Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amazing Grace

I have to admit, I feel inadequate. I feel like writing a blog is an art form.  And if I'm going to do this, I need to do it well.  And after reading so many wonderful blogs on all different topics from recipes and health to life and grief, I have come to this conclusion… I am not good at writing a blog! Ha! And that's ok. :) I am giving myself GRACE, which is a daily struggle.  (And I hope you give me grace as well, because there are bound to be rambling thoughts and grammar errors… sorry about that!) Negativity and judgement are huge gaping holes of weakness in my brain that I am trying to wrangle up and toss out for good.  It takes work!

When I think about someone with grace I think of a tiny, flowing, perfect ballerina.  I think of that leader that knows exactly what kind thing to say to someone who doesn't deserve it.  I think of a southern girl, raised in church, all pretty and neatly put together.  I think of God.  I don't deserve to be His child, I have done some mean and ugly things.  I have judged unfairly, I have made a fool out of myself countless times, and I have sinned so. many. times. over. and over. again.  I am not graceful.  And great.  Look what I just did.  Here come the ugly twins- negativity and judgement.  Grace.  I need grace.  I need to give myself grace.

I had a good chat with Kate over the phone last week because she couldn't get to the office due to ice.  Oh and by the way… what a crappy winter to have a crisis.  Talk about DEPRESSING.  Anyway, Kate gave me permission to give myself grace.  I had been struggling with writing thank you notes.  There were still notes I hadn't written from baby showers.  There were notes that I wanted to write for sympathy cards and gifts.  I wanted these people to know how much I appreciated their gifts and cards and words of encouragement.  These cards had been hanging over my head for 3 months.  I sat down to write these things about fifty times, but the words wouldn't come.  How do you tell someone "thank you for your sweet gift for Jaxon, but he didn't make it, but we will still use this for the next baby." Or "thank you for the sympathy card." I cannot make the words that were in my head come out sounding anything but depressing and morbid.  Who wants to get a card like that?  No, really… who wants a card like that?!? Nobody.  Kate said, "let it go.  These people don't want a thank you card from you! Just think about it with the roles reversed.  Would you expect to get a thank you card?  If somebody expects a thank you card from you, then maybe that person doesn't need to be in your circle."  And she's right.  She allowed me to give grace to myself and I've been practicing.  :)

God spoke to me this past weekend, and I'd like to tell you about it.  But first, I need to give you some details...
I have been avoiding church. But this weekend, I went twice, two different churches.  I am a member at Fellowship Church in Grapevine and my husband absolutely loves it.  We love Pastor Ed and think he is hilarious and he speaks simply and honestly.  I have spent a lot of my time serving at this church.  I've served as a greeter, as a cashier in the bookstore and even helped out one afternoon with their inventory.  But where I served most of my time was in the nursery.  I was in the "cuddler rooms" with babies from newborn status until they begin to crawl.  Obviously, it is painful to go to this church and see the familiar faces who were excited along with us during our pregnancy.  But what is most painful is not being able to serve in the nursery.  All I can do is cry when I think about going back.  I'm just not ready, when I really, really, really want to be ready.  Once again… I need grace, and I've given myself the grace of not MAKING myself do something I know I'm not ready for.  Then, there is Irving Bible Church.  This church is where I go to bible study every Tuesday night.  There is something about sharing your soul with women that just automatically makes you best friends.  I love and adore these women.  They have wrapped their arms around me and my husband like family.  They fed us, listened to us, looked at Jaxon's precious pictures with us, and have cried and prayed over us.  I have found my church home.  It's something I thought I'd have to sort through and make some decisions because you're not supposed to be a member of two churches right!?!? Well, I just don't care right now.  This is what John-Michael and I need.  He needs Fellowship and I need IBC.  I'm giving myself grace.  I'm starting to like that word.  :)

