The 5 “W” ?’s

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Have you been in a circumstance in your life that leaves you questioning and you ask the 5 W’s? I know I sure have. For a long time, I thought I was the only one who did this. Or, more recently, I thought I was done with this stage in my life. I’m brave, I trust Him, I will conquer, so no more need for these questions, right?? Right??
Ha! Who was I kidding?!?!

It was two weeks ago, and a good friend respectfully and unexpectedly told me she was pregnant. Needless to say, I was shocked!! Here I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend who knew my story, so she knew and understood that this would be hard news for me because of infertility. And I’m seriously trying as hard as I can to hold back tears.

Here’s my friend knowing that this news was hard, and was nervous about telling me because as my friend she truly cared about my pain and wanted to honor me in how she delivered this news. And as she’s telling me this news, in the midst of my shock, all I can think about is that God had shown me in the past that I needed to be very careful in how I responded to this news with others.

He showed me that as hard as it is for me to hear this news, it’s either just as hard or pretty darn close to be the friend or family member on the other side delivering the news. They desperately don’t want to hurt me, but want my joy for them. So knowing that, holding back the tears, I say, “I’m so happy for you!! That’s great news.” And hear me when I say this, if you’re reading this and you haven’t dealt with infertility, know that we truly are happy for you or those we care about and their joy of pregnancy. We are just so sad for us, sad that again another person we care about is pregnant and we still aren’t, sad that it seems this will never happen for us, just sad.

So back to my story, we go on and talk for a few more minutes about her pregnancy, and I couldn’t tell you now what we talked about because it’s all a blur now. She ends up leaving. And I immediately fall apart. Like the hardest tears I’ve cried in a long time, and they last for hours. Tears carry into my entire weekend. I didn’t know that a pregnancy announcement even still set me off. I thought I was past this. So mostly, I’m irritated and frustrated that this is even an issue for me. Have I started all over in this journey of waiting?

And then my mind starts wondering, again. And the 5 W’s begin. Who else around me will get pregnant before I finally get to start my family? What in the world is going on with my life? Why am I still waiting? When will I experience pregnancy and starting my family and when will my wait end? Where am I even headed?

It had me feeling so worn in the midst of this wait. Have you felt that way in a wait? Just worn from it all? (Before I continue on, I highly recommend the song Worn, by Tenth Avenue North. Check the video of the song out here.)

Then that Monday evening I was attending my support group that I lead. (Get more info about my group here.) And we were watching this video by Wendy Pope from her Wait & See study. The video can be found here. She references Psalm 77 and a few of the verses from that scripture.

First she directs you to look at the following verses:

7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

She reminds you to look at the Psalmist here, he was asking some of those same questions. He had doubts, he had impatience in the wait, he felt forgotten and rejected. I don’t know about you, but for me, that was comforting. If the Psalmist was feeling that way, surely its understandable that I would, too, right?

She goes on to these few verses:

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out
his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 “Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”

Do you see what the Psalmist is doing here? He’s remembering. What exactly is He remembering? He’s remembering who God is, and how God has been faithful. Wow. In the midst of this wait, instead of focusing on the 5 W’s, it’s time to start focusing on how God has been faithful.

I dare you to pull out a pen and paper and write down 3 things or areas where you’ve seen God faithful in your own life. It’s time to remember.

Why???

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why meWhy???? It seems to be the word that I have uttered more than anything this year. Why? Why me? Why now? Why here? Why am I still here? Why has this not ended? Why, why, why?!?!?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has felt this way. But his year has been one of the most difficult times in my life in a long time. From serious family illnesses to financial distress to fear of losing income to the infertility journey continuing to my own personal sickness to feeling alone, thinking no one could possibly understand what I’m going through, it seems to never end. Every time I turn around, it seems there is yet another thing to add to the plate of my trials, tragedies and sadness.

