Reclaiming Grace

2014 has been off to a rough start. It seems like it has been one thing after another and the resulting anxiety has been overwhelming. I have struggled with feeling empty physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and with that comes guilt and shame.

I am a youth pastor’s wife who feels like a wall has been built between myself and God.

I have not lost my faith. I know wholeheartedly that God is in control and I cling to His promises fully. The proof of His love and provision is all around me.

During the trials that have surrounded me, I know that He is with me and He has never moved. I have. My tank has run empty and I have not let His grace fill me up.

If you deal with chronic illness, you know how exhausting it is on every level and in every part of your life. Actually I’m not sure the word exhaustion can even begins to describe it. It is a fatigue that seeps into your bones and into every corner of your spirit.

In efforts of self-preservation, I shut down. I yearn so badly to be filled but I feel so full of guilt and shame that I push it away. I should be stronger than this. I am not only married to a pastor but I have my own call to ministry and here I am swallowed up in a sea of desperation and feel like I’m treading water just to maintain.

I am exhausted.

And then today happened.

I received the results from my biopsy results from last week’s EGD. All of the biopsy results came back normal but one. My celiac disease is being controlled by my gluten-free diet and I have healed wonderfully since my diagnosis almost four years ago. It is what they found in my stomach that made me hold my breath.

When the nurse went over my doctors notes after my EGD last week, she mentioned that they had found and removed a gastric polyp but not to worry because they are common and turn out to be not that big of a deal.

But this one wasn’t.

The polyp that they removed is called an adenoma. Adenomas are the least common type of stomach polyp, but the most likely type to become stomach cancer (source).

I almost dropped the phone. The nurse assured me that they removed everything they needed to during the procedure, nothing was left behind, and I am 100% ok. I would just need to be closely monitored with EGDs to make sure that nothing comes back. I could breathe again.

As I sat on the bed trying to process everything, I went back to the day I sat in the doctors office last month scheduling the procedures. She had only planned on doing the colonoscopy but something inside me told me to push to have an EGD done at the same time. Since I do not test positive in blood work for Celiac, an EGD is the only way to monitor the disease so she agreed. If I was under and cleaned out, they might as well check both ends.

But what if I hadn’t asked for the EGD? What if this polyp not caught and removed early like it was? When would we have found it?

Those were scary questions to ask and I found myself face down on the floor.

At that moment there could have been no greater reminder of the sovereignty of God. He was the one that pushed me to ask for that EGD. He was the one that helped my doctor find the polyp early enough to be found and completely removed. He was the one waiting to rescue me.

In that moment I felt His grace and mercy poured down on me like rain. All this time He had been whispering, “I am here” and I finally pushed myself out of the way so I could hear it. I could feel the walls crumbing.

Today is the first step in healing. Today is the day I give my heart back. Today is the day I reclaim my place. At the foot of the cross.

In Need of Grace

Photo Credit: Jasmic via Compfight cc

Our Secret To A Happy Marriage

This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

Secret-To-A-Happy-Marriage

May 21, 2014 will mark our ninth wedding anniversary which by no means makes me an expert on the subject but in these nine years, we have had to overcome more hurdles than some couples may face in a lifetime. Infertility. Losing a daughter with a failed adoption placement. Six surgeries. Weeks of hospital stays. Countless treatments with no success. Disability at 31.

Many marriages do not withstand these challenges unfortunately. The divorce statistics in marriage dealing with chronic illness is 75%.

SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT.

I am proud to say that while we have our struggles, our marriage is as solid as ever and I even got my husband to say “I do” again in September!

Want to know our secret to a happy marriage?

God.

If God was not the center of our marriage, I’m not sure we would have been able to handle some of the things that have been thrown at us. The verse we used as the theme of our wedding was Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” God is our third strand.

I know what you may be thinking. The divorce rate among Christians is just as high as couple outside the church at a staggering 50%.

But there is a difference in having a belief in God and allowing Him to be the center and foundation of your marriage. Without God, I don’t think its possible to understand how to fully love someone else. Without experiencing the love and grace of our Creator, I would not know how to share that with another.

I don’t believe that love can fully be understood and experienced outside the context of God. God is love.

One of the most popular verses used during wedding ceremonies is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I think in order to best comprehend the depth and meaning of this verse, we need to replace love with God: “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor other, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. God never fails.”

With God as a foundation, we are able to strive to make each one of this facets of love a part of our marriage. I truly believe that it is when we grow closer to God, we are able to grow closer to one another. He is the top of our triangle. He is the third chord in our marriage. He is our foundation upon which we can build our marriage. When we look through this lens, we can see things in a whole new light.

I am not at all saying that I have the perfect marriage as it is made up of two imperfect people but we have a strong foundation and every day we strive to be more like Christ and love like Christ. When you do that, it changes things. It doesn’t make the challenges go away but knowing we are not going through it alone gives us the strength to get through it and the faith to know that God has a plan for our lives even when we don’t know what it is.

Marriage-Built-On-Christ

May 21, 2005

Rededicating-our-marriage-to-christ

September 14, 2013

I may not know where the next nine years will take us but I know who will be beside me.

Happy-Wives-Club-Book

Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” To say that the book is inspiring would be an understatement. I felt so refreshed and encouraged and I know you will be too! You can grab a copy HERE.