Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Am I Worthy?

Well, today is a day to just be transparent and unashamed....

I desire marriage. 

Yes. It's true.  It's one of my hearts foremost desires.  Maybe it's something that people could tell I've desired... or maybe I've kept it well hidden.  Either way, I haven't spoken about it much...or at all really... especially in the past few years.  It's only been recently that I've started following (publicly) any sort of marriage blog/facebook page.

 There was a fear inside of me.  A fear that if I simply spoke my desire, someone would tell me that I needed to take a good long look at myself and be realistic.  How could marriage ever be for me?  How could it ever be written in my future?  Who would ever love me enough to want to marry me?  For some reason completely beyond my own comprehension I felt completely and utterly unworthy of marriage.

I honestly don't know when I started to believe those lies [and what sick, cruel LIES they truly are!] But the fear inside me was sooooo deep that I couldn't even speak my desires for fear that someone would tell me that I was unworthy of marriage and confirm what I already feared... as though my own experience with singleness wasn't already evidence enough on it's own. 

And the really sad part is that there are already so many well meaning people doing just that... when they bring up verses where Paul says it is better to remain single [1 Corinthians 7?].... as though this is some sort of honor.  I'm not going to get into some huge complaining session about that because 1) that has been someone elses experience more often than it's been mine. 2) I truly and honestly believe that people mean well and dont intend to add to anyones hurt. and 3) I believe that passage of Scripture is worth studying and I don't want to taint it for myself or anyone else because Im complaining about someone elses regurgitated thoughts.

And so.... there came a point when I realized how there is such healing in confession... and how simply powerful words are. When we sin, we confess our sins and find healing, so does it not stand that if we confess our doubts or fears that we will also find healing in the confession?  I think we do.

But more than just confessing those doubts or fears, I think there-in lies a responsibility to also confess the truth. 

I am not unworthy of marriage.  I am loved by God and I am HIS bride first.  God wants to fulfill my desires in His time. I am simply to walk in Obedience.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is God Holding Out on Us?

It can be quite humbling when God speaks to you...

Genesis 3:1-6... While I was still at Bethel, I studied this passage extensively for a sermon I was writing for my Homiletics class.  I don't remember if this was one of the ones I actually used or not, but I feel a particular draw to the creation and fall of man... I think maybe that's because the story is all of our story.  We find ourselves in this place again and again, sometimes by effort and sometimes by accident. So here we are...
Now the serpent was more crafty that any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden' ?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die," "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (NIV)
Satan is pretty crafty, isn't he?

So Eve and Satan are having a conversation in the garden... a few question immediately come to mind... like 'I wonder if Eve ever questioned the fact that she was carrying on a conversation with a snake.' (Or maybe animals spoke and had language before the fall, but I don't know, that's beside the point anyway.) Or what their proximity to the tree was... did God give this message to Eve directly, or did Adam relay the message... If it was Adam, was he the one who added the part about not even touching it, or whatever... maybe those aren't relevant questions...

What I really noticed though is how the enemy seemed to have a tactic. At the time I wrote this sermon, there was a cross over into the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11), where I found the same basic tactics used.   But these are the things I noticed:

1. Satan twisted God's words.
2. Satan lied about the consequences of Sin
3. Satan appealed to natural desires (and not always even bad desires)
4. Satan made Eve believe God was holding out on her
5. Satan made Eve believe she was entitled to it
 I could probably address each one of these things separately, but I would probably be typing for a while... but perhaps I ought to study up on each one at some point....  How many times have many times have I... fallen for these old tricks... time and time again?

Think about this for a moment... We start out with a desire for something, even a natural and healthy desire... so then we start believing we are entitled to it.   When we believe that we are entitled to something, it naturally follows that we might end up believing that God is holding out on us.  Once we believe that He is holding out on us we might twist God's word to justify our own sinful actions, and end up with the belief that there isnt, or shouldn't, be any consequences for our sin.

That's sad. (and quite honestly, I see this whole this process right before my eyes as the supreme court is preparing to rule on Gay marriage rights.  I see it in the whole homosexual revolution. but I really don't wish to discuss it any further at this point in time)  I see it in the sexual revolution.  I see it in the consumerism around us. I see it in good and healthy things, too. Things that have been taken to extremes... like for myself this unhealthy intake of food. It could also be the healthy desire to be married or an honest desire for my car to start working after I've already replaced two parts on it... but my actions toward God in response to these desires may cause me to sin.

God is not holding out on us. I think sometimes we just lack understanding about God's purpose or plan.

I think God simply desires obedience even (and especially) when we dont understand.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Progress with my painting

I'm very excited. I spent some time last night working on a painting that I started before Halloween in 2012.  I've been having a hard time with it.  I was just when a writer gets writers block. I felt very much like I had "painters block". 

:-)  Theres no such thing though, right? 

