Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dear, Friend, your good intentions are very frustrating.....

Wonderful, sweet people, with the very best of intentions, are causing me and other girls around me to struggle with discontentment, and I wish it would stop... They mean well, but they are subconsciously tearing at our contentment, all in love. I'm not being sarcastic, I know that they mean it in love and kindness, but I wish I could take women (it seems like usually those that look at me like their child) and shake them. I don't think they understand the damage they are doing when they say things like:

"You're a senior in HS, where are you going to college, what are you going to study, what are you going to be? You don't know yet? Oh wow, that's really surprising. Everyone else seems to know...."

"You just finished your first semester at Bible college?! That's awesome. Any SPECIAL FRIENDS?"

"I saw you talking to so-and-so the other night 
at church, are you guys 'a thing'?!"

"You have been dating that guy for over a year, is it going anywhere? Are you guys going to get married?!"

"You got engaged  5 minutes ago, when's the big day!?!"

"You've been married for almost a year, 
when are you gonna have a child?!"

"You've been married for 5 years now, 
do you not want children?"

You're doing something wrong, WRONG, WRONG!

Again, they mean these things in a loving way and they don't actually verbalize that you are wrong in what you are doing! They love us and they want to be involved in our lives, never stops....and it's a harsh reminder, in a "kind" way, that we aren't living up to someone's standard for our life. 

I thought the "future" questions would stop after I got married. After all, I graduated from college, have a good job, am married to a wonderful Godly man, certainly NOW people would agree with me that my life was wonderful and would encourage the contentment in my heart, but instead, after about 3 hours of being married, I got bombarded by the questions of when we were going to start a family.

We bought a house a few weeks ago; it has 4 bedrooms. The comments about the space and how well that will accommodate a family have been non-stop. Yes, we do want a family some day, and I'm excited about that point in our life because I love kids, but maybe we bought this house because we loved the house, the location, and the space it gave us to fellowship with our family and friends. Again, I can't reiterate enough that I know your heart is in the right place when you ask me about when I'm going to have a baby, but the truth is, we don't know right now, but it is well into the future. While we are trying to seek God in every area of our lives, including family planning, we still have our own ideas and plans, and unless God leads otherwise, that's the plan! Tim just started seminary, we just bought a house, I started a new job less than a year ago, Tim starts a new job anytime...there's a lot of change going on right now~let's not add in a baby! Would that be okay with everyone?

I don't bring this up solely to complain about my situation, but also, because of the field I'm in, I daily talk to women who cannot conceive. They range in age from 20-50, and they are devastated that they cannot have family. I have at least a dozen friends that I know personally who are trying to conceive and are struggling with infertility. I know you mean well when you ask her if she wants children, but I would challenge you to refrain. You don't know the women that go home and cry that evening because you reminded them of their biggest heartache. The woman who has one child and you comment about how they should have more...did it ever occur to you that they are trying? My job is surrounded with infertility...1 in 6 couples in the US are currently struggling with infertility, and that number is growing fast. No one chooses infertility, the healthiest of couples can have unexplained fertility issues. It's a real thing, and we need to be aware of it.

There's a few things I wish I could say to these well-meaning women:

1. Instead of trying to think about my future for me, could you ask me about my current contented state? I'd love to tell you about my hubby, my house, my job~things that are currently part of my wonderful life!

2. Before you say something, could you take one second and think about how the girl might take your comment about her lack of a family? Is there any possible way this could hurt her? Is it possible there's something you  don't know about the situation? (The answer to that is typically, "yes.") AND NEVER EVER EVER ask someone else about that person's lack of a family. That's is entirely inappropriate and hurtful. 

3. It's hard enough for us to be content, especially as Americans, I'd say it's something we ALL struggle with, so why not say things that encourage us to be content? Instead of asking me when I'm going to start filling up our bedrooms, something that would be so much more encouraging would be, "I heard you got a new house, that's such a blessing, God is really providing and I am so happy for you guys. Tell me about your house?!"

We (ME INCLUDED) open our mouths way too often before we think. We say things that are hurtful with the most kind and sincere intentions. But our intentions don't make the comment less painful to the recipient. This isn't a "feel happy" post and I don't like writing things that don't make me happy, but this has been on my heart for several weeks now, especially as friends have privately contacted me about their fertility struggles because of my job, and I wonder if we would just stop and think before we speak, if we could do what we are intending to do, and that is encourage those we love! I know that's our goal, so let's refocus and make sure we are doing it properly!

