Thursday, April 28, 2011

Illness and Infertility

Some of you may know that we battled for 13 years to bring home our three living miracles, with infertility, multiple miscarriages and adoption losses along the way. Since I have lived with ME/CFS/XMRV my entire adult life, the issues of chronic illness and infertility were often intertwined with each issue complicating the other on multiple levels, physically, medically, emotionally, spiritually, and just about any other "ally" you can imagine.

Lisa Copen, my dear friend and founder of Rest Ministries, offers some beautiful thoughts on living with chronic illness and facing infertility:
How Do I Know if God Has Motherhood In My Future?

If you find yourself a journey through fertility challenges, you can find additional support on my Hannah's Hope blog and also at the new faith-based blogging community, Held!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Secret of Contentment

A guest post by Rachel:

The Secret of Contentment

I have read Philippians 4 many times in my life. I've always read it and wondered about the apostle Paul's secret to contentment. This week I read this chapter again and saw things in a way I never have before.

Paul's secret is actually quite provocative – the secret of living with contentment in every situation. Few of us ever scratch the surface of what contentment truly means, no matter how great our effort and intention.

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

~ Philippians 4:10-13

I will confess – I don’t know how Paul could live in contentment with all he had been through! I read his words and think, that can’t be right, he was in prison! And surely I don’t need to learn to be content in this [insert your trial here] situation? Paul can’t possibly mean that. Oh, but he does.

Did you notice the verse at the end of the passage? On the heels of saying that he is content in any and every situation, Paul says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” I think this verse is often used too flippantly. Paul isn’t talking about achieving anything he sets his mind to. He is referring to surviving the worst of the worst with as much grace as living with plenty. Whoa.

My question for Paul has always been, “Well then, what is the secret to achieving contentment?” What I found this week is that he addresses this very question earlier in chapter four.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

~ Philippians 4:4-9

Let me break that down for my own sake (because I’m a list person):
• Be full of joy
• Be considerate in all you do
• Don’t worry; pray
• Be thankful
• Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise
• Put into practice the things you have learned

If we do these things, Paul says, “The God of peace will be with you.” All these things lead to peace, and peace leads to contentment. This is revolutionary stuff! With achievable, albeit difficult, action steps. Paul's secret steps to God's peace and contentment.

Well, I need to be more like Paul. What about you?
Like what your read here? Rachel's written more on this subject! Check out Contentment: On Failure and Hope to read "part two." :)

About our Guest Author:

Rachel and her husband live in Maryland, home of the world's finest crab cakes. Her heart for women facing the struggle of infertility has led to an active, encouraging role on Hannah's Prayer Community Forums and as a team member of HELD. When she isn't laughing with her husband, Rachel can be found cooking, blogging, and hanging with girlfriends.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Encouragement

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.......
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been distressed by various trials...
1 Peter 1:3,6

He is Risen!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When God Says No

Why would God say "no" to a good request? To a request like Paul's for the removal of his thorn? For our requests for healing?

This week Lysa TerKeurst said, "When God says no, we are sometimes tempted to wonder if He loves us. In reality, it’s because He loves us, He sometimes says no."

To illustrate this she gave a beautiful word picture of how a cake may look done 2/3 of the way through allotted baking time, but if it's pulled from the oven too soon, it collapses. She writes, "The cake couldn’t withstand the pressure of an undone center… and neither can we.
"If we obsess over the cake and make it our whole focus, character atrophies. If we make growing in godliness our obsession and keep our focus on God, our character matures. And a mature character makes for a solid and well done center."

The rest of Lysa's post can be found here: Escaping the Rut of Want

I've said over and over that I believe pain is a gift, though certainly an odd one. The thing that makes it a gift is the way it drives us to dependence on God. If I'm fixated only on my illness, or my desire to be well, I miss out on God's best for me right here, right now, right in the heart of living these trials.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chronic Grace

A guest post by David J. Hall.

The Chronic Grace of God

I have found the Scriptures to be absolutely true when the Lord told the Apostle Paul (who was being tormented by a "thorn in the flesh") that God's grace would be sufficient for his journey of suffering and pain.

While I suffer with chronic pain (and sometimes outright agony), I am at the same time blessed by God's chronic grace (if I may phrase it that way) which is more real to me than even the pain. In a sense, the pain is almost surreal, but God's grace is so real, and is provided through His tangible Presence!

His grace does not take my pain away. His grace does however equip me physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually to endure the pain, and to do so with a heart that is filled with joy and is established in peace... His peace!

If you suffer with a chronic pain condition of some kind, first pray for healing, and then pray for the "chronic" grace of God to sustain you until His healing arrives in your life.

See you at the altar, my friend, where we together will approach our gracious Heavenly Father Who will provide all that we need!!

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
- Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

About our Guest Author:

David J. Hall battles Fibromyalgia with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, diagnosed in 2000 after many tests ruled out other things. "I have been a pastor my whole adult life, and could no longer work as of Sept. 2006 due to my illness.
"My mom and dad say that my pulpit is now my bed, from which I write notes on Facebook (please request a friendship if you would like) and articles on my blog."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beautiful Bruises

I've been pondering this post all day. In part the author (also named Jennifer, but not me) says, "The colors in a refreshing sunset are the same as my bruise. Maybe, just maybe, God sees the same beauty in both. Maybe God wishes we would stop shying away from our bruises and instead, sit back, take a breath and observe. Maybe if we stopped trying to hide the bruises, we would see what God sees..."

What are your thoughts? How have you found beauty in painful circumstances?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weakness in Strength

This blog is about finding strength in the midst of weakness, but I love Lysa TerKeurst's thoughts today about how, "We are only as weak as our strongest link." Yup, if that statement make you scratch your head, you probably read it right. If it didn't make you do a double take, read it again! Here's more from Lisa about recognizing the weaknesses of our strengths.

While we are thinking about weakness and strength, this great reminder from Tricia Goyer on a recent homeschooling interview sure caught my attention. "Don't compare. We always compare our weaknesses to other people's strengths!" I can apply this to my life in so many areas and love the reminder that God has a unique plan for my life. Strengths, weaknesses and all, this is the life God has given to me and to me alone. I don't need to measure up to anyone else's standards because I'm not called to live anyone else's life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

$5 book coupon

Rest Ministries is a favorite organization of mine! I'm thrilled to announce that they are re-opening their bookstore full of wonderful resources to keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of pain. To celebrate, here's a $5 off $25 coupon code to use in their store until April 10, 2011. At checkout, use code:

More information about the RM bookstore can be found here. Please come back and tell me what great finds you chose with your discount! :)