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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Taking off our mourning clothes...

I am about 3/4 of the way done with a Bible study I've been doing on my own in the book of Ruth. I say "on my own", but it's actually been with the help of author, Kelly Minter, and one of her titled "Living Room Series" study books. I can honestly say that this has been the most revealing and fulfilling studies I've ever done. And that says a lot being that a) I've almost completed the study, and b) I've been doing this alone, EVERY morning, in the mornings, with a cup of coffee, a notebook, and my God. It is that good!

If you're like me, and have never really read the book of Ruth, I highly recommend it. It's only 4 chapters long, but in those chapters you will find a heart warming story about enduring serious loss, finding love again, and creating lasting legacy in life. And I also recommend reading through it with the help of this study book. The study is split into six sessions (or weeks), one study per day, and there are even recipes included, created by the author herself - many of which I've tried and thoroughly enjoyed. Anyhow, like I said, I'm almost at the end of the story, and my lesson this morning really hit home with me.

I'm at the part where Ruth is starting to experience the possibility of falling in love again (she's been widowed for some time now). Well, there's a verse in chapter 3 where, Naomi (Ruth's mother in law), has devised a plan to set Ruth up with this prospective guy named Boaz. Naomi gives Ruth some directions on how to go about "presenting herself" to him. In these directions, she includes for Ruth to "put on your best clothes". My first time reading it, I thought nothing of it. Soon, though, as I read it again, and also what led up to this point, some things were made clear to me. I was reminded of the similarities to how we are today. For example, when I really want to impress my husband, I shower, put on my best perfumes, fix my face with my best make up skills, fix my hair so that every strand falls perfectly into place, and put on my best clothes. The intent is to be the most attractive and presentable to him, and I believe that was also the intent for Ruth, too. 
What really struck me, though, is what "putting on your best clothes" entailed for Ruth. Ruth was a widow. Ruth had experienced the loss of her life companion, her best friend, and probably her first love. And here she was, with the possibility of doing it all over again. I imagine she was probably still mourning that loss in her life. I would be. You probably would be too. Losing someone close to us is something we never "get over". It's something we never forget. But when Ruth "put on her best clothes" for Boaz, to me it symbolized taking off the old, and putting on the new. God had brought her to a place to start over. He had brought her to a new land, surrounded her with new people, and presented her with a strong, loving, and noble new guy. I read a commentary that stated it like this:

"It appears that Naomi is hereby advising Ruth to end her period of mourning over her widowhood and get on with normal life...It may well be that until this time Ruth had always worn the garments of widowhood, even when she was working out in the field. Perhaps this was the reason for Boaz's inertia. As an upright man, he would not violate a woman's right to grieve the loss of her husband nor impose himself upon her until she was ready. We know too little about how long widows would customarily wear their mourning clothes, but it may be that Naomi is now telling Ruth the time has come to doff her 'garments of widowhood'."

Though many of us have not experienced the incomprehensible tragedy of losing a spouse, or maybe just someone very close to us, I know many of us are familiar with a time of mourning something...of clinging, hoping, waiting, wishing, even praying for something. And I think, like Ruth, God is bringing many of us to a place and time of taking off our mourning clothes, and putting on the clothes He is giving us for a new day. That's not to say we forget our past, or give up memories of our past. Growth happens inside of us when we endure times of grieving. But I do believe that God is bringing us to that place where the thoughts and memories of what we've endured in the past do not sting anymore. Moving forward.

I think it's pretty clear that when we hold on to the hurt and bitterness of losing something, or someone, we shut ourselves off to letting God work in our lives. Don't get me wrong here - I think grieving is absolutely crucial in life. It's been very important to me in dealing with infertility. We are human, after all. We were created to feel things. I think it's unnatural not to feel sadness through loss and longing. And our grieving processes are all different. I don't think there's a stamp you can put on the process of how long to grieve, and I don't think it's something to be dealt with lightly. You don't just grieve for a bit, then miraculously wake up ready to move on. Loss is definitely something that has to be dealt with between us and God. I've found through my struggles, you cannot just keep covering things up. God has to heal us through loss. However, when we wrap ourselves up in our 'garments of mourning', we're unavailable for whatever else God has for us. In the study, Kelly Minter stated it perfectly by saying, "My simple hope is that when God has held us, healed us, and lifted our heads, that we'd be ready to move forward with Him; and though our hearts may always ache, we won't stay in our mourning clothes forever." 

