Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: My Ugly Beautiful Year

It's eerily quiet in my house.  Our company left this morning and I have been feeling melancholy over them leaving.  I just cherish our visits so much and I am so thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.  I've been sitting here catching up on my thankful journal and felt the need to write to reflect on 2013.  This year wasn't at all what I expected, but it sure was "ugly beautiful".

I'm reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I've been reading this so slowly because I really just don't want to finish it.  

It is so beautifully and eloquently written.  It breaks me down and builds me up again in such a gracious way.  If you haven't read it, I highly suggest it.  She keeps a thankful journal and was dared to write down 1,000 things she was thankful for.  That's what inspired me for my thankful journal.  I have a ways to go as I'm only on 126.  The part of the book I'm reading right now is all about what she calls "ugly beautiful".  It's those hard times in a day, week, month, whatever season of life, where nothing goes as planned and you feel sadness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, etc.  But practicing the art of thanksgiving means giving thanks in ALL circumstances, regardless of your current situation.  I've been practicing thanksgiving during ugly beautiful.  At first, it was really hard, but as soon as I'd do it, my mood would automatically change and I'd often find myself laughing at the situation.  This year was an interesting year and I plan to recap month by month.

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Ringing in the new year at home
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Our 1st breakfast of 2013. :)
My grandpa turned 91
Some of our best friends got married.
My Aunt Margaret's 65th birthday.  Sadly, it was her last Earthly birthday.
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I played in a kickball tournament for our school.  We won 1st in our division.  Who knew I was actually good at kickball?!
We celebrated Easter.  It was one of the most spiritual Easters I've ever experienced.

We had a shower at my house for our friend, Rilee.
Paisley became a new family member!
Mother's Day with my beautiful, strong momma.
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School year came to an end.  I had such a special, wonderful group of students and parents who I will cherish forever.  They became my family.

Father's Day with my amazing, kind daddy.
The beach was so beautiful the whole month of June.
I celebrated my 27th birthday surrounded by A LOT of family.

My Tink (my niece) turned 4!  This same day, my sweet Aunt Margaret met Jesus.
My Meemaw turned 75!
Leo left us :(
We buried my Aunt Margaret.  We could smile because we knew she was finally at peace and no longer suffering.
I started back to what would be my most trying year of teaching.
We began our anniversary vacation get away in Seaside.  We had quiet, peaceful mornings on our patio reading our Bibles and enjoying God's awesome creation.
My best friend.

Spending all day on the beach without a care.
Mom's surprise 60th birthday party.  So thankful for the years in her life!
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Daddy's 80th birthday celebration.  So thankful for his life!
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Thanksgiving with this handsome dude.
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I finished reading the whole Bible in less than a year...cover to cover in chronological order. What a blessing it was to me.
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Ready for Christmas!
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My daddy and I teaching a lesson together on rocks and minerals in my class.
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Our dear friend Timothy's going away party.  We were so blessed to get to know him!
As I think back on all this year brought and didn't bring, I am overwhelmed with emotions.  God's grace was so evident in each moment and I cherish the time I got to spend with Him as He grew me.  I have been so humbled through each experience and just pray He continues to get glory through my life.  It is well with my soul.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Boast in my Weakness

This is a post that truthfully, I rather not be typing.  I have put it off for months and months, thinking that one day I'd post good, exciting news about a growing family and be able to leave this part of my life behind.  But as fate would have it, that's not how this has played out and frankly, God won't let me run from it anymore.  His prompting for me to write and share is far too strong to ignore.  And something crazy just happened that made me realize I better start.

This all started back in March of 2012 when Jared and I decided we wanted to start a family.  Three weeks later we found out I was pregnant.  9 1/2-10 weeks into the pregnancy, we lost the baby.  If you haven't read that story, you can find it by clicking here.  Honestly, since May 10, 2012, my life has drastically changed.  Never did I think I would have the emotions and feelings that I've had and never did I imagine that my relationship with the Lord could grow SO much.

After the miscarriage in May, I had problems with my hcg levels returning to normal.  That's a whole other story in itself, but in August we were cleared to start trying again.  August, September, October, November, December all passed with big fat negatives.  Now January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November have all passed with the same fate.  I've had numerous tests and procedures run, all coming back perfectly clear and normal.  That in itself is a praise.  A frustrating one, but a praise none the less.  Jared's testing came back perfectly normal as well.  Our doctor told us that he didn't know what was wrong, scientifically it didn't make sense, and referred us to a fertility doctor.  We haven't been yet.  I don't really know what to do, other than pray about moving forward.

We've been patiently and sometimes not so patiently waiting with each passing month to see if the desire of our hearts will be filled, but that's when it started to click that maybe my desire is all wrong.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart."  Yes, He wants to give me the desires of my heart, but it comes from a place of delighting in Him simply because He's Lord and He's good.  He is so good.  He has so much mercy on me and covers me in grace.  He's revealed time and time again why the timing wasn't right with the first baby.  But still, my selfish arms long to hold my baby.

I'm writing this as a piece of my continuously growing testimony.  My heart HAS changed in the last 6 months or so and instead of praying FOR a baby, I find myself praying for God to use me in whichever way He wants.  Help me be okay with who I am and what He's given me.  Help me give Him glory through every tear cried.  Don't let my pain and longing for a child consume me and shape me into someone I'm not.  Make me a parent in the way that gives You the most glory.  Mold me into the woman You want me to be; one that rejoices in the calm and the storm.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has been on my heart so much lately.  It reads, "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness"  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

What a powerful scripture.  And like I said, it's REALLY been on my heart for about 2-3 weeks now.  I mean heavily on my heart.  Today I came home, got the mail like always, and we had a letter from a man my husband is good friends with.  He had handwritten us a letter to let us know the Spirit had placed us on his heart and he was praying for us continually through all of our fertility struggles.  In it, he gave us each scriptures to meditate on that he felt like God was leading him to give us.  Want to guess what the first one was?  Yep, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  That's when I knew I had to write this.

I have to boast in my weaknesses so God can get Glory!  Isn't that amazing?  This same man, having no idea I was about to have an HSG procedure done in October, literally texted Jared the moment we walked into the hospital just to tell him that we were heavy on his heart and he was praying over us at that very moment.  Goosebumps.  Incredible, divine presence and intervention.

Help me to let go of control
Our close family and friends know much of this and have been amazing through everything.  They've prayed over us, sent us notes of encouragement, and told us how our joy, regardless of our situation, has encouraged them.  That is all so wonderful and we are truly grateful.  I don't know what we would've done without them.  But now God has told me that my close friends and family aren't the only ones who need to know.  I need to proclaim His goodness and promises in total faith to the world.  When I am weak, He is strong in me.

If there are any of you out there reading my blog who are going through the same struggles I am right now, please know I am praying for you and please message me if you ever need someone to talk to.  I feel like a weight has been lifted from my back in sharing my struggles and weaknesses with you.  I know that no matter what, God's plan is way better than mine.  I believe it and I trust it.  We always tend to cling to Psalm 37:4, but 5 is what really gets me..."Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."  God has a reason for allowing things to happen.  We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.  Sometimes God doesn't change our situations because He's trying to change our hearts.
We all have struggles and difficulties.  Let's pray for one another and encourage each other to boast in our weakness.  For when we are weak, HE is strong.