Persevering in Faith

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father.” Colossians 1:11

I wish I could explain the emotions associated with this journey. I wish I could fully explain the joys and hardships in a way that would make sense. The truth is that no one will truly know these emotions unless they have experienced them on their own. Over the last two years, I have felt joys, beyond anything I can ever imagine and I have felt more sorrow than I wish to express. One thing I know for certain is that this journey has changed me and for the better. I can’t tell you how many times my patience has been tested or how many times I have asked God, “Why me?” I have endured countless days of confusion wondering what plans the Lord has for me. Through all of this, almost every time I really began to doubt God’s plan and His timing, something would happen. Something small, most often in fact, I would actually miss that it was a small glimmer of hope and anticipation for what is to come. In my days of struggle, I was always able to find something that would allow that pain and questioning to go away. I have found what I need to make it through. I have persevered. 

Perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” A person who has perseverance endures no matter what the trails or how much suffering or grief he or she has to go through. The root meaning of the word perseverance is “to remain under.” What does this mean? It means that a person must be willing to remain under trails, if necessary and to follow God’s ways. The key words here are following “God’s way,” not ours. It doesn’t matter if I am feeling down or hurt, what matters is God has a plan for me and I must be vigilant in seeking to understand his plan. I must remember that it isn’t about me. 

Romans 5:3 reads, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” This shows that going through mental anguish and struggling through the hard times leads to something greater. For only in times of trial does one come to understanding. It is in a willingness to stay strong through those trials that leads to contentment. Re-read these beautiful words, “God’s love has been poured out for us.” Do you know what this means? God already understands our sorrow. He has given his only son for our suffering and our pain. He has been one to really persevere. 

So how do you endure the pain and suffering which you are feeling? That is where faith comes in. James 1:2-4 reads “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The testing of faith is what it comes down to. Do you really trust God’s ways and believe in his word? If so, he is going to test your perseverance. This is the foundation of our trust in God. Perseverance and faith must go together to find that great joy. Even though right now, this suffering seems so great. I know that the joy which is coming is far greater than even my most difficult days. 

I have learned so much throughout this journey. I wouldn’t be who I am today if this hadn’t been my path. In each and every day I began to find joy in the little things. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. I have found that enjoying a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or spending time with my husband has much more meaning now. I have found walking this journey has led to a greater understanding of what is truly important. I am able to enjoy the little moments, giving thanks for these seemingly everyday tasks and appreciating the blessings I have been given.

So why do I continue to praise God’s name, even in my hardest days?  Because I have worked too hard to be at the place I am now; a place of contentment, peace and understanding. I have endured patiently and I am ever so grateful for the Lord’s abundant blessings on my life. If you are struggling right now, I beg of you to persevere through your hardest days. Give thanks to the Lord, put your blessings and sorrows on him. He is there waiting with open arms. Continue to persevere in faith. 

Lord, I do not know the day or time my greatest prayer will be answered, so I ask for your blessings in my life. Hold me close to you; keep me wrapped in your unending love. Help me to stay strong in my afflictions and persevere into the path you have set for my life. Amen. 

 

 

Out of the Darkness

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2.

As we approach Christmas, my anticipation is mounting. I am getting so excited to share in the joy of Christmas with family and friends. The anticipation of Christmas is much like my anticipation for a baby to come into our lives. I have prayed so many days for this beautiful gift and I wait in hope for a baby, as the world waits in hope for Christ.

Isaiah 9:2 tells us “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” The power of these words are so beautiful. I mean, just pause and really reflect on these words for a minute…“The people in darkness have seen a great light..” Wow! I sometimes feel like I am in the dark, always left wondering what God’s plan is for me. This is a constant battle and I have to remind myself often that his grace is abundant and everlasting. I am reminded to remain hopeful and keep my faith until I can see that great light, even though right now it seems as though it is so far off in the distance. If you feel that God has left you in the dark, yearning for something that seems so far out of reach, you are wrong. There is always room for Hope, when we take time to really reflect on God’s plan for us and really take the time to look at the deeper reason for our pain.

This Advent season, I am called to reflect deeper into God’s word. Reading, sharing, listening, and contemplating God’s glorious presence in my everyday life. I ask you to do the same. Take the time this Advent to really think about the reason for Christmas and thank God for your trials and tribulations. It really will help you to be thankful for the blessings you do have and allow you to wait in hope for the things that you are still yearning for. Jesus came to this earth for a reason, beyond being a Savior in the flesh, he came to free us from our sins. When we come to understand, to know, to celebrate, and to receive the fact that Jesus Christ is not merely a Savior, but our Savior, we can begin to understand his plan for us. Reflect on this and know that God is with you wherever you go. He will not leave you in darkness, he will not leave you alone. He will be there to carry your cross and guide you into understanding.

