Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Blessed

So Mother’s Day happened. And I survived. Actually, it was much better than last year’s. DH got me some lovely flowers and a card signed with four paw prints from our fur-babies. And we’re going to see Jesus Christ Superstar in about a month–which was, I suppose, an easing the blow/maybe soon gift to take the edge off.

I seriously love  Jesus Christ Superstar. I know it doesn’t tell the whole story, but I grew up listening to the records–yes records–every year over Easter weekend. This year, DH and I spent Easter in Colorado on a mountaintop at sunrise. And it was magnificent. But I didn’t get to listen to the music. I am so touched at the thought he put into this gift on what can be such a very difficult day.

I think things were much improved this year because we have so much hope that our time is coming soon. It’s either that, or I’ve become really detached from our infertility. Or maybe a little bit of both.

Our infertility isn’t causing the stress, the emotional duress, or the feelings of disappointment lately. Maybe I’m in the “acceptance” stage of grief. Or maybe I’m back in denial–espeically since we are actively pursuing treatments right now and any month could be the month. Either way, I’m grateful for the stability, for the peace, and for not feeling particularly distraught on Sunday. It all feels like a few enormous steps forward for me. Sigh. Happy, peaceful sigh.

And, I’ve been a negligent blogger lately. Well, I could make excuses. I seem to be neglecting the blog more and more lately, and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have anything worth saying again. I’m sure I will. Today’s post might not be it, but maybe the next one will. And if I keep posting I know two things to be true: 1. I’ll get back in the rhythm of the life I want to have and 2. the writing (and messages) will improve. And I so want that.

I also want to take some time this summer to make some improvements to this blog. This will involve posting more regularly, of course. And doing some research on interneting. And stay tuned for a new name and new look–hopefully soon.

I’m officially starting seminary this fall. It’s exciting and overwhelming and wonderful. I’m so looking forward to it–and I need to do a few things to get myself fit to return to school. That’s an aside. Because it’s an exciting anouncement and I make it on the heels of having done a serious amount of work to submit my application. But it feels weird to dedicate a post to it. So here. A little, tiny bit of Internet space.

I am feeling truly, completely, magnificenty blessed today. And I’m amazed to be able to feel this way in light of everything else. And so very, very grateful.

I hope this week is a joy-filled week for you. And I hope, also, that it marks my return to regular posting. Though I suppose only time will tell on that account.

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Dreaming of Superheroes

I’ll attach a superhero cape with his initials on it to his favorite t-shirt. Wrap it up in colorful paper and give it to him for his third birthday. When he wears it, he’ll know he can fly. He’ll know that stars aren’t out of reach for a superhero on a mission.

And we’ll giggle and play and laugh. And maybe sometimes put underwear on our heads or wear cowboy boots and tight pants. Maybe he’ll need a sidekick. A dog. Or a cat. Or a silly mom.

A girl can dream, right?

And the heroes that children want to be, and the things they think about, and the damsels that will need saving and the villains to vanquish. Maybe the day will come when that will be part of our days, when those stories and that imagining will fill our hours.

It’s not yet. And that’s okay. And it may not be soon. And that’s okay too. And maybe instead of superheroes, we’ll have princesses. And that’s definitely okay.

But today is a day for optimism and dreaming. A day to think about the joy that’s coming, and a day to sing about the joy I have already. I’m enjoying this day, but looking forward to what tomorrow might bring anyway.

TIME

Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker provides a prompt for “Five-Minute Friday“: Write for five minutes only–no editing, no rewriting. This week’s prompt is “Hero.”

Five Minute Friday


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Existing in Real Life

I feel like this is the first day in over a week that I’ve been able to just be still.

I don’t know how I get so busy. I felt like I had so much time over the summer, and then as school started my schedule got more filled and, well, I think I had been taking the margins in my life this summer for granted.

But busyness isn’t all bad. I’m busy with fun things and fulfilling things. And if I hadn’t also been recuperating from a cold last week, I think I would have had more free time to write and do more of the things I love to do and feel called to do. (And maybe my floors would have a little less dog fur on them.)

I really wanted to write last week about getting to meet another blogger. I actually do exist in real life (though, full disclosure, Ria is just my blog name), and so does Caroline, an amazing and beautiful spirit-filled woman. I loved getting to share actual physical space with her and her lovely husband in their living room just over a week ago. If you haven’t seen her blog, I’d recommend stopping by In Due Time to see how God is moving in her life.

