A Dissatisfied Heart

Something happens when we respond to Jesus when we answer his invitation to walk with him when we call on him to be the driving desire of our lives.

His answer to our response is to reveal our deepest need, and show us just how much we really need him, just how much he can satisfy our souls.

He opens our wounds where his cure can begin and is a gentle physician coaxing us back to health in him. How does he do this? It’s painful. It’s refining. It’s humbling.
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He exposes our sin. He peels back the layers with conviction and love. It’s the first step to granting us what we truly desire – deep satisfaction in him. He exposes the sin, not just in part, but in full.

In doing so, he has opened my eyes to show me that some sin is a choice. We might not realize it at the time, we may even be hiding it from ourselves, avoiding what we know to be true. But it is sometimes a choice.

“The secrets of your heart are open to me, but I do not despise you. In fact, I love you deeply. I know the worst that you have done, yet I choose to come to you — to talk to you and to offer you living water, to offer you myself.”

There is profound freedom when sin is revealed and forgiven.
Our greatest need truly is to know Him. How many of us are walking around hiding from that fact? The fact that we can never be truly fulfilled in life outside of Jesus. We remain thirsty when we seek satisfaction outside of Him.

Beneath all our sin is a failure to be truly satisfied in Him. Our sin is a byproduct of looking elsewhere for what only He can provide us. He knows this, of course, and he graciously lifts the cover off of it, revealing not only the sin but the dissatisfied heart that lies beneath. And he whispers to us, “Child, let your heart be satisfied in me. I love you deeply and I will give you living water so that your soul’s thirst will be satisfied.”

A letter to my unborn child.

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My husband and son sharing the pregnancy news with my mother and father in law on FaceTime | March 2015.

In honor of October 27, 2016, the 1 year anniversary of my lost baby’s due date I am sharing my prayer journal entry from April 19, 2015. Less than a week after we lost
October Hope Monaco (Feb 19, 2015 – April 14, 2016). This was written to be private, for the ears of my lost baby. I’ve since learned that if sharing these words, this journey, with others can help them, it’s worth every vulnerability.

Jesus — I wanted to be able to say something to the sweet baby that we lost. I was hoping you could pass this along for me, and tell them how much they were loved and anticipated before they even arrived….

Dear baby,

I don’t know where to begin. How do I share with you a lifetime of a mother’s love that I had saved for you in one short message? How do I share how much I adore the face and smile that I’ve only seen in my most precious dreams? You are loved. You are so cherished. You are so special to us. You had a family waiting for you and we couldn’t wait to welcome you. To hold you. To celebrate you. Not just on your October day of arrival but throughout your whole life. Your birthdays, each holiday, first steps, first words, first laughs, your first day of school.

You have a big brother. His name is Finn and I can’t wait to tell him about you. When he can understand, he will be sad, but he will love you and remember you just like we do. Like we always will. We’ve named you October, I think they will call you that in heaven until we meet you there. We were so looking forward to what the October season would bring and the way you would change and complete our family.  It seemed right to give you the name that encompasses all that anticipation and excitement that we’ll have to find a way to let go.

Jeremiah 29:11 says that Jesus has a plan for you, October, not to harm you but to prosper you. A better plan for you than I had for you. To love you by giving you a future and a HOPE. So that will be your middle name — hope.  You will be our hope. Your memory always reminding us to have hope because His plans are better than ours. I don’t know how to tell you how missed you are already, how empty I feel without you, how jealous I am that I never go tot kiss your sweet little lips or look into your beautiful eyes. My only comfort is knowing you are in the Lord’s strong, steady, loving arms. It’s true I wish you were in mine. I’ll always wish that. I’ll always want to hold you. I’ll always feel empty without you. I’ll never forget you. Not for one small second. I’ll carry you with me forever. I love you a whole lifetime’s worth of mommy’s love, and I’ll carry you with me until I see you again. And I’ll be missing you until that day.

Love,
Your Mommy

 

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We took a family day trip on October 27, 2015, to celebrate and mourn our baby’s due date.
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October 27, 2015, at the University of Notre Dame

Trust What You Know

I’m just going to be honest and come out and say it. Lately, I’ve been in a season of intense conflict, a season of extreme mess. I am learning (the hard way) that living in bold faith as a Christian means expecting opposition to what God is doing in your life. I am learning to expect that, deal with it, welcome it even, and allow God to use it. I am learning to find joy in it now, to some degree, knowing that conflict is an opportunity to let God work in me, to lean into him in trust until resolution and peace follow.

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But a season of conflict and hardship is different. It feels unrelenting and constant. It’s defeating. It’s painful. At some point I really start to feel like it’s more than I can bear.

So, I just keep asking God, why? What do you have for me in this season of contention? What in the world have I done that these things keep getting added to my heaping pile of “hard?”

Friends, I’m weary. I’m so weary.

Even as I am weary, I am choosing not to give up. I am seeking peace. I am asking for forgiveness, for grace.

