When God Plans Your Pregnancy

img_5984editedWhere to begin?

In July, two tiny lines on a home pregnancy test took us completely by surprise. It was earth-shattering news to us – nothing was ever going to be the same again. How was this going to work with my husband working as a waiter and myself as a receptionist? What about our five year plan of frugal adventures in the plane my husband is building? How’s he going to even finish his plane? We’ve only been married a year and a half, why can’t I have my husband to myself for a while longer? Lord, what are You thinking? And how the heck did this even happen? (Yes, I know this is a humorous question on some level, but really… how is there suddenly a tiny human inside me when it seemed we had made certain we would wait a while?)

Wow. Breathe. Then the guilt hits. So many couples are in anguish because their pregnancy test came back negative for the umpteenth time. There’s a new life in me and I should be excited. And it’s not at all that I don’t want the baby. I just… now? Really? Like this? With our finances as they are? We didn’t plan this… but God did.

I share my original gut wrench because I want to be honest. It isn’t easy when you’re thinking that life will go along one line, and God switches tracks on you. I know that can also be said of so many less exciting, less positive changes – please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not a “poor me, I didn’t get my way” post. I just haven’t seen a lot in the way of Christian encouragement in this area.

I mean, biblical Christianity is pro-life. We’re supposed to be excited about new life, or at the very least have a welcoming attitude toward Baby. My friends on Facebook seem overjoyed to announce their pregnancies with adorable photo shoots. “Children are a blessing from the Lord” is the mantra. And not feeling that truth as well as knowing it in the moment makes you feel like you’ve betrayed God’s values, even if your thoughts haven’t gone any further than “this was so not my idea.” It feels like it’s not acceptable to be honest.

But here’s what the Lord has shown me over the past few months:

  1. Feelings are real in experience, but they don’t reflect the truth. I didn’t feel like our child was a blessing from the Lord, but I knew that to be the truth. I felt like God had unfairly taken control of my life, but I knew the truth is that a) I have often prayed for God to have His way in my life in spite of me and b) I’ve never been in control anyway. Gut reactions are what they are, for better or worse. Have grace for yourself, seek God’s forgiveness. But how I respond going forward is a choice I have to make in God’s strength. Claiming the truth in my prayer life, even though I don’t feel it, is vitally important to my relationship with God.
  2. It’s okay to take your time. In fact, these things take time – a whole nine months. The Lord continues to work in my heart. Additionally, we decided not to share the news of our pregnancy with anyone apart from immediate family for the first 12 weeks because we needed a period to process the news ourselves.
  3. Seek solid, Christian counsel. My husband was able to talk to our pastor early on, who was extremely encouraging. I shared with a couple of prayer warriors in my life, who proceeded to lift us up during those first weeks when it seemed like everything was spinning out of control. We didn’t have to do it on our own. God provided tremendous support in the way of family and friends.
  4. God provides, every time. It’s something to be counted on, in spite of immediate circumstances. Somehow, in His divine wisdom, things come together when they ought to, how they ought to. I can’t make them happen by worrying or trying harder. I can only be faithful in the moment and trust Him. Since July, we’ve been blessed with a fantastic job for my husband, as well as a temporary living situation near his new workplace at no cost to us. How’d it happen? Through no power of our own, let me tell you.

All this to say, if you find yourself in a similar situation, know this: you didn’t plan your baby, but God did. Seriously, you didn’t screw something up. The Almighty Father chose you, chose your child, and chose now. It may not feel like it this instant, but there is great comfort in that and it’s going to be okay. And continuing in the vein of honesty, I’m not on the “okay” side yet. I haven’t had my baby. I have no idea how this parenting stuff is supposed to work. I can’t do much “looking back” just now. My husband and I are in the midst of it. But God is faithful – to forgive, to provide, and when I am not. I know I’ll still be able to say that ten years from now, however many kiddos happen in the meanwhile.

And to our child – you who have taken to kicking and wiggling to make yourself known, who we have not yet met, but thank God for daily. Dear One, you have been loved since before we knew you were conceived, by the One who chose you, chose us, and chose now. You are wanted, and you will be welcomed into our home when at last you arrive. You are part of an amazing call from God for us to live beyond ourselves – just the first of many ways in which He will use you. The truth is, you’re a treasure. And we cannot wait to meet you.