In-Due-Time

She and her husband were so welcoming! The boys mostly watched football while we talked about a lot of things, but mostly about what God is doing and teaching us in the midst of our trials. And we prayed together. Can I tell you? There are no words to describe how I felt God moving during that prayer.

And I’m so grateful that DH, who hasn’t really ever talked to anyone about this IF stuff in person outside of our parents, had the opportunity to be there with us.

It is amazing to see this couple’s faith in practice as they wait on God for an expected miracle. I just can’t wait to meet their baby (or babies!) whenever God brings them! What joy that day will be!

It was such an honor to be able to share a little real life with them. And it made me want more of it!

I’d like to extend the invitation to anyone who reads this little blog of mine, if you’re in the Houston area and craving a little “in real life” time, please feel free to e-mail me (fillmynest (at) gmail (dot) com) and we’ll see if we can’t set something up! I’d love to pray with you or just to talk. And if you’re not in Houston but want someone to talk to, e-mail me anyway!

And I am just reminded how very blessed I am to be living today and to have the ability to connect with so many beautiful people through the Internet. It’s hard to imagine going through this without the blog world and all the people who have blessed me through their posts and comments. Thank you all.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.
(I Corinthians 1:4)

To share these difficulties, and to one day share each other’s joys when our babies finally do come, is such a gift. And I am so very thankful.


