Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Complete Awe of You

Well, I'll admit that twice in one day I became completely awestruck by two amazing beings... It's hard to call them beings in the sense that really they aren't. They are my life, my world you see, and I have been forced to type them into a word like beings... But for the sake of explaining, let me ramble on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008, is a day I will soon never forget. It began as a normal day with a woman running late to get to her appointment while she knew her husband was more-than-likely already there. He's been amazing throughout all of this pregnancy. He hasn't missed a single thing. I'm so grateful for that.

It went on into a small doctor's office where nurses prodded at this woman's stomach and found the most beautiful heartbeat you've ever heard. In that same room, an expectant father asks if the ultrasound he's been waiting for over four months could be done that moment. He really wasn't pushy; he just felt as though he had to ask with it being the day before Thanksgiving, and WHAT A GIFT to be thankful for!

Soon, that same office had a knock on its small door telling this family that they were going to see their baby, not two weeks from then, but that day! The blood drawing and poking weren't half bad after that. I wasn't so excited to see this little miracle within me.

Not long after lying down on the table, this young couple learned that their baby was a little boy! They watched as he moved his hands around his face, kicked his feet, rolled onto his stomach, and clasped his hands to pray. I was in complete awe of him. RIGHT THEN. I was so, completely, and totally amazed at this little child, growing right under my nose... I cannot explain the love I felt in that moment. I'd never knew what it felt like to be a parent... until then.

His hands in prayer

Driving away with their faces full of joy, the Johnsons couldn't help but see who their Father truly is. He had given them so much to be thankful for, and He completely showed Himself strong. In his father's chin, his mother's nose, and a heart to "pray" after the Lord, how else could God prove His love to them?! Lord, I am completely in awe of You. Thank you for this sweet gift...

Elijah Thomas (1 Kings 18)

With his hands over his head

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weak in the Knees

I get weak in the knees sometimes. It isn't because I'm pregnant or have a medical issue or anything like that. I just have these moments when I am SO overwhelmed at the possibility that my God is working in my life.

I can remember when I first started realizing that I was pregnant. It was the first week of August, and I couldn't help but think I was. I had the same symptoms I had with my first pregnancy; the only difference was... we had avoided (or so we thought). I kept telling myself that it was impossible, yet I knew how I felt. Pregnant.

Brian became so overwhelmed with the idea that he himself went to Dollar General that week and bought me two tests. I took the $4 test and it was negative. I wasn't devastated, but I wasn't overjoyed either. After losing a child to miscarriage, whether I like to admit it or not, I couldn't help but LONG to have another baby.

A week later, we were in West TN for Brian to preach a revival. I can remember the day clearly as I waited for my period. I left the pew a number of times thinking it had come, but it hadn't. I knew what it meant. My knees were weak.

I waited another day, but still nothing came. With that in mind, I got up from my afternoon nap (in which I never actually napped) and told Brian I had to go get a pregnancy test. He was confused, as the first had been negative. I explained what I had been feeling and that I believed God was telling us something. He agreed I should go.

I drove to the small town's Dollar General and purchased two $1 tests... one for now and one for the next morning, just in case. I returned back to his mother's house and took it. Just minutes later, the two lines appeared. I was again weak in the knees. I walked out to show Brian, and we both were in shock. How could we be pregnant when we had attempted to NOT get to this conclusion?!

The next morning proved another positive test, and weeks later at the OB's office, we saw our 7-week-old child's heart beating on the ultrasound monitor. I saw God's fingerprints in between two tiny x's where my child's body was beginning to form. I was lying down, but I promise my knees went weak. I could not believe what I saw.

Sometimes things in our lives happen that way. We have to see the evidence of God working before we believe He actually is. We expect everything to fall in place so we can see it perfectly crafted just for us. We also try to avoid blessings by attempting to prevent certain things from happening.

What I have realized is that God isn't concerned with what it is I am trying to do. His first priority isn't to check with me about something He is planning on doing in my life. He also knows how badly I need to see His handiwork before I'll truly trust in Him. He realizes that I have been crushed by His plans before, and He knew exactly how He would prove Himself strong to me once more.

Each day those moments come when I feel the flutter of a tiny child. I see them in the eyes of a husband I truly don't deserve. I hear them in the voice of my friends and family. I can now understand that He is working, though I don't see it, in so many ways to prove to us once more that He is GOD. I sometimes feel Him most when my knees go weak, and He's right there to catch me before I fall.

Monday, November 17, 2008

He Chooses Me

Crashing waves. They seem to be all around me. It seems as if my life is caught in a storm, and I am not sure that I will survive it. The rain keeps coming and the winds are stronger than I could imagine, and yet the amazing peace of God is in the midst of it all.

Fear seems to overtake me at moments like these. Times when it is more difficult than not to know where we are going or what God has in store. Times when I do not know why this boat was for me.

