Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forgotten God

Okay, so since my last 2 posts have been sort of downers, I'm moving on. No more pity parties - I promise! No more "woe is me" type posts - I do solemnly swear. For a while anyway.... ;)

We've had FCAT testing the last 3 days and let's face it, it is hard to sit and do nothing for over 2 hours. So, as I so attentively walk around the room to make sure that my students are bubbling in answers correctly and not working in any other session and not pulling out cell phones that should have been collected (do you sense the sarcasm?), I have been finishing up the book "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. And I finished it yesterday in the middle of Session 1 of math. Don't worry - I read and walked and looked up every few sentences to make sure my students were working hard.

Francis Chan is one of those authors that makes you take a good long hard look at yourself and confess that you really are scum. He writes truth - hard truth. The whole book is about how we, as the church, have forgotten about the Holy Spirit - a very real and very vital part of the Christian life. He is the third part in the holy trinity, the Helper, the One that convicts us of our sin. And yet, we don't operate in the power of the Spirit like the bible talks about.

Operating and living in the Holy Spirit, being continually filled with the Spirit, means talking, acting, looking, and living differently than the rest of the world. And so many times, we don't. I know I don't. I talk about people, I complain, I get caught up in negative attitudes, I have selfish moments, I become lazy, complacent, or apathetic. This would not be if I lived in and operated under the power of the Holy Spirit.

One of the things that really hit me in the middle of the forehead was when Chan talks about "forgetting about God's will for your life." Sounds strange, right? But, stay with me here. So many times we get caught up in questioning what God's will is for our lives rather than what He would have us do in that very moment. Let's face it: how many times did God tell His people in the Bible EXACTLY where He was leading them or what was going to happen? Abraham? Moses? Noah? Elijah? Daniel? They were told what to do - but did they know the outcome? Abraham was just told to leave his family and go - not where to go. Moses was told to help free the Israelites - but he didn't know exactly what that would look like. Noah was told to build an ark - not what the exact outcome would be. Elijah called fire from Heaven - not knowing if fire would actually come. Daniel wouldn't bow to King Jarius and was thrown into a lion's den - not knowing if he would become the next meal. But in all these situations, these individuals trusted God - not for knowing His will 10 years down the road, but for His provision in that moment, knowing that He would come through. When we put too much focus on what God's will is for our lives, we end up using it as an excuse to not follow Him NOW. Like Chan says, "It's easier to talk about following God later, than it is to actually follow Him now." We're worried about what He might call us to right this moment so we put more emphasis on the later.

I don't know about you but I don't want to be paralyzed by fear and miss the amazing opportunities that God has for me right now. I want to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, recognizing His voice, moving when He says to move, going where He says to go, living how He says to live. That's going to look different for everyone but I know I don't want to miss it. I want to stop worrying about my calling 10 years from now and focus on TODAY - what God has for me TODAY.

What about you? Do you want to continue living in a sort of limbo, continually asking what God's will for your LIFE is, or do you want to start focusing on the now and what God's will is for you TODAY?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Funks and Faith

I haven't had much struggle in my life. That's the God's honest truth.

I've always had what I needed and probably, more often than not, what I wanted. I've never been "rich" by the American standard but compared to the actual majority of the world, I am quite. 

I have never really struggled with trusting God. It's always come easy for me. Having an unshakeable faith seemed as natural as breathing to me. He has always had that pattern of providing and has yet to disappoint me. So what then, pray tell, is my problem now?

In all honesty and transparency, I have been in a "funk" of sorts for a couple of days. And for anyone who knows me at all, I don't hide "funks" very well. You can pretty much tell if there's something bothering me.

I felt as if I had gotten through this funk yesterday, until no one showed up to my Thirty-One Gifts party...and hard as I might try not to let it bother me, it did. Even though I had pretty much anticipated that it would be a bust, I still held on to that one glimmer of hope that maybe a few people would show up. Nope....just mom and me. I felt rather pathetic actually. 

But again, to be honest, that's not the source of the "funk." Well then, you ask, what is? 

I really can't get into the nitty gritty because well, to be frank, it's none of your business. But...

Yes, there's always a "but"...

I realized this morning during worship that I was....

...are you ready for it?


Me. Angry.

About what? At who? 

You guessed it. At the One whom I have no right to be angry with...God.