So the service at Fellowship on Saturday evening was spoken by Darius Daniels.  If you have never heard him preach, look him up.  He is very animated, we love him.  He preaches it and we smile.  Every time.  So this past Saturday, Darius preached to us about the story of David and Goliath.  To make a long story very simple and short, I will get straight to Darius's point.  David was a small, puny shepherd.  He was NOT a mighty and muscly, brawny man.  Well, he was chosen by God to fight Goliath, the giant.  Nobody thought David could win, so Saul (a very tall and brawny man) gave David his armor.  David tried it on, but it didn't fit, and so he took it off and simply said, "I can not go in these.  I am not used to them."  I'm taking my rocks and my slingshot and that will be enough. David had confidence in himself.  He knew that God wanted him to do this, so he did it the best way he knew how, which obviously was not the way any of the other men would have done it.  And we all know, David beat Goliath with the very first stone.  You see, David was an extremely good marksman.  He protected the sheep from bears and lions.  God knew he only needed one shot.  I encourage you to read the whole story in 1 Samuel 17.

On Sunday morning, I met two of my girls at IBC for the 9:00 service (early! ooof! haha) because we had planned to go out to the Perot Museum and see the Animal Inside Out exhibit around noon. (The exhibit was awesome by the way!!!) So we settle in and Pastor Andy starts talking about the story of Paul speaking to the Athenians about Jesus.  This story is in Acts 17:16-34.  In order to keep this an entry and not a book, I'll skip to the point. Or at least the point I think God was trying to pound into my non-graceful brain. ;) Pastor Andy began to ponder… what if the only reason the Athenians agreed for Paul to come share his story with them is because he was beaten nearly to death because of his beliefs.  The Athenians had a curiosity for God, which they had referred to as "the unknown god."  Paul came to share the one true God with them, and what if the only reason they accepted him was because he was beaten and bloodied a few days before?  Paul was suffering.  Paul knows pain.  And with that, Pastor Andy encouraged each of us to use our pain as our platform.  Use our pain as our platform?  You mean, if I am broken, then people will listen to me? Ok God, I think I know what you are doing here.  

So here I am, negative, judgmental, broken, and afraid that my blog isn't good enough.  But you know what? God is trying to teach me, encourage me, love me.  God isn't asking me to "write a blog like an artist."  He didn't ask David to "fight like a muscle-head warrior" either.  He asked David to defeat a giant by being who David is.  David could have easily said, "but I'm not a warrior.  I just a little shepherd boy that takes care of sheep.  I don't go to war!"  And He is asking me to defeat a giant.  I knew exactly what that giant was when I heard Darius ask us what our giants are.  My giant is my negativity, my judgmental habit.  And up until last weekend I said, "but God, I'm just a girl who has communication issues, I'm negative and sad.  How can I write about my baby dying and it be a good thing?"  And the very next day God reassured me. He spoke to me through Pastor Andy.  "Use your pain as your platform." He said being myself and sharing my suffering is exactly how he wants me to write.  This is right.
This is my story.  
God wants us to share our stories.  
My pain is crippling, but I choose not to let it cripple me.  
It can defeat me, but I choose to listen to God and defeat it instead.
I am not defined by this story nor am I defined by my negativity and self-doubting.
Because God says I am His child.  
Because God says I am worth dying for.  
Because God says He cried for me when Jaxon died.  
Because God says He knows this pain.  
Because God says He knows this suffering.  
Because God says He is carrying me through this. 
Because I know Who He Is, I have a reason to sing.  

And I will use this story that God has given me to show the world that yes, there are painful, ugly, miserable things in this world.  Yes, my son died.  But I still have a reason to sing.  I still have a reason to be happy.  I still have a reason to love and to live.  And yes, I can be negative and downright judgmental, but God loves me anyway.  He loves me enough to show me and to teach me how to have a better life.  His amazing grace is why I can write this blog and be confident that He will make good from what happened to John-Michael and me.  God will make good from this, because He loves Jaxon even more than we do.


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