Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rejoicing in Hope of the Glory of God

Last month I wrote about a hope that aches surrounding our desire for children. Struggling with infertility has definitely produced a hope that aches and the journey that I was on that resulted in my blog post was one of the most precious I have been on.

I needed to go through that journey in order to prepare my heart for the journey I am currently traveling. Two weeks ago I started having abdominal pain on my right side. Back in May, I had a tumor removed from my right ovary and I was diagnosed with endometriosis. After a couple doctors’ appointments and a few ultrasounds, I have learned I now have a new tumor growing inside my right ovary. I was a little discourage to find ourselves on this road again and facing another surgery yet I was still in pretty good spirits. My surgeon who is actually a Gynecological Oncologist wanted to send me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) since we want to preserve fertility and since he is not specialized in endometriosis.

I went to see the RE last week while my husband was out of town. I had already suspected that I had a tumor when my husband went out of town so I felt like I was in a good place to meet the doctor and learn what our best options were. I was so very wrong.

This doctor could not have been any more insensitive or harsh. Long story short, he said that my right ovary needed to be removed since the tumor was inside it and since the endometriosis will probably return and since I have very little chance of conceiving I might as well have the left ovary removed to avoid a third surgery. Um, what? I made it very clear that removing the left ovary was not an option. He said that since I have severe endometriosis, I’m overweight and my husband has had a vasectomy reversal, our only chance of conceiving would be IVF and due to my weight, he wouldn’t be able to do IVF. He also said that he considered me a high risk for surgery and that I needed to return to the Oncologist for the surgery. I could not get a single question out to him with any assurance I wouldn’t burst into tears. I just shook my head and waited until he left the room before allowing the tears to flow.

I immediately called the Oncologist to see what my options were only to learn he wouldn’t be back in the office for almost 2 weeks. Now what? I had just received the worst possible news while my husband was out of town and wouldn’t be able to find out my next steps for two week? Luckily, someone was able to at least get a hold of him and he tentatively scheduled my surgery for the week he returns. I have so many questions and so much conflicting information!

I then had the next three days to try and process all of this while my husband was out of town. I have tried to be strong and upbeat. I can handle another surgery, I can handle the pain associated with endometriosis; however, my mind and heart refuse to even begin to consider that we have no hope of conceiving. At least with infertility, I had a hope that we would still have children. I am now having to face a reality that there is a real possibility that we will never have children. The worst thing imaginable with infertility is all hope being stripped. I can barely type those words before the tears begin to flow uncontrollably. I am strong, even with life shattering circumstances I have proven how strong I am, but not with this, not without any hope.

Absence of hope is darkness. My hope in the ability to mother more children remains, however there is a great fear it will be stripped from me. Ultimately, I have to rest my hope in Christ. Anything outside of Chris is darkness. It is far more terrifying to imagine a life without Christ than a life without more children. This hope being robbed though gives me a glimpse of what kind of darkness would exist if not for Christ. I can’t imagine being faced with this kind of circumstance without Christ let alone a lifetime or eternity without Christ. Even as I write “my hope is in Christ”, I realize that I may not fully grasp what that means for me personally. I am looking forward to unpacking that and writing about it at a later time.

Sometimes having faith seems like there a BIG “to do” on my part, that the act of faith requires a huge amount of effort on my part. I have been feeling like I am just not up to it right now, I am weary and physically in a lot of pain. As I was pondering how much effort I needed to put forth in order to just rest and trust that God is in this, He reminded me that no amount of effort on my part will produce faith, all I need to do is surrender.

Here is the scripture that my heart has been clinging to this last week…

Romans 5: 1-5
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Destroy My Heart

As I was entering into a time of worship last week, I just felt disconnected and unmoved…a hardened heart. I was about to go into a group with hurting women and I wanted my heart to be softened by God, but not simply because of their stories of pain. I prayed that God would just destroy my heart.

Immediately I had a visual of my precious daughter being taken from me. I immediately said to God “no, that is not what I meant” but realized that I wanted to be broken but only in my terms, my definition. So as I started to run away from God in that moment, I felt Him pull me back and cause me to sit in the tension of desiring my heart to be completely broken by my sin and separation from him and yet wanting to hold on tightly to the gifts he has given me. I felt that nudge that I have heard others speak of, the one that says “if I take every earthly valuable thing from you, will you still call me God?” I still wanted to say “of course, just please not that one”. I did not run but I don’t think I totally surrendered either.

