Praying Through

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16
I have been wrestling.
Wrestling with Direction. Desire. Selfishness. Fear. Worry. Control. The Unknown.

I wish I could say I have answers to these things, but at this point, I don't.
I am an open book with most things, but in recent days, I have been sorting through things in my own heart and life quietly. I think my fears speak louder than truth most days. 
I have felt challenged in my own life and in my quiet time with these words that will not leave my mind "Pray Through."

I've been thinking about what this means for me. 
It means, my prayer life needs work.
It means it's exactly what I should be doing with all these struggles I listed at the beginning of this.

It means praying until there is a breakthrough.
It means praying until there is an answer.
It means consistently, fervently praying until there is peace.
It means not giving up just because I don't have the answer today.
It means believing in God's faithfulness and His promises to me.
It means running to God first with the worry before going to someone else. 
It means spending uninterrupted, devoted time sharing my heart with the Lord. 
It means being honest about where I'm at, trusting that He will be faithful to complete the work He has started in me. 

I have been reading various scriptures in relation to prayer, and Luke 18 is a perfect example of Jesus teaching his disciples about prayer and never giving up. 

Luke 18:1 (the message) reads: 
18 Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.

It was never promised to me, or any of us, that life would be easy. In fact, the Word tells us that it is going to be hard. 
Honesty says there are times right now when I feel the answers aren't going to come, or maybe it won't be what I want it to be, but this is when I need to practice praying through.

One of my favorite verses is found in Philippians and it reads:

Philippians 4:6-7 The Message (MSG)

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
While I can quote most of these scriptures, and have heard them over and over, sometimes I'm not sure its truth is as deeply embedded in my heart as it should be. I wish I could share and give voice to all it is that I am sorting through in my heart and mind right now, and maybe in time I will be able to. I do hope in time, that I will be able to share just how God answered these prayers. 

I usually write/post something when I have the whole picture to bring forward. Today is not that day. I felt there might be someone that needed to read this, and maybe if its you, just know- that if your searching, wrestling, or waiting on an answer. You're not alone.  Maybe you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling, or maybe you wonder if God even hears you when you cry to Him with your deepest desires, just know He is listening. And He hears you. 

I know my prayer life can use some work. 
I am practicing praying through. 
I hope this continues to change me in the waiting.
It is never an easy place to be, but there is beauty in this process.
I know and believe He hears me, my questions, my fears, and my desires. I am trusting that in His perfect time, He will answer.

If I can pray for/along side you in something, I would be honored to.
If you find yourself in the waiting, you're not alone.

The Process

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Somedays I feel like I will never be done learning this lesson.
A lesson that comes for a Type A personality like me with dread at times, dragging my feet in the mud, and praying change away constantly. 

Its a process.
For someone like me, I function best when things are black and white. Where there is a start date and a stop date. Where it fits exactly into my planner with a check box beside it that I can mark out when its completed. No surprises. Where preparation is welcomed and even appreciated. 
However, I am learning more and more that as much as I wish it was like this, life, and this journey, is about as far from that as possible.
Sure, I do believe strongly that we have to do our part in the areas where it requires planning, being organized, doing our part to be responsible and to be good stewards of all God has given us, but life, and each season that I find myself in, is exactly what I said. 

It's a process.

It was said in a recent sermon:
"Any area of our life where we struggle to control a situation, reveals and identifies a problem in our spiritual walk." It was also said that many times for people who struggle to constantly control, their lives can usually be summed up by one word: FEAR.
(If you want to hear the whole sermon- check out this link- Sermon- Surrender over Control.)

I have to be honest. Hearing this, made me say ouch just a bit, and I thought- I don't really try to control that much do I?

I can't say that specific things came to mind directly that I feel I try to control, but I feel I was made aware of fears I am currently wrestling with and what the root issue truly is. And if I'm being honest, it's lack of trust that God will take care of and provide for us. 
But- I have no reason to fear this. 
He's never let us go without before.
So why do I struggle so much?

