Children are a Gift from God Thursday, Oct 21 2010 

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

(Psalm 127)

The message of the Bible, over and over again, is that children are a blessing, a gift from God.

This is incredibly humbling.

The message in our society is that children are things we create, of our own choosing, in our own time.

To realise that God is actually the one who decides (and I’ve heard of enough “oopsie” pregnancies and infertility struggles to know it’s true) just knocks me over!

Sometimes it’s like I’m a petulant child, demanding that I receive my Christmas gifts in August.

“I’m ready for my presents now,” I whine, “They’re mine anyway!”

“It’s not the right time,” says my Father gently.

 

If children are a gift, what right do any of us have to decide when we receive them?

 


Asking for the Wrong Thing Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

I was reading Acts 3:1-10 this morning – it’s the story of Peter and John healing the crippled beggar outside the temple courts.

When I have read this story in the past, I have usually focused in on the man’s reaction to his healing. He goes away walking and praising God (rightfully so).

But this morning I was struck by another aspect of the story.

This man has spent his whole life begging – the passage says he was born a cripple and placed outside the temple every day to beg for money. This is how he survived; he couldn’t do any other kind of work, so he relied on the generosity of others.

When Peter and John come along, not only do they give him their full attention (instead of just ignoring him), they give him something far greater than the money he is begging for. They give him full and complete healing from his crippled condition, in the name of Jesus Christ.

And what strikes me is that perhaps this cripple had been asking for the wrong thing all along. He thought he needed the money just to survive, just to get by and keep living. But what he really needed was healing from his condition. I wonder – he spent his days outside a temple – why did he never think to ask for healing? Perhaps he didn’t realise he needed it. Perhaps he didn’t think it was possible. Perhaps he didn’t think he had a right to ask for it. Or (this one really rings true for me) perhaps it was just too easy to keep going in survival mode.

Reflecting on my own life, I wonder how many times I am asking God for the wrong thing. I am asking him for handouts just to get by and survive – whether that be in my marriage, my work or my daily life. When what God really wants (and what I need) is to have my whole life transformed by the healing only he can bring.

Where am I asking for the wrong thing?

The Christian Life Journey Thursday, Sep 30 2010 

I was thinking this morning about life as a Christian and how it is meant to progress.

I think that we are born sinful, and the depths of our depravity only get worse until salvation. Then I think we should gradually be growing more in holiness, with the help of the Holy Spirit. But we will never reach holiness until we die and are resurrected with Christ.

So that would look something like this:

But a lot of the time it feels more like this:

Often it feels like I’m going down instead of up. Why is this? Is the Holy Spirit ineffective?

I don’t think so. I think that the graph above signifies the struggle between flesh and spirit – the ongoing battle of the Christian life. I guess the determining factor would be that it’s an upward trend, moving towards holiness rather than away from it.

Hello Blogging World! Thursday, Sep 23 2010 

Here I am attempting to blog again. It’s been a while.

Stay tuned!

Truth to Hold Onto Monday, Jan 26 2009 

This song was on the radio tonight on my way home.

I think it was for me.

What If

Jadon Lavik

What if I climbed that mountain
What if I swam to that shore
What if every battle was victorious then would you love me more?
Would you love me more?

What if I were everybody’s first choice
What if I went farther than before
What if I stood high above the rest then would you love me more?
Would you love me more?

You say I belong to You apart from the things I do
You say I belong to You I’m in awe of why You do
Why You do, why You do
I’m in awe of You, ooh

What if I ignored the hand that fed me
What if I forgot to confess
What if I stumbled down that mountain then would you love me less?
Lord would You love me less

What if I were everyone’s last choice
What if I mixed in with the rest
What if I failed what I passed before
then would you love me less Lord would you
would you love me less, oh no oh no oh no

You say I belong to You apart from the things I do
You say I belong to You I’m in awe of why You do
Why You do, why You do
I’m in awe of You, ooh


What have I done to deserve Your son sent to die for me?
What can I give I want to live give me eyes to see
In a world that keeps changin’ there’s one thing that I know is true
Your love is stayin’ there’s nothing else I’ll hold onto

The way You love me, the way You do
The way You do, the way You love me, You love me, You love me
The way You do, the way You do, the way You love me
The way You love, You love, You love

Wedding Planner Sunday, Jan 25 2009 

I’m quite a fan of our wedding planning folder.

wedding-planner-001

It has all our to-do lists, budget outlines, spending records, lot of pictur, ideas, etc.

wedding-planner-002

I love making lists; writing out everything that needs to be done, knowing it’s all down on paper so I can’t forget, the satisfaction of crossing things off when they are completed.

Anytime I have moments of panic about the wedding, I have a flip through the folder and reassure myself that everything is on track.

But I wonder if I am getting a little too caught up in all this.

Have I been neglecting my relationship with Blake to make room for all this planning?

It feels like every time I see him now, I have something “wedding-y” to tell him. Some detail that needs confirming. Some question that needs to be discussed.

