Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things not to say to any woman of child-bearing age

Go to jailphoto © 2009 Shayne Kaye | more info (via: Wylio)Well, now that I'm out of the closet of TTC (Trying To Conceive, for those not in the know), I have a very serious thing I'd like to address: seemingly harmless questions and comments.  There are some things you should not say to a woman (or her also-affected husband):

1) Get on it already. 

2) What's the hold up? I want a grandkid/nephew/godchild.

3) I'm sure you won't have any problems (having a baby).

4) Are you pregnant yet?

I know that many people are simply excited for their friends to reproduce, but at any given moment, you do not know what hardship they are facing in that area. If I had been forced to leave my house for work just after the miscarriage and someone had asked me one of these questions, I probably would've given them the coldest shoulder I could muster in an attempt not to cry.  Luckily, I work from home, so I didn't have to leave my house. 

So, unless you are in the know, do not bring someone else's reproductive status up. I agree to show you grace if this happens in the future. And I hope other women do the same. But, just so you know, these are not things we want to hear.

If you are in the know, you're playing a different game. Pick your moments carefully and lob very soft pitches.

Can you think of any other things that should be on the DO NOT ASK list?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gratitude

I once heard a conference speaker say that gratitude is the first step toward positive spiritual growth and ingratitude is the first step toward negative spiritual growth. During the past month, I made a deliberate decision to count my blessings, and this has led to a new depth of gratitude to God. 

In case you missed the devo, a month ago I was pregnant and now I am not. I could easily use this as an opportunity to wallow and distance myself from God. But instead, Josh and I have been trying to focus on the positives. You might not see how there could be any, but there are many. Being grateful to God for the positive experiences of my pregnancy/miscarriage has unexpectedly deepened my faith during this hardship. So, I'm here to say that choosing gratitude is possible and rewarding. 

If you are having a hard time, try thinking about turning each complaint into something you can be grateful for. 

Start small: 
"I spilled juice and now I have to clean the floor" = I have a floor, I have juice.

Get bigger:
"I got a flat tire on my way to work" = I have a car, I have a job, and I am fine.

Get non-material:
"I do not feel God's presence in my life" = I have the Scriptures, I want to feel His presence, I have friends who speak truth, or whatever the case may be.

I know this might sound or feel demeaning to people who are in real pain. But, choosing gratitude is a discipline, and I am seeing the benefits in big ways. So even though this little exercise might seem trivial, it really can help. Pain is real, but so is the goodness of God, even in the midst of our pain.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Thirst

I have been remiss at blogging lately, mostly because words escape me. I wrote the devotional this past week for The Redemptive Pursuit and in it you will discover why I have been blogging less. It's been a hard month. I do not apologize, but I do ask for your patience. I have never forced my writing (of this sort), and I refuse to do so. 

Also, I am on vacation. 

To receive the weekly (that's not too much!) devotionals from the ladies of The Redemptive Pursuit, sign up here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Truest Words I Know

Today I am at a loss for words. I am at a loss for everything: taste, desire, focus.

We are in week four of Lent, and I should've been meditating on Jesus's fourth word from the cross this week. But I have not been. Rather, I am empty. I am empty. So today I turn to His words: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" It is good that these are the words He has given me to read and pray this week. They give voice to my heart.

These words of Christ, they say so much more. In saying them, Christ is referencing the entirety of Psalm 22, which begins with these words. His reference to the beginning of Psalm 22 is like a young, contemporary, American person pumping his/her fist in the air and shouting, "You gotta fight..." Other people will echo back, "...for your right to paaaarty." Or for those who might not get that reference, imagine someone just walking into a room and saying, "Four score..." In your head echoes, "...and seven years ago." Christ references Psalm 22 in the same way, causing it to echo in the minds and perhaps on the lips of all of the Jewish spectators at His crucifixion. They would've known the entire psalm by heart, and hearing Him start it off like that was probably haunting and convicting. Read Psalm 22 now and listen to what Jesus said while on the cross. 

I have a similar song in my heart these days, and I'll admit that it is not Scripture. The line that rolls over and over through my mind and across my heart is, "April is the cruelest month." I loved TS Eliot's The Wasteland when I was in high school. I mean, I loved it. I quoted the pretentious thing in my graduation speech. But, I never understood the first line. I used to love April. But now, "April is the cruelest month" rings so true. My grandfather died in April during my freshman year of college. That was the first cruel April. Every April in Boston was cruel mostly because I thought April would bring warmth, but it didn't. It sometimes brought more snow. This year, April is the cruelest. 

I can't quote the entirety of The Wasteland here. But it echoes in my heart. I am a wasteland. 

Thanks be to God that luckily I do not feel entirely forsaken by Him. I trust His calm and reassuring hand. But, I do feel crushed and broken. I am so glad to know that I can identify with Christ in this place. He was not only crushed and broken, but cast away from His father and into hell. I will never have to experience that, and I am so grateful to Jesus for being the guarantee of that promise. Whether or not I feel Him, or want Him, or acknowledge Him, our Lord is with me. Where can I go to hide from His spirit? Nowhere. Another psalm of David's expresses more than I could hope to express:


Psalm 139

 1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.

 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
   Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
   your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
   and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
   I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

I pray that the thought foremost in my mind and on my heart will not be "April is the cruelest month," but rather "You have searched me LORD, and You know me." Let Psalm 139 be my prayer.
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