eggshells protecting me from the dreaded “baby” word. I want to rejoice in these gifts, not spurn them. Now, when I hear about another baby being carried into the world, I take a moment and thank God. I take a moment to seek joy, even when I’m hurting. It seeps in and fills the cracks. It outshines the darkness of my heart. It heals.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 2-3

To everyone out there right now struggling with this, I know you are hurting. I know you are scared of the unknown. I know you are wondering, “Why not now, God?” I want you to know, It’s ok and it’s going to be ok in the end. I want you to have hope. I want you to believe in yourself and have an unending amount of trust in God. Be strong, but know that it is ok to hurt. Just don’t let that hurt control your life. I have to know that God will provide and that he will fulfill His promise to you.  He has written your story. He has written you to become a mom. He wouldn’t put this desire in your heart if he didn’t plan on fulfilling that desire. Trust. Believe. HOPE. Never lose that hope, because once you do, you have lost faith. Once you lose faith, you are powerless because you cannot tackle this world on your own, no matter how hard you try. You will fail. Grab onto the robes of Jesus and hang on tight, because this will be one hell of a ride. I know you can do this. I know that God can do this. I know He will take care of you and love on you in your weak moments and champion you on in your strong ones.

Take heart, dear one. You are loved. You are taken care of. You are STRONG in Christ.

 

Teenagers and Marriage

What?

Teenagers and marriage? Why would you put those together, Abbie?! I’ll tell you!

It’s no big surprise that the love between teenagers is powerful. If you doubt me, you’ve been too far removed from being a teenager. It is love and, boy, does it cause some wreckage if you aren’t too careful! When I was a teenager all those years ago, I fell hard. Always. Every boyfriend I had was “going to be the one.” When you are that age, you want to believe that you are going to be the exception and some teenage boy is going to stick with you forever. Hey, it happens, people!

When you are young, you haven’t had those life experiences that knock you on your knees (for the most part) and, therefore, you don’t have any reason NOT to believe that as soon as you get a boyfriend, life is going to be just peachy! Or so it happened with me. The eight grade girls in my small group? Not so much.

These girls are far more grounded than I was at their age. Sure, they have their problems, but who doesn’t? I asked them one Wednesday night (as we were talking about dating and marriage) if they go into relationships expecting to break up. What I anticipated, was “No! Not at all!” But they looked me in the eye and said, “Of course. We’re in middle school! Why would we think that it would last forever?”

What!?

I know! They are basically grown ups! Their questions were, “How do you date without opening yourself up emotionally?  What does keeping yourself from being emotionally vulnerable look like when you are our age? Are we expected to date like every guy is a possible candidate for marriage?”

Phew! Tough stuff, am I right?

Here is a little nugget that you can pass along to your friends and children. Are you listening?

Whether you are in a relationship right now, or not, keep your future husband (or wife) in mind. As you make decisions, ask yourself if this would honor your future spouse. Are the actions you are carrying out going to be an embarrassing conversation you have to have with him in the future? Think of him NOW while you are young and God will honor you in the future with a fulfilled marriage.

I don’t say this to say that if you make mistakes, God can’t give you a good marriage, because I met a Godly man that has forgiven me for all of my past mistakes and choices (the choices that did NOT honor God or my husband). God can bring you through a lot of stuff from your past and I am so grateful for it, but I will say that if you live RIGHT now like this, you can avoid a lot of hurt and regret.

Preoccupied

You know when you ask a question and you get the “mhmm” response that pretty much tells you that you are being ignored? The one that you can respond with “That dog just walked away with your briefcase on two legs while balancing two steel drums on its nose,” and get the, “oh, that’s nice, dear.” answer?

Yep.

Preoccupied.

That’s the place where it seems that everyone gets stuck. Bodies are present, minds are far off in an unknown land. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the future plans that may or may not roll into action, that you forget to pay attention to what is happening around you. The life that you will look back on and either say, “What happened?” or “Man, that was the best!”

Life is all about stopping the rush, stopping the hectic “I have to get somewhere else” mentality.
Stop.

Stop and ask someone where the nearest adventure is. Go seek and find something new everyday. Don’t drown in the mundane and the routine that the world seems to prefer us to be stuck in. Sometimes by throwing in an unexpected turn, you realize that the greatest adventure is staring you in the face.

God can do some amazing things through you if you stop and listen. Sometimes He tells you with a loud voice, other times it is a small whisper. So small, in fact, that you have to pretty much be still in His presence to hear. But it is TOTALLY worth it!
Do something today that is completely different than what you are comfortable with.