How do you surrender that one idol that you think you could not live without? I hate to think of my daughter as an idol but if I am going to hold on so tightly, she must be. I can remember prior to knowing Jesus thinking that if anything ever happened to my daughter I would just kill myself. I was completely bound in fear that something would happen to her. I still have some fears but they are not as gripping as before and although the thought of losing her makes me want to vomit, I know I could not take my life because it belongs to God.

As I started the writing above I thought the outcome was headed in a certain direction. As it has taken several weeks to unfold I can see how God has used the time to reveal something much bigger to me.

God has shown me in a very profound way that the visual of losing my daughter was not a physical loss but a spiritual loss; losing her heart. I could see how my daughter could turn away from me in her heart or far worse, turn away from God.

As I was contemplating what it looked like before to entrust my daughter completely to God, I was stuck in the need to protect her yet the sovereignty of God. For example, we would not let a young child cross a busy intersection alone just because God is sovereign. So as I think about that and how much I try to control my daughter’s well being unrealistically versus healthily, God has reminded me that I actually have a much bigger battle to consider and that is the battle for her heart.

I can do many things to protect her physical well being. I can also instruct her heart in the ways of the Lord, but ultimately I cannot do anything to control her heart. I cannot decide for her what to turn to. I cannot force her to choose good from evil nor can I force her to choose God over the things of this world. This is quite humbling. My self-sufficiency as a parent is shattered when it comes to my daughter’s heart. I am at a loss and incapable of doing anything other than turning to Christ and placing her heart at his feet and pleading before him that he would protect it and guide her. That he would grab hold of it and her love for Him would be stronger than any worldly pull on her heart.

The only control I have in this is lifting my precious daughter up in prayer constantly. Praying that God would also reveal to me how best to love and parent my daughter as she figures out who she is and desires to be. It is with a broken heart and utter dependence on Him that I enter into His presence on behalf of my daughter and humbly submit my agenda and motivations for the sake of my daughter’s heart.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

God in the Details

Have you ever noticed how many details there are in a leaf? What about a flower, or a sunset, how about humans? We are amazingly made with every detail perfect and wonderfully designed. I tend to see God in the big things in life, not the small details of life. When faced with huge, unimaginable circumstances, there is no doubt who I turn to. In nightmares when I am crashing my car off of a cliff, I am crying out to Jesus. God is there in big moments of need. Why do I fail to see God in the details?

It is because I think I have the small things covered; I do not need God for little things. He is there for me when I need him, when I decide it is time to turn to him. If I can see God’s glorious design in the small things like the leaf, or the scent of my favorite flowers, or in the indescribable colors of a sunset, why can’t I believe He is in the small details of my life?

Why does it seem silly to me to turn to God when I am overwhelmed with cleaning my home or organizing paperwork, when I am scheduling our calendar and I have to decide what we are going to commit to in any given month, when I am just too tired to spend the time shopping for healthy foods and opt out for the convenience of take home? What about in the struggles of faith when my heart is hard and I know the bible answer but want to experience it in a greater way? Why do I think God will not show up there? Why do my prayers have to be so extreme? Why do I find it impossible that God would give me clarity and the energy to get my daily tasks done and provide a healthy meal for my family?

What am I afraid of surrendering? Self-sufficiency? My own plan? My will? I am sure most people think the answer is simple and turning to God in the small things is second nature to them but for whatever reason, I find it the most difficult thing to do. Maybe it is pride? Maybe I am too proud to admit that I cannot manage my life on my own, that I am not as efficient and capable as I have made myself believe. Maybe I do not believe God is interested in the details of my life? How gross and prideful is that? Maybe I do not really believe God likes me or desires to be with me?

That is a good one. That is a lie the enemy has been feeding me since I was a little girl and my friends did not stick around. I have heard that lie my entire life. I believed that about my mother, I believed it about my best friend in 2nd grade, my other best friend in 3rd grade, again in 4th, and in 5th…well any friend that ever entered my life eventually went away. Facebook actually saddens me. I look at my high school friends and can view their friends and they are all still connected. The same friends that hung out together in high school have the same friends on Facebook. I have not spoken to anyone from high school in exactly 19 years! Today I believe that about my brothers and sister who never contact me. I still believe it about my mother.

