trusting and finding strength

Hi!  My name is Sarah and I'm guest-blogging for Jessi today!  I met her through her blog, which I found through  her amazing mother.  I am often inspired by what Jessi has to say, so I'm feeling like I have some pretty big shoes to fill today! :)  Thanks for the opportunity!

I have been married to an amazing guy, Ron, for a little over ten years now.  We have two beautiful daughters - Moira is 7 and Peyton is 5.  Like a lot of women out there, I dreamed of the picture perfect family with the picture perfect life.  I had plans in my mind of how my family was supposed to be when I grew up.  Like most people, I'm sure, the life I had envisioned really didn't turn out as I'd expected.  Not even close!  From the point at which we started to grow our little family, we were met with obstacle after obstacle.  We had a stillbirth nearly 10 years ago followed by a miscarriage.  Then Moira came along.  Then Peyton.  Somewhere in those years, we nearly lost me three separate times because of pregnancy related complications.  And did I mention that Peyton has multiple special needs and is medically fragile??

To say our life has been a roller coaster would be an understatement!  I spent a lot of those years in a place where I blamed God and blamed myself.  I resented a lot of people for the seemingly perfect lives that they had.  I thought surely they must be hiding something because no one's life is that perfect!  I spent a lot of time asking God "Why me?"  Illness after illness and surgery after surgery, I just kept asking God why my little girl had to go through so much.  It wasn't fair!  My life was so consumed by asking the question "Why?" that it really startled me when I clearly heard the Lord say to me, "Why not you?"

I have pondered that question so many times over the past couple years since I heard that voice.  Why not me?  Good question.  What makes me so special that I shouldn't face all the challenges that I've faced??  In the past few years, I've been growing in my relationship with Christ more than I ever have in my life.  I'm starting to see things in a whole new light these days.  I've stopped asking "Why me?" and am, instead, reflecting on "Why not me?"

I know I am not alone in having faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my life.  So many out there are experiencing similar challenges.  Many more are facing challenges that I can't even comprehend.  How do I move forward when there's so much holding me back?  Where do I find strength when I feel exhausted physically and emotionally?  How do I find joy when everyday life is so demanding, draining, and just plain difficult?  I don't have all of the answers to those questions.  I don't even have most of the answers!  The scripture that really touched me recently was this:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

It is when I reflect on this passage that I can really let go of the "whys" and the "not fairs" of life.  There is so much of this world that we can put our faith in.  I could put a whole lot of stock in what the medical world is going to do for Peyton.  Surely they will come up with a diagnosis...eventually.  Right??  Sure.  Maybe.  Someday.  But you can get so caught up in the worldly things - the things we "understand" - that could potentially provide answers and peace that we have the potential to forget where we really should be looking to for those things.  "Trust in the Lord" it says.  So much of my burden is lifted when I realize that everything that has happened in life - and has yet to happen - is in the Lord's hands.  Trust in Him.  As I shared in my own blog a while back, if we set aside our thoughts of what could be or what could have been and just give it all to God, we can learn to trust in Him.  He is our shelter, our refuge and our strength.  If we trust in Him, we will find the peace and maybe even some of the answers we seek.

I love Philipians 4.  I've been reading that lately and the words are so rich, life-giving, and encouraging.  I need that these days!  People, myself included, walk around bearing tremendous burdens.  It's all I can do just to get up some days.  Those worries take hold of the body and all of a sudden you have real physical ailments - from headaches to fatigue to back pain to clinical depression (among many other issues).  I know this - I have all of those!  Instead of focusing on the burdens themselves - trust me, I know this is not easy - I'm trying to focus on what I can still accomplish and on what the blessings are that are coming out of my situation.  Find strength in those accomplishments and find joy in those blessings!  If you look hard, there are blessings in difficult situations.  Sometimes they may be incredibly difficult to find, but they are there!  It took me a long time, but I can say without a doubt that having a special needs child who is also medically fragile is a blessing! I wouldn't change any of this.  Peyton has taught me more than I could ever teach her.  She is pure and good and probably as close to God as anyone I'll know in this world.  There are joys amidst difficulty.  People are so amazingly good.  We have been very fortunate to have been blessed in so many ways in our situation - sometimes by people that I barely even knew.

As I continue on my journey with the Lord, I'm just so thankful and grateful to Him for the situations He has placed in my life.  They are opportunities to grow, to develop, and to draw closer to Him.  The same God who places these situations in your life is the same God who equipped you with all that you need to get through.  And when you feel like you have nothing left to give because you're beyond exhausted, draw strength from God.  Just lean on Him and pray.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7