Back to the process. I'm beginning to accept that maybe this isn't something I'm just going to accomplish and move on to the next challenge, but instead its something that has to be a daily choice for me. A choice to choose trust over fear. A choice to choose prayer over worry. A choice to choose bringing my concerns to Him first instead of texting anyone else. A choice to remember His faithfulness.

This season is truly one of the sweetest I've ever experienced. Eleanor has brought us so much joy and this stage in her life is so much fun. It comes with its own challenges, but watching her grow and learn daily, is such a blessing. But again, honesty would be to tell you that we are praying through and praying for things in our family, seeking the Lord's direction and guidance. Life has presented closed doors, disappointments, and the realization that some things may not be happening in our time frame. I have in my own heart been wrestling with some really big decisions, but in it all I'm reminded that its a process. That maybe it's okay to not have all the answers. Maybe I don't have to have it all figured out. Maybe its okay that I've felt the disappointment, the hurt, and even at times the fear of whats ahead, because in it, it draws me closer to the one who is in control. 

Its in the process that I'm finding my heart and my mind are being challenged. Do I trust? What are my motives? What does the Lord want for me, for us? Am I listening?

I'm choosing tonight, to trust. That His plan and His timing are perfect. That He will in His time answer my prayers. And however He chooses to answer, He is good.

Learning to Say Yes

Thursday, June 28, 2018

It's been awhile since I've written.
Life has a way of getting busy and things get in the way.
Since Eleanor was born, I feel like I've blinked and time just continues to fly.
I started a new job in October of last year, and getting adjusted and acclimated to that has been both a joy and challenge.
Working full time along with being a wife and momma consume just about every second that I have, so it's been challenging to find time for this outlet in my life.
Writing has always been a place where I find my own freedom. I have about 120 posts that have never been published on my blog, but the chance to sit and write it all out has always been freeing for me.
It's a piece of time for me, where I can look back and see/remember the places I've been, both the good and the bad and in it all I can see God's hand in each season of my story.
Whether anyone benefits from it or not, was never the intention for my writing to begin with, and in the past several months, I've been challenged to remember why I ever started writing. 
I've also had my own struggles in why I haven't been writing and I've taken some time to dig deep and search my own heart and my motives.
Maybe my life doesn't look like some of those whose writings I read, or whose instagrams I follow and think to myself  (here's real honesty) 'man they really have it all together.' or 'is there house ever a mess?' or 'is there ever a time they don't get to do what they want to do?' or 'I wish I got to go to the coffee shop and target 4-5 times a week, must be nice.'
Right or wrong, these are thoughts I struggle with.
Even with those people that I know and do life with personally.
But the truth lies here.
Comparison kills joy.
I don't live a picture perfect, or instagram/blog perfect life.
In fact, its the complete opposite.
I'm not the "stay at home, yoga pants wearing, go to chick-fil-A play date kinda mom." 
Sure I'd love to be, who wouldn't? But for this season, that is not where the Lord has me.
Let me be clear, to those of you who are, I have mad respect for the weight you bear in taking on this role in being home each and everyday with your precious babies- as I know, it too comes with its own challenges. I am simply trying to express where I am at and I don't stand in judgement of anyone on the other end.
The challenge of being a full time working Mom is something I'm not sure I see/hear much about, and I'm not sure the guilt and weight of that has ever been expressed from my perspective because let's be honest, there isn't much time to sit down and put it all on paper and secondly, the fear of being judged exists.
That being said, here I am.
It's been awhile, but I'm here.
It's rare in our home that the laundry is all folded and put away, or the bottles completely clean and put back in their place, or the toys in their boxes and all in their right places. In fact, in the last 14 months of my life since having Eleanor, I have begun to see and realize the beauty of saying "yes" more- to things that maybe weren't "planned" or to taking a spur of the moment trip to the park on a Tuesday night just because it's gorgeous outside instead of staying in and having a clean/put together house.  Andrew is part of what helps me to find this balance as he keeps perspective far better than I do, and he reminds me sometimes to just enjoy the little things in the midst of our crazy life. I'm thankful for his steadfast, unwavering love, I couldn't do this parenting thing without him. 
I'm learning to find j o y in the little things, and to make the most of the time I do have with my precious girl. It's been a growing season for me in many ways, and perspective continues to change me.
I have so much room to grow, and I know that, but I'm working everyday to do and be the mom and wife I am called to be.
Instead of comparing my life to others, I'm trying to remember as I read this week
"The grass may be greener on the other side, but we have to plow through the field we're in." 
(Mike Glenn)
I'm grateful for this season.
Even on the hard days.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to love Eleanor and to teach her how to walk in what God has for her as she watches me both succeed and stumble through my own journey in trying to be all God has for me each day.
 I hope in the realness she learns, that no matter what, God will absolutely be faithful to her if she trusts Him.
So here's to writing.
To finding my own freedom and for the reminder of God's faithfulness along the journey.
If you're reading, I hope you're encouraged in some way. 
Remember, you don't have to have it all together. None of us do. 
And from one Mom to another, You're not alone.
Here's a few pictures of times where there were more 
Yes's to the things that matter.

