Seasons 

September 27, 2015 § 1 Comment

We had an unusually busy summer this year with lots of travel, lots of change and lots of heartache. 

Looking back on the beginning of the year, I guess I should’ve known the Lord may have been preparing us for a new season. I was enjoying the rich season of prayer with Him so when the winds changed, I was a little blindsided. I never thought we’d walk through the loss we experienced this summer, but I think every woman must think that. 

Towards the end of June, we were delighted to find out we were expecting baby number 3 into our clan. However the dreams we had for this child quickly dissipated within a few short weeks. About two weeks after we learned of our gift, we walked through loss. 

Having been there for other friends that have also experienced miscarriage, I thought that I would surely have been more “prepared” but honestly I don’t think any parent is ever at a place of being ready for the loss of a child. 

For me personally, I was shocked at how completely raw and deep the pain went, for this tiny bean, only 4-6 weeks in my womb. 

But this child existed. They had lived, even though the days were short, they were still numbered by the Lord, and He knew all the secret parts of this child that we never held.

“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 15-16

Psalm 139 is one of my favorites, speaking of how we are made, and how He thinks of us. I needed to read this and be reminded of His mindfulness of us. Of each child, even the ones that see heaven before us. 

I learned much walking through miscarriage. Much about pain, loss, grief, sin, compassion, understanding, God, and a host of other things that are continually changing me. 

I learned that grief and loss do change you. That you probably won’t ever go back to who you were prior to it. But I’m learning that’s okay. 

In fact it’s good. God can bring good from anything. This was hard to see, and know when we knew we wouldn’t see this child’s face. But as the days passed, and we shared our loss with our boys, said goodbye to our third child, and grieved quietly with close friends and family, the Lord continued to meet me. He continued to be balm to my hurt. Through gifts from friends, the arms of my husband, the words of other moms that have experienced the deep heartache we were right in the thick of, He brought good in the midst of it. I remembered praying for women (friends, sisters in Christ) that had miscarriages, and now being in the same place I suddenly had new understanding. Even though it’s a painful place to be, my heart has been opened in ways that it just wasn’t before. How I mother, how I pray for others, how I see children has become different, and it’s good. 

One thing that I continue to grapple with is hope.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalm 42:5

I still find that I struggle with this, when I see other pregnant women, and again remember the loss of our own. It’s still painful, but I am learning where and Who my hope is. When He chooses to give us gifts we will praise Him! But when those gifts are taken away, it’s hard to keep praising. Yet I will continue to hope in God. Because His Word says to. 

I am so thankful for what the Lord has been teaching me this year. Since the start of the year I have been journaling, and I continued to even through this loss. There were days that it was one of the most painful things to write down what I would have rather denied, but it helped in the healing. I found my voice again, speaking in prayer, through pen and paper. Words. So may words that I’ve shared with the Lord, so many words He has shared with me in His Word. As I’ve journaled I’ve also been drawing words, scripture, quotes, songs and it’s been part of the healing He has given me. 

I am so grateful that God knows me, and knows what will keep me close to Him, and what will help me heal. That gives me much hope, that He is working even though I cannot always see. 

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Faith

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

I wanted to preface this post by sharing a little background. This is a personal post (there’s your warning :)) and I wanted to share it for a couple reasons. One, the Lord is good and what He’s been doing in our lives is something we want to tell others as a testimony to His faithfulness. Secondly, this is part of our own story. A Huge part. In our own everyday, we are learning to walk in faith and God has been gracious to us in this. He started this faith walk about 5 years back and we have been able to share this through the beauty of technology (blogging) and feel that it’s time to share the next part of our story. A new chapter, a “change in the winds” (as Jonah likes to say) has been what this year has looked like for us. With that said we are sharing some of what we have been learning in hopes of encouraging another to abandon themselves to a God that wants to grow their faith. And so if you are at that place, or if you simply want to share in our story with us, we pray your heart is encouraged, nevertheless

 It’s March 1st and I am wondering what happened to the first two months of the year. Heading into this month I am bracing myself for the busyness we know it will bring. Jonah has a packed schedule with extra work, which means I have my hands a little fuller with the boys. Added to that anything extra with friends and I know I’m going to blink and it will be April. 

 As I mentioned in my last post, the Lord has been showing us some great things this year. We have both been learning what it means to really pray.