As I think back on this past year on all of the emotions, longings, and praying for a baby, I know that it was all for a beautiful purpose. I was able to reflect on God’s word and really believe in his powerful plan for my life. I was able to walk out of that darkness, where I felt so alone and left in such great pain, to a place of contentment and peace.

In closing, take one more moment to reflect on these words, “The people in darkness have seen a great light…” You see God will never leave you alone in the dark. He will always be there to bring you out of that darkness and into the light of His everlasting presence.

Lord, help me to remain hopeful this Advent season. Allow me to reflect deeper into your word and help me to stay joyful in anticipation for your coming and remain faithful to you. Hold me in the light and keep me out of the darkness as I continue to trust in your plan for me. Amen.

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Believing in God’s Will

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6

Last Christmas season was spent in agony. I was a mess. I never understood depression until I experienced what I experienced last year during the holiday season. Self doubt? You got it. Unworthy? Yep! That is me! Broken? 100%! Believe it or not, these are the emotions I was feeling. I felt so out of balance with my body. I felt shattered from the impact of this burden weighing heavily on my heart. At this point in time I had been on this journey for a year and six months. I spent a lot of days in a quiet pain and a silent suffering that even my closest family members knew very little about. My husband was a wonderful support throughout this journey, yet I was still missing something that would bring my heart peace. I actually spent a lot of days upset and angry at God for allowing this bareness to come into my life. I was angry, sad, confused, and depressed, most of the time sitting in pity and self doubt. Then quietly, and over time, I began to feel a peace make its way into my heart. The Lord was speaking to me in many small ways, most of which I barely even realized or in any way could have understood in those dark moments.

But why was I have it those constant thoughts of self doubt and negativity? It was because I hadn’t accepted the path that the Lord had set for my life. Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a vision of what my life was supposed to be like. As a rule follower and perfectionist, I always thought that if I did things a certain way or acted in a certain way then my life wold work out the way I wanted it to. God however had a different plan for my life and this realization, this shift in my thought process, saved me.

As I spent time contemplating God’s design for my life, I knew that I needed to seek ways to understand his plan. This came in the form of constant prayer, contemplation, and surrender to His undeniable power and love. The Bible urges us to be prayerful, steadfast, and willing. Philippians 4:6 reminds us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” and Matthew 6:25-32 urges us to not be anxious as well “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…your heavenly Father knows what you need.” Who was I to doubt a God who gave his only Son for my life? This shift in my mindset did not happen overnight. It took time that only I could know how to take. I needed to find myself wallowing in self doubt and pain. I had to surrender myself to God’s will and allow his grace to work through me.

As time went on, I would find myself slowly finding peace in my sorrow. I began to be thankful for everything in my life. Others joy became my joy as well, as I realized what God was telling me! He was showing me the beauty of life that surrounds me each and every day. He taught me how to be still in the wait, showing me patience with each passing moment. The Bible urges us to wait in Him throughout our days. Lamentations 3:25 tells us “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” The Bible is filled with verses filling us with the hope of Jesus Christ. Psalm 37:4-5 tells us trust in the Lord . . .delight yourself in the Lord . . .commit your way to the Lord . . .be still before the Lord. This is how God asks us to wait in the life of faith. We are called to trust God with our whole heart, soul and mind. We are to believe that he will do good in His timing and fully trust in his plan for our life.

So this Christmas season, even though I am still waiting without a baby in my arms, I am grateful, hopeful, and delightful for God’s plan for my life. I no longer wait in agony or cry tears of sorrow. I understand His will for me and trust in His infinitely beautiful timing.

God’s love for you is far beyond any suffering you may face. He has a plan for your life and a reason for your hurt. As you wait for the Lord’s plan to reveal itself to you, take heart in his joy for you. Hold on to the hope that only He can give. Know that you are not alone in this journey and that your life’s plan will work out just the way it should. For it is in Him that you can move beyond the frustration of self doubt, suffering, and pain to a world of joy, love, and contentment as you wait for God to reveal the plan he has for your life.

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A Season of Waiting

Psalm 27:13 I remain confident of this: I see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart . Wait for the Lord.