Eleanor's Birth Story

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I quickly learned soon into my pregnancy, that things do not always go as thought or planned.
Not the world's ideal situation for a planner like myself to completely have to live in the unknowns.
While my pregnancy was very uneventful, I'm not sure it hit me full force what it meant that Baby E was breech until about week 32(literally from the time she was first seen on an ultrasound she was breech. ) 
It had been mentioned that if she continued to be breech, I had a few options that could be discussed but that there was plenty of time for her to move and we would cross that bridge when we needed to.
Each visit came, and still she was cozy, with her head and feet both right up in my rib cage.
Finally at the 36 week apt, an ultrasound confirmed her position, and our options were presented to us.
After discussing the risks and benefits, we decided it would be best not to attempt to manually have her moved, but instead to trust that she would come however the Lord saw fit.
April was a very busy month for us and for our church, and Eleanor's scheduled day originally was the Wednesday before her due date, April 17th.
In my mind, bad timing, but regardless her entrance was far more important than anything going on with church or the business of it all.
With a week and a half to go, I received a phone call that a spot had opened on April 10, one week before her due date, with the Doctor we wanted. This was such an answer to prayer. In a small way, I felt like the Lord continually showed me that He had this entire thing in His hands and that I could trust Him with the unknowns.
I'm not sure a weekend has ever felt so long. 
Sunday night going into Monday, I felt nervous, anxious, and honestly still in shock that the next day we would be meeting our precious Eleanor Mae.
We were scheduled to have the C-section at 1 pm, and we were to be there by 11 am (for those of you that don't know, where we had the baby is about 45 minute from our house). We had planned to leave about 9:45 am to get there on time and not worry about rushing.
I went to bed, praying I would have one last night of sleep, as I knew sleeping was not in my near future.
Around 1:30 am, I woke up with stomach pain, I brushed it off and went back to sleep. For the next 2-3 hours, I was awake off and on and even took myself into the extra bedroom thinking changing positions would help. 
Around 4:30 am I text my Mom letting her know what was going on and she told me I might be having contractions. I continued to try and sleep and didn't truly think that was even possible. By 5:30 am my stomach hurt so bad, I knew I was either having contractions or something wasn't right. I got up, got ready (you better believe my hair was gonna be done and I was going to be ready no matter what the morning I had this baby!). 
I laid out on the couch waiting on Andrew's alarm to go off. 
As soon as his alarm went off at 7:45, I told him I couldn't wait any longer and that I needed him to hurry up. 
I secretly had been timing the pain I was having and I think my fear of what was happening kept me from being realistic that I truly was going into labor.
We got everything ready, called our parents, and headed out. 
That car ride was probably one of the things I have a hard time remembering. Andrew kept trying to talk about things that were light and to keep my mind off everything, but I felt like I couldn't hear anything that was said.
We got to the hospital, told them what we were there for, and due to my complaints they took me back and got me hooked up.
To my surprise, I was having contractions 2 minutes a part by that point. I wasn't crazy! I was having that baby April 10th whether it was scheduled or not!