Sadly, I often hear the enemy tell me that my husband does not really like being around me, he just tolerates me. In moments of weakness and self-pity, this lie causes me to crumble into a Gina pity party and gives me “permission” to withhold from my husband. I often allow this lie to keep me from relationship with other women. I have a fear that they will get to know me, not like me and exit the relationship after I have poured my heart into it; just like in the past. As a result, I long for relationship but allow fear to overpower. I keep women at a safe distance, close enough to keep from being lonely but far enough to not be able to hurt me. I have however in the last two years taken huge risks in relationships and have made some wonderful friendships. I still fear that I keep them at a safer distance than I should but I know God is working on my heart there as well although I can see room for repentance, especially with my husband.

I do not have any resolution but I pray that I remain in this place as I work through the struggle. Am I really arrogant enough to believe that God’s word and promises are really for other people and not applicable to me? Am I willing to say it with my mouth because I am certainly saying it with my actions?

I want to be broken over the smallest of sin, even that which seems insignificant. I want to grieve not with worldly shame but a real broken heart over anything that separates me from God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hope Awakened...A Hope that Hurts

Can you think of desires or longings that seem so far from ever happening that when you think of them actually bring a smile to your face? A nice longing to think that some day may or may not come true?

Now what about those longings that have a real possibility of becoming reality? Maybe those longing actually bring an ache to your heart when you think about them because they have yet to be realized.

My journey this year has been filled with hope and anticipation, yet longings that are left unrealized.

In 2006 my husband had his vasectomy reversed although we never followed up with testing to see if the surgery was successful. We didn’t think much about purposefully conceiving, we just carried on with intimacy as we were moved, not because I was close to ovulating. Our desire for children was there and we looked on lovingly at other children. It was a desire we had that was not a ruling desire, it seemed appropriate.

In May of 2008, I woke up with excruciating abdominal pain. Initially we thought it was appendicitis but further testing indicated a very large tumor on my ovary with some suspicion of cancer. After further consultation, I learned that my ovary would have to be removed along with the tumor. My doctor assured me that he would do his best to preserve fertility. I had to wait an entire week for the surgery and during that time ponder the possibilities. I was amazingly calm during that week and knew that kind of peace only comes from God. During that week I was never concerned with the possibility of cancer, only the thought of losing my fertility.

As I awoke from the anesthesia, I was informed that they had removed the tumor which was in fact benign but they were also able to preserve my ovary and not remove it. Additionally, the doctor told me that the procedure would increase fertility. Hope awakened…having children was now a real possibility for us! God had taken us through a moment of immense difficulty and leaning into Him only to bless us in a way we never imagined.

We decided to have my husband tested to ensure that his surgery had been successful and we were even more blessed to learn that it had been 100% successful and that our inability to conceive over the last 2 years was likely due to my tumor. Hope was on fire!

Over the next few months I would discover that I had several hormonal imbalances and conditions that had been impacting fertility. From thyroid to adrenal to testosterone, with each new discovery came a new supplement to take and more hope. The most recent discovery is that I’m insulin resistant which has a huge impact on fertility.

It is now five months later and I not do not seem any closer to being pregnant. Since May, I have charted my cycles, taken my temperature every morning, planned sex, made sure that my husband was ready when my body said it was time and certainly not before, as well as taking fertility drugs. I have had some months where I was so convinced I was pregnant that I wouldn’t have a glass of wine or take any Ibuprophen. Since I now had full expectation of getting pregnant, I began to hit very low points in the month when I would get my period. Hope would gradually escalate during the month until it would come crashing down. Emotionally I would feel it; “why God have you given me this desire and hope just to let me down each month?” Additionally, I felt it physically in extreme and unexpected ways. The let down of not physically being pregnant caught me off guard. The awakened hope has caused an ache in my heart beyond belief, truly a hope that hurts.

I have wrestled with self-righteousness by almost bragging, well at least I’m not angry with God, at least I’m still happy for those who are able to get pregnant, and at least I’m not bitter. Far worse, I have elevated having a baby above everything, even my relationship with God. I have withheld intimacy and my heart from my husband because talking about it is too painful and assuming he couldn’t possibly know what I’m going through, assuming he isn’t going through his own pain as well. For this baby, I am truly sorry; I know your desires for children are as great as mine if not more. I pray that God gives me your understanding, your patience, and your faith. I also pray that he gives me the heart to hear you and not dismiss you because I believe my pain is greater.