Talk to that random stranger you are stuck beside (It might be for a reason).
Buy lunch for someone you just met.
Ask that person about their life.
Tell someone about Jesus.
Call an old friend.
Tell someone they have a great smile.

Leave this world a little bit of a better place than you found it.

You only have one life to live on this Earth.

Go live it.

Darkness Falls

You know that panicky feeling you get when you go into a new room and it’s pitch black and for some unknown reason, you can’t seem to locate the light switch? Yeah, me too.

You think to yourself, “Gee, in almost every other room in the world it’s either on the right or left of the door!” Most of the time, it can leave you grasping and feeling your way awkwardly through the room, slightly crouched and touching every surface of the walls surrounding you. You know the stance.

Life is a lot like that. There are times when it seems like it’s never going to get light again. When it seems like you are surrounded by darkness and it feels oppressive. You can’t breathe. You can’t see the path in front of you. You can do nothing but sit and wait until someone turns on the light. Because you stumble and may even fall once or twice (or twelve times if you are me), you are left standing there, frustrated beyond belief that you can’t fix it yourself. (This is a big room, people.) You cry out for someone to help you fix it. It seems to take forever. Where are they?

But then morning comes.

It’s barely noticeable, but it seems to be getting brighter. After some more waiting and hoping beyond hope, the room is definitely getting brighter! You notice the sun rising through the window on the opposite side of the room.

Sometimes it seems as if we are walking through life completely in the dark and reaching around blindly to find the answers. But God brings you, not only a light, but the sun. He gives you the tools to get through life with Him. No matter how dark it is, God will always bring you the light you need to get through.

Sick of the dark and light analogies yet?

Ok, but just one more. I promise.

It’s going to get dark in life. It just is. God never promised us a nice sunshiny life full of rainbows and butterflies (since when do rainbows and butterflies equal a happy life? I’ve always wondered. Anyways…). We will go through times where we can’t always see where His light is shining, but God does promise that no matter how dark a night is, He will always be there to bring you light. We just have to ask. Sometimes He brings you light slowly, like the rising of the sun. And sometimes, He turns on the light so abruptly that it knocks you off your feet.

I had been struggling with seeing God for the past few months. I kept asking God, “please let me see you. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I need your help.” After a few weeks of this, He not only turns on the light, He breaks down the walls that were causing it to be dark.

You guys. God’s love is so good. It is love that you can feel down in your bones. It is love than can make you weak in the knees with its power. It is love that can lift you out of your seat.

Hold on to God’s hope and love and never fear the dark.

Morning is coming.

 

Embrace the Tap.

Call me crazy, I don’t care, but God changed my life with a butterfly today.
Let me explain:

As I was walking at a local park this afternoon, listening to some upbeat music and smiling way too big at other walkers, I was reminded of something I read earlier today.

“May my life above all be focused on, centered around, and sacrificed for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything else is meaningless.”

My life, lately, has been centered way too much on me and what I want out of life rather than centering my life around Jesus. In fact, I’ve been struggling with it; Struggling with finding what or who it is I’m looking for, while pushing away the persistent tapping of my heart. I even started yelling at the tapper. Telling him it’s not fair and that I don’t understand my purpose. His purpose.

What I needed was a tap straight on the forehead.

Back to today: I was thinking on this concept of “everything else is meaningless,” when I saw a butterfly.
Whenever I see something beautiful, I automatically acknowledge God, so I simply said, “Hey, God!” And the butterfly flew away. I went on to jam out to Katy Perry.

This time, the butterfly flew in front of my face.
Tap. Tap. Tap. And was gone.

And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks.
No, not the butterfly.
God was reminding me that I was living for me. And me alone. Reminding me that what I am searching for…longing for, is meaningless.  And that I’m missing the point. I’m ignoring the point.

So, liking to hear clear signs and making sure I’m on the right track of thinking, I asked God aloud, “Is this what you have been trying to tell me?”

The butterfly.

Unlike the last two times, it circles my feet around and around and around.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Its large and yellow wings fly out in front of me on the path and then straight upwards and disappears.
Now, I’m passing a group of children playing on a playground and their watchful parents are completely unaware that just feet from them is a heart that is being wrenched open in the most rewarding way imaginable. He is guiding my journey. My feet on the path are being lead. I am not in control. His purpose is so much more than my stubborn little brain could ever think up.

Embrace the tap. Everything else is meaningless.

I’m wrong. He’s right.

