Before the years are gone and I've lost my nerve...

'Cause this is what I've waited for..

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All it took was one question.  I wasn't prepared for it and even though it wasn't directed at me, I couldn't react.  I just turned around and walked away.  'Quickly, find something else to think about.  Grab that plate, ask Jeremiah if he needs something else to eat.  Is there still pop left in that can?' Anything, think about anything but the answer to that question.

"Wait, don't you have two kids now?" she asked Lee.
"No, just Jeremiah."

A brief look of confusion flashed across her face before I escaped.  I spent the rest of last night trying to regain my equilibrium, hoping the conversation would not return to that topic, hoping she would wait until we were gone from the party to get an answer to her curiousity. 

It's been over a year and a half, the time spent doing my very best to move forward and I was suddenly back to crying myself to sleep, prayers mingled in the giant mess somewhere.

Today I'm surprised by my weakness, wishing it weren't so easy to cry, wondering if this will ever be over this side of heaven. 

I feel tethered to the pain.  The chain has lengthened these last 10 years, and sometimes I feel like it's not even there.  But then a question, one innocent well-meaning question asked, and I find myself staring up at the sky, backside smarting from the unexpected flop as I've been yanked back.  I'm crawling to my knees today, doing my best to clean up and start walking again.

It reminds me of one afternoon while Lee and I were waiting for the first birthmom to make her final decision about her baby.  Incredibly emotionally strung we spent some time along the St. Croix river in Stillwater hoping that distraction would help ease some of our tension.  Sitting along the cement retaining wall I held onto our dog's leash when suddenly he started running towards another dog throwing me off-balance.  My grip was strong, but still I found myself falling into the water scraping my arms and legs against the cement on my way down.  Lee's strong arms helped me out of the water and as I made it back to the grass I could only stare numbly at my scraped and bloodied skin.  I was dripping wet and still bleeding as Lee gently secured me in the truck.  I knew he was waiting.  I was waiting, waiting for it all to collapse. 

The scars from that day are gone, the pain only a memory.  My season of waiting for resolution and healing didn't last long, and there was finally a day when the memory of that time didn't make me weep.  The addition of Jeremiah brought tremendous healing for me-I remember that well.  I'm trying to hold onto that as hope for right now.   

I've spent years buffering myself against pain, toughening my "skin" against well-meant questions and comments and in the process created quite an untouchable shrine in my own heart.  My very private place of pain that no one could really touch.  But I am not impenetrable.  My pain does not belong there, and most certainly does not belong held selfishly in my heart.  So I will do with it what I feel God is asking me to do, offering it as my most sacred  and vulnerable possession as a form of offering.  Can pain be presented to God as an act of worship?

But it is what I will do, even if my hands are still bloody while I lift them upward.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I've been staring at this jigsaw puzzle for what seems like hours- not sure where to put these pieces.  I know they are part of the sky that backdrops dinosaurs meandering down a dusty path.  I know where they belong, but they just don't fit together.  It doesn't help that the pieces are not standard jigsaw shapes, but odd and nonsensical morphed ones that I would NEVER expect a 3-year-old to comprehend regardless of what the box says.  So I'm stuck here, staring at this image slowly coming together and wondering how what I'm holding in my hands is going to work into the big picture.

It's a surprisingly accurate metaphor for my life right now.  I have no idea where I fit, or where I'm supposed to be.  I don't know where I'm going.  I feel like I'm wasting time, wasting myself, staring at this "picture" where the pieces just don't fit together.

I realize that being in a state of limbo will never be a comfortable place for anyone, even those that like change, but I cannot seem to rid myself of the feeling that I'm supposed to be doing something. I do know where we're going- our move to Rochester is right around the corner, and maybe having a huge life change within grasp makes me feel restless. 

My life is consumed with preparations for our move, with little time for anything else.  My to-do list is scarily similar to a lazy-susan, just spinning around and around in my head until I can slowly clear things off.  Lately my life has been balancing that with a 3-year-old boy that seems to be a walking protest to my unavailability.  He doesn't understand that what I'm doing is for our ultimate benefit.  He just knows that he's not getting from me what he wants. 

He can't see the big picture.

Ugh.....  He's kind of like me. 

