Thursday, February 28, 2013

If God...

If God can use a perfect woman, 
Who ate from the forbidden tree, 
Who took a bite and then influenced Adam,
Who then became ashamed of her body....
...If God can use Eve, HE can use me.

If God can use a mocking woman, 
Who didn't believe she'd have a son, 
One who laughed when given a promise, 
Who then lied to God about laughing...
...If God can use Sarah, HE can use me.

If Gods can use a deceptive woman,
Who pretended to be a harlot, 
One who skillfully deceived Judah, 
In order to have sons for him...
...If God can use Tamar, HE can use me.

If God can use a seductive woman, 
One who had hid the Israelite spies, 
One who helped 2 men escape the city, 
Who lived because of her faith in God...
...If God can use Rahab, HE can use me.

If God can use a Moabite woman, 
Who remained loyal to her mother-in-law, 
One who knew nothing of Naomi's customs, 
Who slept at the feet of an unknown man...
...If God can use Ruth, HE can use me.

If God can use a beautiful woman, 
Who caused a king of Israel to stumble, 
Who had a child with him outside of God's Will, 
Who bore a son to David, when her husband died...
...If God can use Bathsheba, HE can use me.

If God can use an ordinary woman, 
Who had not yet laid with a man, 
who probably suffered public ridicule, 
One who still desired to do God's Will...
...If God can use Mary, HE can use me.

I wrote this about 4 years ago, during the prime of my insecurities and sin-stained nature. Wondering why or what He would choose me for. Never did I imagine in a thousand years, that this would be part of my story. While I was reading about Sarai yesterday, I remembered this and went back to read it. I realized, that there are some upright, outstanding women, and there are some sinful women, who still had faith. I wonder if looking back on their lives, if any of them recognized what God's ultimate purpose was. I wonder if they were able to help other women, and if they did. Today, I am thanking God for my miscarriages, because it is putting some of the women in the Bible in a whole new light in my eyes. Not in a "light bulb!" sense, but in a way that I feel that I can relate to some of them, even though centuries have passed between then and now. I can see what others might not be able to see. I can think of the fear, the self blame, the shame, and most importantly the sadness. I have felt lately, that we put men and women of the Bible upon a pedestal. They were men and women just like us, trying to be set aside from the pressures of the world. Trying to believe, trying to trust, ultimately choosing trust and faith over their own thoughts. And just look how they changed nations, lineages, thousands of people--it blows me away. This new found outlook on the beginning stories that lead to Christ, makes me thankful. Not thankful for miscarriages, but thankful that right now, just a particle of one scale has fell from my "Christly Outlook". Excited to see what else will fall from my eyes. 

Just one thought I wanted to share with all of you that I can't remember if I have or not, is that, the reason this is so hard for us is because we have never taken care of the previous miscarriages before this. Every time, we have become pregnant before dealing with the full extent of our hardships, and every time, it has compounded upon the last. Please be understanding of this. We are trying the best we can, and sometimes, we know that isn't enough. We are not angry, or upset, but we just pray that each of you can allow for some patience and prayers our way. Thank you so much for reading this blog (if you do). I have always loved writing, but never thought this would be the avenue to do such. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Has God Given Me a Name?

So on my way home from the farm today, I decided to start listening to the Bible. Luckily, if you have a smart phone and the "You Version" Bible app, you can do it for free, as long as you have either 3G or WiFi connection. Simeon and I have been reading as we listen demands more focus and leaves little room for our minds to wander.

Now before I tell you what I have thought about today, I want to explain something. As our wonderful counselors urged us, we are starting at the beginning of the Bible instead of focusing on certain areas that might "help" us more. She explained starting at the beginning would create a stronger foundation, because seeing God from the start, instead of a snippet here and a snippet there, lays brick by brick, strength by strength, promise by promise. By doing something from "here and there" we are laying a foundation of sand. This made total sense to Simeon and me.

Right now, we are on Genesis 16-17. To be honest, I have been dreading these chapters because they are about the promise of a child to Abram and Sarai (at the moment, these are their names). But honestly, they weren't too bad. Emotional? Yes. Terrible? No.

The first thing I noticed about the story of Abram, relating to children, was that he seemed to really want an heir. I am sure that he wanted a child as well, but it almost looked as if he were more worried about giving his possessions to a slave of his. (Genesis 15:2) Now, that doesn't seem like such a big deal, but as I kept listening, I realized that God's promise to Abram, was a promise that seemingly addressed his fear of never having an heir, not necessarily just about having his child, but about having many descendants. (Genesis 15:4-5) Abraham believed him (vs. 6). Now an interesting twist, was that the Lord then told him about the land of the Chaldeans that he would gain possession of. Interestingly enough, that was the thing Abram questioned God about (vs. 8-15) Not about having an heir, but about gaining a land. Both equally difficult promises to believe, but Abram chose to believe God about the baby instead of the land. Maybe I am in a really difficult place, or maybe I don't quite understand the expansive kingdom of the Chaldeans, but Abram had a wealth of men, and he could call Lot to his aid at anytime. To me, the promise of the land seemed to be easier to take in, than the promise of a child, which he could not control at all. And really, God promised him descendants to outnumber the stars. Say whoa.