I have been crying all the time, unable to shut the tears off. I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. I haven’t wanted to pray or here about Him. I haven’t wanted to hear the typical “God has a plan” or “it will happen in His timing” christianese words that so many recite. I have never felt so stuck and alone in my pain as I do now.

I’m told the only way to get through this is to do the one thing I don’t want to do. Talk to Him, pray, tell Him how I really feel. Tell Him? How do I tell Him, when I’m not even sure I can collect my own thoughts or even find the words? How do I tell the creator of the universe that this sucks?!? It’s hard to break through the barrier of feeling like I can’t truly be honest with Him because of who He is. But break through I must, somehow….

If you don’t know this about me, I am not a big reader. I occasionally will read a few chapters in a book and then put the book down, never to return to it. However, tonight I felt led by the Lord to pick up the book, The Shack, by William P Young and read where I left off at chapter 6. This is the only book that I have ever cried while reading. The author so perfectly expresses the feelings, love, sadness and more that I get drawn in to what’s being conveyed. So there are a few things that really ministered to me, that I thought I would share.

But first, a little explanation of this fictional book…Mack’s very young daughter has died. And this is his journey to discovering who he is, who God is and how he could possibly go on from here. It’s the conversations between Mack and the different aspects of the Trinity. This particular conversations I’ll share are between Mack and Father God.

“if you couldn’t take care of Missy, how can I trust you to take care of me?” There, he’d said it–the question that had tormented him every day of The Great Sadness. Mack felt his face flush angry red as he stared at what he now considered to be some odd characterization of God, and he realized his hands were knotted into fists.

“Mack, I’m so sorry.” Tears began to trail down her cheeks. “I know what a great gulf this has put between us. I know you don’t understand this yet, but I am especially fond of Missy, and you too.”

…He wanted to believe her and slowly some of his rage began to subside.

“That’s why you’re here, Mack,” she continued. “I want to heal the wound that has grown inside of you, and between us.”

…”I think I’d like that,” he admitted, “but I don’t see how…”

The Shack, William P Young, Chapter 6

I understand exactly how Mack is feeling at this point. Where have you been, God? I’ve been over here drowning. Where were you when A & B happened? If you really cared, would this have happened?

But then, when you look closely at this passage, you see that Father God was tearing up/crying at the pain that Mack is going through. Could this be true? Does God truly care? Does He cry when I’m hurting? Does He feel my pain? It’s something I had never considered before.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a Pastor at my church last year as I shared my infertility journey and my heartbreak over it. The Lord spoke to her and told her to tell me: I am for you. Not only that, but I am for you having a child. I had never considered that he was for me having a child. After all,i am for you He’s allowed this to be such a long and hard journey. So surely, if he’s allowing it, I’m not supposed to have a child, and He doesn’t really care. I began to doubt what He had told me and shown me several times, the child I KNOW I will have. I have to allow myself to remember He is for me.

I also totally relate to “I’m not sure how…” statement. I have to remember that my tears mean that I will be comforted. He will comfort me, He will meet me where I am. I amy not understand the why or the when, but I know that He will.

He. is. for. me.

He. cares. about. my. pain.

“Mackenzie, I know that your heart is full of pain and anger and a lot of confusion. Together, you and I, we’ll get around to some of that while you’re here. But I also want you to know that there is more going on than you could imagine or understand, even if I told you. As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?

– The Shack, William P Young, Chapter 6

So God is not only for me and cares about my pain, but he knows my pain. He can sense and feel my pain. His heart is breaking to witness my heart breaking. He wants to help me deal with my pain and get through it. He hasn’t left me in the midst of it. He wants to deliver me through the pain.

I’m reminded of a passage of scripture:

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  – Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)I-am-not-alone

He’s showing us that there’s so much more going on that we can’t see. He can see it. And He knows that He can deliver me through it so that what I’m praying for will be event bigger than I’ve imagined. He’ll do way more than I’m expecting. He’s taking our paper and crayons into a masterpiece, because He only knows to create bigger and better!

He’ll. do. more. than. I. can. imagine.