I wish I could say that I behave better than my son when his patience has expired, that I don't throw my own kind of tantrum and freak out when circumstances just don't seem to jive with what I'm wanting.  I wish I could say that I've matured so much in my life and in my faith that I'm able to offer him great life lessons about trust, patience, and unselfishness.  But I find that I still have a 3-year-old's heart when I'm holding the puzzle pieces in my hand, frustration growing, and all I hear is, "It's time to put that away- we're not finishing that right now."

So instead of trying to force the pieces together, (which is something I try all too often to do and usually ends up looking like a picasso-ish disaster because I just wanted the stupid thing done already so I could move on), I'm learning to let the empty spaces between them remind me of adventures not yet taken, answers yet to be given.

I'm learning that those spaces allow room for hope and possibilities to surprise me. 

Who knows? 

There just might be a whole panoramic view in between those two pieces of sky.

Finding agates and burning quads

One Saturday afternoon a few weeks back we loaded the truck with our bikes and headed up the shore.  Countless times before we've said we wanted to ride the paved path along the Lake Superior Hiking Trail and with Fall upon us, our chances for doing it were closing in fast. 

It was gorgeous.  The birch along the shoreline were in their color-changing prime.  Curving in and out of the woods, mostly uphill the first half, our bikeride was exhilerating and exhausting.  We stopped on a bridge just past Iona's Beach, and because of the wind, the water came crashing in along the cliff beneath us.
"Jeremiah, do you want to get out and look at the water?"  I asked.

"No....I gonna see it from right here."  His tentative expression told me he wasn't quite thrilled with the idea of peering over the edge of the railing.  I understood, not being a huge fans of heights myself.  But that day, the thrill of riding fast down hills and peering over high railings was irresistable.  We made it to Split Rock Lighthouse a while later and while sitting on a bench in the sun ate pears so ripe and juicy our water bottles were unnecessary.  We stopped along a beach on the way back and let Jeremiah throw rocks in the water for a while.  He, after all, had merely been a spectator the entire afternoon, perched cozily in his bike trailer.  Energy abounding he grabbed the closest stick and began exploring the rocks.  Both Lee and I sat- our leg muscles burning and too wobbly to do much else. 

"Look, Mommy- I found an agate!  See the colors?"  Jeremiah said as he held up a tiny speckled rock.   It wasn't an agate, but I loved that he assumed my most treasured lakefront pastime.

It wasn't much longer that my legs finally regained enough strength to join Jeremiah in the search.  And that's when I found it.  Years upon years of sifting through lake rock and I hit the jackpot.  The biggest, most beautiful agate I've ever found seemed to jump out at me.  Lee was on the other end of the inlet as I casually made my way over to him, the rock BURNING a hole in my pocket!  My nonchalance was ridiculous because Lee took one look at my eyes and knew I had trumped him once again.  (You see, it's taken years, but I've finally convinced Lee that agate-hunting is irresistable but he thinks if he's going to spend that much time with his nose to the rocks that the payoff should be often and BIG!)

I'll spare you the details of my subtle, and sometimes not so subtle gloating and just say that it was as close to a perfect day as I could've hoped for.  It's been a long time coming.  As each day passes and I'm that much farther away from my dark and scary place I feel more and more like myself again.  A different version of myself, stronger somehow and more sensitive, too, in other places- but me!  I couldn't help revelling in the freedom as the wind whipped through my hair.  Let me tell you this, though, my life is far from some emotional made-for-tv-movie where the main character stands on a cliff with the wind swirling her hair as the camera pans out and the credits start to roll.  But that afternoon was pretty close- and you know what?  I'll take those moments any chance I can.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sometimes a fresh coat of pain does the trick~

(Previously a wine color)
I spent Labor Day weekend laboring.  The dining room and living room are fantastic new colors and have completely changed the feel in my house.

I needed something different.

Even with huge life change right around the corner and a new house in the mix of things, I still needed something to change right now.  Especially since I feel like myself again.  I just came out of a haze that has been the last few weeks, no thanks to the medication I was on, and can breathe. We decided to pause our treatments for a while- even perhaps until after our move to Rochester.  While the last few bits of chemicals were working their way out of my body I reached the epitome of all craziness.  Hysterical sobbing became my nightly ritual and by the third night I knew I wasn't going to swallow that crazy pill ever again.   Ever. 

(Previously yellow walls)

I don't understand why these cysts keep recurring, and my normal tendency is to examine and analyze what they mean- what's God trying to tell me, what do I need to be doing differently- the whole lot.  A friend asked me recently, "Tiffany, are you the type of person that analyzes everything or is a cyst sometimes just a cyst?"

