Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Choices or Chosen

I began this blog post about 10 days ago... at the start of a few very rough days in my life.  I debated about erasing this post but realized that so much of it relates to so many areas of life and was very much worth sharing.....

Tonight I am having a hard time with a few things and am really finding myself struggling.  I've been in prayer off and on for a good chunk of the night and I will admit I have shed a few tears tonight.  The reasons are unimportant...well actually they are very important but they won't be shared here in too many details.  Suffice to say I feel emotionally and physically drained and yet so full of questions for the Lord and so much in need of scripture.  I decided that I needed to work my way through this and found myself here...knowing that sometimes writing it is better then thinking it, praying it on 'paper' is more fulfilling (and less likely to be forgotten too)
Tonight my heart is filled with questions about the choices I have made and need to make and the life that God has chosen for me.  I am really struggling with some of this.  I am really questioning if I made the right choices a few times in my past or if I am making the right choice now.  I have tried  to pray and give it over to God but I am not sure what is my own free will telling me what I should do and what is the voice of God.  The fact is, I know the choice I need to make but, dammit, I don't know if I can keep it, don't know if I can do the 'right' thing.  
Do you ever wonder that... is this really what you want from me Lord? Is this really all there is?  Do you really want this for me? 
My answer to those questions has been a resounding NO...this can't be what he wants, this can't be all there is.  This choice hurts to much, this choice makes me feel judged, alone, angry, bitter... the list could go on but the jist of it is that I just can't imagine that this pain is what God wants for me. 
This morning we began a six part series in women's ministry on Jonah.  Here is a peek at it....

The first session focused on what we do when God interrupts our lives...and for many people, like Jonah, we run.  But the real focus was on their interruptions and how we needed to look at them... not as a negative thing, not as a dreaded thing or something we wish to run from. But rather as a privilege...as the gift from God that they are.  But oh how hard that is.  How hard it is to look at your life and see the path it is on and know where you plan to take it... only to have God change that plan, put a big road block on your path and shove you hard down his.  

Jeremiah 29:11-14

New Living Translation (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

I feel, tonight and other times too, that just when I think I have figured the next step in God's plan out, a huge wrench will be thrown into it.  But more then that, I find myself wanting to run from where he seems to be pushing me towards tonight.  I find myself asking him so many questions...Is this really what you want from me? Is this really what I am meant to do?  And even when I answer those with a resounding yes (because deep down my heart knows this is the plan God has for me and the choices I am thinking of would not be of God) I still say 'really Lord, really.  There is no way I can keep doing this'.  I want to make the choices, I want to be in control of that.
We were asked today if we are managers or owners. Do we manage the life that God has given us or do we try to own that life and run it ourselves.  Tonight I was just wanted so bad to be an owner.  I don't want to manage this life under God's direction, I want to take it to where I need it to go right now... a place that isn't so hard, painful and confusing.  I want to make the choices not have then chosen for me.

Proverbs 19:21

New International Version (NIV)
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

But that's not how it is because we are a chosen people not a people of choice.  Accepting that is hard at times.  Giving it all over to him and trusting him completely isn't easy and it isn't where my mind is telling me to go.
We discussed this morning about where God wants us to be, why he interrupts our lives with these privileges, who are the people God wants you share this interruption with. The presenter asked us to think of people in our communities who God might be calling us to minister too...despite us not wanting to be there.  When Jonah was called to Ninevah.  He didn't want to go. Ninevah was full of immoral and unlawful people, it was full of people who did not know God and did not care to know God.  Jonah didn't like those people and he didn't want to go to save them. And so this morning we were asked where our Ninevah was and if we could remember places it had been in the past.
There are a few obvious ones for me in the past...I certainly didn't want to join the grieving parents group.  I would never have wished that on anyone, I still wouldn't.  I have much to expand here but   I think I will leave it to discuss in my other blog  as it applies more there.  But the fact is I wasn't given a choice and I didn't even know that God was calling me there... to my Ninevah.  And right now I don't know if I am hearing the Ninevah God is calling me to either.  Somedays I think that it could easily be mental health ministry.  God knows how much this has been put on my heart, put in my life.  God knows how in the middle of this I am right now.  But I SUCK at it...so this can't be where God is calling me...can it??? I am afraid of the unknown it brings me to, afraid of the failure that seems to happen over and over and over again.  So this can't be it...right??? How do you know???
The simple answer is prayer.  God will show you if that is the place where you should be.  Want to know how he will show you...he will give you the skills, the strength, the knowledge, the compassion, the empathy, the love and the understanding to be there.  Even when it doesn't seem that way all the time..if it seems like it is EVER working...then God has got your back there...he's called you to this Ninevah and he wants you to stay.  Are you willing?  Will you take up the challenge?
The choice is really yours...free will gives us that ability.  The question is do you want to choose or do you want to be chosen?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Someone in one of the Christian infant loss groups that I belong to shared this video today..