This summer my husband found a barely used rocking chair for sale online and we thought it would be the perfect fit for our nursery for future Baby Cournia. Ever since our purchase we have set it in the babies room where we will one day spend precious moments with our little one. From time to time I go in that empty room and sit with empty arms rocking in that chair, waiting for the day when the room will be filled with other nursery items: a crib, a changing table, books, baby clothes and the list goes on and on. We have bought very few baby related items, but the ones we have serve as constant reminders that the room sits empty however, I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS! It might sound crazy, but I am so grateful for this wait and that empty room. I remain hopeful. Every time I take the time to spend some time in this empty room, I wait patiently for the day that it will be filled with the sweet sounds of a little one and no longer empty in silence.

The Lord promises great blessings to those who wait on him. The command to wait on Christ is present in the Old and New Testament and something God asks of us daily. Right now we wait eagerly and with confidence that the Lord’s character and goodness with prevail in our lives. Waiting is not always easy and it is about holding on to hope with great expectation and a strong conviction that the Lord will bless us with a baby. Trusting that the Lord will come at the most perfect moment, not too soon or too late is where our faith prevails. We will enjoy our time in waiting because we know that our greatest fear is so little compared to His biggest blessing. Trusting that the Lord will bless us abundantly has two key components. One is a complete reliance on God and the second is a readiness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His beautiful design. We must trust in this and wait patiently, even if our arms are empty and the rocking chair sits without much use. Waiting on the Lord requires this precious passage of time, which in itself is a gracious gift from God.

The word wait in the Bible conveys the impression of an assured anticipation and hope. Psalm 62:1-5 reminds us to wait in silence, “For God alone my soul waits in silence . . . my hope is from him.” How beautiful is this! God asks us to wait in silence, and to keep that faith, knowing our true hope is in Him. This revelation is so beautiful when you think of the waiting and the silence that we have experienced over the past two years. The Lord also promises that those who wait in Him, and while loving Him, will not be led astray. When we wait confidently for the Lord’s promises we know that He will always be there with a true defense. When I begin to doubt that a baby will come into our lives or that the nursery will sit empty forever, I must ask the Lord for his grace, to set aside my human tendencies and wait upon Him to show me His control, His fortitude, and His deliverance. When our fear tries to get the better of us, we must continually trust in His plan for our lives. Now this is not always easy to do, and trust me I have been tempted, but I am always made to believe that He is in power and I trust His promises for my life.

Our faith in Him helps us to know that God is not one who fails to accomplish what He has assured us. His promises cannot be undone and we will not be broken. He will prevail in His timing. As we choose to wait on God we are confident that what we are waiting for will surely emanate. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that our faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. So for now, I will choose to be grateful for that empty room, the empty rocking chair, and my empty arms. I will choose to depend on Him and wait for His promises to prevail; letting Him work according to His will in my life.

Lord, cover me in your faithfulness. When my doubts and fears try to take over my faith in you, wrap me in your never ending grace. Show me the path to your righteousness and grant in me a faithful spirit. Give me the courage to trust in your timing and believe in your blessings for my life. Amen.

 

Changing Seasons

Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our reward, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10. 

Autumn is upon us and we are reminded of a new season This time of year is meant for warmer clothes, and cooler weather, shorter days, and longer nights. Here in the north, the sky changes too. We see less sun and more open skies, as the days fade into winter. 

During this time of year I am always reminded of my current “season” of life. I remember when I first received my fertility diagnosis and it felt as if I was living in my own “autumn.” I began to see my future in a different light, it felt as if everything around me was changing as I adjusted to a new season of life. I suppose there was even a time where I felt as though I was living in a winter of sorts, adjusting to my new reality. As the days went on and I began to understand, in a sense, the path that God has brought me to. Spring came and it was as if I saw things in a renewed light. Just as we look forward to the beauty of a new season, I begin to feel joyful for the new season of summer in my life. Things became vibrant again, I began to accept my path and the new season that God has brought me to. 

We all have “autumns” in our lives, where we need to adjust to a new reality. Whether that be a new job or career, children going off to college, loss of a loved one, a health diagnosis, the list goes on and on. Our lives are constantly changing and we must adjust to our new seasons. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Because  God’s grace is abundant and freeing! Once I began to understand His path and accept His understanding, I was opened to a new world where everything seemed to make sense again. It may not be the plan I had for my life, but I believe his plan is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined! I have learned to embrace my “autumn” and enjoy this season for what it is. I sincerely hope you can do the same. 

Lord, help me to be grateful for this season of life. Help me to understand your plans in this new season and help me to not grow weary, so I soon can reap a reward. Amen 

Be Joyful in Hope

“Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.”
(Romans 12:12)

I was recently asked by a friend going through a difficult situation, what should I pray for? How can I seek to find patience and understanding in my life?