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Jonah Liked His Way Better

So, my mom and grandmother are here this week! I’m so excited they traveled all the way from St. Louis to see me. Since they’re here, I prepared this post, on Jonah, a few days ago. I probably won’t be able to blog again until next Monday’s installment of this series, but look for more from me next week!

~~~

I had a dream a few nights ago. DH and I were in a remote swamp. It was unlike any place I’ve ever seen in real life—the kind of scene that might show up in a movie or one of those reality shows about people who live deep in the wilderness lowlands. There we were, filthy and just sitting around in the mud. Weak waves kept washing up on the bank of some murky body of water, and time after time they deposited what I can only describe as manna on the shore.

The “manna” appeared in different forms, like marzipan animals and homemade cookies. It was a melt-in-your-mouth kind of delicacy. The kind of rare treat that makes you happy deep down in your being. When I woke up, I had a message in my mind. I distinctly felt God was saying that as long as I still want my own way, I’m not trusting him.

When I told DH this great insight that had been revealed to me in my sleep, he looked at me funny and accused me of stating the obvious. And maybe it seems obvious to you, too. But it hit me. I keep saying I trust God, and then I keep asking him, “Please, oh please, can’t we just do it this way?”

Which brings us to Jonah. Jonah made no bones about his dislike for God’s plan. When God told him to preach to Nineveh, he didn’t just refuse to go, he hopped a boat in the exact opposite direction. Have you been there, too? At the heart of his disobedience was the same sin I struggle with: A belief that his way and his ideals were better than God’s.

While Jonah wanted the Ninevites doomed to destruction, God wanted them to repent and turn to him. If it had been up to Jonah, they wouldn’t have had a chance at rescue. But it wasn’t.

We saw in Moses that sometimes God calls us to do things we don’t really want to do. Moses didn’t feel equipped to answer God’s call. He didn’t question God’s desire to rescue the Israelites from their Egyptian masters, simply God’s determination of who would represent the rescuer. While Moses’ cries of “please pick someone else” can be chalked up to his great humility, it’s hard to find any virtue of Jonah’s that even begins to justify his willful disobedience.

The book of Jonah starts with his call:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2).

Sometimes I find myself hoping for such a clear call. But what if, like Jonah, I hear something I didn’t want to hear? Would I do as Jonah does?

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).

The story that follows is commonly told to children. A storm comes up and ultimately Jonah is thrown overboard to satisfy God and save the ship. Jonah, in fact, tells the crew to throw him into the sea. It seems he would rather die than do as God has commanded. But God isn’t going to let him off that easily: he provides a great fish that swallows Jonah. Jonah resides in its belly for three days and nights.

We can safely surmise that Jonah isn’t having a good week. And when you’ve hit rock bottom—or the innards of a fish—isn’t it only natural to turn to the only one who can pull us out of the deepest pit?

That’s what he does. He prays to God. He calls out to God and thanks him for providing rescue. And even then, I think, he tries to make a case for why he did what he did. He says, “Those who cling to worthless idols [like the Ninevites] turn away from God’s love for them” (Jonah 2:8).

“But,” he says, “I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord’” (2:9).

In modern vernacular: “God, those Ninevites who prefer idols over you and your love don’t deserve to be saved. But, even though I don’t want to, I will sacrifice my desires to yours. I’ll do what you want, I’ll tell them how they can be saved, and I’ll praise you all the while.”

He seems noble in this moment, right? But still a little bit unsurrendered. There’s still that “I don’t like it, but I’ll do it” tone, isn’t there? Oh man, I keep seeing more of me in Jonah than I care to admit.

So, “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (2:10). Gross, right?

And Jonah preaches to the Ninevites. And Lo! They believed God. They start moping about, showing their repentance. They fast. They dress in sackcloth—from the king down to the animals (yep, even the animals had to wear that itchy stuff). And the king announces, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (3:8b-9).

They don’t try to justify their evil behavior. They don’t moralize their way out of recognizing their sin. They just repent. The “evil” Ninevites offer us a better example of repentance than God’s own prophet. And God does indeed relent.

So, Jonah is called to prophesy. He runs away. He relents and does what God told him. And he’s fully learned through his traumatizing fish-belly experience that God’s plans are greater and better than his, right?

Let’s see: “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’” (4:1-2).

Fail. Jonah is again justifying his earlier disobedience. I guess it’s a good thing for him that what he says about God is true: God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love–even to Jonah. But God points out, and then shows Jonah in a way that we can only hope does get through, that he doesn’t have any right to be angry about what happened.

It’s easy to look at Jonah and say, “Man, that guy really messed up.” But then I have to look at myself and say, “Man, this girl really messes up.” And that’s not quite as fun as critiquing Jonah.

Jonah’s calling was straightforward, but he ran away from it. He didn’t want to go through with what God asked him. His challenges in accomplishing his call were pretty much entirely his own doing. Is God calling you to do something that you’ve been putting off? Have you been running away from God?

I have. I’ve felt the call to apply to seminary for several years. And I’ve made excuses and tried to push it behind me and pretended like maybe that’s not really what God wanted.

No more excuses. I’ve said it before, but I’m applying this year. If God wants me to go to seminary, I’ll go next fall … or whenever he desires, I guess. I don’t fully understand why or fully agree that this is what I should be doing. My plan is different. My plan is to have babies and stay home with them and maybe go to seminary when they are grown. But I guess it’s time to give up my plan and really put my trust in God. And, trusting God means choosing his plan over mine.

This is episode 5 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I am posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build


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Don’t Call Me Infertile

I’m not an infertile anymore.

My circumstances have not changed. What’s changed is my emphasis. From the day of our diagnosis to a few months ago, my life revolved around and centered on infertility. If you asked me how I was doing, my first thought was about infertility and how it was ruining my life. My smiles were fake and plastered on when that was an appropriate response, but on the inside I couldn’t overcome my pain. I stopped wearing mascara to church because the praise and worship songs we sang would bring tears to my eyes–often out of despair and a feeling that God wasn’t extending his might and power and wonder to my situation.

