How Sweet It Is

I  have been through a hard-to-find-words-for-particularly-trying-and-complicated season. It’s not one that I could pinpoint exactly what was so trying or complicated… the only way I know to describe it is that I have felt a cloud or fog around my heart and mind. I’ve still gone about my business, doing my gig, but inside at times have been in much turmoil. A lot of question marks – about God and about myself and about this life He has given me. A lot of reading and praying and searching. It has been nothing brought on by another person. I can see some stressors for sure but nothing to cause so much angst.

Finally after a few months of this intense turmoil, I carved out some space upstairs in our bonus room for seeking Him. All through His Word it says seek me and you’ll find me when you seek me with ALL of your heart. Keep asking and the answer will come. He says that those who worship Him will worship in Spirit and in truth. But I found that my daily life had little room for His Spirit and truth and for seeking Him. We run at 100mph 14 hours a day and then wonder why we have run out of gas. We sign our kids up for everything under the sun, scroll social media for hours on end (just check your battery daily usage status – my phone use was at 8 hours a day between calls and email and social media – the same amount as a FULL TIME JOB!), schedule girls nights, obsess about our bodies, work endless hours, go on dates with our husbands, make time for movies and the newest restaurants. And then are left scratching our heads at our lack of peace.

Shortly after Wills died, I was praying about whether to go back to baking. I felt that I would jump in too quickly and then not grieve him properly but my heart was ACHING to get back in the kitchen. One morning, I said heck with it I’m just gonna bake but felt overwhelming guilt for feeling so much joy in baking. So I took it to the Word, went to my knees crying, asking God to confirm if I could start back to baking (don’t always trust your conscience!!!) and opened my bible and it fell to Haggai and this is what I found (emphasis mine):

Then on October 17 (WILLS’ BIRTHDAY! WHATTTTTTT!!!) of that same year, the Lord sent another message through the prophet Haggai. “Say this to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of God’s people there in the land: ‘Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And NOW GET TO WORK, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’

So naturally I started back to baking – gladly minus the guilt… but the book of Haggai has stayed a thread in my heart and mind over the last few years and I haven’t understood why. In this season of seeking His kingdom first (not perfectly but definitely trying to prioritize my relationship with Him over any other in my life) He has brought some clarity to this book and it’s thread in my heart and I wanted to share it with anyone willing to listen.

A remnant of Israel has returned to their ruined city to rebuild the Temple and are so overwhelmed at what needs to be done to the Temple that they stop working on it. And then start building fine houses for themselves while His Temple was in ruins.

“The word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses (Old Testament shiplap?!?!?!), while this house lies in ruins?’ Now the Lord of Armies says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways…'” Haggai 1:3

Personally, I have read that many times and assume He is still using this book of the Old Testament to talk about the Church today, but I look at where we go to church and it’s growing! People are tithing and showing up and serving and making room! The building itself is not in ruins and it’s full as a tick every Sunday. So I’ve been at a loss of what this could mean for me. And then one day in my carved out space upstairs it hit me like a bolt of lightning…

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

He’s highlighting the neglect of His Spirit in ME, in His people, in this generation. We are so busy serving and going and doing and fretting and looking to the left and to the right that we have lost the art of being still in His presence. He has not called us to anything but Himself. There may very well be a call on your life – a very specific one – but it will pale in comparison to the call to delight yourself in Him and let Him be your all in all. Any and every purpose will flow from that place.

I believe with every fiber of my being that as we keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking that He WILL show Himself to us in our many question marks. Our pursuit of Him absolutely requires turning our face to Him and away from the world and oh how He will reward that turning!!! As Ruth reminded me many times, it is HIS work to do, our job is to remain in Him and to fix our gaze on Him. Only took five years to sink in (#dumbsheep)!

All of this to say – I have not been in a place to write the last few months but this morning, it washed over me like a fresh wave and I knew I could finally share this little tidbit to encourage anyone reading that may feel a desire to more of Him and less of this world… I have found it so sweet to be loved by Him in the midst of my fog. I have never tasted anything sweeter. Turns out, all He needs is a little time and a little sitting still and a little faith and a child begging for more of HIM… hope to share more at some point but for now, will leave it at this 🙂

Lauren

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4 years…

Four years ago today I heard the term “Trisomy 18” for the first time in my adult life. Four years ago today we started a journey that began with a crash course in genetics. Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) are the 3 most common genetic abnormalities – the last 2 being not compatible with life. I remember it like it was yesterday, my heart was pounding so hard that my vision was pulsing. Remember that song about wearing sunscreen where the guy just gives advice the whole time? He said the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never cross your worried mind and blindside you at 4p.m. on some idle Tuesday. Ours was August 2nd, 2013, an idle Friday at 9a.m. but blindsided nonetheless.

This year is different and I can finally see some of the long term fruit of our grief. A little container of vaseline they gave us for Wills’ lips at the hospital has an expiration date of 6.1.17. I wore it on my own lips for probably a year after he died. Every night I would put it on before bed and think, will I expire before this little jar of vaseline? I honestly doubted that I would make it. Grief is so immovable and heavy and permanent. Yes, you learn to move forward and you navigate the trying waters but it’s always there. I cannot emphasize this enough – you are the same person, but you are eternally different. I cannot go back to who I was before Wills, nor would I want to. But I’m not going to lie and say sometimes I don’t envy her. She had it pretty easy and didn’t even know it. But life isn’t about easy is it? Then I come full circle and I thank God for the story He has given us. While we were in the thick of it with Wills, someone said you are either coming out of something hard, in something hard or about to go through something hard. That’s a tough pill that quite frankly at the time I wanted to spit back out at them. But if you can choke it down, it sobers and steadies you.

