Divine Love placed you where you are

One of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon is one I think of weekly, sometimes daily. It’s easy to forget in the midst of trials and suffering that we are exactly where the Lord would have us to be. He is doing a good work, even when it doesn’t look or feel that way. His loving hand prunes us, allowing us to bear fruit.  This quote has become engrained in me, it’s a part of the way I process and think about my circumstances.  After sharing it with a friend yesterday I was reminded that I should post it here.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” ~Charles Spurgeon

The context of this quote, one of Spurgeon’s “Evening” devotionals, is just as rich, reassuring and comforting to the hurting and feeble soul.

“Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

‘Trials must and will befall-
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.'”

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Update and some pic’s

I’m continuing to battle continuous migraines, but thankfully I’m on a preventative medication now that is helping them to be less severe (it’s especially helped the nausea).  It’s still difficult though having one most days.  I’m currently on a hypoallergenic diet (read more about it here) to see if any of my symptoms are food allergy related.  Unfortunately, so far I haven’t noticed any changes, but it’s good to at least hopefully rule that out.  The diet has been sanctifying as I am only eating Free range chicken, a shortened list of fruits and veggies, rice, lentils and quinoa.  (Oh how I’d love a cup of coffee or a bite of chocolate!) This makes my breakfasts and late night snacks look pretty interesting at times.  =)  (I’ve been caught nibbling on roasted chicken, or a bowl of carrots late at night, ha!)  I often eat sweet potatoes for breakfast now which I’m starting to get used to.

The Lord is continuing to pour out His grace, strength and perspective during this trial.  Keith is serving me really well, especially with this diet as I’m constantly preparing foods since nothing can be “processed.”  He’s been helping a lot in the kitchen and I’m very thankful for how He’s loving me in this.

The girls are doing really well…

Lillian will be 4 in April and is a bundle of energy and joy.  She is simply hilarious and is developing quite the sense of humor.  I often hear her say, “I’m just telling a joke on you!” after saying something funny.  She keeps us laughing for sure.  I prayed from the beginning of motherhood that my children would have merciful hearts towards those who are weak as they grow up with a mom with a chronic illness.  By God’s grace, we are beginning to see fruits of these prayers as Lillian is a very merciful and caring child.

Ivy is just about 6 months old and I just can’t believe it.  I keep trying to freeze her in this precious baby stage but it’s just not working!  =)  Ivy can be described quite well in one word and that’s “sweet.”  She is a very easy going girl with an almost constant smile.  She’s starting to belly laugh and it makes us all laugh.  Oh what a joy she is!

Ok, finally, some pictures…..  =)

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No valley is too deep

No valley is too deep for Christ’s light to illumine.  Keith and I’s summer speaks to this.  In early July, I miscarried our 2nd child.  Nothing can prepare you for the pain that comes along with a loss of a child.  I felt so paralyzed and confused.  So many hopes crushed.  So much joy that turns into pain, and yet, the Lord has taken our hands and walked slowly.  He’s counted our tears (Psalm 56:7) and replaced them with joy and peace.  He’s sustained my life, even when my body seemed like it was shutting down.

The following months have been some of the most difficult of my life.  The emotional healing is coming slowly as I have had very little physical energy to spend processing and healing.  When I feel weak and overwhelmed, it’s good to think about how far I’ve come.  At my worst I couldn’t even lift my head without blacking out.  My body went into shock and I needed a blood transfusion.  It’s been many many weeks of slowly building back and sometimes feeling like I was sitting on the “sidelines” of life.  The reality though is that these weren’t the sidelines.  This was God’s calling for me this summer.  He has a plan for my life, a good plan, and this was part of it.  He is showing me, once again, that living in a place of complete dependence on Him, is a blessed place to be.  His word has sustained my soul and granted light and peace when things felt out of control.  Through blackouts, sorrow, weakness, confusion, anxiety attacks, daily migraines, insomnia, grief, shortness of breath, and fear, the Lord has showed me His faithfulness and given me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 91 has been my daily, some times hourly, meditation.  This verse in particular has comforted me continuously in my battle.  Psalm 91:4  “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge”  Every night, I laid down with the vision of His feathers covering me.  What comfort in such a time of need!

As I slowly begin the ascent out of this valley I’ve been able to more clearly reflect.  To more clearly see how and where His light was illuminating the path and giving glimmers of hope in the darkness.  Here is my song, Psalm 40:1-3

  I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he turned to me and heard my cry.
  He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
  he set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
  He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.”

