Monday, March 20, 2017

Why I'm Choosing Joy

 Five weeks ago I returned from a whirlwind weekend of airplane travel and little sleep.  I arrived home filled with exhaustion, nausea, and vertigo.  After some sleep and a few days home I expected it to subside.  When it didn’t I began investigating other causes and discovered I was pregnant.  This was a bit unexpected since we’d chosen to take a break after three heartbreaking losses.  However, while carrying another child isn’t without trepidation, I’ve decided to choose joy throughout this pregnancy. 

Choosing joy isn’t easy.  I fight fear each time I use the bathroom, concerned I might find blood signaling the end of the little life inside of me.  I fight fear whenever I feel a twinge in my abdomen or whenever I mistake indigestion for cramps.  I fight fear daily which is why choosing joy is so important in the weeks leading up to my due date. 

When we feed ourselves with positive thoughts fear has a harder time invading our lives.  I spent twenty years living a life of fear, scared of every little thing.  Most of the time, I wasn’t really living.  In the last five years, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, kicked fear to the curb, and decided to live instead of watching life pass me by.  So even in a difficult situation I have to look for joy or I’ll never have peace.

As I’ve shared the news with friends and family most people have responded positively and with promises of prayers.  They’ve taken the time to see how I’m doing with it emotionally, making sure I’m doing okay.  They’ve taken the time to embrace joy with me.  If you encounter someone experiencing pregnancy after loss, choose joy with them.  The few who have responded with no joy and a large dose of negativity cut me deeply. 

When a woman becomes pregnant, more often than not she begins dreaming of her child and its future.  The few who have responded with no joy, a large dose of negativity, and phrases like, “Wait to see what happens” or “Don’t get your hopes up” are asking me to not only spend time in a fearful and negative place but they’re also robbing this child of my hopes and dreams for them.  Why does this child not deserve its mother’s hopes and dreams?  Because there’s a chance it won’t live?

Franchesca Cox is author of Celebrating Pregnancy Again, a woman who went through a pregnancy after loss.  She writes, “I deserve this.  It is OK to dream.  It is OK to hope.  Pregnancy can and will be beautiful—for as many days as that may be.”

Will this pregnancy make it to October or end in grief?  I do not know.  I do know that at this moment in time there is a child growing inside of me.  Just like with my other four children, I will continue to hope, dream, and pray for the positive rather than dwelling on the possible negative.  This baby’s pregnancy is beautiful—for as many days as that may be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Disowning Jesus

In the book of Exodus when the Israelites are fleeing the Egyptians, they begin to fear for their lives and become upset with Moses for taking them away from their life of slavery into what appears to be certain death.  This is just before God parts the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to escape and the Egyptians to die instead.  Moses has to remind them just Who is fighting on their side.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
                                                                                                ~Exodus 14:13-14~

This was not the first time God had provided miracles for the Israelites and He has performed countless miracles since His people wandered in the desert.  Over and over throughout Scripture, people seem to be on the brink of death or disaster and the Lord comes through and provides.  Over and over in my own life, He has continued to show up and provide miracles.

But I find myself like Peter and the rest of the disciples.  These twelve men were Jesus’ closest friends.  Yet it says in Matthew 26 that Peter disowned Jesus three times as the Lord foretold.

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly.
                                                                                                ~Matthew 26:75~

And when Jesus was arrested, ALL the disciples deserted Him.

…Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
                                                                                                ~Matthew 26:56b~

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus confided to these men He loved that He was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”  He asked Peter, James, and John to keep watch with Him in His despair.  Yet they fell asleep.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
                                                                                                ~Matthew 26:41~

How often do I disown Jesus through my actions?  How often do I fall asleep and fall into temptation when I should be watching and praying instead?  Do I desert Jesus?  I’m sure I have on multiple occasions.  But the beauty of Jesus’ love for us is that no matter how often we disown Him, flee from Him, fall asleep on Him, He still stands up for us, marches up to the cross, stretches out His arms, and dies for us.  That is amazing grace.