More than anything, I wanted God to take this burden of infertility. I meant, of course, that I wanted him to reach down into our lives, heal us, make me pregnant. I wanted it to all go away. I still want our infertility to end, but God did take the burden. He took the burden of infertility and gave me peace in my circumstances. He let me know, in my gut, that he is in control and that his plan is better. He answered that prayer.

And that peace has been life-changing and life-giving. I wasn’t really living when I kept myself trapped in this negative, despairing world of infertility. Infertile isn’t exactly an inaccurate word to describe me, but it’s also not the word to describe me. And knowing that? It has made a huge difference in my feeling of self-worth, in my experience of true joy, and in my ability to give of myself to others. Praise God for this new freedom from the negative words I was using to keep myself down.

And I’m able to see that there have been ways infertility has blessed my life. Infertility has challenged me to deepen my trust in God and to give up on fear and worry. Because of infertility, my relationship with my husband has grown deeper. He has become a stronger spiritual leader, and I have learned to lean on him more. We have made (and are making) lifestyle changes that will make our home a better, healthier environment for us and any future children. We’ve learned a lot about how we handle extreme stress. And we’ve put our priorities in order. We have become more empathetic and compassionate for others. We still have a long way to go, and I still hope we will have biological children–even without needing ART–but there is no question we have grown from infertility.

When you ask me now how I am, infertility might not be the first thing that comes to mind. When you tell me that you’re pregnant, I can smile and feel genuinely happy about the new life growing inside you. (Okay, full disclosure: when you complain about your pregnancy–well, I’m still working on an appropriate response to that.) And when I’m singing worship songs I may still tear up–but it’s more likely out of joy and awe of my great God than despair.

So who am I? I’m a Christ-follower. I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m {hopefully} a future mom. I’m a blogger and a copyeditor. I’m a small group leader. I’m a child of the one true King.

And I love this song by Matthew West that reminds me of what’s true.


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Modern Miracles?

I’ve been a negligent blogger lately. I guess if I want to over-analyze, it’s probably not a bad thing. I started the blog because I needed a space to write and air my grievances, a space to heal. And I needed to know I wasn’t the only person out here on this messed up ride called infertility. So the fact that I haven’t felt as compelled lately to post–well, I think it may indicate that my attitude has improved. And it has. The peace I mentioned in my last post apparently wasn’t just a momentary fluke, because I’m still feeling it.

My circumstances haven’t changed. We’re still waiting. And honestly, hoping and praying we’ll end up avoiding actually doing inferitlity treatments. It’s a long shot, for sure, but wouldn’t that be amazing? And I know nothing is too difficult for the LORD.

All this has had me thinking lately about miracles and answered prayers. How many miracles do we ignore completely? How many answers to prayer do we miss because we’re too caught up in the day to day? This season of infertility has called our attention more and more toward how God is moving in our lives all the time, in ways we maybe wouldn’t have called out or mentioned before.

It has been amazing to grow through this difficulty with my best friend. I’ve watched his faith deepen throughout the past several months. He’s thanking God for things I don’t think he would have seen God’s hand in even six months ago. He’s taking more leadership for our family as the spiritual head of our household. I have a tendency to step in and take over, infringing on his leadership, but I’ve been praying that would change, and that DH would really be the spiritual leader of our house. Another answer to prayer?

And little tiny things–like how DH’s car passed its inspection this weekend despite having an indicator light on that best estimates suggest will require a $1000 fix we just can’t afford right now. And how our first two rounds of medicine were free because the insurance company and/or the pharmacy messed up and told us they were covered 100 percent, and they actually went by what they told us despite the fact that it should have cost $500+ each time. And how they billed our most recent round of meds as a $20 copay (by the grace of God!).

There are everyday little things that may seem insignificant, but it is so nice to be reminded that God has not forgotten us. He hears us and he cares about us. He’s in it with us and he knows how he will resolve things for us. What an incredible relief!

Ultimately, it’s a reminder that I’m a benefactor of the ultimate miracle: that God loved me enough to find a way to pay the cost of my sin. Forgiveness: What a miracle.

Miracles really do happen all the time. I pray that I won’t be blind to them in my life. And that seeing miracles–both those that affect me directly and others’ answers to prayer–will strengthen my faith that God is, absolutely, beyond any doubt, able to work the miracle of children in my life should he choose. And if not, it’s not because of any lack on his part. It’s because he has something better planned.

Praise God. The God who heals and hears and IS.  


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God’s Timing

Our church offers a mentorship program for women. It’s a six-month deal. You fill out a little card and they pray over you and match you with someone for six months of weekly meetings.

My mentor is wonderful. She’s been through infertility–though her experience was different. And she tells me I’m supposed to talk and she will listen. And she gives me advice. Godly advice.

We meet on Tuesdays at Starbucks near my house. I get a green tea latte. She gets green tea.

Recently, she said something that has changed my perspective.

She said, “You know this already, but this story isn’t just about you and [DH]. It’s about your future children and their spouses. And their children, and the circumstances that need to fit together.”

I didn’t know that already. That thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

And I thought about Sarah and Abraham waiting decades for the fulfillment of a promise. And who knows if they weren’t waiting until Rebecca was about to be born?

She is so right. There are millions of different things that need to come together for our baby to meet up with the right people, to be in the right place, to do the right things.

And what feels like ages is really just the slow ticking by of months. Of weeks. But one week might be the difference between meeting the love of his life and not. One month might be the difference between graduating high school at the right time or not. Who can know but God?

So now we pray a little differently. We pray “in Your timing” and mean it. And we are praying for the circumstances to come together, too.

Such peace for us from one little thought.