What’s Mine is Yours Lyrics - Katherine Nelson 
Counting down days since nine months last summer
From the baby quilts to the sunshine light-switch cover
All the plans she made
Wall-papered dreams she made for him someday
Doctor hardly glanced her way shut off the monitor
As he walked out the door said “You’re young, there’ll be others”
No sirens or loud screams
No rushing or comforting
It was just over
On the longest road toward home
She parked in the church lot and cried
And said
What’s mine is yours
It’s always been
What slips through my hands has your fingerprints on it
I’m letting go
Though Heaven’s doors feel shut they’re wide open
What’s mine is yours
Teenage girl clinging to the gates of mercy
Holding the weight of the world and her newborn baby
Trying her best to be brave
Wrapped in hope giving him away to a longing family
When her courage met their eyes she saw
Somehow her baby was born to be in their arms
And cried
In this life we come and go and say goodbye
But there’s more than we can see with our own eyes
And when my faith’s a thread-bare blanket and I can’t take it anymore
I remember
What’s mine is yours
I’m letting go
Though heaven’s doors feel shut they’re wide open
What’s mine is yours
Wow...what's mine is yours. How often do we forget that in our grief?  How often do we feel that something has been taken from us?  How often do we hold on to that grief as a way to hold on to that loved one?  
Losing a child is horrible.  Losing anyone is horrible but losing a child has a pain that can not be compared to anything.  Your hopes, your dreams, your plans for the future...all shattered.  Today I was reminded of this, once again, as I learned of another little angel who went to be with Jesus this past week.  This wasn't a TTTS baby...it wasn't even a baby.  A young boy of 5, healthy and full of energy one day and sick and then gone the next.  Unbelievable.  I don't know this little boy really.  I knew his sister well... she was a student at the school I worked at when I was pregnant with the twins.  I actually worked in her room that year and I remember Rory being so excited about my belly and telling me that her mommy had just a baby in her belly ... little Sam, who left this world on Tuesday.  I know that the family is devastated and I know that there is so many unanswered questions.  And right now the answer that this child was never truly theirs may not bring comfort but I pray  that one day they will find hope like I have.

Psalm 127:3

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

God gave us all that we have but it is sometimes very easy to forget that all that we have is from him, especially our children.  Children are a gift from God , they are just on loan to us,  they never belonged to us just as we don't belong to this earth.  They are simply here for as long as it takes for their mission to be fulfilled...just as we are only here on this earth until we have fulfilled our mission.  
Letting go and allowing what is his to return to him, leaving us with memories and leaving us with hope.

Romans 14:7-8

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Forgetting and moving forward

Philippians 3:13-14

New Living Translation (NLT)
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

