Summertime carries the promise of sunshine and never ending days full of fun. Summer seems to provide a plethora of memory making opportunities that no other season can fulfill. And some summers provide us with life-changing events that provide us beauty for ashes.
The summer of 2004 is one that I will never forget. There are two distinctly memorable events that took place within one week that summer that changed my life forever: my husband deploying to Iraq and giving birth to our stillborn son.
I remember when my doorbell rang on that balmy summer night in New York. I remember thinking to myself, "Who could this be?" I opened the door and there stood my husband with a look of sheer terror on his face. It was so odd as he had always come through the kitchen door from the garage - and he certainly never rang the doorbell. I will never forget the look on his face as he handed me the warning order he had received from President George W. Bush to deploy to Iraq in just 3 short weeks. And while still standing outside at the front door, he handed me his last will and testament, and I began to cry.
Fast forward two weeks, it would be exactly one week until the day my husband was leaving for war in Iraq. My husband was out training in the field and I was about to experience my next prenatal check up as I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with our second child, a baby boy named Noah. I adore being pregnant. I love everything about it. One of my most favorite things about pregnancy is being able to hear the heartbeat at the prenatal visits. I mean who doesn't love to hear that fast moving heartbeat that keeps growing stronger and stronger? If that isn't a true depiction of God's grace and love, I don't know what is.
However, my prenatal visit would not allow me to hear Noah's heartbeat. No, as a matter of fact that doctor visit would be the beginning of my 48 hour journey to give life to our stillborn son. Not only was I devastated about the fact that my baby Noah had passed away, my husband was not able to be there with me. And I was beginning to feel hopeless and all alone. It was one week before I was to kiss my husband good-bye for an entire year. And I was overwhelmed.
But then there is God. If we allow him to, He will be all that we need and more. He gives us hope in times of desperation. He gives us peace in times of devastation. He gives us the strength to carry on when we've come to the end of ourselves. Even when we can't see that He is there His perfect love is at work in our heart and mind. I made up my mind that I would allow Him to carry me through this painful time of my life.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
The most important thing I learned the summer of 2004 was this: God taught me the "art" of pressing in. Yes, it is an art. It isn't something you just automatically know how to do. It is different than being pushy, willful, or pursuing something you desire. The art of pressing in is something only the Lord can teach you when circumstances become so crushing that you only have one of two choices: give up or press in. It is in these moments, life defining moments, that people are made or broken. And while we are all broken from sin, there is another dimension of brokenness that I hope to never experience - and that is the brokenness one feels when they decide to believe the lie that enemy is always whispering: there is no hope.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:13-14
I want to encourage you, dear sister, if you are going through a rough spot this summer, to not give up but press in. I believe with all my heart that if you allow God to come in and take control, He will show you things through your pain that you could never learn otherwise. While it is never fun to go through trying times, as we continue to walk with the Lord we understand that this is the only way He can truly give us beauty for ashes.
This month at Managing Your Blessings we are running a series called: Summers That Changed Us. If you need some more encouragement this summer, I know the amazing posts in this series will bless you.