I have been just like the Hebrews being delivered from Egypt. I spent my entire life in slavery to others and my own bondage; unloved and unprotected. God delivered me in the most amazing and redemptive way. He also delivered me from the possibility of cancer; not once but twice. Instead of being thankful that I’m loved, protected, cared for, adored, alive, and healthy, I’m groaning and complaining that he hasn’t given me more, the desires that I long for.

Just this weekend I came to a place where I truly desire God’s will for our family, even if the answer is no. On the days that my period appeared, I cried out to God that I didn’t want to have a baby more than I wanted to be in His presence; that I didn’t want to see Him as just a blessing giver. I truly mean that with all my heart, yet in all my actions it would seem that I do in fact desire a baby more than I desire to be in His presence and I often do see Him as a blessing giver. What I fear most is that my heart is going through the motion of surrender so that in turn He will bless us. I pray that not be so! I do not desire to be in a place where all month long I’m planning and obsessing about conceiving only to convince myself this must be the month I’m pregnant then to be racked with disappointment when my period arrives and all hope is flushed. I don’t want to avoid sex and intimacy with my husband for fear it will set me up for greater disappointment.

I long to walk through the month trusting in God’s will for our family and leaning into Him with an honest heart that desires nothing more than communion and relationship with Him. That when my desires (the desires He has given me) go unmet that I’m still praising Him for delivering me from Egypt. That I’m thankful for a beautiful daughter that was hand-picked for me and a husband that has fought the fight no man was ever willing to battle on my behalf.

I don’t want my prayers to be God take this desire from me, I want them to be Lord hold me tight during disappointment, cry and grieve with me yet lift my face up to yours and show me your tears, your radiance, your love for your daughter. Chase the enemy’s lies far away, let me not even ponder his ridiculous statement even for a moment but to laugh in his face and tell him that I know the truth and I believe whole-heartedly that not having a baby does not depict who I am or how You Lord chose to love and bless me.

I don’t want to just say with my mouth “God has a perfect plan for me” but to stand firm in that truth and be thankful and praise Him for that truth; not to feel better or for pain to be minimized but simply because that is the truth and God stands by His promises.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Undeserved Grace

My husband came home today and hands me a CD and a card with my name on it (the writing is not his). As I take the card my first thought is, oh I must have blessed somebody in some way. Um, not exactly, in fact I would say quite the opposite. As I opened the card my eyes immediately fell on the signature and before I could even read it, I dropped into a chair and began to sob. My daughter rushed to my side, took the card, and then without even trying to console me acknowledged in a nod that I just need to work through it. I immediately listened to the CD and just turned to Christ in repentance.

Not only do I not deserve to be blessed by this friend, I should be rebuked and admonished. I have absolutely sucked at being a friend on many levels. First, I had an opportunity to be an instrument in reconciliation, yet I chose to not get involved—I was a coward. I didn’t know or even understand the entire situation and instead of being led by my heart, I was led by my fear of man. Second, during what must be an incredibly challenging trial, I have been absent.

She’s been on my heart every day. I think about her often and pray for her a lot. I have every intention of reaching out, an email, a phone call, or some encouraging word; yet I allow my own self-centeredness and idea of busyness get in the way of doing just that. I miss her like crazy. I miss sharing with her the details of everyday life, the silly things I do and say, the chaotic moments when the burdens feel almost too much to bear. I miss hearing her heart for Jesus. I love reading her blogs, but those are the finished product. I miss hearing her in the midst of the struggle, the reconciling of her heart, mind, and convictions. I miss hearing the same CD replay itself over and over. Now that it’s getting colder, I even miss the warmth of a too hot room.

The CD is Chris Tomlin’s new CD and it is amazing. It even has one of my new favorite songs on it, God of this City. We sing this song at church and I think I’m the loudest one there singing it, it’s beautiful. I think it’s especially meaningful because my friend has remembered a small detail about me, that I really love his songwriting and music. Thank you for the CD, it will always be a treasure.

So my dear friend, I ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for my unwillingness to stand in the gap on your behalf, for not being a friend in time of need, and for minimizing our friendship. I thank you for being Jesus to me in the midst of it, and reminding me of what undeserved grace really is. With love, Gina




Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Journey from Gluttony...not quite what I expected (Part II)

In my last article, I shared my journey out of gluttony and how I was still left with the aftermath of sin, being overweight and frustrated. In January of this year, I stepped it up on the “behavioral” side and started counting calories and going to the gym. For four months, I switched it up between 1200 and 1800 calories. I also started going to the gym and working out HARD at least 4-5 days per week. Nothing! Not a single pound lost! I even purchased personal training sessions to help.