Perhaps it's a literal "bump" in the road?  An opportunity to rest instead of get worked up into the stressful hype that is infertility treatments?  I needed this break- even though I fought against it for the first few weeks.  I was ready to be done with it all, even if Lee wasn't.  For the first time in 10 years we found ourselves in flip-flopped positions.  But it wasn't long into our conversation that Lee spoke some kick-me-in-the-butt truth into my life.

Friday, August 20, 2010

When 10 years is actually like 15 minutes

If a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day, then the past 10 years of my life are as long as HALF of a sitcom on television (15 minutes) and 3,650,000 years.  Somehow I can relate to both.

I was telling Lee the other day, "How is it that I can be dealing with the same stuff after all these years?  Why is it I can't see more progress?"  But I've also just blinked- and here we are.  Married almost 11 years with an almost 3 year-old. 

15 minutes isn't a whole lot of time for extreme makeovers- even the best make-up artist in Hollywood would have their hands tied.  But 3,650,000 years?  Honey, a whole lot can get done in that amount of time.  Hindsight perspective would show progress, but on a very slow, incremental timeline.  That's how I feel today, that as much as I've been willing to progress and desiring to move forward, I'm inching along through far-too-familiar poo.

I'm impatient.  I'm tired.  I don't want to do this anymore.  I can't stop but I don't want to keep going.  Ever have days/weeks/years like that?  God's completely at work in our lives right now, but I'm so stuck today on what isn't happening that I'm struggling to adjust my focus to what's is happening right now

We are moving to Rochester next year and are really excited about it.  When the call came about it on Sunday evening I wondered if we would be able to get good news twice in one week, but round 2 of fertility treatments failed today and I'm not happy about it.  I'm so frustrated that I can't even properly thank God for what He's doing about our move.

I should be better at this.  This is where frustration moves from my circumstances to myself and no matter where I look there's disappointment.  I'm not handling this like someone with 10 years of experience.  I don't want to walk forward with this lingering over me, so I want to deal with it.  Right now.

I have the next 3 hours before I go into the clinic and start the next round of treatments to let God absolutely do what no Hollywood make-up artist would ever even dream of being able to do. 
I'm going to let him completely re-work my heart. 
He's done it countless times before (plus the 120 times I HAVE been counting) and He will do it again.

Tried and true, Fernando Ortega's album, The Shadow Of Your Wings: Hymns and Sacred Songs is now playing on my computer as I continue to write.  Ahhhhh........truth from scripture that I can sing along to.

He is patient.  He does not tire.  He never wavers.  He remembers that in comparison to him I am like the grass that withers away in the sun, therefore has no expectations that I'm going to be perfect at this, or that after 10 years I should have this figured out to a science.  Whether it's one day, 15 minutes, a thousand years or 3,650,000 years, it makes no difference to Him. 

"So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives.  Don't easily slip back into the grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.  You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.  God said, "I am holy; you be holy."  1 Peter 1:13-16

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Just remember, the mess you make is the mess you clean up," was my response to Jeremiah this morning when he asked if he could cut with scissors.  We have this conversation every time. But no matter how many times I tell him, when he's finished there are small scraps of construction paper littering my dining room floor and his desire to clean up is nonexistent.
"Pretend to be a dump truck, Jeremiah!  Scoop it up and DUUUMP it out."
"No I don't wanna do dat."
"Okay, well you don't have to pretend to be a dump truck but you still need to clean up your mess."

What came next in the conversation was an expression of his new-found sense of independence.  I'll spare you the details, but it resulted in Jeremiah spending a little bit of time sitting on the step in a time-out.  Being separated from our company is heartbreaking and it doesn't usually take but about 30 seconds before he is saying, "I'm ready to be a good listener, Mom!"  I'm trying to recognize when the attitude in his heart has changed versus his attempt to exert control and say when his time out is over.  It's hard. 

I don't always get it right. Sometimes I make him wait the full 2 minutes, other times I respond immediately with our post time-out conversation.  I want him to learn that just because we're ready for something to be over, even if our hearts are in the right place, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will be over.

Tell. Me. About. It.