I’m choosing not to let fear be a road block in sharing with you what God is doing in this hardship. I am watching him use the mess. I am learning firsthand that when He is revealed, sought after, there WILL be opposition. Don’t let it surprise you. Get ready to move through it.

Unfortunately, conflicts don’t always unravel perfectly, settle into peace the way I would prefer. I don’t have a perfect lesson learned to share with you (yet). I know now that some of this mess might just keep being messy for a while. So, I’m finding the lesson in the mess. I’m parking my emotions and my mind in the things that I do know to be true, and in the truth that I can trust.

God works for my good. (Romans 8:28) He loves me! (Romans 5:8) When sought, he WILL be found. Jesus will allow me to find him in this mess. He is findable! (Jeremiah 29:13)  He sees me in my hurt. (Jeremiah 17:10) He cares! (1 Peter 5:6-7)  He will tug on me until I see my own wrong doing and have an opportunity to learn. (Psalms 32:8)  Those who kneel will walk away healed. (Jeremiah 17:14)  He is a perfectly capable and all-wise God. He is my mighty rescuer (Zephaniah 3:17)

I am standingin my mess, waiting on God to be revealed, and I am trusting what I know.
 

The Battlefield

Our minds are such a battlefield, aren’t they? I have encountered so many reminders of that this week. Our perspectives can be dangerous. Our thoughts, our mental wars, can hinder our ability to find peace, our ability to make sense of messes, our ability to forgive and apologize, and our ability to love.

This week I also read about Peter, a disciple of Jesus who thought he had the right perspective, but had it so wrong.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” | Matthew 16:21-23 

When Peter pulled Christ aside and attempted to rebuke him, I bet he thought he was doing something good. Something right. Maybe he even thought he was encouraging Christ, helping him stand up to this terrible thing that was to happen.

Peter was being so very human.
He thought he was encouraging and protecting his friend, I imagine. And, Peter had given up his life to follow Jesus, so how could he suffer to the point of death without Peter’s devotion being a waste? His mind couldn’t understand. His perspective was so small.

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Here is my small and insignificant understanding Lord. Take it away and replace it with your heavenly perspective.

Peter had the perspective of man. Christ saw that for what it was, a stumbling block from the enemy. The enemy tempts us and gains authority over us simply by swaying us into seeing man’s perspective rather than God’s. When we look at life through the eyes of man, rather than with a heavenly perspective, we are letting the enemy take charge. It’s that easy to see things in a light that is so very wrong.

Seeing Peter’s (bad) example points to how important it is for us to surrender our minds to the living God. When we give over our minds to Him, we will find life and peace (Romans 8:6).  Today, I am asking him to help me think like him, rather than like the world.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,  so are my ways higher than your ways  and my thoughts than your thoughts. | Isaiah 55:9 

 

Obedience: Bring them here to me.

Matthew 14:16-20 | Jesus replied, “they do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the fives loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot about obedience. It all started with October Hope, our third baby, lost 12 weeks into our pregnancy. I didn’t want to name the child, and God had other plans, so I obeyed. And, we were so blessed by our choice to honor and memorialize October the way that we did.

This morning a pastor at our church urged the congregation to remember that we all have an important role to play; that each one of us is essential in his plans. I found myself hearing the words, and after many months of God placing a deep longing in me to be used by him and take hold of his wild plans for my life, I was shocked to realize I didn’t believe them. Me? An important role to play? A critical part of his plans? Surely not me. I want to believe it. But, if I’m honest, I don’t.

The next question came quickly. If I don’t believe it, then am I still useable?

I don’t have all the answers, I’m clawing for them and he promises he’ll be found in his word when we seek him and his answers, but I don’t have them yet.

My eyes landed on something I had jotted down in my journal, “Obedience vs. Emotion.” And, I was reminded of a wise friend’s words. Obedience isn’t always about emotions. Alone in a hospital recovery room, tearful and hopeless, emotions played a big part in my obedience to put a name to the baby we wouldn’t meet in this life. This time, however, it might not look as passionate.

In Matthew Jesus urges the disciples to feed the crowd, “Give them something to eat.” Their response is filled with unbelief, with skepticism, and with doubt. It’s nice to know the disciples acted shockingly similar to the way we act, isn’t it? They tried to explain to him, “We have here only…”

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What is your, “I have here only…”

  • I have here only myself to give, and surely I am not enough
  • I have here only a small amount of time to give today
  • I have here only this much energy, and it’s not enough
  • I have here only this much influence, and it’s not enough
  • I have here only this much faith, and it’s rather small, like that of a mustard seed
  • I have here only this life, how can I accomplish something worthy to bring you?

When we don’t believe that we are enough– but know that we should — what do we do? We obey. How? His answer is:

Bring them here to me.

I don’t need to have perfect faith, or perfect confidence, or a perfect understanding of his plans, or his ability to use me. I need only to bring it all to him. Everything I have to give, regardless of how small that feels to me. Finances, time, words, confessions, prayers, faith, relationships. I think he just might show me, show us, that we are enough if we can simply open up our hands, lay them out with whatever they hold and, bring them here to me.