The Doctor made his way in and wanted to confirm the baby was still breech, and within less than 10 seconds he said, yep, there she is, alright lets get this going.
I couldn't believe this was about to happen.
The next hour or so went so fast and slow all at the same time.
I got to see my parents, say hello to some of my closest friends who came to support me, and begged the anesthesiologist to wait until my in-laws arrived so we could say hi before we went back.

When it was finally time to go back, I was thrilled the anesthesiologist agreed to let me bring Andrew as well as my Mom back.

Everyone walked me to the door, and I was then left alone. 

I entered the cold, stark white OR all by myself.  
I was asked to climb on the table and I found myself leaning into a nurse as they were prepping for my epidural telling her things like I'd known her my whole life. I couldn't believe this was happening and in those moments, I would be lying if I didn't say fear was creeping in. I felt alone and scared somewhat for the procedure that was taking place, but knew I was in great hands and truly tried to embrace the moment and mentally to bring myself to a place of full surrender and trust.
I remember telling the anesthesiologist I felt so nervous. I remember her saying over and over "this is going to be the best day of your life."
She was exactly right.
Just as they told me, this warm sensation took over my body from the bottom of my feet to the top of my chest, and I could no longer feel a thing. As they transferred me to the OR table, I realized in that moment, this was it.
The Doctor began talking to me and cutting away, soon enough, Andrew & my Mom joined me in the cold OR. 
I hated that I couldn't see all that was going on but I felt like all of my other senses were taking in all my eyes couldn't see. I kept asking Andrew what was going on, and if he could see what they were doing. I heard the Doctor tell me, I would be feeling some pressure and she would be here in just a minute. 
I never knew what I would feel or think the first time I heard my baby cry, but when he said "Here she is" and I heard that cry, tears uncontrollably began to roll down my face. 
All I could think was thank you God she is breathing. 
In the same breath I wanted to know everything about her. "What did she look like?" "How much does she weigh?" "Is everything okay?" "Does she have all her fingers and toes?"
"Shes perfect Bethany, I'm gonna show her to you right now."
And this right here, 
was the first glimpse I had of my sweet Eleanor Mae.

11:53 am on April 10th, 2017
6 lbs 10 oz, 19 inches long.
She was perfect.
I was so thankful Andrew was able to capture the pictures that he did and that he was able to be a part of watching everything happen with her as she came into the world. 
He kept reassuring me that she was okay and it wasn't long before they brought her over to me.

While I was previously worried that I would feel so left out because I could not hold her first, that thought never even crossed my mind.
I wasn't sure what she was going to look like, and to be honest, she looked nothing of what I expected, but I felt her face was absolutely precious.
I was enamored.

I was then alone in the OR once again getting stitched up, but trusting that all was okay with Eleanor and was so thankful Andrew could go with her.

Soon enough, they wheeled me into recovery and I finally got to hold my precious girl.

Words will never be able to describe the love I felt when I finally held her in my arms.
9 months of getting to know this precious girl, and finally getting to lay eyes on her.
We spent about 2 hours in the recovery room, and looking back it I'm so thankful for the time we had.
I had some difficulty getting the sensation back in my feet and so until that happened, we were not able to move to a regular room so that everyone could meet her.
I knew meeting her was going to be the best, but watching our family(some who traveled miles to get there for her special day) and our friends get to meet her, hold her, and welcome her was so overwhelming. This truly made my heart feel it was going to explode with joy. 
Eleanor came into this world so loved, and I am forever grateful for this.
The next few days went by fast and slow all at one time but overall was a pretty good experience. 

My recovery was harder than I imagined but outside of a small infection, I healed well and I'm just grateful she made it into the world safely and was healthy.

We were so happy and thankful to head home and to finally be a family of four (our dog Addie LOVES Eleanor). 
This was an incredible and experience, and I am forever changed because of this day.
Eleanor Mae, you will never know how much I love you.
I am so grateful the Lord saw fit to entrust her precious life to us.
Thank you to everyone who has loved us and encouraged us as we've entered this new season of parenting and for loving our sweet girl.

I'm so grateful that we were able to have Angela Demsick there to capture this day! 

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