Kristen’s Testimony – “A Deeper Need”

One way I have seen the grace of the Lord poured out on me while facing trials is by surrounding me with faithful followers of Christ who have been examples of perseverance in hardship. My friend, Kristen, is one of these sweet friends. The Lord allowed us to meet through the POTS website (dinet.org) that I am a part of and the Lord has used her emails, blogs, and prayers to greatly encourage me and to draw me closer to Himself. Kristen has suffered greatly and continues to persevere and hold to the precious promises of Scripture. I recently asked her to share her testimony to post here because I knew you would be greatly encouraged/challenged by her testimony, as I have been.

A Deeper Need

       “A question was asked at my Bible study tonight: When do you experience the most spiritual growth? Without pause, I piped up, “During hard times.”
I wish it wasn’t the case. When I am not in a trial, the last thing I want is to enter into one. When I’m currently enduring difficulty, it is very frustrating to think about growth when I just want relief.
But the truth is, God expresses his love for us by putting his followers in the furnace.
If you had asked me years ago whether I would like to endure a domino-like train of hardship, sending the carefully ordered tiles of my life flying into a pile of chaos, I would have adamantly declined. To think God would take me at 17 and not stop the trials even by age 30, I would have questioned how that shows love. Sometimes we can’t see God’s purposes from our frail vantage point, but we can be sure that his Word is true.
When I was 17, my family discovered that we had long-hidden water damage in the walls of our home. This water intrusion allowed toxic forms of mold to grow, and the toxins affected my health severely. By my senior year of high school, I could barely get out of bed. On the days I could struggle in to school, I sat in a foggy haze of disorientation. Something was wrong, but no one knew what it was. My pediatrician failed to take my symptoms seriously.
Thanks to my mother’s research and persistence, we obtained professional mold testing which revealed high levels of toxins and bacteria in our air, making the house completely uninhabitable. To make things worse, all of our possessions were contaminated as well, and almost everything had to be discarded.
The incredible material loss from this disaster was nothing compared to the emotional and physical impact of chronic illness which followed. I became acutely sensitive to chemicals in my environment that wouldn’t bother the average person. It was to the point where I had to leave my office job and abandon my first college after a semester of intense reactions to the pesticides used around campus.
These back-to-back losses put me in the position of commuting 50 minutes each way to an engineering school near home and facing the obstacles of completing a major when I could only tolerate being in a handful of classroom buildings. Being the weird girl was my new norm, and I had to work twice as hard to attend study sessions, plan my limited time on campus wisely, obtain some lectures via videotape, and work on assignments alone when others worked in groups or with a TA. When I finally graduated with my degree a year later than the rest of my class, I was already on my way to finishing graduate work and looked forward to a promising career.
It was then that my life began to fall apart even more. I started having more concerning physical symptoms that I tried to ignore, but when I passed out at church one morning, I never bounced back. I was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) along with PDH (Postural Diastolic Hypotension). The cause was unknown, but I felt I had never fully recovered from the damage done by mold and pesticide exposures. A flu virus and stress had pushed my fragile body too far, and now I faced a long road to recovery.
I was not quick to embrace my new vulnerable position of waiting on God. I could no longer work, but I still tried, dragging myself in and feeling lightheaded and ill while I sat in meetings. When I finally passed out at work and was taken out on a gurney, it finally occurred to me that I was not going to be able to overcome this setback with sheer willpower and medication.
I sat at home with the wind knocked out of my sails. I had just turned 24. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go to school. I had no guarantees about my prognosis, and I could barely get off the couch to go to the bathroom. It was soon after that when my family was suddenly victimized by a group of my grandfather’s caregivers who had been working for us. They stole from my grandparents and eventually from us too. Due to poor police response, this turned into long-term harassment and stalking.
I thought at the time that God would let up, but more obstacles and problems kept coming my way. My grandma had a stroke and developed severe dementia, requiring our full-time care here at home. My father’s anger issues escalated, causing my mother and me great pain and heartache. I wanted to get back to my focus of working, earning money, my career, and eventually marriage and having children. But when I realized that my dreams had been derailed, I had a choice to make. I could accept both good and hardship from God’s hand, or I could become bitter and conclude that a good God would not allow so much pain and loss to happen to his child for so long.
I struggled with the incongruity of God saying he loved me, yet not acting to relieve my intense pain. Trial upon trial drew out over multiple years, but my prayers for deliverance remained unanswered. I finally read a book by Larry Crabb called Shattered Dreams. Initially, I felt skeptical of the thesis – which is that God allows our dreams to shatter so that we can see that He is our ultimate dream.
However, the more I read of the book, the more I began to see that it was true in my own life. The whole time that I had been suffering, a longing was forming in me – for truth to prevail, for compassion from others, for a sense of justice, to see mercy extended to the hurting, and for healing to take place. I found myself gravitating toward people who had also suffered but who had courage and joy. I suddenly realized that my trials had created in me a strong appetite for the very characteristics of Jesus himself! It was a turning point in my life to find my shallow, earthly desires stripped away in order to lay bare my aching, penetrating need for Christ. I was a sinner who had been broken, and I found my Lord sitting by the well offering me the living water of forgiveness and love, rather than the dirty well water of earthly ease I had been convinced I needed for so long.
As I continue in my trials undelivered, I give thanks that God loved me enough to help me discover that my longings for success, approval, and pleasant earthly circumstances were symptoms of a deeper cry – a bigger wound – one that demands Christ and will never heal unless He is my focus and my first love. If you are in a trial – praying to God and still undelivered – take heart that you are a not alone. God is good all the time, and even in our most painful hours, we can count on Christ to carry us until that glorious day when all wrongs will be made right, when we will finally be with Him, the true and ultimate satisfaction of our souls.”
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, 
’He who is coming will come and will not delay.'”  Hebrews 10:35-37

