Thursday, July 30, 2015

God is REAL

"God is real."

My friend Melissa (whom I miss dearly) sent me this challenge earlier today:

This is for a good purpose.  Hope you do the same.  The sole purpose is to fill Facebook of these sentiments:

God is real.
God is good.
God is faithful.
God is my strength.
God is my shield.
God is love.
God is alive.

The challenge goes on to explain that we are to post these sentiments daily without explanation.

When I read that, I thought, where's the purpose in that?  I have things to say!!  So, instead of facebook statuses (which wear me out anyway), I have decided to employ the blog.

I'm thrilled that I get to talk about God's real presence in my life.  There have been so many, SO MANY things I've encountered that have proven Him to be real, but the one I'm going to share with you is particularly meaningful because it happened almost exactly two years ago.  Also, my friend Kristine recently wrote a beautiful story that inspired me to share this with you--when I read hers, I knew I needed to get mine out there too.

Rewind a couple years.  Summer 2013.

It was a roller coaster of a year.  You see...Tom and I had struggled to start a family.  We married in August of 2012 and knew it could happen anytime.  It did happen, but we miscarried in January of 2013.  It was a terrible, painful, heartbreaking time.  I spent a lot of that winter being depressed and feeling hopeless.  

Spring came, and so did the opportunity to perform in "The Sound of Music."  I cannot tell you enough that THAT SHOW was what brought me back to life.  Maria brought Betsy back.

I was telling a friend about this whole story one time and she said "Do you think the miscarriage happened for that reason, so you could be in the show?"

No, I don't.  I do know that the show couldn't have been a possibility for me if I'd had a big belly.  But, I don't think it was God's "logic."  I think His plan all along, through the heartbreak, was to remind me that HIS plan is sovereign and that He is good, all the time.  He drew me to Him as I felt my life crumble to pieces.  He kept me in perfect peace as I trusted that He would give us a child someday.  I didn't have laughter and happiness and joy, but boy did I ever have peace.

I knew all of these truths about God.  But I wasn't believing them at that time.  We hadn't been trusting Him to provide in that season of struggle.  Talk about a wake-up call.

The musical was a gift from Him.  It was His unique and awesome way of bringing happiness and joy back to me.

Back to the present.  I saw this picture on Timehop a couple days ago:

This is an Instagram post from July 2013, from a North Iowa Fire (our local AAU basketball organization) weekend when Tom was coaching.  I snapped this photo with a bit of an was early, I was tired, and I was eager to get it all done so we could go home.

The musical had just closed and I missed it terribly.  Reality came crashing back down after our beautiful song-and-dance world was no more.  There was no positive pregnancy test yet and we were feeling the weariness of trying and waiting creeping up on us yet again.  Here we were at yet another basketball game...the gym floor and bleachers were crawling with kids -- talented, beautiful, happy kids -- and I felt as though I was surrounded by their talented, beautiful, happy moms.  Moms and kids, moms and kids.  Then there was me.  


Do you ever have that feeling inside you that is like a storm?  A twister of might start quiet, but it's unsettled and gloomy.  As it grows bigger and stronger, it begins to roar, and you feel like there is no escaping.

I felt my mind-storm growing stronger and darker in the gym that morning.  The buzzers and whistles and bouncing basketballs only added to the noise.  Horrible, ugly noise.  I wanted to go away from there, and fast.  I put my head down and felt some hot tears in my eyes.

Then this happened, and I am not embellishing or elaborating ONE BIT:  I heard a Voice.  I can't really describe the Voice.  It was quiet but firm.  It was louder than my storm.  It calmed my storm.  My storm was instantly gone when the Voice came.

What did the Voice say?

"Don't be discouraged."

What??  I sat STRAIGHT UP and quickly looked around me.  I knew it wasn't a human voice; it was different...but I was pretty alarmed.  Just...what???  That Voice was so....clear.  That Voice was for me!  THAT VOICE WAS GOD.  I knew it.  

I wasn't even seeking God in that moment.  I wasn't listening.  And there He was.

Don't be discouraged.

That's all I heard, even though I was straining, leaning forward even, to hear more.  The mind-storm was completely gone and it was quiet.  All I could hear was the gym, and it had reverted back to being pleasant game noise that I was so accustomed to.

After the game was over and Tom was back with me, I told him about what had happened.  I'm not sure it meant the same to him, and I wasn't expecting it to.   He was happy to see me feeling reassured, though, and said that he too had been praying for peace and patience in our season of waiting.

In the days following, every time I was tempted to feel sorry for myself and give in to sadness, I remembered the Voice.  I repeated those words to myself over and over, and meditated on Psalm 139...Isaiah 26...Psalm 27.

We found out we were pregnant on August 10.

Do I believe God is real?

Yes.  I absolutely do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DONE!...Now what?

I'm done.

I AM DONE!!  My comprehensive exams, final research paper, all the assignments,  collaborations, discussions, reflections, projects, surveys and blah blah blah... 


In a few short days I can add "MA" to the end of my signature.

Someone asked me a week or so ago when I'd start the coursework for my doctoral degree.





From now on I'll enjoy what I've earned, and when I need renewal credits, look forward to choosing classes that interest me and help me further improve my teaching and/or musicianship.  I've heard there are jazz, theatre and even rock music courses out there.

Morningside won't have a graduation ceremony for this summer's MA graduates until next summer.  Next summer.  Not sure if I can wait that long to get that coveted light blue hood, so I plan on stealing Tom's until I can get my own.  :)

My plans for the rest of the summer, since I have my days back, include:

1.  Spending more time with Tom and Jude.  We have parks to explore and a pool to splash in.

2.  Experimenting with my Canon 60D.  We've had it for 3 years and I'm still kind of pathetic at taking pictures

3.  Training for a half marathon.  Part of me doesn't want to but a bigger part of me DOES

4.  Having a girls' night out (or day before school begins

5.  Trying and blogging some recipes from Pinterest

6.  Spending a LOT more time in the music guitars are calling.

7.  Exploring Bob's Guitars in Cedar Falls and maybe bringing home a new Taylor...

So, more month of break!

Thanks to all my encouragers and at times, pushers.  Can't believe it's over.  :)

Love, Betsy