Monthly Archives: August 2013

#YesToGod

On page 103 Lysa shares a short prayer she prays every morning choosing to say yes to whatever assignments God places before her. Write your own personal morning #YesToGod prayer.

Heavenly Father, You are the God who sees me. You are going to meet me wherever I am. My story is already written, and I know that if I say yes to You, I will be following the story the way you wrote it. You are within me, I will not fall; You will help me at break of day. I want to say yes to you today, Lord. I know there will be moments when I forget that you are within me, and I pray that I can repent and reset and accept your gift of grace in those not-so-graceful moments. Thank you for saving me…

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(Lysa’s prayer)

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Life Interrupted

In this week’s study, one of the topics we are given the opportunity to write about is this:

Life Interrupted – Some of God’s greatest gifts are “wrapped in unlikely packages.” Share how God has used a challenging time in your life and worked in it for your good.

When I read that, I knew exactly what I would share. If I decided to share. Which I decided, yes, I should definitely share.

In August 2009, I married my husband and we decided to start trying for a baby in January of 2010. So, we tried. And I immediately got pregnant. I. Was. SHOCKED. Why was I shocked, you may ask? Because I have endometriosis, and I had 2 surgeries in the 4 years prior to this time to get rid of the scar tissue that was built up on all my inner lady organs. I had a lot of pain for a lot of years, and endo is also a huge obstacle in getting pregnant. Also, I was 36 years old. I had a doctor tell me that I would almost certainly require assistance in conceiving based on the combo of this “advanced maternal age” and the endo. He all but told me not to get my hopes up when I decided to start trying. I was so upset. I had LONGED to be a mother for as long as I can remember.

So, when I got pregnant on the first time at bat, I was like, “SAY WHAAAAAAAT?!” I was so happy. That is, until I lost the baby almost 8 weeks later.

To say I was devastated does not do the emotions I felt any justice. I was numb throughout the whole ordeal (which was painful and hideous and insane) and then I was comforting my mom and my mother-in-law and all who cried for me. “It’s okay, this was in God’s plan,” I would say. And I believed that, I really did (and still do). I’ll be fine, I told everybody. I was as strong as I could be when I got my ultrasound that we all knew would not find a heartbeat. And then through my D&C. And then when I got home and had to try to live my life.

Ha ha. I was SO NOT FINE. After the dust cleared and my Vicodin prescription ran out, I was a TOTAL MESS. I fell apart. I wept. I feel like I wept for months. And I guess I did; in those few weeks, I became fully attached to that baby (whom I really think was a girl. Don’t ask me why…but when I think of this baby, she is a girl!), and I had plans for her and dreams and there is just no way to describe the feeling of being pregnant unless you’ve done it. It’s a TRIP. Anyway, the doctor told us to wait 3 months to try again. Those three months were terrible. Every time I would see a baby I would lose it. But during those three months, every single day during my lunch hour, I would go on long walks in a park near the place where I worked. I prayed for that hour every single day as winter turned into spring, just prayed and prayed and talked to God and marveled how I was getting to experience the barren trees suddenly have teeny buds on them…and then little leaves…and by the time May rolled around, 3 months later, the flowers were blooming and the trees were green and full and the birds were singing and everything felt beautiful and bright and new. In those three months, in the midst of this new life budding in nature all around me, I also became really scared to try again. Scared to find out if my baby-cooker was all messed up. Scared to let God take another baby away if that was His will for me.

We actually tried again after 2 months, and truthfully I was almost relieved when it was a no-go. We tried at 3 months, which fell right around my birthday. I remember that birthday so well…we went out for hot wings and my husband surprised me with a new bike.

Early June rolled around, and on my lunch break at work, instead of walking in that park, I went to the drugstore to buy a pregnancy test. Because I knew. I just knew.

And there I was. Pregnant again. And terrified to tell anyone or let myself be happy about it, because I didn’t think I could take losing another baby.

I made a doctor appointment and had a blood test, and they called me to tell my my HcG (or is it HgC? I always forget) numbers, and wanted to schedule an ultrasound right away. Which I thought was weird, because my ultrasound was at 8 weeks before, and this was only 6 weeks. Oh well, what do I know? So I went in for the ultrasound and my husband went with me. I will never forget what the ultrasound tech said:

“Huh! There’s two in there!”

The noise I made cannot be typed, as I don’t think a word exists for a laugh/gasp/confused groan. And the only thing my husband said was, “Can you make sure there’s not three in there??” Ha.