It’s not all we talk about, but it does enter every conversation.

I need to be this committed and serious about planning our marriage and, particularly, what it will mean for me to become a wife.

Wouldn’t it be a great investment if I had a folder for “marriage planning”; I could make lists of my personal growth areas, lists of steps I’m going to take to grow, a list of helpful Bible references, ways I can be helpful to Blake in a day-to-day sense.

That would be something which holds value beyond the wedding day.

Pondering Infertility, Part 2 Friday, Jan 16 2009 

I realise it has been a long time since my last post (2 months, I think!). So, if there’s anyone still interested, I’m going to continue where I left off before… :)

At the present time, I am mostly unaware of my endo. Aside from a few scars on my tummy and the odd friend checking that everything has been fine since the hospital visit, I don’t think about it much. Blake and I still talk about our future family as if it’s a sure thing. Sometimes one of us will throw in the comment, “If we can have kids…”

Blake has been so incredibly supportive through the whole thing. We weren’t even engaged when I was diagnosed, so he had every reason to break up with me. He has always assured me that it didn’t change anything between us. And, most importantly, he has always encouraged me to trust God in this.

Facing the prospect of infertility really drives home that it is God who is in control of my reproductive system, not me. When you’re planning your marriage and your family, it’s easy to talk as if these things will happen because we say they will. I’m reminded of this passage:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

It’s total arrogance to think that we can decide when we will have children and how many we will have when we don’t know what the future holds (to clarify: I don’t think it’s arrogant to discuss these things and make plans. In fact, I think it’s wise to do so! What I’m getting at is expecting that we can say in certainty when these things will happen) . Similarly, it’s foolish to wallow in despair about possibilities of childlessness when it is God who plans out lives before they begin!

However, I think another result of facing possible infertility is that hearing about abortion cuts me more deeply. I have become so much more aware of the preciousness of human life. It hurts me that some are so willing to throw away what I am yearning for, and may not be able to have. Don’t they realise what a miracle it is when a child is created?

Having this condition has most certainly affected the way we plan to enter marriage. We have plans to wait for a few years before trying to have children. However, we are willing to be surprised :) And we think it would be best to start our family by the time I am 25 in order to increase our medical chances of falling pregnant. In the meantime, I hope that this causes us to trust in God more and more as we learn to rest in his sovereignty.

Pondering Infertility, Part 1 Tuesday, Oct 28 2008 

I’m going to write about something that has been present now for a while, but I haven’t been sure how I would talk about it or even if I wanted to. Even now, my thoughts are not completely fleshed out, so this is me processing them, to some extent.

I may not be able to have my own children.

As people from my church will know, around March this year, I was in hospital for a short time.

I woke at 4am one Wednesday morning to discover a sharp and growing pain in my abdomen. After an hour of trying to get back to sleep with a hot water bottle, I got someone to take me to the emergency room at RPA.

I knew from the start what it was.

When I was 14, I had the exact same pain in my abdomen. I remember the night – it was cold and late. Mum called the doctor to come to our house after many hours and multiple painkillers had not even touched the agony I was in. By the time he got there, I was writhing around on the floor, clutching my stomach. He gave me a needle in the arm and the pain eased slightly.

I went through months of testing and going to see specialist doctors and having them speculate about a “niggling apendix”. Finally, my GP gave me a “maybe” conclusion about an ovarian cyst. He put me on the Pill and said if that fixed the pain, then that’s probably what it was.

Move forward five years – I’m 19, starting to think seriously about getting married and the baby-making that comes with it. I asked my GP if being on the Pill for a long time would create a greater risk of infertility. He said all tests have been inconclusive.

Well, that was enough to have me worried. He said I should try going off the Pill and wait for 2-3 cycles to see if the pain came back.

So when, in the middle of my 3rd cycle off the Pill, the doctors were talking about apedicitis and urinary tract infection, I wasn’t really taking it seriously. But I was kind of hoping it was something like that; something easy to fix.

I remember being asked if I was sexually active (“So you’ve never had sex? Are you sure?”). Being asked if I was sexually active after my friends were asked to leave. Being lectured about chlamydia.

I was a bit confused about what was going on during my time in hospital. On the first day, an ultrasound revealed some free fluid around my appendix, which is indicative of appendicitis, but it wasn’t at all swollen.

Then, when they discovered the cyst, I had different people tell me different things. Some said an easy operation would take care of the cyst once and for all while another doctor laughed at me when I asked if I would need surgery.

For most of the first day I was in there, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, because I was on morphine, which can make you quite nauseous. When they finally said I could eat something, my dear Blake walking into Newtown to get me pad thai, which I had been craving. But by the time he got back, the thought of it was making me sick. Even the smell of the food meant he couldn’t eat his there with me.

They decided to have me stay in hospital for another day, just to make sure the pain was getting less.

On the afternoon of the second day, when the pain was still making its prescence known, they rushed me into theater to “check that one of my ovaries wasn’t black and dead” and to remove the cyst while they were at it.

