You have assigned me my portion

“Oh Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup. In You my lot is secure.” -Psalm 16:5

Elisabeth Elliot taught me this verse. She has several key verses, I guess you could call them life verses of hers, that are frequently repeated throughout her writing, and this is one of them.

One of her strongest points of teaching, which has dramatically impacted my heart and life, is about cultivating a “quiet heart” that rests in the Lord regarding all things. I’ve been fascinated and challenged by the various areas of life she applies this to.

For our purposes, this verse is again perfect. The answer to those questions that inevitably flood the mind of anyone struggling to have a family. Why is this happening to us? Why does this have to be our problem? Why us and not them? Why can’t we just be normal? How are we going to get through this? What will we do next?

Our peace is deeply routed in this: The Lord has chosen your “lot” in life. Whatever it is. How terrible it may feel at times.How never-ending it may become. This situation is from the Lord. He is trustworthy. He is good. He is wise. He is loving. We have unmoving peace from this. When the doctor tells you gut-wrenching news. When the pregnancy tests are negative the rest of your life. When another adoption falls through. This is our truth, and we can rest in it:

Oh Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup. In You my lot is secure. 

How sweet is His word

honey

I know you shouldn’t really advertise when you’re fasting and such, but I’m kind of excited so I have to share.

For Lent this year I decided to give up sweets and replace them with the sweetness of the Word. To kick it off, I spent time in Psalm 119, soaking in the beautiful verses and searching for some to memorize as I fend off my sweet tooth. In the process, I found some special verses for all of you! So please allow me to share!

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!” 119:25

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word!” 119:28

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 119:37  (I thought of hours of destructive googling time and time spent on forums, etc.)

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” 119:50

“At midnight I rise to praise You, because of Your righteous rules.” 119:62 (I thought of hours of sleepless nights, praying instead of worrying.)

“Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.” 119:76

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.” 119:165

Also, I would love to hear if you are doing anything special during this Lent season, if you don’t mind saying!

You let me catch my breath, even in the valley of death

What a precious song by JJ Heller, a Christian singer and songwriter who I am really coming to love. I can’t find much online to back this up, but I’ve heard JJ Heller and her husband struggled to conceive and eventually adopted (does anyone know for sure if this is true?). Based on the heart of many of her songs, like this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true.

This song seems to speak from the viewpoint of David, particularly in the Psalms. It is such a perfect whisper of the great truth that Christ is absolutely all we need, especially for those of us deeply, painfully longing for something (someone) else.

Here are the lyrics and the Bible verses that I found to compliment them, followed by the song.

Don’t need a thing
My good Shepherd brings me all
You are all I need.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” -Psalm 23:1a

You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death
You are all I need.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, […]
for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
  they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

“…and in Him you have been made complete…” -Colossians 2:10

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You, You are all I need.

“But you, O LORD, are […] the lifter of my head.” -Psalm 3:3

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” -Psalm 104:14-15

There’s no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need.

I will fear no evil,
for you are with me…” -Psalm 23:4b

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

Goodness and mercy are following me
You’re all that I need.

You make a home for me
Where pastures are green as far as I see
You are all I need.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.” -Psalm 23:6

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” -Psalm 23:1b

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy

I have a little verse-a-day calendar next to my bed, which I remember to flip to a new verse about once every three days. It’s been on the same page for the last few days, but this time it was on purpose. I just loved the passage!

It’s from Psalm 65 (go read the whole thing, actually… it’s amazing!).

The calendar just uses verses 5-8:

By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.

I love it! What worship!

dawnThe last verse reminded me of the classic worship song “Your Name,” so I was listening to it this morning and thought you may want to include it in your morning worship as well. It also references two other great verses about the power of God’s name:

Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

A little wisdom with your coffee

I appreciated this section from (and all of) Psalm 39 this morning.

psalm39

Encouragement from the Psalms

Some quiet words of encouragement from the book of Psalms. Click each picture to read the full Psalm.

psalm 2

psalm 3

psalm1

psalm4

When joy comes in the morning

And all during the day, as I wait to see if He has answered us yet, if it’s over yet, I’m forced to consider how much I’m willing to endure for God’s glory. How far would I go to be made into His image more and more? How much would I sacrifice, if He said it was for the better? How much do I mean it when I say, “Thy will be done?” And then “it” shows up, and I have to face my true self. There’s no fake “Take all of me, Lord” prayers when your period gets here. It’s all or nothing now. You either meant it or you didn’t.