But it’s also been a full season in a different way. There is a fullness that comes with busy living, but a much different fullness when you abide in the Lord. He offers a satisfaction that cannot be matched. Psalm 34:8 says, O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him. I love this verse because it has been exactly that for me. I have tasted His goodness, His love, His comfort and peace that His Spirit brings when you dwell [abide] with Him. Spending time with Him has been a sweetness that the world cannot touch. One taste of His glory and nothing can compare. 

 John 15 teaches us what it means to abide in Christ. Abide in me and I in you, is the command. Not, “I will abide in you, then you will abide in me.”

Actively seeking out the Lord is part of what He expects of us. And you shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says. Jonah and I have been seeking Him and He has not failed to show up. In big ways, in small ways, in ways that we cannot deny His presence in our lives. It’s been a rich time for our spirits and is giving deeper roots to our faith. 

 I think one thing that continues to baffle me is the timeliness of how God assures, confirms, provides and shows His goodness. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

It is humbling to receive of His goodness.

Over and over again God has shown us He will take care of us. Looking behind us at these past few years I have witnessed this firsthand. On my timehop app today it pulled up a blogpost that I had written about 5 years ago. It was written in the beginning of a new season for us. A season of new faith. A time when we stepped out with some trepidation to a very big very wide place that made room for ONLY God. The story surrounding that is powerful and we continue to share it as our own testimony. 

Reading the post today made me remember the past 5 years of God’s faithfulness.

I remember thinking how could we step out in faith? Looking back at His provision, His blessings, His grace and love to grow us are enough to make me weep.  

God is good. 

 He is greater than anything we can imagine, and He has plans that are bigger than we can hope for. The latter part of John 10:10 says, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 

Abundantly. 

Do you know what that word means? It means plentiful, great quantity, more than enough, lavish.

When I read this I realized how low my expectation was of God’s provision. He not only wants to give us life – but abundant life. How many Christians are walking around living defeated lives and missing the blessing of what a surrendered life in a relationship with Christ looks like? Even beyond that why aren’t we speaking of it? Of the victories He has given us, the blessings He’s graciously poured on us, the healing and sweetness His Spirit brought us? The story that he has (and is) writing of our lives? 

Looking back and seeing how every need was met, wasn’t just that thought alone that struck me. But the fact that I am living an abundant life because of Christ. Every need was met yes, but there are areas where God went above and beyond just provision. He “lavishly” gave us things He knew we desired, or often surprised us unexpectedly. It hasn’t always been easy walking down this path of faith but I can say that it has been worth it.

And to serve a God that delights in giving to us lavishly is humbling as well. I love the reminder of this in Psalm 103:14 For he knows our frame, he remembers we are dust.

He knows how we are made, He knows our frailty and yet He willingly forgives, helps and loves us beyond measure. 

This year for me has been a year of words. Literally, words. To write them, with hand lettering, and to speak them. Our story is still being written and there is so much more I could share about all we are continually learning, as well as details of the past five years. It has not been a smooth road the whole way, I don’t want to be misunderstood. We walked through some valleys and up on some mountains, but through it all He’s been faithful. 

This is the encouragement I wanted to leave with you now. He has greatly encouraged my heart and I wanted to publish His goodness. Because I will publish the name of the Lord and ascribe ye greatness unto our God  Deuteronomy 32:3 

 May your heart be drawn deeper than you can possibly imagine into His own.

-Carrie

Parenting

May 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

We are about to enter year 2 of parenting, as our little boy is very close to his second birthday. You know that saying ‘the terrible two’s?’ Well, I don’t like to go along with mainstream for pretty much anything, and I guess I assumed that this little phrase surely didn’t label every child. I did feel that way.

Until yesterday.

Our sweet, mild natured little boy threw a tantrum. A genuine, have it out, tantrum for a good 15 minutes. I was home alone with him, and did all I knew to do to discipline, correct, love, be firm, etc. But in the end I ended up being confused at this behavior, a little hurt that I couldn’t ‘control’ it or help him, and utterly at a loss.

Much later after I had some time to think things through, pray and seek out the Lord for this, I was gently reminded of several things.

How often in my life do I fight and cry to do things my own way? Does God see me, like I see our own son?

I truly believe this.

I may not be 2 years old, but I know the attitude of my heart can often reflect that of a child. My way- I so often want things my way and that’s that.

What a selfish being I am.

I am so grateful for God’s mercy, His grace, His cleansing, renewing forgiveness that is needed and given daily. Mostly I am thankful for His kind love.

It’s not easy to look at my son misbehaving, it truly hurts my heart.