So, God shows me often when I’m wrong. You might say that it doesn’t sound too fun to be corrected like this.

You’re right.
But it’s the best feeling in the world to be corrected by God and pointed in the right direction.

Let me give you a couple of examples of times when God completely stopped me in my tracks when my mind and my heart weren’t on the same path as His. Funny enough, both times happened at work.

First, I had a customer early in the year who was so rude that when I told other people about her, it made me mad all over again. My own Mom even witnessed her rudeness. While Mom thought it was weird that someone was this rude, she told me “You never know what is going on in her life. Don’t worry too much about it.”
Well, I’m stubborn and thought “Nah, she’s just a mean person.”

Big surprise: She’s not.
The last few times she came in, she has been very pleasant, but I always thought it was because we had what she wanted. So I struck up a conversation with her about life and some of the products she was taking. This is what she told me:
“Well, I’ve been loosing a lot of sleep here recently, but I think that’s because I’ve been battling depression. My husband died in February and I’ve been struggling ever since.”

I cried for half an hour after she left. God showed me that not everything is as it seems on the surface.

The next time happened just yesterday. A big pet peeve of mine is being ignored. I struggled when I was younger, because I thought I wasn’t being heard. Well, it just makes me mad when I feel like people are purposely ignoring me (which happens quite a bit at work). So, yesterday I did my usual greeting with a customer, and there was no answer. I was getting irritated, so I said it a little louder and walked over to this lady. When she saw me, she had the biggest smile on her face and greeted me very warmly.

She was deaf.

You may think “well, Abbie, there was no way you could have known that.”
It doesn’t matter. I was quick to anger, for no other reason but my selfishness. She was actually the sweetest person and I understood everything she was trying to convey to me. It broke my heart that I could go so quickly to a place of anger without understanding the situation. At all.
So, before you judge a person, even if you don’t understand the whole story, love without reason. It shows God’s love and mercy to others like the love and mercy he shows you and I every day.

Seek His heart. Everyday!

Psalms 63:1 ESV

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Three Words

My pastor asked us to write something down this past Sunday. He told us to write down the word(s) that best describe how we feel God thinks of us. The implications of the answer to this seemingly easy task are huge. Most everybody would say something negative, like He is ashamed or disappointed. James was pointing out that these negative connotations we have with God, feeling like what we do determines how much God loves us that day, are LIES.
Let me tell you about the little victory dance I did in my seat that day.

I’ve always been the one to suck up. Whether it be to my parents (making sure I was extra sweet if my siblings were getting in trouble) or to my teachers (making sure they knew I was one hundred percent prepared with the supplies I needed to succeed in their class). So, obviously, I had this view of God. If I did nice or cool things, I would make sure I told Him that night in my prayers. If I didn’t do so hot, or missed a chance to make His name famous, I felt defeated, because I wanted Him to love me more. I’ve always had this mentality.

Boy, was I wrong.

Most of you know my story, or at least part of it. If you don’t, scroll down a bit. My love story with Christ centers around His unconditional love for me. He loves me, even though I fail Him daily. I was failing so bad that He had to come to me in a dream so that I was still enough to notice Him, and notice that He had a message for me. Ever since that moment, He has been working on my heart, my confidence in Him, and my ability to come way out of my comfort zone when He wants to use me for something. But mostly He has been working on my ability to trust and have faith that He is God, and I am not.
So this brings us back to the beginning of this story. You might be asking what any of this has to do with my little victory dance. I’ll tell you.
Three words popped into my head when James asked us to write down what we think God thinks about us:

Holy, Beautiful, and Funny.

Sheesh, Abbie. Arrogant much?

Not at all. I wasn’t thinking, “hmm, what can I do to bring the attention back to me?” Quite the opposite. I want to put Jesus in the spotlight. I wasn’t trying to think of words to make me look good, the words just were there. I have a totally different view of God and how He loves than I have ever had because of how He pursued my heart, and how He has never quit seeking my heart. If you know me at all, you know that I have struggled with self-confidence. The fact that those were the words (and in that order) that popped into my head is a big deal. He didn’t hesitate to remind me that He paid for me already, and in God’s eyes, that means I’m holy and clean and beautiful and funny (because God has a sense of humor and I like to think He adds us awkward ones in the mix for a change of pace.)

I say all of this, not to pat myself on the back, but to give hope to those striving to find happiness or acceptance. I can tell you that you have never experienced true joy apart from the love of God. It changed every fiber of my being.

Seek His heart. I can tell you that He is doing everything in His power to seek your’s.