Creation of our Family- May 24, 2014

Friday, February 26, 2016

Living a life of love

One year ago today, Josh and I were diagnosed with infertility. One year ago, our worlds stopped spinning as the reality sunk in. The reality was that, after a lifetime of longing, praying, and preparing to be a mother, I was facing a diagnosis that said it would likely never happen apart from very costly medical intervention.  So here is my question: how does that circumstance, and all those that followed as we struggled through infertility, loss, and miscarriage this year, line up with the truth that I have been and still am chosen by God for a life of love?

I have been chosen in Christ, called to share His love and shine His light where He has placed me. He has chosen me for a life of love.

I am thinking today about what it means to be chosen. God is very clear in the Bible that He has chosen His children for a specific purpose. He has chosen us to demonstrate and live out a life of love. What does that look like in real life, in the midst of trials and triumphs?

As I sit here, on the other side of one of the most difficult years of my life, I remain certain. I fully believe that God chose me and called me to live life as a missionary for Him, as an example of His love. As a child, He put this passion and desire within my heart. Over the years, through relationships, jobs, church families, and both local and international positions, He has continued to spur me on toward living a life of love. This year was no exception.

Each moment of this year drew me closer to the Lord as we sought His guidance and His presence in our lives. As I have passed through the depths of grief and loss, His love has comforted me and led me on. I have been that little hurting lamb, carried close to the chest of my Loving Shepherd. I have experienced that I have a good, good Father who loves me unfailingly.

During the sadness and difficulty, as friends and family drew near to support us, love us, pray for us, and lift us up with encouragement, I learned something new about my Savior. Sometimes He calls us to sorrow, trials, and pain. I do not believe He would ever plan for our unborn children to die before they ever were born, so that is not what I mean. But I do believe He calls us and allows us to walk paths in life that weave through depths of sorrow, loss, and even despair. Why would He do that?  In these moments of life, He calls us to sacrifice our emotions and fix our eyes on Him. He calls us to choose FAITH when we see nothing physically worth believing in. Who hopes for what is already seen? The only way he can grow and develop in us the precious gifts of faith, hope, and trust is by putting us in places where we see nothing human to fix our hope to.

And so here we are. One year later. We are not yet parents. We are living in temporary housing and do not have a church family yet in Minnesota. There are a lot of unknowns, a whole lot of them. But glimmers of light are shining through. God has truly provided for our every need, sometimes in pretty miraculous ways! We have a roof over our head and good food to eat. Josh and I have each other, and our relationship has grown and deepened tremendously over this year of sadness and transition. I have just been offered two new part time jobs, doing work in the anti-trafficking movement. Josh has begun working as a volunteer attorney with two different programs that serve homeless individuals in the twin cities. 

All of that is good. We still fix our hope on Christ alone as we pray for the children we believe we will one day have. It hurts, I am not going to lie. How I would love to be stable enough right now to do our last IVF cycle or begin the adoption process in Minnesota! How we pray for the miraculous pregnancy we believe is coming one day! God knows our family and who will be in it. God is working His plans in our lives, and we choose to continue to rely on Him and His timing for our family. So we wait patiently on the Lord and experience His mercies everyday.

And almost everyday I am absolutely amazed by the beautiful surprises He has for us! I started out this entry talking about being chosen and called by God. I know that I have been chosen to live a life of love, clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline in the midst of trials and sorrow. But I have also been called live that life of love through missions. My heart overflows as I think about all God has done recently in this part of who I am! I was called to be a missionary when I was only 8 years old, and in each stage of my life God has shown me a bit more of how He wants to use me. He is doing many different beautiful works in my life as a missionary right now!

First, let’s start with the big one: two weeks from tomorrow I leave for Guatemala! God opened this door for me back in December, then urged me to ask for financial support and prayer for the trip online through GoFundMe- and He brought in ALL of my needed finances plus an extra $500 in that first week and a half! It turns out He had a plan for that money: this week I spent that money to change my flights so that I can go to Guatemala sooner. I will be co-leading a week long seminar on healing, empowerment, and restoration from trauma for faith-based leaders with my good friend and former colleague, Laurel. I will get the opportunity to journey with this group as the learn how to most effectively and compassionately walk alongside community members who have been victims of suffering, violence, and abuse, including war and human trafficking. That will be March 14-17. After that, Laurel and her family and I will travel to the mountainous northern part of Guatemala where the recently publicized sexual slavery trials are ongoing and much of the community is ravaged by poverty and mass migration. There, we will write, reflect, and serve for a few days. I am still hoping and praying that I will be able to spend one day encouraging the staff and orphans at an orphanage on Lago Atitlan. We are also hoping for a short visit to nearby Antigua to participate in the Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities celebrating the passion of Christ. Please pray for my trip to Guatemala from March 13-24. Specifically, I am praying that I will have the strength to live out Christ’s love in all of these circumstances and that people’s hearts will be encouraged and filled with God’s presence.

God also has opened up two different opportunities for me to teach and encourage others about missions. This Sunday, I will be sharing my heart for missions at Faith in Christ Church, in Eagan, MN. This is a tremendous blessing, as our good friends Sam and Sarah just started pastoring this church last month. I also have recently committed to returning to Lake Lundgren Bible Camp this summer (June 13-17) as the camp missionary speaker! What an incredibly rich blessing in my life the last time I served as missionary speaker for several weeks in the summer of 2010. I cannot wait!

God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine! In January of this year I claimed Ephesians 3:20 as a theme verse for our family in 2016. So far, in many amazing ways, God has done greater things than we could have even dreamed possible! In fact, today I paused in writing this entry so that I could go with Josh to drive by a potential apartment. We didn’t like it, but decided to keep driving around St. Paul to look at other neighborhoods. We came to the very first neighborhood we loved in the twin cities… in there was a for rent sign in a perfect location. Long story short: I think we just found our ideal place to live!! Praying the details all work out. 

Finally, one last thought before I wrap this up. This morning in my Becoming More online Bible Study with Proverbs 31 Ministries, I read about my identity in Christ. He has chosen me. I am seen and known by Him. I am treasured and loved by Him. I am forgiven and redeemed.  But here is the thing: He gave me this identity not only to enrich my own life, but to bless, serve, and love others. I love the list of attributes God tells us He has picked out for us and chosen us to live out: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. The fact of the matter is that all five attributes indeed bless the people we are in relationship with. 

On our wedding day, my mom had the beautiful idea of gathering together with my bridal party and I so that each of them could share a treasured Bible verse or piece of marriage advice, and we could pray together over our marriage. Colossians 3:12-14 were the verses my mother shared with me that day. After listing the attributes we are to put on, the verse conclude by saying: "And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." The day I wed my loving husband was one of the most beautiful, spiritually triumphant and special moments of my entire life. Colossians 3:12-14 set the tone for both our wedding day and our marriage. These verses serve as a daily calling. 

This year, I have learned that the heart of who God chose me to be is the same in both trials and triumphs. Friends, let's use the lives we have been given, no matter the circumstances we presently find ourselves in, to lead lives of love, blessing those around us with love. 

Thank you, as always for journeying with me... and stay tuned for more posts. I plan to put more frequents updates on here while I am in Guatemala in March. And if you are praying or supporting us in any way: a huge thank you from Josh and I!! 

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