I started to wonder if maybe I wasn’t eating enough food because it seemed like I was eating good food. Why wouldn’t the pounds come off? My husband would often joke that it was God’s sense of humor, and that I wasn’t supposed to be concerned with the results. It was as if God was putting His finger on the scale every time I got on it.

In my mind, even if I was eating too much or not enough, having gone from being 100% sedentary to working out 5 days per week, there should have been some downward momentum on the scale, something? Nope.

In March, I finally decided it was time to see a Naturopath. I wasn’t able to get an appointment for over one month. So I continued on with my eating and working out with no success. I finally got to see my Naturopath in late April. Here’s really why I feel inspired to share what I learned, my guess is that there are many women who are or have experienced what I have. Even being the overweight person, I realized I was just as judgmental towards overweight people as skinny people are (no offense to nonjudgmental skinny people). I always saw myself and others who struggle with their weight as unmotivated and lazy.

My first appointment with the Naturopath was extremely enlightening. She did blood work but prior to any results she listened to my long list of symptoms of why I needed to be there. The reoccurring theme in everything I listed was that I was just plain exhausted. She could tell bottom line without any results that it was obvious my metabolism had stopped working, which I had pretty much assumed at that point. Yet I had no idea how integrated my metabolism was for my entire body to function properly. Long story short, it appears that my many years of diet pill usage had wreaked havoc on every system in my body. I have since learned that I have Hypothyroidism, Adrenal fatigue, Anemia, Vitamin D3 deficiency, low anabolic steroid and elevated liver enzymes. These ailments all had compounding impact on weight loss and energy levels.

She also shared with me (and I have since found a book that supports her reasoning) that because my metabolism isn’t functioning properly, when I sit down and eat a 500 calorie meal, my body immediately stores at least 300 calories. It only has the ability to use about 200 calories at any given time. So if I only eat 1500 calories in 3 meals, than I am off the top storing at least 900 of those calories. The key is to eat at least 6 meals a day with no more than 300 calories at any given meal.

I have been spending some extra time educating myself on how my body should and does function. I found a book called Ultrametabolism by Mark Hyman, MD that has been extremely insightful. Basically the author says (I just love it), that it’s not my fault! Can you believe there’s a book out there that says it’s not your fault? Well, in my case it kind of was my fault to a large degree but after reading this I see how there were many factors beyond my control that have been contributing and it all boils down to the fact that I have no understanding of how my body works and what it needs to function optimally, or at all for that matter.

You can check the book out for further reading but it boils down to the fact that whole foods are key, our bodies aren’t meant to digest many of the foods available today, our bodies weren’t meant to process the chemicals and toxins we’re exposed to, and once your body starts reacting there isn’t much you can do by simply eating less to counter the problems.

Our internal system is highly connected and when there’s a problem with one area it will impact other areas. One of the most important things I’ve read is because our “convenience” foods are so over processed they are depleted of the nutrients our bodies need to function properly. A main culprit of this is high-fructose corn syrup. This stuff is so bad! It is the stuff that causes us to overeat and gain weight. It keeps us hungry and it keeps us from knowing that we are full. I haven’t even hit on possible food allergies yet, that’s my next project. I do know that if there are hidden allergies, you might as well not even try dieting as it will be impossible if you are eating something you’re allergic to. Basically you shut down your whole system.

I wanted to share some of this for those who have checked their hearts for gluttony, yet find it really hard or impossible to lose weight. There is a whole system within us that has been damaged and it will take the right foods and supplements to heal it.

I have also learned how my body has worked against me for fertility and even my sex drive. What I thought was possible sin on my part was actually hormonal. Compounding impacts!

P.S. you can download a summary of Ultrametabilism for free here: http://www.ultrametabolism.com/

My Journey from Gluttony...not quite what I expected (Part I)

I just finished reading an article over at Reforming the Feminine titled “Body Shame…Legitimate or Illegitimate” written by Adriel (http://voxpopnetwork.com/reformingthefeminine/2008/06/13/body-shame-legitimate-or-illegitimate/).

This article was timely because it has actually been on my heart a lot the last few weeks. I have struggled with my weight for the last five years. Actually since high school but many years of consuming diet pill helped keep my weight manageable. When I stopped taking the diet pills, I gained 100 pounds in less than one year. Now there were some compounding issues that I believe caused an exponential weight gain but I still think the heart of the matter stemmed from gluttony.