This was a big part of our Pastor's sermon on Sunday... as we move into a new year it seems appropriate to leave the past behind and forge ahead.  But more then forging ahead, we need to look forward to what lies ahead, to live for that future that is so promising and fulfilling.  For Christians, we know what lies at the end of your journey... salvation, paradise, eternal life... such an amazing prize indeed! God is calling us there and we must move toward him.
But sometimes it is so hard to leave the past behind. So many times I have thought I was past something, that I had let it go...only to have it come crashing down on me later.  The biggest area that this seems to happen to most of us are the areas that we are most closely connected to emotionally.  The moments that have hurt us, wounded our hearts, moments of anger, distrust/dishonesty and, of course, moments of grief.  
I wish I could say that I have moved past moments of anger and hurt and moved forward in Christ.  But I know that I haven't in some areas, that I have a long way to go in forgetting past hurts.  I have forgiven but somehow I can't forget and admittedly, sometimes I have not forgiven fully either.  I am human and I know that much of this is natural but this reminder from Pastor Jeff was very much needed.  
This past year has brought great healing in my life in regards to my grief.  I feel like I have moved forwards leaps and bounds.  I feel so free from the chains that grief held on to me.  So much of this has happened because of the amazing things that God is putting on my heart and from the gentle push he gives me to seek new books and scriptures and most importantly, from the people he puts in my life.  
Sometimes those are people in my real day to day life.  I have some amazing friends who are just so supportive.  Some of them are those he has given me in my church circle but not all of them are.  One in particular is someone who isn't even sure what she believes and who doesn't ever go to church.  She has given me much to think about and she has given so much support in areas of my life where others seem to judge in, criticize in or simply turn a blind eye to.  
Within my church circle there are people who just listen.  Who don't judge or question my reasons, motives or actions...they just are there for me when I need them.  Some just send me a text or message on days that they know I am struggling, others just seem to know when to call or show up with a diversion, a hug or a surprise of some sort.  I am so very blessed!
But God has also brought some people to my life who I have never met and many, most actually, who I never will.  They have given me strength and hope beyond what I ever thought possible and they have helped me find peace and acceptance.  Some of these friends have done this through their support of my journey...through messages, phone calls, help understanding diagnostic results and reports and their encouragement and support of me as I have worked through my grief.  But their are a great many others that God has put in my life that have helped me to move into the future by allowing me to encourage and support them, to help them find help, support, funding and most of all, hope.  Sadly, as many of you have seen me write about in the past and many who are involved like I am have also experienced, not everyone is open to the support that some of us like to give.  Some people are, sadly, very territorial almost of TTTS and will do just about anything to prevent those whose opinions are different, whose approaches are different, from helping those who need it most.  
And I fit into that category...someone who has different approaches, opinions and views.  This has been a year of much change and therefore much conflict in the TTTS world and it has been a year where I have questioned my involvement over and over, a year where my feelings have been hurt and my heart stepped on a few times.  I have gotten angry at the insensitivity of others, at the disrespect given to others.  I have shown disrespect myself and been personally convicted of it.  I have swallowed my pride (which I know I should not have anyway) and apologized for things I have said and done.  I have been further hurt to have my words of apology twisted, my faith questioned and been spoken of in terms of blasphemy and hypocrite.  I just had this exposed to me in the last few weeks again and discovered that people I had trusted weren't who they appeared to be.  In the fall out of that I found myself in conversation with a sister in Christ who asked me why I thought I was the one that always seemed to be a target.  Without even thinking I replied that it's because the enemy knows my weakness and knows that I hurt when others say things like this about me, that I am easily wounded and question myself and I wear my heart on my sleeve so they all know how hurt I am.  
And so in my reflecting in the days following last Sunday's service and the scripture above I am deciding to move into 2013 with a new resolve.  I will forget the past and what hurt has happened.  I will will look forward to what is ahead, I will forgive and move on, not stopping or even pausing to consider the words of others that are done in disrespect or anger.  I feel very strongly that God has called me to help others, to offer support, to connect those in need with the services that will help and to just simply be there.  I feel this is a gift he has given me and that it brings me closer to him.  I have many areas in my life to press forward with, many things that bring me closer to the prize that is my salvation.  Jesus is with me, he will guide me and I will listen...not getting distracted by the words of the enemy presented by those I mentioned, not getting too caught up in any of the areas of life that separate me from him.  I will pray often for guidance to know what is too much, to where the line needs to be drawn in offering support and still being in the moments of my life that bring glory to him.
To those who are part of the world that, admittedly, sometimes takes up too much of my life, I encourage you to also let go of the past and move on.  Let God guide you to do what is right for you.  Perhaps someone will share this message with those who are on the 'opposite side of the TTTS fence' and maybe some healing, understanding and co-operation can be found.
Happy New Year! May 2013 bring you peace when you are full of unrest, joy when your heart is aching and hope when the light at the end of the tunnel is so hard to see. May you feel God in each moment.