Hardship or Safety?

Today I saw a Cardiologist here at UVA.  I really don’t go to the dr. very often because after 8 years of living with Dysautonomia I’ve pretty much exhausted the different medications/treatments offered.  Not to say that new ones don’t come along but when they do I usually hear about them through Dr. Grubb in Toledo.  Sometimes it’s hard to go to the dr. and not get any helpful advice or any sympathy.  I realize it’s not a dr’s job to give sympathy but I’ve gotten used to the bedside manner of Dr. Grubb who comes in the door with and warm hug and a “how are you doing?”…and he really wants to know.  So when I see a dr. that doesn’t seem to “care” about anything except how fast my heart is beating I somehow feel let down. 

Today was a good reminder that my hope is not in medicine, a new dr., or even health and energy.  It’s in Christ.  Even if I live the rest of my life fatigued and lightheaded, He will provide everything I need to live life unto Him.

Last week Keith was giving an overview of Genesis during our family gathering at church and mentioned that Israel’s time in captivity in Egypt was actually a place of “safety.”  He was refering to how when Israel was held captive in Egypt they were actually protected from other nations and allowed to multiply and grow into a stronger nation in many ways.  I’ve been thinking about this daily and about how sometimes our trials and hardships are actually God’s protection of our heart/soul.  Who knows where I’d be Spiritually today if I hadn’t had to fight for joy and learn more about finding contentment in difficult circumstances.  Sometimes when life is easy we let our guards down and just kind of “float.”  I can become discouraged and discontent or I can look at the bigger picture and see how God has mercifully allowed me to struggle and in so doing has kept me following hard after Him.  Some days I must confess I am myopic and loose sight of the bigger picture.  God knows me better than I know myself and knows how to keep me from wandering.  I pray I will remember this tomorrow…

Psalm 138

” I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
   before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 
  I will bow down toward your holy temple
   and will praise your name
   for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
 for you have so exalted your solemn decree
   that it surpasses your fame. 
When I called, you answered me;
   you greatly emboldened me.

  May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
   when they hear what you have decreed. 
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
   for the glory of the LORD is great.

 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
   though lofty, he sees them from afar. 
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
   with your right hand you save me. 
The LORD will vindicate me;
   your love, LORD, endures forever—
   do not abandon the works of your hands.”

Humbling Myself and Listening to Truth

In a recent post I mentioned that I’ve been going through (along with my family) the kind of trial where I’ve had to, at times, rely on those around me to point me to the mercies and goodness of Christ.  I was encouraged as I came across this article tonight about emotions.  The following quote really stood out.  No matter what my emotions tell me, clinging to the cross right now includes humbling myself and listening to the Christians around me.

“A wise person listens to the Truth and listens to other people. A wise person listens. And this is no mere listening, as the book of James reminds us. It is really hearing, which doesn’t come naturally.”     ~Ed Welch

Read the entire article here.

Psalm 28:6-9

 “Praise be to the LORD,
       for he has heard my cry for mercy.

  The LORD is my strength and my shield;
       my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
       My heart leaps for joy
       and I will give thanks to him in song.

  The LORD is the strength of his people,
       a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

  Save your people and bless your inheritance;
       be their shepherd and carry them forever.”