In the last five years, I have had periods of gluttony, fasting, crash dieting, and a lot of praying! I recall making a comment last year that I knew I could lose weight by sheer will power alone but that would not cause a heart-change. I now know differently and that is what is inspiring this writing. Having come across the right book and the right Naturopath I have learned some significant things about my body and I want to shout it out to everyone who is struggling with weight loss. I will address this in my next article.

About a year ago I felt that I had acknowledged, recognized, and addressed my gluttonous behavior. I searched my heart and my desires and could see how food was a treasured idol in my life. As I would eat a meal, I would be fantasizing about what my next meal would be. If I missed a meal, I was grouchy and not so nice to be around. Food consumed me. I finally got the phrase “eat to live, not live to eat”. Changing my eating habits came quite easily once I re-orientated my heart.

I just knew that within one year I would be 100 pounds lighter. Well it’s one year later and guess what? I weight about 10 pounds more than I did last year. What? Has my heart changed in the last year? Yes it has, but even more I see food as a source of energy and not a source of comfort. Is it an idol? That’s a good question. I spend a lot of time thinking about food but not in the same way. I think of ways to eat healthier and what my body needs as opposed to thinking what would make me feel less pain and give me more comfort. I believe there can still be an idol in there somewhere if my thoughts of food are consuming me (even healthy foods). I don’t think it is at this point but I’m always hyper aware of that tension.

My desire with this writing is to share my story of gluttony and the consequences of sinful eating, but I must first give credit where it is due. My ability to turn from a gluttonous heart only comes from Jesus Christ. By turning my heart towards Jesus and worshipping Him instead of myself, I am able to overcome sinful eating habits without “willing” myself or “behaving” better. It really came naturally. Better food choices and portion control are not so calculated, it’s just what I know my body needs to feel its best.

With all that said and the expectation that I would be much lighter now, I have been extremely frustrated and confused to why my body has not responded to a change in heart. I am now more aware of what my body looks like than when I was eating whatever I wanted and however much I wanted. I know my heart is in the right place, yet my body tells a different story. The enemy feeds me lies that are so believable! The lies I hear and sometimes tend to believe are that when people see me, they see someone who has no self-control, who is lazy, and who must overeat all the time. I want to walk around telling people that it isn’t true. I have always believed that overeating was probably one of the few sins that are an obvious sin to others.

Adriel mentions in her article above that when you have mistreated and sinned against your body with sinful eating, your body works AGAINST you to retain the extra weight. This should be an AH-HA moment for anyone who has struggled with gluttony and now has a heart centered on worshipping Jesus. I will be saving my AH-HA moment for Part II – To Be Continued…

Friday, April 25, 2008

Seven in Six, really Lord?

I can’t really believe it’s true but so it seems. I want to stomp my feet and throw myself on the floor just thinking about it.

Since 2002, I have moved six times. I moved from California to Colorado, from an apartment in Colorado into the basement of a friend, from Colorado to an apartment in Seattle, from that apartment into a run-down house in West Seattle, from that same run-down flooded home to a wonderful home in Tukwila, to my favorite home so far in North Seattle. My daughter has attended 8 different schools in that same time frame. Luckily for her, this upcoming move won’t affect her since she now attends an online school.

We moved into our current home in August last year. I had about 2 weeks’ notice in which to pack up our previous home where we had spent the last 2 ½ years. I was so convinced that we would spend the next several years in this perfect home that even though I was exhausted from moving, I found just enough energy to paint an office, three bedrooms, an enormous living room, dining room, hallway, and the tightest little bathroom imaginable within the first 2 months of living here. I fell in love with North Seattle and thanked God daily for such a blessing.

I learned last week that our landlord has decided to put our home on the market. Trying not to panic, I calmly made arrangements with him to show the home. The same day the home went on the market; my husband received a phone call from a friend wondering if we would be interested in renting their home in South Seattle. I had many mixed reactions but overall felt like this was a huge blessing and possibly God calling us back to the place we love so much. This home would possibly be available in June. I made arrangements with my landlord that we would show the home within 24 hours to whomever but he would have to let us out of our lease 2 months early so we could move into this other home. I made it through the weekend by pondering the move into this new home and allowing my heart to fall in love with the idea. What I didn’t know at the time was that this home was not an absolute yet.