Today marks 10 years of our infertility journey.  I kind of hate the word "journey".  It seems redundant and overused and boring.  So 10 years into our infertility whatever-word-is-better-than-journey, I find myself facing a date that I NEVER thought I'd see and certaily hoped I wouldn't.  I was ready for this 'whatever' to be over, hmmm, about 9 years and 7 months ago.  But it's taken me every moment of the last 10 years to get to THIS place, where I can say that as difficult as it's been, it's also something I've been entrusted with. 

I was talking to a friend earlier today and she asked me if, since our diagnosis, I struggled with bitterness toward God or other doctors because of how common my issue is and if I wondered why this wasn't discovered 10 years ago. Honestly, I spent all of maybe 5 minutes thinking about it after we first met with Dr. Corfman, because I could not think that and look at Jeremiah without realizing that if it had been discovered all those years ago, he would not be mine. 

So when I think about the time I've spent walking in intense conversation with God, I realize what a privilege it all has been.  Crazy? Perhaps.  You should know by now that I'm not a pie-in-the-sky kind of gal but I can tell you this right now- I've spent far too much time trying to figure out what I needed to learn, or how I needed to change the condition of my heart (beneficial processes however) and not enough time accepting what I've been given, or been entrusted with.  I want to walk through this "assignment" well-and not just for the purpose of getting to the other side, but because I want to honor the One who gave it to me.

I'll let him decide when it's over.

"Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you." (1 Corinthians 7:17 emphasis added)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When dreaming of teak pergolas...

The smell of this crisp northern Minnesota air is changing as the summer is progressing.  Today it's raining and I can smell the promise of Fall.  Big changes might be coming for us in the next few months, the biggest one obviously being a possible pregnancy.  We also might begin the transfer process to another part of the state. 

Though we don't even know if we'll be moving, I've already begun the list in my head of all the things I'll do differently in my life, my house, my garden.  The list actually began shortly after we moved into this house when we realized how much space around us we actually NEED.  I'm not talking, "Oh, we've got so much stuff that we need a bigger house."  It's more like I-can't-look-out-any-window-of-my-house-without-looking-directly-into-my-neighbor's-living-room, kind of need for space.  I can't stand it, and the idea of living on 30 wooded acres with a possible river running through the property just sends me into an ethereal daydream I don't want to leave. 

It's hard to look at my life, my surroundings, and not think about all the ways that it could be better.  No 100+ year-old paint chipping off of doorframes and floors that have needed to be resurfaced since 1995, but maybe a back deck framed in a Teak pergola woven with wisteria and paper lanterns.  No more, "My back lawn isn't grass at all, it's just a dense ground-cover WEED," but maybe a rolling grassy lawn with a big maple tree in the middle where there's a swing and a treehouse with a collapsable ladder and a mounted telescope for late-night, mid-summer star gazing.
Doesn't that sound fantastic?  I can get caught up in it so easily, we all can.  "Keeping up with the Jones'", comparing our lives to others and what they have that we want, or even being motivated to work out harder because you'd like to have the abs of the girl on the Zumba video (guilty here of all counts, by the way).

But I was challenged many years ago, when we first started our journey of 'why-isn't-what-I-want-happening-yet', by my mother who asked me what pain I'd like to have instead.  Instead of complaining about the difficulites in my life, studying my discontent and basically telling God that He's not quite handling my life very well, that perhaps I should see my struggle in a different light.

Would I switch with someone else who was trudging through a different kind of pain?  Like perhaps the family on the news who's son disappeared from school.  His mom just hasn't been able to straighten the covers on her little boy's bed because he left it messy the last time she saw him- would I like to trade places with her?

So maybe the next time that my grief wants to swallow me whole, or when my relationships seem to be just a bit disappointing, or that roll of fat just WON'T go away, I'll remember that it's not about me- not about what I want and what's not happening for me- and I'll pull up my boostraps once again and gratefully walk forward.  Even if it is just out into my weed infested, uneven, clay-packed backyard.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Maybe this isn't about me~

Three months ago Lee and I decided to pursue our final option in this whole twisted infertility journey.  As much as we've pursued treatments in the past, we never felt like we were dealing with a doctor that specialized in infertility, so that possibility was always out there, floating around. 

It's been interesting, balancing this infertility-stuff with already being a mom, wanting Jeremiah to always know what an incredible blessing he has been in our lives. His existence has made me what I've waited my whole life to become, Mommy.  He is more than we could've ever asked for in our firstborn.  That's what he is-our firstborn, even if he wasn't born from my womb. 