Okay, the next thing I was thinking about was God had changed both Abram's and Sarai's (after promising Abraham "by this time next year" and Sarai overhearing and laughing) names. There are also other instances of human's being renamed in the Bible. Some by themselves and some by God. It makes me wonder what God calls me when He thinks of me. Does He call me "Mara" for bitter? Or does He call me something else when He sees what He has for me? Does He change what He calls me?

Now the last thing I have been thinking about. Maybe I am crazy, but I don't think every promise in the Bible is directed toward me. I am not going to win land like Abram. Honestly, maybe God's promises for me have nothing to do with being pregnant, but rather, adoption. I don't know. I firmly believe that there are promises in the Bible that are for everyone. God promised never to destroy the earth by flood again, and He hasn't. But honestly, I might not be a Hannah, or a Sarah. I might just be Kristen. God might have His very own promises for me, separate of women and men of the Bible. I am leery to say all of this because it is wide open for criticism and debate.

Which brings me to the very next thing that can be widely judged that Simeon and I have recently come to a decision about. With the help of the story of Abraham and Sarah, we have decided to forgo any testing of what can be causing this, or going wrong. Yes, the Bible is ancient, and honestly, this is a harder road of the two, but we both feel at complete peace with this decision. Sarai took matters into her own hands and gave her husband her slave. As many believers know, we know what became of Ishmael's descendants. Not to mention, her slave ran away because there was a mutual bitterness and level of dislike between them. I was thinking about how Sarai must have felt. Years of being with her husband, and after a short while, this woman, her slave, was able to conceive and carry full-term, while Sarai was not. How could Sarai not shoulder the blame of being barren? How quickly her heart must have sank with the realization that she was the cause, not her husband? How difficult for Abram to have to understand her, and be the man that she needed him to be, when she had given him her slave...when he had a duty to that woman and his unborn child. My heart breaks for some of the realization that dawned on me today. Back to the point, I firmly believe that much heartbreak and hurt could have been avoided if Sarai had just trusted God, and if Abram and trusted and led Sarai in the correct decision.

We still believe our God is the Lord of miracles. Many can make the argument that God gave us doctors, when I don't know about that. God gave doctors, because of the curse, which He has full and overwhelming control over. This doesn't mean that I won't go to a doctor, but it does mean that I am not going to go everywhere, trying to find an answer, when I believe my answer is in God. My trust is in Him. My hope is in Him--not humans. I may never be able to carry full term. I may be able to, GOD is the only one that knows. To be truthful, another reason is because Simeon and I are not opposed to adoption. It makes no sense to us to spend money on something that could or could not be the answer to our miscarriages, that may or may not be able to be fixed. That money, could be saved, and put towards adoption, or even helping some one else adopt. Bluntly, we feel researching is not only forcing God's hand and putting our trust in humans, but also being selfish. The only thing I ask is that you not think we are crazy, or pass judgement upon us. Please don't criticize or gossip with others. Pray that if we are wrong, God will not let us be, and if we are right, that He affirms it. The decision on our future is not even our's to pass but ultimately, God's. We feel we are meeting Him right where He wants us.

Also, we are starting to research adoption in earnest. We are not starting the process. This is not the time to start the process, we need to deal with our miscarriages and grief. When we feel we are where God wants us to be, we will stop hindering pregnancy, and/or start the process of adoption, whichever way we feel the Lord is leading us to.

As I have been saying in previous posts, not everyday is bad. But because I usually write once a week or so, everything accumulates and the feelings overwhelm what Simeon and I have learned along the way. I pray that everyone understands I know that my feelings aren't truth--they're just feelings. But to be honest, typing away on this helps me. It helps me weed through thoughts, let others know what I am feeling, and honestly, just connect to the best of my personal ability right now. I do not want others to walk on eggshells around me. I do want them to be mindful of where I am at, but I want them to be able to experience their joy as well. Truthfully, it just can't be around me right now. Some of my favorite moments through all this pain, is when someone talks to us to understand where we are at. Just being understanding. Nothing more. Just letting us talk to them, and letting us be understood. The feeling of validation is nice to feel. Knowing that we are more than "that couple that keeps miscarrying", to feel better than a plague. Okay, that's it. I am done.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hearty Vegetable Minestrone (Crock Pot)

I found this recipe online on a health blog. After trying it, I made a few adjustments and this is what I came up with, fairly delicious and satisfying for a couple of people that are fasting! This recipe makes a HUGE amount, so be careful! I made the whole recipe on purpose, knowing it would be lunch, supper, and probably snacks for the next week.