I've referenced Isaiah 54 in a previous post, but I'm gonna reference it again because it applies here. In verse 4 of this passage it says "...and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood." It doesn't say we won't remember our widowhood, it says we won't remember the reproach of it. God may not remove the memory, but I know He is perfectly able to remove the sting out of it. And that's important because we'll never be able to move forward until we let go of the hurt and bitterness of what we've lost. But God makes us able to.

In the familiar passage of Isaiah 43:18-19, God says "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." My prayer is that we perceive it. God is handing us some new garments. He's taking us to a place where we remove the garments of mourning, and put on the garments of praise. We all have our past losses, heartaches, and stains. But I pray that when God brings us to that place of readiness, we can lift our heads and let go of our old clothes and enter into our new life.

II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home invasions and adoptions..

About a week and a half ago, our house was broken into and we were robbed of some of our things. I came home after watching my kiddos all day, Jeremy was still at work, and I noticed some doors that lead into the house from the garage were flung wide open. I thought it to be strange, so I called Jerms just to make sure he didn't just forget to shut them when he left for work that morning. He remembered shutting them, and to be safe, he instructed me to keep him on the phone, keep the car running, and for me to get out and poke my head inside to see if the t.v. was still on the wall or not - a sure sign of a burglary. The horror that came over me when I didn't see our t.v. on the wall, still cannot be described. I started freaking out, ran back to my car, and Jerms told me to just start driving. Meanwhile, he called 911 and began making his way back home (a 45 minute drive!). The police were supposed to be on their way, but I had no idea of how long it would take them to arrive, and I had no clue of whether my pups were okay or not. *And let me just plug here that I have some pretty incredible friends, and if you don't have some, I encourage you to get some!* That being said, I called one of my closest friends who happens to live about 5 minutes away, to see if her husband was home and wouldn't mind coming over with a loaded weapon to clear my house. Like the good people they are, her hubby made it over quickly, and entered my house like a Navy Seal! Fortunately, no robbers were there, and my dogs were fine (other than being a little shaken up). My house looked like a scene from a movie - drawers turned over, doors and cabinets flung wide open...just a complete disaster. Soon, the police and my husband arrived home, and thus began a very LONG process that we still are going through. Our things have still not been located, they've arrested a couple of the men involved, and our insurance company is still working on a solution to get our stuff back or replaced.

Aside from the financial craziness of this situation, we also have to deal with the emotional and mental side of it all. Naturally, when something like this happens, you battle feelings of fear. Fear of it happening again, fear of being home alone, fear of the alternatives had one of us been home at the time...and all of it leaves a sick feeling inside. We had many sleepless nights after that. But there came a point when we had to make a choice to rise up and put our foot down. A choice of saying: You know what? This is my house! My home! A place where I refuse to live in a spirit of fear! A place where I refuse to let the devil dwell! This was a place where we began a new life together..a fresh start. We have made this our home, our safe place. And over my dead body will I let a spirit of fear take that away from us!It reminds me of the verse in 2 Timothy most of us learned way back in Sunday school:"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline." And maybe it isn't speaking specifically to home invasions in this verse, but I think it applies! Fear is not of God, and I refuse to live that way! That's not to say that we live incautiously. We have since gotten a security system installed in our house, and it does in fact bring a feeling of security. It's much easier to sleep at night knowing that a very audible alarm is ready to go off the second an intruder opens/breaks any door or window. I pray we never have to experience that, but you know..just in case.