Well, I decided to pick up a paint brush and just try again and I think I actually did something with it that I liked.  I think one of the things that made the painting difficult for me was what to do with the butterfly.  I must have five or six layers of paint where the butterfly is... but perhaps it was worth it.   I'm not done with the painting, I still have a lot more I want to do with it, but I am excited enough that I just have to share progress!

I hope to be able to finish it soon.  This one will be better than the other butterfly painting.   I think it already is. 

Some thoughts on Pregnancy

I've had a myriad of thoughts running through my mind... I'm exposed to a lot of things... different opinions and viewpoints. I read, I listen, and I pay attention when people might think I'm not.  And I research.  I actually don't like to passively dismiss other viewpoints, even though some people might feel that if I disagree with them, then I've done exactly that....The point is this: When I make a decision about something or form an opinion on something... it's pretty rare that you'll find me uninformed. So I've been doing some thinking and researching.

One of the things I ran across today was a blogpost someone had posted on facebook where a woman had written about her pregnancy and how miserable it was for her.  She wrote of crippling morning sickness, feeling bloated, weight gain, getting kicked in the spine and a whole host of other things.   She sounded genuinely miserable during her pregnancy. But one thing she spoke of was the loneliness she felt.

This idea of pregnancy and birth being a beautiful thing was lost on this woman because of the miseries she felt, but the loneliness that followed her was the result of the "beauty of pregnancy" being lost on her.  She felt outcasted and looked down upon because she didn't enjoy the experience and was actually chastized for it, and made to feel like she wouldn't be able to be a good mother.

On the flip side, I have also seen some women who have had difficulties trying to concieve or have miscarried who look at the complaints women who are miserable make, and are hurt by those complaints. 

   I have a friend who miscarried and she is now pregnant again and she thanks God for her morning sickness, and her back aches, and the frequent need to run to the restroom and all sorts of other miserable pregnancy symptoms because the truth of the matter is that those miserable symptoms of pregnancy are often signs that your body is doing exactly what it needs to produce a healthy baby.  She knows that.   I've also seen her comment after she originally miscarried that she would gladly take the symptoms other women were complaining about if it meant she could have her precious baby back in her womb. 

.... It is difficult for me to say that I really know what either woman is going through, because I really don't.  I've never been pregnant, I've never miscarried, I've never tried to concieve but found myself unable.  I know being nauseated when I've got the flu is miserable for me, and I already feel like I use the restroom a lot as it it, but thats about the best I can do to identify with the first woman.  The second woman... I think I actually identify with her more, which is crazy because I've never tried to concieve, let alone miscarried a child, right? 

I think the reason I identify with the second woman is because my own fertility has come into question for me. I had an ovarian cyst (at least, that's what they believe it was) burst when I was in high school, and I believe it happened a second time when I was in college.   Now there are other reasons for this thought, some of them are simply too personal to share.  I try to blame my weight gain for any issues I have.  I tell myself if I lose weight, the questions will go away because everything will go back to normal, but thats my guess.  I couldn't really tell you what's going on in my body. 

But what I can tell you is that the possibility of being infertile scares me... a lot. My hearts desire is to serve God through marriage and family. Im still working on the first part.... :-)  But it can be a scary thing to think that you may have to deal with something that could keep you from your hearts desire.   I have to continually put my hope back in God and remind myself that He is the giver of dreams and my life is complete in Him.  Everything else is icing.   I have to remind myself, and sometimes ask God to help me remember that I find my fulfilment in Him alone and if neither marriage nor bearing children is to never be a part of my life, then I will praise and love Him the same as if it were.

But that's beside the point I want to make.   What I'm trying to say is that hearing other women complain about something that I want so much can be a sensitive issue for me too, even though I've never had trouble trying to concieve or difficulty maintaining the pregnancy because it's not a part of my life right now. It sometimes bothers me to hear other women complain about their symptoms because it just reminds me of a fear that Im already bringing to God on a daily basis.  I can only imagine what it's like for women who are really experiencing what I only fear.

But does that mean the first woman was wrong?  No, not really.  Then, does it mean that I and the second woman are wrong about our feeling?  Again, I really dont think so.

 I truly and honestly believe pregnancy is a beautiful thing.   It it simply amazing to me that a few small cells can become what you and I are today.  It is amazing to me what a womans body does to accomodate the life that grows inside of her.  I am fascinated by the love a mother can have for something that made her so miserable for nine months. 

But I also know that God says to the woman in Scripture very plainly "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children."  I feel like the first womans experience gave me a whole new insight to this verse. (it's not just about needing the epidural during the birth process, lol) There is indeed an ugliness that is associated with pregnancy.  There is pain beyond the child leaving the womb.  

What this leads me to is the question of how we minister to both of these women where they are at. The truth is that their feelings can easily feed off of one another. One needs hope, the other ecouragement.   How can both have an outlet for their feelings without making the other feel bad somehow? 

For now I guess thats going to be something I'll be trying to figure out.