motherhood

heartsickness

DISCLAIMER: This post discusses pregnancy loss.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Somewhere around every 27 days, I recite this verse to myself. Once again, I’ve foolishly purchased one of those one dollar pregnancy tests. I watch the pink dye run across the strip and settles on only one line.

I put it away for five minutes, hoping maybe at least a squinter line will appear.

Stark white. Negative.

I stare at it for a long time hoping to see something. Yes, I’ve had four pregnancies and three living children. I know you’re not supposed to do that.

But wait. Maybe? 🤷‍♀️

*sigh*

Okay.

At least I have three kids. At least I don’t have to worry about getting fat this month. At least I don’t have to freak over miscarrying again.

And maybe I’m done. Maybe my uterus is broken. Maybe I’m such a bad mom to my living kids that another baby would be a bad idea.

At least. Maybe.

As well intentioned as the words are, I hate them.

Trying to have a baby after a miscarriage is different than it was with the others. For starters, all my husband had to do was look at me a certain way and I got pregnant. I had perfect pregnancies with no complications and easy births. When I got pregnant a fourth time, it was a no brainer that all would be well.

But it wasn’t. The mere knowledge that my body betrayed me was a shock. It actually happened to me.

For a while, I said I was done. Experiencing that sadness was nothing I’d like to repeat. Or the turmoil of wondering if the pregnancy was viable. The emotional rollercoaster.

No thanks.

That’s not to say I didn’t want to try again, but I just didn’t have it in me.

After almost a year, the Lord began asking me to trust Him with it. If I’m honest, He wanted my trust with everything. And y’all know this control freak will be spending the rest of her life learning to yield that trust, but nevertheless He has asked me to.

With the future. With my marriage. With my kids. With my past hurts. With my spiritual life. With ministry. With finances.

A baby.

I see babies on a fairly consistent basis and some days it wrecks my heart, because my baby isn’t here with me. I wonder what he might have been like (I believe he was a boy even though it was too early to tell) and what life would be like. There is somewhat of a gaping hole that even another child can’t fill.

But I do desire another baby. There’s no denying it. No matter how scared I am or what the future holds, my desire is to carry another baby and raise him or her alongside my other children.

Month after month, God has said no. Or wait. Or maybe the science just wasn’t quite right that time. I’ve gotten angry, cried, and then rested on His shoulder with nothing short of surrender to His plan. In spite of disappointment and heartache, there is peace and comfort. He has a plan and He knows what’s best.

I’m going to be honest … I don’t know if I’ll miscarry again. Many women suffer one loss and go on to have healthy pregnancies. Some don’t. Some suffer many losses. I don’t know if I can do it again. Who can though?

I’m trusting Him even in spite of my fear. I’m trusting that even if the worst happens, He will not leave me.

Even if there are no more babies in His plan, I’ll trust He will give me the peace I need to be okay with that.

I hold to this verse as I wait for my answer. The hopelessness of yet another negative test makes my heart sink to my toes. The complexity of my desire mixed with fear overwhelms me. It’s almost too much to bear sometimes, but I’m trusting I’ll receive an answer.

I’m trusting He hears every prayer.

And His Spirit comforts me with these words in a whisper.

“But when the desire cometh …”

I don’t know what you’re praying for, but don’t lose hope. Waiting for an answer is long and tedious. Sometimes what we seek is complicated, mixed with uncertainty and fear. Keep bringing your requests to Him and trusting His timing and plan. This time of waiting is an opportunity to grow your faith in Him.

Waiting hurts, but I’ve known the joy of when the answers come. It’s worth it.

God is good.

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Brain Dump

Rant/Praises/Preaching to Myself

This falls under the category “brain dump” because I did not edit this and I just wanted to share a bunch of stuff on my heart. Feel free to share your heart with me as well.

My deodorant smells like whiskey. I kept getting this huge whiff of whiskey the other day, but I haven’t touched the stuff since I first got married (10 years ago). Turns out … it’s the same deodorant I’ve been using forever. Either I’m going crazy or they changed their scent.

No. I’m not pregnant.

I wish man.

Anyway.

I shared a couple of months ago that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy, has recovered beautifully, and was released by her surgeon earlier this week. Her lymph nodes also came back clear.