I was happy the cyst was going, but not so happy at the prospect one of my ovaries might have carked it.

I remember the doctor, a tall Russian woman, explaining to me that even if one of my ovaries had died, I still had good chances of conceiving. I remember signing a document to say that I understood the risks of surgery.

The whole concept was foreign to me at the time. It hadn’t crossed my mind that I might suffer some permanent damage from the whole schmozzle. They were supposed to fix me and send me home. So I was rushed into surgery in a bit of shock and not really having time to ponder the whole thing.

(As a side note: I really hate surgery. I hate having to take off all my clothes and put on that flimsy little gown, knowing that as soon as I’m knocked out, they’re going to whip it off. My stomach turned months later when I read in a procedural report on my operation, “feet in stirrups”…)

Some people from Flo had come to visit me right about the time I got out of surgery. Since I was rushed in, not many people knew about the operation until afterwards. These people didn’t.

I was still really groggy from the anesthetic. I recall saying something about whether they wanted to see my cuts, and then immediately realising how stupid I sounded.

I think it was later that afternoon, or perhaps the next day, that my doctor came and spoke to me about the operation.

I don’t remember much about what she said. I do remember her showing me pictures of my insides and of the cyst they had taken out. I was shocked at how it looked. A doctor had told me from the ultrasound that it was 5 centimetres in diameter. But in the photo it was a huge silver ball, lodged in the pink fleshiness of my abdomen.

My ovaries were fine. But there was something else. While they were removing the cyst they had found some endometriosis. There were more pictures. More fancy medical talk. Explanations and possibilities.

And then I was left on my own to digest what I had been told. Endometriosis (endearingly known as “endo” by those who have the condition) is the growth of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) on areas outside the uterus. It grows during ovulation, stimulated by the hormones. In bad cases, in can cause miscarriages and infertility (it is the second leading cause of infertility in women) and in good cases, there is mild pain.

More thoughts to come…

Strength to Love Friday, Oct 24 2008 

God’s been teaching me the importance of relying on him, for everything, in prayer.

I’ve seen this clearly in my relationship with Blake (a tool that God has consistently used to sharpen me!).

Let me admit something to you: it’s not always easy to love Blake. And I’m not just talking about feeling in love with him. I mean loving him in my attitude, actions and words.

Sometimes I get the impression (from resources on marriage) that all engaged couples see each other with rose-coloured glasses and are blind to one another’s flaws. Well, it hasn’t really ever been that way with Blake and I. From the start, Blake has been insistent about the idea that one of God’s purposes for our relationship is to grow each other as Christians (iron sharpens iron). So we’ve never really been all that “lovey-dovey”.

(Okay, maybe sometimes.

Love you more times infinity plus one…)

Since engagement, I’ve realised a few things about love: it’s not loving to grit my teeth and say the right things while harbouring bitterness, it’s not loving to put on a “mood” just because I’ve been hurt and my hurt feelings/self-esteem are not the best judge of whether an issue is worth raising.

Thus it has become a lot harder to love Blake sometimes.

But God is faithful and always waiting to give his grace and strength to those who need it.

That’s me! I need it!

There have been so many times lately when I’ve run to God in desperation asking for more patience, more kindness, more tenderness of heart; asking him to flush the sin out of my heart with his cleansing water once more; begging him to give me another chance to do the right thing; asking him for forgiveness.

As I look forward to a lifetime with Blake, it’s such a relief to know that God will always be there. Indeed, that my relationship with him is above all others. It gives me the strength to love Blake knowing that I am loved perfectly by my father in heaven.

Unimpressive preachers Wednesday, Oct 8 2008 

We started looking at Titus (chapter 1) at God in the Loft today, which was somewhat about the qualities required in church leaders.

It got me thinking a bit about what I tend to look for in a church leader. I think we are all naturally drawn to the more charismatic types of leaders. They know how to speak well and they are easy to listen to.

I have heard people comment often that someone is unfit to be a pastor if they can’t speak in an engaging manner. I always agreed.

But today I was reflecting a bit more on some of my favourite preachers, who I almost discredited to begin with because they aren’t all that impressive in person. (I won’t name them because I don’t think anyone wants to be known as “unimpressive”, but just to clarify, I’m not talking about the preachers at my church.)

They weren’t charismatic and they didn’t have engaging voices.

However, over time I have come to respect and admire them because they teach the solid truth and their lives reflect Christ. These men are some of my favourite preachers now because, although they don’t wow me with their amazing public speaking skills, I can rely on them to preach the gospel and to live lives of integrity that demonstrate that gospel.

I am reminded that some people thought Paul was pretty unimpressive in person, and he himself acknowledged that he was not a good speaker by worldly standards. What made him such an effective minister of Christ was that everything he taught was based on the gospel.

So I’m wondering if sometimes we hold unrealistic expectations of our church leaders. I think we would do well to patiently listen to them and see if what they are teaching is the gospel, rather than putting so much weight on their preaching style.

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