Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My September 11th Story

September 11th will be a date etched in my memory for all time. It was a day full of sorrow for me. However, I’m not referring to the September 11th that you may be thinking of. Not September 11, 2001, the day that our wonderful country the USA was attacked by terrorists. Although that was a sad day for all Americans, that’s not the date I’m referring to. No, my September 11th story took place seven years later on September 11, 2008. That was the day that I found out I was having a miscarriage.

From the moment any woman realizes that she is expecting she starts making plans; dreaming dreams. I’m no different. Mine were shattered that day. At first I think I was in disbelief. Maybe you would call it denial. My husband, Alan, and I were trilled to think of soon welcoming a new baby into our family. We thought our little son, Andrew, would soon be a big brother. We really wanted this baby! How could this really be happening to us?

The days following September 11th brought with them many questions, confusion and a little fear. Tears flowed from our broken hearts. Many things in life are hard to understand. I believe some of our questions will never be answered here on this earth. I also believe that a bit of grief will always reside in our hearts as long as we travel this life. However, I’ve found such comfort and peace in knowing that my Heavenly Father comforts me in all my tribulations (II Cor 1:4).

As the weekend neared I knew I needed to prepare a Sunday school lesson for my 3 and 4-year-old preschool class. Honestly, I dreaded the thought of getting a lesson together. I’ve always loved teaching Sunday school, but I had found it very hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. However, I prayed for strength and motivation. Before I knew it I had found some inspiration and was writing a lesson of my own.

I came across the story of the lost sheep in Matthew 18. I know this story is an illustration of God calling us, His sheep, back to himself. Yet, something else struck me as I read this story once again. It reminded me that God is our Good Shepherd (John 10:11). A Good Shepherd loves, cares for and protects His sheep. He knows His sheep and they know Him (John 10:14). Not only that, but our Good Shepherd has a plan for us (Jer 29:11). We can trust in Him and His plan for our lives (Prov 3:5). His purpose is to give life in its fullness (John 10:10). He causes everything to work together for good for us (Rom 8:28). He helps us in our distress (Rom 8:26).

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you”, says they Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster (evil), to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.”

I am grateful for all He is reminding me of and teaching me through my September 11th experience. I trust in His plan (Jer 29:11). I want His will and not mine (Luke 22:42). I am thankful that He gives us hope (Ps 31:24) and that He heals the brokenhearted (Is 61:1).

Written by Rachel R. Beran on September 14, 2008

Well, today, March 31, 2009 would have been my due today had my pregnancy gone to full term. What if? I found myself asking that question the past few days. What if? Hmmm. How about instead, what now, Lord? What next, Lord? I know you have a plan and I continue to trust that plan, Lord. I'm anticipating the next good thing you have in store for me and my family. Thank you, Lord, for your love!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mark Your Calendars!

It is official, I along with 4 other women are following God's leading in organizing a women's retreat . Here are a few details, with more to come!

This event is open to all women, of all ages, from all backgrounds and churches.

Rise and Shine Women's Ministries (Women from Northeast Iowa churches) presents:

Rise and Shine Women's Retreat
Be Encouraged...Refreshed...Renewed

The Rise and Shine Women's Retreat is designed to:
Encourage you to "rise" up to who God created you to be
Refresh you on your walk of faith
Renew your strength to "shine" His light.

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)

Proverbs 31 Ministries Team Speaker, Renee Swope will be our keynote speaker...speaking twice at the retreat. There will also be a time of reflection ...a time set apart for reflecting, sharing, connecting and applying. We'll also enjoy worship time, friends and fellowship.

When: Saturday, October 31, 2009
Time: 9 AM to 3 PM
Where: Orchard Hill Church
Cedar Falls, Iowa

We pray you will be able to join us as we all come together to "Rise and Shine!"

Please feel free to spread the word!

More information coming soon!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Acceptance of a "New Thing"...oh my!