God reminded me of this after it all happened, and even though it’s tough to know what to do, I am thankful for what I learned of Him, by watching my own son. It’s amazing to me how we can see such a parallel relationship in parenting our own children, and in walking with God.

I am desperately seeking God for wisdom, for both Jonah and I as we come to these moments of “what do we do now?”. And parenting seems to bring that question up often!

I know we can pray, we can remain faithfully close to God.

I fail in this area too often, and yesterday was reminded how much I need God. I need Him like my next breath, and truly He allows everything in my life for His reasons.

So I am thankful for this learning moment for both Oliver and I. Will it happen again?

I’m guessing yes.

My heart has been renewed though. Throughout this it’s been opened up to my need for Him to fill me up, so that I can be ready when this does happen. I desire above all else for Oliver to see that we love him, but more so that God loves him more than anyone in this life ever will.

I am encouraged by Psalm 142:3a- David was running from Saul, hiding from him rather for his own safety, and he wrote this Psalm.

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me then thou knewest my path…”

He knows how we can love, discipline and lead this little child. And to that I am clinging!

 

home

September 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s been oh…almost 2 months since I’ve been home. Home with my son, home for my husband, home to be a mom, wife, and right where God has placed me. I can’t explain the goodness of how right it is each day I wake up to walk through another day playing, teaching, loving my son, and growing as the woman God wants me to be.

How do you go from a full time job to being at home? Financially how do you drop an income? How do you care for a little one all day? Do you go crazy? Do you long for adult conversation? Do you grow weary? Do you miss the work world?

I had these thoughts run through my mind time and again before we made the decision that God clearly lead us to.

And now here I am on the other side of that decision. Living it out day by day.

Oh the joy. I cannot even describe it. It is truly with joy I greet each day. Being able to focus on the ones my heart loves, focus on the role God has called me to live, it is so full of joy, peace, and good. I love being the one to watch our son learn new things. I never knew that being a mother could be sooo fulfilling. That watching this little tiny boy grow and being there to train him- what else in all this world is more important?

I love being able to keep our home, to be the keeper of the home. I take pleasure in preparing nourishing meals for my family.

And our faith…

Jonah and I have learned to lean on God for our needs. Knowing that my income is no longer there, we have continued to seek Him in prayer asking specifically for Him to meet our needs each month. And you know what? He has.

What about the worry of not having enough?

It’s not there. God is.

Here and there we have seen money trickle in and it’s come from places we never would have thought. It’s amazing, it’s exciting!

I love love love relying on God for our needs. I love stepping out into an unknown, because it’s the only way I can grow in faith. Grow in my walk, leaning hard on my God.

And our marriage.

I am in awe of this man. The one that God clearly placed in my life, by my side. Jonah has become a leader, full of love, full of support. And I don’t deserve it, but I am so humbled and grateful for it, knowing what he willingly offers to me is because his heart is close to God. I love this man so dearly, and I am ashamed to say I take him for granted.

Life is so quick, truly a vapor and I don’t want to miss….waste a moment doing something, working somewhere, dwelling on something that is not what God wants for me. I want to live this life to bring glory to Him. I want to pour into this sweet boy, my loving husband all that He pours into me…as a dear friend reminded me.

And at last I leave my favorite quote that reminds me of these precious days:

Cleansing and scrubbing

can wait unil tomorrow,

For babies grow up, 

We’ve learned to our sorow.

So, quiet down cobwebs;

Dust go to sleep;

I’m rocking my baby,

And babies don’t keep.

-author unknown

Prayer of faith

July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

This morning I was reading in my Bible and today’s reading fell in John, James, Proverbs and 2 Chronicles. This year I have felt challenged to read through the Bible- a first for me, and I was excited to dive in. There were days when it was tough to get through some of the passages, like in Leviticus for example. Others it seemed to really just speak out to me. I could sense the Holy Spirit speaking clearly, and I would slow down and absorb as much as I could. Those moments were the drinking from the spring kind of moments. Pure, cool, water that quenched my thirst.

Today was kind of like a drinking from the spring day.

As I was reading along, I had several things going through my mind and heart. One being prayer for a friend of ours. His little boy, Finn,  is undergoing treatments to fight off leukemia. Pretty intense stuff. My prayers have been daily for them, asking God for healing, strength, encouragement and help.

