As I was doing my scripture reading this morning, still a bit bleary-eyed and not yet to the end of my first cup of coffee, those two little words jumped out at me. The context was Ephesians Chapter 2. The Apostle Paul spends the first three verses talking about how the church members lived before they found Christ. It was a dark and desperate place, not filled with a lot of hope. What comes after those two words is a picture of light and comfort and hope.
And I got to thinking about how many of life’s hardships and difficult circumstances can be interrupted with that phrase.
Life is hard sometimes, BUT GOD sustains and strengthens us.
The future looks scary and bleak, BUT GOD has plans to benefit us and give us a hopeful future.
We feel exhausted and beyond weary, BUT GOD promises to give us rest and a renewed spirit.
You may be grieving and broken-hearted, BUT GOD will give you joy for mourning and bind up your broken heart.
This situation looks impossible, BUT GOD says nothing is impossible for Him.
It’s such a simple phrase, but such a powerful reminder.
Thank you for the wonderful truth of your Word, and for the promises it contains. Promises for provision, and for rest, and for hope for the future. Thank you for your Son, who shed His precious blood so that I could be forgiven and adopted into your family. Thank you for the privilege of coming boldly before your throne, calling you Father and bringing all of my cares and burdens to lay before you. And thank you that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are praying for me, even when I don’t have the strength to pray for myself.
Lord, Jesus said that the weary should come to him and He would give them rest. I need that rest today, Lord, and that’s why I’ve come before you. Today I name ALL of my fears and doubts, along with all of the burdens that my soul is so tired of carrying, and I cast them before you, laying them down at your altar. Please remove the weight of these burdens from me and help me resist the temptation to pick them back up again, but to leave them with you, trusting that you are far more able to deal with them than I am.
Help me to have confidence in the promises that are written in your Word, and to trust with all my heart that you keep your promises. Teach me to put my confidence and hope fully in you and to fully trust the plans you have for me–plans for my benefit and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope.
Lord, please teach me to wisely discern my part in your plan, to recognize what is truly my responsibility to take care of. Help me not to overburden myself by taking on burdens that don’t belong to me, and to realize that when I do, I make myself unavailable for the tasks and opportunities you have just for me. Help me to remember that when I try to do everything, I also deprive other people of opportunities to serve and receive blessing. Teach me to let youestablish the work of my hands, and to trust that what you give me is enough.
Finally, Father, please help me remember that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all to you. You don’t love me because of the size of my To Do list or how many items I’m able to check off each day. You love me simply because I’m your daughter, and because of this I can trust you to provide for me, and to carry me when I’m too tired to walk. Help me to find moments to simply be still and know that you are God, and that I can safely lean into you and let you orchestrate the details of my life.
Thank you for loving me, Lord.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30 (NIV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Cor. 4:16
The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23 (NLT – emphasis added)
Even to your old age and gray airs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – Isaiah 46:4
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will upold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
In repentance and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength. …The Lord longs to be gracious to you. – Isaiah 30:15b, 18 (emphasis added)
September is, among other things, PCOS Awareness Month. So I thought I’d break from the routine today to resurrect a (slightly modified) post from my old Blogger blog, originally posted in September of 2011.
There’s a meme currently making the rounds on Facebook, supposedly in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in which women are being encouraged to post fake, coy pregnancy announcements in the form of “I’m (the number of your birth month) and craving (an item of food on a list that corresponds with your birth day),” without offering further explanation. This is, somehow, supposed to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of backlash. Men are annoyed at being intentionally left out, and rightly so, seeing as how breast cancer affects them, too, both directly and indirectly. My friend Erin Palette points out that it’s time to give equal attention to other more common and deadlier types of cancer that nevertheless hardly receive any media attention. And then there’s the Infertility/Recurrent Pregnancy Loss crowd, of whom I’m a member, who finds this meme, at best, insensitive, and at worst, downright hurtful. Others have expounded on the reasons why far more eloquently than I can, and if you’re wondering, then I encourage you to read those posts.
I admit that when I got the memo encouraging me to participate in the meme, I felt a little hurt and annoyed. I thought about how great it would make all of the friends and family feel, who’ve been hoping and praying for me to have a healthy pregnancy, to see me post something like that only to turn around and tell them, “Just kidding!” But mostly I felt bewildered, because, what does pretending you’re pregnant have to do with breast cancer, exactly? And also, Breast Cancer Awareness Month isn’t until October.
