Shabby

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

a sacrifice of praise



Lately I've been learning more about the sacrifice of praise. What exactly is a "sacrifice of praise?" It doesn't seem like praise should be a sacrifice right? When I think of praise I think of something easy to do...when that extra money comes in, when you get the good report from the doctor, when you just miss a huge auto accident...EASY!  So what would make praise a sacrifice?  I remember singing a song in church when I was younger: 

"We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord
And we offer up to you the sacrifices of Thanksgiving
And we offer up to you sacrifices of joy." -Kirk Dearman

I had no idea what I was actually saying. 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  Heb 13:15

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thess 5:16-18

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:7-9

What I've discovered is that a sacrifice of praise happens

in the darkest hours 
when you've been rejected
when someone has given up on you
when God seems far away
when the light at the end of the tunnel has gone dark
when your child just doesn't seem to be getting better
when your marriage just continues to fall apart
when that relationship just can't be worked out
when the bank account just keeps going further into the negative

We bring a sacrifice of praise…

It sounds like this:

Thank you God for my messed up situation because through it I will know you better.  I will not be alone.  You will never reject or forsake me.  I will be pressed but not crushed.  I will be persecuted but not destroyed.  By the way, God, this sucks big time and I don't even know how to say this and mean it…but I'm going to praise you because you command it, you desire it, and it changes my heart.

keepin it real

Until the next time,

C

Sunday, November 9, 2014

There is LIFE after loss

Today marks 2 years since I had my first miscarriage.  I've been approaching this day with some dread just because I wasnt sure how I'd feel exactly...I think I was expecting to be depressed or something?  It was a horrible and awful experience that I am so relieved to have put behind me...so I should be sad right?

It's funny...every year around this time, Dan and I get an itch to get out of town for the weekend (and Nana and Poppy are always quick to volunteer for grandkid duty :).  We didn't really plan it this way...but our getaways seem to fall on the same weekend each year.  I always wonder...will this time away be heavy?  Will it be a time of grieving?  Is there something more that I need to work through?  So I woke up this morning thinking "crap...it's today."  But, I feel joy.  Unexplainable joy.  There is a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that may always ache when I think of the loss of life...when I see an ultrasound picture, when I hear of a newly announced pregnancy or birth.  I don't enjoy hospitals and I could live very well without ever seeing another ultrasound again in my life.  But, I feel joy.

I share a bit of our story here.  But today I have some things that I'd like to add.  A LOT of people have been affected by a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other kind of infant loss.  I can almost guarantee that the first time a person shares their story there will be someone close that can relate.  The common occurrence doesn't minimize the pain...but it does make us aware that a lot of women AND MEN are silently suffering with this loss.  Unfortunately it is so easy to hurt or be hurt by another person's story...and I hope that my few tidbits can help to ease some of the pain on both sides.

Each person's miscarriage experience is different...but the loss is just as real.  Be careful how you console.
Whether it was a blighted ovum (empty egg), a 6 week gestation, or a full term baby...the loss is just as real.   Yes, the intensity is different, the physical effects are different, and some experiences may be harder to heal from.  The important thing here is to validate each mother and father's experience.  The truth is that none of us know the details...the dreams, the struggle to get pregnant, the process of the trauma...none of us really know what it was like.  Have grace.  Please don't tell them that they can try again...or that it probably wasn't a good time to have another baby...keep your consolation to: "I'm so so sorry." And then just listen.  And maybe even cry.

Dads feel it too...a LOT.
This kind of loss is a loss for everyone...especially daddy.  Don't be so quick to dismiss dad.  He needs help to grieve while he cares for mom and processes the trauma of the loss too.  When I was in the ER and preparing for discharge, I passed out completely and slumped over a garbage can.  My husband was scared...there were a lot of ugly things to see that night and he needs to work through those feelings too. Be a listening ear for him...(My kids were too young to even understand that I was pregnant...so we didn't have to really talk to them about it...but older kids need help here too.)

There is life and joy after miscarriage/infant loss.
I promise.  When I share my story...I talk about how I literally felt cradled in Jesus' arms...I was so sad...but I was not in despair.  I was ok...he held me up.  Some scripture that comes to mind here is Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
In this life, I'm pretty sure that there will always be a sting...but there is LIFE.  There is joy.  If you have experienced a miscarriage or infant loss...and you have not experienced joy...please contact me.  Jesus came so that we could have LIFE!

I still long to be pregnant again...since this time we had another miscarriage and I fear that my body is done.  So, I may still have grieving to do...

"But I will trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the Lord because he has been so good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6



Until the next time :-), C

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

faithful


In my small group, we are going through an overview of the Bible.  It has been quite eye opening to say the least.  I really feel like we are all learning something new.  I've often been intimidated by the Bible...I've felt like I wasn't smart enough to understand it...I didn't always know why it was important to know things like Noah and the Ark etc...and I didn't understand the words!  (Partially because I grew up reading the King James Version).  I've learned about it all my life and can recite verses here and there.  But, its never come alive to me in this way before.  I thirst for it...and it is so satisfying when I get to drink it up.  

Okay, so sorry for the Christianese metaphors...what I really want to say is that God is faithful.  Do you know this?  Do you feel that he is faithful?  Maybe not...but he still is.  Why?  How do I know?  Because it is true of his character and he demonstrates it time and time again in his word.  

As we're walking through scripture, I continue to ask myself, why did God want this in the Bible?  What does he want me to know and understand?  There's a man named Abraham (Genesis 12-25) who God asks to do some pretty hard things.  He also tells him that he will bless him more than he can ever imagine.  The guy is faithful...constantly obeying and praising God until he gets scared and tries to help God fulfill his plan.  He takes a second wife, he lies, he worries, he doubts that God is who he says he is, he lacks faith constantly, he laughs at God, and the list goes on.  Does this sound like you?  Someone you know?  God continues to remind Abraham that he WILL bless him greatly, and while he experiences consequences for his choices...God remains faithful.  He takes what may have been meant for evil and uses it for his glory.  He blesses the child born to the "other woman", he redeems the lies and walks him through the times of worry and doubt.  He even gives Abraham the opportunity to petition God not to destroy a city where his family lived.  

God continually reminds Abraham of who he is, and renews his faithfulness and covenant despite his decision-making.  He does this because he ultimately had a heart that desired to please God.  That's it...he was just trying!  He acknowledges when he screws up, takes responsibility for his choices and then tries again...

This should be a comfort to you...because it means that you too can experience God in the same way.  I'm pretty sure this is why God wanted these stories in scripture...so that we could see people like us doing amazing things through the power of God.  

God's word is alive...it is applicable for all time.  God doesn't expect perfection-in fact, he knows that we will screw up perhaps in a really big way-but his promises are true and he will redeem the screw up...all of them.  He just wants your heart.   He just wants you to try.  He's there to help and guide you. He will ask you to give up everything and suffering will most definitely come because we live in a messed up world!...but he is FAITHFUL!  Always...Do you see it?  Or are you giving up on God because he's not doing what you think he should?  Perhaps a change of perspective is what we need...to view our situation with the lens of who God is.  

How has God been faithful to you this year?

Until the next time :-), C