Isn't that life? It seems as if there is always something changing. Life is so inconsistent when all I am looking for is one little piece of normal, and yet the waves continue to toss. I don't know why I expect this. It was evident this past weekend as we were in Gatlinburg how life changes so quickly. When we arrived in the mountains on Thursday the 13th, it was 70 degrees, and in fact, I had on a t-shirt which was almost too hot. As we woke on the day of our departure, we had an inch of snow on the ground. Nothing stays the same.

My husband and I have learned all about storms, and how they can incredibly distort your ways of thinking. Just since January of this year alone, the ship we've been on has been a rough ride. We have learned we were pregnant, lost the child to miscarriage, left my teaching job, grieved the loss of Brian's father, become pregnant for a second time, endured Brian's sweet cousin's brain surgery, and resigned from a church that we dearly love. I know everyone has journeys like these, and yet I cannot help but wonder what we are supposed to learn from being on board this particular ship.

And yet, I'm so thankful for it all. I'm so thankful that God decided to give and take my first child; it makes Heaven so much sweeter knowing that we have a perfect gift awaiting us. I am so grateful to have left my job; I would have never been able to support my husband or find the gifts that God had given me without leaving there. Losing a loved one has taught me to love much more deeply; the sudden loss of Brian's dad has left an impression that RIGHT NOW is my chance to love. Hayden's surgery has been one of the most traumatic events our family has faced, and yet it has made me realize how BIG God is; I've watched my Lord in the hands of surgeons and in the eyes of a 5-year-old child, and I see that my God is triumphant in every way. I'm honored to say that God has blessed me with a second pregnancy; I don't know that anyone could understand why the pregnancy itself is such a miracle to me. But I've learned to hold onto something that isn't in my arms, and I've seen its heart beat as only God could allow. We have had to step out and leave a church where our hearts were; God speaks so clearly and yet it is the hardest thing to say goodbye when you weren't exactly preparing for it. We also now are learning what blind faith really is, and I'm grateful for that. I have never been so certain of anything despite neither of us having a job or a place to call our own; these waves continue to surround me and I am at peace.

How is that? How can I have peace when all I feel is that I have no control of the stern? Well, I don't know exactly how to answer that. I would be lying if I said I wasn't fearful, because I am in some ways. I fear that money will get too tight or that I'll never hold this baby in my arms; it frightens me to think that I don't know where we're going or if this is all there is. I will admit that the waves overwhelm me, but I KNOW in whom I BELIEVE. He is at the head of this boat I'm on, and He is my Captain. No matter which storm I encounter, my Lord knows what is right. He knows which way I need to go. He realizes that these waves are best for me and no one else. He chooses me. These storms were made just for me, and I'm beyond thrilled to ride them out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Constant Change

For I am the LORD, I change not…
Malachi 3:6

It did not seem like much at the time it was planted, but it has grown to show me how constant my Lord tends to be. As a friend left the bush beside our house, I never imagined it would actually do what he said it would... The small, green leaves seemed so insignificant that I doubted they would ever take change like he promised. Yet, I watched and waited, and last year, it did nothing. It remained the same, hunter green and never changed in size. I was almost disappointed when this "special" bush did not change before my eyes. Of course, I never took the initiative to water it or prune the plant, but I just expected something to happen.

I am not usually that fond of change, but at the same time, it happens all around me. I have changed hair colors, phone numbers, and cities. I have changed cars, jobs, and relationships more often than I will ever admit. I have made new best friends, began shopping at different stores, and completely changed the ways I think throughout the years. In just two short years, I have gone from a single, outspoken teacher to a married, introverted, stay-at-home, soon-to-be mother, and none of these changes have been easy for me.

Expecting change is one thing, but having it happen without knowing how to handle it is another. I am reminded of Abraham when the Lord told him that his barren wife, Sarah, would give birth in Genesis 17 and 18. He fell on his face, laughed, and doubted the change the Lord promised. Sarah also laughed within herself at the idea of becoming pregnant in her old age. Though they had been told, Abraham and Sarah seemed astounded when she bore Isaac (Gen 21:6-7). Never has change been an easy thing to accept, even when you are waiting for it.

Hannah prayed for change. Though her womb was closed, she went year after year praying for a child. Hannah even vowed that if the LORD of hosts would grant her a son, “…then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).” Did Hannah realize what she was promising? After pleading years for a child, would she willingly give it away? We all know that she did (in the latter portion of 1 Samuel 1). She begged for change and received it. She waited for change and cherished it. She longed for change and loved it.

No matter how change comes, it is never what we expect, and its outcome is not always what we planned. However, while waiting on our burning bush, which never seemed to bring forth the change I was hoping for, I have learned that God is in the midst of the changes we seek or are given. He promised that He Himself would never change. Daniel said, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:20-21).” Though things around us are changing, we can be confident in knowing that the Lord will give spiritual guidance to those who seek Him.

As I looked outside this afternoon, I saw the most beautiful thing… change. In it, I saw how faultlessly and timely the Lord moves. The leaves were a bright red, and just like Moses before his burning bush, I stood in awe of the wonder of change and the beauty of a constant God.