This month, September, is actually PCOS Awareness Month. If you’ve been paying attention to this blog for very long at all, then you know that this is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is the reason all of those people are praying for me. It’s most likely the reason neither of my previous pregnancies made it to the end of the first trimester[*]. It’s the reason I’m terrified of even trying to get pregnant again until I lose enough weight to cure my insulin resistance. It’s also the reason that there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to get pregnant again once we do start trying, or that it will happen quickly or without difficulty and a lot of heartache.
In the interest of doing something that actually raises awareness about a cause, here are a few facts about PCOS:
It’s a disorder that affects approximately five to ten percent of all women.
It’s one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
It’s closely linked with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Those with PCOS who do manage to get pregnant face an increased risk of miscarriage, most likely due to said insulin resistance.
It can be diagnosed at any phase of life and is not limited to women of child-bearing age.
Common symptoms of PCOS include:
Irregular periods, or no periods
Acne, especially at an age where acne isn’t a common affliction
Excess hair growth on the face and body
Unruptured follicles, or cysts, on the ovaries
Despite the name of the disorder, ovarian cysts aren’t always present and aren’t necessary for a diagnosis. Generally, three or more symptoms are enough for a diagnosis.
There is no known cure for PCOS. Currently, the only known medical treatment for PCOS is the birth control pill, which is not exactly helpful for those with the disorder who want to get pregnant. Fortunately, however, studies have shown that treating the related insulin resistance through a healthy, low-glycemic diet and regular exercise, or even with medications such as Metformin, can serve to lessen the severity of PCOS symptoms, and has even resulted in healthy pregnancies in women who have been prone to miscarriage.
If you’d like more information on PCOS, or if you think you or a loved one might suffer from this disorder, or for information on treating the disorder, please check out the following links:
*I’ve since discovered that the most likely culprit was a thrombophilia (i.e, blood clotting) disorder, but controlling my blood sugar will still be a vital component of a successful pregnancy.
I would also like to add that women with PCOS are more likely to also have a thyroid disorder and gluten resistance, and also have a greater chance of developing Type II diabetes and heart disease if it goes untreated. And while taking the birth control pill can help regulate your cycles and give you easier periods, it does nothing to treat the underlying condition.
And here’s a good news update: Earlier this summer, my husband and I made the decision for me to stop taking the birth control pill and switch to a natural family planning method (specifically the one detailed in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler), prompted by concerns about side-effects and health risks associated with long-term use of the pill. I was concerned that once I went off the pill my cycles would once again be all over the map, but I’m happy to say that so far, they’ve been pretty regular for the first time in my life–which tells me that the changes I made in my diet and lifestyle are working.
For more information about controlling PCOS through diet and lifestyle, I highly recommend both PCOS Diva and PCOS Diet Support. Both sites offer a number of paid resources like ready-made PCOS-friendly meal plans and online courses, but they also both contain a lot of free information and resources.
Personally, I’ve checked out some of the sample meal plans and found them too complicated for my lifestyle, so I just sort of do my own thing by following Zone diet principles, avoiding gluten and dairy as much as I can, and incorporating PCOS-friendly foods as much as possible. In addition to regular cycles, I’ve also noticed other improvements, such as increased energy and the near-elimination of my acne.
If you meet any of the criteria listed above, please talk to your doctor about the possibility of PCOS. This is serious stuff that affects far more than your reproductive health, but as you can see by my example, it’s completely manageable if you’re willing to make some lifestyle changes.
P.S. – Once again I’m linking up with Holley Gerth. Check out her post for more encouragement and “Coffee for Your Heart.”
It’s happening again. Life has stalled. Doors that I thought were a sure thing are closing–or are being super slow to open–and provision has slowed to a trickle.
Freelancing has always been a feast or famine endeavor. In the six years I’ve been doing it, we’ve had no shortage of opportunities to trust God just to get us through the month. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, holding tightly to God for dear life way to live.
And I can’t say He’s never let us fall.