I truly hope that you can feel my heart in all of this, and I beg you not to be offended. I truly know you mean well, but your comment plus 30 other people's can really be discouraging and make me feel like I'm somehow failing at life. Yes, there are moments where I'd love to start a family right now, and then I realize: 1. I have Timmy and he's all I can handle right now ;) (love you, baby!) 2. Once you start having kids you aren't really alone for 18+ years, so I want to enjoy this time with my love, just me and him, getting to know my best friend. 3. Our desire is for me to be a stay-at-home mom and right now, especially with the uncertainty of Tim's future ministry, I need to work hard and save money so that when God calls us to the next phase of life, we are prepared. 4. I like to sleep in...I mean, I really like it. :) answer to all the questions, yes, someday, if God allows, we will be thrilled to have some kiddos running around, and no, I hope it's not 15 years from now, but for now, that's not where we are. We just got married, could we enjoy that for a bit, please? :) 

Both you and I need to realize that our timing for our life or someone else's does not necessarily equate to God's timing. The sooner we realize this the more content we can be. Instead of worrying about your own future, or someone else's, let's relish in the moment and all the wonderful things that God has given us.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. I Tim 6:8

We have so much more than food and raiment, so it's an absolute sin for us to be discontent, yet we struggle with it! How sad and childish of us. I'm personally striving to live a life of thankfulness and contentment through this phase and all future phases of our life~I would love for you to join me on this path to contentment and encourage me along the way by pointing out my blessings, not what you think are short comings or just not "the best way" (aka your way) to do something. 

And, if you really feel that you need to know or even that you have the type of relationship where it would be appropriate to ask, please do it in private. I know personally, if you ask me in private about starting a family, you are going to get a much less defensive response than if you ask me at a table full of people and I feel like I have to defend what we feel is best for our family right now.

So don't stop talking...that's not the point of this post! :)...just please think about what you are going to say to me or any other "daughter-like girl," and please let it be about our present (content) state, not about our life 10 years from now. We'd really appreciate it. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Quiet Saturday's Reflection.....

Wow, do I love Saturdays! I enjoy my job, and am very thankful for it, but nothing beats 5pm on Friday! Sundays are typically filled with church and ministry, and I am very thankful for the wonderful church family we have, but is it's own kind of special. :) This morning we enjoyed waking up, not having to get up at specific and different times, and we just spent some time talking and enjoying each other, no rush, not's wonderful. Then we got up, had a warm breakfast (another Saturday-only luxury at our house!), I played the piano for a bit (while I was supposed to be getting ready lol) and then we ran some errands together. Came home and had a lazy lunch of leftovers, did some odds and ends around the house including painting some interior I'm sitting down with a cup of coffee, looking at the pretty spring flowers Timmy brought home for me (on the right), enjoying my instrumental worship Pandora station, and reflecting on God's goodness...

As I opened the cupboard to get a coffee mug, I was drawn to a typical pick....I'm so mug that always makes me pause for a moment, smile, and think about what a wonderful life God has given me. 

Lucky for you, I took a pic of it so you wouldn't have to endure me describing how cute it is. :) 

This verse is found in Psalms 103:5. I decided that if this one verse could encourage me so very much, perhaps I needed to do some studying on that Psalm and see what else it contained....was I in for a surprise! :)

Psalms 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

Where to begin, right? Let's start at the beginning verse and work through this amazing passage of God's Word.

First of all, I LOVE the phrase "Bless the Lord, O my soul." This could be slightly in part because I obviously love to say "O my soul" as you already know...but David uses this phrase multiple times in this passage...why? I was really meditating on this and wondering, "How can I bless the Lord?" I mean, typically we ask God to bless US! The dictionary defines "Bless" as: 

1. to consecrate or sanctify by a religious rite; make or pronounce holy. 2. to request of God the bestowal of divine favor on
3. to bestow good of any kind upon
4. to extol as holy; glorify
5. to protect or guard from evil

