We are loved at the end of our rope

Before I share this song, I have to recommend the artist. I have fallen in the love with All Sons & Daughters in recent years, and I think you will too! If you’re looking for some new (or new-to-you) Christian/worship music, check out their album Season 1 (or any of their albums are great!).

This is a lovely, simple song about how incredibly blessed we are, in all seasons of life. Perhaps today in your pain, sadness, confusion and/or waiting, it will prompt you to journal a list of blessings in your life. 

We are loved at the end of our rope
When we’re less there is more of the Lord
In the fight for our souls we must learn to let go
And abandon who we are

We are loved when we feel all is lost
When the shadows are cast on the cross
Only then can we know the embrace of the one
Who’s carried us along

We are blessed, we are blessed 

We are loved when we feel most content
With who we are, nothing more nothing less
We’ll inherit the earth declaring Your worth
Bring glory to Your name

We are blessed, we are blessed 

We’re blessed, we’re loved
Our hearts, our souls
We now rejoice, rejoice

…And just for fun, I’m adding a bonus song! My favorite song by them, called Dawn to Dusk:

The things you take for granted

granted

I’ve been thinking about the essence of the little saying above. The things you take for granted someone else is praying for. When I see that, my first, black-hearted reaction is to think, “Hear that, all you baby-havers? So stop complaining about your kids’ sleep patterns and hug them!” Then I realize the quote is talking about me, too. I stop and think about which things I take for granted that someone else is praying for, the same way I’m praying for a baby and other mothers don’t seem that grateful for theirs.

And a lot comes to mind.

When I started college, I didn’t realize it was my dream to get married when I graduated. I don’t think I realized how close graduation was. It was only months after I got married that I realized I really got off easy. It was definitely my vision as a little girl: go to college, get married, find a job, have babies [ahem], be a great mom, live happily ever after. But I wasn’t the girl working hard on her M.R.S. degree in college … God just allowed me to meet my husband early on, have lots of romantic memories getting to know him, get engaged my junior year in Christmas snow, and get married within days of graduation. I was even hired for my perfect job in the weeks between college and marriage. It kept getting better, too… our life plan had been going exactly as written. Jobs, paying off debt, going into ministry. It was best-case scenario from day one.

Bam. Everything I ever wanted. And it wasn’t until later that I realized how much I took it all for granted. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it hadn’t happened like that… I think I had been assuming all along, “Of course it’s going to happen this way.” (Which, cue the “a-ha!” moment, probably explains why I reacted to infertility like being run over by a truck.) I was spoiled by God. I had gotten everything I’d ever wanted, and hadn’t really even prayed for it.

So then there’s this thought. The things you take for granted someone else is praying for. And I recall the initial months after college, when my gratitude finally caught up with me. I had several close friends who were single, and it was painful for them. They were trying to figure out how their life was going to go when their plan wasn’t happening. I don’t want this post to read like: Well, at least you’re not single. What I mean is, for the first time I can really relate to the feelings they would confess to me, and it pushes me to stop taking my marriage for granted. They were terrified as each passing month and year felt like their life slipping away without them. They were praying, How long, O Lord? as He seemed to stand by silent. They felt like lesser people. They felt passed-by. They wavered between moving forward whole-heartedly with the hand they were being dealt, and waiting patiently for God to still come through. Some of them still are.

And now that I know what that really feels like, I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to be truly grateful. And I’m grateful for the reminder to look around in my life for other trials God has spared me from — which I overlooked, because I was too spoiled to consider it. This chance for ministry, these material things, a healthy, loving family back in America. I could count them all here, but it would be too personal.

I hope God can use my reflections to challenge you as well — which things are you taking for granted that are currently someone else’s trial?

Bless the Lord, O my soul

Lately in my Bible time I’ve been reading my “regularly scheduled” passage (I happen to be in Galatians), then I’ll flip to Psalms and choose one or two at random to read and think about. Today’s was Psalm 103, and it was just perfect. Of course it brought to mind Matt Redman’s new-ish song, “10,000 Reasons,” which is based on this Psalm. My husband and I have found this worship song to be very special to our hearts in our infertility. It’s one of our go-to songs. We love the biblical-ness, of course, and it’s so valuable to sing truth to yourself in this time. We also appreciate the reminder to be overflowing with praise and gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives, as it can be such a temptation to “forget His benefits” when waiting for Him to answer this one request.

Please join me in reading Psalm 103 aloud, then meditate on the beautiful worship song.

Psalm 103 (ESV)

Of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

blesstheLord6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

The Sweetness of Sorrow

I know I keep mentioning this book, but that’s only because it’s amazing and ya’ll have to read it. I am still in Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering and highlighting like every word.

At the end of each chapter he includes a testimony — a true story, relative to the chapter’s point, as told by someone who walked a certain trial. It’s a touching end to each message. I just finished one about a man who has ALS and his wife, and the awful trial it has been for them. I read the final quote by her and ran over to post about it, it is just so perfect!

ps119Just the other day my husband and I were at lunch with one of his closest friends and his wife. As we shared with them about our long, painful trial with infertility, we started testifying of how sweet this time has been, as strange as that sounds. We praised the Lord before them for how much this has grown our marriage, sanctified us, and brought us closer to Christ every day. We actually ended by wishing for them that they would be so blessed as to have a trial soon as well. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I’ve learned (and scripture supports it) that there is probably no better way to grow in Christ and closer to the Father. As much as this trial breaks my heart and aches our spirits, I am so grateful for what it has done in our lives.

I was blessed to hear this woman echo my thoughts:

“We have found meaning, purpose, joy, growth, and wholeness in our loss. How much I would have missed if I had opted out of this season. God has had so much to give me in the midst of it. I see how intense sorrow and intense sweetness are mingled together. The depth and richness of life has come in suffering. How much I have learned and how much sweeter Jesus is to me now.”

If you don’t believe me or her, maybe Peter’s inspired words will convince you:

peter
Click to enlarge.

Redefining Blessing

Today is a double-encouragement kind of day. I’m sharing two songs with a similar theme.

The first is “Gratitude” by Nichole Nordeman. This is an older song that I remember loving and posting on my dorm wall way back in college. I really cherish the very Biblical idea of praising God for what He gives, and being content with it. This song speaks of redefining our idea of a blessing — it may not always come in the material things or feelings we long for, like shelter or peace [or children], but in His not granting those things, we often gain much more valuable blessings. Here’s the song, with the lyrics.

The second song also speaks of looking for the blessings in trials and waiting, which are often to be cherished above the thing we are waiting for.

I’ll be honest, the reason I am posting this with another song is because I think it sounds a little cheesy. The first time I heard it, we were at a retreat, and I kind of giggled and rolled my eyes at the “raindrops” chorus… but when it was over, I looked over and saw my husband was teary-eyed! The next day when they sang it again, I really listened to the words and it sunk in deeper. So even though I still think it sounds a little cheesy [and later I got my husband to admit that he agrees!], the meaning is deep and really speaks to me. I especially relate to line about “a thousand sleepless nights” — amen, and amen!

My friend, I have one big, life-changing truth to suggest to you: If you can see your trial as more of a blessing than an awful curse, and take the time to see what God is using it for in your life, I can promise you it will make the days and months more bearable and [almost] welcomed, compared to the dread and misery you would otherwise face.

Ok, enough preaching, here’s the song. It’s called “Blessings” by Laura Story.