How did I arrive at this conclusion? Worship, as wonderful as it was this morning with the awesome band, Letters from Patmos, was difficult for me to enter into. And that, my friends, is not normal. Worship has always been easy for me. Entering into the throne room has never been a problem. But this morning, I felt like I was having my own private battle. I stood part of the time with my arms folded across my chest...not a problem for anyone else...but that's just not a normal worship posture for me. That's a guarded posture for me. And...we weren't even half way through the first song before I was in tears. I found myself halting my singing when certain lines came up because at the moment, I didn't feel that way. And I'm not going to sing something I don't mean to the Creator of the Universe. I'm just not that type of person.

As I wondered to myself what was wrong with me, I felt like God and I had a little conversation. It went a little something like this:

God: So why don't you just admit it?
Me: Admit what exactly?
God: You know what.
Me: Um, no.
God: Let it go.
Me: Let what go?
God: You hear that? That tone? Admit it, child.
Me: What do you want to hear, Lord? That I'm scared? That I'm worried? That this is not the way things are supposed to be and this was not the answer to our prayers? You want me to admit that I'm a bit upset at how things seem to be turning out?
God: A bit upset?
Me: Okay, fine. I'm angry. 
God: Now we're getting somewhere.
Me: I'm angry at YOU!
God: I know. 
Me: Of course You do. But I'm angry at me too.
God: Why?
Me: Duh...because I'm angry at You. 
God: That makes sense. 
Me: Of course it does. What right do I have to be angry at You?
God: None.
Me: You see my dilemma then?
God: I see everything. 
Me: I know You do.
God: Do you? Everything, daughter. The beginning , the middle, and the end. I see it all. The big picture. And it's going to turn out okay. Better than okay. You are never going to be alone in this and you're going to learn a lot. Just, trust Me in the meantime.
Me: That's just it! Trusting You has always been easy for me. Now, it's not and that bothers me. 
God: We'll get past it. I understand. I get it. This isn't something I haven't heard before. It's the story of My existence. Me even when it's hard and I promise it will be worth it in the end. 

So all in all, my worship experience this morning was...interesting. 

God and I still have a lot of work to do on me. And I'm not sure when this "funk" will pass but I trust that it will. I trust that this rough patch will give way to smoother surfaces soon and that when we reach the other side of this ordeal that we will be stronger. I trust that even though I don't understand and I don't see the big picture, that God does and He will be with me every step of the way. I guess the most important thing here is that I simply trust

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Real Confession...

Let me just preface this post with the fact, or rather opinion, that I am not generally a "woe is me" type of person. I like to think of myself as an optimist, one who can find the positive in any situation. Case in point: our main AC is not working and we really don't have the money to fix it if it's a major issue. But, we do have a window unit in the Florida room and just cleaned that room thoroughly so we could open it up and let the air flow. The positive is that it's cooling and hey, we'll save money on electric by not running the main AC.

Anyway...that's not the point of this post. I just want to confess that....I feel lonely.

Now, I am not by any means, alone. Ever. I have my Savior which in reality is all I need to sustain me. I have my wonderful husband who is so much more than I deserve at times and I have an adorably energetic little boy who constantly makes my heart melt. I am so blessed, there are not even words.

But even though I am constantly surrounded by people at home, at work, at church...I still feel lonely. It hit me like a ton of bricks today. I think it was a couple of things: I realized that I had forgotten all about my best friend's birthday. Shame on me! And two: it sunk in deep for some reason today that my other best friend, my childhood best friend, has indeed moved to the other side of the country. So now my two best friends live on the opposite side of America, thousands of miles, and hundreds of dollars in gas or plane tickets away. I've had almost 3 years now to be used to the one being far away. She lived in Canada for most of that time. I guess the upside is that at least she is back in the states.
Love you, Char!

My other bestie? The one I literally grew up with? The one who has seen me at my best and at my worst? The one who stood by my side at my wedding holding my flowers and straightening my train? She's moved too. And it really hit me that now when I get to go back to Ocala, I won't get to see her. Shoot...she's been in South Dakota for nearly a month now and this is just now hitting me. Which has also made me realize that I took her for granted. While I moved away for college and got married and stayed here, she was faithfully in Ocala where I assumed she would stay. Why would I assume that? I didn't spend as much time with her as I should have when I was in town. I didn't call or text on a regular basis. And we sure have had our ups and downs over the past few years. And I've known for at least a year or more that this time was coming...that her hubby would get his assignment from the Air Force and off she would go. I knew this. But maybe a weird sense of denial kept it from really registering. Well, consider it registered. And I miss her...something fierce.
Love to my Ames!