Twins. I lost a baby and then God gave me two.

It has proven to be the most amazing blessing of my life. I was just telling somebody today that I didn’t fully understand the miracle of having one healthy baby, let alone two or more at a time. I had a really happy pregnancy and a crazy, sleep-deprived first year of their sweet little lives. (Everyone told me I was crazy to breastfeed twins. And it was soooo challenging. But I did it! I did it until they were two. I just treasured them so much. Still do.)

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with these two amazing little people. Thank you for giving me the strength to get through losing that baby (that baby who is with you right now), to get through that pregnancy, get through that first year after they were born, and that second year. P.S. This 2nd half of their second year is really interesting. These many tantrums per day are…yeah. Interesting. We have a lot of awesome, fun, amazing, sweet times, as you know. But MAN. Two of them tantruming out at the same time? Cray-cray. But seriously. What a gift they are. Thank you, Lord, for Max and Hazel. Thank you.

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#StickWithIt

I haven’t posted in a few days because I am struggling. Struggling with anxiety over a certain situation in my life. The other day I wrote about the Ripple Effect of our sin. I am experiencing that right now. Because I am filled with anxiety, it is manifesting itself in ways that are unrelated to the situation and that is just NOT COOL. I also realize that anxiety does not come from God, and when I feel this way that indicates that there is an absence of God’s presence in those moments. I AM LED BY THE SPIRIT. I will let Him lead me to the place where he wants me, where I am safe and protected. My story is already written. In order for it to play out, I need to be obedient. I need to say yes to God. I need to let Him lead me, not say to Him, “Hey, I love you and I know you have plans to prosper me and not harm me, but you don’t understand what I am dealing with! It’s so hard because of XYZ. I try so hard, but BLAH BLAH BLAH.” Stefanie. Please. Get it together.
So how AWESOME is it that the verse for this week of study is this:

Romans 5:3-4

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Basically, I need to stick with it. Keep saying yes, even when I get attacked from all sides. Keep saying yes, even when, as my pastor put it yesterday, that one yes will bring a thousand no’s. Keep saying yes, even when it hurts. It’s easy to say yes when you are being blessed at that very moment (which I have been in amazing ways over the past several days – real acts of love from people around me that have the Lord working through them. If you are reading this, you know who you are and I love you). These acts of love (your love and His love) fuel my desire to be radically obedient to Him. That is a beautiful example of the Ripple Effect.

Therefore, in this very moment, I am letting these beautiful things fuel that fire that I want, nay, NEED, to burn deep in my soul. The desire to serve Him out of desire, not out of duty. I am going to stick with it. Stick with Him. Be not just a follower of Jesus, be not just a Christian, but be a DISCIPLE. So please, people who I am hurting or offending or confusing or what have you, stick with me. I may make mistakes, but that’s just the way it is. We all make them. It’s gonna happen. Please know that I am trying. I am surrendering every part of me to God, and I am allowing Him to shape me into something that looks more like Jesus every day. There are going to be good days and bad days. But I’m going to stick with it.

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Remain

John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

There are 5 definitions for the word “remain” and they are all applicable to remaining with Christ:

1. To continue in the same state or condition: These matters remain in doubt.
2. To continue to be in the same place; stay or stay behind: We are remaining at home.
3. To be left after the removal, loss, passage, or destruction of others: Only a few trees remain. See Synonyms at stay1.
4. To be left as still to be dealt with: A cure remains to be found.
5. To endure or persist.
I am choosing to remain in Christ every second of every day. It’s a conscious choice. It’s not like to accept Jesus and decide you want to follow Him and then you’re like, “OK Lord, do your thing!” No, it is a very conscious effort. To continue in the same state or condition. To continue to be in the same place. To be left after the removal, loss, passage, or destruction by others. The be left as still to be dealt with. To endure or persist. I am making that conscious decision and effort to remain in Him. As a growing, blossoming, ever-changing yet steadfast relationship.
And when we turn back a page to John 14:20, we have this: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
This is all so simple. Jesus is in me. I am in Jesus. We are both in God. This is what I want to remember when times get rough. I don’t need to fear any day, any conversation, any confrontation, anything at all. How can I be afraid when I am being carried by Him? When He is in me and I am in Him and we are both in God? What safer place can there possibly be?
And yet this is all so hard sometimes. The world wants me to yell and scream and get scrappy and fight back and drink too much and eat too much and be lazy and spiteful and materialistic. The enemy whispers that these things are fine, legal, everyone does them! And that’s when I need to nestle into that awesome little group hug that is Jesus in me and me in Him and us in God. Then I am protected. Then I need not fear. And neither do you.