After praying, I looked down to see a reference I had jotted down on my daily reading chart. John 9:3

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 

This verse is in a passage where Jesus was with his disciples and they came upon a man that was blind from birth. The disciples questioned who had sinned in this mans life to cause him to be blind- was it the fault of the parents? I thought how human that was of them- something I may even question, because I can’t understand why God would allow this. I was amazed at Jesus response- it wasn’t because of sin that this man was blind, it was to show the works of God. Perhaps he was allowed to be blind all those years, so that he could be healed at that moment, to be a testimony of God and how incredible mighty He is. Perhaps someone saw this man that was miraculously healed, and their faith grew by leaps and bounds. It goes onto to say that this mans neighbors were in awe of this healing.

I wrote this verse down a few days ago. But my mind would not let it go. For that reason, I felt led to share it here. I think it’s easy and understandable that we often question God when something difficult happens in our lives. Something we absolutely cannot control. Something we have to trust God for, and not question that He is in control.

Reading on today, I also came upon a few other passages that really made me stop and re-read over them again. One passage was John 15. This is speaking of Jesus being the vine, and we are the branches. There is so much to take from this one chapter. It’s a huge wake up call to a Christian, in how they are living and what exactly they are and are not doing. It was a spiritual check up for me, and I was convicted as I read about bearing fruit. But I was also amazed at the amount of love that is pouring out of this chapter. How God sees us as we follow Him, obey His commandments, and ask Him for His help. What exactly am I doing with the gifts He has given me? How am I using these ‘vines/branches’ for Him? How much I desire to use what He has given me, for Him. For His glory.

My next passage was in James 5, and the last few verses (13-18) spoke out to me. They are in reference to prayer and faith:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. confess your faults one to another, and one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

How much I took from this! My first thoughts went to Finn as I read about praying in faith. How incredibly powerful that is.

My next thought was how I have been praying. How absent minded have I allowed myself to be when I am coming into the presence of the Living God? Reading about the faith of Elijah (Elias= Elijah) whose faith was so strong that when he asked God for something, it happened in a big way.

Thinking of my own faith and how much I am truly depending on God brought up another thought. How much of the time do I allow myself to get in the way? How often do I put my own opinions, wants, desires, and needs before God’s wants, desires and needs? My only thought is that I need to let go, I need to step out of the way to allow God to step in. I desire this, truly I do. It’s just sooo easy to become consumed in self. I hate that, but I also know I am human and God can understand this, although He doesn’t accept it. He desires for me to let go of…well..of me.

I’m challenged in my faith today. Challenged to let go of my own selfish needs, and challenged to pray differently. I want to be the one that is said to have prayers in faith. And not for my own personal gain, but to truly be used of God, to be an instrument for Him. How many other Elijah’s are out there today, that God desires to use, but simply can’t because they cannot lay down their lives for Him?

Perhaps this may not make the most sense as I jotting down my scattered thoughts, but the Word of God is powerful and convicting and so rich! May I keep these words of Scripture deeply rooted in my heart, but more so, may I allow them to grow in my life.

What now?

June 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s been a little over a week since we landed down in Atlanta, the tail end of our 9 day trip to the DR.

Since then I’ve had time to look at the hundreds of photos posted from the trip, unpack, catch up on laundry, and enjoy the simple luxuries of clean water, air conditioning and fresh vegetables. My mind has been able to catch up to my heart somewhat…

Being in the DR and living such a busy, physical lifestyle kept me busy mentally too. Everything I took in went into my mind and heart- much of it being ‘stored’ up for later. Later, when I could sit and quietly unpack all those thoughts and images.

Well, it’s later.

I’ve quietly been unwinding all those thoughts, images and feelings, one by one. I’ve been praying over the impact that this trip had on my life and the lives of those that were with me. I’ve been praying that I would not forget, but worse that I would not ignore what it’s done to my heart. The stirring, the passion, the desire to do something, to do anything once we were back home.

I feared for complacency in my Christian life.

I well remember being okay with just getting by for Christ. Never stepping outside of my comfort zone, never wanting to feel ‘uncomfortable’ for the sake of loving others, doing more, or letting go of something.

Going on this trip was a decision I made based on obedience. I had prayed over going- not wanting to honestly. Not wanting to go somewhere that was poor, dirty, hot, uncomfortable. Not wanting to leave our son behind for all those days- because wasn’t I the one that knew his schedule and filled his needs the best? I think the question came down to “What could God possibly want with me?” This question resided in my heart, and the reality is it was a selfish, human focused thought. I was relying on me for a feeling based decision.  Stepping outside of me- and stepping firmly out on faith- and seeking what HE wanted me to do, changed my human thinking. I knew that God wanted me to go. I knew the simple answer was ‘yes, I’ll go’.