After her first visit with her oncologist, she found out she needs four rounds of chemo. The lingo is kind of over my head, but because of the hormone receptor numbers … they need to do treatment to make sure there are no lingering cells. At least that’s what I took away from it.

A cancer diagnosis is way beyond … “you’ve got cancer.” There’s so much that go into determining treatment.

My mama is tired! Don’t get me wrong. This woman amazes me with her faith in God, courage, and grace. She’s incredible. And God has been faithful to walk beside her. But she’s tired! You know? And I know chemo was the last thing on her mind … as everything had already come out so well.

The fight isn’t over and I’m ready to be her prayer warrior and support as she needs it. I just ask that y’all pray for her with her job situation and for grace as her body undergoes these treatments.

It seems so many are going through this right now. A good friend’s little cousin has bone cancer and needs chemo and surgery. Another old family friend recently found out she has brain cancer. My cousin’s sweet baby girl was born and was having some issues with her heart. (All is well thank the Lord!)

These situations have ONLY proven to me that God has been faithful. I’ve watched people receive the worst news and with tears in their eyes they bless His name. They rejoice. And they move forward with their hand in His.

Life is tough and it’s scary, man. And I believe as the time for Christ to call the church out draws closer, it’s going to get crazier.

My flesh, my nature says to hide under a rock! Y’all just call me when it’s time to come home!

But God desires more for His children. He desires for us to have victory over fear, sin, worry, trials, and so on. Sometimes we are brought to our knees so His strength is magnified. Sometimes these things happen to build the faith of those watching and for the lost to see that He’s REAL!

And those ARE the sweetest moments. Truly.

To navigate these difficult roads is more than a trip to the altar or a tearful song. We need to be in His Word, in His presence, and around His people. Only a personal walk with Him can bring praise to our lips in spite of many tears. This will build our faith even in the moments that rock our world.

I’ve seen my God do amazing things. I’ve seen Him remove tumors, heal people of hopeless diagnoses, and give amazing peace when healing meant going home. He’s an amazing God, He’s in control, and He is able.

I’ve witnessed His grace even when He said no. Even when I felt that searing pain of losing a pregnancy and still feel it … and I can trust Him with every broken piece of my heart and every tear.

Maybe I’m just preaching to myself today and that’s okay. My husband jokes that I preach to him at least a couple of times a week. HA! Sometimes we need to be our own personal preacher in these crazy moments to remind us of the Truth and to encourage ourselves.

If you’re in the thick of it right now and need prayer or know someone who does, leave a comment. I want to pray together!

life lessons

Serving in Solitude

It’s been a while since I created a “real” blog post. I frequently do mini-posts on Coffee & Grace’s Facebook and IG, but sitting down to make content for the site is definitely more time consuming. I would like to become more consistent with that this year. Life as a wife, mom, and whatever other hat I’m wearing that day can be busy! But I love to write, I love to blog, and I love the little community that is beginning to form here.

With all of that said, I’ll break my silence with an uncensored, ugly truth.

During discipleship class last week, my pastor’s wife was teaching a lesson on Christian liberty. One of the questions she asked was, “has your legalism ever kept any of you from ministering?”

My answer is one I’m ashamed of, but I’ve resolved to be transparent with my church family and the readers of this blog. I’ve decided it’s time to be real.

The short answer? Yes. I’ve made ministry more about my standards and preferences and less about Christ and others.

I’ve served in church for several years and have developed very few friendships. I could say that people weren’t friendly or I never fit in. I don’t know – I think all have probably felt that way even in the healthiest churches at times. (Especially when you’re an awkward introvert like me.) But God isn’t concerned with them. He wants me to learn from my mistakes.

The ugly truth is … I thought I was too good for many of them.

When I walked through the church doors, I flaunted myself on a higher spiritual plane than those around me. I was there to help them out. There were some ladies in church who felt it was okay to wear pants to church and some who had no conviction against tattoos. There were singers and musicians who loved newer contemporary songs. There were some who didn’t have the same “Baptist” background my husband was raised in and with which we agreed. The fundy in me believed I needed to be set apart from them. I looked down on them.

(By the way, I wore pants to church Wednesday and sang a congregational song I know was written in the last 10 years. My statement there was not bashing people who do those things. Or those who don’t!)