Okay, so here I am. I set up this blog some time ago. Yet, never posted even one entry. Blame it on the fact that I’m a busy, working wife and mommy or that I have slow dial-up. Blame it on my hesitancy to start pouring out my heart to the big olbloggy world. Then, last week I read a post on Lysa Terkeurst’s blog announcing a chance to win a scholarship to the She Speaks conference which will take place July 31-August 2, 2009. At first, excitement swept over me. Then, I felt like it was me, not Lysa, who was going to “tee tee” her pants. I mean, really, how on earth could I write something good enough to convince these gals to choose me?!

The She Speaks conference is designed to encourage and equip women of all ages who are called by God to share His Word through ministry...as speakers, writers, bloggers and women's ministry leaders. They even have sessions designed specifically for the Next Generation. I just adore the Proverbs 31 Ministries team. What a privilege it would be attend!

As I thought about what I would write, that is if I chose to enter the contest at all, memories of meeting my husband flooded my mind. It was five years ago that I set up a personal ad on a Christian website.

I had just gone through a very dark time in my life. You know the old saying, “Sin will take you further than you want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay”? Boy, did it ring true in my life. I was brought up in a Christian home. I went to a Christian school and attended church regularly. My heart and mind were saturated with God’s Word and His truth as a grew. I was saved at a very young age. Still, as a young adult I chose a different path for myself. Somewhere along the way, even though I knew it was wrong and I consistently felt the Lord calling me back to Himself, I decided that I wanted to do things my own way. I turned my back on Him and out into the world I went- not quickly-just one step at a time. It didn't seem that bad at first. In fact, I thought I was having a pretty good time. But before long I found myself wrapped up in a lifestyle very unbecoming of me.

In February of 2004, I hit what was “rock bottom” for me. I was 27 years old. I had recently moved back in with my mother because I was completely broke. I had just ended a long term relationship with my drug addict boyfriend. I felt like my life was headed no where fast. One day I hit my knees. Cries from my broken heart pleaded with the Lord. I asked Him to forgive me for my rebellious ways. I told Him that I wanted to change. That I wanted to live for Him. That I knew that I was dirty and broken, but would He please renew me to live a life for Him and His service. I meant it and God heard my prayer. Something extraordinary happened within me that day. For the first time in a long time, faith welled up inside me. My heart changed. I knew-I JUST KNEW-that He was doing a “new thing” in my life (Isaiah 43:18 & 19).

I had always longed to be a wife and mother. Yet, this dream seemed so distant from me. I had begun to wonder if that wasn't in the plan God had for me because I just didn't see a way in the midst of all my brokenness. However, out of faith, I began praying…for a husband. Not just any husband; the man God had for me. Unknown to me, my mom and brother had started praying too.

Only a few weeks later I posted an entry on a Christian match making website. I was very hesitant. I didn’t think I had a lot to offer someone. I hashed over the idea for a week or two. I prayed about it. Finally, a friend said, "What's it going to hurt?" So I did it.

I’ll spare you all the details, but within the first week I met my husband Alan. When I tell people about how we met on the internet I always do so with my little warning label attached, “I don’t recommend this to everyone!” No, God orchestrated this one. That website was just the tool He used to bring two praying souls together. The timing was perfect. It was my first week on the site and his last (he wasn’t going to renew his membership). The first time we chatted I knew-I JUST KNEW-that there was something special about this guy. I prayed for God’s direction (and so did he).

It was a whirlwind romance. We talked for the first time at the end of March; we met for the first time at the end of April; we got engaged at the end of June; we married at the end of August.

Not everyone thought our marriage was a good idea. How could we move so quickly? Marrying Alan would mean moving 460 miles from my hometown in Indiana to Iowa-a place I’d only been twice at the time of our engagement. I didn’t know anyone there. And Alan was a farmer for goodness sake. I lived in town and didn’t know the first thing about farming. Marrying Alan would mean leaving everything I knew to go to a place I didn’t know. How would it ever work? It would have been really scary, but I felt the Lord’s reassurance and direction. It didn’t make sense. I couldn’t explain it. I knew-I JUST KNEW-that this was where God was calling me…to be an Iowa farm wife to Alan. I knew without a doubt in my mind that the Lord had brought us together. That Alan was an answer to my prayers.