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Ripple (The Word As A Weapon)

“Ripple” is not just an awesome song by the Grateful Dead.  The Ripple Effect is very real and something that we need to think about.  The effects of our actions are far-reaching.  Often we never know the consequences of our sin.  And the consequences are not always major, like in a time-travel movie where someone accidentally steps on a butterfly in the past and consequently obliterates all of mankind.  Or like in season 2 of “Breaking Bad” when Jesse’s girlfriend gets back into drugs because of him and thus hundreds of people perish in a horrific tragedy that grips the nation.  No, sometimes the ripple only shimmies on over to our kids, or our spouse, or friends, or people at church, or at work.  But then what does that person at work, for example, do with the consequences of your sin?  Just forget about it and move on?  Probably not.  People aren’t really wired that way.  You just never know the endgame of your actions, and it’s hard to look 2 or 3 moves ahead when you are in the moment.

Jeremiah 12:2

 You have planted them, and they have taken root;
they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
but far from their hearts.

This verse refers to the “faithless and the wicked,” and how their way of life seems to be easy and prosperous, while saying yes to God seems (and let’s face it, IS) hard.  The person being referred to in this verse is not someone I want to be.  I want to be wrapped up in Him always.   I want to grow and bear fruit and have Him on my lips and in my whole heart.

I know this is unorthodox for a bible study, but I am also a Deadhead and the lyrics to “Ripple” are fantastic and beautiful and talk about this very thing I am trying to convey.  It’s a classic and gorgeous song.  For example:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

and…

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

and…

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

 
Beautiful lyrics.  The great thing about music is you get to interpret it however you wish.  Right now I am interpreting this song to be about the far-reaching Ripple Effect of my sin, my words, His words, His work through me, through you, through all of us.  It’s a mighty responsibility, and one we all have to start taking to heart.  I want my words to glow with the gold of Sonshine.
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Amazed (Because You Answer Me)

I was looking at and pondering on Psalm 84:4 the other day and wrote about how we are all in His house together.

Verse 5 is pretty good, too (“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”) I was reading those verses in accordance with this study, and I was about to write some notes on it, when my eyes jumped to the next page and I saw Psalm 86:5-7, which just spoke to my heart so much this morning. So much so that I highlighted it and underlined it and drew squiggles and flowers and polka dots because I wanted it to stand out as the beautiful thing it is:

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I don’t even know where to begin with this. There’s a lot of things that are weighing on me right now. But the amazing thing is, I’m not weighed DOWN. I still feel His love within me, stronger than ever. When I start to feel sorry for myself, He gently reminds me of those that are truly suffering. Those who truly have it rough. I am FINE. I am fine as long as I rest in Him.

In my last post I said I was going to write about how challenging it is being me sometimes and how hard it is to follow Christ wholeheartedly, and telling Him that He can have all of me, and I want to be used in a mighty way by Him, and He is my author and perfecter and all that stuff. Now I’m kind of embarrassed that I wrote that. Now it feels silly to whine about this stuff. Sometimes we fall into that trap of “poor me, life is so hard, my problems are so major.” That’s the enemy. The enemy is trying to dig his claws into me big time right now…yet I still have peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Thanks for that reminder, Jesus. You really could not make it any plainer. I appreciate that this lesson is not in parable form, because I just need some direct guidance right now.

Lysa TerKeurst writes:

“But sometimes it is down on your face in the mud in complete humility (and sometimes even humiliation!) that you will find a sweet and tender truth. It’s from this position that you can say, ‘Jesus, I love You and I want You more than anything else. I love You and want You more than the approval of my peers, family and friends, and even the naysayers in my life. I love You and want You more than the comforts and trappings of this world. I love You and choose to believe Your truth over Satan’s lies. I love You and choose to worship You and You alone. Jesus, I love You and want to come to You empty-handed and offer my life in complete surrender.'”

Once upon a time, I would never have been able to comprehend the above paragraph. Even when I began truly following Jesus. I was still holding onto so much of myself. And I gotta be honest, I am not even sure what exactly happened. All I know is me, Stefanie in Reading, PA, right now, right this very moment, wants what is in that paragraph with all my heart. And the way I am going to get there today, now, right this minute, is this: Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to me cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, BECAUSE YOU ANSWER ME.