I was nice, I think. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t like these people. But if a person didn’t think exactly as I did, I didn’t want to get close to them or share a real friendship with them. I only wanted to be around those of the same persuasion as myself. We may have had Christ and many fundamentals of the faith in common, but many of the outward standards (which I had no Bible to back up) needed to be in common as well.

I got close to a select few, but everyone else was at arm’s length. They were discarded into the “less spiritual, less committed” pile which I used to elevate myself on.

I isolated myself in a solitary bubble, away from the actual ministering God called me to.

And man, I missed it.

I missed it big time. The opportunity to get into life with people and learn from them, love them, and walk alongside them … it just went over my head.

Because … what is ministry? Is it parading around my holiness for everyone? Is it sitting in the church pew? Is it admiring the preacher or the singers? Is it suits and ties and a beautiful building? NO. Ministry is where we work together, edify, and strengthen for the greater cause – the Gospel of Christ. Its when we lift another brother up who has fallen or is struggling in their faith. It’s when we look at the displaced and discarded with compassion, loving on them. It’s giving help to the needy both in the spiritual and physical sense. It’s when we remember where God brought us from and desire that others don’t stay there! It’s giving our life to Christ, because He gave His for us!

It’s like I completely forgot everything God had saved me from as well as what He has called me unto.

There are no hard feelings toward anyone my past church experiences. Looking back, I think about so many sweet people who had an earnest desire to serve. But I can’t say many people knew me or I really knew them. I just couldn’t get past myself or my opinion of how others should be.

Several years of my life were spent chasing rainbows and trying to force doors open … and the moments of actually “being the church” were sparse. It’s so sad, because living in a bubble is not at all what God wants for us.

In the last chapters of the Pauline Epistles, you’ll notice Paul mentioning many names. He salutes them; declaring his appreciation, respect, and fondness for them. Each of these people were people who he had served along side and grown in Christ with. He learned from them and they learned from him. Paul’s example of Christian service was not a life of solitude. He didn’t escape to some commune with only those who were likeminded. He served alongside the brethren.

And we know he witnessed many disagreements! 1 Corinthians chapter 3 where he mentions some were of Paul and some of Apollos – basically, each group gravitated toward a different leader and argued over who was right/better. He discussed in Romans 15 how some brothers would eat herbs and others would eat meat, but that the stronger would not be a stumblingblock to his weaker brother. There will be times when we serve among those who don’t share the same convictions or preferences we do. God did not create us as robots. He gave each individual unique gifts, talents, and experiences to use for His glory. There are also some with stronger weaknesses. Part of serving together in unity is learning to respect differences and learning to love in spite of them.

Don’t get me wrong. The Bible is still clear on sin, how to deal with sin with another brother, and we need to hold fast to those truths. But when it comes to the petty churchy-ness of the modern day American church, we’re missing it.

Or at least I know I did.

We need to quit being so divided over silly disagreements and get into life with one another. We need to get our eyes off of ourselves and try to learn from one another, build each other up, and sharpen each other. I believe my service during that time would have been so different (and not the train wreck it was) had I just gotten ahold of that.

Because really … I’m no one special. I was riding my high horse, but those folks knew how to get ahold of God. They knew how to get in their Bible. They got excited to serve and do even the smallest things for God. They just so happened to not always look like a cookie cutter believer. And I was still stuck on making that the measuring stick of spirituality.

Legalism is the antithesis of a God-honoring ministry. Legalism destroys. It kills churches, homes, and relationships in which God blessed us with. It isolates people from seeing the beauty in others and their diverse gifts. Because … it’s all about Jesus. It’s about His Word.

We’re ministering for Him. We are serving for Him. We are coming together for Him. But the modern day church has turned it into a show, a routine, and so many lost and wayward folks walk away empty.

So many saints walk away misunderstanding the church’s purpose.

I’m left with lyrics to a song which I would not have been caught dead singing two years ago. But it truly speaks to my heart and where I am today. I’m ashamed of the way I used to view ministry, but I’m so grateful God gently broke me to show the truth.

I pray in spite of my ugly truth, you can walk away encouraged to make ministry and Christian service less about you, your standards, or preferences … and make it all about Him.

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come

Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m comin’ back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus

I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus

The King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve

Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath

Be blessed.