So I guess, except by God’s undeserved and overwhelming mercy, today I’ll have to answer that question again. And in the meantime, I’m pretending to do other things while panicking inside over what my answer will be, if I have to give it again.

I wrote this in a post in January about my expected time-of-the-month and the emotions and prayers that come with it each time. I quickly removed it out of embarrassment that I would write so freely about my p-e-r-i-o-d. I’m such a prude about stuff like that. Always have been.

But I came across the now-private post a few weeks ago, and was brought to tears.

I have been battling for months about whether I should “come out” about this on the blog, but I’m going to, and then I’m going to explain why.

…The reason that post brought me to tears is because I actually did experience God’s undeserved and overwhelming mercy that day, and for the first time ever, my period didn’t come. Within a few days, we were dumbfoundedly staring at a positive pregnancy test, unsure if we were in reality or walking in a dream. It actually took a good several weeks for it to really set in, even after the doctor confirmed it. We were (and are) finally pregnant.faithful

Throughout the whole first trimester I debated sharing such a heavy thing. In the About section of this blog, I share how discouraging it often was to find an encouraging blog about infertility, only to have it end (or, usually, change) when the writer finally got pregnant. I mean, I was happy she was pregnant, but now I was alone again, searching for a kindred spirit. It’s been hard for me to imagine doing that to many of you, who have been reading this blog for encouragement for many months now.

But then I stumbled, once again, on this verse, which so many women cling to in their infertility…

Weeping may last for the night,
    but joy comes in the morning.

-Psalm 30:5b

And I thought: I have to tell them that joy really does come in the morning. What kind of encouragement would it be to keep from you such a message of joy and hope — we waited patiently (sometimes a little impatiently) on the Lord, after failed treatments and returning to our third-world home with no idea of what to do next. We begged again for mercy. For a few more months, He still said “No.” And it stung, badly. But still we put our hope in Him through the pain.

And then the morning came. And there was joy with it.

I always thought it would come roaring and screaming at the top of the mountain. Instead, it came as an unexpected whisper while we were deep in the valley.

Mercy.

And I don’t know how your joy will come. It may be a surprise pregnancy test like me. It may be after a few procedures, or several. It may be on a plane home from picking up your new child. It may come quietly, over years of growing in true peace over being childless. It may be something else entirely. But it will come. I am confident of that.

joyI also have to warn you from “this side”…there were initial, surprising, sinful responses that came out of nowhere. Things like, “What did we do right this time?” and “It must’ve been our extra faith this month.” But we quickly squelched that. It was God’s undeserved mercy and His perfect plan. His faithfulness. And that’s it.

The second, less sinful thought that overwhelmed me for a few days was, “______ months… that was the allotted time of our trial. I hope I spent it well.” And I want to leave these two thoughts with you. The first is not to waste your allotted time in this trial! Whether you’re given a few months or many years of barrenness, may you use every day for God’s glory and your sanctification.

And secondly –I hope you are only encouraged, and not cringing, to hear the truth: God is merciful, just as we were hoping. He is faithful, just as we’d expected. He is trustworthyThis really was the better plan. I used to write those things on this blog in faith, and now I write them from experience. I’m sitting here no longer barren, five months pregnant, and overwhelmed by that truth. He was trustworthy all along. And if He takes this baby today, I will still cling to that truth. I hope you can too, even today!

When God seems silent

We have struggled in recent months with feeling like we are only receiving silence from God. We feel we keep praying for direction, for answers, for help, and getting nothing back. It’s painful sometimes. We’ll take anything from Him but it feels like there is nothing.

Often when I pray, “Speak to us, Oh God!” I know the answer is, “I already have.” And even though you really kind of want a voice to say, “Ok, go for IVF” or whatever, you know this is the true answer. He’s already spoken. His word is a light (Psalm 119), His word has power (Hebrews 4:12), His word is truth (John 17:17).

I reveled in this today, as I read Psalm 94:17:

If the Lord had not been my help,

my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.

But the Lord is your help, and you do not have to live in the “land of silence.”

For good measure, I want to include verses 18-19 after it, which were also a good word,

When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ Your steadfast love, Oh Lord, held me up.

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

 

 

Psalm 71 – I will always have hope

My husband and I recently hit a tough patch in our infertility trial. We were not sure of our next steps, and we felt so discouraged. One verse kept popping into my mind, so I thought perhaps someone else reading this may need it to “pop” into hers as well. It’s Psalm 71:14

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

What a rich truth to be reminded of over and over. There is always hope. We always have hope. 

Here is that beautiful Psalm in its entirety….

Psalm 71

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.

9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
    of your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion.

ps71