A few things we’ve learned in life after the darkest valley…

1.) The mundane is where character is forged. Embrace it. Hard things with God do change you but I guarantee you He has a slow, steady work He wants to accomplish too. Yes, the season of having and losing Wills changed us drastically and practically overnight. But I still had a lot of heart issues lurking around – still doing heart work with my counselor, friends and family and it’s so worth it. But mundane. I think if Walt hears me say: “for the sake of being honest and loving, I’ve got to say…….” one more time he may kick me out of this house!

2.) God directs. When Wills was here, we had to make a lot of decisions. We would get alone, pray, talk, reason and then decide. We still do that and He is still faithful to lead us.

3.) God STILL speaks. Sometimes we want God to write on a billboard to us. However, I read this the other day and it blew my mind. One of his most recited sentences (among women) is when He tells Martha that she’s worried about many things and that Mary has chosen what can’t be taken from her by choosing to sit at His feet. But guess how all of that happened…… It was only when Martha took her frustration to Him, that He responded. He did not initiate the interaction!!! He didn’t pull her aside and say look Martha, you’re troubled, sit down, let me rub your feet and scold Mary for not helping you. However, He was 100% available and responded in truth and love to her when she brought her frustration to Him. He responds to us too – when we SEEK HIM!!!

4.) Other children don’t replace the child that is gone – makes me think of Jesus being the shepherd that leaves the 99 to go after the 1. He understands how special each life is and now I do too. All 3 of my kids each have my whole heart in their own way. I miss Wills as much today as I did the day after he died.

5.) We’ve traveled a lot (for us). Would any financial advisor have told us to go to Disney World for 8 days last May? Nope. But we splurged and went while Fenley was still super into princesses and we had the best trip that we still talk about probably weekly.

6.) We’ve learned to ABIDE. We both try to read and pray daily – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Jesus said apart from Him, we can do nothing. And we can attest to the times when we are most dry spiritually, that we are most irritable relationally.

That’s all for now. Wanted to write to honor Wills in this season of remembering for the Bowie house. And to give God all the glory for the marvelous things He has done. And to officially report, the vaseline expired before me 🙂

Lauren

Merry Christmas!

Trying to read through the Christmas story S L O W L Y this week so I can marinate in it a little bit. I’m on chapter 2. Ha! But it’s proving SO full of treasure!!!

Today I sat down for a quiet minute and picked back up where Mary visits Elizabeth. They’re both pregnant. They’re both seeing God’s hand at work in their lives. They’re both in awe. And they’re both probably trying to keep their pregnancies quiet. Mary was engaged and pregnant and that was just a recipe for a scandal back in Jesus’ day. And Elizabeth was well past her prime and I’m sure most of her friends were grandmothers already. Friends, can you even imagine the joy these two shared when Mary went to stay with Elizabeth??? I mean pregnant-with-the-Savior-of-the-world-Mary walks in and Elizabeth’s baby boy LEAPED in her womb and was filled with the Holy Spirit.

I know how much fun it is to be pregnant with a friend. My buddy Kelly and I were pregnant with our youngest baby girls at the same time – and it was like a crash course in getting to know each other and so much FUN and still is – an instant bond over the babies we carried and are now raising. Throw in that Mary and Elizabeth didn’t have social media, texting, doctor visits, FB support groups, tons of buddies, etc. They were a God send for each other!  The joy they shared visiting over their pregnancies must have been tangible!!! And the call of God on both of their son’s lives brings me to tears thinking about it.

As soon as Mary walks in she breaks out into a little narrative BRAGGING ON GOD. I read it three times and highly recommend it. It’s Luke 1:46-55. I read it out loud – home alone with babies sleeping 🙂 and I just wept!!!

At about verse 51 Mary starts into this detailed list.

“He has… He has… He has… He has… He has… He has…

just as He promised…”

FRIENDS. HE HAS. If there is a raw spot in your heart, could you sit and let that sink in?

I don’t know about you but I’m a lot like my 5 year old who currently has a “wish list” on our fridge. No longer her Christmas list as she knows that ship has SAILED. But a dang wish list now. We’ve spent every dime and then some that we budgeted for Christmas. She’s going to have more than she knows what to do with as it is. But still making another list……………………it’s all in this house, it’s all wrapped or hidden, it’s all waiting for her for Christmas morning, it’s all prepared for her, it’s all perfectly picked out just for her. But she’s still making that next wish list. She gets a pass because she’s a kid. I don’t have that excuse though.

How do we forget so often? HE HAS. He has done. He has come. He has loved. He has finished.

What more could we want?

Praying and hoping and reading for a more sober heart, prepared for His goodness and light, looking and waiting and watching and knowing that He does GOOD THINGS and HE HAS already done the very best thing by sending His son to be with us.

I have a lot of crutches – my health, my husband, financial security, my healthy kids here to name a few. But it was Jesus that said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It. Will. Not. Be. Taken. Away. From. Her. The one thing needed – we can’t buy it, we can’t adopt it, we can’t birth it, we can’t manufacture it, we can’t fake it, we can’t attain it, but we can receive it and abide in it and share it.

Merry Christmas friends! Hoping you get some time to be alone and quiet and choose what is best for you this Christmas and the year to come!