I have to give kudos to my husband, too, because the burglars would not be in jail right now if it were not for his intense awareness of his surroundings! The morning of the robbery, when he was leaving for work, he noticed a very suspicious vehicle parked on our street. I was already gone for the day, but he saw two guys in this car, and they saw him. It was suspicious to Jeremy because a) he had never seen them before in our neighborhood, and b) they had a makeshift plywood trailer hitched to the back of the car. He had a bad feeling in his gut as he left the house, and turned around once he got a ways down the street just to return and get the tag number. The car was still parked when he got back, and there was really no way he could get the tag numbers without looking suspicious himself. So what's a man to do? He left for work. Once we discovered what happened at our house, that car was the first thing that came to mind. He reported it to the deputy that came out, and they said they would be on the look out for that car. So then, fast forward two days later. It's a Sunday morning, it's 7:15 a.m., we're leaving for church, and as we back out of our drive-way, we see the same maroon car and trailer backed into another drive-way a few lots down from us. The house they were parked at was unoccupied and still on the market as far as we knew. So we drove around to check it out. We didn't see anyone inside the vehicle, and that bad gut feeling returned. We called the sheriffs office and they said they would be sending someone out. Jeremy then dropped me off at church and took off to go back home to really get the tag numbers this time. But, by the time he got there, there were 3 deputies with canines chasing after these guys. They had loaded stainless steel appliances from the house they were parked at onto their trailer. Two guys were arrested, and one got loose, but leave it to the genius criminals to rat him out! They still haven't caught him, but they're working on it. However, no one would be caught as of now had my husband not paid such close attention to those things. It used to drive me nuts at how "paranoid" Jeremy could be sometimes. And now, I kick myself for all those times I picked on him about it.

I'll update more on this issue as things evolve in our case. I've rambled enough on that! On a more random, and better note, though, we've been seriously looking into some options to adopt. I don't want to get too much into it right now, but it's looking like it may be a possibility for us, and we are seriously praying about it. It's definitely not a decision that can be made hastily or overnight. It's a serious commitment, and we have devoted ourselves to really seeking God about if this is what He wants for us. He has opened some doors in regards to this possibility, and He has placed the desire on both of our hearts. Please pray with us about it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I've been having a difficult time lately..A difficult time with not knowing what my purpose in life really is. I know I have one, but it's seemed to go in a totally new direction since I've so clearly heard God tell me "NO" to having children right now. Since the original placement of that calling on my life, I've been living my life preparing for just that..a baby. Preparing my life for children. Making decisions and life plans centered around my future kids. It was something that absolutely consumed me. And with each passing day without kids, I was overwhelmed by questions to God of "Why not?", and "When?", and "How?", and pleads of "Please", and "I'm begging You", and so on and so forth. To be quite honest, as much as I still desire to be a mom, pursuing a life filled with children that don't even even exist yet, has been completely exhausting, mentally and emotionally. It has left me feeling empty and confused, and even hurt and abandoned by God. So God awakened me, and told me to lay all of the above at His feet. Surrender every word, emotion, desire, and plan to be a mother at His throne. And He told me He would show me the way. So I did.

I'll admit, it's been loads easier to deal with, think about, etc...but now I'm struggling with where to go now? I desire so much to have more purpose and substance in my life, and I know the Lord does, too. But I'm feeling pulled in a ton of opposite directions, with no clear or obvious way to go. I've been praying non-stop about all of this: God, would you please open up Your door of opportunity for me to serve and be Your hands and feet in this broken world.I'm not praying this so that I can stop being bored. I'm praying this because I'm tired of living for myself.

Since all of this has been stirring, our finances have been tested like never before. Money that somehow used to be there, is somehow mysteriously disappearing, despite Jeremy's and my efforts to work more. Since the conference, I've been watching kids full time, but the extra money has done NOTHING. Jeremy has not lost any income, and our monthly expenses have not increased. We're not big spenders, and have recently cut out "eating out" from our budget almost completely. To some, this would seem like an obvious mis-management of finances, but we seriously cannot figure it out. Despite our efforts to find the answer or come up with a solution, deep down I have this feeling like God is trying to reveal something. I've prayed about whether I'm supposed to get a real job or not in the real work force again..I've prayed about whether Jeremy is being called to a different job, or different path completely...I've prayed about whether I'm even supposed to be in this country or not (I've never felt a calling to go out into the "mission-field" until recently)...I've prayed about whether God is telling us to quit our jobs and go into ministry full time...I've prayed about whether we're being told to move...on and on, and on and on...No matter what, we're not making any moves until we hear straight from God about it. But not having a clear answer, and feeling like I'm in limbo is making me crazy. I try not to worry, and when I start to feel fearful or doubtful, I turn to God. I know He is faithful and He will always provide for us, but not knowing is always uncomfortable for me. My life is taking on a whole new meaning, and I just want to know what that meaning is.