Author and Perfecter

Jesus is the author of my faith. What does this mean? It means He’s got all the research on me down. He is in control of the chapters of my life – the beginning, the middle, the end. The footnotes. The re-edits. The highlights, the scribbles, the typos, the corrections. The paper cuts, the writer’s cramps, the crumpled up pages in the wastebasket. The suspense, the lulls, the unexpected plot twists, the stuff you can see coming from a mile away. The main characters, the incidentals, the heroes, the villains. He is writing a perfect novel through me. He is the most creative person to do the job and I trust Him with it.

So then how is He the perfecter of my faith? For starters, He is an AWESOME fact-checker and proofreader. When I try to write in the margins with my big red pen with my own ideas of how this story should turn out – remove a paragraph here, add a character there – or I smudge the pages with too much wine or chocolate (or both), or dog-ear a page with my own decision to stop reading – the perfect story gets interrupted. If I try to insert things that are not in accordance with His truth into this story, but I convince myself “Hey, it’s true enough…” Well, the main character (ME) ends up getting lost in the pages. Ends up needing Him to turn this tome around again.

I’m learning to stop trying to take control of it. I tried to write my own novel for a long, long, time…and, quite frankly, it looked like something that probably ends up at the bottom of the bargain bin: a tale of little merit that no one is really interested in. “Can’t get invested in the main character.” “Don’t like where this is going.”  “I’ll just wait for the movie.”  No, I’m done with all that, thanks. Jesus is a much better author than I’ll ever be. And I can’t wait to see where the next chapter takes me. I will fix my eyes on Him and let Him do His thing. It’s both the easiest and the hardest thing in the world. But If I concentrate on Him and my story and how that looks NOW, TODAY, THIS MINUTE, I will be able to get gloriously lost in this adventure called life instead of skimming it over.

I’m going to rest in this awesome thought today. Tomorrow I am going to write about how hard this really can be, especially since a lot of people in my life have no idea where this is coming from or why I am being so open with this. While I am the happiest I have ever been, sometimes being me these days is challenging. But I like the character that He wrote. I’m getting to like her more every day.author

We are all in His house together

The Lord has given me lots to chew on this weekend. I had a great week of Bible study and an always great message in church this morning. And it’s all kind of connecting together, so I know it’s The Lord driving something home to me. My Bible Study aha moment is this:

Psalm 84:4
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

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My church message aha moment:
Matthew 7:7-8
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

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Clearly, I am to be opening myself up more to those around me, serving Him and others, being there for people in whatever way I can. Saying yes to God. Receiving what He’s got in store for me, palms up, ready to give out what He gives me. Bring it, Lord!!! I’m here!

Please enjoy my notes from the past 2 days. It’s good stuff to chew on.

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I think the verse in the top left corner is supposed to be 1 John 2: 15-16. Whoops. I also noticed I didn’t finish my thought about what God values. Double-whoops!! Let’s hope He doesn’t value accuracy in note-taking!
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The Day I Didn’t Fall Into The Gap And Said YES Instead

The last item in Chapter 3 of “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” says the following:

“Lastly, journal your thoughts below about this statement:  ‘Soon, saying yes to God will no longer be a discipline of your heart but rather the delight of your life.'”

I was always a fan of steam-of-consciousness writing.  Here goes:

I had a total Yes To God moment a few minutes ago…I know this might be weird, but sometimes I like to do online shopping and fill up my cart with a new outfit or whatever and then I just delete it.  I am also in the middle of finally trying to seriously lose some of the baby weight (it’s so hard because my body is just so different after having twins…my belly!  MY.  BELLY.  Oh, my belly.  It’s the bane of my existence.  Actually, pantry moths are the bane of my existence.  Next, it’s my belly).  I decided that I was going to try to go down one jeans size by October 22.  That is TOTALLY doable if I just actually try.  I have NO JEANS.  NONE.  Well, that’s not true.  I have lots of jeans.  But none of them fit.  So, I opened up my Gap app and guess what?  ALL SALE ITEMS ARE 50% OFF TODAY.  WHATWHAT!!!!!!  I filled up that cart with smart items that I totally need.  A pair of jeans in my current size.  2 t-shirts and a pair of socks.  I had to get over $50 so I would get free shipping.  Then I used my 50% off code and PEOPLE – I had a pair of jeans, 2 cute classic Gap t-shirts (one grey, one white) and a pair of argyle socks for $36 with FREE SHIPPING.  WHATWHATWHAT?!?!?!?!  I KNOW.  I almost – ALMOST – bought the stuff.