I took a leap of faith. I married Alan on August 27, 2004. I didn’t listen to the critics. Instead, I followed God’s leading. I’m so thankful I did! It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, there have been some tough times. Yet, the blessings have been insurmountable because God did a “new thing” in my life.

Why did I tell you all of this? Well, here I am five years later. Once again I find myself at a crossroads. I feel my sweet Jesus doing a “new thing” in my life. And also once again I have a choice. I can either follow His lead or turn the other way ignoring His voice. I feel the Lord’s call on my life to become a speaker…in women’s ministry. Although it scares me to even write those words I know-I JUST KNOW-He’s calling me to this new place.

I’ve sensed this call for quite some time. However, I’ve fought the Lord all along the way. I have questioned my ability and my worthiness. I have even questioned if He was really calling me at all. I kept asking the Lord, “But who am I?“ In the midst of all my questioning I came across Exodus 3 & 4. God had called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses questioned God’s call. Exodus 3:11, “But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?’ Moses asked God.” Then in verse 12 God told him, “I will be with you.” Still, Moses wasn’t convinced. In Exodus 4:10-11, “Moses pleaded with the Lord, O Lord I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me, I’m clumsy with words. Who makes mouths? the Lord asked him. Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord…I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Boy, do I relate with Moses! This was just what I was saying to God. He used this scripture to speak right to my heart. Despite all my questions and insecurities the tug at my heart hasn’t changed. I’ve asked for confirmation. He’s revealed Himself to me over and over. I can’t say that it makes sense. It doesn’t. Why would the Lord choose to use someone like me? I don’t know why He‘s chosen me. Regardless, I hear His call!

I have been down a similar road more than once. What if I’d been too scared to ask God to forgive and renew me? Who would have ever thought that He could have take such a broken person and made her whole again? What if I’d been too scared to take the leap of faith into my marriage? Who would have ever thought that I’d be a farmer’s wife? Yet, here I am. Along with both of these “leaps” have come blessings I would have never dared to dream. Life is good because God is good!

What if I choose to let my fear overcome me now? What if I choose to ignore God’s call? What kind of blessing would I be missing out on? What kind of blessing could I be to others? I must trust Him and His ability to work through me. I have no idea what that will look like. I’m scared, but I’m excited too. People may think I’m crazy, still where He leads me I will follow. I will not listen to the critics (even if they are voices in my own head). Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Even though I don’t know how it will ever work. I choose to believe His promises and infinite view over my flawed, limited view. Although I doubt myself, I’ll believe in who I am in Christ because that is what’s TRUE.

So today I stand in humble acceptance-acceptance of who I am in Christ and of His call on my life. In and of myself I am nothing, but with God I am something. I can do anything with Him. I can even stand before crowds of staring women (which scares me beyond words can express) because it will be for His glory; not mine. It’s about Him; not me. I am not worthy; He is!

In closing, I will say that in these tough economic times, with our income dependant on the current cattle prices and some medical issues that have burdened my family financially, I just didn’t see attending the She Speaks conference as a possibility for me this year. I simply pray that if it’s God’s will for me to attend that He will provide a way-whether it’s through this scholarship opportunity or some other way unknown to me. It’s not about me writing something “good enough” to be chosen to win. It’s about Him being good enough to meet my every need. His ways are so beyond mine. His plans so beyond my comprehension. He makes a way when I see no possible way. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers!

If you're interested in attending the 2009 She Speaks Conference check it out!

If you'd like to enter the scholarship contest click here

Some scriptures that have really "spoken" to me recently:

“The Lord will work out his plan for my life…” Psalm 138:8a

“…Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn.” Psalm 5:8b

“For the Holy Spirit will teach you what needs to be said even as you are standing there.” Luke 12:12