I don’t have this all figured out, and I’m still dealing with a lot of pain and sadness. I know that He’s only beginning to scratch at the surface of my heart. But I can’t wait to see how He’ll amaze me through it. He truly is faithful and loves us more than we can fathom.

To close this out, I got a glimpse of a post I wrote four years ago, as I was struggling with some big trials. So I’d like to share it with you.

As I think about it…that’s not the only aspect of how His timing is perfect. I had probably had one of the worst years of my life. My grandmother passed away, my husband lost his job, my mom had surgery, my stepmother passed away, and my husband had neck surgery. I seriously was at the point…what else could Satan possibly throw at me?? Really??? Come on!!!! I was beginning to doubt myself, and I thought God had stopped intervening in my life? You’re a healer? Really? Look at all that had happened over the past year…so much related to healing. I know you are God, I know you heal…but why was no one in my circle getting that advantage of you? Why was all this happening? I can totally say that I don’t understand all of it. But I do know, He was always there waiting with open arms for me, no matter what the enemy threw at me. He allowed me to go through it all, and it only made me stronger, it didn’t matter what was thrown at me, My God is so much bigger! And his timing is perfect! Because after that horribly rotten year, he delivered us from our bondage!!! Why? Because He’s God, and He loves me! And apparently, He has bigger plans for me than I had for myself.

So are you doubting why He hasn’t answered you yet? We prayed for 7 years. But His timing was much more than perfect! Trust in His timing, He knows way better than we do!!!

Then this was in another post from Beth Moore’s study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman:

“He who delivered you from drugs can deliver you from distraction. He who delivered you from bankruptcy can deliver you from bingeing. He who delivered you from infertility can deliver you from inconsistency. He who delivered you from the fire can deliver you from fear. Sometimes God uses the winds of a new threat to blow the dust off a past miracle that has moved from our active files into the archives. Remember, Beloved! Remember what God has done for you!”

Friend, I pray that God can use what the enemy meant to destroy me, to bring you some encouragement and understanding. Never forget: He is for you.

Blessings, Shannon

The Triplets

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For those that know me, you know how much I truly love babies & children. So you understand that when I found out that my sister-in-law, Teena was pregnant with triplets I was beyond excited! She already has one child, Mikaela Elizabeth. She is almost three and absolutely beautiful. So adding triplets to this mix was giving them quite the family!!!

The pregnancy was quite the battle. It was a high risk pregnancy from the very beginning. One thing that I wasn’t aware of….with multiple births instead of the typical 9 month pregnancy, it’s an 8 month pregnancy or at least that’s the hope.

At four months we discovered that she was having 2 girls and 1 boy. I’m sure this was something that made her husband very happy….he finally wasn’t outnumbered with women 🙂

At five months it was discovered that one of the girls was having problems. One of the other babies was stealing her nutrients. So they had to have an emergency surgery to reverse this. This was also something very high risk. Sadly, after about a month she passed away. The incredibly hard part was that Teena found out she had to deliver this baby girl that didn’t make it, but she had to wait to do so until the other babies were born.

They were also worried that she would go into early labor, they needed that babies to stay in her for at last a couple more weeks.

The good news is that they did wait. They were born on August 17th at 12:51am at 2.2 lbs. They are in the NICU and will probably be for about 2 months.  Their names are Ethan Cooper and Arya Delaney.

This is Ethan:

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This is Arya:

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Please keep my niece & nephew in your prayers for continued strength and growth.

Continued Provision

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The way God has continually provided for us in the last two and a half years has totally amazed me.

No matter how much He has provided for us, I always have seemed to doubt his provision, doubt Him. And every time, I feel like He’s nudging me, saying, “Why do you doubt Me? Haven’t I shown you my goodness, my faithfulness?”

And the truth is, yes, He has shown me His faithfulness, numerous times.