And then God spoke to me.

I was all like, “God.  Seriously.  I know I’ve been praying for you to speak to me literally every single day for the past two weeks, but I didn’t mean when there was a killer Gap sale.  I have to look cute, right?!  How am I supposed to get through the first part of fall without jeans that fit???  I realize that I am a stay-at-home mom and the only places I regularly go are church (and you don’t care if I’m wearing ill-fitting jeans) and Bible study (same thing) and storytime at the library (I assume Miss Corinne doesn’t care about my jeans either) and my mom’s house (and I KNOW she doesn’t care about my jeans).  SIGH.  Yes, I know we are financially strapped, like, all the time.  Which is the sacrifice I promised to make in exchange for the AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL experience of staying home with my kids.  And didn’t I just blog about self-control the other day???  Sigh.

Fine, fine.  I’ll delete my cart.

Oh look, here’s a cute Gap khaki skirt I bought a million years ago in this pile of clothes that I never wear that I was going through so I could pack some stuff away and is the magical next size down I want to be by October 22.  I’m gonna put it on to see how tight it is and continue the pity party I want to have for myself because life is sooooooooo harddddddd…

Oh.  It fits.  Huh.  I need to wear a big shirt to cover this twin skin, but IT TOTALLY FITS.

Thanks, God.  Now I won’t have to have an awkward convo with my husband when that Gap bill comes.  Because now it’s not coming because I have plenty and I don’t.  Need.  Any.  More.  STUFF.  I have plenty of stuff.  And now I’m still on track to lose a few pounds to fit into those jeans that are draped over my great-grandmother’s dresser as a reminder to not put a zillion teaspoons of sugar in my coffee and not to bake anything until October 22.

God, I know this was a totally inconsequential event, but it felt really good to say yes to You.  And maybe it’s not so inconsequential…my husband trusts me to not spend money unnecessarily.  Even $36.  I asked You for help in that area, and also in the realm of my health.  That purchase (no matter what a crazy awesome killer bargain it was and no matter how cute I would have looked in my new outfit on the first day of BSF in a few weeks), I would not have been saying yes to You if I did it.  So thank you.  And thank you for making that skirt fit.  I love you and you are so awesome and you just take care of me always…through really big stuff and through little stuff like that cute distressed boyfriend-fit 1969 Gap jeans.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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#SayWhat ?

Something different this time: Instead of talking about how God is speaking to me right now, I want to list some times that He spoke to me before I really, REALLY started following Him. Because he doesn’t just speak to those who have decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, you know. He speaks to people who are resisting Him. Ignoring him. Hearing Him, yet pushing Him away. I used to be one of those people. I believed in Him, but I didn’t quite “get it” yet. I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t pray or didn’t believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But I was a total mess and God saved my butt a zillion times. For example:

The time I was driving in a snowstorm and spun out on the road and my car spun and spun while there was oncoming traffic and my car just stopped suddenly, in the opposite lane, facing the right direction, before I crashed into the guardrail. I mean, my car just STOPPED in position inexplicably. That was God.

Or the time that I was attacked by a dog, and all of this teeth were centered directly around my windpipe, and the doctor told me that if the dog got the slightest bit more pressure on my neck, I would have been dead. That was God.

Or the time that I was dating my husband, and we had a rocky start to our relationship, and I felt him pulling away from me, and I cried and cried and prayed and prayed about what to do, and I just went over to his apartment and broke up with him. I don’t know where those words came from. I would have never done that on my own – I loved him!!! But we needed to be apart at that moment to figure out what we wanted. We soon got back together forever and ever. That was God telling me what to do.

And the time that I got pregnant after what seemed like a lifetime of longing to be a mother, and I lost the baby. And I was devastated. Gutted. I mean, really. A total mess. But I really, REALLY clung to God and truly accepted that this was His will for us right now, even though it didn’t make any sense to me. And 3 months later I got pregnant with twins. That was God.

And that time that He allowed me to have good health, and a home, and a family, and food to eat, and freedom to worship Him. Those are the things that we too easily forget to thank Him for and see that yes, He is speaking to us. He is keeping His promise to take care of us:

Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It’s all God, all the time.ImageMe and my babies, back when they really were babies. Awww. Little schmooples.