Can you and I have a one on one REAL, raw, honest chat? Good. Thanks. I need that.
As much as I've been fighting it-I know what I'm called to do right now. To be real. To speak from a place of being in the TEST of the TESTIMONY.
I've noticed lately that so many sermons, books, blogs are all written from the testimony side. The "I used to be where you are, and look where God has brought me now!" viewpoint. And that is AMAZING. I looooove an inspirational testimony. The looking up to someone yelling from the mountain that you are trying to climb gives you a focal point and becomes a hype man that you too can do this. But sometimes. Sometimes we just need someone to be in that valley with us. Not to let us stay there or feel sorry for ourselves, but to say "I'm here too. And so is God. Let's all climb this together."
So....here I am. In the valley looking at the mountain. In the prison dreaming of the palace. In the wilderness searching for the promised land. No longer pretending to be something I'm not or somewhere I'm not.
God doesn't ask us to have it all together to be loved by Him. So why do we think we need to have it all together for people to love us?
Maybe, just maybe, if we stop sharing only the best version of ourselves (where our photos, families, marriages, careers, minds, faith are all this billboard of perfection) and start being real when life happens, others can relate to us...and relate to Jesus. Just a thought....
Here is my real:
June 20, 2015-Fred (hubs) and I were told we would never have children by 4 doctors. 6 days before our wedding. We told no one.
September 2015-we found a doctor willing to give us (and our giant sized faith) a try. We began IVF. Daily shots (my fear in life is needles btw) with the biggest needle I've ever seen pumping me full of hormones for 3 months. Daily declaring verses over our bodies that we WILL be fruitful and multiply. Two surgeries, 23 eggs, and 9 embryos later, we implanted 2. Neither attached. Our world was shaken, but we jumped back up with even more faith ready to implant just as soon as medically allowed. We told only our closest family.
December 2015-we were too ready for this 2nd try. This was IT. We were going to implant the only two surviving embryos 10 days before Christmas. You wanna talk about using faith eyes? We bought nursery items, I bought "I'm a grandma/auntie" shirts for my mom and sister, I carried those two remaining embryos pictures around as if they were Kindergarten pictures. We. Named. Them. Max and Mila. They were ours. Unfortunately before they could be ours, they were HIS. I had never experienced pain like I did when we lost those babies. For the first time, I was mad at God. I couldn't even speak to Him. I didn't want to hear an inspirational bible verse. I didn't want to pray. I didn't want to hear how good God was. I couldn't see it. I couldn't feel it. I couldn't believe it. Again-we kept this a secret as I daily dressed myself in the pretend "all is well" outfit. Over the next few months, the Lord gave me the vision of "She Who Believed" blog from the story of Elizabeth (pregnant after being pronounced barren) in Luke 1:45. I had to believe again that His promises are true. Slowly I did.
September 2016-Fred lost his dream job. Working with, influencing, and even bringing to Christ at risk youth. This was the 2nd time I had ever seen my husband cry (the first being the loss of Max and Mila). He felt like a failure as a husband-unable to provide financially or give me the child we both so longed for.
December 15, 2016-I lost my dream job. After seeing Paris, Ireland, Switzerland, and being treated like royalty as top 1% pharmaceutical sales rep for 2 years, I was told to stay home (again 10 days before Christmas) and wait for a call to tell me if I had a job or not as the company downsized 40% of the nation. Mine was a no. This was definitely our WHY season. I was so used to making great money, driving my free company car, and praising God every minute of it. I searched for ways to bring glory to Him for every blessing in my career. We tithed. I stayed humble. I did it the right way. So why God?! Also our HOW season. How are we going to pay our mortgage? How are we going to get another car? How could you take away the job that was going to pay for this new journey of adoption you are leading us on? How could you do this to your children? At this point, God told me to spend the 8 hours each day I would spend working in His word. I obeyed. And He showed me more in those 3 months than ever before. All is well. All is well. It has to be.
March 11, 2017-while leading our ministry for 20's and 30's called SALT, I missed about 20 texts and calls from my mom and sister. I'll never forget the moment, the smell of the coffeeshop, the feeling of the cold cement floor I crumbled to as I was told my father was murdered and he and his house were set on fire leaving nothing. Immediately I made a promise to God that I would not ask "why" no matter how hard this becomes. As I write this, opening my notebook to the tear soaked pages I wrote that day, I see my few scribbled statements:
"From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
A strong tower against the foe"
"I would rather walk with God with no answers than without Him and all the answers"
"I don't need an explanation, I need God"
On March 11, my dad left me. But God did not.
The next few weeks I lived in bed. I couldn't function. I journaled. I wrote daily "Dear Daddy" letters to God. Some were full of strength and verses and declarations. Others were full of lament. Where I could only write that two word verse:
Each day brought a new rise and fall of the grief roller coaster. Alongside our emotions, my mother, sister, and I were dealing with minute to minute changing rumors, meetings with detectives where we learned gruesome details of his stabbing, road trips to the reservation where he lived, and planning a funeral service with only ashes. All while around the clock planning and executing our huge annual women's conference at church, wearing my now deteriorating "all is well" mask.
April 8, 2017-Dad's memorial service. God told me right away that I was going to speak at it. As I began my tantrum of "how can I-the daughter of a father who left her at age 11, who was killed in the most awful way, stand my wobbly legs up and say even a single word through my sobbing?!", He allowed me an opportunity to take Him at His word of:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12:9
I kept saying "OK God-you should be perfectly strong right now, because I am absolutely weak". And He was. For my sister as well. She amazingly wrote a piece and shared childhood memories. The service was what I can only describe as strangely beautiful. God told me I was to not prepare anything, to speak what He told me to speak and trust Him. As I would look down at the service program with tear filled eyes and a lump in my throat watching my "go time" draw nearer, He told me I was going to share the gospel. To a church filled to capacity with family I haven't seen in 20 years, friends of my father that were alcoholics, possibly drug addicts, and most likely would never have been in the walls of a church had it not been for this awful loss. I began to see that while my father did not need to die for these people to be led to Christ, He could again be held to His promise of bringing beauty from ashes (literally).
Today, May 29th, 2017- As each day brings a new facet of grief, I experience a new facet of Him. How He is truly our:
Prince of Peace"
I say all of this with a vulnerable, transparent heart that I pray will encourage you that it's OK to not be OK sometimes. That we can share the mess before there is a message. That we can together say "all is well" before we feel it.
So there you have it. My TEST. Testimony coming soon.