The bottom line: I miss having friends. Don't get me wrong. My husband is my best friend and I can and do tell him anything. I also happen to have the best mother on the planet who I can also talk to about anything. But I miss my friends. And to be brutally honest? I don't have any here.

Now I have 3 of the best sisters in law a girl could ask for and an awesome church family and small group. But that type of friend who just gets you? The one who understands your quirks, your faults and what makes you tick and loves you anyway because you know the same things about her? Those two people don't live here. And as much as I LOVE my church family and would not trade them for the world, they all seem to have their own friendships and as awesome as they are, sometimes I still feel like an outsider. it me? Is there something about me that makes people not want to be around me. Because these tears that are falling from my face right now are the sign that maybe that's the problem. Maybe I don't offer enough to people. Maybe I don't try hard enough.

I do know this: I try to be loyal. I try to be a friend to others. I try. The question is: do I succeed?

I'm hosting a Thirty-One Gifts party on Saturday and invited well over 30 people. Only about 3 are even coming. And I could care less if they bought anything. I just like to be around Godly women. Every time I get another facebook notice saying someone else declined my invite, I feel deeper into this lonely feeling. Now common sense and logic would tell you that those people have lives and probably have plans that day. But I'm not operating on common sense or logic right now. I'm operating on feelings alone and my feelings keep telling me that maybe I'm just not good company. Do I talk too much about myself? Do I not take time to listen to other people? Do I give off a negative vibe?

Now, if you're reading this, I don't need you to respond to these questions or tritely reassure me. I'm simply writing. I'm a pretty transparent person but even though I could unload stuff on 10 different people, nothing is quite as healing, cathartic, and therapeutic for me as just writing about it. So consider this my own person therapy session where you the reader are sitting in the chair nodding and taking notes with your glasses sitting halfway down your nose while I lay on the couch babbling incessantly about my so called woes. Only you don't get paid - sorry.

I just want that one friend. I was so blessed that I found two. Unfortunately in my case, Utah and South Dakota have their hold on them and that doesn't do me much good here when I just want that girl time where we talk about anything and laugh till we cry.

I guess, as with all things that weigh heavily on me, it's time to let go and let God. Let Him bring  me that friend that I long for.

And with that,  if you have lasted to the end of this post without screaming, "Quit complaining already!", I commend you. Although, let it be noted that I'm not complaining. I'm least that's my story. And I think I'll stick to it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Giving Birth in America...

About a week ago, I read a friend's blog post about her birth stories and a documentary that she watched that she wished she had seen beforehand. You can read her blog post here. Anyhow, having become a documentary junkie of sorts myself, I was naturally intrigued by the information she laid out and the brief synopsis of the documentary called The Business of Being Born.

The difference between this friend and myself is that she is done giving birth to children (she's actually adopting 2 from Uganda -awesome!) and I, on the other hand, would like to have one more in a couple of years. I'm in no rush but I do feel that twinge every now and then when I see a small infant or walk through the baby aisles of Target knowing he has outgrown most of that stuff. I do want another one - one day. Trust me - that little ball of energy is enough right now. And even though that time should be no time soon, I already know of many things that I will do differently. And it will start with the birth itself.

Last night, being awake after 10pm for some strange reason, I decided to watch said documentary on Netflix. What an eye opener!!! I mean, it actually does show live births so I don't recommend watching with children around or even your husband if he has a weak stomach but I was absolutely enthralled.

Now, here's my birth story in a (perhaps sort of long) nutshell:
First of all, I was actually interested in using a midwife and a birthing center when I first found out I was pregnant but having NOT done my research and NOT knowing what I know now, I was easily scared away from it by my OBGYN. I took her word for it deciding that she was the doctor, not I, so she of course knew best. There in lies the first mistake.

Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready for Gabe to be born. I was highly uncomfortable those last few weeks of pregnancy and was ready! I had no qualms about being induced - again, not knowing what I know now. However, there was a small part of me that wanted to experience going into labor naturally. That small part is huge now. Call me crazy if you will but if God decides to bless us with another in the future, that will be the plan.