After our conversation, I began to think about what God is doing in my life every single day. I had to chuckle at this thought because I know I am naïve to think that God is doing things in my life. He IS my life! He knows my ways, before I even have even a thought of them. I know I have written about this before, but I need to keep reminding myself of it, especially when I grow weary in this wait.

Choosing joy in times of trial is not always easy. I certainly know that I struggle staying hopeful at times.  Thankfully the Lord’s power is far greater than my biggest fear! Every time I stress about the timing of our placement, or if we are going to be a chosen family anytime soon, I remind myself that I have no reason to fret. My ways are already His and even though I may think I have a say in the matter, I really don’t. I think that this is the beauty of it. How lucky am I that God is moving mountains in my life?!

Even in the mist of my suffering and anguish over this wait, I am so joyful! I have a hope of a child coming into our lives at any given moment. I am hopeful of our future and what it may hold for our journey. Even when I think my patience has been tested to the end, I know I need to ground myself in the fact that God is already the guider of my ways.

What should you pray for? How can you seek to find patience and understanding in your life? The answer is simple and once again rooted in scripture: TRUST in his ways! “…Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your trouble and pray at all times.”

Lord, help me to trust in you and know your ways are just! Help me to hold on to the hope that only you can give. Let me be honest in my prayers and always remember that you guide my ways! Amen.

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Find Your Purpose

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”- Romans 8:28

What marks our time here? What is the purpose of our days? Why are we placed on this earth?

This weekend I had the privilege, along with Jay’s extended family, to lie to rest his grandfather who, at 85 years old, lived a life so beautiful that I was brought to tears countless times, by just witnessing the legacy he built within his community and most importantly through his family. I am so blessed to have married into a family that shares such a deep love for one another. I did not know Jay’s grandfather for very long, but it was throughout my time with his family that I began to see how much of an impact one man can make. I spent a lot time throughout the weekend leading to his funeral thinking of the three grandparents I have lost and the beautiful legacy that they have left behind within their own communities and families. This brought me to reflect on the purpose of our life here on this earth.

As Christians, we know that in death (even though our bodies may still be intact) that our soul is brought forth by God the Father to the heaven’s, bringing it home to the place where we ultimately belong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that every spiritual soul “is immortal: It does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection” (CCC 366). Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ. (CCC 1022). This judgment is something we all will face. As Christians, we have the faith to understand the beauty of this concept. It is something that is waiting for all of us. Our lives, every action, and every choice we make will be set forth at the judgment.

(For scriptural evidence of this, see Luke 16:22; 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23.)

Jay and I have spent the better part of a year, walking tediously though the adoption process, filling out countless forms, sharing our lives with our social worker for hours, praying and just waiting for that phone call that an expectant mama has chosen us to be parents. We have spent countless hours wishing and focusing on our own prayers for our lives that it seems we may have forgotten why God has chosen this trial for our life. Asking him what is our purpose? What is the point of this suffering, questioning, and wondering? This weekend this was all put into perspective.

Romans 8:28 promises us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, indeed, God has a purpose and we have been created as part of that purpose and for a purpose. And Jesus tells us what that purpose is – to love and serve God, and to love and serve others – and it’s repeated three times in the Scriptures (Matt 22:36, Mark 12:29, Luke 10:25). The purpose of life is so very simple. When we fulfill the purpose that God has set forth for our life, we will be filled with harmony and contentment.

This weekend I was sure that Jay’s grandfather had fulfilled his purpose. He spent his days living for others and living for Christ. When I think over our grandparents lives, I know that they had fulfilled their purpose. They followed the Lord’s plan, sharing in the beauty of it with their families and within their communities. Their legacy is a testament to their faith and the fulfillment of God’s purpose.

Why have I decided to spend a blog post talking about death? The answer is simple, we must start living out the Lord’s purpose NOW! Our souls depend on it. Jesus’ one wish was to save us from eternal damnation and we have a way to grant this wish, by living for the Lord and others. As Jay and I wait for our little one to come into our lives, we will spend our days fulfilling God’s purpose.

All of us have the ability to spend the rest of our days living for others, sharing in Christ’s love, and holding on to His hope of what is yet to come. For it is in our living for Him, that our purpose for this life might be realized.

Lord, help us to know your ways, hold onto your truth, your word, and your promises for us. Help us to be patient in the waiting and hopeful for your purpose to reveal itself. Let us be calm in the face of our trials and grateful for our blessings in life. We ask that you may be understanding of our shortcomings as we work to become more faithful to you. Help us oh Lord to be faithful to your purpose. Amen.

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