A few years ago, our provision was almost completely cut off as every single one of my income streams stopped earning. Only for a couple of months, but that was enough to stir up a lot of stress and anxiety. It also woke us up to spiritual complacency, misplaced hope and areas that needed work.
It started my journey to understanding that I try to do too much on my own, that I can be impatient and controlling, and that I needed to learn to surrender, to wait, to be still and trust.
It’s a lesson I’m still learning.
So here we are as I seem to be getting yet another exercise in trusting that God’s in control. That He has a plan and is at work in my life even when I can’t see it. That it’s not my job to fix everything.
It’s not always easy. I’m not sure it’s ever really easy. Last week it was especially hard. Hormones were bubbling up and bringing emotions to the boiling point, and I wasn’t sleeping well. I was tired in body and soul and as I looked back, trying to see the ways He’s come through and proven His promises, all I could see were the times it seemed like He’d let go and let me fall. The time my business failed and my books stopped selling and we couldn’t buy groceries or make the house payment. The times He allowed my babies to die. All the closed doors, all the apparent NOs in answer to my prayers.
It’s so easy, sometimes, to get blinded by the big disappointments, the big NOs, and miss the small yeses, the little blessings, the quiet moments of grace that get us through those things.
When I looked more closely, I remembered how we had just enough food in the pantry to get us through those lean weeks; how the mortgage company not only didn’t take our house but worked with us to lower our payment; how I experienced His peace like never before in the wake of my miscarriages, and how He’s given me a heart to minister to other women who go through that.
Even now, as business is slow and things look uncertain, He keeps coming through with just what we need at just the right time.
That’s the key: at just the right time.
Today my husband and I are celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary. I didn’t meet Matt until I was 31. Before him I’d never even had a boyfriend. I had given up on the thought of ever finding someone to spend my life with.
But God didn’t.
And although these nine years have been wonderful overall, there were times early on that weren’t so wonderful, when we faced bumps in the road that looked like mountains, and I wasn’t sure we’d make it past them. But we did. God gave us what we needed to traverse those bumps, and when I look back it’s so amazing to see how far we’ve come together, and exciting to think about how far we’ve yet to go.
That’s the God I’m trusting. That’s where I’m putting my hope.
At times like these, when the waiting is so hard and I can’t imagine what God has in store for us, I think about Joseph. I’m sure it wasn’t part of his life plan to get sold into slavery by his brothers, or to get put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And as he spent all those years in prison, never losing his faith, trusting all the while that God had a purpose for his life, I’m sure it never even crossed his wildest imaginings that his deliverance would involve him becoming the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.
God might let us fall sometimes, but He won’t let us be hurled headlong. He might appear distant, but He’s there, working all things together for our good. Sometimes to reach His best we have to go through times that seem like the absolute worst.
But His best is coming, and it will arrive at just the right time. Nothing I can do will make it get here any faster. My only job is to wait, and trust. To lean into Him and believe with all my heart that He’s a loving Father who knows how to care for His children.
P.S. – Once again I’m linking up with Holley Gerth. Check out her post for more encouragement and “Coffee for Your Heart.”
A while back, God planted the seeds of a new dream in my heart, and it’s been slowly growing and taking form ever since. That dream? To use all of the writing, editing and publishing skills and knowledge I’ve built up over the years to help women who feel called to minister and share their stories via the written word discover their voice, hone their writing skills, choose their publishing path and accomplish their dreams.
I’ve built up a considerable knowledge-base and skill set over the years. I’ve been writing since I was a kid and helping others make their writing better for the past 15 years. Since launching my professional editing services last year, I targeted primarily secular fiction writers, but then God surprised me by sending me one Christian non-fiction project after another.
I was already beginning to wonder whether I should make that the primary focus of my services, when I was led to a comment section on an inspirational blog in which women were talking about how they wanted to write their testimonies or start a ministry blog but didn’t feel their writing was up to par.
That’s when this dream really started to take hold and grow.
Today I’m stepping out and launching what I hope is the first step in achieving that vision: a writing coach program geared specifically toward helping Christian women grow as writers.
For those who feel the nudge to minister via fiction or non-fiction, via book or blog, to share their testimonies or encourage and exhort others through devotionals or teach and instruct, this monthly program can help you get started and provide guidance for as long as you need it.