You will need:

  • A LARGE Crock Pot!
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or 3 medium carrots), chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1, 15 oz can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, and garlic (it's out there people)
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons, beef base
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
First off, wash ALL of your veggies. All of the ones I got were covered in a waxy residue to keep the produce from spoiling. Next chop up the squashes, carrots, celery, onion, and pepper. Put it all in the crock pot. Drain and rinse the beans, and put those, along with garlic and remaining ingredients in the crock pot. 

Set on high for 6-7 hours. 

*You may notice the green beans in the soup. It is what the recipe called for, although I didn't quite care for the texture in the soup. Also, this soup is so good, you could probably just add and omit whatever vegetables you like. Happy eating! 

FYI, this soup is super healthy!

Lack Nothing.

February 1st marked a change in me. A change, that I now realize, makes my life even harder than anything I have had to deal with before.

I have been through some pretty rough stuff in life. As Chuck Swindoll once taught on our Alaskan Cruise, "Everybody's been shot". As I do realize that everyone has been shot, I sit here wondering, how often, and if it is in the same place as others. Of course not. Everyone has their own thread being woven into the tapestry of the Lord. 

What I do sit here wondering even more than that though, is how often we love each other. How often we judge people on their actions, when we have no idea what God has asked them to do, what forest He has chosen for them to walk through. What storms in their lives they have had to endure. What valleys they have had to stumble through. What deserts they had to wander through. 

Then I found myself asking... WHY AM I  JUDGING?! I am judging everyone else for judging me! I am judging the way they act around me, without knowing what they themselves are going through. It makes my heart break that I am so angry at others, when I am doing exactly what they are...even more so. I am focusing on my own heartbreak and pain, without caring about them. Jesus sweat blood for me--he focused on the pain he would endure for a moment, then handed it over to his Father. He trusted his Father, that the plan His Father had, was greater than the pain he would ever have to go through.

I am not there. I wish I were. I hope to be one day. I pray that I can endure this to see the plan God has for Simeon and me. Right now, it's still this heart-wrenching, gut-tearing, searing pain. The best I can do right now, is ignore it. The best I can do right now, is avoid it. The best I can do right now, is pretend not to be bothered when others talk about their children, or soon-to-be children. The best I can do right now, is to ask God for sleep because I absolutely cannot think about our children, that we will not meet until we are in Heaven. 

Recently, Simeon and I have realized that we need help. We need counseling. This was a monumentally humbling decision for me. For years, I have had to go to counseling, because everything was my fault, because I was the problem, because my father abused me because of me, because I was a liar, because I couldn't handle things well. It hurts to go to counseling for those reasons. I have realized now, that yeah, I have had issues, but they weren't just issues that I decided to have. They are and were issues that were created by outside forces, ones that I acted upon. It was the moment I acted upon the actions, that created the problem. The realization that I needed help, because I cannot handle this myself, that I cannot keep taking it out on my loving husband, that I cannot keep looking at happy women and families with hatred. I needed help. I still need help. 

The people we have chosen to counsel us, are very dear and near to our hearts. They reached out to us with our second miscarriage, walked and prayed with us during our third pregnancy, and cried their hearts out with us during the miscarriage as well. They have been an unbending light in the valley of darkness. Something they said in the last meeting, was that God is preparing us for our family. That God was the one who put the desire for family into our hearts. 

This brought up a slew of questions I wished were answered. Does that mean that everyone else who is able to carry full term (I know there's hope, but I am looking at the track record right now) is prepared? Does that mean the teenagers who could care less about their child, are prepared? Does that mean that we are unfit to be parents right now? Does that mean God can't trust us? What does that mean?! Add these to all the other questions, and you can see why I am consistently asking God for sleep.

So aside from counseling, I have made some pretty drastic changes. For one, I got a Y membership. I even have a GREAT workout partner that asks me when we are going (Shout out to KIM!). I have a goal, to reach the healthy size I was when I met Simeon. I no longer want to blame myself for miscarrying on the health side of things. I am changing our lifestyle and recipes...healthier versions. We are fasting, reading, and praying...more earnestly than ever before and of our own accord. And, when the time is right, when we feel like God is telling us we are prepared enough, we will once again start to trust unwaveringly, and stop preventing pregnancy. We will find the plan God has for us and follow it through to the end.

Since I know this is already undyingly long, I will leave you with a verse that has really stuck with me. In the Amplified Version, Psalm 23:1 reads like this, "The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack." For years I have read it as 'want', not really noticing that I was looking at it completely wrong, and years of others passing over it and looking at it wrong as well. It doesn't mean that I won't want for anything. It just means that my God will provide for me. That He cares for me and doesn't just give me whatever I want. 

Also, look for the next post! There will be a soup recipe with subpar pictures (seeing as I left my camera at church!)!