When You’re a Hypocrite…And Also a Blogger

bible

Photo credit: Anna Grace (Not my Bible on my counter, haha, I found this among her amazing photos after writing the post!)

 

If you happen to notice such things, it may have struck you that it’s been a little quiet in the Audacious Poet blogosphere. I’d like to say it’s because I’m busy–and I am busy–but that’s not the primary reason I haven’t written anything substantial since… I’m afraid to look. October? Well, beginning of November, anyway. No, it’s actually because I’ve felt  hypocritical posting about spiritual things because I haven’t been living them like I ought to.

I have a recurring problem. I hit a busy spell and I routinely forget or put off spending time in the Word and in prayer. Ladies and gentlemen, I here confess: I have been forgetting and putting off spending time with God. It’s awful. And then I have a secondary recurring problem–I get really embarrassed about it. I “hide” from God, as if I could and as if He’s going to upbraid me for missing time with Him then second I sit down with my Bible. (Sort of like when someone lends you a book, and you haven’t read it yet, so you avoid them for an eon because you’re afraid they’ll ask how it was and you’ll have to admit it’s been kicking around your car since they lent it to you, and then they’ll call you terrible names and hate you for all eternity…or am I the only one?)

Additionally, I want to hide from anyone or anything that might make me feel more remorseful, or actually call me out on it. Folks, I’ve actually been embarrassed to pick up my prayer journal because I don’t want to record that I’m STILL reading through the same part of Ezekiel so many months later. Nobody even reads (or will read) my prayer journal. Might I suggest that there’s some irrational, spiritual interference here?

Please understand, I don’t think the devil himself lurks around my home to plague me with guilt about missing my quiet time. However, I do think there’s a real spiritual battle surrounding any activities that strengthen my relationship with Christ. And I do think the enemy is shameless about using my own shortcomings–namely pride in this case, I think–to trip me up.

A closing thought here, for any who have read this far. My brother and I recently had a somewhat unrelated discussion about living a middle of the road life where you aren’t really doing anything in the way of Kingdom work, nor are you enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. You’re just doing your thing, enjoying the “benefits” of neither and making sure you muddle through the every day stuff without any serious sin. But we know that Christ can’t stand a lukewarm Christian (Revelation 3:15-16). And we also know that Christ offers an antidote to the paralyzing poison: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) Just like that. It’s our responsibility, once we’re aware of where we’re at, to do something about it.

I got out my Bible yesterday morning. I’m starting in Hebrews. (NOT so I can cheat in my prayer journal, just because I need a change of pace.) I’m also leaving my Bible open on the kitchen counter so I read my mandatory chapter in the morning before work, if nothing else. If you’re in a paralyzed, lukewarm, embarrassed stage for whatever reason–just open your Bible. Say a prayer. God is so gracious to draw me, as He did Israel, with cords of love–especially when I’m a knucklehead (Hosea 11). I’m sure I’ll be here again in a few months, in spite of my best efforts. But God is so good. Happy New Year, everyone.

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

I was blessed to be invited to guest post on Erica Mbasan’s blog today. If you haven’t already done so, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of her blog, Erica’s Adventures, as well as her book, For the Joy Set Before Us. She writes beautifully from her own experience, always from a grounded, biblical perspective.

Erica's Adventures

I have stumbled across a lovely sister in Christ through social media. Chloe Quimby maintains a blog and has a lot of insights to share regarding life and truly following God. I have been so blessed following her blog that I asked her to guest post on here, and I’m delighted that she has agreed! Check out her beautiful insights below, and follow her at: https://anaudaciouspoet.wordpress.com 


Hi. I’m Chloe—a twenty-something Christian housewife/writer/copyeditor/biologist/receptionist—and I usually blog over at An Audacious Poet where I’ve lately started rambling a bit about what God is showing me in my life. However, Erica graciously invited me to pop over here today. Thanks, Erica!