It first started with my husband losing his job over 2 years ago, which took with it 75% of our income, with us having over $40,000 in debt. I had not idea how we would make it through with out his income & the debt piling over us. God provided us over and over through that time. He got unemployment for most of it. Also during that time God miraculously provided a way for us to pay off all of our debt. I even mean our car debt. We owe no money on all of our cars. Truly a gift.

Then after him being unemployed for a year and a half , i got a promotion at work, that came along with benefits and all. This was something I had been praying for for over 2 years. God had come through!!!!

Shortly thereafter, Carl lost his unemployment, and I got scared. But then, he got a temporary job. I thought this would finally be the end of the unemployment streak. The very exhausting streak. But then that didn’t last either.

Panic seemed to sink in more now than ever before. What were we gonna do? Our savings was almost depleted and the few credit cards we had were maxed out. How were we going to pull through this? Would God really provide like he had in the past? As much as I tried to believe and have the faith, and believe in His promises…it was such a struggle.

However, he proved his faithfulness all over again. Carl got a job almost immediately. We only went one pay period with out him having a check after the temp job. I was beside myself with excitement, I couldn’t contain the happy tears.

He is truly Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. How can I ever doubt that, again??

 

Trials & Stories

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Lately I have wondered why specific challenges in my life exist. God has been telling me that it’s all because their is a story or testimony there. Something that He will use me to bring Him all the glory. Something He will use me to share with others that will encourage & give hope to them.

Not sure why He chose me for those specific challenges. Why am I the one that has to deal with this? Why do others around me seem to sail through life in these things? Yet, I have to struggle, so that their can be a story there. Did I find that answer? Absolutely not! I don’t know why, all I now is that I was chosen for such a time as this.

What God did answer is this…

Romans 8:18 NKJ…For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJ…For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

1 Peter 1:6,7 NKJ…In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

That my temporary suffering does not even come close to the glory that will be revealed! That our trials show/disclose Jesus Christ & bring Him praise, honor & fame!

While going through these trials or challenges, it often feels like God has left us and not there. It feels like He is not answering our cries.

I came across a great analogy while reading the book, God on Mute, by Pete Greig. I think it would be best to include an excerpt from the book…

“…our baby Daniel contracted chicken pox. I remember all too well his perfect little baby body covered in prickly, red spots. They were even in his mouth and on his eyelids. His temperature soared, his skin itched, he sniveled, and when he sneezed his nose produced number-11 formations of snot that ran in two streaks down his face.

Watching our baby in such distress was painful. I yearned to tell him why he felt so terrible and that he wasn’t going to feel like this for the rest of his life. But, of course, a five-month-old baby can’t understand words, let along the concepts of recovery and immunity. I gave him tepid baths and smeared him in Calamine lotion, but the relief was short-lived. All I could really do to soothe his distress was to hold him and wait out the days.

Pacing the landing and cuddling Danny one night, it occurred to me that perhaps my heavenly Father wanted to do the same thing for me.

…Twenty years from now, Danny will no doubt understand all about chicken pox, and he will probably look back and be glad that he’s had it. When life hurts and we find ourselves trudging to make sense of unanswered prayer, we often wonder why God doesn’t just click His fingers and make everything better. At such times of unknowing when there’s nothing good in the pain and we’re helpless and hopeless as a baby with chicken pox, there is comfort in trusting God to carry us through the turmoil in His arms. We may not be able to understand why He is allowing the situation to continue when He has the power to stop it, but, like Danny crying without comprehension in my arms, we can still trust Abba, Father.”

~God on Mute, by: Pete Greig

I was blown away when I read that. I honestly had never thought of it that way…like a parent that wants to take the pain away and can’t. All they can do is just be there, comfort us, and try and make us feel better. That’s what God is trying to do for us, if only we will allow Him to do so! Wow.

Right now, I will have to endure these trials, but while I do so, I can trust in God, and know that God can carry me through these trials. He ALONE can bring me peace.

In the end, I will have a story to share with others. And this story will bring so much honor and glory to Him!