I woke up Monday morning with the heavy realization of the possibility that the home we live in could sell at any moment and we could possibly not have a clue as to where we were going. I don’t do so well with uncertainty. So I quickly turned to my husband and told him “you need to solidify our plans to move south, immediately! There was no way I could handle the uncertainly and stress of not knowing where we were going to live. I needed to know and the sooner you do this the sooner I could just relax and not fret.” My husband, always looking to Jesus, said that I just needed to trust God and be patient to which I replied that I wasn’t looking for a bible answer to my dilemma.

Oh, the heart can be ugly when it wants what it wants. It’s not that I don’t know that I need to trust God, that was a “duh” for me. What I “needed” from my husband was to for him to take me into his arms and console me and tell me how much he understood how stressful this was for me and if there was anything he could do to make it easier for me he was willing. I managed to express my disgust for his lack of compassion and quickly left the room to start my not-so-great Monday morning.

If you can’t tell by now, I have control issues. I have had them probably since birth but in the last four years my loving husband has taken many opportunities to show me what a control-freak I really am. God has worked wonders on me and to some extent I have responded in humility and obedience, but mostly I still stomp my feet and stand in resistance.

I can tell you that I want to trust in God more than anything, I truly desire this. But living it out in real life tends to look different. God has shown Himself so faithful and has blessed me when I clearly did not deserve to be blessed. Why is it so hard to imagine that He would want the absolute best for me? Why do I resist Him so?

The answer must lie in what I truly worship and from my temper-tantrums it’s clear that I am more in love with the little kingdom of Gina than I am with the awesome Kingdom of my Lord and Savior. Does Jesus promise me that I will be comfortable and live in the home of my dreams? No. Does He promise me that I won’t have to fret and worry? Well, actually he does. I’m reading A Quest for More right now and Paul David Tripp says “And worry never changes anything…At the end of an hour of anxious fretting, none of the things that I have worried about have changed a bit. Yet worry changes me. It is a cancer on my soul. Worry eats away my time, rest, strength, courage, hope, character, relationships, purpose, worship, joy, and satisfaction. It is a disease that is always terminal. It will never work.” There are many scripture versus about being anxious that smack me right between the eyes.

So I guess I am halfway there in that I am confessing my desire to worship what God has to offer me rather than God. What about repentance? When will I turn from fretting and anxiety and just believe God’s word and worship Him without any motivation?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Redeeming Love

I thought I would share the first evidence of grace that I could actually acknowledge, total redemption, my husband James.

When I met my husband on the internet (of all places), most people would (and some did) say this is not the man for you, he’s the one you should be running from, based strictly on his past. I think God must have given me a glimpse of his future because I had never felt so much peace and comfort knowing this is the man I would spend the rest of my life with. As a single mom who had experienced so much abuse and abandonment, the world would say I should have been more cautious and taken more time. Yet I knew that God was calling me to something bigger than I had ever imagined, honestly I had no idea how big it would become.

There is so much to unpack with this union of two lives. There was so much abuse, infidelity, divorces, and drugs between our pasts. How could we ever trust each other? How could we ever learn to love each other? How could this ever work? The answer is simple yet so extraordinary…Jesus Christ.

I have to admit the first couple of years were probably some of the hardest in my life. I suddenly had someone who was willing to walk alongside me and help me understand the pain of my past. I had always felt it was best to forget what happened, push it aside and move on. What I didn’t realize was that I had allowed what happened to me to define and dictate my relational skills and behaviors. Rage is probably the best way to describe what I felt the first two years of our marriage.

By the third year, I really felt God moving and experienced a hundred-fold growth in my spiritual life and in my marriage. I felt God was calling me to leave my career and come home and care for my family. This is huge and I’ll save it for another time. That same year I took a real deep look at my abuse and for the first time I could see how I was really sinning against God and especially my husband. Since then I have walked alongside my husband and other couples to see restoration in their marriages. I have helped lead women to healing (Jesus) whose husbands struggle with sexual sin. God continually uses the pain of my past to speak into women’s lives.

My husband has loved me well even in the midst of my raging attacks. He has led me to completely seek Jesus in all my pain and in all my joy. His faith and his love for Christ are truly an inspiration and example. It is so much easier to follow a man who completely has his eyes on Jesus Christ and His glory.

My husband has been my Hosea, my redeeming love. God has used my husband to pursue me. To think that God would take a broken and hurting man to pursue a broken and hurting woman, so He could love on me is amazing!

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.