Sunday, February 22, 2009

Asking for Prayer

I have a chronic illness that stems back to a virus I had as a child and the acute onset of additional complications my freshman year of college. I've lived my entire adult life battling pain and debilitating fatigue and a range of other symptoms, but some seasons are better than others. At my worst I spent 2 years nearly entirely bedridden, so I am very thankful for every day I can get out of bed and function at a reasonably normal level.
Having said that, I am going through a pretty rough season right now and could use some extra encouragement and prayers. I am seeing a wonderful doctor (one of the world's leading specalists in his field!) and am receiving the most in depth care I've had in 20 years. I am very thankful!
But my current treatments are taking a toll on me and I'm struggling physically at a level I haven't faced on a daily basis in several years. My doctor had warned me that this 6 weeks of treatment could make me feel a lot worse before I started seeing any benefits, and for the first 2 weeks I thought I had gotten off pretty easily. But the harder parts hit with vengance a few days ago and I know I still have 3 1/2 weeks ahead of me for this particular treatment.

Thank you for your prayers. I am striving to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12). These struggles, while seemingly all-consuming to me in the midst of them, are truly "light and momentary" (2 Corinthians 4:17) in the grand scope of eternity and even God's plan for my life here and now! Even so, I can so easily loose sight of God's grace and mercy and start down the path of self-pitty when I know that choosing joy is the better path on all counts! So your prayers are a blessing and I humbly ask you to uphold me before the Lord at this time, yes, for physical endurance and even healing if it is the Lord's good pleasure to grant this blessing. But most of all I ask your prayers that my heart would remain right before Him in the midst of this current struggle and that I would continue feeding on the joy of the Lord.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What Consumes Me

Last night (evening before Valentine's Day) I had the pleasure of sharing a little bit at a women’s event. It was a diverse mixture of women in attendance: married, divorced, singles, moms, those without children, those who had lost children...

I wore a red turtleneck sweater. Over the sweater I wore a beautiful, large crystal-cut heart necklace. Under my sweater, unseen by anyone, I wore a second heart necklace, one of solid metal and inscribed with the words of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

We started by talking about thoughts that came to mind when hearing the words “consume” or “consumed". Answers varied from eating and drinking to living in a “consumer-driven” society where we practices "consumerism" of material goods. I then asked for input about what kinds of things we can be consumed by or that consumes us. The first answer was “fire,” followed by more of an understanding of what I was getting at: all-consuming goals, passions, ideas, anger, fear, etc.

I then pointed to my crystal necklace and talked about the ways we can strive to look beautiful on the outside and reflect a good image to the world around us, just like the facets on this necklace reflect beautiful colors and light. To look at most of us you might think that we “have it all together.” But if I take off my necklace (as I did while saying these words) and hold it off by itself, we can see that all that beauty is just outward and that inside there is nothing there but plain glass. Sometime what we portray to the world is simply a disguise for the fragile emptiness we are feeling inside.

We all have different heartaches. Yours may be longing for someone to love or be loved by. It may be seeking fulfillment in an unfulfilling job. It might be trying to make your body look differently than it does in order to fill that void in you heart. For me it was a combination of infertility and losses, along with chronic health issues, that lead me to the point of desperation and even contemplating suicide. No one could see that lonely emptiness inside, but I knew it was there. I was consumed by the pursuit of motherhood and my feelings of failure as a woman because I couldn't get there. The heartache and grief consumed me every day and I felt abandoned by God because it seemed that He didn't even care.

But thankfully how I may "feel" about God doesn't dictate reality. Lamentations chapter 3 is a long book of heartache about all the things this author suffered. But hidden right in the midst of his complaints, he dramatically shifts gears for a few verses and boldly proclaims, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." While I was busy feeling overlooked by Him, He had already been going out of His way to prove the opposite to me.

What is the value of something? It isn't really the cost of an item as much as it is what someone is really willing to pay. There are many things I don't buy because the price tag is higher than I feel the value to be. But God placed the ultimate value on me when He choose to pay the price of His son's life to prove His love for me! Many of us know the verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God made this verse very personal to me in the midst of infertility when I realized that "God so longs to call me His daughter that He allowed the death of His only biological son to pay the price of my adoption."

If you are feeling empty and fragile and wondering about God's love for you, He has already proven it better than any knight in shining armor ever could. John 15:13 is engraved on this necklace (as I pull the second necklace out of its hiding place and let it rest outside my sweater) and states that "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Just like this necklace is strong and solid and full of meaning, when I put my hope in God and trust Him at His word even when I don't "feel" Him there, He fills that empty place in my heart with hope.

” Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness…
For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.“

-Lamentations3:21-23, 3:31-32 (NIV)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian Infertility Support Retreat

Event: Hannah's Prayer Retreat
Date: Fri, May 01, 2009 - Sun, May 03, 2009
Place: Cincinnati, OH
Details: This retreat is for married women who have experienced infertility, pregnancy loss, or infant death. Join other sisters in Christ who know the pain these experiences bring, and be encouraged together to look to Christ for hope and healing.

Location: Sheraton Cincinnati Airport Hotel, 2826 Terminal Drive, Hebron, KY 41048

Cost: $200 per person for event, hotel, and all meals. $65 per person local option for event and Friday dinner only.

Speaker: Ginger Garrett, author of several books, including Moments for Couples Who Long for Children and Beauty Secrets of the Bible.

The theme is "Beautiful in His Sight." Through worship, prayer, encouraging messages, various workshops, and fun & fellowship, we hope to strengthen our relationship with Christ and one another and be reminded that even though our bodies don't work the way they're "supposed to" and our lives are not turning out as we'd planned, we are precious and beautiful and loved by the Lord, and He has a great plan for our lives, whether He sends us children or not.

God brings beauty from the ashes in our journey!

For more information or to register, please visit Hannah's Prayer Ministries at