With that came peace, and provision step by step to prepare me. When I felt the urge to take control, I again released my selfishness and continued to step out in faith, again and again.

I was surprised at the joy that followed the peace in following God. While I’ve heard of this from Christians, experiencing it over and over again in my own life has been such an incredible blessing. Really, who in their ‘right’ mind (I say that in reference to a carnal mind) would think there would be joy found in serving others in dirty, hot uncomfortable conditions? How could there be joy in constant travel and self sacrifice? Because it as all for Christ. The very reason I was there was for Jesus. And I knew this day in and day out. When things were tough, I prayed for Him to speak through me. I continually asked for Him to use me. I knew that He had a plan for me to be there, and I embraced that wholeheartedly.

All of this to say, I walked away from it all feeling blessed, joy from serving, joy from loving others, and a rawness- spiritually that I otherwise could not have felt. I feel like my heart is more open now than it was before I left.

There is a brokenness that makes me ache for the lost, the poor, the needy. I know now how truly blessed I am, with all the worldly posessions I own, I am moved to give. I am moved to help, I am moved to tell others about Jesus tremendous gift of love, that He gave by dying on the cross for each of us.

Since I’ve been back I have been thinking daily about what I can do. What exactly can I do to help others, to tell others about Christ? There are so many needs right here surrounding me. It’s overwhelming. I have so many different ways I’d like to go. From helping with sex trafficking, to donating to families in need, to playing with underpriviledged kids, to raising money and supplies for the orphans back in the DR.

The biggest hurtle I’ve faced is not having time to do any of this yet. As I jumped right back into my job I have had my hands tied. But my heart is still racing to go, to do. As I wind down and end my job- only a few more days left, I am eager to end it for several reasons. One is the tremendous call to be at home training up our son- what a joy and honor it is to do this. But secondly, it’s the overwhelming need to minister to others.

I’m praying for this passion to stay lit. That I will act on it as soon as I am able, and that God directs my path to the areas He wants me in. With so many needs, it’s easy to give up, not knowing which one to pursue. But I write this to say I don’t want to be that one that gives up. I want to be the one that moves, that walks, that listens.

Being Home

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here we are safe and sound at home, our sweet boy asleep in his bed after falling asleep in my arms. What a precious gift he is. Now that he is getting bigger he doesn’t often fall asleep in our arms like he did when he was a wee thing.

I remember right before we left for the DR he fell asleep in my arms and I saw it as a special gift from God before we left for 9 days. God knew I needed that special memory to carry over with me for the next several days.

And now here we are the day after our trip and I was again given this gift- the pleasure of holding our sweet sleeping boy in my arms.

As I was holding him in my arms and singing along to Hillsong’s “Came to My Rescue” I found myself thinking back over the past several days. Merely days have gone by, but it feels like a lifetime. My view of the world, my view of Christianity, love, compassion, giving and salvation has changed.

When we were traveling home last night all I could think about was gettting there- getting to our boy, our home, our clean water and food. I was ready to be home. I was ready to be done with the hot humid weather, the crazy bumpy roads, the palm trees, the rice and bean lunches, the bottled water, cold showers and living from a suitcase.

What I didn’t expect is that I’d miss it.

Yes I even miss the hot, un-airconditioned buildings. Why? For the people there. The people that live with next to nothing, that sit through rain and mud and open air homes, and cook from a fire outside, play with next to nothing for toys. There are so many there, so many faces that we passed by on our bus. So many faces that looked at us, the strange white Americans, but smiled. They waved, they said Hola, they welcomed and received us more than some of my fellow neighbors do here in America.

I guess I didn’t expect to come back feeling broken. Broken for the need to do more. To give more, to love more, listen more.

As I was thinking through this tonight the next song on our playlist came on and perfectly voiced my thoughts- Brandon Heath’s “Follow me”:

You live among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away

All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead, You gave me life
How could I not give it way so freely? 

Chorus:
And I’ll
Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
I’ll meet the needs for the poor 
And needy, God
I’ll follow You into the world

Use my hands 
Use my feet
To make Your Kingdom come
To the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done

Because faith without works is dead
And on the cross, Your blood was shed
So how could we not give it away so freely?

I give all myself 
I give all myself
And I give all myself to You