We've always wanted a few kids, and as much as we would like to adopt again, the desire to be pregnant has never gone away.

I kept hearing about a doctor from the Cities, specializing in infertility, who made monthly trips to a clinic here in Duluth. The recommendations to see him where persistent enough that I felt like if I didn't just go and see him I would never stop hearing about it. I was going to go and just check it off the list and close the door forever.

I wasn't prepared to have hope come ripping through our lives again.

The diagnosis: 10 minutes into our meeting with Dr. Corfman, we were diagnosed with a very common, and very treatable condition:  Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome.  We left that meeting with the most calming sense of relief.  Finally, after 10 years, we actually knew what the problem was.

The plan: One month of birth control pills followed by 6 months of relatively easy treatments (a combination of ultrasounds and medications).  Dr. Corfman said he didn't think we would even need to see him again, that confident that our problems would be solved.

This new leg of the journey started in April, and four months into the process I've just finally been able to actually start the treatments.  A completely normal cyst appeared on one of my ovaries which delayed treatments by 3 months.  I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to feel, at long last, like we were able to step forward only to be halted in our tracks.  After 10 years you'd think 3 months would be no big deal, but I struggled, thinking, "Haven't we had to wait long enough?  Why another complication?"

Round 1 was unsuccessful, and again I'm struggling.  My long-waged war with hope has crept up on me again. The flip-side to hope being disappointment, of which I've tasted for so long that I feel silly for hoping at all.
"Tiffany, did you really think this was going to work? Haven't the last several years proved otherwise?"
"Aren't you satisfied with the child that you have?  Isn't that enough for you?  How ungrateful are you???"

It's ridiculous, and these things that I struggle with are LIES- I know that- but it's my process month after month x 120 months.

This is the time when all I have left is to go back to the basics. 

What is faith?

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1 emphasis added)  
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

 Hope and faith are tied together.  I cannot believe that God is able to do something and not hope that He will.  That was my biggest struggle for so many years- I believed that God could, but that
He wouldn't for me


Because of past sin in my life? 
Because maybe I was just being used, like a puppet, for God to communicate some truth to the masses (that just might be paying attention to my life)? 
Because I am just... that... slow... in learning what God was wanting to teach me before this would be resolved?

Or how about this?  Maybe this isn't about all.  The selfish person in me says, "How cannot it NOT be about me?  It's MY pain!!"  

But what if the affects on me are important by-products but not the main goal? 

What if all these years of waiting are actually because of God's intricate, love-motivated plans for my children?  Maybe all these years of waiting are because there's a specific timing for when all my children are born. What they are going to accomplish, or give, or motivate, or change in the world is delicately woven into this great story that just hasn't started yet for the rest of them. 

Jeremiah's has- oh, does that boy have a story about the importance of his existence, of that I'm sure, and I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to be a vital part of it.  This time alone with Jeremiah, before any other children arrive, is vital to what God is going to accomplish in his life. 

So as I prepare myself to begin Round 2, I am readjusting my thinking.  I walk forward, knowing that God is not in the business of wasting time.  I continue to hope, embracing the disappointment if it should come, and believing that God is making beautiful things out of this whole story all along the way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Empty places to fill

I'm a recent subscriber to (in)courage, a fantastic blog written by extraordinary women I hope to have the privilege of meeting someday.  One story in particular really spoke to me as I read how a woman suffered the loss of her baby at 18 weeks, enduring the labor and delivery of her stillborn daughter.

I almost couldn't read it, the pull to return to my dark and scary places so strong that I had to read bits at a time, forcing myself to stay in the present.  It was actually a really good exercise for me, to stay in the now, where I seem to be spending almost all of my time these days.  What a relief to feel like I'm on the other side of the hump able to make continual steps forward.  A year later and I finally feel like myself again.

Do you know what the most interesting part of this process has been?  I actually feel blessed to have suffered- it's the strangest thing.  If you had asked me a year ago if I felt like it was a privilege to watch my long-awaited miracle rip from my body I would have spiraled into the deep.  Looking back though, I can say I've never in my life experienced a season where I've been so raw and vulnerable before God.  Never have I been more bare, more naked of soul.  To finally understand that I don't need to always "feel" God's presence to trust that He is not only there, but active

Easter had special meaning for me, especially as I read Arianne's post.  We spent the morning together as a family, revelling in the memory-making with Jeremiah and I wondered if my grief has made me a better mother to him.  That if in the whole process I've been able to show him how to cling on for dear life, to wait patiently with hope (my longtime nemesis and now friend), to cherish every incredible moment and milestone, to fiercely fight through the dark and scary places, but most importantly how to love the God that we don't always understand. To let God mold, especially in the suffering. 