In this verse, I think we are looking at #4, "to extol as holy; glorify." So David says Glorify the Lord! Then he explains who or what is to do the glorifying...his soul and all that is within him. This is convicting to me. I think that often times we are guilty of glorifying God with our lips only, or maybe our lips and a small piece of our heart....but David is writing here that God deserved all the glory and honor that we can muster up from every inch and corner of our inadequate beings. That's way different than saying "Glorify God." Paul is saying Glorify the Lord! With your lips, your heart, your soul, your being! Leave nothing behind! Praise Him with all of you! He is so holy and deserving of all the praise you can muster in your little human self! Does that convict anyone else!? I love how one of the commentary's I read put the involvement of our soul in this worship: "The soul of man was "made" to praise and bless God; to enjoy his friendship; to delight in his favor; to contemplate his perfections. It can never be employed in a more appropriate or a more elevated act than when engaged in his praise." Wow! I had never really viewed my soul in this manner before.

Verse 2 begins a list of reminders of what a mighty God we serve and reminds us to not forget his incredible blessings (benefits) listed through verse 19. Here's a summary of these verse in my own words, in list format:

He forgives our sin. He heals all diseases. This is not a promise of healing like our infinite minds think (healing here on earth right when we pray for it), but rather he heals all diseases in His way and His timing. Death is the ultimate healing for a believer because it relieves the sick person of all physical pain and weakness and they are immediately in the presence of their Savior~temporary healing on earth cannot begin to compare to being in Heaven! He redeems our soul from a life of destruction, the pit of this world. He surrounds us with kindness and His compassion. Jesus chose to leave his perfect surroundings, and come down to this vile earth and snatch us up from the horrible, sinful lives we lead. I picture a holy, pure Savior in white garments walking through a trash heap, the local garbage dump, searching, getting His hands dirty, digging through garbage, seeking me out, seeking you out. The world around us is so filthy, and He is so holy, his love is amazing. 

"He fills my life with good things!" Even if you are going through a rough patch of life, there's noone that can look at their life and not see the hand of God and the good things He gives to those that love Him. (Rom. 8:28) Jesus gives life! He has our back. So often we see situations where a believer might be being mistreated and we think, "Why isn't God doing something?!" But God is just and He hasn't forgotten that dear soul. He never leaves or forsakes us; our timing just often isn't His. He is clear with His directions. One thing that we can never say is "I don't know what God wants me to do...He hasn't given me any direction." That's just simply not true. He gave us a huge book of directions, we are just too lazy to look for the direction. I've heard many pastors say, "Do what you know to do, and the rest will fall into place." If you simply live out the things you DO know from the Bible, you will be amazing at how "instructions" will be right in your face!

Unlike us, God is patient, kind, gracious, slow to anger, and full of compassion!  Aren't you glad He doesn't act like us? I feel like that list is the definition "Vickibeth is not......" lol So thankful for a good who is perfect and doesn't "goof-up" all the time like we do! His patience doesn't run out on his spouse or coworker. He doesn't spout off in anger over tiny things. He hasn't given us what we deserve (the bad). How lucky--blessed--are we that He doesn't always give us the negative repercussions for our actions! He has forgotten our sin. The Bible says "as far as the east is from the west." You don't have to be a geography buff to realize that that's infinity! Unlike the north and south directions, east and west never meet. If you go north on the globe, up, up, up, eventually you are going to start going down, south, but if you go east forever, you will never reach the west, and vice versa. God is saying that He has forgotten our sins in the deepest depths of his infinite love!

He is our Father, and He loves us as His dear child. What a blessing to know the love of a perfect Father! He is a father to the fatherless, and noone can understand how deep his fatherly love is! He loves us forever and ever, deeper than we can comprehend. We are incapable of understanding a love like God's. It's too much for our human minds, but from the little bit we can grasp, we see a love unlike any other. He is the ruler of all the earth. Isn't it comforting to know that our Father, our God, our Savior maintains and has dominion over the entire universe?! Our world leaders and politicians, and even Satan himself, think that they have power. But they have no power, but what God allows. It amazes me that the God of the universe, Creator of all we see and more, cares about little me and you. I don't understand why, but I know that I'm so grateful!

David concludes by again reminding us to "Bless the Lord, o my soul." I love the flow of this passage...

V1: Bless the Lord.
V2-19: Here’s why...
V20-22: Bless the Lord.

I love it! It's taken me almost a week to finish these thoughts...there was just so much to dwell on! I hope you take some time with me to meditate on these incredible truths. Our Father God is so incredible. I'm thankful for this great reminder from David about the indescribable character of God.