This is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while, because God has been bringing it to my attention as a problem in my life. That is, doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Isaiah 1 records the Lord…

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5 Contrasts Between Holy Living & Holistic Living

editIMG_4321Let me begin by saying these lifestyles are not mutually exclusive. A Christian can adopt holistic practices for the sake of health and not be any less a Christian. In fact, we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are bought with a price and our bodies now belong to the Lord; therefore, we ought to take care of our bodies.

Also note, I’m using the term “holistic” here to mean the pursuit of improved health through homeopathic, natural, and organic methods. (Some folks use it more broadly, but that’s how will be defined for this discussion.) There isn’t a problem with organic or natural, in and of themselves. However, there are a few points that bother me about the uber-natural movement within Christianity. Trying not to step on too many toes, I’ll list my grievances below and ask that readers keep an open mind.
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Frugal, Minimalist, Non-consuming Christian

Ladies at the farmer’s market, circa 2013. Picture by yours truly.

I chose the buzzwords above because they all seem to describe aspects of the same mindset–one which, for one reason or another, would rather make choices about money/possessions than be ruled by them. I’ve been exploring a variety of “literature” on the topic for the past several months. I’ve read it all: Mr. Money Mustache, Money Saving Mom, Passionate Penny Pincher, The Frugalwoods, Afford Anything, Budget 101, and many lesser known blogs by individuals just living and sharing their frugal, minimalist, non-consuming lives. I’ve joined the Non-consumer Advocate group on Facebook and begun researching the Buy Nothing movement. I’ve tortured my husband (sorry, Honey) with thousands of pictures of tiny homes, fantasizing about the day we have our own uber-minimalist place. And I’ve even switched over to cleaning cloths for most formerly-paper-towel jobs.

What does this have to do with Christianity? I jumped into these resources initially thinking I could be a better steward of the resources God has provided. I wanted to live below our (limited) means because that seemed wise. God says that the root of evil is the love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10) And beside that, it seemed pretty cool what folks like the Frugalwoods and Mr. Money Mustache are doing… retiring in their 30s? Choosing cool experiences and travel above mere stuff? That’s really living! Except, as excited as I got about those ideas, those don’t really have any more Kingdom worth than money. I had a good, long talk with my husband (which is a great way to get all sorts of thoughts straight in my head) about financial priorities. And then I did some praying and some thinking besides.
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Book Review: The Heavenly Man

79421A convicting read, within The Heavenly Man Brother Yun (with Paul Hattaway) tells the story of his conversion and subsequent ministry in communist China. His story begins at the age of 16, during the 1970s when persecution of the Church in China began to increase greatly. His ability to endure and preach the gospel in spite of beatings and imprisonment is a testament to God’s faithfulness, and the miracles he records will surely strength your faith. His wife, Deling, and a few other fellow-laborers also share their testimony in places.

Brother Yun ends the narrative describing the continuing work of the Back to Jerusalem movement, in which Chinese Christians that have been prepared by persecution are going forth into Middle Eastern and other closed countries to spread the gospel. Because they would not choose an easy life, but a life lived wholly for Christ. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for their first-world Christianity to be rocked.
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Book Review: For the Joy Set Before Us

FortheJoySetBeforeUsWithin the pages of For the Joy Set Before Us, Erica Fye provides not only the promised “insights into missionary life,” but chapters full of practicable counsel for the ministry-minded Christian. Although focused on Ms. Fye’s experience in foreign missionary work (topics include re-entry shock, adjusting to life in a new culture, etc.), Scriptural truth saturates her writing and gives it broader application.

Beginning with her own testimony and call to missions, Ms. Fye uses her personal story to illustrate biblical principles of ministry. Her willingness to share private struggles and experiences for God’s glory make Ms. Fye’s writing—though unassuming—powerful. Hardly a page is without a Bible reference, or relevant verse. The chapters address a number of difficulties the missionary faces (e.g. loneliness and burnout), and offer both encouragement and direction. The overarching theme, however, is the faithfulness of God to the believer.

For the Joy Set Before Us is not a collection of heartwarming stories from the “wilds” of Uganda. Its purpose is not to entertain, but rather to equip. It is a challenge to seek God and answer His call wherever you are.
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