I've been searching for significance in this whole journey since it started, more focused on how my desire would eventually be fulfilled than on what God is doing in and around me.  To have made our life, our pain, our story "public" means that others are watching and waiting with us and I can't help but think of the disciples after Jesus' crucifixion.  How their faith was tested when they had to see the God they believed in die, to wait while grieving their loss, to hope that loss wasn't the final chapter, to know that their process was so very public.  What must if have been like to see their broken hearts and yet their stubborn determination to see it through? 

So again my focus shifts and I cannot help but think of my incredible little boy, who is sponging up more of my life than I'm aware of and the incredible privilege it is to have him with us.  What I want Jeremiah to believe about God has to be lived out in my own life and with that I will continue to step forward.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1Peter 6-7

*I've been motivated to make my blog a bit more interactive and with that I pose this question:  Are YOU waiting for something?  Perhaps you're trudging your way through your own dark and scary place- tell me your story!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Knots and Tangles

My life was changed a few weeks ago. Not anything drastic or really noticeable from the outside. I still throw my hair up in a ponytail far more than I'd like to (no glamour mommy, here), still haven't cleaned under my refrigerator since we installed it, can't bring myself to wear socks to bed even though my feet are always freezing , and only moved the Christmas garland from the porch railing to the porch floor 3 weeks AFTER Christmas. All of those things are the same as they've ever been for me.

My heart on the other hand, is different.

I met with a friend of mine at the beginning of December. 2009 was a difficult year for both of our families and I get a ton of comfort from sharing that with her. I am understood, no talking necessary. A few days before we met for coffee I had come to a startling realization while doing the dishes. Why that's thinking-time for me, I don't know, but monotony produces introspection. I was rinsing plates and loading them into the dishwasher when I stopped midstream, water dripping onto my toes when I thought: In all my beliefs of God's sovereignty and goodness, I realized that although I believed God COULD bless us with a healthy pregnancy I didn't believe that He WOULD.

For some reason I believed that it was my destiny to live in perpetual grief and unfulfilled desire just so God could show that He was in charge and I wasn't going to get my way.

When I told my friend this, it almost felt like a confession and saying it out loud was relieving. Doubt had been harbored in my mind and heart for the entire year and I finally leaked it out. I wasn't depressed by my admission, but it didn't feel like acceptance either- it was just out. Even though some relief came, it didn't feel like truth. Honesty perhaps, but not truth.

Not 3 days later our pastor preached about hope. I sighed and groaned internally throughout the message- not because I didn't like it, oh no, because it pierced me through and through.

A few days later I received a mailing from Chip Ingram's ministry, Living on the Edge. This is how it read:

Dear Tiffany,

NEED HOPE?---------------------> Romans 5:1-5

What do you do when you get discouraged? When everything in you just wants to give up, throw in the towel, or just flat out cry?

I have found that discouragement births in my thinking. Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks, so he is." The gate to your heart is your mind. What you allow yourself to believe about your circumstances may be the most important decision you make every day.

So what if you viewed your present circumstances- whether painful or pleasant- through the lens of God's wisdom? What would it do for your soul? Your emotions?

Get HOPE-------------------------> Romans 11:33-36

Hope comes when we choose to look at all of life through the lens of God's wisdom. The wisdom of God tells us that He will bring about the best possible results by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.

Ever have those times where God communicates so clearly that you almost feel like an idiot because how obvious He makes it? I've known all along that the experience of this last year is full of meaning and purpose, that nothing goes to waste if I keep myself open to what God is doing. What I hadn't grasped was that the experience of this last year is God's PERFECT means to His PERFECT ends. If there was a calmer, gentler, more loving way of accomplishing whatever He's doing, THAT would have been my reality. I cannot tell you how many times I asked, "This way, God? Could there not have been a different way?"

But no, there could not, and I cannot be angry with him anymore. I cannot possibly understand how this all works together and therefore cannot tell him how to do it differently. I'm seeing knots and tangles, places where the yarn has been torn and retied, frayed a bit in some places, like-new in others. What I know is that God promises redemption-when I will see in full what He did with my life.

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Romans 11:33-36