Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Count Your Blessings...

As excited as we are, as I am, to be expecting our first child, I must admit that I am so over being pregnant. I am eagerly anticipating May 3rd when I can meet our sweet girl and get my body back. Though I look well, I've been struggling with pain and such in a way that I haven't had to deal with ever before in my life. To add insult to injury, baby girl's favorite spot to rest in (and press into) is right at the source of my pain. To add further insult, I have been officially placed on maternity leave by my doctor. So I've been home, away from my family and my church family. I especially miss my seasoned saints and the time we have during our Wednesday's with Jesus Bible Study. I know I said I wouldn't complain, and this isn't a complaint, but an opening up to give you a glimpse into what has been going on with me.

  1. In the midst of sleepless nights and physical pain, I got some news last Wednesday night that caused my countenance to fall. In the mail was a letter from Princeton Theological Seminary. To be specific, it was a rejection letter. Opening up that letter from PTS took me to a really low place. It was such a blow on so many levels—I've always been able to envision myself as a teacher/scholar/thinker in the academy—that I cried and cried. Intellectually, I understood that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), but in that moment and the day that followed my heart and my spirit were having a hard time grasping the concept. I questioned my intellect. I questioned my worth. I questioned whether or not it would ever happen. I questioned what I've been doing with my life for the past 5 years. And to be perfectly honest (this may sound irreverent to some of you, but it is the truth), I wasn't on speaking terms with God that night (or the day after). 

  1. But Friday morning, as I prepared my breakfast, the hymn book in my heart opened up to hymn #325, "Count Your Blessings."

  2. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
  3. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  4. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  5. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The hymn writer reminds us that in the midst of trials and tribulation, headaches and heartaches, discouragement and disappointment, that there is so much to be grateful for. So, as I prepared my eggs and toast, I started to count my blessings. It started out like a typical testimony at a storefront Pentecostal church: Giving honor to God who is the head of my life. I bless God for life, health and strength. I bless God because I woke up this morning clothed in my right mind. I bless God because I have food on my table and a shelter. 

Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative for these things, but then I had to dig a little deeper: I have a wonderful husband who loves me beyond measure; I have a precious little girl growing and developing in the safety of my womb; I have parents who have always supported me; I have a sister and niece—though geographically far—who are near and dear to me; I have sister/girl/friends who constantly encourage my soul; I have a pastor who models excellence; I have a praying church family. Duh, I already have three degrees.

And deeper still: I am a child of the Most High God who loves me unconditionally; I have been saved and set free by the blood of Jesus; I am constantly protected by the grace and mercy of God; I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My steps are ordered by God. God has a plan for my life to give me a hope and a future!

So my friends, when life has its way with you and when disappointment comes (and trust me, it will) I dare you to shift your attention. Begin to count your blessings. As I did last week, I am sure that you will find that your blessings are abundant. When you count your blessings, as I did, disappointment will be put in its rightful place. And I have no doubt that one day, in God's perfect time, that baby girl will call me Rev. Dr. Mommy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Won't Complain...

I have been silent lately. I've been God, to myself, to baby girl's heartbeat and the imagined sound of her laughter (which sounds just like her dad's laugh). I've been at the intersection of "It is Well" Boulevard and "I Won't Complain" Way. There is so much going on, and yet in the midst of it all, I am ever learning how to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I'm leaning, more on the Lord than I ever have. Each day I acknowledge my own human frailty, the weakness of this ole body, and the awesome power and presence of Almighty God. Part of my silence is really just a desire to "give thanks in all circumstances" because as the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Part of my silence, which is the other side of the gratitude coin, is a desire to stop complaining. If—as the Psalmist says—praise is comely, then surely complaining can make an otherwise attractive person quite ugly.

And so, my theme song for the month is I Won't Complain...

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some sleepless nights

But when I look around
And I think things over
All of my good days
Outweigh my bad days
I won't complain

Sometimes the clouds are low
I can hardly see the road
I ask a question, Lord
Lord, why so much pain?
But he knows what's best for me
Although my weary eyes
They can't see
So I'll just say thank you Lord
I won't complain