On Tues, Jan 18th, we went in for my final doctor visit where they told me that I had an intermediate risk for shoulder dystocia which more or less means there was a significant risk that by delivering vaginally, he could get hung up on my pelvic bone and the means necessary to remove him would possibly cause nerve damage. Just the thought of that brought me to tears. I was terrified at that point but I was more terrified of a C-section which is what my OBGYN recommended. I just didn't have a peace about that. I did, however, have a complete peace about a vaginal delivery but I didn't want to wait. I didn't want him to get any bigger and have my risk only increase which is what they said would happen so that night, I went in. My body was nowhere near ready for labor. I was only dilated 1 cm, and other than that, nothing. He wasn't even 50% effaced. They gave me Cervadil (intervention #1) to soften my cervix and prepare it for labor. The next morning, they started the Pitocin to induce labor (intervention #2). I would just like to say that the images I had in my head of labor are not what I experienced. I was only allowed up to use the bathroom for maybe the first half of that Wednesday and then after that, I was stuck in bed. I wasn't allowed to walk the halls or do squats or really even stand. It was miserable. On Wednesday afternoon, I was so sore from the bed and so tired of not having any development, and so on edge that the nurse suggested stadol (sp?) to calm me down (intervention #3). It took the edge off alright but I was l-o-o-p-y. I was thankful for it then for simply helping me relax but even that is not natural.

That night was awful. I wasn't allowed up - not even to use a bed side toilet (yup, bed pan for me!). I had such distaste for the bedside manner of my nurse that night that I made sure I had to go pee a lot so she had something to keep her busy. I mean, someone had to clean out the bed pan right? Women in labor - don't mess with them.

The next morning (Thurs), contractions were getting worse by 6am but I still had not progressed enough for even an epidural until around 8 or 9am. I had now been in the hospital in the same bed since 6pm Tuesday evening and no baby. Finally around 9am, I was 4cm and I was really starting to feel the contractions. I absolutely went for the epidural (intervention #4). Now, this is the one spot that I teeter back and forth on. I do not like pain. At all. I'm a wimp really. So I loved that epidural. And I would probably take it again without batting an eye. But I would try to stick it out for a little bit first. The next part is where God really intervened. Epidural usually slows labor down and they were already talking C-Section. After they broke my water they were basically saying that they would give me 2 more hours and if I hadn't progressed anymore, then they would prep me for a C-Section (for the good of the baby of course - or maybe because they needed that bed free). For most women who are induced in that manner, I think that's exactly what happens. Knowing I did NOT want that because I wanted to be involved in the delivery process, we prayed, and we felt peace. About 2 hours later, I had progressed again. They broke my water around 10:30am and by 3pm I was 10cm and he was 100% effaced. We waited a bit to let him come down more into the birth canal and I probably started pushing around 3:30. Just about an hour later, at 4:28pm, my beautiful blue eyed son was born. It was by the grace of God I wasn't coerced into a C-Section.

Now, here's my other frustration. I didn't get to hold him right away like women do who do it the old fashioned way with a midwife or if they're lucky, in some hospitals. It took almost 20-30 minutes for me to hold my son for the first time and I was chomping at the bit. Now I don't blame Lakeland Regional for any of this. I blame the healthcare system as a whole. By the way, did you know that America has the #2 spot for the highest infant mortality rate? That is scary.

So I say all that, and give you that story to say this - I will do it differently next time if God allows. I plan to go to a midwife. I plan to (barring any complications) have my next child either in a birthing center or even at home (I already have my husband's support). I plan to labor the way I want to and the way my body was made to. God created the female body to not only give birth but to also endure that pain. I want the real experience of what giving birth is supposed to be - with the possible exception of an epidural :)

As for the other things I plan to do differently - I plan to work harder at breast feeding until we've both got it down. I plan to cloth diaper. I plan to make my own baby food. I want to do a lot of things differently. I didn't research and read enough when I was pregnant with Gabe - probably because half of my brain was worried about finding a place to live. But, I digress.

I don't dwell on these things. They're not regrets, per se. They are just lessons that I learned and plan to carry with me. And with that, you might think I'm crazy. That's okay. I might be apt to agree....